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Kelly Clarkson - Love So Soft

 

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Album Review: Red Velvet's 'Perfect Velvet' Is The Best K-Pop Album of 2017
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The Definitive Track-by-Track Ranking of Taylor Swift's 'reputation' Nobody Asked For
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Niall Horan Shows Us A Different Side Of Him In 'Flicker'
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Solihin

The very concept of a home-grown Korean pop (K-pop) act might sound oxymoronic to anyone completely insulated from that particular hyper-polished, acronym-dominated world. Coupled with the Internet’s insistence on ridicule, the premature death of BEAUNITE (aka #BEAUNTIE) – a local 13 member girl group with capitalistic, cartoon-like plans of world domination – could probably be seen from a mile away. Schadenfreude aside, this was a sign that the genre had finally attained peak cultural penetration by transcending into meme territory and provided an excellent opportunity for those unschooled to educate themselves about the forces behind this flaming trash heap of a debut.

For instance, it was news to a K-plebeian like yours truly that reality shows are part and parcel of being in a South Korean “idol” group which in turn is distinct from the definition of a K-pop “artist.” BEAUNITE falls under the former (or at least is inclined to) which panders to the more cosmetic aspects of society that rewards superficiality over talent. Slumming it and toiling as a “trainee” is mandatory, say K-pop gatekeepers who expect their idols to be nothing less than jacks of all trades on top of conforming to narrow beauty standards, of course. There is nothing new about fans vocally expressing discontent with the purported misrepresentation of their genre (or in this case, their country as well) but BEAUNITE’s presumptuous lack of content and prior experience explains the unanimous uproar against them.

We’d love to say we were declined a comment after reaching out to the group’s representatives but we knew better than to assume that actual adults (let alone Singaporean helicopter parents) were actively supporting this endeavour. Instead, we turned to Linda, our newly-minted K-pop correspondent to shed some light on this recent development.            

S: As our resident K-pop expert, what do you think of BEAUNITE’s “debut”?

L: They seem to be a harmless bunch of Koreaboos* who have their heads a little too far up in the clouds. People take issue with the “K-pop” branding - the fan community has gatekeeping tendencies and gets offended when a non-Korean group with no prior training (the average idols trains for years under their company before getting to debut) claims the label. You might have heard of EXP Edition, a K-pop group that only consists of Caucasian members. They garnered negative reactions from K-pop fans and the Korean public for similar reasons stated above.

S: So can K-pop exist outside of Korea?

L: The industry has developed strong global ambitions in the last decade - many groups promote in Japan, where Korean members learn Japanese and release music exclusively in the language. I've actually seen this used as a defence for EXP Edition: if Japan can accept a Korean group releasing music in Japanese, why can't Korea accept a non-Korean group doing K-pop?

There's also EXO, one of the most popular K-pop groups. They debuted with a concept where they have 2 subgroups, EXO-M and EXO-K: 6 members sing in Korean while the other 6 (4 of them Chinese) sing the same song, but in Mandarin. The Chinese members of EXO-M were still considered K-pop idols since they were backed by a Korean company. This leads me to believe that a Korean company somehow has to be involved in order for a fully Singaporean group to be validated as a legitimate K-pop act. Simply appropriating K-pop elements like what BEAUNITE appears to be doing isn't going to work, with or without high production value.

S: What should BEAUNITE’s next step be?

L: BEAUNITE shouldn't be discouraged from pursuing their passions for music/dance, but they should do away with the K-pop group label. There is nothing wrong with covering K-pop dances, but when you publicly designate yourself as the official maknae** of the group, or adopt a fake Korean name, you should probably reflect on your life choices. Their Koreaboo syndrome is a result of an ever-growing Hallyu*** craze here – there's a line between appreciating a culture and fetishizing one, and many K-pop fans here definitely belong to the latter. Still, it's sad to see really young girls being the target of so much hate.

Well, one thing’s for sure – I sure hope Xuan, the self-proclaimed meme queen, can at the very least appreciate the fact that she had a hand in creating a late but definitely great viral phenomenon.

 

Photo credit: BEAUNITE

*A non-native Korean who is obsessed with Korean culture to the point where they denounce their own national/native identity and proclaim that they are Korean. These people typically start off as K-Pop fans, but some Koreaboos also start off as StarCraft II or League of Legends fans since they are very famous competitive sports in South Korea. The word “Koreaboo” itself comes from the term “weeaboo”; a non-native Japanese person who is obsessed with Japanese culture.

**Maknae is a common Korean term used by older people, generally young adults, to refer to the youngest in a group. It's often used as a title in place of their name.

*** “Korean wave” or “Korean fever,” it refers to the sudden increase in popularity of South Korean culture around the world in the last ten years largely due to the Korean entertainment industry boom and the popularity of kdrama and kpop.

Nothing spells inefficiency like a whole Wikipedia page chronicling your every mishap dating back to 2011. That is the current state of Singapore’s once-exemplary Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) which locals have now learned to know and loathe.

Imagine you were going on your merry way to a major national examination, notes in hand only to be halted dead in your tracks due to a “traction power fault” which resulted in a 2-hour train service disruption and affected up to 70,000 commuters. One in ten of the students late for that particular A-level happened to be you. 

It’s a rite of passage/an inconvenient truth/part of the circle of life to be disappointed by the second oldest metro system in Southeast Asia – is one even Singaporean if they haven’t somehow been burdened by it? SMRT has attained peak levels of #fail in 2017 so we’re here to serve up several relatable remedies which might either temporarily soothe your transportation sorrows or just stoke your fury even more.     

 

1. Stressed Out –Twenty One Pilots

Presumably, your nerves are already on edge from the daily pressures of education or employment so it really doesn’t help that the faceless SMRT Corporation insists on diverting your regularly scheduled route, putting you on the spot and forcing you to overcome the mental hurdle of deciphering which of the bus services you rarely take is the speediest solution. You might develop a schizophrenic secondary personality like Blurryface just to cope with the added stress or even decide that adult tricycles are the answer.

 
 

2. See You Again – Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth

As much as everyone would like to steer well clear of a tragic accident, it is undeniable that the Joo Koon collision last week raises alarms about lapses in safety, the first in 24 years and let’s not forget the added risk of lightning striking twice.  Never has Singapore’s transportation system bore more resemblance to the nightmarish hellhole depicted in that one Korean film about a train. With delays averaging at 2 hours, it’s difficult nowadays to describe your commute as anything less than an arduous journey that necessitates a farewell ballad and one which could very well be your last. 

 
 

3. Apologize – Timbaland ft. One Republic

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan has made himself an easy target for public dissatisfaction. From his derisive comments about press coverage to his apparent fondness for shifting the blame in the direction of anyone else but himself, it took 29 injured commuters to pry out an apology from the man/meme himself. Too little too late, sir.

 
 

4. Power – Kanye West

Let me preface this by stating for the record that I am in no way qualified to talk economics. So correct my humble observation that last year’s privatisation of a public good (aka the backbone of Singapore’s transport system) hasn’t exactly done wonders for the common man. The falsification of maintenance records and the reluctance to call a spade a spade is surely symptomatic of a complacent, profit-based organisation who might not necessarily be motivated to excel seeing that competition is little to none. 

 
 

5. Taxi – The Maine

And in the backseat when you asked me

"Is the sadness everlasting?"

I pulled you closer, looked at you and said

“Love, I think it is”

As the last resort and your wallet’s biggest enemy, Grab/Uber’s surge pricing on any other day should be a deterrent but desperate times call for desperate measures and it doesn’t seem like the our MRT woes are going away anytime soon. crying

Photo credit: Yahoo.com

When someone texts you and incorporates the upside-down face emoji, they aren’t actually trapped in The Upside Down where reception is inverted. It’s a poker face that masks their true feelings and deepest desires.

The same paradox can be applied to the current era embraced by Nashville-based band Paramore. Beneath the surface of their pastel-hued, 80’s Blondie-inspired After Laughter lies a compelling familiarity with depression and extreme ends of the emotional spectrum which might go unnoticed if one was not paying attention to the lyrics. 

Directed by their very own Zac Farro, the new music video for Fake Happy is a thinly-veiled cry for help that only our keen eyes could immediately um, decode. Its main feature: lead singer Hayley Williams merrily prancing around the streets of New York City, blending in seamlessly. From the East River Waterfront’s outdoor gyms to the hubbub of Times Square, it is later revealed that the seemingly vivacious frontwoman is in fact, just like everybody else and perhaps not happy at all.  Via Instagram, Williams details her day “on set”:

i walked around forever and a day, wearing sequins and looking like a mermaid superhero. i danced with strangers, got yelled at by a construction worker, hugged a time traveler... all the while looking p damn carefree.

in my mind, i was anxious and really self-conscious. we didn’t even write the treatment around that, it just was the reality of filming Fake Happy on the streets of one of the busiest cities in the world. the only moment that any underlying emotion (other than “happy”) is apparent is at the very end...

zac directed the video. he conceptualized it and insisted we shoot it on film. very proud of him. proud of me for not giving a shit that im the only one in this video. we made another something we love for the band we grew up in. i love paramore.”                                                                             .  

Wanderlust for an urban jungle? We love Paramore too and Williams is very obviously itching to perform in Singapore as part of Tour Four but for reasons unknown, only Manila has been announced so far. All roads in the pursuit of happiness lead to Singapore and this could be the cure they’re looking for! 

 

Photo credit: Pooneh Ghana

As part of the build-up towards the inevitable event that was Taylor Swift releasing her sixth studio album, Rolling Stones’ Robert Sheffield ranked all 115 of her songs, (correctly) crowning All Too Well as the crème de la crème. Vulture followed suit with an updated list, taking into account the recent reputation and #124 Will Shock No One!  

But seriously though, is anyone surprised that the LP that sold 1.05 million copies within four days is unfortunately the songstress’ most commercial i.e. generic output to date. Sure, the record is Swift at her most sonically cohesive in recent years but it also sees her striking the same contemporarily homogenous chords that tend to blunt her Midas Touch of crafting emotionally resonant pop songs. Rather than pander to the sounds of the moment (808 snares, everywhere!) shouldn't she be comfortable at this point in her career to rise above the din and craft a record that is truly signature Swift?

reputation is unnecessarily awkward in its predestined ascent to the top of the charts. Despite the fake news it perpetuates, the clickbait-y Consequence of Sound does bring up a valid point – are we supposed to immediately be cool with Swift rapping? It might be a nit-pick but should anyone ask me about my favourite TSwift hip-hop moment, the answer will forever be her iconic (and ironic) collaboration with T-Pain. Discomfort at some level should be a natural reaction to the verses she drawls unrecognisably and begs the question, "Why?" No offense, Ed Sheeran. 

If 1989 was the quasi-nostalgic, metropolitan embrace of her independence, reputation is a muddled and dated acknowledgement of her celebrity and/or infamy. By dedicating a majority of the record to her maligned public persona, Swift unwittingly distances herself at times and the dubious fashion she chooses to clothe her tracks doesn’t help either. Instead of the bulletproof comeback that could have been, reputation’s over-the-top gaudiness at the cost of relatability and immersion betrays an insecurity that’s quite misplaced. In the very era of oversharing it would be a pity that the mixed bag presented is merely a reaction and nothing much else.

Thankfully, we’ve sifted through the debris and neatly arranged all 15 tracks from worst to best for your perusal.

 

15. This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Clearly Swift has a thing or two to say to her perceived opponents and on any other day, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It does become inescapably tiresome when a full-fledged 3-minute song or more accurately, a tedious bulk of reputation is devoted to silly barbs which more often than not, fall flat. Would it not be a more fulfilling endeavour to prove her mettle by writing good songs first and foremost? Asking as a fan. Worst of all, "I can't even keep a straight face" doesn't even make a good meme and her insistence on juvenile cattiness represents everything wrong with this record.

14. End Game (ft. Ed Sheeran & Future)

How exactly did we as a society get here? Were we enablers of some sort when we innocently embraced her celebratory Backseat Freestyle and lauded the subsequent Kendrick Lamar feature in spite of its grossly underwhelming music video? If so, sorry. The lines Swift spit aren't terrible but next to nothing could ever redeem the very existence of this transactionary conception.            

13. Look What You Made Me Do

Believe it or not, I’m all for salty, extra, petty Swift, snake symbolism and all. I enjoy that glint of malice when she scowls, “Maybe I got mine, but you'll all get yours,” whatever she’s going off about and the Mean Girls deep cut is, in all honesty, genius. Still doesn’t qualify as anything more than a guilty pleasure, though.       

12. So It Goes...

Genius user taylorrolyat would have us believe that the refrain is used as a Vonnegut-inspired narrative tool of transition marking Swift’s metamorphosis from Old to New. That hypothesis is a stretch which could never accommodate the arid, uninspired soundscapes and flimsy rethreads of her dating dynamics. 

11. Dancing With Our Hands Tied

Imagine you were Joe Alwyn. While there has never been a Taylor Swift album more centred around a single, secretive relationship, the longevity of those songs (this throwaway one included) is, to put it generously, up in the air. Quality over quantity I say.     

10. …Ready For It?

reputation’s opening anthem functions as a spoiler warning and it’s ultimately a grower but just to give you an idea of how much I was not ready for it, I texted anyone who would listen this: “Taylor's a rapper now :(”

9. I Did Something Bad

It is highly unlikely that 2017 will be remembered as the year in which Swift finally came out openly relishing the purported singer-songwriter crime of penning diatribes against exes but you know what? She shouldn’t and doesn’t give a shit so that’s refreshing and hopefully, cathartic. 

8. Gorgeous

This isn’t a song that takes itself too seriously and neither should you. Only someone so smitten could let such an objectively weak chorus slide but the sentiment expressed is… not wrong.  

7. Don’t Blame Me

“Yeah but can she really sing though,” is by far the laziest excuse I’ve heard from casuals who somehow always happen to be vocal connoisseurs. Track 4’s blaring synths are drowned out by Swift’s fiery delivery of a bridge so lit it burns bright to high heaven.

6. Call It What You Want

Admit it, the whole “My baby's fly like a jet stream / High above the whole scene” is pretty darn catchy right up to the point where Swift frets about – you guessed it, her reputation.

5. Delicate

As one of those songs that could be described as (and contains the actual word) “chill”, reputation’s rare moment of frailty and self-doubt is interspersed with hip Tinder lexicon alluding to the anxieties of meeting someone new the only way Taylor Swift could.

4. King of My Heart

The auto tune works well here – Swift seems to be consumed quite thoroughly by the coronation of her new king who enchants her “heart, body, and soul” so much so that there is a shift in the very core of her being. Flitting around a series of dizzying beats, it’s thrilling to imagine a live drum circle HAIM-style hammering it out.

3. Getaway Car

Swift shines the most when she sounds like she could be on the edge of screaming her lyrics from the rooftops or in this case, while riding off into the sunset, possibly in a convertible. With Jack Antonoff’s imprint practically imbued in its DNA, that sweet 1989 aesthetic is ramped up to 13 for good measure.  

2. New Year’s Day

There she is. Vintage Swift – warmest when stripped down and your favourite story teller who kills it with lines like “Please don’t ever become a stranger whose laugh I could recognise anywhere." Isn’t it nice to actually feel things? Just ask Jimmy Fallon.

1. Dress

Sex, sex, sex in the form of a ballad no less. This is peak New Taylor. Alcohol reference? Check. Flow without interference from unnatural cadences? Check. An accessible narrative with enough juicy details and the utility of silence as the embodiment of tense restraint? Very good. 

 

Photo credit: Big Machine Records

Probably.

But if this writer were to be perfectly honest, he’d really rather see their MONUMENTOUR mates, Paramore, whose After Laughter album remains as one of the few excellent releases this year.

Can Fall Out Boy say the same for their not two, but FOUR most recent promotional singles?

Fans of alternative music will tell you that the fatigue when it comes to being constantly disappointed by your musical heroes is real. We’re either trying to reconcile with the fact that there exists a seemingly ubiquitous smog of predatory behaviour perpetuated by some musicians or in FOB’s case, run the risk of tolerating tragically lacklustre new material.  

American Beauty/American Psycho was a great record but my God did they milk it dry. It’s difficult to believe to that almost three years have passed since then (it feels much longer).  That dubious rap/remix album? Their truly terrible remake of the Ghostbusters theme song that irked Ray Parker Jr.? Mistakes were made, man. Take the postponement of their forthcoming M A N I A LP as a prime example.

The four aforementioned singles aren’t bad per se, but neither are they promising. Weakest of which is Champion the latest addition to Fall Out Boy’s burgeoning stadium rock discography, a cheap Centuries knock off sharing an equally disposable chorus with The Last Of The Real Ones. The experimental Young and Menace is actually pretty wild (in a good way) and the concept of an EDM influenced FOB is ludicrous at best but here we are. Again, F O U R songs (out of ten) seem to be an overcompensation of some sort, so… fingers crossed M A N I A is gonna turn out OK?

The M A N I A Tour on the other hand is a guaranteed good time because how often do you get to lose your shit belting out Emo Night classics like Sugar We’re Goin Down, right? If you, like me, felt fairly confident that LAMC Productions was on the verge of officially announcing the arrival of Pete Wentz and co., here’s a familiar sentiment for you – more disappointment because we’re just as clueless. Here's what we do know from Fall Out Boy's Tumblr:

 

We will be updating more details as soon as it's available! Stalk us!

Photo credit: Pamela Littky

If the recent Coldplay fiasco has taught us anything, it's that Singaporeans still have a burning, fervent passion for live music. We will beg, holler and petition till The Powers That Be give us what we want dammit – overpriced tickets for an exceptionally mediocre band at a shitty venue.

Even for those less inclined to drink the Coldplay Kool-Aid however, 2017 is already shaping up to be a pretty decent year, concert-wise.

It could be better, we say.

In fact, we DEMAND that these following acts make a date here simply because we can.

 

1. Adele

Holmen: With her announcing the end of her 2016/17 world tour on July 1st, there's a 50/50 chance that she'll drop by Asia in 2017 as she has added a string of Australian dates for the entire month of March.

 

2. Blink-182

Solihin: We now live in a time where Blink-182 is nominated for the very serious, very prestigious Grammy Awards proving once again how dubious and out of touch the Recording Academy can be. If you're anything like me and “just wanna see some naked dudes,” this is what (wet) dreams are made of so the next obvious step would be a celebratory tour around the globe with sights primarily set on Singapore. However unlikely, there's been talk of a Boat.

 

3. Catfish and the Bottlemen

Donwei: Have been watching their live performances a lot lately, which I think is so much better than their studio recordings and would love to see that for myself. They will be in Australia before heading to Japan in January next year so it would be great if they made a stop in Singapore in between haha

 

4. Carly Rae Jepsen

Teejay: I just really dig her latest album. She skipped SG for her Gimmie Love Tour for some reason, but played shows in Japan and Manila.

Solihin: My hopes got significantly raised when some Pitchfork lackey predicted that the Queen of Everything in the Known Universe might be headlining Laneway 2017. E•MO•TION Side B was the equivalent of a Marvel post-credits scene – a glossy leftover coy enough to tease yet another Infinity Gem which will unavoidably have game-changing repercussions for the world of underappreciated pop. Make Singapore great again; reinstate the CRJ monarchy.

 

5. Childish Gambino + Chance The Rapper

Solihin: Ever notice the distinct lack of hip hop and rap artists that actually make the trip here? How come Australia gets all the fun? 2016 was a massive, massive year for these two gentlemen and it would be great if we could be a part of the upcoming one.

 
 

6. Fifth Harmony

Letazia:The girls have talked about coming to Singapore since forever and it is about time that they get their butts here by putting on an amazing show here to thank local Harmonizers for their incredible support and patience all these years.

 

7. Green Day

Holmen: Revolution Radio was a great comeback to form and they've always sold out their shows here. Skipped SG last tour and are playing Australia in May. Asia tour seems likely!

 

8. HONNE

Teejay: They're going to Manila for Wanderland 2017 along with Explosions in the Sky (who's gonna play a show here!) So hopefully, they'll stop by Singapore too!

 

9. John Mayer

Donwei: I hope he comes cuz i love him lol. Also his new album will be released next year so I think it's quite likely that he would go on a world tour, hopefully SG would be included

Michael: The man is a genius and his new album looks like it's gonna be a hit

 

10. Justin Bieber

Xinyi: In 2016, his Purpose Tour came to Asia but only to Japan so he definitely should explore the rest of Asia and come to Singapore. He will be doing the Australian leg in March 2017 so since he already travelled to this part of the world. He should stop by Asia too. Plus, the last we saw him was before the whole shenanigans and it will be good to watch the new Justin live.

 

11. Lady Gaga

Joey: With her new album Joanne out, she’s gotten a lot of rave reviews and returned back to the mainstream. She is most likely headlining Super Bowl 2017, but a world tour isn't exactly out of the question.

 

12. Little Mix

Letazia: Little Mix had a sold out show in Singapore for their Get Weird Tour this year and have mentioned Singapore several times in interviews saying that it was one of their favourite countries that they have visited on tour. Since their latest album Glory Days just got released, it is only right for them to make another trip back!

 

13. Radiohead

Holmen: One of the greatest bands ever has yet to extensively tour Asia yet. 2017 is largely empty besides a couple of European festival dates.

Michael: Because they are a world acclaimed band that has never played in Singapore, unfortunately for diehard fans (I think they haven't been to Singapore)

 

14. Sia

Joey: (It would be amazing to watch her and Maddie Ziegler live) – but it is super unlikely she will come since her recent Nostalgic for the Present Tour just ended in early Nov in North America.

 

15. Troye Sivan

Xinyi: He did Asia (but only South Korea and Japan) this year on his Blue Neighbourhood Tour. It will be great for him to come back as a singer as he came as a YouTuber for Fanfest 2014. He was one of the biggest names then, definitely proving he has what it takes to sell out a show in Singapore.

 

16. The Vamps

Xinyi: They came to Singapore pretty much unannounced a few weeks ago to do some promos (with Spotify, 987FM etc.) but did not do any public appearances or shows. So I think we deserve something. On their website, they did say Asia will be covered in Sep-Oct 2017.

 

17. The 1975

Teejay: They came this year for laneway but that was prior to the release of their latest album. It would be cool to hear more songs from "i like it when you sleep" live other than their initial singles.

Solihin: I Like It When The 1975 Comes To Town For Their Songs Are So Groovy Yet Emo Enough For Me To Say “Fuck that, get money” Ironically

 

Photo credit: ROSEWOOD, Dimitrios Kambouris, Rommel Demano, Jeff Hahne, Frazer Harrison, Ramona Rosales

Blink-182 tearing through the streets of Los Angeles – completely and nonchalantly butt naked – is an image that’s instantly recognisable and should forever be seared into anyone’s memory.

Nothing screams more “peak Blink” than Mark, Tom and Travis tackling the existential question of What’s My Age Again? while acting like total jackasses. Puer aeternus or the Peter Pan complex is very much part of the trio’s enduring legacy and in the band’s music video for She’s Out Of Her Mind, their notorious nudity gets a nifty update.

The proof of said legacy comes in the form of actor Adam Devine dressed as the nurse from Enema Of The State. (Devine previously confessed to losing his virginity to the tune of All The Small Things, no less.) 

For a song about an “a-a-a-antisocial,” Bauhaus-listening young woman however, it’s ironic that social media seems to be the main divergence between remake and classic. Or is it?

Perhaps through their art, Hoppus and gang are actually presenting an elaborate diatribe against the perils of technology. No longer do we scrutinise the world we live in with a magnifying glass but instead, we are content to view it through the lens of Snapchat, fleetingly fixating on Vine stars and the like.

Nah. Can’t be.

Photo credit: Willie Toledo

Thursday, 04 August 2016 10:37

10 Years of Boys Like Girls: A Post-Mortem

It hurtled out of the blue, amidst the usual debris like a spectre arising from an unmarked, dishevelled grave. After little to no signs of reanimation the cultists and necrophiliacs had eventually left disgruntled. 

For all intents and purposes, Boys Like Girls was dead and buried.

So why is no one too surprised that this nondescript band from Boston has dusted itself off for what is hopefully their last hurrah? In fact, the fanfare which greeted the announcement of Boys Like Girls’ 10 year anniversary tour was enough to warrant a second round of west coast dates.  

Unlike their peers in My Chemical Romance (see: the vaults of MCRX aka a gift that keeps on giving), BLG would be hard pressed to claim any responsibility for any sort of seismic cultural reach or indeed, prevalence. If anything, they are merely a footnote of a dark era twenty somethings once refused to acknowledge but more recently, began to openly embrace. A product of the period they may be, the significance of Boys Like Girls is understandably sentimental and one that is no less worth celebrating. Indeed, BLG recalls a period that is intrinsically youthful in spirit and for that reason, will still resonate thematically no matter even if you realise those cardboard-flimsy power chords don’t really hold up.

Make no mistake though, revisiting the band’s self-titled debut is customary and marks the final nail in the coffin but this time, allows for a proper, nostalgic send-off. But why the naysaying, you ask. Surely, #BLG10 will lead to a reinvigoration of some kind; breathe back life into this clinically defunct group. Alas, the horse is not only beaten but at this point, milked posthumously with polite inclination. An interview with frontman Martin Johnson on The Gunz Show proves to be quite telling. 

For starters, it is quite apparent that Boys Like Girls would love nothing more than to distance themselves from Boys Like Girls – or at least their “2006 emo” phase which they find themselves restricted by.  Johnson, now 30 years old and keener to point towards his work as a producer lamented dismissively, “A lot of people define me as the kid in that album. That kid was 18. That kid was high on Adderall.” Clearly there is no love lost between the lead singer and his younger self yet Johnson admits, “It’s not about me and my growth, it’s about that moment in time and how dare I take that away from [the fans].”         

This ironic reluctance towards the history of the band will be cemented by the notable absence of original bassist Bryan Donahue from the upcoming shows, asserting that he was not invited. If such an exclusion is true, any effort to commemorate Boys Like Girls seems incomplete, bordering on disingenuous to move past previous differences and acknowledge Donahue’s role in shaping their titular record. 

With regard to the country crossover flop that was 2012’s Crazy World, Johnson is equally enlightening.

 

Yeah well, Columbia f***ed it in the ass so.”       

It would be easy to blame the trappings of a major label for BLG’s downward spiral into obscurity but Johnson’s palpable indifference and really, lack of any visible indignation or attempt to grind their third album for what it was worth casts serious doubt over Boys Like Girls's desire to be Boys Like Girls on their own terms. Look no further than their compatriots in The Maine and All Time Low, both of whom broke free of similar shackles and fared exceedingly well in terms of musical growth and continued relevance without disenchanting their core fan base. Can BLG say the same? 

Yes, by all means go to one or even all of the select dates. I know I would. Boys Like Girls surely helped to soundtrack many a carefree summer but unfortunately, that is all it will continue to be. BLG10 probably doesn’t represent THE great escape anymore but an escape nonetheless from the harsh realities of what the band (and our lives) have become. 

Photo credit: Columbia Records

When Warner Bros. dropped the first official trailer for Suicide Squad early this year, the sequences of the grittily humorous flick were leashed by very well-utilised snippets of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

Matching the action and snappy dialogue beat for beat, the famously erratic anthem (roughly divided into initial piano balladry and Brian May’s headbang-mandatory riffs) was the perfect tonal accompaniment for a film about a diverse cast of loose cannon criminals coerced into doing some honest-to-god superhero work.

Suicide Squad: The Album will feature a roster similarly jam-packed with huge names that make for an unorthodox team-up.  

Top of the track list is Panic! at the Disco’s cover of the aforementioned Queen classic – a regular spectacle incorporated into their live set now fully realised on record. To say we’re thrilled that Brendon Urie’s pipes were captured for this would be an understatement.

While label mates twenty one pilots have already managed to clog up the comment sections with their contribution, Heathens, the OST also promises other original songs from the likes of Skylar Grey, Kehlani and most prominently, the Art Angel herself, Grimes.

Interestingly enough, collaboration appears to be the name of the game with Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Imagine Dragons, Logic, Ty Dolla $ign and X Ambassadors all crammed into one song and Action Bronson, The Black Keys’s Dan Auerbach and Mark Ronson on another. Skrillex and Rick Ross’s Purple Lamborghini on the other hand, is reporttedly set to star Jared Leto (of 30 Seconds To Mars fame) in full Joker garb.

The inclusion of Eminem’s Without Me is a nice nod to the music video which saw the rapper dressed as Robin the Boy Wonder (and Dr. Dre as Blade), adding more fuel to the already roasting Death in the Family fire.

With legendary composer Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight trilogy, Batman v Superman, Sherlock Holmes) retiring from the “superhero business,” the Suicide Squad soundtrack does seem like a breath of fresh air, just weird enough to achieve mission success for Task Force X.

 

Suicide Squad: The Album tracklist:

1. Purple Lamborghini – Skrillex & Rick Ross
2. Sucker for Pain – Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa & Imagine Dragons (with Logic, Ty Dolla $ign & X Ambassadors)
3. Heathens – twenty one pilots
4. Standing in the Rain – Action Bronson & Dan Auerbach (of the Black Keys) (feat. Mark Ronson)
5. Gangsta – Kehlani
6. Know Better – Kevin Gates
7. You Don’t Own Me – Grace (feat. G-Eazy)
8. Without Me – Eminem
9. Wreak Havoc – Skylar Grey
10. Medieval Warfare – Grimes
11. Bohemian Rhapsody – Panic! at the Disco
12. Slippin’ Into Darkness – War
13. Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival
14. I Started a Joke – ConfidentialMX (feat. Becky Hanson)

 

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Pierce The Veil’s Collide With The Sky was released almost half a decade ago.

Arguably responsible for placing the San Diegan four piece firmly on the cusp of being fully-fledged arena regulars, their Fearless Records debut should first be recognised as the crackling start to their most successful era yet and for good reason.  It featured a string of winning collaborations (primarily with King For A Day’s post-hardcore princess, Kellin Quinn), an all-around compelling spirit of brazenness and the durability to power them through tour after tour.

Misadventures then, is borne out of the turbulent time since CWTS’s release – spanning multiple delays, accidents and most of all, aspirations to live up to and even surpass its predecessor.

While Collide relied on the theatrics of transitions like the memorable May These Noises Startle You In Your Sleep which, paired with a consistent narrative culminated in a satisfactory sense of cohesion, Misadventures presents more of a varied palette without as many overtly melodramatic flourishes. A result perhaps of frontman Vic Fuentes “renting a bunch of different Airbnbs,” these musical pilgrimages have forged an album that is a new breed of beast altogether.

The staple PTV is still present – the blistering pace of Texas Is Forever is characteristic of the group’s sheer kineticism, only sped up with a vengeance that is fitting for the conclusion of a long dragged out romantic chapter. Breakdowns though surprisingly aplenty, are worked in organically with slick instrumentals like the giddying build up to Dive In or wrapped between Fuentes’s familiar yowls of frustration on Sambuka.

Credit has to be awarded to the band for pushing the envelope by exploring new textures of synthesizers – a feat that would not have been immediately associated with Pierce The Veil yet once adorned on tracks like the mid-tempo Floral & Fading (and that solo!) lead to melody magic Weezer would be proud of. Similarly, Gold Medal Ribbon's prelude sounds so deceptively 80s that its roaring midriff, packed with a multitude of different sandwiched elements, is bound to be a mind-numbingly overwhelming experience. 

PTV's prominence as the stereotypical "scene" band is fodder for derisive, usually  dismissive comments but what the entirety of Misadventures irrefutably proves is the quartet's very refined, very real talent as musicians. Mountain bike mishap be damned, lead guitarist Tony Perry remains an absolute trooper whose galvanic presence is made known by the many flailing squeals that pepper the album. Even amidst the electronic pulses that precede Circles, the jagged choruses are driven by a rhythm section that is as robust as ever, making the uncannily composed anthem an easy choice for modern rock radio.

Ultimately, Misadventures's strength lie in the individual songs – how the members of Pierce The Veil evidently took their time to craft each track into organisms in their own right. Though it might not wield the same immediacy or barrage of hook-after-hook its celebrated counterpart enjoyed, it stands alone not as a mere follow-up but a deliciously layered record – a treasure trove worthy of excavating with a cherishing hand.

Track Cuts: Texas Is Forever, Floral and Fading, Phantom Power and Ludicrous Speed, Gold Medal Ribbon

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