Music Features

Twenty One Pilots and Apoliticism in the Black Lives Matter Era

Twenty One Pilots frontman Tyler Joseph has left fans disappointed by making a joke when asked to speak on BLM.

As 2020 continues to test our collective sanity, some celebrities have proven to be extremely out of touch.

It's nothing new for Hollywood's elite to make tone-deaf social media posts making light of current events, and the heightened awareness brought to the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd by police has shown many people's true colors. The latest offender in an ever-growing list of disappointments is Tyler Joseph, singer of the very popular rock duo Twenty One Pilots.

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Culture News

All the Best Memes and Photos of Debby Ryan and Josh Dun's Secret Wedding

Disney Channel's Debby Ryan and Josh Dun secretly wed this winter, and fans are just finding out.

Vogue Magazine

Debby Ryan has been experiencing something of a renaissance over the past few months.

Fans have become obsessed with Ryan's facial expressions from a 2012 Disney Channel movie called Radio Rebel, along with some of her older acting choices, and they've gone viral online, particularly on TikTok.

Ryan's awkward physical movements and cutesy facial expressions hit just the right balance of uncomfortable and flirtatious, and the Internet is now obsessed with imitating them.

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Music Reviews

Halsey Fails to Find Herself On "Manic"

"Manic" features BTS' Suga, Alanis Morissette, Dominic Fike, and many different versions of Halsey.

Halsey's new album might be called Manic, but though its lyrics often reference the symptoms of mania in bipolar disorder—impulsivity, hyper-social behavior, and intense euphoria—it sounds calculated and weary, like someone taking stock in the midst of a comedown, looking over the scars and broken glass from last night's party.

But instead of hiding her wounds and fears away in plastic bags, Halsey sculpts her broken pieces into a work of art.

The themes on Manic aren't exactly unique. Halsey sings about lostness—a constant of the human experience—and her observations about self-loathing, betrayal, and hyper-visibility will feel particularly familiar to a generation raised on social media in an era when the self is perpetually monetized and fractured.

Halsey is uniquely talented at crystallizing her lack of a solid self into hit pop songs, which could soundtrack bars and nightclubs just as easily as your next sob session.

Sonically, the album is collage-like, studded with features, and overall a bit exhausting to listen to. It's at its best when it fades into silences or lets a few dreamy guitars wander through, but sometimes all the elements together become overbearing. That was probably Halsey's intent, though—to create a roller-coaster that emulates her roller-coaster life and mind.

Halsey borrows extensively from other artists and genres, and sonic references pop up like Instagram notifications. On "clementine," she sounds like she's imitating the sing-shouting style of Twenty One Pilots. "I don't need anyone," she screams. "I just need everyone and then some. I'm always having a breakthrough / or a breakdown." "Forever … (is a long time)" features whisper-singing reminiscent of Billie Eilish, and "Dominic's Interlude" sounds a bit like the Beach Boys. "3am" borrows an electric guitar tone and punk drum sound from emo songs of the early aughts, and the dark and claustrophobic "killing boys" evokes the tune of Matchbox Twenty's "Unwell." There are also excellent features from Alanis Morrissette and BTS's Suga. This abundance of tributes and guests isn't a flaw; if anything, it's a flex. Halsey is showing us that she can become anything or anyone.

That makes her determination to strip back every element of persona even more admirable. In her introduction to the album, Halsey says, "There's an ancient saying that you have three faces. The first one, you broadcast to the world. The second, you show to those closest to you. And the last one, you never show to anyone."

For her, "The first one is Halsey. The second is Ashley. But there's a third that exists in the cracks between the two—the most carnal, uninhibited explicit flash of color and light hiding in the center of my chest. I'm Halsey. Ashley. And I'm offering you a glimpse of that third face."

True to her word, these songs are windows into Halsey's secret self, the one that hides far below the skin, the one that's never palatable enough to show itself to others. The third-face we meet on Manic is full of self-doubt and self-loathing, constantly grappling with her desire to be loved and her lack of love for herself. She wants to be everything, but at the end of every wild night she feels like nothing, so she searches for fulfillment in everyone around her, dancing around the hole in her own chest. That's a sentiment that appears often; it's especially prominent on "I HATE EVERYBODY," which features zingers like, "If I can make you love me, maybe I can make me love me."

Even though she occasionally risks falling into the realm of triteness and cliche, Halsey often throws in a surprising metaphor or a fragment of weird poetry to knock the listener off-guard. "I'm feeling like a scaly thing / wrapped around my master," she says in "I HATE EVERYBODY," a vivid description of the visceral, physical shapes that suffering can take. A lot of Manic is about the internal world—blood under the skin, spiderwebs in the face—and these surreal details function like secret doors, letting you into abstract feelings, leading down strange passageways.

Maybe that was always the point. The album is an excavation, and Halsey is figuratively tearing open her chest and offering her guts to the world.

In Warsan Shire's poem "The House," the narrator traces her traumas by visualizing her body as a home, full of trapdoors and basement rooms. "Mother says there are locked rooms inside all women," it begins. Later, Shire writes, "I point to my body and say Oh this old thing? No, I just slipped it on." Shire could be talking about the kind of slippery persona that Halsey is desperately trying to discard throughout Manic.

But as it turns out, the more readily you discard your defense mechanisms, the closer you are to those basement rooms. The closing song "929" marks the climax of this search, as it's almost painfully confessional.

But it's also honest about the limits of confession. At the beginning of "929," Halsey tells us that she was born at 9:29 AM on 9/29. At the very end, she mumbles, "I was really born at 9:26. I saw my birth certificate. I'm a liar. I'm a f*cking liar."

So much of Manic revolves around Halsey's desire to find herself in others and to pour herself completely into her art. But what if you can't dissolve yourself in someone else's arms or on the page, no matter how much you search for release?

By the end of the album, Halsey seems to be realizing that the person she really is might actually be a million different people at once. She's a million fragments of glass, as scattered as the stars. Fortunately, she knows how to paint constellations onto the darkness.


Why We Needed Post Malone and Twenty One Pilots' Cover of "Don't Look Back in Anger"

The pop stars came together to cover Oasis's “Don't Look Back In Anger" and it surprisingly didn't suck.

Even for harsh pop culture critics, Twenty One Pilots and Post Malone are difficult to dismiss.

Twenty One Pilots and Post Malone - Don't look back in anger live Leeds festival 2019 (Oasis cover)

Their music is catchy and unique enough not to grow stale after a few listens, and they both seem like charismatic, well-intentioned boys. Still, taking on a song like “Don't Look Back In Anger" is a difficult feat. The Oasis anthem, which has plagued karaoke bars across the world (along with their other overplayed hit “Wonderwall") can easily come off as cheesy or disingenuous.

Maybe it's because the world is so awful right now, and maybe I'm just looking for anything to get my mind off of our president wanting to nuke hurricanes, but when the pop icons covered the track on the last night of UK's Leeds Festival, it was undoubtedly charming. Sure, Post Malone barely sang at all, and the whole thing was pretty much a Tyler Joseph performance, but the audience screaming out, “I'm gonna start a revolution from my bed" made this pop culture critic wanna go set some stuff on fire.

Though he doesn't sing much, Post's emphatic guitar-playing helps the song rise up from Joseph's Coldplay-esque piano playing, ultimately revving the crowd into a frenzy at the last chorus and making us wish that he'd gifted a few more of the verses with his distinctly raspy yowl. Only during that final chorus does the song rise to the heights of the original, exuding a kind of catharsis that feels something like freedom. In a world of so much bitterness, the idea that forgiveness is possible feels almost alien, but together, Post Malone and Tyler Joseph's ode to acceptance is nearly convincing.

Their brotherly hug at the end is the cherry on top of the whole thing. In conclusion, Post Malone and Tyler Joseph are totally cool, and “Don't Look Back In Anger" is still a damn good song.

Music Lists

MUSIC MONDAY | Max Frost’s ‘Gold Rush’ Glitters

Frost is focused on a fall tour and shares a playlist for "a kick ass day" starting now.

THE MIX | Top of the Mornin' to Ya

11.5.18 | "The morning is when I think our ears are at their most sensitive. The wrong song can set the whole day off on a bad foot. The right one gives you the glow of invincibility. Here are some songs to start off a kick ass day." - Max Frost

About Max Frost

With his recently released album, Gold Rush, executive produced by Fitz and The Tantrums founder Michael Fitzpatrick, and a fall tour with Twenty One Pilots, Max Frost is closing out 2018 on a high note. The Austin, Texas native grew up strumming his guitar with a bluesy influence, gigging with vintage-rock bands.

When he discovered hip-hop, Frost found a way to incorporate his soulful sound into catchy hooks for rap songs. Experimenting with a fabricated "sample" sound, Frost created something unique – and his distortion and reverbs sent shock waves through the music industry. It wasn't long before Frost was sought after for his signature sound and incredible "one-man-band" performances.

"Sonically, I was inspired by artists like Amy Winehouse and Raphael Saadiq, who breathed fresh life into the classic '60s soul sound. Their vintage songs have a modern edge to the production. My process is the reverse. I try to write songs that, if played on an acoustic guitar, are very modern. But my execution of the singing, instrumentation, and production is vintage," explains Frost.

Named by both NPR and Rolling Stone as one of "10 Artists You Need To Know," Frost has garnered acclaim with his sublime sonic blend - merging soul, funk, hip-hop, pop, and electronica.

Listen to Frost's "Good Morning" below:

Max Frost - Good Morning [Music Video]


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MUSIC MONDAY | Chris Jobe gives us some "Love in the Morning"

MAY 21 | Where the water falls, the cars drive and music has a good vibe

THE MIX | Waterfall Drive Vibes

by Chris Jobe

05.21.18 | This is my sunshine, windows down, driving to and from a waterfall in Tennessee playlist. There are about 4 or 5 big waterfalls around Nashville that are literally the best summer escapes and the drives to and from are always filled with sharing the aux chord.

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