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At the peak of my pandemic boredom, I decided to re–watch Criminal Minds. I had first started streaming the iconic show, which follows members of the esteemed Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI, in middle school. And while I was far too young to be following the adventures of Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid, Derek Morgan, and co. as they apprehended some of the most notorious criminals in their fictional universe, I couldn’t help but remain invested in the high–paced episodes. After a 15–season long run on CBS, a reboot of Criminal Minds is now set to air on Paramount+.
Crying in H Mart is more than just a story of grief and family—it's also a love letter to Michelle Zauner’s mother and her mother country, South Korea. Zauner, known fondly among fans of indie rock by the stage name “Japanese Breakfast,” opens her first memoir, Crying in H Mart, with a simple declaration: “Ever since my mom died, I cry in H Mart.”
Content Warning: The following text contains mentions of depression and suicide, which can be disturbing or triggering for some readers. Please find resources listed at the bottom of the article.
It's rare for an emerging pop star to set the Spotify record for most streams in a day for a non–holiday track and then return to break it just a few months later with a debut album. It's even more unlikely that it is an eighteen–year–old can manage to throw everyone, no matter their age, back into the throes of high school romance in all of its angsty glory.
When J. Cole finished his first mixtape over a decade ago, he camped outside Jay–Z’s studio for hours to get a chance to see one of his inspirations. When Jay–Z finally saw him, decorated CD in hand, Cole says: “He just looked at me like, almost disgusted.” That moment of rejection would have deterred many aspiring artists from forging on—but not Cole. Nights sneaking into New York recording studios and Cole’s pure perseverance finally paid off when his mixtapes eventually caught the attention of Roc Nation, Jay–Z’s very own label, which signed him in 2009.
YouTube rocketed a young, fresh–faced Justin Bieber to the forefront of pop culture and music in 2009. Vine produced Shawn Mendes, who went from seven–second song cover videos to four full–length albums. Now, TikTok is offering … Addison Rae?
Fiona Apple is an entertainment industry's nightmare, a stubborn embodiment of unyielding originality—even when she raises eyebrows. Decades after she first rose to fame for her debut album Tidal, Apple's critically acclaimed fifth studio album, Fetch the Bolt Cutters, garnered three nominations at the 2021 Grammys. Besting the likes of indie darling Phoebe Bridgers to win Best Alternative Music Album, Apple emerged from an eight–year music hiatus with a bang—and yet decided to skip the ceremony altogether.
It's been over five years since Julien Baker first captured music critics' attention with her 2015 debut album, Sprained Ankle. Sparse instrumentation scattered around Baker's delicate voice in her first LP: Her existential musings were so lonely and fragile that the only way to listen without shattering her words was to hold your breath. Now, with a few more albums under her belt—including one with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Daucus in the indie supergroup boygenius—Baker returns to themes of faith, self–destructive behavior, and substance abuse in her third album, Little Oblivions.
Paramore's lead singer Hayley Williams is no stranger to emotional pain, and she’s not afraid to bear it all on her sophomore solo album, FLOWERS for VASES / descansos. Williams’ album explores the dissolution of her decade–long relationship with guitarist Chad Gilbert, compounded by the isolation of quarantine and COVID–19 life. It’s only the second time we have heard her sing since Paramore’s last album, 2017's After Laughter, but the group's spunky pop sound in “Rose–Colored Boy” has metamorphosed into a haunting indie reincarnation for Williams' solo endeavor in tracks like “Find Me Here.”
“We were both young when I first saw you” is a fitting beginning to Taylor Swift’s journey of re–recording her old catalog of music, from debut album Taylor Swift to reputation. Last week, in a surprise announcement on Good Morning America, Swift revealed she had finished recording her second studio album, Fearless, and would be releasing it “soon.” Midnight of that day, Swift dropped “Love Story (Taylor’s version),” featuring new album art that fits more appropriately into her folklore and evermore era. Swift also announced that she'd include six never–before–released songs from the 2008 album's sessions.
We've all heard "drivers license," Olivia Rodrigo's record–shattering single, and we've all probably heard at least a little bit about its accompanying love triangle. After its release earlier this year, fans became detectives, trying to decipher all the clues Rodrigo included regarding her former relationship with co–star Joshua Bassett and his new girlfriend, actress and singer Sabrina Carpenter. Written about the end of Rodrigo's relationship, "drivers license" features a dramatic bridge and an even more alluring backstory.
Earlier this month, Street featured Arlo Parks' debut album as one of our most anticipated new releases of 2021. Slated to open for Paramore artist Hayley Williams before COVID–19 restrictions canceled the tour, Parks had garnered buzz for the handful of singles she released over the last few years as she worked on her first LP. Showcasing poignant lyricism and dreamy vocals in tracks like “Cola,” Parks’ singles inflated expectations for her first full–length project, Collapsed in Sunbeams—and she’s somehow surpassed them.
It would be difficult to explore Zayn Malik and his new album, Nobody is Listening, without mentioning One Direction—which is perhaps the reason all five former members have tried to establish, and even prove, their individuality. With an outpouring of disappointing solo tracks and well–intentioned but poorly executed albums, some of the former boyband stars have begun growing into their own skin while others falter. Nobody is Listening lands Malik in the former category, marking a clear step in his personal journey and improving upon his past work.
After two years of legal battles, Nicki Minaj agreed to a $450,000 offer of judgment to Tracy Chapman for sampling her 1988 hit “Baby Can I Hold You" in Minaj's leaked song “Sorry.” Following their mutual agreement, Chapman released a statement explaining that “as a songwriter and an independent publisher, I have been known to be protective of my work. I have never authorized the use of my songs for samples or requested a sample.” Chapman’s suit against Minaj is hardly the first time two artists have sought legal action over copyright infringement or similarities in music, but the lawsuit over “Sorry” raised eyebrows for one reason: Minaj never officially included it on her album, Queen (2018). While Minaj didn't formally release the song, it leaked to a popular radio station DJ, Funkmaster Flex, who then played it on his station.
On Nov. 10, Britney Spears’ court request to remove her father, Jamie Spears, from her conservatorship was denied by a Los Angeles judge. A conservatorship describes a court case in which a “judge appoints a responsible person or organization (called the ‘conservator’) to care for another adult (called the 'conservatee’) who cannot care for himself or herself or manage his or her own finances.” Spears has been under conservatorship since 2008, when she very publicly suffered a mental breakdown and underwent treatment at a UCLA facility. Because of her issues with mental health, her father was appointed as her conservator and was essentially granted control and power over all of her finances, legal rights, and personal life.
Quincy Morgan (C’23) gives a glimpse into her life and background as an artist through her playlist. Originally from New York, Quincy spent much of her childhood in the south of France, explaining in part her attachment to the Brooks remix of “American Boy” by Estelle and Kanye West. “I’m a huge fan of the original, but around 2007, I was growing up in the south of France and I think it was around then when the song kind of hit peak popularity out there. You couldn’t walk into a single restaurant, cafe, or store without hearing it at least once. It reminds me of those days and the memories I have from there in general. Having been raised out of the country so much, I’m also just a very proud American because I was the only American girl of my friend group in my youth. It’s just one of those songs that put me in a good mood.”
Holding his phone to the laptop microphone so I could hear, Jonah Jurick (W '22) plays excerpts from his hand–picked playlist over Zoom, fully immersed in each second and moving his head slightly to the beat. Comfortable playing the drums, guitar, and piano, he spends his free time listening to and creating music as Hei$t, with over 250,000 Spotify streams on his track “Romeo.”
A year ago, Travis Scott dominated the stage under a flurry of multicolor lights as a headliner for the Made in America Festival in Philadelphia. Marked by dazzling stage effects and hectic mosh pits, it seems almost impossible in the age of COVID–19 to imagine thousands of strangers colliding and screaming along to massively popular hits like "STARGAZING" in such close quarters. Now, after months of canceled tours and shows worldwide, coronavirus has forced artists like Scott to look towards other streams of revenue.
Almost no one had heard of Dominic Fike when Columbia Records signed a whopping four million dollar record deal in 2018 with the Florida native. Virtually a ghost online, with no music out on any platform, Fike had industry giants enter the ring for a dirty, no–stops bidding war on what was a risky—and pricey—record deal.