Lin-Manuel Miranda: Most Handsome Young Man 2016

Posted by Kim, Sage, and Shannon

The competition was fierce and the competitors were easy on the eyes and the heart. But among a field that included Chris Evans, Sterling K. Brown, Santino Fontana, Oscar Isaac, and Karl Urban, just ONE Handsome Young Man could be voted as our readers’ CHOICE Handsome Young Man. Today, Lin-Manuel Miranda joins Adam Scott, Joel McHale, Tom Mison, John Cho, and Harry Styles in a very attractive fraternity. Not only that – he won our fourth annual poll with the largest margin we’ve ever seen. You showed love to his opponents too, but the numbers don’t lie. And they tell us that you think Lin-Manuel Miranda is one handsome son of a gun.

Since I wrote Lin’s nomination, I’m ceding most of this winner’s post to Kim and to our This Is Us recapper/head of the #HamforHandsome committee to elect Lin-Manuel Miranda, Shannon. I just want to add two points to my initial endorsement:

1. Enthusiasm is such an attractive quality. Though he’s a megastar now, Lin never looks or acts like he’s over it. He CAN’T BELIEVE what he gets to do every day and how many people he gets to reach. I think his fans see themselves in him. If they were in his place, they’d be soaking up every delicious moment too. That’s humility right there.

2. I don’t know why, but the way he says “yes” does things to me. (See: “No hablo Ingles!” “YES.”; “You punched the bursar?” “YES.”; and the entirety of “Say No to This.”)

Lin just can’t lose right now. And we’re happy to be heaping one more honor onto his teetering pile of awards. –Sage

#Ham4Handsome

#Ham4Handsome

I can admit that I am a latecomer to the Lin-Manuel Miranda train. I never saw In the Heights, his Tony winning musical that thrust him into the national spotlight. (I KNOW. BELIEVE ME.) But I can remember watching the Tonys that year and being completely endeared by the sprite of a composer who had FIRE in his eyes as he wrapped his acceptance speech, quoting Stephen Sondheim’s “Finishing the Hat”. I remember him popping up on How I Met Your Mother and going toe-to-toe with Hugh Laurie in two magnificent episodes of House (both in red because Lin clearly knows his colors). I was aware of his genius and quick-thinking mind as he churned out those magnificent show ending raps for Neil Patrick Harris’ Tony hosting gigs. I was COMPLETELY aware of Lin-Manuel Miranda and yet I WASN’T. It’s one thing to know of him and it’s an entirely DIFFERENT thing to KNOW OF HIM and that’s something that can really only be achieved by seeing him live and in person.

Which brings me to Hamilton. While all of my friends were going apeshit when the original cast recording came out, I steadfastly refused to listen to it. Not because I wasn’t interested, because GOD KNOWS I was, but because I was holding out to experience Hamilton for the first time in the theatre. I proudly deemed myself as a Hamilton unicorn as I stubbornly clung to the dream that SOMEHOW I would be able to score a ticket. It was tough because the show was EVERYWHERE and all of my friends were obsessed. (God BLESS them, they tried to preserve my innocence as much as possible.) The Hamilton Gods smiled down on me in April, when one of my best friends from high school called me up one day and said “So my sister and I are taking her daughter to see Hamilton and we have a fourth ticket. Do you want it?” After crying profusely and desperately switching my tickets to see Gillian Anderson in Streetcar to another night, my ticket to the Room Where It Happens was secured. And it was EVERYTHING. I totally get people listening to the OBCR before seeing the show, because for some, it’s the only way of being able to connect with this masterpiece. But let me tell you…FOR ME…my choice of being a Hamilton Unicorn made my experience perfect because it was like baptism by FIRE when it comes to Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Lin would probably be the first person to tell you that he is not a conventional Broadway leading man. He doesn’t have the full-bodied soaring voice that peers like Santino Fontana, Jeremy Jordan, and Hamilton‘s own Jonathan Groff have. But when you look at Lin on stage, none of that fucking matters. What sets Lin apart is his passion and charisma and that untenable quality that prevents you from looking at ANYONE else when he’s on stage. (And that says a LOT considering he’s standing next to people like Daveed Diggs and Leslie Odom Jr.) Lin’s Alexander Hamilton is MESMERIZING. He acts from his gut, from the deepest part of his soul, and it pours out of him from the tips of his fingers to the soles of his feet. From the buoyant JOY and determination of “My Shot” to the despondence of “Hurricane” to the reflective “It’s Quiet Uptown,” Lin’s performance was a masterclass. He knew his Alexander Hamilton inside and out and I will forever be grateful that I got to experience it in person.

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“What do you say to taking chances?”- 10 Celine Dion Hits and Their Lesser-known Counterparts

Posted by Sarah

The older I get, the less chill I am about Celine Dion.

It’s a progression that’s lasted pretty much my whole life. Beauty and the Beast was one of the first movies I ever remember watching, and I grew up during the time when she cornered the market on movie theme songs, so her music was always there whether I wanted to hear it or not. In my teens, the times I would go back to her work would be motivated purely by nostalgic instincts (“Oh, this is what childhood sounded like! Remember childhood, Sarah?”). When I first got to college, I was so concerned with making friends in a city where I knew nobody that I tried my best to hide whatever quirks others might consider too weird. Alone in my dorm room, however, I felt her music and I took comfort in it.

Now, I’m a grown-ass woman who stopped caring about what others think of my interests and found friends who love me in spite of my quirks, fully embracing Celine’s music in all its sheer power. I woke up at 3:15 on a grossly humid July morning to stand in the back of Rockefeller Plaza while she sang a handful of songs on the TODAY show (and it was SO worth it). I understand zero French and basically whip out my best Joey Tribbiani impression when singing along to Encore un soir, but that album was all I listened to for weeks after it was released (HOW is it so good? HOW?!). I bonded with people at work over this, to the point that every time she releases something new or makes an appearance somewhere, it becomes an EVENT at the office. I just really love Celine Dion. And that’s the way it is.

If I had something or someone to guide me towards some of the lesser-known songs, I probably would have lost my chill a lot faster. You can pick out a greatest hits album and it will no doubt be satisfying; there will never be a time when I’m not stunned by the force that is her singing voice when I hear any of her most popular songs. But if you solely focus on the hits, you’re missing out on a treasure trove of phenomenal tunes. Her signature songs are famous for a reason, but those songs are merely scratching the surface. So I decided to put together a list of ten songs to check out for those times when you’re looking for something more than the hits. And to the hesitant, to the resistant, to the casual fan who is only familiar with the classics, I just have one question.

What do you say to taking chances?

If you like “The Power of Love,” you’ll love “Alone”

“The Power of Love” is so strongly tied to Celine for me. It’s HER song. Then I found out she didn’t do it first, and everything I knew became a lie (turns out it was a Jennifer Rush song, and then an Air Supply song, and then a Laura Branigan song, before it became a Celine Dion song. I just…what?!?!). Once I got past the shock of it all, it just showed me how this woman has mastered the art of the cover song. She owns it, like she went over to all the artists who came before her and said, “This is mine now.” For more proof that Celine absolutely slays any 80’s song that comes her way, check out her cover of Heart’s “Alone,” off of the Taking Chances album. I’ll admit, I was skeptical when I first picked up the album, and had a very “Are we talking about the same song?” moment. For me, it was another one of those songs that couldn’t possibly be done by anyone other than the artists I knew (when will I learn?). The second I heard it, though, I couldn’t believe I ever doubted it. The intensity and emotion of the song are still there; she just tailored it to fit her style, and knocked it out of the park. Celine is as much of a badass as Heart, and it comes through here.

Although now, part of me wants to know how she’d handle “Barracuda.” You know…just for kicks.

If you like “To Love You More,” you’ll love “Seduces Me”

Oh man, “To Love You More.” How can anyone possibly resist this song? Everything about it works: the sentiment behind the lyrics, her passion, the crazy amazing violinist. The way the whole thing is structured is brilliant; the day I realized the point of that pause (“I’ll be………WAIIIIIITING for youuuuuu…”) was to make you wait like she was waiting was a very good day. Because I see what you did there, Celine. And I love what you did there. If you want something with the gist of “To Love You More,” but with a slower burn, there’s always the ridiculously sensual “Seduces Me,” off of Falling Into You. For real, where the hell did this song come from? It’s not even fair to catch me so off guard. And I know it’s not just me, because this is what happened after she performed it during the A New Day show in Vegas:

SAME, CELINE. SAME. If the point of “Seduces Me” was to do just that, then mission accomplished. Because damn, lady. Your song is hot.

If you like “Because You Loved Me,” you’ll love “There Comes a Time”

When I was a kid, the beach my family went to every summer had a recording studio on the boardwalk. It was essentially a karaoke performance you could take home with you; if you paid money, you could either record a cassingle (remember those?) or a music video of you singing along to a pre-recorded track. The year “Because You Loved Me” came out, I dragged my dad into one of the recording booths and proudly belted—and butchered—the classic while Dad sang some solid backup (the cassette is still lingering around somewhere and I’m terrified to find it). Twenty years later, in a karaoke bar a few blocks away from my apartment, I discovered that my “Because You Loved Me” abilities improved zero percent. But my god, is that a good song. And since it’s from Up Close and Personal, it’s one of those great examples of how she dominated movie themes of the ‘90s.

I paired this with “There Comes a Time,” because you essentially get the other side of the coin if you listen to the lyrics, and there’s a great give and take between this and “Because You Loved Me.” The whole point of “Because You Loved Me” is to celebrate all the wonderful ways that having someone’s love affects you. And while this song is saying, “Look at all the things you’ve done for me,” “There Comes a Time” flips it to say, “Look at all the things I’ll do for you.” It’s still about love and loyalty; it’s just from a different perspective. The feel of the music in “There Comes a Time” is a little bit darker, but its angle is the more serious of the two, the angle of ensuring your love knows that they don’t have to walk this earth alone. Separately, both of these songs are amazing, but together, they tell a story of reciprocating love. And isn’t reciprocating love the ultimate end game?

If you like “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now,” you’ll love “Somebody Loves Somebody”

Tell me “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” isn’t one of the most epic songs you’ve ever heard in your life, and I’ll show you a dirty liar. Because this song is EPIC, in all of its seven-and-a-half-minute glory (and the music video…what even is that music video? I love it so much). It’s in the instrumentation. It’s in her voice. It’s in the BABY-BABY-BABYs that you have to perform with your whole body every time you sing along (although I’m of the persuasion that if you’re not at least using your arms every time you sing along to Celine, you’re not doing it right). This is without a doubt my favorite of her signature songs, because even at the tender age of six, it made me stand at attention. And after twenty years, it still won’t let me sit the hell down. (It apparently won’t let Jeremy Jordan sit down, either. His rendition is FABULOUS.)

More recently, I had another stand at attention experience when I decided to throw on one of those pre-made playlists on Amazon Prime that was filled with Celine, to have some background music while I read. After a few of the usual suspects, “Somebody Loves Somebody” came on, and I lost my damn mind. My exact thought process was this: “What is happening? This is not the Celine of my childhood. I need this in my ears all the time. GIVE ME ALL THE SONGS SHE’S SUNG.” This was the game-changer, the thing that flipped the switch in my head from casual fan to “OH MY GOD CELINE.” I don’t know how it’s possible to sound exactly like yourself and nothing like yourself at the same time, but she did it, and she did it flawlessly. If you haven’t heard the Loved Me Back to Life album, I urge you to stop depriving yourself. It’s something that can turn even the most resistant person into an instant fan. Just don’t be surprised if you have to put “Somebody Loves Somebody” on repeat forty-five times before exploring the rest of the songs.

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In Appreciation of Liam Payne

Posted by Kim and Sage

Happy birthday, Lima Bean! Customs says we can’t ship you a new dog and our fear of Warner Bros’ legal counsel says we can’t steal you any props from the set of Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them. All we have is this post in your honor, handcrafted and gif-ed with love.

A true cinnamon roll, Liam Payne is what we’re missing most during this band hiatus. Besides his international tour of grocery stores and malls, Liam hasn’t been doing much in the public eye lately. He’s been far too busy inking a solo deal and getting to work on the first confirmed side project of the One Direction break. Liam is such a goddamn champ that on the very day he announced his personal contract with Capitol Records, he changed his Twitter and Facebook cover photos to pictures of the band. LIAM PAYNE CARES ABOUT YOU. He super gets it. He doesn’t think it’s weird that this means so much to you. And he doesn’t want you to needlessly stress about the future. He is a solid, stand-up dude, and I’m so glad that we’re doing this. –Sage

Many moons ago, there was a time when I had not yet imprinted on Louis Tomlinson and I had proudly declared myself to be a Liam girl. (God, my life would be so much simpler if I had just stuck with my original instinct. JUST KIDDING I LOVE YOU LOUIS.) I was/am a Kevin girl when it came to BSB and a JC girl with NSYNC, so it’s easy to see why I initially looked at Liam Payne and said “that one”. Clearly, I have a penchant for serious and responsible boy banders. But what’s been wonderful about deep-diving into my love of One Direction is seeing all the layers that Liam has. Sure, he’s the workhorse of One Direction who takes his job as a superstar very seriously. But Liam is also endearingly goofy. He’s charming as fuck. He projects warmth and you KNOW he gives good cuddles. He finds joy in the simple things, be it the latest superhero movie or whatever delightful antics his bandmates get into. He’s as faithful and as loyal as a golden retriever but will also fight you if you come at him. He makes mistakes and he refreshingly owns up to them in the most candid of ways.  As Sage said, he’s a cinnamon roll and we’re so lucky to have him.

We were always going to do an appreciation post for all of the boys, but it feels like this one for Liam falls at the perfect time so we can remind ourselves what a peach he is. (Sage and I have been yelling about him for the past week over gChat and GOD it’s felt good.) He may not be the most attention grabbing or headline making of the boys but that doesn’t make him any less special or worthy of celebration. Happy Birthday, Lima Bean. You’ll always be my first love when it comes to One Direction. –Kim

1. LOOK AT HIM

All of the boys of One Direction are beautiful. There’s Louis in all his dainty angularity, Harry in his outrageous otherworldly-ness, and Niall in his boy next door sunniness. And Liam? Helloooooooooo Mr. Classic Tall, Dark, and Handsome.

liam ground

LET ME LIVE

What has been lovely/torturous about the extensive way that One Direction’s career has been documented is that we’ve gotten to see the boys grow up before our very eyes. Liam was always a cute kid, if a little gawky and unsure of himself in his own skin. But suddenly he ditched the Bieber haircut, grew a little facial hair, and packed on some muscles. It was like the overnight birth of a freaking heartthrob. Look, I know some people valiantly defend Liam’s overly shaggy Bieber hair but I assert that cutting it all off is one of the best decisions this kid has ever made. All of the sudden we could see his face and his bone structure and those soulful brown eyes and those strong brows and it was a LOT. I know it’s cheesy to say that he became a MAN but that’s exactly what happened.

GOD YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT EYE CRINKLES, LIAM. And the POPPED COLLAR. This look is too much, leave me here.

What’s amazing about Liam’s beauty is that he can go from smoldering sex on a stick (that gif of him just sprawling on the stage? Who the FUCK told him that was an okay thing to do? THIS IS A FAMILY SHOW.) (OR IS IT?) to overgrown adorable puppy dog with one smile. His smile lights up his entire face and his eyes squinch up and GOD it’s like staring directly at the sun.

And now let’s talk about how he wears a freaking SUIT. Good Lord. He should wear suits or at least jackets ALL THE TIME. The only other suitable (HA!) alternative is those tight henleys he tends to favor on stage, especially when they are deep v-necks. I don’t know why Liam remains the lone holdout in regards to the ultra painted on jeans that his bandmates are partial to except for the fact that he KNOWS that we can’t handle seeing those thighs in jeggings. Liam will rock a good slim cut on a regular basis but the difference between his skinnies and Harry’s skinnies is significant. Get on Harry’s level, Lima. You have the body for it, trust me. And I like death and dying, so I need it.

This tapered jacket though. Look at his waist and shoulders. BABY BECKHAM REALNESS.

Then there was that time when Louis LITERALLY ripped Liam’s shirt open, popping off all the buttons, leaving his chest and abs and hips exposed for the rest of the show. Bless you Louis. You knew we all wanted to see the goods and you delivered. I CAN’T STOP STARING AT THESE GIFS, HELP. It’s like the perfect amount of body definition that every dude should aspire towards. Also, look at that diaphragm work. Baby is singing CORRECTLY. That’s exactly why I am staring, just checking out his technique, that’s all, I swear.

shirt liam 2 shirt liam

OH MY GOD ARMS AND SHOULDERS.

Liam has had struggles with his body in the past (and I say “struggles” lightly because he’s ALWAYS looked good to me, extra 10 pounds or not) and I love how he takes PRIDE in how good he looks now. Of course that pride ALSO entails murder via Instagram selfie at any moment. I’m not proud of the things I yelled the day he posted this one (or the numerous others) but I don’t regret them either. He knows EXACTLY what he’s doing — Kim

Christmas weight dusted!!

A photo posted by Liam Payne (@liampayne) on

2) The Voice

history

When I try to explain to n00bs how to pick out Liam Payne’s vocals in a One Direction song, I tell them to listen for the guy who sounds like he’s in a boy band. That’s no dig. Liam is a CROONER, the likes of which have fronted boy bands since long before the newly formed 1D hit The X-Factor stage.

It’s well-known in the fandom that Liam hit vocal lessons hard between his X-Factor auditions (more on that later). Now in 2016, you can still hear the raw talent in that voice but you can also hear the training. Lima is usually the base of OT4’s harmonies, but he also swings up to that “Fireproof” falsetto without any audible strain. And that’s not just on studio tracks. I’ve seen the band live three times and in every instance have been stunned and impressed by the ease and speed with which Liam flies up and down his range.

The technique is only half of what makes Liam’s voice so special. He’s so expressive. He knows exactly how he wants each verse to make you feel. (Usually, hot for him.) Where Harry skews rock star, Liam swings total bedroom-eyes, panty-dropping, slipping-into-a-warm-bath R&B. Liam recently signed a solo deal with Capitol, and I know I can count on him to make the baby-making album I was hoping for from Zayn.

Speaking of Zayn (and no shade, because Liam loves him), Liam is the number one reason why his departure didn’t vocally debilitate the group. To be clear: nobody sounds like Zayn Malik but Zayn Malik, but Liam’s warm, super-masculine voice slotted in right to the gaps left by Zayn. He even hits that “You and I” high note, if it’s slightly less confident. And I nearly broke in half when I heard what he did with the “Night Changes” bridge. “HOLY FUDGE STICKS” is right, Viner.

Liam never looks bored on stage. Because he keeps himself busy by exercising his voice. (And pelvic thrusting, but that’s another bullet point.) He is the king of note changes, adding his own flourishes to songs fans have heard a million times before. (Case in point: these “Through the Dark” riffs.) There’s nothing like hearing a stadium full of fans collectively lose their shit because Liam goddamn Payne came through with an unexpected high note. He’s got your melody, but he won’t be contained by it.

one note liam

One note? What are we, The Wanted?

P.S. If for nothing else, the band must return from their hiatus so that they can perform “Never Enough” live and I can hear Liam swinging for the fences on those falsetto ad-libs with my own two ears. A-HOO-AH. – -Sage

3) His Work Ethic

LOOK. AT. THE. BABY.

One of the things that has infuriated me the MOST about this Dan Wootton-led tabloid smear campaign against One Direction (I say one of the things because let’s be real I’m INFURIATED 95% of the time. The rest of the time I am crying.) is the fact that he’s CONSTANTLY saying that Liam James Payne is ready to throw away his career in music to live as Cheryl Just-Pick-a-Last-Name-Already’s boy toy lap dog. Liam is so loved up that he doesn’t give a fuck about his career anymore, so says Dan. He’s gone as far as to say that Liam is wandering the streets aimlessly because no one wants to represent him and he’s washed up at the age of 22 (23 NOW HAPPY BIRTHDAY BB). To all of that, I scream “REALLY?! LIAM?! YOU’RE SAYING THIS ABOUT LIAM?” at the top of my lungs. I do that because no offense to the rest of the boys of One Direction, because they all work very hard, but Liam? Liam has always wanted this the most.

Liam famously auditioned for The X-Factor at 14 and got cut with the ole “you aren’t ready yet, come back when you are” adage. This comment is used ALL THE TIME on reality shows, from American Idol to So You Think You Can Dance. Contestants don’t always take this advice to heart. But Liam Payne took voice lessons and returned to The X-Factor auditions two years later more polished and not willing to take no for an answer. Then, when his solo dreams were crushed and he was put into a band with 4 strangers, Liam was determined to be the best boy band member EVER. He has poured himself into One Direction for the past 6 years and his dedication has never wavered. Then, when his band takes a well-earned break, what does Liam do? He becomes the first member of 1D to actively and openly get into the studio even when the tabloids dismiss him as a lazy kid happy to coast along on the coattails of his highly publicized “relationship”. All throughout this hiatus, as these articles have flown about, I have said that I can’t WAIT for Liam to pull a Beyoncé and drop his record. “Surprise, bitches.” It’s happening and I can’t wait. Don’t EVER call him lazy in front of me, unless you want a swift crack in the jaw. –Kim

4) His Song Writing

songwriting

Even if they don’t realize it’s them, the one song that people who aren’t fans of 1D know is “Story of My Life.” It’s their most recognizable hit with the most crossover appeal and it was co-written by Liam Payne and the rest of the boys.

Liam has songwriting credits dating back to 1D’s debut album, a huge feat for a member of a band put together on television and surrounded by image-manufacturing producers and writers. He’s always wanted to be in the trenches, putting himself into their songs. We poke fun at Liam for being so blissfully straightforward and sweet with very definable wants. And you might think that his lack of dark-and-twistiness means a shallow pool of songwriting ideas. But Lima pulls it out of the bag musically and lyrically and has helped create some of the band’s most outstanding hooks. I’m talking the hooks you want to scream out of a car window to a frightened UPS driver.

“MIDNIGHT MEMOOOORRRRIES.”

“EVERYBODY WANNA STEAL MY GIRL.”

“YOU AND ME GOT A WHOOOOLE LOTTA HISTORY. (whoa-oh)”

Liam’s songwriting prowess goes beyond the power pop single, however. He and Louis have an especially productive writing partnership. They captured exactly what it sounds like to chase freedom in the Four track “Ready To Run” (“There’s a future in my life I can’t foresee. Unless, of course, I stay on course and keep you next to me.”); channeled Fleetwood Mac on the Made in the A.M. deep cut “What A Feeling” (“What a feeling to be a king beside you, somehow, I wish I could be there now.”); and provided the world with the morning sex anthem it sorely needed, “No Control.” (“And the heat where you laid, I could stay right here and burn in this all day.”) I see the appeal of writing with Liam, because he is the kind of person you can trust with the vulnerability necessary to write a really trenchant, personal song. “Your deepest love,” as Louis once said.

I can’t end this section without mentioning “Illusion,” a Four bonus track that Liam wrote with some of the band’s most frequent collaborators. Reportedly, it’s about the early stages of a new relationship that our sweet ‘lil Lima Bean was in. It’s not even a favorite of mine, but knowing that context, the raw honesty and hopefulness of this song never fails to destroy me. He just WANTS TO BE LOVED. FOR WHO HE IS.

Can’t you see it?
I’m not trying to mislead you
I promise falling for me
Won’t be a mistake

No baby this is not an illusion
I’ve really got my heart out on my sleeve
Oh baby this is not an illusion
There’s magic between you and me

Protect this sensitive soul. Music needs him. –Sage

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Fan Vid Friday – The Best of Backstreet Boys

Posted by Kim and Sage

If you’re even a casual reader of this website, you’ll know that we are Boy Band Trash to our very core. Our love for cute boys singing catchy pop songs is in our blood, in our DNA, in the very marrow of our bones. This week for Fan Vid Friday, as we watch the telenovela known as the “One Direction Hiatus” (*insert WE WERE ON A BREAK gif here*) we thought we’d take it back to one of our enduring loves: the Backstreet Boys. In this trying time, we thank them for being past their days of drama and simply providing us with tunes that will never fail to bring a smile to our faces. KTBSPA. — Kim

Rose and Nine – “The One” 

Sage: Unless the Backstreet Boys’ next album (WHERE IS IT) includes a song about flying the TARDIS with the parking brake on, “The One” will always reign as the band’s most Doctor Who-ish track. “I guess you were lost when I met you.” That could be the Doctor talking about any of his companions OR strike that reverse it: any of his companions talking about HIM.

Kim: This is about Rose and Nine though, OMG. She’ll be the one who will make all his sorrows undone. She’ll be the light when he feels like there’s nowhere to run. *cries forever*

Fox Mulder – “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely” 

Sage: You guys remember when Dana Scully got abducted and Fox Mulder LOST HIS DAMN MIND?

Kim: Sometimes you find a song and a story arc that fit so perfectly you want to set yourself on fire. This is one of those times. TELL ME WHY CAN’T I BE WHERE YOU ARE?

Jamie and Claire – “Drowning” 

Sage: We’re talking Jamie and Claire, so it might go without saying that this Backstreet fan vid is not safe for work. Unless you work as that guy in Love Actually, the second AD who gets to deliver directions to the body doubles. Related: I picture that guy behind the scenes shouting commands at the Outlander actors. (“We need to know when we’re gonna see, um, the nipples? And when we’re not.”)

Kim: “Every time I breathe I take you in and my heart beats again. Baby, I can’t help it. Keep me drowning in your love.” = “Does it ever stop? The wanting you?” This song is so Jamie and Claire it HURTS. Maybe she’s a drifter…maybe not. Also note to the Outlander showrunners: MORE SEX IN SEASON THREE PLEASE. For serious, if I don’t get a 45 minute sex scene when they are reunited, I’m burning Utica to the ground.

Jim and Pam – “Helpless When She Smiles” 

Sage: Jim Halpert has the heart of the most sincere boy band love ballad. He lives in that world, so this is not a stretch. Kudos for including the post-Jinx “Hi,” which still gives me the butterflies.

Kim: If “Helpless When She Smiles” doesn’t describe the schmoopy heart eyes Jim Halpert sports every time he looks at Pam, then I know nothing. Also John Krasinski’s stupid face can get right the fuck off this planet and LET ME LIVE.

Harry Potter – “Larger Than Life” 

Sage: The series did take place circa the late ’90s, so head canon accepted that there were a few copies of Millennium strewn around every house common room.

Kim: The vidder gets REAL clever with clips and lyrics in this and I love it. I love the Ron/Hermione at the Yule Ball to “Can’t you see? Can’t you see?” And the dueling during the instrumental break! Glorious.

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Girl, Serenaded – A Feminist Close-Read of One Direction’s Lyrics

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Posted by Mary

I was a tweenaged fan of *NSync and the Backstreet Boys and I know how big a role a boy band (or any media marketed to girls and young women) can have on a girl’s development, both positive and negative. Of course I can enjoy all kinds of media as an adult (whether I’m technically still (ahem) in the target demographic or not) that may be problematic in one way or another, but I think special care should be taken with the messages in media, including music, that is marketed to younger demographics.

I didn’t enter the One Direction fandom until December of 2015, when after an especially long night awake with my newborn daughter I messaged our own Sage: “I’m weak and impressionable. Tell me about Harry Styles.” I’d been only vaguely aware of One Direction and had seen many in my circle of friends fall into the 1D fandom one by one over the previous months and had actually resisted because they couldn’t be that great, right? (False, Past Mary, they absolutely can and they are.) Sage was as gracious as one could have expected and immediately sent me multiple pictures of Harry cradling babies lovingly in his enormous gentle be-ringed and tattooed hands as if a sleep-deprived stay at home mom of a three year old and a newborn didn’t have enough to hormonally weep over.

Over the years One Direction has repeatedly shown respect for their mostly female fanbase that goes beyond basic media training, or even just an understanding of how their proverbial bread is buttered. In their This Is Us concert film Louis Tomlinson mentions the idea of a One Direction fan, in the future, introducing the band’s music to her daughter. Niall Horan once snapped at a paparazzo who had been yelling for fans to get out of the way, “they pay my bills, not you.” Harry Styles, when asked in an interview if he and his bandmates ever called “dibs” on girls, immediately answered that they wouldn’t because they’re not about objectifying women.

It all sounds great, but do their lyrics match up to that ideal? Are the messages in their songs ones I really will want to pass onto my daughter when she’s older? To my son? Are they messages I want to be consuming myself?

That’s what I decided to find out, by doing a close reading of all of One Direction’s lyrics that explicitly mention or are addressed to women. Why make this gendered pronoun distinction? Because regardless of how One Direction has vocally acknowledged support for their LGBTQ fans (and they have), or any speculation on the sexual orientations of the band members themselves, this is a band made up of young men that is marketed TO young women and girls. The messages they send about sex and relationships through their lyrics have been and will continue to be a formative force in many of their fans’ development. If they’re going to go the extra mile to explicitly address their songs to women (or “girl” in the majority of cases), then I think we should absolutely pay extra careful attention to what they’re saying.

writing

Up All Night (2011)
9 songs of 18 mention women, 2 of those co-written by some/all of the boys

“Gotta Be You”
Written by: August Rigo, Steve Mac

Every time this song comes up on shuffle and I hear Liam’s excruciatingly un-ironic delivery of the “disappointed/anointed” rhyme I mash the skip button as fast as possible. The rhyme scheme isn’t the only offensive thing about these lyrics though. This song is a classic apology jam, vaguely referencing a laundry list of shit-stain-ery while in the same breath assuring “Girl” that he’ll always be there for her now because he’ll never make it without her, yadda yadda bullshit BYE.

Most problematic line: “And girl what a mess I made upon your innocence” Just imagine me gently dry heaving in the background.

Least problematic line: “Can we fall one more time? Stop the tape and rewind” She muttered grudgingly.

(Ed. Note: Harry must agree with Mary on this one, because he would change the lyrics early and often on the band’s first tour: “Wrong size shoe,” “Scooby Doo,” “It’s Kung-Fu,” and my personal fave, “Big brown poo.” Enjoy.)

“One Thing”
Written by: Savon Kotecha, Carl Falk, Rami

one thing

“That one thing” that you’ve got/he wants/he needs is most obviously a vagina since a song about boobs would be “those two things” and a song about a butt would have way more double entendres. But when you really examine the lyrics you get a sense that the singers may be suffering from some manner of brain injury? There’s the stuttered “I don’t”s and “get out”s, plus the references to flying, Kryptonite, being frozen and rendered mute, and climbing walls, that speak to delusions of being a superhero. So maybe “that one thing” you’ve got that he needs isn’t a sex organ but actually some anti-psychotic medication. I’m not a doctor but it seems like a wise option to consider. Overall I’m more concerned than offended.

Bonus: something about the bridge’s panicked “get out, get out, get outta my head!” makes me think of this tweet and I end up cackling good-naturedly for a while until it all comes back to women being walking penis receptacles expected to interpret men’s emotions for them and then it’s not so funny anymore.

Most problematic line: “Something’s gotta give now/Cause I’m dying just to know your name/And I need you here with me now/Cause you’ve got that one thing” Can you feel his desperation building to a fever pitch until the only thing left to do is rant at you for twenty minutes about how nice guys never get the girl? CAN YOU?

Least problematic line: If you just imagine the whole song as a kind of nouveau Broadway musical number sung by Superman to one of his arch-nemeses as they play a game of keepaway with some kind of amulet or super weapon it’s a much richer visual narrative.

“Taken”
Written by: Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Lindy Robbins, Toby Gad

Here we have the first track One Direction officially wrote on and also one I skip every time it pops up on shuffle. Sadly the music sounds a lot whinier than the message of this song actually is because lyrically it’s a vicious takedown of that ex who ruined your life at least once and popped up again once you’ve moved on to another relationship. When I really stopped to listen and focus on the lyrics I could hear this as a Kelly Clarkson track full of righteously spurned fury and that is a high, high compliment.

Most offensive line: “You’re impossible to resist, but I wouldn’t bet your heart on it” The song as a whole does seem to insinuate that “Girl” torpedoed their past relationship entirely on her own while he was completely faultless, which isn’t realistic, but line by line the “impossible to resist” bit – which is immediately contradicted by the second half of the phrase – is as close as this one gets to problematic.

Least offensive line: “You think I’m doing this to make you jealous/And I know that you hate to hear this, but this is not about you anymore” is about as gentle and as devastating a statement as one could hope to deliver to That Ex.

“Up All Night”
Written by: Matt Squire, Savan Kotecha

up all night

Here it is, the harmless party anthem One Direction seemed to try to duplicate a few more times in their later albums, none with the same pure optimistic and entirely non-gross results. This song is so harmless it’s not even conceited with this fictional party’s playlist; Katy Perry’s on replay, yo.

Most problematic line: I mean, if you don’t like Katy Perry it doesn’t sound like you’ll enjoy yourself.

Least problematic line: “I’m only thinking ’bout this girl I’m seeing/I hope she’ll wanna kiss me back” *weeps* PROTECT THESE CHILDREN, THEY’RE SO YOUNG.

“I Want”
Written by: Tom Fletcher

This is really just awful beginning to end. I have nothing else to say.

Most problematic line: “Give you this, give you that, blow a kiss, take it back, if I looked inside your brain/I would find lots of things, clothes, shoes, diamond rings, stuff that’s driving me insane”

Least problematic line: I got nothin’ guys. This is a mess. I weep for any woman who ever met Tom Fletcher.

“Everything About You”
Written by: Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Wayne Hector, Steve Robson

This is one of those songs that’s only problematic in that it’s basically meaningless. It’s a relentlessly positive moment of wide-eyed devotion made up of some very questionable grammar, but you know what? That’s fine sometimes, and definitely preferable to songs with actively damaging messages. It’s lyrical cotton candy.

Most problematic line: “It’s everything about you, you, you/Everything that you do, do, do/From the way that we touch, baby/To the way that you kiss on me” If we’re talking about “everything” the examples should really include more than just sex stuff.

Least problematic line: “Yes I like the way you smile with your eyes/Other guys see it but don’t realise that it’s my loving” Could have been one of those “she’s mine and I’ve marked her so no other male can ever gaze upon her form” lines but this reads as a much less possessive desire to be a reason this girl is happy whether she’s with him at the moment or not, with no expectation of everyone knowing she’s “his” or any such nonsense.

“Stole My Heart”
Written by: Paul Meehan, Jamie Scott

This is a soulless dead-eyed mannequin of a song. I guess if all it takes to capture your heart is a one look at a girl’s face in the middle of what sounds like a snooze of a rave, it’s not surprising that there’s little substance here. It’s doubly sad that Liam is in especially soulful voice on this track because it feels wasted.

Most problematic line: “Cause your friends, they look good but you look better” HARK, I HAVE BEEN JUDGED MOST FUCKABLE FROM THIS COHORT OF FUCKABLES, HALLELUJAH! Said no woman ever. Actually there’s a tie because “As we lay on the ground I put my arms around you and we can stay here tonight” sounds a lot like passing out in a parking lot. No thanks.

Least problematic line: “Oh, life! Come on head don’t you fail me now” If “Oh, life!” is a legit Walt Whitman reference this song takes on an entirely new level of meta depth and I demand at least three Dead Poets Society fanvids set to it within the week. Don’t fail me internet.

“Another World”
Written by: RedOne, Teddy Sky, Geo Slam, Eric Sanicola, Bilal Hajji, Achraf Jannusi

*Swallows down laughter* Okay so. This is very encouraging and nice! That’s good! It’s a very positive song about being nice and encouraging and supportive! I have just one quick question though and that is: I can’t actually feel the thing that’s like a stone on fire. Can we revisit that? Is there lighter fluid involved? Are you a pyrotechnic specialist, or, like an arson investigator, or a Geologist or something? Can we call one to discuss this? It’s a very nice song though, we don’t have to have a talk about this one.

Most problematic line: “One for me, one for you, whatcha doing?” I mean, if we’re talking about, like, cookies or cheeseburgers or checks for $100,000, I’m taking it, for sure. I’ll need more information though before I can give a definitive answer

Least problematic line: “I’ll lift you up, I’ll never stop/You know I’ll take you to another world/I’ll build you up, I’ll never stop/You know I’ll take you to another world”

“Na Na Na”
Written by: Mustapha Omer, Matt Squire, James Murray, Savan Kotecha, Iain James

It sounds like these two jerks deserve each other. Equality!

take me home

Take Me Home (2012)
12 of 20 songs mention women, 2 of those co-written by some/all of the boys

“Live While We’re Young”
Written by: Savan Kotecha, Carl Falk, Rami

live while we're young

I was kind of rooting for this one as a non-sexual party anthem but I guess I’m thinking of one of One Direction’s other songs with that exact profile because this ain’t it.

Most problematic line: “Hey girl it’s now or never, it’s now or never/Don’t overthink just let it go” Okay then, let’s go with never. Byeee!

Least problematic line: “Yeah, we’ll be doing what we do, just pretending that we’re cool” Any fan of One Direction understands on a painfully deep level that these nerds will never come close to actually being cool, so good on them for acknowledging it.

“Kiss You”
Written by: Albin Nedler, Kristoffer Fogelmark, Kristian Lundin, Shellback, Savan Kotecha, Carl Falk, Rami

kiss you

See! It can be done! This track is both sex-positive and consent-centric, and it’s an energetic pop anthem that’s easy to dance to. The phrasing puts the “girl” in the driver’s seat of the interaction the whole way through, with only a few lines of one verse straying from the overwhelmingly empowering message (chinny-chin-chins? . . . okay). The pre-chorus and chorus make up one repeated call for clear verbal consent to what sounds like a hella joyful hook up and it’s all made even better by one of One Direction’s trademark ridiculous videos.

Most problematic line: “Oh I just wanna show you off to all of my friends/Making them drool down their chinny-chin-chins/Baby be mine tonight, mine tonight/Baby be mine tonight, yeah”

Least problematic line: “Oh, tell me, tell me, tell me how to turn your love on/You can get, get anything that you want/Baby just shout it out, shout it out/ Baby just shout it out, yeah”

“C’mon, C’mon”
Written by: Jamie Scott, John Ryan, Julian Bunetta

So let’s get this straight, Fuckboy. You came here with one girl, but then she “had to go” (godspeed, sister). And then you noticed a second girl who looked “amazing, standing alone,” which, when you combine those observations sounds like exactly why women are told never to appear Alone While Female in public. It all gets so much worse from there. It’s really depressing because this track is a JAM and I have sung and danced along to it without a second thought many times. Luckily it is pretty similar to the far superior “Kiss You.”

Most problematic line: “The one that I came with didn’t know how to move/The way that you let your hair down I can tell that you do” Girl just run. Run away right now.

Least problematic line: “Yeah, the music is so loud/I wanna be yours now/So c’mon c’mon and dance with me baby” Really, by virtue of not telling you much about the rest of the lyrics, these ones win.

“Last First Kiss”
Written by: Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, Albin Nedler, Kristoffer Fogelmark, Savan Kotecha, Carl Falk, Rami

This song is, lyrically, exactly the kind of sugary sentiment I think most people expect of a boyband’s mid-tempo ballad offering and you know what? It’s good! It manages to be about a guy hoping to make a leap from friendship into romance without taking it too close to Nice Guy™ territory because there’s actually nothing presumptuous about it. He’s not expecting any particular response, not making any demands, just having a few moments of nervous expectation before making a declaration of what he wants from a relationship. It’s hopeful and respectful and romantic and maybe a little brain-meltingly sweet but this is pop music and that’s okay.

Most problematic line: There’s really nothing? Truly, really, nothing here pings my radar for yikesness

Least problematic line: “Baby tell me what to change, I’m afraid you’ll run away/If I tell you what I’ve wanted to tell you, yeah” It’s this caution and nervousness that keep any of the tone of these lyrics from becoming possessive or gross. Just all sweet pure yearning. It’s so nice I want to barf.

“Over Again”
Written by: Alexander Gowers, Blue Bear, Ed Sheeran

Honestly this one is tough because so little of it is structured coherently. Which is not necessarily a dig, just . . . it’s very hard to parse a narrative or specific meaning line by line here. That said I can’t see anything gross so as far as I’m concerned we can all plaintively sing along with this one to our hearts’ contents.

Most problematic line: “I can make your tears fall down like the showers that are British” I’m offended on behalf of every sentence ever diagrammed. Stop this.

(Ed Note: Louis thinks it’s offensive too.)

Least problematic line: “And I can lend you broken parts that might fit like this/And I will give you all my heart so we can start it all over again” I’m a sucker for a “broken parts” line, what can I say?

“They Don’t Know About Us”
Written by: Tommy Lee James, Tommy P. Gregersen, Tebey and Peter Wallevik

So there’s something to be said, especially when you’re just starting to explore romantic relationships, for listening to the perspectives and advice of people you trust. If everybody you love and trust is telling you the person you’re with is a douche-canoe, or that they’re worried the relationship appears to be progressing very fast, or any number of other concerns, then taking a step back to evaluate for yourself is a good idea. Given that this song is all about a guy telling a girl that nobody else “gets” their relationship and that if they knew how much it means to HIM that then they would “just be jealous” . . . well, those could be red flags if he’s truly trying to keep other people’s opinions and influence out of his way. I’m gonna give this one a big yellow light and keep moving.

Most problematic line: “They don’t know about the things we do/They don’t know about the ‘I love you’s/But I bet you if they only knew/They would just be jealous of us” If a woman or man has to explain that they love their significant other when their actions don’t show it, something is wrong.

Least problematic line: “They don’t know what we do best/That’s between me and you, our little secret” All that said, and assuming everything is healthy and happy etc, yes please do feel free be discreet about your sex life if that’s what works for you.

“She’s Not Afraid”
Written by: Tim Woods, John Ryan, Jamie Scott, Julian Bunetta

so hard

Welcome to how women feel when dudes say whatever they think we want to hear to get us in bed. I mean kudos for not vilifying her for it, but just because she doesn’t want to have the kind of relationship you want to have doesn’t mean she’s “afraid of love.” You are not the end-all be-all of love in her life. You cannot “save” her with your love. You are a slam piece and if that’s what you want, great! If not, say goodbye and mean it because clearly this girl is committed to doing her thing.

Most problematic line: “What about all the things we say talking on the phone so late?/I can’t let her get away from me, oh/When I say that I can’t do it no more/She’s back in my door” To be entirely fair, if she’s being intentionally misleading about what she wants, that is of course a problem.

Least problematic line: “Maybe she’s just trying to test me, wanna see how hard I’m going to work/Wanna see if I can really tell how much she’s worth, what you’re worth” Again, bless them for not making this an angry accusatory bitchfest and turning that critical eye on themselves instead of judging her. A+ extra kudos for that.

“Loved You First”
Written by: Tim Woods, Tommy Lee James, Tebey, John Ryan, Julian Bunetta

Behold: the ballad of the Nice Guy™.

Most problematic line: “Cause I was the only one who loved you from the start” *SIRENS BLARE* IMMEDIATELY GET AWAY FROM ANYBODY WHO TELLS YOU THIS.

Least problematic line: “Had my chances/Could have been where he is standing/That’s what hurt the most, girl I came so close” The only legitimate cause for sorrow at someone you love being in a relationship with someone else is that maybe you really just didn’t tell them how you felt.

“Nobody Compares”
Written by: Shellback, Savan Kotecha, Carl Falk, Rami

Dropping an *N Sync reference cannot save you when you: open with the incredibly creepy line, “You’re so pretty when you cry” and then go on about how 1) her main value to you lies in her appearance, 2) you’re mostly sad because you know she won’t fuck you tonight, 3) your shitty friends told you she’s literally not worth even this feeble show of humanity and you haven’t ruled out that they’re right, 4) you have absolutely no clue what you could have possibly done wrong.

Most problematic line: All of it? I’m gonna go with all of it.

Least problematic line: “Now you’re tearing up my heart, tearing up my heart/You’re tearing up my heart

“Still the One”
Written by: Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Savan Kotecha, Carl Falk, Rami

This song is what happens when the guy from “Loved You First” goes from whiner to stalker.

Most problematic line: “You might have moved on, but girl, you should know/That I know you’re still the one/I know it’s saying too much but I will never give up”

Least problematic line: “I was so stupid for letting you go” When you read these lyrics all together you notice things like how many of these songs whining about failed relationships include a line about knowing he’s done something stupid and that really resonates with me.

“Truly Madly Deeply”
Written by: Toby Gad, Lindy Robbins, Trevor Dahl

This is mostly inoffensive, save for the general air of barely-concealed panic while the protagonist watches his new girlfriend sleep and contemplates whether he should wake her up to alert her that he maybe needs to take these concerns to a licensed therapist to learn some cognitive behavioral techniques to help combat obsessive thoughts. (Don’t wake her up, bro. Especially with granola in bed.)

Most problematic line: “Should I put coffee and granola on a tray in bed” Oh my god NO, think about the CRUMBS, child!

Least problematic line: “Truly madly deeply I am foolishly completely falling” For better or worse, a Savage Garden reference will never go amiss with me.

“Magic”
Written by: Savan Kotecha, Rami, Carl Falk

There’s so little content here and so much repetition that the one yikes-y line makes a big impression.

Most problematic line: “But baby you’ve got me moving too fast cause I know you wanna be bad/And girl when you’re looking like that I can’t hold back”

Least problematic line: I guess otherwise this song is fine but consider how superior a cover of any of these other songs titled “Magic” could have been.

midnight memories 2

Midnight Memories (2013)
7 of 18 songs mention women, 6 of those co-written by some/all of the boys

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“Follow this, bitches.” – In Appreciation of Cher, on her 70th Birthday

Posted by Sarah

It’s not like I asked for this; it just kind of fell into my lap and, eighteen years later, it still refuses to go away. It was 1998, and I was an impressionable eight-year-old, content to follow whatever music was popular on the one good radio station in my hometown. It had served me well so far, so why mess with a good thing? Then one day, as I settled into the normal routine, this happened:

And I was never the same.

My lovely friend (and HOF contributor) Maggie once told me that everyone has a diva, that one celebrity you love openly and unconditionally with your whole heart. And Cher is, without a doubt, my queen diva. The second I heard “Believe,” I was absorbed in the music, and it wasn’t long before I dove head first into everything she had done in her career and never looked back. Personally, I have a lot to love about her. She served as a pretty badass role model in my formative years. Her music gave me a safe haven to feel whatever emotions I had at any given time. And thanks to “Dov’è L’Amore,” she taught me the only Italian I will probably ever know in my life. But this doesn’t even begin to cover all the things that make her a force to be reckoned with.

In honor of Cher’s 70th birthday, I thought I’d highlight some of the things that make her my diva. I feel like I’m only scratching the surface here, because this is a woman who has reigned supreme for over fifty years, and there is so much to celebrate. But if you were to stop and ask me why I love her so much, these are some of the answers I would have at the ready. Her body of work has given me so much joy over the years, and I know I’m only one in the sea of people who feel the same way. This is an icon. This is a legend.

This is Cher.

She changed popular music in four minutes.

It’s no secret that “Believe” is Cher’s biggest hit to date; it was literally everywhere when it was first released. And one of the reasons it exploded was because people couldn’t figure out that thing she was doing with her voice; you know what thing I’m talking about. At this point, we all know what Auto-Tune is, but back in 1998, everyone lost their damn mind because no one did that before, and it quickly became known as “The Cher Effect.” Now, Auto-Tune has been done to death because we know it’s there and therefore we will use it for everything, but for a glorious period in the late-‘90s, “Believe” completely challenged the boundaries of what the public thought was possible in popular music.

There are about 847 versions of her, and all of them are amazing.

Cher is a goddamn chameleon. She’s switched up her musical style countless times over the years to adapt to the changing tides in popular music; if you go through her catalog chronologically, it sounds so effortless. And there’s a Cher for every mood! Want something more on the electronic side? There’s a Cher for that. Feeling nostalgic for disco? There’s a Cher for that. Maybe you’re craving that ‘70s classic rock sound. Yep, you guessed it…there’s a Cher for that. Sensitive singer/songwriter? What have I been telling you?

My personal favorite, though, would have to be ‘80s Rocker Cher. It’s not only because of the music, although the music is a big part of it; I mean, come on…”I Found Someone“? “We All Sleep Alone“? The revamped “Bang Bang?” “If I Could Turn Back Time?” Yes to all of it. But I love the music videos that came out of this decade, because she did some amazing things in them. My favorite is the “I Found Someone” video, where she slipped into some chain mail to go to the club and make her boyfriend jealous via a guy who looked exactly like him, and then sang on some train tracks for a second because why not.

The video for “We All Sleep Alone,” which has a solid place in my top five favorite songs of all time, is basically a make out session in what I can only assume is an abandoned construction site? Unless you prefer the alternate version, in which case, I have questions: who are all these people, why are so many things on fire, and WHAT IS ALL THIS DANCING? Seriously, I didn’t know until very recently that there were two versions of this video, and I’m completely mesmerized by it; I need the official story ASAP. And then there’s the infamous video for “If I Could Turn Back Time” where she wore an outfit controversial enough to make it relegated strictly to late night viewing on MTV (it’s called a butt, you guys…everybody has one), then spawned a legion of fans showing up to concerts in sailor hats and a ban on filming anything on any naval ship ever again.

Bad. Ass. Woman.

“I am a fucking Oscar winner.”

 

In the past, I’ve written about Moonstruck and Mermaids, and I don’t want to repeat myself. But of course I have to talk about her acting skills. Because not only does she have skills, she has Academy Award-winning skills. People were reluctant to see her as a legitimate actress at first. In her autobiography, The First Time, Cher recalls a story of being in a movie theater as the trailer for Silkwood was shown. The audience reacted positively to seeing Meryl Streep and Kurt Russell’s names projected on the screen. But once her name was shown, the audience started laughing (she had some of the most poignant scenes in that movie; who were these assholes?).

Needless to say, she showed them.

(Can we appreciate how Meryl Streep is so genuinely excited for Cher that she jumped out of her seat and cheered, even though she was up for the same damn award? Bless your light, Meryl.)

In addition to the Oscar nomination and Golden Globe win for Silkwood, Cher racked up Golden Globe nominations for Come back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean and Mask, culminating in Globe and Oscar wins for Moonstruck in 1988. There’s a definite stigma when it comes to famous performers in one medium crossing over to another. It happens a lot and it fails a lot, but it’s a shame that when it fails, it completely detracts from the successes. And I think it’s fair to say that Cher is a resounding success. Can we just look at her range for a second? She proved she could do comedy with Moonstruck, Mermaids, and The Witches of Eastwick (I could watch the “You have no taste, a lousy sense of humor, and you smell” speech all day). Silkwood, Mask, and Tea with Mussolini round out a pretty phenomenal dramatic turn. She seamlessly straddled the line between comedy and drama in Come back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. She crushed the whole suspense thing with Suspect. She even took a turn in the director’s chair, with the third segment of 1996’s If These Walls Could Talk. You know…in addition to having a small role in it. And did I hear you say you wanted a movie musical? I thought so. Welcome to Burlesque, bitches:

And while it’s not part of her cinematic career, her variety show days should not go unrecognized. In both the show she did with Sonny and her solo show, her comedic timing is so on point, and she serves up so many laughs. Not to mention she created one of the most hysterical recurring characters ever with the gum chewing, clashingly clad, raspy-voiced Laverne. Is there anything she can’t do?

She might actually be a higher power?

 

Leave it to Will & Grace to expose everything.

Cher had two spectacular guest appearances on this show; I will never be over Jack McFarland mistaking her for a drag queen and trying to out-Cher her. But it’s the second appearance that decided to just completely go there, and portrayed her as God in Jack’s dream. And let’s be real: if Cher’s going to whip out sage advice and spontaneously perform songs from her latest album, then I am totally fine with this version of heaven. Of course, now I can’t hear “A Different Kind of Love Song” without also hearing Jack in the back of my mind (“YOU’RE HAWKING YOUR ALBUM DURING MY DREAM?!”). But I’m fine with it, so long as she keeps singing and telling people to follow their bliss.

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“Until we learn to dance” – 15 Cher Deep Cuts You Need to Hear

Posted by Sarah

Quick: what’s the first song that comes to your mind when I say “Cher”? Maybe it’s “Believe” or “If I Could Turn Back Time.” Maybe you go old school and now you can’t get “I Got You Babe” out of your head. Or maybe “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves” is more your speed (long live the story song!). Whatever the case, if you thought of a song, you just proved my theory. The set list of a Cher concert acts as a live greatest hits album, and I am of the firm belief that everyone of a certain age can go to one and sing along to at least one song. And that age has definitely gotten younger thanks to the advent of Burlesque; I’m not even mad if your one song is “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,” because that is a FLAWLESS anthem and should be treated as such.

Cher has been able to successfully adapt to changing trends in music so often that she’s had a number one hit in each decade she’s been in the business, and I am all for the hits. I have a “Life after love” tattoo on my arm. I will don my sailor hat and turn back time with the best of them. I’ve sung myself hoarse at six concerts. But we’re talking about career that spans over fifty years, and it seems criminal to confine that career to the track list on a greatest hits album. Nestled in between the hits of her discography is a wealth of songs that deserve acknowledgement. So let’s acknowledge them.

This is in no way my definitive list, because we’d be here forever if I could talk about every single song I love. Nor is it in any particular order (okay, MAYBE it’s in the order I think would make a cool-sounding mix); it was hard enough whittling it down to fifteen, let alone ranking them. But this is a sampling of songs that go deeper than the usual compilations that have been released since “Believe” exploded onto the charts. If you’re a diehard fan, let’s compare notes to see which tracks we’re mutually crazy about. And if you’ve never heard these songs before, I am so happy to be the one to introduce them to you.

Shall we dive in?

“Love Is the Groove” (1998)

I know almost everyone who bought the Believe album in the ‘90s probably bought it because of the title track, but don’t let that take away from the fact that this is an overall stellar album. “Love Is the Groove” sits towards the end of Believe and I just think everything about this song is beautiful. The music fits right in with the dance vibe of the better-known tracks, the lyrics are wonderfully powerful, and the vocals are magic because Cher is magic. I honestly can’t remember a time when this song popped up on my iPod and I didn’t play it one more time after it ended, because I love it so much.

Favorite lyrics: If I promise not to laugh,
Will you promise not to cry?
Will you promise not to let this life slip by?

“The Look” (2001)

If you tell me you don’t feel like dancing when you hear this song, you’re lying to me, and shame on you. “The Look” can be found as a bonus track on the Japanese version of Living Proof, because the rest of the world could do without it on their copies of the album? Come on, guys. This would have made the perfect lead-in to “Body to Body, Heart to Heart” because they both have the same feel (maybe that’s why it was left off of Living Proof’s official track list). It’s fun, it’s seductive, and it’s everything you could possibly want in a pop song. So just give in to the dance already.

Favorite lyrics: I’m flying too close to the sun
But it’s a beautiful way to burn

“I’m Gonna Love You” (1967)

Hey, remember that time Sonny and Cher starred in a movie together? Good Times came out around the time all those Beatles movies were huge, and it follows the duo as they reject a film script offered to them in favor of coming up with their own plot. It’s cute, definitely worth the watch if you’re a fan, and the soundtrack holds its own. Which leads us to “I’m Gonna Love You.” I found a copy of the soundtrack on vinyl a couple of years ago, and was legitimately surprised when I put it on my turntable and got to this track. At that point, it had been years since I last watched the movie, but I felt like I would have DEFINITELY remembered a song like this. The driving beat, the guitar, her crazy amazing vocals. WHY did I have no recollection? Upon a recent viewing, I got my answer: it’s featured in the background for a large portion of the song, and I probably wasn’t paying close attention before. So I’m bringing it to the forefront now, because that’s where it should be.

Plus, it’s sexy as hell, so there’s that.

Favorite lyrics: No one can ever make me feel like you do
And there ain’t no one who can ever put me through those changes like you do
And no one can make me feel so bad, I wanna die
No one could look at me the way that you do and get me high

“Julie” (1980)

Okay, if we’re splitting hairs here, this TECHNICALLY isn’t a Cher song. She was in a short-lived rock band called Black Rose, and the self-titled album they put out in the beginning of the ‘80s is everything. She always sells whatever she sings, but you can just tell in her voice that this was a passion project. While I love the entire album, “Julie” is without a doubt one of my favorite tracks, because it basically serves as the badass rocker version of “Jolene”, filled with warnings and threats and a fleeting reference to David Bowie (oh my!). Don’t get me wrong, “Jolene” is one of my favorite songs of all time, but do you hear Dolly Parton calling her rival a lying bitch? I didn’t think so.

Favorite lyrics: Well, I now know
Julie, you’re the shape of sin
But I can strut like Bowie
When the line gets thin
So cool it, Julie, or I’m gonna do you in

“I Walk on Gilded Splinters” (1969)

3614 Jackson Highway was one of those albums where I had literally every single song on my preliminary list for this post, and I had to stop myself before I completely destroyed the purpose. But to those who have heard the album before, I ask you: can you blame me? It was a true and brilliant break from the sound she had become known for, and I think “I Walk on Gilded Splinters” is the best representation of that. But also, this album is a masterpiece, and everyone needs to have the experience of listening to it at least once. If you haven’t, why are you doing this to yourself? Go find it now.

No, really. Do it. It’s okay…I’ll wait.

Favorite lyrics: I’ll make your heart melt like butter
I say, I can make you stutter

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“Looking so good from your head to your feet.” – The Top 15 Harry Styles Looks of 2015

prince harry and harry royal variety

Posted by Maggie

When my friend Jaime asked me in April if she could try to turn me into a One Direction fan, I had only the vaguest idea of who they were and, to be honest, I kind of thought Harry Styles looked like a homeless vampire (I mean). But in Jaime I trust, so I gave them a shot and eight months later, my Tumblr is basically a Harry thirst blog. (And I know youth slang!) Okay, all the boys have their own appeal – Niall inexplicably gets hotter when he puts on glasses, like some kind of reverse Laney Boggs (credit: Cookies & Sangria); Liam oscillates between dirty brooding crooner and simple trash child (god bless you, Mary); and Louis, well. Louis is the sun. But Harry, you guys. Harry. My sweet Harru. Hopefully by now you’ve read Kim and Sage’s Most Handsome Young Man post and are familiar with his heart of gold – and boots to match.

haz boots

Listen, Harry doesn’t even need to try. He could wear a simple white t-shirt every day of the week and still out-stone cold fox us all.

white tee

Exhibit A.

But try he does. Well, I don’t know if “try” is the right word because his style comes across as effortless to me, but you know what I mean. Harry makes bold choices – on stage, on the red carpet, on his way to get coffee, for god’s sake. I love that we live in a world where if you bring up Harry’s floral suit, you have to specify which one. Harry’s clothes aren’t the most accessible, as he favors high-end designers like YSL and Gucci, but I firmly believe that his widely publicized fashion risks make it safer for fans of all ages, but most importantly young fans, to try something new and be different and stand out.

I mean, if Harry himself can go from this:

harry sad

…to this:

amas 1 amas 2
…then there’s certainly hope for the rest of us. I know to some people it might seem silly to spend this much time talking about a boy bander’s year in fashion, but it’s not. It is that important.

And so, without further ado, here are my favorite 15 Harry Styles looks from 2015.

1. 

polka dot 2
I have been obsessed with this look since September 22, ask any of my friends. This photo is literally the background on my phone right now. As is the case with most of his outfits, I don’t know exactly why this oversized, half unbuttoned, pink and white polka dot, Minnie Mouse realness works so well. But it does.

2. 

harry piped suit

I think this is Harry Styles’ take on an understated black suit, you guys. And I am here for it. That subtly flamboyant, feathery, white pinstripe detail gives me life.

Bless.

Bless.

3. 

vest
By my not at all weird or creepy count, Harry has been photographed wearing this vest three times and I have loved every one of them. I don’t even know how to describe this look – hobo chic? – but I know that I didn’t look this good on my own wedding day.

vest 2
I mean, look at that LUGGAGE. This is a man of taste, you guys.

4. 

styles bowling shirt
One of the things I love about Harry is that he’s kind of a nerd, believe it or not. (I mean, you only have to hear one of his endearingly bad knock-knock jokes to believe it.) And this embroidered Styles blouse is such like nerdy dad bowling shirt but for a young, hot eccentric millionaire.

5. 

Just in case you were wondering, the full name of this design is “Starburst Teddy Jacket in Bordeaux Velour,” which just kind of says it all. Although, if someone could explain to me how he looks like an awkward baby deer and rock star at the time, that would be much appreciated.

6. 

white jeans
Harry wore these white jeans when he arrived at LAX for the Fourth of July weekend and Tumblr was on fire. It was glorious. The shirt is a little controversial to me, but the look as a whole is just so. Can you imagine traveling in this outfit? Because I can certainly imagine Harry doing so. (Again: LUGGAGE.)

7. 

floral sheer
Any kind of rundown of Harry’s fashion would be remiss if it didn’t include one sheer blouse, and this green floral is one of my all-time faves. It’s a bold, not-un-couch-like pattern but I really don’t see couch when I look at it. It seems like the kind of outfit that should scandalize your grandma but secretly she loves it?

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