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The Girls Are Winning: A Willow Smith x Avril Lavigne Collab Is Here

Willow Smith new album, "lately I feel EVERYTHING," is here with the ultimate Pop Punk cosign: Avril Lavigne

Willow Smith, whipping her hair, but in a pop-punk way

via W Mag

Update July 16 2021:

Willow Smith just released her pop-punk album, lately I feel EVERYTHING and it's a 2000s teen dream.

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CULTURE

The Mystical Union of Halsey and Evan Peters: Tumblr's Greatest Crossover Couple

Turns out angsty Tumblr superstars of 2014 can find real love in 2019.

"Bad at Love" singer Halsey and American Horror Story actor Evan Peters are officially dating.

They made things official this weekend, stepping out on Friday dressed as two of music's most terrifying figures. Halsey went as a red-haired Marilyn Manson, and Peters was a Juggalo, a fan of the Insane Clown Posse. Then on Saturday, they arrived at the 100th episode celebration of American Horror Story as a polka-dot-clad Sunny Bono and Cher.

Elle.com

The two first sparked dating rumors when they were seen on a roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain. They're both coming off breakups—Peters' seven year relationship with Emma Roberts ended in March after it apparently became toxic. Though it's unclear exactly when Halsey and Yungblud broke up, they were dating at least through September.

Daily Mail

Following Halsey and Peters' roller-coaster debut, fans quickly dug up some of Halsey's old tweets about Evan Peters. For those who didn't know, for a total of seven years, Halsey's been tweeting about her crush on the actor. Though they've all been deleted, as we know, nothing on the Internet ever goes away.


"Halsey, your powers are strong. May this be a lesson to us all!" wrote Mari Lodi in Vulture when the dating rumors began to swirl. It's true that Halsey's ability to successfully tweet her way into a relationship may indicate that she's cast some sort of occult love spell, but honestly, Halsey has always been powerful on her own. She recorded her first demo, "Is There Somewhere," on GarageBand while a homeless teen and scored a major label contract. Her first (and best) album, Badlands, went platinum, and if you listen to its lyrics, you can see that Halsey's always had some sort of divine power. Maybe it's because of her song "Hurricane," but if I had to judge her type of magic, I'd label her as a weather witch, able to conjure up storms and to change the color of the sky (possibly from red to blue to violet) at will.

PinterestLyrics from "Colors", circa Tumblr 2014

Meanwhile, Evan Peters has been dabbling in occultism on his own, albeit in his role on American Horror Story. He was the iconic homicidal ghost Tate Langdon in Murder House, and in a 2012 tweet, Halsey perfectly articulated every teenage girl's feelings about his character. "Seriously Evan Peters stop making me attracted to alleged sociopaths and accused murderers…" she wrote.

https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/wanna-hook-up

Now that their union has emerged from the purely ethereal plane, becoming manifest on our physical one, we can see that it was always written in the stars. They do seem to exist in separate universes, in a way, as they come from TV and pop music respectively. On the other hand, they're both the highest possible evolution of Urban Outfitters teens, Tumblr darlings who somehow made their way into adulthood without losing their perfectly grungy, relatable-yet-alluring mystique. Of course they chose Scorpio season to make their debut as a couple; this time of transformation, rebirth, intensity, and Halloween seems designed for them to join forces. Plus, Sunday was a New Moon, the most goth of all the moons, perfect for a couple that captions their Instagram couple shots "Resident goths."

Sure, their best work may have been done years ago, but maybe this means there's more magic where their early masterpieces came from. Maybe Halsey will write a song from the perspective of Violet Langdon (she did film the music video for "Colors" in the actual Murder House from AHS Season 1). Maybe I don't know which one I'm more attracted to, but I'm not complaining. Maybe if we Tweet enough about our truest desires, they might just become incarnate—though of course, being a world-famous pop star helps.

Halsey - Colors (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com


MUSIC

Why Is No One Talking About Nickelback's Lyrics?

It seems Chad Kroeger and President Trump have a lot in common.

Nickelback, now experiencing an all time career low, got an unexpected boost in popularity this week thanks to Trump inaccurately using the band's "Photograph" meme, which samples the sextet's 2005 hit of the same name.

The band's label, Warner Music Group, stepped in and hit the president with a quick copyright infringement claim, but the band themselves didn't seem to realize the underlying joke behind it all: that they are similar to Trump in that they gained international fame despite being detested by almost everybody. "People in the meme-generating depths of the Web did not make Nickelback memes because they liked Nickelback. They made Nickelback memes because they did not like Nickelback, and because Nickelback was everywhere anyway," wrote The Washington Post. "Nickelback didn't exactly become famous for being famous. It became famous for being famous despite being horrible. That makes Trump the Nickelback president."

Politics aside, Trump's antics inspired Popdust to take a deep dive back into Nickelback's long and distasteful discography. It turns out, the band and our president have more in common than initially reported, such as a misogynistic view of women. Let's take a look back at some of the band's most distasteful lyrics, and revisit the question that plagues us all: Why was Nickelback ever a thing?

Figured You Out

"I like your pants around your feet
And I like the dirt that's on your knees
And I like the way you still say please
While you're looking up at me"

Right out the gate we have "Figured You Out," off of 2003's The Long Road. The song describes multiple sexual encounters with a woman that "wasn't that hard to figure out." "Sometimes you get into a little fling and you think you know the person," said Chad Kroeger of the song's meaning, "and the next thing you know, you're dating a cokehead who's interwoven into some underground drug world with Hell's Angels and movie stars and models." Regardless of that awkward statement, the single's cover art, which depicts visibly nervous cheerleaders sitting in a row in a locker room, paints an incredibly predatory picture. Chade Kroeger was 29 at the time.

CULTURE

Are These Artists Actually Clones Created by Greedy Music Industry Executives?

Is Ariana Grande just a renovated Mariah Carey? Are Brendan Urie and Patrick Stump dating—or are they the same person? The truth is out there.

Though all music borrows in some way from other music, sometimes bands or artists just sound and/or look uncannily similar to each other.

These similarities raise pressing questions: how and why do these bands sound so alike? Could there be some dark secret behind their successes, some cloning initiative launched once music industry executives realized they could just repackage the same artist under a different name and double their profits?

Regardless of how much of the truth you're willing to see, this list exposes pairs of bands or artists that not only sound the same but also seem to occupy the same cultural purpose, performing the same symbolic and emotional roles for fans everywhere.

1. Cage the Elephant and the Black Keys

Cage the Elephant and the Black Keys are different bands. It's a proven fact. And yet are they? They both feature singers with mid-range voices and vaguely Southern drawls. They both use grungy guitars that sound like they've been filtered through a litany of overdrive pedals. They both make songs that have lyrics—but are the songs really about anything, or are they both just kind of sad attempts to fill the hole created by rock and roll's death?

Objective facts tell us that these bands are indeed different—Cage the Elephant opened for the Black Keys on several tours, and Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach produced Cage the Elephant's 2015 album and their new 2019 single. But is it so hard to believe that some rip in the fabric of the time-space continuum created a world in which two slightly different iterations of the exact same band can walk around at the same time? Even some of their biggest hits like "Gold on the Ceiling" and "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" are eerily similar, both relying on ominous bass lines and sparse, punchy guitar hits.

The Black Keys - Gold On The Ceiling [Official Music Video] www.youtube.com

Cage The Elephant - Ain't No Rest For The Wicked (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

2. Mariah Carey and Ariana Grande

They both have stratospheric ranges, prima donna pop culture royalty and/or meme status, and impressive whistle tones. Sure, Ariana's music is tailored to the ultramodern era, whereas Mariah's occupied a similar space in the late 90's and early 2000's pop canon, but they both embody the image of the magnetic, radiant, super-talented starlet with an only slightly infuriating trail of number one hits.

Mariah Carey Vs. Ariana Grande SAME AGE Vocal Battle! (UPDATED) www.youtube.com


3. America and Neil Young

If you've heard the band America's number one hit, A Horse With No Name, chances are you might have wondered if you were listening to one of Neil Young's early collaborative efforts. But Young and Dan Peek, the late lead singer of America, share little else than a slightly nasal tenor voice, a penchant for dreamy folk rock, and dozens of harmony-laden albums from the 1970s.

America - A Horse With No Name+Lyrics www.youtube.com


Neil Young - Harvest Moon www.youtube.com

4. Radiohead and Muse

They're both obsessed with technology, paranoia, apocalypses, and thematically complex concept albums. Ultimately Radiohead's breadth and range of sonic textures far outdoes Muse's, but on some of their better-known songs, Thom Yorke and Matt Bellamy's desperate and wailing voices could easily be mistaken for one another, especially when they're both crying on about fear and loneliness in the digital era over dizzying layers of synthesizer. Plus, it would fit well with both of these bands' brands if they were replicants of each other.

How Much Does Muse Sound Like Radiohead: Analysing Composition, Style, and the Radiohead Zeitgeist www.youtube.com

5. Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes both have a propensity for multi-layered trippy, ambient folk. Their lead singers have high, delicate voices that sound like they're emanating from a distant cabin, wafting towards you on waves of campfire smoke. There's a whole battalion of folk bands that sound like these two, but as pillars of the genre, the similarities between indie's leading foxes and bears are difficult to ignore.

I'm Losing Myself (Feat. Ed Droste) by Robin Pecknold www.youtube.com

6. Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco

Patrick Stump and Brendon Urie both have irrationally massive vocal ranges, which they use to create passionate, angsty, climactic jams that have been giving voice to tween girls' pain for decades. They actually have collaborated several times—even on a Coke ad, which you can listen to in its full glory as each of these singers attempts to out-belt the other. Both bands formed within three years of each other (Fall Out Boy in 2001, Panic! in 2004) and occupied similar cultural spaces in their respective golden years. Fans have even shipped the two lead singers together. Plus their specific vocal styles spawned dozens of shaggy-haired copycat frontmen.

Drunk History: Fall Out Boy featuring Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco www.youtube.com

Fall Out Boy Ft Brendon Urie from Panic! at the Disco - Don't Stop Believing cover www.youtube.com

7. Avril Lavigne Pre and Melissa Vandella

Everybody knows that Avril Lavigne died and was replaced by a clone of herself, created by deft industry people who couldn't resist the potential profits of more Sk8r Bois. Still, the clone does sound and look remarkably similar to her predecessor, despite the obvious differences (Melissa prefers dresses and skirts, while Avril favored pants; and Avril would never have married Chad from Nickelback). Very impressive, music industry executives, but we're onto you.

Conspiracies: Did Avril Lavigne Die in 2003? | Pigeons & Planes Update www.youtube.com


Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.


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Music Reviews

Avril Lavigne Doesn't Know Who She Is Anymore

"Head Above Water" has as much edge as a pile of mashed potatoes.

Some artists make truly timeless music, music that speaks to generation after generation, relating some universal human experience. Avril Lavigne is not one of these artists.

Her early-2000's hits, like "Sk8er Boy" and "Complicated", are so purely of that time, so compatible with walkmans, AIM messenger, and low rise jeans, that listening to them in the present day is a transportive, reminiscent experience, not a transcendent one. The record scratch sound effects, the punk rock over-enunciation, and the voice distortions, are all products of a simpler time when America was talking about Janet Jackson's nipple instead of nuclear war with Russia.

But perhaps the clear timestamp of Avril Lavigne's music is in part because of her sudden and total disappearance from the music scene at a time when her star seemed to be rising ever higher. Her musical identity never had the opportunity to adjust to changing times. The official reason for the singer's hiatus from the world of music was a hard fought battle with Lyme disease, but the internet disagrees, instead deciding Lavigne's absence was a result of her untimely death and subsequent replacement by a clone named Melissa Vandella.

Race to Erase MS Gala, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 20 Apr 2018

But now, clone or not, the singer known as "Avril Lavigne" has released her first album since 2013, entitled "Head Above Water." The 12 song LP is a meditation on Lavigne's struggle with Lyme disease, which left her bedridden for two years. It trades the pop-punk influences that defined her early career for a piano-driven musicality that is almost unrecognizable as Avril Lavigne, save for her trademark angst-filled roar. The songs show off a singing voice that has only improved with age, maintaining the ability to evoke emotional reactions as it did in songs like "I'm With You," while showcasing a new control that, for better or worse, was missing in earlier albums.

Despite the abundance of proof that the former voice of Gamecube playing, smudged-eyeliner wearing teens has remained talented over all these years, the album ultimately falls flat. The title track is a moving power ballad in the vein of Kesha's "Praying." Its an admittedly strong opening, teasing a cathartic, powerful collection of songs that the listener soon finds doesn't exist. Instead, the remaining songs feature remarkably cliche lyrics, lazy and uninspired backing music, and decent production that almost raises the album to an "Eh." "Goddess," for example, is almost laughably generic, offering sentiments like,

"He treats me like a goddess, goddess

He thinks I'm sexy in my pajamas
The more I am a hot mess
The more he goes bananas"

Beyond the absurdity of the way Lavigne pronounces "bananas," the song also fails in wavering between genres, locked in a clear identity crisis. In moments, the album almost seems to pick up country traits, but not decidedly, instead playing it safe and relying on simple, boring pop melodies completely devoid of the interesting punk leanings of albums like "The Best Damn Thing."

Though, if this newest collection did try to pick back up where the Lavigne of ironic ties and baggy pants left off, we would inevitably comment on the album's out of date sound. To Avril Lavigne's clone's credit, she was faced with a difficult position. Both Lavigne and her audience have aged out of her sound, but she went so long without releasing new work, there was no opportunity to transition and grow into something more contemporary in an organic way. So, to make a meaningful, impactful album, Lavigne and her team needed to make a choice: either commit wholeheartedly to her old sound, forcing people to remember what they loved about it, or go in a completely different direction. Instead, they made no decision, existing in a musical no-man's-land without definition or identity, creating a boring album that has no idea what it's trying to say besides, "Look! Avril Lavigne can still sing!"


Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.


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