Culture Feature

Meghan Markle And 10 Other Celebrities Open About Their Miscarriages

Miscarriages are deeply painful and personal. Some brave women have chosen to open up about their miscarriages in order to help others remember they're not alone.

Miscarriages are incredibly painful, personal events.

They're also shockingly common. Somewhere from 10 to 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriages, according to the Mayo Clinic, though the number may be much higher because many women don't realize they're pregnant.

Celebrities are not immune from reality. Some have eve chosen to share their stories in an effort to make other families feel less alone in their grief.

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Culture Feature

14 Celebrities Who Shared Their COVID-19 Stories

The coronavirus clearly cares little for fame.

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson Coronavirus

When the coronavirus first began to sweep the world in early 2020, few could imagine that in November we'd still be fully immersed in it, living in a world ravaged by fire, disease, and chronic governmental ineptitude.

Today the United States has reported more than 250,000 COVID-19 deaths, and that number shows no sign of decreasing. The virus has spared no one and nothing, and Hollywood and the entertainment industries were hard-hit, with even some of the world's largest and wealthiest stars relegated to their beds, forced to turn to Instagram for sympathy and updates.

Here are some of the most famous people to confess that they received a positive COVID-19 test. It's likely that many other famous people had the virus and either were never diagnosed or chose not to share their stories. The list also doesn't begin to cover the tragedy of all those who died from the virus, or the agony felt by those whose lives were torn apart by the pandemic and other crises in 2020.

But even these few stories are testimonials to a virus that proved itself to be far more powerful than mankind's most renowned figures. And, if the fact that Tom Hanks is still isolating is any proof, it's not over yet.

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CULTURE

How Celebrities Are Donating to Australia (and Where They Fall Short)

Climate change is turning small fires into cataclysmic events like the one that the world is witnessing in Australia.

Celebrities are rallying around Australia, which is currently engulfed in wildfires that have killed nearly a billion animals and have destroyed over two thousand homes.

Many have expressed their support for Australia and shared their wealth and calls to action. For instance, you may have seen these posts:











Other stars who have offered assistance include Lizzo, who volunteered at a warehouse in Australia during time off from her tour. Kylie Jenner donated $1 million, and Phoebe Waller-Bridges also auctioned off her Golden Globes suit in support of the cause. Actress Yael Stone said that she's giving up her green card and moving back to Australia to reduce the environmental impact of constantly flying overseas.

It's incredibly important that celebrities are raising money and donating to Australia, and it's even more vital that some are connecting what's going on to climate change. But it's also tragic that it took a calamity like this one, in a first-world country, for large-scale and widely publicized action to occur.

Though small actions in response to the Australia fires are important, everyone—celebrities, ordinary people, and particularly governments around the world—need to be taking preventative measures to reduce the likelihood of this happening again.


Australian Bushfires: A Climate Change Issue

After all, though bushfires are natural events in Australia, human-caused climate change has significantly worsened the intensity of these fires—and the science is there to prove it. "Climate change is increasing bushfire risk in Australia by lengthening the fire season, decreasing precipitation and increasing temperature," said the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Essentially, climate change is turning small fires into cataclysmic events like the one that the world is witnessing in Australia. This is, of course, far from an isolated incident. Climate change is contributing to the emergence and destructiveness of natural disasters across the world. Flooding, droughts, storms, and fires are already decimating the livelihoods of millions, leaving impoverished and vulnerable communities at extreme disadvantage and costing billions of dollars in repairs. Natural disasters have occurred in the 21st century at five times the frequency they occurred in the 20th century, and things will only worsen as the climate rises if we do not take extreme preventative actions.

Celebrities and ordinary people finding themselves panicking about what's happening in Australia would do well to follow in the footsteps of people like Jane Fonda, who have actively been putting their bodies on the line in order to persuade governments to take the threat of climate change very seriously.

If you're wondering how to help Australia, and if you feel your heart is breaking upon seeing the tragic photos of orange skies and dead kangaroos, then by all means, follow in the footsteps of Chris Hemsworth and Nicole Kidman and donate to wildfire relief funds. But consider also donating to movements that might prevent or reduce the likelihood of events like this one. Consider joining a climate change protest movement. Consider taking action. Consider supporting organizations that will not only stop the bleeding but that will prevent new wounds from opening.

MUSIC

13 Musicians Influenced By Psychedelics

Some wild stories from great musicians who dabbled in hallucinogens.

The story of psychedelics is intertwined with the story of music, and tracing their relationship can feel like going in circles.

For thousands of years, artists have been using naturally-grown herbs to open their minds and enhance their creative processes. Since LSD was synthesized by Albert Hoffman in 1938, psychedelics have experienced a reemergence, blooming into a revolution in the 1960s, launching dozens of genres and sounds that focused on acid, shrooms, and all of the portals they opened. Around the 1960s, scientists also began studying the relationship between psychedelics and music, and even back then, researchers found that, when combined, music and psychedelics could have therapeutic effects on patients.

More modern studies have discovered that LSD, specifically, links a portion of the brain called the parahippocampal—which specializes in personal memory—to the visual cortex, which means that memories take on more autobiographical and visual dimensions. Other studies have found that LSD can make the timbres and sounds of music feel more meaningful and emotionally powerful. Today, psychedelic music still thrives, and you can hear flickers of those early trip-inspired experiences all across today's modern musical landscape.

"There is a message intrinsically carried in music, and under the effects of psychedelics, people seem to become more responsive to this," said the psychedelic researcher Mendel Kaelen. "Emotion can be processed more deeply. It's a beautiful narrative. It's like a snake biting itself in the tail."

All that said, psychedelics can be as dangerous as the archetypal live-fast-die-young rock and roller's average lifestyle. They can destabilize already fragile minds and can encourage further drug abuse and reckless behavior. Often, psychedelic revolutions have coincided with colonialist fetishizations, apocalyptic visions, and appropriations of Eastern culture.

However, sometimes psychedelics and musical talent can come together in a synergy so perfect that it can literally create transcendent and healing experiences. Hallucinogens affected each of these following musicians in a unique way, but their experiences with hallucinogens produced some of the greatest music of all time.

Harry Styles — She

In his revelatory Rolling Stone profile, Harry Styles spoke out about how magic mushrooms inspired his most recent album, Fine Line. Inspired by Fleetwood Mac, the 25-year-old apparently spent a lot of time at Shangri-La Studios in Los Angeles tripping and listening to the old psychedelic greats.

fine line - harry styles (slowed n reverb) www.youtube.com

"Ah, yes. Did a lot of mushrooms here," he said in the interview during a tour of the studio. "We'd do mushrooms, lie down on the grass, and listen to Paul McCartney's Ram in the sunshine."

Things even got a little violent, as they often can when dealing with hallucinogens. "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," he reminisced affectionately.

Harry Styles - She (Official Audio) www.youtube.com


Kacey Musgraves — Slow Burn

Kacey Musgraves' dreamy song "Slow Burn" was apparently inspired by an acid trip. Listening to the lyrics, you can hear the influence of psychedelics twining with country and singer-songwriter tropes. "I was sitting on the porch, you know, having a good, easy, zen time," she said of the songwriting experience, which she said happened out on her porch one evening. "I wrote it down on my phone, and then wrote the songs the next day with a sober mind."

Kacey Musgraves - Slow Burnwww.youtube.com

LSD, she said, "opens your mind in a lot of ways. It doesn't have to be scary. People in the professional worlds are using it, and it's starting to become an option for therapy. Isn't that crazy?" Her affection for the drug also appears in her song "Oh What A World," which contains the lyric, "Plants that grow and open your mind."


A$AP Rocky — L$D

While A$AP Rocky's affection for LSD isn't a surprise given his propensity for writing about the drug, apparently the rapper has an intellectual approach to his psychedelic experimentation.

"We was all in London at my spot, Skeppy came through," he told Hot New Hip Hop about his experience writing LSD. "I have this psychedelic professor, he studies in LSD. I had him come through and kinda record and monitor us to actually test the product while being tested on. We did the rhymes all tripping balls."

Apparently his first acid trip happened in 2012. "Okay, without getting anyone in trouble, I was with my homeboy and some trippy celebrity chicks and…" he said in an interview with Time Out. When asked how long it lasted, he said, "Too long, man. Twenty-three hours. I was trippin' till the next day. When I woke up, I was like, Damn! I did that shit! That shit was dope. It was so amazing. It was a-ma-zing. Nothing was like that first time."

Acid changed his entire approach to music and success. "I never really gave a f*ck, man, but this time, I really don't give a f*ck," he said. "I don't care about making no f*cking hits." Instead, he focuses on creating. "It's so hard to be progressive when you're trippin' b*lls," he said. "You make some far-out shit!"

A$AP Rocky - L$D (LOVE x $EX x DREAMS) www.youtube.com


The Beatles — Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds

The Beatles' later music is essentially synonymous with LSD, and the band members often spoke out about their unique experiences with the drug. According to Rolling Stone, the first time that Lennon and Harrison took it was actually a complete accident. A friend put LSD in their coffee without their knowledge, and initially Lennon was furious. But after the horror and panic faded, things changed. "I had such an overwhelming feeling of well-being, that there was a God, and I could see him in every blade of grass. It was like gaining hundreds of years of experience in 12 hours," said Harrison.

Paul McCartney had similar revelations. LSD "opened my eyes to the fact that there is a God," he said in 1967. "It is obvious that God isn't in a pill, but it explained the mystery of life. It was truly a religious experience." Of LSD's effect, he also said, "It started to find its way into everything we did, really. It colored our perceptions. I think we started to realize there wasn't as many frontiers as we'd thought there were. And we realized we could break barriers."

Using the drug not only helped the band create some of the most legendary music of all time—it also brought them closer together. "After taking acid together, John and I had a very interesting relationship," said George Harrison. "That I was younger or I was smaller was no longer any kind of embarrassment with John. Paul still says, 'I suppose we looked down on George because he was younger.' That is an illusion people are under. It's nothing to do with how many years old you are, or how big your body is. It's down to what your greater consciousness is and if you can live in harmony with what's going on in creation. John and I spent a lot of time together from then on and I felt closer to him than all the others, right through until his death."

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (Remastered 2009) www.youtube.com


Ray Charles — My World

The soul music pioneer allegedly once described acid as his "eyes." Charles was blind, but LSD is said to have allowed him some version of sight. Though he struggled with addiction, Charles eventually got clean, though his music always bore some markers of his experiences with the subconscious mind.

Actually, blind people on LSD and hallucinogens can experience hallucinations of different kinds, though it's somewhat rare. According to a study in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, this happens because during a trip, "the plasticity of the nervous system allows the recognition and translation of auditory or tactile patterns into visual experiences."

Ray Charles-My World www.youtube.com


Eric Clapton — Layla

Clapton struggled with drug abuse throughout his life, and LSD certainly had an influence on him. While he was a part of Cream, he frequently played shows while tripping, and according to outontrip.com, he became "convinced that he could turn the audience into angels or devils according to the notes he played."

Eric Clapton - Layla www.youtube.com


Chance the Rapper — Acid Rap

Before he was creating the ultimate dad rap, Chance the Rapper was an acidhead.

"None of the songs are really declarative statements; a lot of them are just things that make you wonder...a lot like LSD," said Chance the Rapper of his hallucinogen-inspired album, the aptly named Acid Rap. "[There] was a lot of acid involved in Acid Rap," he told MTV in 2013. "I mean, it wasn't too much — I'd say it was about 30 to 40 percent acid ... more so 30 percent acid."

But the album wasn't merely about acid; like much of the best psychedelic music, it was more about the imagery and symbolism associated with the drug than the actual drug itself. "It wasn't the biggest component at all. It was something that I was really interested in for a long time during the making of the tape, but it's not necessarily a huge faction at all. It was more so just a booster, a bit of fuel. It's an allegory to acid, more so than just a tape about acid," he said.

Chance The Rapper - Acid Rain www.youtube.com


John Coltrane — Om

Jazz great John Coltrane was a regular LSD user who used the drug to create music and to have spiritual experiences. Though he struggled with addiction throughout his life, LSD was one drug that had a major artistic influence on him. While it's not known for sure if the album Om—which includes chanted verses of the Bhagavad Gita—was recorded while Coltrane was on LSD, many rumors theorize that it was.

"Coltrane's LSD experiences confirmed spiritual insights he had already discovered rather than radically changing his perspective," wrote Eric Nisenson in Ascension: John Coltrane and His Quest. "After one early acid trip he said, 'I perceived the interrelationship of all life forms,' an idea he had found repeated in many of the books on Eastern theology that he had been reading for years. For Coltrane, who for years had been trying to relate mystical systems such as numerology and astrology, theories of modern physics and mathematics, the teachings of the great spiritual leaders, and advanced musical theory, and trying somehow to pull these threads into something he could play on his horn. The LSD experience gave him visceral evidence that his quest was on the right track."

John Coltrane - Om ॐ FULL ALBUM www.youtube.com


Jenny Lewis — Acid Tongue

Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis wrote the song "Acid Tongue" about her first and only experience on LSD, which happened when she was fourteen. She told Rolling Stone, "It culminated in a scene not unlike something from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas—the scene where Hunter S. Thompson has to lock the lawyer in the bathroom. I sort of assumed the Hunter S. Thompson character and my friend – she had taken far too much – decided to pull a butcher knife out of the kitchen drawer and chase me around the house… At the end of that experience, my mom was out of town on a trip of her own and she returned to find me about 5 lbs lighter and I had—I was so desperate to get back to normal I decided to drink an entire gallon of orange juice. I saw that it was in the fridge and decided that this would sort of flush the LSD out of my system, but I didn't realize that it did exactly the opposite."

Acid Tongue - Jenny Lewis www.youtube.com


The Beach Boys — California Girls

The Beach Boys' mastermind Brian Wilson was famously inspired by psychedelics, which both expanded and endangered his fragile and brilliant mind. After his first acid trip in 1965, an experience that he said "expanded his mind," Wilson wrote "California Gurls." After the trip, however, Wilson began suffering from auditory hallucinations and symptoms of schizophrenia, and though he discontinued use of the drug, he continued to hear voices; doctors eventually diagnosed him with the disease. Wilson later lamented his tragic experiences with LSD, stating that he wished he'd never done the drug.

Though it led Wilson on a downward spiral, LSD inspired some of his band's greatest work—namely the iconic Pet Sounds, which launched half a century of "acid-pop copycats."

Beach Boys California Girls www.youtube.com


The Flaming Lips — Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

The Flaming Lips' "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" is widely believed to be the product of lead singer Wayne Coyne's LSD experimentation. This theory is corroborated by the fact that the album's cover features the number 25 (and LSD is also known as LSD-25). They also frequently reference LSD in their music, which includes an album called Finally, the Punk Rockers Are Taking Acid.

More recently, Coyne made an LSD-inspired, NSFW short film with fellow acid-user and friend, Miley Cyrus.

the flaming lips yoshimi battles the pink robots part 1 www.youtube.com


Jimi Hendrix — Voodoo Child

While there is still some general contention on whether Jimi Hendrix hallucinated frequently, nobody really doubts that he did. According to rumors, the legendary musician even used to soak his bandanas in acid before going onstage so the drug would seep through his pores.

Jimi Hendrix 'Voodoo Child' (Slight Return) www.youtube.com

According to one source, Hendrix did more than just play music while tripping. He was also an expert at (of all things) the game of Risk.

"Jimi would play Risk on acid, and I never — and me personally — ever beat him at all," said Graham Nash in an interview. "He was unbelievable at it. He was a military man, you know, he's a paratrooper, and I don't know whether you know that about Jimi, but no one ever beat him at Risk."

Jimi Hendrix Interview [Rainbow Bridge] www.youtube.com


The Doors — The End

Jim Morrison was a documented LSD user, and it eventually led him out of his mind. "The psychedelic Jim I knew just a year earlier, the one who was constantly coming up with colorful answers to universal questions, was being slowly tortured by something we didn't understand. But you don't question the universe before breakfast for years and not pay a price," said John Desmore in Riders on the Storm: My Life With the Doors.

Morrison used many different drugs during his lifetime, but apparently LSD had a special place and he avoided using it while working. "LSD was a sacred sacrament that was to be taken on the beach at Venice, under the warmth of the sun, with our father the sun and our mother the ocean close by, and you realised how divine you were," said Ray Manzarek. "It wasn't a drug for entertainment. You could smoke a joint and play your music, as most musicians did at the time. But as far as taking LSD, that had to be done in a natural setting."

Jim Morrison psychedelic interview www.youtube.com

Morrison himself—a visionary who was also a drug-addled narcissist—was kind of the prototypical 1960s LSD-addled rock star. Alive with visions about poetry and sex but lost in his own self-destruction, he perhaps touched on something of the sublime with his art, but in the end he went down a very human path towards misery and decay.

Like many of these artists' stories, Morrison's life reveals that perhaps instead of using hallucinogens and psychedelics as shortcuts to a spiritual experience, one should exercise extreme caution when exploring the outer reaches of the psyche. When it comes to actually engaging with potent hallucinogens, that might be best left to the shamans, or forgotten with the excesses of the 1960s.

On the other hand, we might do well to learn from the lessons that people have gleaned from hallucinogens over the years—lessons that reveal just how interconnected everything is, that show us that music and memory and nature may just all stem from the same place.

Musicians x Psychedelics open.spotify.com

CULTURE

Climate Change Won't Be Solved by Celebrities Flying Coach

At the Golden Globes, Waller-Bridge and Aniston joined a litany of celebrities calling for action in the face of devastating wildfires.

Russell Crowe wanted the world to know that he wasn't at the Golden Globes because his country is on fire.

And what better way to let the world know about something than to get beloved actress Jennifer Aniston to read it out loud?

In the speech she gave in Crowe's honor, Aniston said that Crowe wasn't at the awards ceremony because he was "at home in Australia protecting his family from the devastating brush fires." She continued to deliver a pointed message: "Make no mistake, the tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate change-based. We need to act based on science, move our global workforce to renewable energy, and respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is. That way, we all have a future."

Crowe had received the award for Best Actor in a Limited TV Series or Movie for his work in The Loudest Voice, but as we all know, all the awards in the world don't matter when your home is on fire. The bushfires in Australia have killed half a billion animals and 24 humans, have displaced six thousand people, and have eviscerated nearly 1.65 million hectares. According to scientists, these fires were driven by a lack of rain and low soil moisture, a direct consequence of climate change.

Crowe and Aniston aren't the only ones taking action for Australia. The mastermind behind Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, is auctioning off the sequined suit she wore to the Golden Globes and will donate the money to disaster relief.

"We worked with Ralph & Russo, who are the Australian designers who created this couture suit ... which is the most extraordinary thing I've ever worn, and we're going to auction it," Waller-Bridge said of her decision to sell the suit.

Many other stars have also voiced their support for those affected in the disaster, which is certainly indicative of a much, much larger global problem that is already a reality for so many people. Lizzo pointed out that the fires are part of an interconnected web of decay that is damaging our entire planet.

"Being over here in Australia has really given me a real time view into what's happening with these devastating fires and for all of my followers who are mostly American, I just want to say that this is a global crisis," she wrote on Instagram. "These CO2 emissions will affect the entire earth. All of our atmosphere, all of our air."

Even Paris Hilton had something to say, along with Camila Cabello, Kylie Jenner, Maria Sharapova, and many others.




While it's inspiring to see so many people speaking out, it's also true that many of these celebrities are part of the overarching problems that created this issue in the first place—which is capitalism.


Though it's clearly a problem that celebrities hypocritically take private jets while tweeting about how sad they are about dead koalas, the problem is even deeper than that, and it won't be solved by a few famous people flying coach. The issue is our global reliance on fossil fuels—and our refusal to put laws into place that actually regulate the industry that profits off of them. We have tried and failed to rely on the altruism of the global elite. It's time for the systemic, democratically conceded implementation of processes like the Green New Deal to mandate the redistribution of wealth and a transfer to renewable resources.

In order to prevent more of what's going on in Australia, we shouldn't just sporadically funnel money into disaster relief or content ourselves with a few celebrity platitudes. We need to embark on a global effort to combat climate change on a massive scale before it torches us all.

Congratulations–you've survived 2019.

We've been through haunting commercials, traumatically bad movies, and the fall of a favorite childhood author. But through it all, there's been Spotify, judging our music tastes like a disapproving boomer. And yet, we persisted. In alphabetical order, these are the top 50 musical lifelines of the 2010s. In the top 25 are the likes of BTS, Bon Iver, Kendrick Lamar, and Childish Gambino. Among the bottom 25 are FKA twigs, Tayor Swift, Julien Baker, and Charli XCX. Notably absent is anything by Ed Sheeran or Justin Bieber, because we don't believe bad listening habits should be encouraged. Happy listening in 2020!

Top 50 Songs of the Decade

Top 50 Songs of the Decade open.spotify.com


TOP 25

33 "GOD": Bon Iver

With 22, A Million, Bon Iver shattered expectations and blended innovative electronic arrangements with typically opaque lyrics, albeit this time more about religion and technology rather than snowstorms and forests. "33 'GOD'" is one of its most joyful and reverent moments. "I could go forward in the night / but I better fold my clothes," Vernon sings just before the song explodes into its shimmering chorus, a line that perfectly encapsulates the strangeness of being human while thinking about transcendence.

Bon Iver - 33 "GOD" - Official Lyric Video www.youtube.com


Bloodbuzz Ohio: The National

What happens when your hometown is full of bitter memories? If you're the National's Matt Berninger, you drink to the point of oblivion. But the instrumentals of "Bloodbuzz Ohio"—named after Berninger's home state and, well, an alcoholic buzz—aren't as somber as one might expect, its stadium-sized piano melody driven by intricate, racing guitars; like the malaise of homesickness squared up with an unyielding desire to move forward.

The National - Bloodbuzz Ohio (Official Video) www.youtube.com


Dancing On My Own: Robyn

Seeing your ex with someone new can often behold the same "don't want to look, but can't look away" quality as a gnarly car accident. At least, that's the case for the narrator of Robyn's definitive sad banger, "Dancing On My Own"—and what better medicine for heartbreak than doing just that? The song might be sung from the perspective of being lonely, but truthfully, its listeners are never fully alone; just take it from the New Yorkers who threw a dance party to the song on a subway platform after Robyn's Madison Square Garden show earlier this year. "Dancing On My Own" pines for closure, but in the end, making yourself your own partner—both in life and in the club—is the best remedy for moving on.

Robyn - Dancing On My Own (Official Video) www.youtube.com


Cardi B: Bodak Yellow

Cardi B's breakout hit became so unavoidable and beloved that it's pretty mind-boggling to think that just months before it dropped, she was only a reality TV audience favorite on VH1's Love & Hip Hop. "Bodak Yellow" is boastful and unapologetic, an anthem of bad b*tchery—the kind of song that makes you want to hit the club with your girlfriends and disregard every man in sight. Cardi had long left the stripper's pole behind her, but with "Bodak Yellow," all eyes remained on her.

Cardi B - Bodak Yellow [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO] www.youtube.com


Cranes in the Sky: Solange

The younger Knowles wrote "Cranes in the Sky" after an especially painful breakup with the father of her son. On the centerpiece of her 2016 record A Seat at the Table, Solange delivers a laundry list of coping mechanisms: dancing, spending, sexing, working hard. It's a jazzy, R&B ode to life's inevitable pains, and whichever vices we select in order to ease them.

Solange - Cranes in the Sky (Video) www.youtube.com


Everybody Wants to Love You: Japanese Breakfast

In the dream-pop she makes as Japanese Breakfast, Michelle Zauner wears her emotions on her sleeve. She wrote the first incantation of "Everybody Wants to Love You" with her previous band Birthday Girlz, for a woman who had no clue the song was about her. Years later, it was sped up and extended for Japanese Breakfast's version, a deliriously enamored love anthem that's as intoxicating and thrilling as a new crush.

Japanese Breakfast - Everybody Wants To Love You (Official Video) www.youtube.com


Fake Love: BTS

As Popdust's resident "Only Person Who Listens to Kpop," (Dan) it's important to me to see BTS represented on our Top 50 Best Songs of the Decade list. As our world becomes more and more connected in the age of the Internet, we can no longer pretend that Western media is the only relevant pop culture content. With their incredibly diverse range of hits and a global appeal that transcends language barriers, BTS feels like a once-in-a-generation musical group.

All that being said, I reached out to ARMY (BTS's dedicated fanbase) on Twitter to get a sense of which BTS songs meant the most to them. I really enjoyed reading the range of their responses, as it seems like pretty much every BTS song is someone's favorite, many of them for deeply personal reasons. Out of every BTS song, Fake Love was echoed most frequently.

It's not hard to see why. Fake Love is a musical masterpiece that entirely escapes genre categorization. Structurally superb, the song's solemn, trap-rock-influenced melody effortly flows into both catchy pop refrains and emotional hip hop segments, with a little bit of grunge built in for good measure. The complex sound compliments the deep, mature lyrics, which explore the dissolution of an intense romance wherein a person realizes that they've lost sight of their own identity in order to shape themselves for a love that was never really there. Fake Love is easily one of BTS's darkest songs, making for an emotionally resonant experience that's sure to stick with listeners for decades to come.

BTS (방탄소년단) 'FAKE LOVE' Official MV www.youtube.com


Formation: Beyonce

Beyonce dropped "Formation" the day after Trayvon Martin's 21st birthday. On the surface, the Lemonade standout is a widely accessible party jam, Queen Bey at her boldest. But under its bombastic bass and victorious marching band instrumentals, there's an undeniable spirit of Southern black empowerment, reaching levels of unimaginable success against all odds.

Beyoncé - Formation www.youtube.com


Gold: Chet Faker

Chet Faker's "Gold" is one of the finest offerings on his debut album, Built on Glass. The track's smooth R&B and electronica match his soft-spoken drawl, punctuated by his crisp falsetto, as he croons about being in love with love.

Chet Faker - Gold (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com


I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times): Jamie xx

With his debut solo record In Colour, Jamie xx—one-third of the hushed, stoned indie trio the xx—proved he was no one-trick pony. That message is heard clearest on "I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times)," an irresistible party track featuring rapper Young Thug, Jamaican dancehall artist Popcaan, and a sample from '60s acapella group the Persuasions. Altogether, it's a certifiable good time indeed—maybe even too good if you're Rue from Euphoria.

Jamie xx - I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times) ft. Young Thug, Popcaan www.youtube.com


Levitate: Kendrick Lamar

Track seven on Untitled Unmastered, unofficially known as "Levitate," is a stand out Kendrick Lamar track among a long list of contenders, mostly for its opening. The trippy instrumentals and the increasingly chaotic vocals capture a strange, surreal feeling of drifting away from the world. The lyrics are strong, but mostly, nothing will get as high as this song.

untitled 07 | 2014 - 2016 www.youtube.com


Man on Fire: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

The indie folk of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros lives in the American heartland of the past, which we're disillusioned with but nostalgic for at the same time. That includes frontman Alex Ebert, who describes "Man on Fire" as being a release from "all the problems, pain, murder, heartache, shame, and those things I bring up, especially the conflict." He told Artist Direct, "I felt like instead of trying to fix it or work on it within the paradigm of problem-solving, I wanted to throw it all away and just dance in the streets. That's what it's about. It was born from a really intense, defiant, and frustrated place. That's one of the reasons I love that song."

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - Man On Fire [Official Video] www.youtube.com


Midnight City: M83 -

Repeating a series of four notes eight times in a row is a method as old as pop music itself, but that didn't stop Anthony Gonzalez—the one man behind M83—from creating one of the most recognizable chorus melodies of the decade.

M83 - Midnight City www.youtube.com


Nights: Frank Ocean

Blond, which seems to exist in twenty more dimensions than the majority of other music, is a master class in the art of building worlds through sound and panning and pure poetry. "Nights" is one of its lush centerpieces, a song about the exhausting and thrilling nature of the nighttime and everything that comes with it; dreams, the subconscious, love, sex, unfiltered emotion, exhaustion. As the song switches from its initial beat to its frenetic guitar interlude and finally breaks down to that too-dreamy, silky-trap outro, you know that Frank has been hacking your ears to transport you somewhere else. The lyrics help, too; when Frank sings, "Wanna see nirvana and I wanna die," you really feel it every time.

Frank Ocean - Nights (Visuals) www.youtube.com


Oblivion: Grimes

Claire Boucher turned her violent street assault and its lingering emotional toll into the defining song of her career. The staccato, arpeggiated bassline of "Oblivion" mimics the persistent, heightened wariness of walking by yourself at night; though the track is largely centered around being alone, the anxieties Grimes sings about are something all of her female listeners can relate to.

Grimes - Oblivion www.youtube.com


Pure Comedy: Father John Misty

"Pure Comedy" is a song that's memorable not so much for musical content but for its message. The melody is straightforward without a lot of elaboration, and the vocals don't make any attempt to show off. It's a song that serves the almost singular purpose of delivering its unambiguous lyrics and using them to dig into the profound and sad absurdity of life. It may not do much else, but it does that as well as any song of the decade.

Father John Misty - Pure Comedy [Official Music Video] www.youtube.com


Run Away With Me: Carly Rae Jepsen

By the time her third album, Emotion, dropped, Carly Rae Jepsen was a known auteur of potently catchy bubblegum pop songs. But the dark side to her breakout "Call Me Maybe" was that it overshadowed much of her work to come, even the chugging, euphoric "Run Away With Me." With it's chant-along chorus, a perfectly utilized saxophone solo, and a globetrotting music video, it's Jepsen at her most fun and most inviting.

Carly Rae Jepsen - Run Away With Me www.youtube.com


Runaway: Kanye West

Say what you want about Kanye West's trajectory post-Life of Pablo, but My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a truly magnificent achievement. "Runaway" is the bloody, ragged, triumphant beating heart of the album. It begins with those iconic syncopated staccato piano notes and then explodes into a growling bassline, and all together it taps into the deep pain and guilt at the core of the human experience, something Kanye's always been an expert at exposing to the light. When the cello section at the end breaks loose, it's heaven in hell.

Kanye West - Runaway (Video Version) ft. Pusha T www.youtube.com


Silver Spoon (Baepsae): BTS

Whereas many of BTS's songs evade easy genre categorization, Silver Spoon (or Baepsae, which means crow-tit––a Korean term roughly equivalent to calling someone a "try-hard") falls firmly in the realm of hip hop. In that same vein, Silver Spoon is also one of BTS's most politically biting songs.

Serving as an anthem for disenfranchised millennials, Silver Spoon places the tension between younger generations and older generations into stark contrast. The title, Silver Spoon, refers to a popular Korean metaphor for class divides (the same concept plays a large role in Bong Joon-ho's Parasite, which also happens to be one of my favorite movies of the decade). In the song, BTS calls out the hypocrisy of older people acting like millennials don't work hard enough while simultaneously subjecting them to an unfair system with a dearth of opportunities. By wearing the derogatory term "baepsae" like a badge of honor, BTS takes power back from an older generation who would otherwise write younger people off.

With a platform as big as theirs, BTS's political messaging has the potential to reach further than most, and while Silver Spoon specifically speaks to issues in South Korea, its message has obvious parallels all around the world.

BTS (방탄소년단) – Baepsae (뱁새) (Crow Tit/Try-Hard/Silver Spoon) Lyrics [Color Coded_Han_Rom_Eng] www.youtube.com


Someone You Loved: Lewis Capaldi

America's been slow to catch onto Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi, but the 23-year-old's piano-driven anthem topped the UK charts for seven consecutive weeks in 2019. Through his all-too-charming social media presence, he showcases his dry humor and pokes fun at himself and the seeming perfection of successful musicians: "A lot of people say that 'the best songs fall into your lap' and that they're the easiest ones to write and take the shortest amount of time," he told NME. "I wholeheartedly disagree with that. I think my best songs come from me sitting at a piano, bashing my head against a brick wall for hours and hours on end to get one good melody."

Lewis Capaldi - Someone You Loved www.youtube.com


Spring Day: BTS

If I were to recommend K-pop to someone who had never listened to a single non-English-language song before, Spring Day is probably the first song I would play for them. One of BTS's most fascinating talents (and I'd wager a major reason behind their widespread international success) is their unprecedented ability to imbue their music with real, raw emotion that completely breaks through cultural barriers and hits on the core universal sentiments underlying their songs. Spring Day is all about longing for someone who isn't there, and even without translating the gorgeous lyrics, the song fills you with the melancholy sensation of nostalgia. It's almost impossible to listen to Spring Day without missing someone or something from your past.

Couple this with one of BTS's most imagery-dense music videos, full of references to Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer and Ursula K. Le Guin's false-utopian short story, "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas," and Spring Day plays out like an almost literary endeavor. For a group renowned for their ability to tear up a dance floor and hype up an audience, a deeply sentimental piece like Spring Day stands as testament to BTS's vast range of talents.

BTS (방탄소년단) '봄날 (Spring Day)' Official MV www.youtube.com


Take Me to Church: Hozier

In 2014 you could hardly leave the house without hearing someone butchering the lyrics to "Take Me to Church," Hozier's infectious folk-rock break out single. Many interpret the song as a critique of organized religion interfering in people's personal lives, particularly their sex lives. As such, the song was as divisive as it was wildly popular. Hozier's velvet voice and gospel-inspired songwriting prowess came together to create a song that was markedly more substantive and interesting than most other hits from 2014.

Hozier - Take Me To Church (Official Video) www.youtube.com


This is America: Childish Gambino

When "This is America" dropped, it came at a moment of breathless rage and fear in America. With its themes of gun violence and racial discrimination, it lit up like a match thrown on gasoline—but it had staying power because of its sonic juxtapositions of African folk-pop against brooding trap, and that breathtaking chorus line. When Glover says, "This is America," you're forced to wonder exactly whose America he's talking about, and that was always the point.

Childish Gambino - This Is America (Official Video) www.youtube.com


Your Best American Girl: Mitski

"Your Best American Girl" starts soft, but then explodes into a forest fire of electric guitar. When Mitski sings the iconic lyrics, "Your mother wouldn't approve of how my mother raised me / but I do / I finally do / and you're an all American boy, guess I couldn't help try to be your best American girl," she expressed a delicate balance of emotions: rage mixed with self-love, freedom combined with regret. The result is an unforgettable, cathartic love letter to music and solidarity.

Mitski - Your Best American Girl (Official Video) www.youtube.com



BOTTOM 25

A More Perfect Union: Titus Andronicus

In his famed Lyceum Address, Abraham Lincoln told the United States: "As a nation of free men, we will live forever, or die by suicide." These words are uttered at the beginning of "A More Perfect Union," the opener to punk rockers Titus Andronicus' cult favorite The Monitor. Chock-full of New England references both historical and modern, it teeters the line between that invincibility and impermanence. But as the roaring second half marches on, it seems to rejoice in that at least we are free either way.

Cellophane: FKA twigs

Twigs has built a delicate and impressive body of work over the years, but few songs had the emotional resonance and total desperation of "Cellophane," an impossibly fragile breakup song for the ages off 2019's Magdalene. Its gorgeous video was a masterpiece of dance, endurance, and surrealist art, and socially, it's everything a cathartic cry into the void should be and more.

Despacito: Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee (NOT Justin Bieber)

Before Justin Bieber ever tarnished this song, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee had a globally viral hit that shone thanks to its magnetic, compulsively danceable beat and tune. "Despacito" is a tightly wound pop-reggaeton hybrid, one that checked every box and went further, becoming an irresistible earworm that will have us dancing for a long time to come.

Everything Is Embarrassing: Sky Ferreira

This Sky Ferreira track is utterly infectious, the kind of tune that gets in your bloodstream and makes you want to dance and cry at the same time. Written by Blood Orange's Dev Hynes, it's the perfect bridge between feeling everything and nothing, between taking things seriously and laughing at the absurdity of it all. When the chorus kicks in, you feel ecstatic despite the eye-rolls implicit in Ferreira's lyrics, then the bridge takes the song to an entirely new level.

Green Light: Lorde

Lorde's Melodrama was a tribute to parties, love, and heartbreak, and its opener set the tone for the entire cycle. "Green Light" starts out with restraint, but once Lorde starts singing about hoping her ex gets bitten by a great white shark as her voice plays in two octaves, you know she's not messing around. This unconventional and brilliant pop song is an open door into Lorde's neon dreamworld, a party invitation that's impossible to refuse.

How Great: Chance the Rapper

Chance has made an indelible mark on the music industry since releasing his mixtape 10 Day independently as a teenager. Since then, he's continued to push the boundaries of R&B and rap, perhaps most notably on his magnum opus Coloring Book, which he also released independently in 2016. One of the best, and most political, offerings off this album is "How Great," Chance's take on the classic gospel song "How Great Is Our God." Here, Chance combines biblical imagery with imagery from the technological age, creating a stirring juxtaposition between the holy and the seemingly mundane. The lyrics are thematically dense and brilliant, and the verses leave no doubt that there's no other MC in the game with flow like Chance the Rapper.

I Love It: Icona Pop feat. Charli XCX

This Charli XCX-penned bop contains so much joy and rage and energy, it's impossible not to dance along. A defining presence at every party of 2012 (and still a force to be reckoned with), it's the ultimate finally-getting-over-your-breakup song. Lyrically, it's an aggressive and punk-headed evisceration of bad memories, over a beat that's undeniably infectious.

Motion Sickness: Phoebe Bridgers

In early 2019, the New York Times published a report in which multiple women accused songwriter/producer Ryan Adams of sexual coercion. One of these women was then-up-and-comer Phoebe Bridgers, whose folksy single "Motion Sickness"—released almost two years prior—was rumored, and later confirmed, to be about Adams. "I hate you for what you did / And I miss you like a little kid," go her opening lines, as her anger unfolds. In that couplet, Bridgers perfectly summarizes the dichotomy of processing abuse at the hands of a confidant, a mentor, and lover all in one.

New Romantics: Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift built her country-pop crossover empire off teen heartbreak and the ill-fated tribulations of high school romance. But by "New Romantics," a bonus track from her full pop-pivot 1989, she ushered in a fresh generation of lovers-to-be. She cleverly ties in her adolescent anguish—"honey, life is just a classroom"—before launching into a shimmering chorus that exudes the joyful rush of youth.

Old Town Road: Lil Nas X

When "Old Town Road" was released in December of last year, it made Lil Nas X a household name almost overnight. The blend of country themes and sound with elements of trap music made the song both memorable and controversial—with contention over whether it belonged on country music charts, and accusations that the distinctions was tied to racial animus in the country music industry. The controversy may have contributed to the song's record-breaking streaming and the fact that everyone in the world now knows the lyrics.

Pa'lante: Hurray For the Riff Raff

Few songs manage to pack as much power as "Pa'lante," a Spanish word that can be loosely translated to "go onward" or "go for it." The song begins as a monologue about having to go to work and wanting to fall in love and prove our worth—all things we're told we have to want—then spirals into suicidal ideation about feeling colonized and ignorant and helpless—and then grows into a cry of revolution and solidarity with all people who have been blinded by the selfishness of capitalism, which tells us that we have to "be something" at the expense of all others.

Pompeii: Bastille

"Pompeii" was the British band's breakout hit and one of the most popular songs of 2013. A deep chant backs frontman Dan Smith's smooth tone as he sings about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. "'Pompeii' is actually an imagined conversation between two charred corpses reflecting on the city," Smith told The Sun. The famous disaster was the perfect allegory for pent up emotions. "It is essentially about fear of stasis and boredom," he added. "Being quite a shy, self-conscious person, I was afraid my life might get stuck."

Queen: Perfume Genius

Perfume Genius's raw, ecstatic "Queen" is an anthem and a howl, a cry of brokenness and triumph. When Mike Hadreas sings "No family is safe / when I sashay," his voice (along with a yowling synth and threatening vocal punctuations) tell a story of decades of queer and trans oppression and resilience. But beyond its identity politics, "Queen" is also a magnificent song, innovatively orchestrated and expansive and ragged as human emotion itself.

Rejoice: Julien Baker

In 2015, Julien Baker quietly released her sparse, dimly lit debut album, Sprained Ankle. It gathered cult status for its searing observations about sadness, religion, death, and queerness, and it didn't hurt that Baker knew her way around a Telecaster and a pedalboard. "Rejoice" might be the album's most powerful track—it starts soft and downtrodden, and by the time Baker is screaming about God over reverb-heavy loops, you feel like you're in a church in the middle of the wilderness.

River: Leon Bridges

Leon Bridges' 2015 song, "River," may be a modern hit, but its sound is pure old school soul and R&B. The video for the song makes it clear that Bridges wrote the song with the intention of celebrating the past and future of soul music, as many of the images portray the 2015 Baltimore uprising that shone a light on the racism still built into the structure of America. "I want this video to be a message of light. I believe it has the power to change and heal those that are hurting," Bridges told NPR. In a fraught moment in history, "River" reminded us of the power of catharsis through music.

The Bug Collector: Haley Heynderickx

Haley Heyndericx's ethereal debut album I Need to Start a Garden is full of shattering observations about simple, everyday events, and no song exemplifies this like "The Bug Collector," which finds metaphors for Catholic guilt in the many-legged creatures that invade the narrator's bathtub and bedroom. The song layers delicate fingerpicking over foggy French horn and effortlessly transports the listener to a place outside of time.

The greatest: Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey may have found viral fame and loathing thanks to "Video Games," but she's disproven every naysayer by consistently producing excellent, electrifying and challenging work. Norman F**king Rockwell's "The greatest"—a piano ballad cut through with wailing guitars, and an elegy about aging, global decay, and of course, lost love—may be her greatest work yet.

The Morning: The Weeknd

After nearly 10 years, Abel Tesfaye still stands as one of the defining influences of the modern R&B soundscape. The Weeknd has forever revolutionized the aesthetic of modern-day R&B, and it all began in 2010 with a little song called "The Morning." It was the apex of Tesfaye's mystique. His haunting falsetto vocals, his drug-fueled braggadocio, emotional promiscuity, and the minimalist production all culminated into something breathtakingly unique. For the first time in R&B, an awkward loner could become a sex icon in his own way. "I was everything an R&B singer wasn't," Tesfaye said in his first-ever cover story with Rolling Stone. House of Balloons shifted the tide of what was possible in R&B; now, The Weeknd's influence is inescapable. "I'm not gonna say any names, but just listen to the radio," the singer said. "Every song is House of Balloons 2.0."

The Suburbs: Arcade Fire

To be honest, 2017's Everything Now was one of the most disappointing albums in recent memory. Arcade Fire is all about massive statements on culture, love, and the human condition, but Everything Now presented all of the flair without any of the substance. In retrospect, it made us realize how hard it is to do what they do. The coming of age tale of "The Suburbs" is one of the band's most heart-wrenching musical narratives, with the metaphorical lyrics still studied under a microscope to this day by music snobs. The yearning for home when you leave and then the disillusion that follows when you return are palpable on "The Suburbs" and creates for a timeless anthem for the Millennial experience.

This Feeling: Alabama Shakes

Sometimes in the midst of life's chaos, you hit moments of stillness where you know it's going to be okay. "This Feeling" might be about these moments, and the fragility and importance of these all-too-ephemeral feelings. Emotions can change with the weather and anything can change on a dime, Brittany Howard seems to be saying, but just for now, we know that things are gonna be alright.

Uptown Funk: Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars

"Uptown Funk" is the 2014 hit single by Mark Ronson, featuring Bruno Mars. The appropriately funky baseline and the high energy vocals make for a contagious energy that more or less guarantees that this song will play at every wedding for the foreseeable future. Coupled with the absurdly self-aggrandizing lyrics—like a contemporary "I'm too Sexy"—it's not hard to see why this song has gotten so much play. So much play that a lot of people would rather never hear it again…

Vroom Vroom: Charli XCX

If there's one thing Charli XCX loves as much as partying, it's cars. But before she ran too fast like a white Mercedes or fantasized about a Porsche, she just wanted to hang with people who could keep up with her. So goes the title track from the pop experimentalist's Vroom Vroom EP, a song that became the national anthem of Charli Land despite gaining little traction outside of her core fanbase. From it's instantly-recognizable synth intro to its infinitely-quotable "Beep beep! Let's ride," with "Vroom Vroom," risking a speeding ticket has never sounded so enticing.

We Bros: WU LYF

Manchester quartet WU LYF were short-lived and hid in a veil of mystery, having disclosed little information to the press during their four active years. "We Bros," from their sole LP Go Tell Fire to the Mountain, perfectly encapsulates what's been missing from the music scene since they called it quits. A six-minute anticapitalist indie rock odyssey, it embodies a sense of freedom, joining forces, and just singing.

You're Not Good Enough - Blood Orange

The immensely talented polymath Dev Hynes has an uncanny knack for capturing the minute intricacies of human turmoil. He is rarely vindictive of those who have wronged him, instead choosing to remain caustic. "I never was in love, you know that you were never good enough," he says calmly over a dark, funky instrumental. "It's always the self-identified nice guys who pack the cruelest, most vindictive punches," wrote Pitchfork. On "You're Not Good Enough," Dev Hynes' matter-of-fact delivery revolutionized the way emotion was conveyed in R&B. Hynes is a master of tactically communicating awkward in-between moments of pain. You're not really pissed anymore, nor have you forgiven those who wronged you for their transgressions, but you're still just kinda...bitter. Hynes reassures us that those feelings are genuine and important to dissect, especially within the context of LGBTQ culture.

Your Deep Rest: The Hotelier

Emo revivalists the Hotelier cut right to the chase with their second album Home, Like Noplace is There, an admittedly dark record. Its high point "Your Deep Rest" (which, when said out loud, sounds quite a bit like "you're depressed") centers on the guilt and shame that ensue after a close friend's suicide, so much so that the song's narrator skips the funeral completely. It's a gutting retrospective, but one that reminds us to look out for those who are still here.