How Disney Profits Off of Your Nostalgia

Whether you’ve been streaming Netflix’s Stranger Things, watching Disney’s latest dead-eyed CGI remake in theaters, or partaking in the revival of scrunchies, mom jeans, and windbreakers, you’ve probably noticed one thing these items all have in common. 

That’s right: the ’80s and ’90s are back with a vengeance.  

One way of explaining this recollection can be found in the nostalgia cycle. The nostalgia cycle is a cultural predictor that estimates how long it will take until society longs for the trends and ideas of generations before them. Many versions of the nostalgia cycle exist, ranging from 10-40 years. For example, for a thirty-year long cycle, someone from the 2010s might long for the aesthetics and attitudes of the 1980s. A notable product of a nostalgia cycle includes the 1977’s Star Wars, in which George Lucas calls back to the adventurous serials of the 1940s and ’50s.

While the gimmick of the nostalgia cycle is charming, it is clearer to see that this move towards nostalgia is profit-driven, especially within the film industry. When searching for a suitable example of this phenomenon, pointing fingers and targeting the Disney company is too easy. 

Disney has been a corporation that has depended on nostalgia for most of its existence. Whether it pulls from its early archives with animated classics such as 1937’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” and 1951’s “Alice in Wonderland” for their VHS releases or the “preserving” of Disney’s legacy, remembrance of the past permeates Disney’s ethos. But lately, most people have noticed Disney’s emphasis on reviving its films created during its “renaissance” during 1989-1999. Such notable films created in the era include Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Mulan. All of these films have live-action remakes or are currently in production, with release dates scattered throughout the 2020s. 

Logically speaking, pushing for these movies makes sense. One key aspect is that the children who watched the 2D-animated films in the ’90s are now all grown up with their own disposable incomes. With their childhood behind them and responsibilities piling up, of course these adults will want to return to simpler times. Disney, along with other companies, has exploited this longing for nostalgia in order to sell more tickets and merchandise. 

In Disney’s case, however, it has become apparent that seeking profit while using nostalgia as a crutch has resulted in the gutting of some of its most beloved Renaissance films. Lion King (2019) is a prime example of this, as many felt betrayed when the studio decided to take away the original 1994 film’s exaggerated visuals and instead rendered the characters with hyperrealistic CGI effects. 

But sadly, profit-mongering is not new for Disney. Its continued reliance on safe projects makes sense with the lukewarm response recent original stories have received (The Good Dinosaur, Big Hero Six, Brave). Unless audiences show up to theaters, tickets in hand, for movies that don’t have the name value of a remake, fewer originals will be made. 

It would be fitting to end with a note of nostalgia. And who can say it better than the man behind the Disney Renaissance himself, Michael Eisner? The previous CEO of Disney says what current Disney seems too afraid to express: “We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make a statement. To make money is our only objective.”

Featured Image: Polygon

-Grace Lee (’21)

Top 10 Albums of 2018

The Sound is a column on all things music written by Charles Park (’20) and Mark Park (’20). -Ed.

2018 was another great year for music. From the sweet, bouncy beats on Ariana Grande’s Sweetener to the introspective, ambitious Brockhampton project Iridescence, this year marked a turning point in genre-fusion and artist collaborations. Just a few observations before I get into the albums:

  • “Trap” drums are permeating other genres. A drum kit that was originally exclusive to contemporary hip-hop sounds like those of XXXTentacion or Lil Uzi Vert are now commonplace in the work of Khalid’s Better or Ariana Grande’s No Tears Left to Cry.
  • Artists’ personal lives and political stances have had a significant impact on the way people listen to their music. Kanye’s controversial moves, 6ix9ine’s imprisonment, Mac Miller’s death – so much discussion in the music world has been spurred by the circumstances of artists’ lives outside the studio, prompting people to rethink the age-old question: can an artist be separated from the art?
  • Fans are more accepting of experimental projects. I doubt that hip-hop fans, even just a few years ago, would have been accepting of albums like Kids See Ghosts and Iridescence. Now, these artists are praised for their genre-bending and production quirks.
  • The Soundcloud scene has grown at an unprecedented rate. You know that feeling when you find an artist who’s already racked up millions of plays, but you’ve never heard of them before? That’s the Soundcloud effect: when artists can get insanely popular in a matter of days, because of the viral nature of Soundcloud likes and reposts.
  • Anticipation of new projects has reached a fever pitch. This may be because most of the internet has grown up with the popular artists of today; Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter are full of fans overanalyzing tweets they think are alluding to a new release, or trying to figure out if the background music in an artist’s Instagram story is an unreleased song. I thought I was going insane waiting for the new Giriboy album.

And now to my picks of 2018.

  1. Crush – Wonderlost

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I didn’t have too many expectations going into this, mostly because I hadn’t been keeping up with how much more sophisticated and unique his production and sound had gotten over the years. So I was pleasantly surprised to hear such a refreshing, well-executed take on a Korean R&B and pop sound, not to mention the extremely clever wordplay and lyricism in some of his songs.

Favorite track(s) – Cereal, Close Your Eyes, RYO

  1. Khalid – Suncity

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After Khalid’s impressive debut album from 2017, American Teen, I wasn’t surprised that Suncity was one of my favorite projects of the year. Sure, it may have been shorter and less ambitious, but I think it allowed Khalid to be more focused and better blend the album’s holistic meaning and timbre. Case in point: the outro to Motion includes a snippet of Better, with the chorus “nothing feels better than this” being repeated with a slightly-vocoded, pitched down, and slowed down inflection.

Favorite track(s) – Better

  1. Balming Tiger – ‘虎媄304’

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Korean experimental hip hop collective Balming Tiger blew up this year with singles like ONCEAGAIN, CHEF LEE, and I’M SICK, taking the underground Soundcloud scene of Korea by storm. The resulting project of their collaboration was a complete 180 from the music theory and composition norms that had ingrained themselves in Korean producers; Balming Tiger’s producers cite experimental, electronic artists like Flying Lotus as their inspiration. Besides the production, Balming Tiger’s sound was defined by rapper Byung Un’s well crafted lyricism: “but do you remember? 우리 회사?
”

Favorite track(s) – CHEF LEE, ONCEAGAIN

  1. JPEGMAFIA – Veteran

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Continuing with another experimental hip hop project, Veteran showed me the potential and prowess of rapper and producer Peggy. He uses samples and absurd, mind-bending sound effects that somehow stay accessible to the average hip hop fan. The fact that Peggy produced and mixed the entire album by himself shows the sheer talent that went into creating this project.

Favorite track(s) – 1539 N. Calvert, Thug Tears, Baby I’m Bleeding

  1. Ariana Grande – Sweetener

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Ariana already has an impressive discography, but Sweetener was probably the first project from her that I genuinely enjoyed from start to finish. Although I did find Pharrell’s production to be a little over-the-top sometimes, as many did, I felt that the project was a departure from her usual pop-oriented sounds and was a step towards Ariana’s own artistic vision.

“I don’t know about the importance or significance the album holds to Ariana Grande’s career as a whole, but I do believe that the album represents an important step in maturity and growth for Grande. From her lyrics to the unique sound that she has come to embrace, the album is an accumulation of all the lessons she learned throughout her career as one of this century’s most renowned musicians.” – Andrew Hong (11)

Favorite track(s) – No Tears Left to Cry, God is a Woman

  1. BROCKHAMPTON – Iridescence

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I started following self-proclaimed boyband and hip-hop collective BROCKHAMPTON at the end of last year, around the time their third SATURATION album was released. I loved the explosive synergy of the group’s members – Kevin, Matt, Joba, Ameer, Bearface – and was excited to hear what was next for the group as they reached mainstream popularity this year. The result was an album that I initially didn’t care much for, but grew to love. Even with a more mainstream audience, the group kept its unique and jarring production quirks and made its most ambitious, yet honest, project to date.

Favorite track(s) – NEW ORLEANS, WEIGHT, SAN MARCOS

  1. Mac Miller – Swimming

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Mac Miller’s death left me particularly devastated because of the message of Swimming. The lyrics on the first track, Come Back to Earth,

“In my own way, this feel like living
Some alternate reality
And I was drowning, but now I’m swimming
Through stressful waters to relief”,

Made me think that Mac had overcome his substance abuse and mental issues and had finally moved on. It was a message that I’d taken to heart, which made his death even more soul-shattering. What he left behind, though, is probably my favorite project from Mac of all time, beating my previous favorite The Divine Feminine. The lyrics flow well and are meaningful (as they always have been) and the use of more acoustic instruments like bass guitar adds a nice R&B touch to the sound of the album.

Favorite track(s) – Come Back to Earth, Hurt Feelings, What’s the Use?

  1. Kids See Ghosts – Kids See Ghosts

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Kids See Ghosts was my favorite album of the summer. I was never a big fan of Kid Cudi, so it came as a surprise to me how enjoyable this album was for me. It’s definitely not the magnum opus that many in the hip-hop community claim it to be, but it’s certainly Kanye’s most well-produced and focused projects as of recently, beating his other 2018 project ye by a mile. The production is futuristic (it reminded me of something Vince Staples would do) and the project never loses its energy for its short runtime.

Favorite track(s) – Reborn, Feel the Love, Freee

  1. Giriboy – Science Fiction Music

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What’s always impressed me about Korean artist Giriboy is his versatility. When you listen to his older works, like 2015’s Take Care of You or 2016’s Sooljalee, you would never expect him to undergo the transformation that he did. Starting from his EP earlier in the year, hightechnology, Giriboy’s production became futuristic, forward-thinking, and incredibly ambitious, more so than many of his contemporaries, even within his own record label Just Music. The resulting project is an album I’ll probably never get bored of, for its lyrics, production value, and just how fun it is.

Favorite track(s) – I4P.kr, Keyboard, hooksong

  1. Denzel Curry – TA13OO

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Denzel Curry reached virality a few years ago with his angry trap song ULTIMATE. The fact that it was produced by RonnyJ, who’s responsible for much of Lil Pump’s discography, should give you an idea of what kind of song it was: a mindless, repetitive workout beat, and not much more. To shift this attitude, Denzel came out with Ta13OO, a masterpiece which convinced me and many others that trap wasn’t just a phase of hip-hop and that it would lend itself to become one of the most defining subgenres of the decade. The album structure in itself – having three separate sections that each have a layer of darkness and complexity to them – is a long-needed change from the compilation-based albums that artists like Migos have been pumping out. In totality, the introspective lyrics and production of TA13OO make it my pick for album of the year.

Favorite track(s) – TA13OO, Black Balloons, Black Metal Terrorist

Honorable mentions: warrenisyellow – ALIEN, Travis Scott – ASTROWORLD, Various Artists – Black Panther the Album, Kanye West – ye, Aminé – ONEPOINTFIVE, Kamaal Williams – The Return, Sam Kim – Sun and Moon, Lauv – I met you when I was 18, Cuco – Chiquito, Vince Staples – FM!

Biggest letdowns of 2018: Drake – Scorpion, Juice WRLD – Goodbye & Good Riddance, Nas – NASIR, Joji – BALLADS 1, Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth, Rich Brian – AMEN

Featured image: Pitchfork

The Rebirth of Neo-Soul

Neo-soul has been on the rise again after its decline in the last decade. With the reappearance of this genre in many mainstream songs, it is important to know the current trend of neo-soul and its emerging artists.

The Sound is a column on all things music written by Charles Park (’20) and Mark Park (’20). -Ed.

Neo-soul originated in the late 1980’s as few artists started to deviate away from contemporary R&B by incorporating other genres of music. Neo-soul (neo meaning new) is an alternative version of soul, blending in more genres such as R&B, Hip-hop, and Jazz. It has always been difficult to differentiate Neo-soul and alternative R&B as they consist of similar elements of music. Neo-Soul is derived from 1970’s style of Hip-hop with Soul R&B while contemporary R&B originates from more pop funk genres. However, in current music industry, both genres are treated the same as there is no clear line of definition that separates the two genres.

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Lauryn Hill (Source:Twitter)

As neo-soul started to gain popularity in the underground music, prominent artists such as Prince, Joi, and Maxwell started the ‘neo-soul’ movement. In the 1990s, popular artists, such as D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, and Lauryn Hill integrated neo-soul into other genres. Throughout the 2000s, neo-soul reached its apex as these artists brought neo-soul into the light of mainstream music; soon, the genre established its identity in the music industry. However, the genre quickly died out due to its rise of Southern Hip-hop. Throughout the last decade, only a few neo-soul artists entered the mainstream industry such as John Legend, Frank Ocean, and Bilal. Its popularity declined in the mainstream music until 2017 when a few artists started to categorize their music as ‘neo-soul’ again.

 

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Source:Chicago Reader

 

It all started with Frank Ocean, releasing his sophomore album, Blond. Although he released his first album, Channel Orange, in 2012, gaining high appraisals, Channel Orange was considered contemporary R&B. On the other hand, Blond was a neo-soul album, influenced from the works of Erykah Badu and D’angelo. Ocean was able to create a more unique style of neo-soul, emphasizing the story and lyrics-which is what soul is about. Songs such as ‘Nike’ and ‘Nights’ have been able to explore the more diverse genre of music with auto-tunes and eclectic beats, expanding the types of Neo-soul.

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Source:Genius

Unlike Ocean’s style, Daniel Caesar’s music consists of simple guitar and gospel beats. The Toronto-based Soul singer is on the rise as he delivers the traditional vibe of neo-soul. With the recent release of his album, Freudian, he instantly became one of the most popular R&B/Soul artists. The full-length album was able to deliver the contemporary version of Gospel songs as their similar tempos and lyrical themes gave the audience a new feeling. Although the album is more shifted towards contemporary R&B, the integration of vocal elements and gospel music can be identified as a new type of soul music.

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Many R&B artists started to consider their work as neo-soul because the genre was able to integrate other types of music. One significant genre that has been a catalyst to neo-soul’s popularity is Hip-hop. Throughout the evolution of neo-soul, it is apparent that the relationship between neo-soul and hip-hop has been firmly established with artists such as D’Angelo and Lauryn Hill. In the recent release of Tyler the Creator’s fourth studio album, Flower Boy, it introduced the mainstream audience into a more alternative version of R&B and neo-soul. Featuring new soul and R&B artists, Tyler the Creator utilized a diverse genre of beats such as funk, jazz fusion, and electric blues. From its remarkable composition of the music, it is important to recognize some of featuring artists as they were the ones who led the trends of neo-soul.

Known as an indie pop and neo-soul artist, Rex Orange County has been gaining popularity from his vibrant and intricate beats. Having released only two albums, Rex Orange County has explored the genres of fusion jazz, *lo-fi, *indie-pop, and funk, showing the flexibility of his style into different genres. Over the past two years, he has shown how diverse neo-soul can be in the styles of music that he has created.

Another artist that has brought neo-soul to the mainstream genre is Kali Uchis. Her soothing voice from Tyler’s song, ‘See You Again’ has gained her popularity. Currently, she has only released one song, featuring Tyler the Creator, which has been highly appraised of its mixture in jazz and electric funk while it was able to blend well with Tyler’s hard rap.

A final artist that has brought neo-soul to the mainstream genre is Steve Lacy. From his demo EP, made mostly from his iPhone, Lacy has created higher expectations for his upcoming album with his rap group, The Internet. His first project shows the audience the classic Southern California funk and soul. As a rising artist, Lacy brought attention to a more funk-styled soul with electric lo-fi* pop, expanding the fan base for neo-soul and indie* pop.

Neo-soul has been a vaguely defined genre throughout the music industry due to its ephemeral popularity in the mainstream industry.  But as more artists have been popularizing this genre, neo-soul can be integrated into any types of music. There are more artists that have continued the legacy of neo-soul other than from this list (such as Solange, Aloe Blac, Emlei Sande), but they have already been famed for their unique styles. As these emerging artists expand the diversity of this genre, make sure to listen to their songs before they hit the charts.

*Lo-fi: A sub-genre of music that is recorded with the lower quality compared to urban mainstream standards. Lo-Fi, meaning “low-fidelity”, highlights the imperfection of the artist’s quality, having a more artistic effect (such as Do-It-Yourself trends).

Ex: Beck, Pavement, XXXTentacion

*Indie-pop: A music genre that combines guitar pop with the style of mainstream pop music.  

Ex: Lana Del-Ray, The xx, Lorde

Featured Image Source: Kubashi

-Mark Park (’20)

The Silent Voice of Nature

What the new EPA head Scott Pruitt has in mind for our nature

Ever since Rachel Carson’s SIlent Spring revealed the unexpected hazards of agricultural chemical pesticides, humanity’s perception of the environment has altered. Americans, for the first time, realized how their technological progress has come at the expense of our Earth. “In nature nothing exists alone,” Carson has stated, and indeed human lives are inevitably intertwined with the breath of our very home.

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E.P.A logo

 

In effect, the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A) was founded in 1970, with hopes to protect human health and the environment through legislative means. For years, the E.P.A has endured as the main U.S agency in tackling pollution, instigating series of reforms such as the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Air Act, while attempting to curtail and regulate carbon dioxide emissions through its international programs.

 

 

But under the Trump administration, the E.P.A will head towards a new, unforeseen direction. For one, E.P.A will be experiencing the largest budget cuts by 31 percent along with health services, housing, diplomacy, and the arts in efforts to increase military spending by billions of dollars. Not only this, the Senate has ultimately given its final confirmation to the new head of the E.P.A, namely the Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt “who has built a career out of suing to block the E.P.A.’s major environmental rules” (N.Y Times).  As a climate change skeptic and a renowned opposer of the E.P.A, Scott Pruitt’s hypocritical vision for the E.P.A is now stirring a great deal of controversy in the United States.

“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do, and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” were the recent words by Pruitt only last Thursday. Holding the support by President Trump, Pruitt aims to reduce regulations over fossil fuel industries, allowing them to “thrive” and “planet-warming emissions to increase.”

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Scott Pruitt stirs controversy (Daily Signal)

Already, It has been noted that for the last six years, Pruitt took part in 14 lawsuits against the E.P.A, while attempting to draft his own climate change rules that run counter to Obama’s major achievement—the Obama Climate Plan. The Obama Climate Plan strives to gradually replace fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy, aiming to cut 2005 greenhouse gas levels nearly a third by 2030. Upon this, Trump had long expressed desires to repeal the Obama water regulation that prohibits pollution in most rivers, streams, and wetlands, and Pruitt is more than willing to replace them.

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Obama’s Climate Plan (BeyondChron)
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President Obama (Slate)

As much as America holds its global reputation economically and politically, it must maintain responsibility over its industries’ environmental ramifications that affect the world. And while the Obama Climate Plan has endeavored to ameliorate pollution, Pruitt’s inauguration to the E.P.A may pose a major threat in the long term.  It is true industries may prosper momentarily for if Pruitt’s regulations do come in effect, but we must realize global pollution may hit its peak at unprecedented levels.

-Sammie Kim 18′ (Featured image: Valero Doval)

Lounge with Leona: Does Going Mainstream Mean Failure?

Sit down, take a chill pill, and relax for this week’s edition of Lounge with Leona; does something going mainstream ruin it?

So that thing you love, the one thing you consider your safe place, is now going mainstream. Now what? Perhaps you will continue cheering for and supporting that underground band whose music you could only find on Soundcloud before, or the hipster movie you wouldn’t dare talk about in front of your friends because they wouldn’t have seen it anyways. Or, will you end up getting annoyed by the constant exposure it will receive, thereby beginning to dislike or even hate the thing you used to absolutely adore?

I don’t blame you; I’m definitely a victim of this vicious cycle too. I (supposedly) discover something none of my friends have ever seen or heard of, go crazy over it, decide to share the love with others, only to unmask it so much that I get annoyed of repeatedly hearing about it (now that I’ve got my friends hooked to it as well). Take La La Land for example; an exceptional film. I’ve seen it twice, and it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen it in theaters, but I still, to this day, find myself constantly humming the soundtrack. However, I did also catch myself saying, “La La Land is so overexposed” and that the movie never really deserved the title of “Golden Globe Awards record breaker,” which, now that I think about it, is something weird to say. Had I forgotten about the times I got chills down my spine whilst watching the movie because the screenplay was so beautiful, or when I almost teared up towards the end of it? It’s definitely not that I was the first one to discover the film, but I did question why I could not genuinely be happy for the film getting more exposure, thus giving the actresses and actors I love the recognition they deserve.

I did give this a thought, and this is perhaps because I like variety in the things I watch, eat, listen to, or do. I’m always up for new things, hence my attraction towards lesser known genres of entertainment. However, there are a certain number of times things are allowed to be played constantly before it gets redundant, and before I get bored of a conversation involving it rather than genuinely enjoying the talk. So here’s the question we all want an answer to: is it always a positive for the thing you hold dear to your heart to go mainstream, or is it downhill from there? Take Taylor Swift, for example. I used to listen to her music when I was in the third grade, when she was still a singer with the guitar singing country music. Now, her songs are still about love and heartbreaks but they more or less fit the pop genre. Don’t get me wrong, I still listen to her discography. However, I assure you there are fans who have distanced themselves from her and her music because they can’t accept her new style of music. But honestly, can we blame her, or any other singer who has had a similar experience as her? They figured out what the majority of the populace likes to listen to, and adapted themselves in order to continue making music and more importantly, money. If they have found what works for them, whilst continuing to please the public, go figure.

If you have been a loyal fan of something or someone for a fairly long time, of course you may feel betrayed by them after they’ve gone mainstream (whether that was their decision or not). However, you should also remind yourself that those singers, youtubers, actors, DJs, artists…; they’re human beings. They won’t stay the same forever, and where’s the fun in that anyways? People experience new things, change, and adopt certain elements they’ve learned into whatever they’ve been doing to create something new. And such change they make in order to impress the majority may end up in them going mainstream, thus perhaps giving them a little too much exposure. But just like the La La Land example I’ve given before, try to stop yourself from no longer accepting your favorite thing just because more people know about it now. Instead, be happy for the attention they’re receiving. That’s what will allow them to continue producing what you love. Moreover, I’m sure they will always remain loyal to the fans that have continued (and hopefully will continue) supporting them before they gained immense popularity.

– Leona Maruyama (‘17)

Featured Image: Crescentia Jung (’19)

Phantom Singer: The Ultimate Musical Korean TV Experience

You’ve never seen a TV music show quite like this before.

No one ever expected this kind of music show to appear on Korean television, not by a long shot. The typical Korean music shows like Mnet’s “Super Star K” and SBS’s “K-pop Star” had dominated Korean music TV for a long time – so long that viewers were getting bored of watching essentially the same TV show over and over again for years on end. Therefore, when JTBC’s “Phantom Singer” first aired on November 11th, 2016, viewers were shocked by the sheer amount of top-end quality, classical music that was being shown on Korean TV for the first time.

The show’s aim is to create a four-member male Korean crossover quartet, much like Italy’s Il Divo, and the endgame is almost here, with the last episode of the show airing on January 27th. According to Kim Hyung-Joong, the producer of the show, “the winning team will receive 100 million won in prize money and will be given an opportunity to record their own album. They will also officially begin their career as a crossover quartet, performing tours and concerts.”

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PC: JTBC

When the first description of the show was released, it seemed like the show was only going to incorporate classical choral singers, which had many viewers turn away from the show in the beginning. However, the first episode of the show presented viewers with an incredible variety of male singers, quite arguably some of the best yet unknown Korean male singers there are.

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PC: JTBC

The novelty of “crossover music” was what truly attracted more and more viewers to the show, and the unbelievable talent of each and every singer that had been and/or still is on the show resulted in an extreme boom in popularity for the show. So far, we’ve seen and heard an amazing diversity of songs, including Italian folk songs, Korean songs for children, and even American pop songs like Beyoncé’s “Halo.”

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PC: JTBC

The final episode of the show already aired on January 27th, and the three quartet teams had already sung their first two songs as the first part of the finals on January 20th. They sang their final two songs during the final episode, but we won’t spoil you with who won just yet!

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PC: JTBC

As of January 20th, in first place is “Forte di Quatro (포르테 디 콰트로),” consisting of Ko Hoon-Jung (고훈정), Kim Hyun-Soo (김현수), Son Tae-Jin (손태진), and Lee Byeo-Ri (이벼리). Second place is “In-Gi Hyun-Sang (인기현상),” comprised of Gwak Dong-Hyun (곽동현), Park Sang-Don (박상돈), Baek In-Tae (백인태), and Yoo Seul-Gi (유슬기). In third place, but certainly not the least by any stretch of the imagination is “Hyoong-Spresso (흉스프레소),” made up of Ko Eun-Sung (고은성), Kwon Seo-Gyung (권서경), Baek Hyung-Hoon (백형훈), and Lee Dong-Shin (이동신).

These three teams represent the perfect embodiment of the essence of JTBC’s “Phantom Singer,” as there are opera singers, choral singers, musical actors, a rock artist, and even a brilliantly self-taught singer!

Make sure to keep an eye out for which finalist team ultimately won, and give yourself a treat by listening to one of the show’s past performances; there isn’t a single one that’ll disappoint you.

– Daniel Park (‘17)

Featured Image: JTBC

The 21st Century Definition of “Supermodel”

Do we need to rethink our definition of modern “models”?

Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin- all three are names impossible to not recognize, faces not to recall. On all forms of social media possible – from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram – one can’t scroll past for more than a minute without having these recently raging models pop up on their screen. They’ve starred on the covers of well-respected magazines such as Vogue, opened and closed the runways of brands worth millions of dollars, like Chanel and Calvin Klein, rising to success after what seems like a mere week.

However, a “prank” (more like a borderline assault) on Gigi Hadid called into question the legitimacy of their sensation. On September 22, 2016, former Ukrainian television reporter and infamous celebrity prankster Vitalii Sediuk grabbed Gigi Hadid from behind and lifted her into the air, before being elbowed in the face and running off. Not long after the incident, Sediuk replied in a response to The Hollywood Reporter, saying that while he considered Gigi Hadid beautiful, “she and her friend Kendall Jenner have nothing to do with high fashion”. He instead wanted the fashion industry to use “true talents” rather than “well-connected cute girls from Instagram.” He additionally titled his actions as “a wake-up call for Anna Wintour, who turned Vogue into a tabloid by putting Kardashians and other similar celebrities on a cover of a well respected magazine”.

This isn’t the first time the validity of today’s models careers have been called into question. Earlier, in April 2016, former model Rebecca Romijn called the new generation of models “not true supermodels,” saying that she was “disappointed that fashion magazines” such as Vogue were “supporting this trend of social media stars to set our style standards”. Also, in June 2016, Stephanie Seymour, one of the six most iconic models of the 90s, claimed that Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid did not deserve the title of supermodels and instead were “b*tches of the moment”. Many have criticized modern-day models for having it easier, with the ability and comfort of rising to fame by snapping a few stunning selfies in their luxurious homes, while those like Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell had to rush between shows, putting in hours of networking and working before landing a gig with a brand.

However, while these models may have not had to go through the same struggles of the models of the past, one can’t deny that their long, lithe figures and steady gazes contain the same allure that Gisele Bündchen held in the early 2000s. As social media platforms are clearly beginning to hold larger and larger roles in the determination of popularity of models, is it really the models to blame? Or society’s growing focus on simply what the media puts out for us?

-Seiyeon Park (’17)

Featured Image: TODAY News

The Chainsmokers: Allegedly “hacked” Twitter acount

Fame finds its way to everybody, at some point in their lives.

The Chainsmokers. They’re as overexposed as they can get as of now. Their 2014 song “#Selfie” was what started it all, continuing with their debut EP, Bouquet, in the month of October last year. However, they didn’t just stop there. Their singles which followed this EP such as “Roses” and “Don’t Let Me Down” also called for huge amounts of attention, both reaching top 10 on the Billboard charts. Their newest single “Closer” featuring singer Halsey has been played so much so that there have been memes created and tweets tweeted about their recent overexposure.

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Twitter: @epPaulZimmer

The Chainsmokers themselves also (of course) know of their sudden increase in popularity, especially amongst teenagers, ss signified by a tweet on Alex Pall and Drew Taggart’s joint-account (@TheChainSmokers).

However, perhaps fame has gotten to them. On a recently published Rolling Stone article written by Jonah Weiner, Alex Pall shared his opinion on Lady gaga’s single “Perfect Illusion,” which he summarized using merely two words: “It sucks.” Of course, they’re entitled to their own opinions. If they don’t like Lady Gaga’s music, or anything, for that matter, nothing can be done about it. Nevertheless, as professional producers, Pall and Taggart are also responsible of acting like one.   Of course, Lady Gaga didn’t just let this slide. A week later, she publicly tweeted about her new album Joanne in the following tweet, directly calling out The Chainsmokers.  

When The Chainsmokers replied to this “subtle” roast with a rather peaceful tweet. It seemed as though everything ended well. Though there was no apology included in their reply, they didn’t begin a fight between themselves and Lady Gaga.

Well clearly, we’ve been proved wrong when Halsey tweeted about her support towards Lady Gaga’s newly released album:

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Twitter: @purpleknees

Once again, Taggart unleashed his immaturity on Twitter, which, mind you, is a public social media platform. Though his tweet was deleted after 30 seconds, a screenshot remains on the web to this day. Then believe it or not, he had the audacity to claim the following:  

The following tweets (all of which are now deleted from his profile) were tweeted after alleged “hack” claim:

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PC: Buzzfeed

Was Taggart’s account actually hacked, or was he just tweeting random things to make it seem like he was hacked? After all, there are receipts that show his claim is fake:  

Whatever the truth is, we’ll likely never know. Celebrity feuds like this happen all the time, and it’s usually due to ones that are too immature to have a public social media account. Perhaps this is all just for publicity’s sake. Maybe The Chainsmokers are not what they seem like. As much as we need to acknowledge the fact that celebrities are just as human as we are and that they’re nowhere near perfect, there’s a line that must be drawn between accidents and pure rudeness. Will this affect The Chainsmokers’ future career? After all, they’ve recently announced their soon to be released EP, Collage. Will their short-lived reign fall? I guess we’ll have to wait it out.

– Leona Maruyama (‘17)

Featured Image: http://youredm.youredm1.netdna-cdn.com/

Judged by JD: Update on the Kimye Feud

Read the latest update on the hottest feud of the year to see if you should be using #TaylorSwiftisOverParty or #KanyeWestisOverParty in this session of Judged by JD.

It’s been nearly a month since #TaylorSwiftisOverParty skyrocketed to #1 on Twitter Worldwide Trends and since Kanye appeared in public with a “R.I.P Taylor Swift” shirt “claiming” his win in the Taylor vs. Kimye feud.

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“Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift during her “Video of the Year” speech at the 2009 MTV Music Video Awards.” PC: Getty Images

The feud started back in 2009 when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift when she won “Video of the Year” at the MTV Music Awards. Zooming past the social death of Kanye West, the release of Swift’s song “Innocent” dedicated to West, their make-up at the 2015 Grammy Awards, and bonding afterwards, they became everyone’s friendship goals… until 2016. In February, West released his eighth-studio album “Life of Pablo” including a track titled “Famous” with the lyrics: “I think that Taylor Swift and I might still have sex / I made that b**** famous.” According to TMZ, Swift’s management claimed that Swift had never heard the full song, or approved of the lyrics, “I made that b***** famous.” In her 2016 Grammy Award speech for “Album of the Year,” Swift indirectly responded to Kanye saying, “there are going to be people who try to undercut your success or take credits for your accomplishment.” Both have had an equally massive opportunity to defame one another, it was simply a matter of who would use which platform, and how bluntly.

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“Swift, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian West meeting for the first time since the 2009 MTV VMA incident at the 2015 Grammy Awards.” PC: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

So, where does the social death of Taylor Swift come in between all of this? Kim Kardashian West told GQ in her June feature that phone calls did happen… Shortly after, she released edited versions of the phone call between Taylor and Kanye on Snapchat, sparking the feud of the year.

However, there was much speculation as to the legitimacy of the phone call between Kanye and Taylor. If Kim and Kanye really had nothing to hide, couldn’t she just upload the whole video? Why were they edited ten-second snippets on Snapchat?

Thanks to a leak of a demo of “Famous,” we might finally know why. The original lyrics were far more controversial than the original. “I feel like Taylor Swift still owe me sex / Why? I made that bitch famous.” The leaked demos have since been taken down.

From this leak, a majority of the internet seem to be confused with which side they are on. In the alleged hour-plus phone call, we don’t know if Kanye shared the original lyrics with her. But Taylor still claims she was never aware that she was aware of the lyrics “I made that b**** famous.” A spokesperson for Swift reported to PEOPLE that: “Kanye did not call for approval, but to ask Taylor to release his single ‘Famous’ on her Twitter account” and that the singer “declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message” and “was never made aware of the actual lyric, ‘I made that bitch famous.’’ Both sides are technically half true. Kim said a phone call existed but only released 3-minutes, edited, Kanye read her half of lyrics, and Taylor said she never heard the lyrics she later specified she was upset about.

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“Swift’s tweet after Kim’s Snapchat story upload of the phone call between West and Swift.” PC: Taylor Swift/Twitter

The internet now seems to have lost a lot of attention on the entire Kimye feud, but a source close to the situation has said that with the leak of the demo, “now you know why Kim only posted an edited three minutes of video footage to Snapchat and not the hour-long conversation that they had.”

THE VERDICT:

Both are wrong and have inconsistencies in their claims. But the Kim/Kanye side have more fault in the drama. Kim claimed that Swift was aware of all the lyrics, listened to the song, and that Swift knew the phone call was being recorded. Taylor may have made it seem that she was a victim, but if all statements and claims line up, Swift was telling the truth the most of time.

As a father, West should have known better than to release a song objectifying a woman and telling people that she “owes” him sex. Since the drama, Swift and her management remained silent about the issue, but Kim and Kanye continue to offer interviews and incite hate chants against Swift at their concerts. Swift has achieved milestones before Kanye West made the decision to interrupt her mid-speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.

– JD Choi (‘18)

Featured Image: JD Choi (’18)

Duterte’s Presidential Bloodlust

Excited for the November election? We have a preview from the Philipines, with Mr. Duterte.

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“F*ck you UN, you can’t even solve the Middle East carnage…couldn’t even lift a finger in Africa…shut up all of you.” – Duterte at the UN conference on June 2nd, in response to the concern about Philippines’ human rights violation. (PC: Channel News Asia)

While the Americans are concerning about Donald Trump entering the office, a country in the Southeast Asia has already begun coping with a similar kind of problem from June 30th, 2016. The man’s name is Rodrigo Duterte – ex-mayor of Davao. Duterte’s battle against crime is drawing global attention with its inhumane nature, while silencing the opposition with its apparent effectiveness.

Born in a working class background, Duterte was a problematic child. According to Newsinfo.com, he was once expelled from college when he shot a fellow student to “teach him a lesson”. He did, however, worked his way through the bar exam and became a district attorney after graduating from college. He had already gained notoriety with his aggressiveness against criminals back then. After he entered politics, he became the vice mayor of Davao and got elected as the mayor in 1988, perpetuating the position for the next 22 years.

Duterte transformed the city from its bottom to top. Davao, just one of many cities in Philippines with serious public security and corruption issues, experienced rapid improvement since Duterte. His austere policies did not discriminate people of different social status and his personal army – Davao Death Squad – executed a countless number criminals without the standard legal process. True, people were aware of the illicit nature of his unique ideology. However, the outcome speaks for itself. Davao is ranked top as the safest and the least corrupt city in Philippines.

Much like Trump, Duterte gathered his support not through established political figures but with his populist appeal to the general public. Unlike other candidates, he had a tangible credential in the city of Davao. The combination of Duterte strong, charismatic impression and the people’s need for a competent leader called for the age of tyranny.

Duterte again received the global spotlight recently, for referring President Obama as “a son of a b*tch” in his adverse remark on Mr. Obama’s concern towards Philippines’ arising human rights violation. This statement directly led to the cancellation of Obama’s visit and the planned summit meeting. Even though Duterte officially apologized through media, the incident further exacerbated the diplomatic turmoil between Philippines and America, especially after Duterte’s open inclination towards China in his foreign policy.

The negative view on Duterte is not merely stemmed from his impetuous words (even if it involved Pope Francis). Duterte’s bloodthirsty crime fighting is beyond the imaginable scales. According to Yeonhap News, his vigilante forces have killed over two thousand drug-related criminals and led another hundred ten thousand to turn themselves in. While it seems like a rather promising set of data, various human rights NGOs are worried if it might be used for his political power control, which is more like a given sequence based on every one of his historical counterparts.

Meanwhile, the filipino citizens are overwhelmingly supportive of their new president. The approval rating that was just over 30% in May has now skyrocketed to 95% in September. At the same time, some foreigners, too, are expressing their neutrality towards Duterte. Considering the abysmal condition his people were put in, the proponents say that such violent methods might have been justified, bringing back the old philosophical debates on ethics.

As the conflict between Philippines and the rest of the world ensues, Duterte sis even considering Philippines’ abandonment of UN membership. It seems like there is one common ground for both sides at the moment: that the trajectory of Duterte administration is, for one thing, interesting. What do you think about Mr. Rodrigo Duterte?

– Paul Jeon (’17)

Sources:

http://m.news.naver.com/read.nhn?oid=001&aid=0008687460&sid1=104&mode=LSD

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davao_Death_Squad

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodrigo_Duterte#Education

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/793138/profile-rodrigo-duterte

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/breakingnews/Philippines-Duterte-vents-anger-at-UN-30287295.html

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/780836/law-student-duterte-shot-frat-brod-on-campus-in-72

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/08/duterte-threatens-pull-philippines-160821063128459.html

Photo citation:

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/philippines-duterte-vents/2842354.html#