I’m at that point in life where I’m re-watching my favorite comfort shows for the zillionth time because nothing else is on. Most of the shows I'm obsessed with aren’t currently airing. And quite frankly, I’m bored. I can essentially quote New Girl word-for-word now due to this agonizing lull.

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins


The first excerpt from Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, is now available to read, and the new protagonist might come as a surprise.

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BTS at the American Music Awards

By Featureflash Photo Agency

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!

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Lil Peep: Everybody’s Everything (Documentary)

You can feel nostalgia for lost futures running through every note and lyric of Lil Peep's music, memorialized today on the massive compilation album Everybody's Everything.

Even while he was alive, his music was heavy with a sense of doom, always colored by a longing for a different mind and a different world.

Doom was part of his brand. He seemed allergic to his own mind and kinetically drawn to death; he appeared in a coffin on his last album, Come Over When You're Sober, Part 1. On his song "ghost boy" he sings, "When you are on your own / Just know that I love you / I won't pick up the phone / Just know that I need you." Though he sang those words while he was alive, they sound like a cry from beyond the veil, a futile attempt at making contact.

Witchblades and Rockstars: Lil Peep's Raw Honesty

Lil Peep always made music like he wasn't afraid to die, like every song could've been his last. Always, there was a sense of urgency, a throb to the basslines and a desperation to his voice that made it sound raw and real even when played through clusters of filters. The same went for his lyrics, which constantly veered between being laundry lists of vices and spurts of raw confession. "In high school I was a loner / I was a reject, I was a poser," he says on "witchblades," another song that toes the line between almost absurd performative artifice and moments of startling honesty. "I swear I mean well. I'm still going to hell."

When you listen to Lil Peep, you dive into a universe of pure id. The emotions are undistilled, dark and shrouded in decay, but they often veer towards surprising earnestness. From the start, Lil Peep was always honest about his desire to love and be loved, to be remembered and to do no harm to others.

Lil Peep - Text Me (ft. Era) (Official Audio)www.youtube.com

A lot of his songs rely on pop chord progressions and camp, which adds a sense of wide-eyed innocence to the music. That can feel like a kindness amidst the wilderness of all the binges and death, an eye in the storm of bass and hyper-processing. The same goes for his lyrics—he'll sound like a jaded old soul, but every once in a while his youth shows its face, or a wildly cheesy line will pop out of nowhere. "I'm a real rockstar," he says in "Rockstars," and you remember he's just a kid who fell into the vortex of Los Angeles. Of course, it wound up swallowing him.

A Portrait of Gen-Z Counterculture: Xanax, Social Media, and SoundCloud Clout

Throughout his short life, Peep struggled with anxiety and drug addiction, both of which made it difficult for him to connect to others. He took Xanax and other drugs to escape, and his music is a kind of map of the internal anxieties (and external methods of self-medication) that seem to define much of Gen-Z. There's a constant oscillation between overdose and withdrawal, a desire to feel everything and then a desire to escape it all.

Peep's short life, as chronicled on Everybody's Everything, is perhaps as good a portrait of the emotions of young people in 2017 as anything else in pop culture today. In the social media dimension, users are confronted with images of death and apocalypse, posted right alongside artificial visions of glory and glamour. Naturally, conflicting emotions like guilt, crushing realities, and illusions blur together in technicolor on every feed, just as they do on every Peep song.

Fortunately, Peep was a capable musician, capable of spinning these emotions into cohesive, hypnotic gestalt. "Text Me" is a fragile and spacey guitar ballad that will speak to children of the digital age as well as anyone who's ever felt a sense of longing for something they couldn't quite reach. "Belgium" is another song about disconnect that threads dreamy synths with a pounding, heady rhythm. Still, some of his best songs remain unreleased, like the impossibly dreamy "lose my mind," the woozily dark "The Way I See Things," and the anthemic "Broken Smile."

LiL PEEP - The Way I See Thingswww.youtube.com

Kurt Cobain and the Legacy of Fallen Stars

Peep is perpetually compared to Kurt Cobain, another star who struggled with depression and drugs and died too young. The Nirvana frontman was well-known for his hyper-sensitivity and empathy, which made it hard for him to live in the real world. The same could be said of Lil Peep, who posted a series of desperate captions on Instagram in the months and days leading up to his death. The day before he died, he wrote, "I just wanna be everybody's everything."

However, it's now almost certain that Peep didn't commit suicide. He died at 21 from an accidental fentanyl overdose, before he had the chance to fill arenas (as he certainly would have), before his sadness could mature and crystallize, before his music could ripen, and before he could make deeper connections and develop his burgeoning social consciousness. Because of this, his body of work will always be incomplete. Even so, Everybody's Everything is strong on its own, but even more so when you realize it's a skeleton. These songs are graveyards, haunted by everything that could've been.

That's also part of why, in spite of the care that was clearly put into curating the album and documentary, it's still hard to listen to them without wondering if they sound how Peep would've wanted them to, or if he would've wanted them released at all.

Haunted Futures

Sometimes, though, it's hard not to feel like Peep knew his fate. On "haunt u," one of his many unreleased songs, he sings, "I could live forever if I want to / I could stop time / but I never wanna do that again." He's aware that he could fill arenas, stop the world in its tracks, but he doesn't want that kind of power. Ironically, it's so easy to imagine that song filling outdoor amphitheaters and to envision fans' cellphone lights waving along like stars.

The theorist Mark Fisher coined the term "hauntology" to describe any feeling of "nostalgia for lost futures," emphasizing that usually, the loss of faith in a future—the belief that we've reached some kind of end of history—is involved in holding these futures back from becoming real. In this way, Lil Peep's vision of his fate became a self-fulfilling prophecy. "When I die, I'mma haunt you," he sings at the end of "haunt u." Few promises have been better kept.

lil peep - haunt u [extended w/lyrics]www.youtube.com

lil peep - star shopping (prod. kryptik)www.youtube.com


Amber Bain Is Hanging in There

The musician behind The Japanese House is taking fame one day at a time

Jim Morgan

The day before Halloween, a sniffly Amber Bain sat aboard her dimly lit tour bus, dressed in a plaid shirt buttoned up to her neck as she got ready for her show in Brooklyn.

"I've been ill twice [this tour,] which sucks," Bain says in dismay. Sickness aside, she was rocking the hell out of a Canadian Tuxedo. "I'm supposed to be a cowboy," she says. "It's not very good. My band's outfits are much better."

Bain, who curates tempestuous dreampop under the moniker The Japanese House, has become something of an Indie idol these past five years. Her EPs, which initially were shrouded in obscurity, accumulated a passionate, cult-like following thanks to Bain's bright melodies and lyrical sincerity. "I think the impact of my music is a by-product," she said. "I'm not gonna sit and make music to make people feel good. The fact that maybe it does is just a by-product for me; it doesn't affect the way I feel about myself." Fast forward to 2019, and Bain's backstory is well known, her breakup with Marika Hackman heavily analyzed by her fans. I asked if her music has helped ease what she called her "poor broken heart." She fell silent and looked off for a moment. "Sometimes," she said. "It makes you feel both good and bad."

The Japanese House - Saw You In A Dreamwww.youtube.com

"Saw You in a Dream," one of Bain's most popular songs, unfortunately applies to the latter. "It's an intense song to sing every night." But that's the burden she carries for wearing her heart on her sleeve. Her contempt, frustration, passion, anger, love, depression are all on display in her music, and she admits that performing live has become slightly draining as a result. She embarked on a massive North American tour this past summer, and mere months after it ended, announced an additional 28-dates that would put her back on the road until the week before Thanksgiving. "You can take that up with my management," Bain said when I asked her about why she returned to the road so quickly.

Touring has always been a double-edged sword for Bain. She actively wanted to get on the road at the beginning of the year, but she recognizes in hindsight that her eagerness to travel was a result of her depression. "I didn't have a lot in my personal life that I could connect to," she said. "So there was something therapeutic about stepping in front of strangers that like you. When I feel more alone, I enjoy it more, but when I feel okay, I kinda just wanna go home." She snickered slightly. "I have ups and downs. The only thing that helps me connect is the crowd."

Bain admitted that drinking helps ease the anxieties of the road. "When I'm intoxicated, I can let go of the aspects of myself that truly haunt me, and I get a boost of egotism," Bain said with a laugh. "I think it allows you to be a bit of an asshole." She states that every great performer is somewhat of an "asshole." "You have to be a bit of a dick to be engaging sometimes." She frequently takes long breaks from drinking, but even that is a double-edged sword, because while she feels clear-headed, she says she's "stiff" and quick to "make herself cringe."

Press Here Publicity

As complicated as her relationship with touring is, Bain admits that Good at Falling wouldn't have emerged without connecting with her fans. "People might as well have been sitting down," she said when describing her first few years on the road. Her audience's lack of enthusiasm inspired her to push the limits of her sound, to pick up the pace and open up for air. She also gave props to Bon Iver's Wisconsin cabin, where she lived while recording the project. "Being isolated for two months really forces you to try new things. I couldn't have done that if I wasn't isolated or alone."

For now, Good at Falling is in the rearview, and she is eager to return home and begin writing again. But as noted in her latest song, "Something Has to Change," there is still healing that needs to be done. "It's basically about still being in love with my ex," she said frankly, but she assured me that everything is "all groovy." I asked if this whole process has helped her fall in love with herself for a change. She laughed playfully at the concept. "It's an ever-evolving relationship."