Music Reviews

Third Time’s the Charm with Sam Smith’s "Love Goes"

Sam Smith's artistry has always been most interesting when partnered with electronic soundscapes.

Sam Smith - Kids Again (Official Music Video)

On Sam Smith's third LP, Love Goes, the singer excels at exploring the LED glow and disco ball glitter of dance pop and electronica.

Although Sam Smith has made a name for themself in today's pop game as the chieftain of soulful, the multi-platinum singer-songwriter has best showcased their talent when their voice travels across enveloping, electronic soundscapes made for endless dancing rather than elegiac ruminating.
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Music Reviews

LANY Reveal Their Most Authentic Selves on "mama's boy"

They say you must choose between going big or going home—but on LANY's third full-length album, the alt-pop trio do both.

L-R: Les Preist, Paul Klein, Jake Goss of LANY.

According to Wikipedia, LANY is an alternative rock band.

This classification feels wrong, even in consideration of how hazy and debatable the term "alternative" is in the context of music. But the pop group, based in Los Angeles by way of Nashville, do make songs most fervently loved by melomaniac teen girls fond of labeling things as alternative or "counter" for the sake of feeling quirky or different—so a superfan's editing of their Wikipedia page likely explains this inaccurate categorization.

I say this all not dismissively, but knowingly, as I, myself, was a 19-year-old girl just a half-decade ago, living through a phase in which anything mainstream or popular deeply offended me—and enjoying a band like LANY, DIY but only faintly left-of-center, felt like a betrayal of hipster-dom.

So I, too, was the kind of fan who would hide my favorite bands' pop identities behind other descriptors. They weren't pop, because plain pop was basic. They were indie pop, or alt-pop. They were superior.

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Music Features

How Mariah Carey Paved the Way for Hip-Hop’s Reign Over Pop

25 years ago, pop stars and rappers were were expected to stay in their respective lanes. But Mariah Carey proved that hip-hop and pop were a match made in heaven—changing popular music as we know it.

Mariah Carey participates in the ceremonial lighting of the Empire State Building to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of her single "All I Want For Christmas Is You", in New YorkMariah Carey Empire State Building Lighting, New York, USA

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Hip-Hop is pop—not in sound, but rather in terms of influence and authority.

Certainly pure pop—pasteurized and whipped into its ultimate peak in the early 2010s—is still breathing, though despite its name, the genre's reign as the chieftain of popular music has ended.

Drake and Bad Bunny are as much of pop stars in 2020 as Carly Rae Jepsen and Kesha were in 2012. Spotify reports that, at this very moment, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's "WAP" is the most-streamed song in the United States. Immediately following that is trap-pop cut "Mood," a TikTok-famous summer bop by 24kGoldn and Iann Dior, two of many rising zoomer rappers who have embraced Hip-Hop's guidance in most melodic forms, like trap-pop, emo rap, alternative hip-hop, and pop-rap. And if that's not enough to give Hip-Hop a throne, Nielsen Music has confirmed that eight of the top 10 artists of 2020 so far are, of course, rappers.

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Film Reviews

The Death of White Escapism in Hulu’s "Palm Springs"

The Lonely Island's new rom-com offering broke Hulu's record for most streams in a debut weekend—but a closer look at the existentially chaotic film reveals overwhelming whiteness in all its ironic obsessions, privileges, and physics-defying problems.

Cristin Milioti and Andy Samberg in 'Palm Springs.'

Sundance Film Festival

"Like no place else."

That's the motto of Palm Springs, according to their Bureau of Tourism, which also pridefully advertises the Southern California desert resort city as a balmy oasis with a rich heritage, iconic modernist aesthetics, and an ever-increasing cultural appeal to both hipsters on holiday leave and influencers on business trips.

For a place like Palm Springs, these attractive qualities are not merely marketing angles, but famed truths. The city was established atop land belonging to Native Americans thousands of years before it became a hotspot for Golden Age cinema stars, tourists, and retirees, while its preservation of mid-century modern architecture and design creates a feeling that its visitors are escaping the now and cruising into a sequestered gem of retro charm. And, for its youthful crowd of millennials and early zoomers, there's a bit of everything, from swanky boutique hotels and Airbnb rentals, to art museums, street fairs—and oh, a little music festival called Coachella a short 29 miles away.

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Music Features

Why the "Progressive R&B" Grammy Category Is Still Regressive

Major changes need to be made in the music industry.


Photo by Hunter Crenian (Shutterstock)

At the 2013 Grammys ceremony, Frank Ocean took home the inaugural award for Best Urban Contemporary Album.

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