Kacey Musgraves Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz shocked and horrified America when news broke that in the midst of a terrible power outage and winter storm in Texas, the state he represents, he dipped out for Cancún.

Now, fellow Texan Kacey Musgraves has found a unique way to support her home state. Musgraves has been selling shirts reading ""CRUZIN' FOR A BRUZIN'" on her website for $29.99 a pop, with each shirt's profits donated to aid effort for Texans affected by the storm.

"All proceeds will directly support Texans affected by the storm and also to homeless immigrants seeking shelter and food," Musgraves wrote. Shirts can be purchased here.

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Music Lists

Harry Styles' 8 Best Covers

The former One Direction member is the musical chameleon we don't deserve.

With his two solo albums, Harry Styles has proven that he was always One Direction's strongest link.

The boy band's final performance in 2015 opened the doors for Styles to come into his own. Turns out, his solo artistic persona is pretty chameleonic. He channels classic rock as easily as he does pop and R&B. He can deliver soaring ballads with the same energy he devotes to high-energy barnburners. All of this is to say: Styles is a singular talent with a versatile voice and an undeniable charisma that multiplies his appeal.

Though his original work is typically great, Styles has also performed numerous impressive renditions of other artists' hits. From '70s folk to modern hits, we've rounded up the ex-1D member's best covers.

Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”

Joni Mitchell's biggest hit got another breath of life when it was covered by Counting Crows in 2002. Though the band gave the environmentally-conscious tune a more adult alternative spin, Styles takes it back to its singer-songwriter origins with a fully acoustic setup. The harmony during the chorus adds a special touch.

The Frozen 2 soundtrack features beloved acts such as Kacey Musgraves and Panic! at the Disco, but Weezer's version of "Lost in the Woods" is an unholy force of 80s power ballads and 90s nostalgia.

An icon of 90s alt rock, Weezer is emblematic of nerd rock for many millennials, but to the upcoming Generation Alpha (those born from 2010-2024) they may become Disney stars. In Weezer's music video, frontman River Cuomo re-enacts, scene for scene, Kristoff (Jonathan Graff)'s performance of the 80s-inspired power ballad (including Kristen Bell dressed in full Anna gear!). Frozen's Academy Award-winning songwriters, Robert Lopez and his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, say they took inspiration from Bryan Adams and their youth so they could tackle the big emotional questions addressed in the song (questioning whether or not an established relationship is still right for you) while also having fun.

Above all, seeing Cuomo, 49, and bandmates (ages 48 to 54 years old) standing in a knock-off Enchanted Forest in an homage to the most popular children's movie in the world is hilariously cringey. I want to watch this video first thing in the morning when I'm questioning why anyone bothers to get dressed and leave the house, while I'm on the train surrounded by screaming children and two businessmen aggressively bantering over my head, and after work while I'm too tired to believe there will be a future, and so maybe I won't have to do it all again tomorrow. Maybe it's the earnest yearning of the song matched by Cuomo's lost eyes. Maybe it's the purple backlighting on the sound stage. Maybe it's Frozen 2's not so hidden messaging about climate change and the fact that climate crisis is imminent.

We're all lost in the woods, motherf*ckers–and we're all creepy people wearing adult costumes, stalking around the wilderness, looking for connection that isn't there.

Weezer - Lost in the Woods (From "Frozen 2") youtu.be

It's been a deplorable year for optimists.

Alternate facts, climate change, genocide, corruption, the looming threat of nuclear holocaust: It all equates to a not so holly jolly holiday season. For millennials it all felt so different a mere decade ago. The snow would fall slowly and stick to the ground for weeks on end, rather than evaporate in a few days. On Christmas Eve, many of us would curl up in our jammies with our families underneath a heavily decorated pine tree and watch all the varietal but thematically similar Christmas specials spewed across basic cable (Dolly Parton for some, Charlie Brown for others). We'd listen to these ridiculous, and at times problematic, Christmas songs and ignorantly bask in the holiday season's unrealistic cheer. It was all so campy and all so naive, but in hindsight, it makes some of us sigh with bitter nostalgia. What a gift it was to completely disconnect for a few days, to eat that shit up. But in 2019, the task feels insurmountable, even privileged, and offensive. But doesn't everyone deserve a break?

Christmas Makes Me Cry (From The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show / Live From The Ellen D... www.youtube.com

Kacey Musgraves thinks so, and on her whimsical new Christmas special, it's impossible not to be charmed, or at least grin at its farce. Recounting Christmas shows of yore, Musgraves doesn't quite "reimagine" the Christmas Special as initially advertised, but instead delivers a traditional offering in shiny new wrapping paper a la Amazon Prime. Filmed on a live set, in front of a live audience, it's all quaint and theatrical. From can-can dancers dressed as candy canes to Troye Sivan's shimmering green blazer and pink button-up to a dancing reindeer to Musgraves fluorescent sparkles and shimmering red and gold dresses, it's all unapologetically in your face.

A Christmas special this exuberant wouldn't be possible unless the cast of characters were up for the task, and Musgraves does an excellent job of rounding up the most unproblematic, happy-go-lucky people in pop culture. No one else could sing Mele Kalikimaka with as much Bikini Bottom candor as Zoey Deschanel. Camila Cabello's voice is like butter alongside Musgraves, and Fred Armisen's bone-dry, dead-eyed demeanor as he's continually interrupted by construction workers while singing "Silent Night," (get it? Cause it's not silent), is reminiscent of the simple times of early SNL. All the while, Musgraves offers awkward quips of dialogue with charming sincerity. "I really, really appreciate you making the time to come here," she says to Lana Del Rey as if her surprise cameo was unplanned.

But the show's biggest highlight comes in the form of its narrator, Daniel Levy. While Musgraves delves into the holiday melodrama, Levy's playful sass contrasts Musgraves's campiness with a few bitter realities of 2019. "So Kacey had an emo moment in her bedroom," he says at one point. "Because sometimes, just sometimes, a great singing career, a bunch of Grammy's and this over the top bathroom just aren't enough." He jumps in at opportune moments to lightly criticize the most dated aspects of Christmas. When Musgraves asks Levy to remain cheery, he replies sarcastically, "Cheer? In this corporate political climate, okay, sure."

The commentary doesn't go much farther than that, but his frisky derision quells any cynics and attempts to silence critics who will undoubtedly find Musgrave's relentless optimism dated or insensitive. The politically active country star is a die-hard liberal, but Musgraves is also a massive proprietor for taking a step back from reality and engaging in simple pleasures every now and then. "It can be easy to forget that right now there are literally jellyfish that light up, and plants that can change your mind, and Northern lights and shooting stars," she told Billboard. Musgraves has an uncanny ability to warm the hearts of even the most bitter scrooges. It's what made Golden Hour such a captivating record, and while her Christmas special doesn't hold a torch in comparison, it radiates a similar narrative. Just play along. It's Christmas after all, and you deserve to feel happy, even if just for an hour or two.

Harry Styles nearly broke Ticketmaster on Thursday morning, when tickets to his exclusive performance before his Fine Line tour went on sale for only $25, with a presale code available for early access.

Styles, a beloved pop singer who's rebranded himself from boy band heartthrob to quasi-indie solo phenomenon, purposefully had the tickets marked down without service fees in order to make them more accessible to fans of his pearl earring-wearing, looks-great-in-sheer, could-be-bisexual persona. Sadly, after the online queue reached over 2,000, tickets sold out, leaving thousands of fans disappointed and making lucky opportunists richer, terrible people.

After a sensational feature interview with Rolling Stone in August, Harry Styles is the unholy amalgamation of a millennial Beatle, sad boy, and hedonistic, satyr-like cult leader. His psychedelic description of Fine Line is simply: "It's all about having sex and feeling sad...We'd do mushrooms, lie down on the grass, and listen to Paul McCartney's Ram in the sunshine," he said of his creative process. "This is where I was standing when we were doing mushrooms and I bit off the tip of my tongue. So I was trying to sing with all this blood gushing out of my mouth. So many fond memories, this place."

So on Thursday, thousands flocked to Ticketmaster to be close to their maybe-bisexual, gender fluid god. But soon, the $25 tickets were gone and being sold secondhand for as much as $800 online. The show in question was a special concert event and part of an exclusive promotion. Only fans who pre-ordered Style's album received the coveted presale code: "Harry Styles has returned with a new album titled Fine Line, release date of December 13th, 2019. To celebrate the occasion, he is doing a one-night concert at The Forum in Inglewood, California. To get presale code access to the One Night Only show, you must preorder Harry's new album from his official website before 10pm PST on November 6th, 2019."

But, of course, the set up wasn't perfect from the start. Namely, many code recipients reported that when they awoke and logged on as early as 5 am, they were placed in the back of the queue, regardless of whether or not they possessed the code. This resulted in many presale codes being wasted, as tickets were purchased by many who hadn't spent nearly $100 in Styles merchandise beforehand.

Clearly, buyers beware when it comes to sponsoring your favorite artists' album bundles. As a marketing tactic, the deals can manipulate charts or be plain cash grabs to sell extra merchandise, especially in the streaming era when album sales often suffer. As Rolling Stone noted about album bundles linking clothing merchandise with record units, "Bundling has become increasingly pervasive, even on a modest scale. The goal is to boost both chart position — Billboard counts bundled sales in many cases — and revenue: In the streaming era, the margin on selling music has shrunk, but there is still profit to be made from selling clothing."

album sales Buzz Angle / Rolling Stone

And there's hope to boost flagging album sales if they're bundled with a special code for a "One Night Only" concert. This is especially true when album sales are dropping every year—as much as 18.2% from the previous year, like they did in 2018, according to Rolling Stone. Additionally, "song sales fell 28.8 percent, according to U.S. year-end report figures from data company BuzzAngle, which tracks music consumption. Meanwhile, total on-demand music streams, including both audio and video, shot up 35.4 percent."

Obviously, Harry Styles is not personally responsible for a glitchy presale plan that sent his fans into a frenzy, turned Ticketmaster into a target of Twitter hate, and made ticket scalpers very rich. But he did have the power to set ticket prices as low as $25, which suggests that his witchy powers have sway over his marketing team, if he's willing to use them.

MUSIC

Pop Stars Unite for Reproductive Rights: Lizzo, Billie Eilish, and Lady Gaga Protest Abortion Bans

Nearly 140 musicians have joined a campaign in support of Planned Parenthood.

Some of pop's brightest stars have come together in support of a new Planned Parenthood initiative called "Bans Off My Body."

Nearly 140 musicians have pledged to support the reproductive rights organization, including Kacey Musgraves, Nicki Minaj, John Legend, Haley Kiyoko, Miley Cyrus, Bon Iver, and Nine Inch Nails. Other luminaries on the list include The 1975, Carole King, Mitski, Maggie Rogers, Megan Thee Stallion, Kim Gordon, Halsey, Princess Nokia, Vic Mensa, Troye Sivan, and many more.

Some of these artists have spoken out about reproductive justice before, such as the 1975's Matty Healy, who delivered a tirade about the topic at a concert in May. "The reason I'm so angry is because I don't believe [the abortion ban] is about the preservation of life, I believe it's about the controlling of women," he said.

Bon Iver also has an organization called 2ABillion, which supports gender equality (we love a feminist dude). And of course, Halsey, Lady Gaga, Lizzo, and many of these artists have made significant contributions to feminism in their own ways, speaking out about assault, body positivity, and more. Ariana Grande donated $250,000 in proceeds from a June show to Planned Parenthood, and hopefully, more artists will follow suit.

Noticeably absent from the list is Taylor Swift, whose newly liberal persona and love of LGBTQ+ rights wasn't enough to get her to join the list. (To be fair, lots of other famous artists didn't appear, like Lana Del Rey and Cardi B, both of whom have become notoriously political). Still, in the case of something this urgent, silence is its own kind of statement.

Following the announcement of the "Band Together, Bans Off" initiative, some of the featured artists took to social media to raise awareness about the message.

Billie Eilish—whose newest album just became this year's most streamed on Spotify—said, "I'm proud to be standing up for Planned Parenthood as they fight for fair and equal access to reproductive rights. We cannot live freely and more fully in the world when our basic right to access the reproductive health care we need is under attack. Every person deserves the right to control their body, their life, and their future."

According to Planned Parenthood's website, "Musicians across the country are standing in solidarity with Planned Parenthood….they're saying access to sexual and reproductive health care is about the same type of freedom that allows them to create music and speak their truth—because no one is free unless they control their own body." It seems that, no matter what kind of music or art these musicians create, reproductive justice is something that they all can agree on.

Why is reproductive freedom such a popular consensus among musicians? It might have something to do with the act of creating art itself. "Music is storytelling," said Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood's acting president/CEO. "If you go back to the origins of movements for equality and freedom, and the very rights that control our bodies, it starts with telling stories about your own experience and then defying people [who] judge you."

billboard.com

Planned Parenthood's new campaign is intended to raise awareness and spread information about their mission. They hope to garner 500,000 signatures on their online petition by January 20, 2020, which is the 47th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that cemented a woman's right to choose in American legislature.

The campaign comes at a critical time, due to harsh new policies in states like Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia. Right now, the ACLU is currently fighting Missouri's Unborn Act, which would prohibit abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, even in cases of rape and incest. Just this week, Planned Parenthood announced its decision to abscond from Title X, meaning it will no longer be receiving federal funding. Previously, the organization was given about $60 million per year in federal funding, which enabled them to perform 1.5 million abortions for low-income people in need of reproductive care.

Of course, this campaign has garnered outrage from Catholic and conservative publications. While it is fair to say that not all women who undergo abortions want to get them, the truth is that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in their lifetimes—meaning that you probably know many people who have had one. If these strict and drastic laws continue to gain traction, more people will be forced to undergo dangerous, covert abortions when they could have received safe, free care.

Sign the Planned Parenthood petition here.