I can't help but listen to Christmas music this week... so naturally I included some on #theradar.
Christmas has me like...
I'm honestly living for all of the new Christmas music that's been released lately. With the happiest time of the year just around the corner, I had to infuse some of my favorite new Christmas releases onto Release Radar this week (but don't worry, a full Christmas playlist is coming to you this #musicmonday). Get in the holiday spirit with some of my new favorite Christmas releases and a slew of other hot new tracks from: Cody Simpson and The Tide, Dana and The Wolf, Fascinations Grand Chorus, Eighty Ninety, Michael McQuaid, Max & Harvey, Cate Hamilton, Tash, and Umphrey's McGee.
Cody Simpson and The Tide | "White Christmas"
This beach-rock cover of the old classic is relaxing and will get you in the Christmas spirit even if your version of a white Christmas is sand. Being an former Florida girl myself, I appreciate this twist on the original.
Best for: a holiday beach bonfire
Perfect if you like: Jack Johnson
Dana and The Wolf | "Him"
This track is hauntingly good. Dana and The Wolf have been together for decade but only recently formed the pop duo comprised of Dana Hobson (vocalist) and Daniel Wolf (producer). Their dramatic pop music focuses on deep topics from religion to economics.
Best for: A lazy Sunday
Perfect if you like: The Daysleepers
Fascinations Grand Chorus | "Angelsea"
This slow burning track is mellow and builds over time. The sweet vocals contrast the rhythmic nature of the track. Part of their recent EP Angelsea. The title song is my favorite off of the album.
Best for: Road tripping
Perfect if you like: Tennis
Eighty Ninety | "Your Favorite Song"
I've loved this song for a long time and was anticipating this visual. The video is dream-like. Abner treks through city and beach terrain with a bouquet of flowers, only to leave them behind at the end of the video. All the while you hope he'll find this love he's singing about and bring her flowers (flowers fix everything, right ladies?), but instead, it's more symbolic of leaving a relationship in the past.
Best for: The post-holiday sads
Perfect if you like: Tom Petty and The Heart Breakers
Michael McQuaid | "Wild Love"
This dark pop jam from Michael McQuaid is hard-hitting and shakes the room. It explores the intense parts of love. His collaboration with Milly adds just the perfect touch to the rich song. It's a song about deciding to go all in together.
Best for: NYE dance parties
Perfect if you like: Sam Smith
Max & Harvey | "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday"
LOVE this take on the original classic "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday." Performed by Musical.ly stars Max & Harvey, the song is one of the first ambitions from their music project. This song is sure to bring the holiday cheer to your home.
Best for: Decorating the Christmas tree
Perfect if you like: Christmas music!
Cate Hamilton | "Euphoria"
This song from Cate Hamilton's debut EP has a lot of swagger to it. The trap beat underneath her haunting voice moves the song along in a slinky way. The whole EP Angel Baby is a good listen.
Best for: Ending a late night in the tub!
Perfect if you like: Esperanza Spaulding
Follow Cate Hamilton on Instagram
Tash | "I Don't Like Parties"
This amazing banger is smooth and has almost neo-soul elements though it falls strongly under pop R&B. This song speaks to anyone who's felt obligated to go to way too many holiday parties this year. The visual is cool, simple, and supports the song incredibly well.
Best for: Playing hooky from your office holiday party
Perfect if you like: Ariana Grande
Follow Tash on Instagram
Umphrey's McGee | "Half Delayed"
This is the perfect mellow jam to end your day with. I particularly love the unique guitar riff. The vocals are added in tastefully where needed but the song is ultimately minimalistic in all of the best ways. I could see it as the sound track to a movie.
Best for: Riding with the windows down, reflecting on life.
Perfect if you like: The Lumineers
Follow Umphrey's McGee on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter
POP⚡ DUST | Read More About Music...
Breaking down the bias of comfort films.
With the constant onslaught of complicated news that 2020 has brought, sometimes you just want to be able to shut off your brain, relax, and feel happy.
Enter comfort films. These are the feel-good movies that feel like a warm hug when you finish them, the ones that allow you to escape for a short while. We often turn to these types of films in times of trouble or extreme stress, and when we're not sure what films of this nature we should watch, we turn to the Internet for options.
Rivera's "Glee" character was not just important, she was groundbreaking.
As a young queer girl growing up in the south, I was lucky that my parents weren't homophobes.
My parents believed that people were sometimes born gay, and while they wouldn't "wish that harder life" on their children, they certainly made me and my sister believe that gay people were just as worthy of love as anyone else. I was lucky.
Still, in my relatively sheltered world of Northern Virginia (a rich suburb near Washington D.C.), homophobia wasn't as blatant as hate crimes or shouted slurs, but it was generally accepted that being straight was, simply, better.
In high school, it wasn't uncommon to use "gay" as an insult or for girls to tease each other about being "lez." While many of us, if asked, would have said we were in support of gay marriage and loved The Ellen Show, being gay remained an undesirable affliction.
Even more insidious, I was instilled with the belief—by my church and my peers—that if gay and lesbian people could be straight, they would. But since they were simply incapable of attraction to the opposite sex or fitting into traditional gender roles, we should accept them as they are as an act of mercy. At the time, this kind of pity seemed progressive and noble. Those in my close circle of family and friends weren't openly dismissive or condemning of gay people, but we saw homosexuality as a clear predisposition with no gray areas.
Specifically: Gay men talked with a lilt, giggled femininely, and were interested in things that weren't traditionally "masculine." Meanwhile, gay women dressed like men, had no interest in makeup or other traditionally female interests, and probably had masculine bodies and features. In my mind, before someone came out as gay, they did everything in their power to "try to be straight" but were eventually forced to confront the difficult reality that they felt no attraction at all to the opposite sex. I viewed homosexuality not as a spectrum, but as a black and white biological predisposition that meant you were thoroughly, completely, and pitiably gay.
As a child, when I began to experience stirrings of attraction for other girls, I would reassure myself that not only had I definitely felt attraction for men in the past, but I also liked being pretty. I was a tomboy as a child, sure, but as I got older I recognized that my value was increased in the eyes of society if I tried to be a pretty girl. As it turned out, I even liked putting on clothes that made me feel good, I liked applying makeup, and I liked some traditionally "feminine" things. In my mind, this meant that I couldn't be gay, because gay women didn't like "girl" stuff.
As a teenager, I began to learn more about the difference between gender and sexuality, and the fluidity of both. I began to let myself feel some of the long-suppressed feelings of queer desire I still harbored.
Still, in the back of my mind, the instilled certainty of sexuality as an extremely rigid thing sometimes kept me up at night. What if I was gay? Would I have to change the way I looked? Would I have to give up some of the things I liked? In my mind, being gay meant your sexuality was your whole identity, and everything else about you disappeared beneath the weight of it.
But then, Santana came out as gay on Glee.
GLEE - The Santana 'Coming Out Scene' www.youtube.com
If you didn't watch Glee, than you might not know the importance of Naya Rivera's character to so many queer young women like myself. Santana was beautiful, she was popular, she had dated boys, she was feminine, she was sexy, and she was gay. There's even evidence that Santana had previously enjoyed relationships with men.
But the character came out anyways, not because she had to or because it was obvious to everyone around her that she was gay, but because her attraction to women was an aspect of her identity she was proud of. It wasn't an unfortunate reality she simply had to make the best of; it was an exciting, beautiful, aspect of her identity worth celebrating.
Before Santana, it had never really come home for me that being gay wasn't an entire identity—that it wasn't an affliction or disorder, but just another part of a person. She also didn't suddenly start wearing flannels or cutting her hair after coming out. She was the same feminine person she had always been. I had never realized that being a gay woman didn't have to look a certain way. Santana and Brittany's gay storyline showed two femme-presenting women in love, and for me, that was a revolution.
If it wasn't for Naya Rivera, we may never have had that important story line.
"It's up to writers, but I would love to represent [the LGBTQ community] because we know that there are tons of people who experience something like that and it's not comical for them in their lives," Rivera told E! News in 2011. "So I hope that maybe we can shed some light on that."
While Rivera herself wasn't gay (the importance of casting gay actors in gay roles is a separate conversation), she understood how important her character was to the queer community. "There are very few ethnic LGBT characters on television, so I am honored to represent them," Rivera told Latina magazine in 2013. "I love supporting this cause, but it's a big responsibility, and sometimes it's a lot of pressure on me."
Rivera wasn't just a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community on screen. In 2017, she wrote a "Love Letter to the LGBTQ Community" for Billboard's Pride Month. In it, she wrote, "We are all put on this earth to be a service to others and I am grateful that for some, my Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays may have given a little light to someone somewhere, who may have needed it. To everyone whose heartfelt stories I have heard, or read I thank you for truly enriching my life."
Now, as we mourn the loss of Naya Rivera, at least we can take comfort in knowing that her legacy will live on—that the light her Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays gave us won't go out any time soon.
Excuse me, I have to go weep-sing-along to Rivera's cover of landslide now.
Glee - Landslide (Full Performance + Scene) 2x15 youtu.be
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