Music Features

On This Day: Aretha Franklin's "Respect" Is More Important Than Ever

The singers magnetic hit, which debuted at No. 1 on this day in 1967, still fiercely resonates

On this day in 1967, Aretha Franklin's "Respect" debuted at No.1 on the U.S. charts. The Otis Redding re-imagining would become the definitive song of the 1960's Civil Rights and Feminist Movements.

At just 24-years-old, the soon-to-be Queen of Soul took a song that was a desperate plea for companionship and transformed it into a cutthroat demand for equality. "Come to me for I'm begging, come to me for I'm begging, darling," Redding howls in his version. "Your kisses, sweeter than honey," Franklin croons on her re-imagining almost in direct response. "And guess what? So is my money." When Franklin's version continued to grow in popularity, Redding felt both emasculated and proud. "The next song is a song that a girl took away from me. A good friend of mine." Redding said playfully before diving into his rendition during his 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop Festival.

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MUSIC

What Happened to Duffy?

Aimee Duffy was positioned to be the next big thing in soul music. Then, a horrific act of sexual violence kept her out of the public eye.

Trigger Warning: This article includes mentions of violent sexual assault.

In 2009, a rising Welsh singer named Aimee Duffy won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album.

That album, her debut Rockferry, propelled the mononymously-known Duffy to international fame. Her most successful song to date, "Mercy," topped the U.K. charts and became a Top 40 hit in the U.S., while its soulfulness drew comparisons to Amy Winehouse and Aretha Franklin. Then, mysteriously, Duffy went quiet.

The singer released one more album, Endlessly, in 2010. It performed well overseas, although it failed to reach the same level of ubiquitous success as its predecessor. It arrived under somewhat tumultuous circumstances: Rockferry's success had overwhelmed Duffy to the point where she almost walked away from music, and she'd parted ways with her management. It's understandable why she'd take a couple of years off before releasing LP3, but that short break turned into a decade without new music from Duffy. So, what happened?

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Duffy posted on Instagram this week to share a gutting message about her time away, in which she faced unimaginable abuse. "Many of you wonder what happened to me, where did I disappear to and why," Duffy captioned a black-and-white photo of herself. "A journalist contacted me, he found a way to reach me and I told him everything this past summer. He was kind and it felt so amazing to finally speak. The truth is, and please trust me I am ok and safe now, I was raped and drugged and held captive over some days."

The exact details of Duffy's assault are unknown—nor are we owed them. It's not entirely unusual for artists to create only one or two successful albums before dipping out of the industry. Former Fugees member Lauryn Hill did just that after her classic solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. It's equally common—if not more so—for fans to beg M.I.A. artists to return and make new music, especially as social media has blurred the lines and made fan interactions more seamless (Ariana Grande is an expert at responding to, even lightly taunting, her fans in direct Twitter responses when asked about new music). But when we beg beloved musicians to return from an unexplained hiatus, not only can it infringe on their privacy, but it also ignores the sheer frequency of rape cases: according to a 2015 study, one in five women in the U.S. will be raped at some point in their lives. In Duffy's home country, there were over 34,000 reported rape cases that same year, a 30 percent increase from the previous year. This instance sheds a harrowing light on the unreported trauma that can happen behind the scenes.

"The recovery took time," Duffy continued. "But I can tell you in the last decade, the thousands and thousands of days I committed to wanting to feel the sunshine in my heart again, the sun does now shine. You wonder why I did not choose to use my voice to express my pain? I did not want to show the world the sadness in my eyes. I asked myself, how can I sing from the heart if it is broken? And slowly it unbroke."

Duffy didn't have to explain her absence, but her choice to is incredibly brave and empowering.

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

Music Lists

Leave Your Man at Home: A Galentine's Day Playlist

From Diana Ross to Beyoncé, here arethe songs you need to celebrate.

Galentine's Day might've started as a bit in the Parks and Recreation universe, but Leslie Knope's holiday for celebrating her favorite women has since become an occasion for many ladies in real life.

Intended for celebration on February 13, Galentine's Day is best spent sharing the love with your closest gal pals—we recommend a potluck complete with wine and copious amounts of dessert—before sharing the following day with your sweetheart. If you're single this season, Galentine's Day and the following weekend also mark the perfect occasion to hit the town with your fellow bachelorettes, soaking in each other's companionship instead of wallowing over a lack of romance.

No matter how you're spending Galentine's Day, you need a playlist. We've compiled plenty of empowering hits—from classics and modern pop stars alike—to get your day (or night) started on the right foot.

Robyn, “Dancing On My Own”

Robyn's biggest hit to date is simply magical. It's a relatively simple dance-pop song that remains pretty level throughout, but "Dancing On My Own" still has a cathartic power that's made it the definitive sad banger. It's irresistible to sing along to, but the best part is you won't actually be on your own—you'll be dancing with your girls.

Follow the playlist on Spotify!

Galentine's Day

MUSIC

Olivia Castriota Shoots New Video 'What Do You Stand For' on the US-Mexico Border

The R&B-soul diva has been a contender in the past, but her latest video reveals she has political edge.

In the political climate we find ourselves in at the end of 2019, it feels like we spend every day being asked the same question: What do you stand for?

With various media reporting every day about all the new excruciating facets of the various humanitarian crises both at our doorsteps and further afield, we either other ourselves from atrocity or retreat into a virtual world where we can ignore it. Olivia Castriota brings this to light in her latest music video, taking her usual output of pop music almost to a place of performance art, directly and loudly asking us: "What Do You Stand For"?

The song, an anthemic piece that at first appears to be about self-empowerment, takes on a satirical bite when contrasted with the visuals of the video. Collaborating with AZURxVIBES Productions, Castriota and her team headed south and shot some remarkable footage along the US-Mexico border in Arizona. The music video shows guerilla-documentary style visuals of illegal circle-fights, the border wall, and actual undocumented immigrants crossing into the US spliced with more commercial angles of Castriota performing and appearing in glamorous locales, producing a distressing juxtaposition. Recontextualized, her lyrics now alternate between self-reflective criticism and downright self-parody; the chorus' call-and-response becomes a conflict rather than an affirmation. The joyously anarchic result: "What do you stand for? / I stand up for me":

"Our goal as directors was to bring out an emotion of uncomfortable self-reflection from the viewer. We wanted the viewer to feel the dry parched desert from the comfort of their sofa, while watching children in cages on their smartphone. Not guilt... but a slap" - AZURxVIBES

An unconventional video project needs an unconventional debut. To that end, Castriota premiered the video by projecting it onto a giant empty wall on New York's Houston street, adding to the video's punk-rock street cred. Passers-by were charged with the task of looking up and taking notice of what was going on around them. Both literally and figuratively.

Olivia Castriota has already shown herself to be a talented singer and songwriter, producing pieces like " Weekend Lover" and "Kills Me," but "What Do You Stand For" takes things to another level. Her willingness to position herself in the video as a fatuous figure, taking selfies whilst surrounded by humanitarian neglect shows an uncommon degree of self-awareness. In the face of the sheer human agony of the border crisis, answering "What do you stand for?" with "I stand up for me" is blatant satire on the petty, selfish short-sightedness of Instagram-based empowerment. Castriota once again stands out from her contemporaries by challenging the status quo, telling us loud and proud what she stands for.



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MUSIC

Is Bob Dylan Really the 7th Best Singer of All Time?

How could Bob Dylan rank number 7 on a list of best singers of all time?

On Monday, October 21st, the world woke up to see "Bob Dylan" trending on Twitter, immediately causing a jolt of panic in the hearts of fans.

But a quick scroll revealed that Dylan wasn't trending because he died, but because of a 2008 Rolling Stone list of the greatest singers of all time. The account that reposted the list, @crockpics, is committed to "sharing entertaining and memorable pictures of classic rock artists," according to its bio.

But the seemingly innocuous, dated list—reposted by a run-of-the-mill content-farming account—soon sparked heated online debate. Upon reading the list, fans began to argue amongst themselves about the validity of Bob Dylan's place on the list at number 7. In particular, many took issue with Dylan's placement above Freddie Mercury, who is listed at number 18.




Of course, as many pointed out, it's not clear whether the rankings were based merely on technical vocal skill or on a singer's whole package, including presentation, performance, individuality, etc. Based on Dylan's high ranking, one assumes the latter is the case. In fact, the article that prefaces the original list, written by Jonathan Lethem, states, "For me, Bob Dylan and Patti Smith, just to mention two, are superb singers by any measure I could ever care about — expressivity, surprise, soul, grain, interpretive wit, angle of vision...If one of the weird things about singers is the ecstasy of surrender they inspire, another weird thing is the debunking response a singer can arouse once we've recovered our senses. It's as if they've fooled us into loving them, diddled our hard-wiring, located a vulnerability we thought we'd long ago armored over."

This seems to more than explain the list's logic. As much as American Idol and the like have trained us to think good singing is quantifiable, the truth is some of the musical artists who have most set the soundtrack to the common experience of being alive would not even make it past the first round of auditions on your average singing reality show. Everyone who really loves music, who has been transformed, soothed, or awoken by just the right song at just the right time, knows that singing is as much about soul and storytelling as it is about perfect technique.

So yes, if we're judging a singer's talent by range, pitch control, breath control, tone, rhythm, and diction, Mariah Carey should absolutely rank above Bob Dylan on the list of 200 best singers. But if you're judging a singer on their ability to tell a story, the pain and joy they can imbue their voice with, the distinct nature of their unmistakable sound, and the simple ability to deeply affect a listener, Bob Dylan is among the best singers there ever was.

MUSIC

Molly Moore Describes the Power of Sadness with "I Love You But I Don't Like You"

According to Moore, the difference between love and like is subtle but powerful.

Molly Moore

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Los Angeles singer-songwriter and producer Molly Moore releases a new track, entitled "I Love You But I Don't Like You."

Moore explains the inspiration for the song: "Sadness is like a costume that you can't take off. Being in a long term relationship & grieving is one of the hardest things I've ever had to navigate, especially when anger and confusing emotions are displaced onto the other person. It almost sometimes seems easier to leave and isolate yourself so you don't have a negative impact on the people closest to you."

Originally from the Bronx, Moore grew up in Hudson, NY, listening to artists like Alanis Morissette, Aretha Franklin, and Gwen Stefani. After graduating high school early, she engrossed herself in music, soon moving to L.A. Her first single, "Peace of My Heart," went viral. In addition to her solo career, she's also one-half of pop duo Cosmos & Creature with EMAN8, aka Brandyn Burnette.

"I Love You But I Don't Like You" opens on wicked, dark colors atop a muscular rhythm. Pulsing synths infuse the harmonics with R&B hues flavored with hints of pop. Moore's voice imbues the lyrics with subtle pitiless savors of honesty and discontent.

"Oops I got your blood on my hands / You should run as far as you can / Do I sound psycho / Where did my mind go / Used to be red hot / Guess we went ice cold / And I know I know I know you might misunderstand / Don't misunderstand me."

"I Love You But I Don't Like You" delivers a deliciously impish take on an age old experience.

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