Album Review: 1989

Swifties unite.

On October 27th, 2014, international pop star Taylor Swift released her fifth album 1989. Despite it being a completely different genre and style from her previous albums, 1989 was a huge success and sold 1.28 million copies in the first week, making it the only album to sell more than one million copies in its first week in 2014. 1989 earned Swift 3 Grammy nominations for her hit leading single “Shake It Off”, an upbeat song about how she doesn’t care about the “haters”: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance. Swift also was the only artist to perform in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2 years in a row when she performed in this year’s show, singing her singles “Blank Space” and “Style”. According to Billboard.com, 1989 has been number 1 on charts for weeks and is the officially best selling album of 2014, beating the previously number 1 “Frozen” soundtrack. Also, Taylor Swift has won the Billboard Woman of the Year, the Dick Clark Award for Excellence at the AMAs, number 1 on iTunes, and many other awards and achievements. Swift also released three music videos so far for 1989: “Shake It Off,” “Blank Space,” and “Style.”

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Big Machine Records

In an interview with Fusion, Taylor Swift said that unlike her previous album, Red, which “was a devastating record…about dealing with an intense heartbreak.” 1989 is about “the phase after that where you brush yourself off and you’re okay”. She also says that unlike her other songs, which were often related to heartbreak and romance, 1989 is more related to how she wants to define “my life on my own terms. That’s my list of priorities now, which is different than it was a couple of years ago.” Most of the songs on 1989 are fast and upbeat, and the instrumentals are more drums and electronics based compared to her typical country guitar sound. One thing that Taylor has kept in 1989, though, is the meaningful, self-written lyrics that seem to be relatable to every situation. According to Swift, 1989 is more “sonically cohesive” than Red, and is her favorite thing she’s made so far.

– Min Ji Kim (’18)

Header: Big Machine Records

Freedom of Speech : Charlie Hebdo

How free is freedom of speech?

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Moral Low Ground

On Wednesday, January 7, the world was shocked with the news of a terrorist attack in France at the magazine Charlie Hebdo building. After killing 12 people, including cartoonists, the editor, and police officers, the gunmen exited. According to NBC news, witnesses have stated hearing the attackers shout “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad” and “God is Great”. The motive is assumed to be the satirical caricatures of Prophet Muhammad that Charlie Hebdo had published. Three years ago, similarly, Charlie Hebdo was firebombed for the same reason. Gravely affronted by the attack on freedom of speech, Paris is currently on guard and focused on finding these terrorists.

The recent event has sparked mass demonstrations throughout the world both in support and against Charlie Hebdo. The supporting protests in Europe are proclaiming the rights for freedom of expression, while the many Palestinians against it are exclaiming over the disrespect shown by the magazine in their offensive publications of the Prophet Mohammed.

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Charlie Hebdo

Furthermore, after the attack, Charlie Hebdo had published another controversial “survivor” issue that further angered Muslims around the world. The largest one in Karachi, the demonstrations depicted the anger of Muslims and their desire for respect towards their beliefs. They are protesting against the magazine itself, and some are going as far as to boycott European imports altogether.

Not only Muslims, but other faiths have also expressed discontent with the magazine’s outspoken insults towards another religion, as they are notorious for a sharp tongue against other religious groups. Patriarch Kirill, the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church, although expressing clear opposition to terrorism, also voiced disdain for offending religions.

It is during times like these when freedom of speech is questioned and tested. Many from western backgrounds believe strongly in the individual rights of men, but is there a limit? Charlie Hebdo had rights to publish whatever they so desired under the idea of freedom of speech, but by doing so, offended many around the world, which thus led to retaliation and terrorism. According to Huffington Post, the Pope stated that insulting one’s religion can be compared to insulting one’s mother, which would cause hurt and defensive behavior.

A similar case of questioning freedom of rights could be seen in the Snyder vs. Phelps case against the Westboro Baptist church, where Phelps was sued for causing disruptions and insulting the Snyder family during the funeral of the Marine son, but was victorious as a result of freedom of speech.


Indeed, how far is too much? But, on the other hand, the attackers in this terrorist incident resorted to violence and murders, including those of innocent lives. There is no correct answer, but recent events with Charlie Hebdo incite curious reflection on freedom of speech.

– Sarah Chin (’16)

Header: The Telegraph

Top 10 Movies of 2015 We Can’t Wait For

With these movies, you’re going to be practically living in the theaters.

[WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD]

#1: Furious 7 // April 3, 2015

Fast cars, pretty ladies, guns of all sizes, rich men, and lots of action. As the seventh installment of the Fast and Furious movie approaches the theaters this year, it’s clear from the trailer and from the plot that this movie will not stray from the same factors that have been shown consistently through the entire series. Many of these anticipated movies seem to be sequels or additions to already existing movie worlds, and the Furious 7 is not to be left out of the mix. The last movie that Paul Walker will be starring in, the co-stars and fans of this franchise were devastated with the actor’s sudden passing in November of 2013.

However, he becomes immortalized on the big screen as the Fast and Furious gang are back together again, the story continuing from the end of Fast and Furious 6 when Owen Shaw dies. In Furious 7, Shaw’s brother, Ian Shaw, is back to seek revenge of the team by first murdering Han Seoul-Oh, a member of the Dominic Torretto’s team who was currently situation in Tokyo as seen in the movie The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Partially to avenge Han’s death, but also to eradicate the threat that comes with Shaw, the team work together to fight against him while trying to protect the group that came to be known as family.

#2: Avengers: Age of Ultron // May 1, 2015

When the first Marvel’s Avengers released in May of 2012, it broke box office records in countries all across the world. According to the Box Office Mojo, it beat Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’s opening weekend stats, reaching a cool $207.4 million in record time. Since then, a number of single Avengers movies have come out: Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark World, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (a TV show on ABC), and recently, Marvel’s Agent Carter, a TV show spin-off of the first Captain America movie.

And now, after much waiting and constant teasers in Comic Con, not one, but two trailers of Marvel’s next movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, have been released.

According to Entertainment Weekly, The Avengers 2 movie is about a villainous Ultron, a peacekeeping Artificial Intelligence created by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) gone awry, who tries to destroy Earth and mankind. The plot does seem a bit bland, and almost like any other superhero movie, but knowing the chemistry between the returning cast members, the two new cast member and super heroes (Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, Aaron Taylor Johnson as Quicksilver), and the knowledge by Marvel that this movie will set up for the next Marvel movie, Captain America: Civil War, we’re pretty sure it won’t disappoint. Let’s hope it’s worth all the hype!

#3: Tomorrowland // May 22, 2015

Todayland is pretty bad so Tomorrowland must be pretty good! –Austin Kim (’16)

Austin couldn’t be more correct. It’s possible that the name sounds familiar if you’ve ever visited Disneyland, as there is a section of the park with this exact same name. The movie itself is related to the attractions in the theme park, but it’s better. You know why? Because it stars George Clooney. I could end it there, since I believe that’s reason enough for this movie to be labeled as one of the most anticipated movies of 2015, but I’d be selling this movie short if I did.

Tomorrowland is about a scientifically gifted, curious young teenager whose fate brings her and a has-been boy genius inventor together. The two embark on a journey to an other-worldly place called “Tomorrowland”, but it is there that they discover things that change their lives and ultimately the world.

Like the plot for Avengers 2, the plot for Tomorrowland seems a bit blasé, but the star studded cast and the fact that this movie will reveal the behind story, inspiration, and structure for the creation of Tomorrowland puts this in the #6 position of the most anticipated movies of 2015.

#4: Pitch Perfect 2 // May 25, 2015

With the incredible popularity that came with Pitch Perfect circa 2012, the trend of Anna Kendrick’s Cup Song, and attaching the term “a ca” in front of every single word (i.e. a ca-amazing, a ca-shut up, etc.), Pitch Perfect 2 is finally back, and you better believe Fat Amy’s is coming along (or was it Fat Patricia?) as well as its newest cast member, Hailee Steinfeld.

For this installment, the Barden Bellas are back, and go for a nearly impossible mission to win an international competition that no American-originated team has ever won before because, as Gail (Elizabeth Banks) and John (John Michael Higgins) so eloquently put it, “They hate us. The whole world.”

With rumors that there will be yet another Riff Raff (the first one was aca-amazing, so to speak), return of almost all the cast members, and (apparently) a “death-defying stuntwork” done by Rebel Wilson herself, according to Entertainment Weekly, this movie is definitely one to be looking forward to. And there could be a third Pitch Perfect if the second one is a success!

#5: Jurassic World // June 12, 2015

Chris Pratt seems to be everywhere nowadays, from the silver screen to the big screen. Although he debuted from his lovable role as Andy Dwyer of the popular TV show Parks and Recreation, Pratt found his debut on the big screen as the main character of the Marvel movie Guardians of the Galaxy. And now he’s returning with a slightly different role in the highly anticipated addition to the Jurassic Park franchise, Jurassic World.

Jurassic Park has been a film essential to many, and considered one of Steven Spielberg’s most timeless creation. However, Jurassic World will take a more modern spin off to the original idea. Taken place 22 years after the first Jurassic Park movie (1993, so it would be in modern day), the island of Isla Nublar is the host of a now fully operational dinosaur-themed park, Jurassic World as dreamed of by John Hammond. But after nearly a decade has gone by and there is a clear decrease in customer attraction, members of the on-site staff geneticists take part in creating a genetically modified dinosaur by the name of Indominus Rex, but the plan backfires when the dinosaur becomes out of control and runs free in the park.

Since it has been 14 years since the release of the last movie in the Jurassic Park franchise, it is not hard to guess why this movie is so well anticipated. And if the plot hasn’t intrigued you, the intense trailer will catch your attention for sure — make sure to check it out.

#6: Inside Out // June 19, 2015

What’s the last good movie Pixar has released? Frozen? That’s not a Pixar movie. Neither is Brave, nor is Tangled. Disney has released its fair share of animated movies, but strangely enough none of them came from their Pixar department. In fact, many fans have had thoughts that Pixar seems to have been on a bit of a decline of decent movies since, possibly by coincidence, the passing of Steve Jobs, Pixar’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. But not all hope is lost! Pixar released the trailer of their latest project, Inside Out, and it’s adorable but in a way that makes people our age feel okay to watch it.

Inside Out features the voices of many well-known actors and actresses, including Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project), Bill Hader (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), and Phyllis Smith (The Office).

The movie is told from a Riley’s perspective, but quite literally—there are emotions inside her head that are really the main characters, and they include Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Joy (Amy Poehler), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Sadness (Phyllis Smith), as announced on the Pixar website. Riley is a young girl who’s had to recently move to San Francisco, and is faced with the classic challenges of being the ‘new girl’ in a school or a neighborhood, and the emotions that deal with these challenges are taken care of in The Headquarter, where all the emotions—Fear, Anger, Joy, Disgust, and Sadness—must operate together to help Riley get through.

#7: Minions // July 10, 2015

From the people that bought you the lovable Despicable Me franchise comes the spin-off movie, Minions, which entirely focuses on the characters that won the hearts of millions of fans across the world. These yellow creatures who speak a dialect we cannot understand are notoriously famous for their cuteness, and even a year after the Despicable Me 2 movie there are still more than enough products portraying these ‘Minions’, from phone cases to pouches.

According to IMDb, Minions will focus on the origins of the cute alien-like characters, way, way back to the time of the dinosaurs. It explains the urge that the Minions posses to serve only the world’s most evil, including everyone from the T-Rex to Dracula. But the real journey and story of this spin-off begins when the Minions meet Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), the world’s first female super-villain. The Minions have, quite literally, found reason and purpose to live once more.

#8: Fantastic 4 // August 7, 2015

You may have watched the first interpretation of this Marvel comic in 2005 featuring Jessica Alba and Chris Evans (who now plays Captain America!), but fans of this fantastic superhero group were initially excited find out that this comic will be revived this year with a fresh new cast of Hollywood’s up-and-comers such as Michael B. Jordan as Human Torch (Chronicle, That Awkward Moment), Miles Teller as Mister Fantastic (That Awkward Moment, Whiplash, Divergent), Kate Mara as Invisible Woman (House of Cards), and Jamie Bell as Thing (Snowpiercer). The movie was met with disapproval when the casting list and synopsis came into play, upset that the people cast for their respective roles were much younger than portrayed in the comic series, and there was much controversy surrounding Michael B. Jordan’s addition to the bunch (which, I personally can’t quite understand, seeing as how stupendous of an actor he is).

Furthermore, director Josh Trank’s interpretation of the movie was met with displeasure as well. According to IGN, this movie will “center on four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.” But the roles are still the same, the group still together, and the anticipation is still very much heated from all the buzzing fans and non-fans who are curious as to how this movie will fare.

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Lionsgate

#9: The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay – Part 2 // November 20, 2015

The book-series-turned-movie-franchise responsible for a heart wrenching love triangle, curious ship names, and the frequently asked question: “Team Peeta or Team Gale?”, The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay – Part 2 will make the final installment to the extremely popular movie series starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth.

This last movie is following the trend set by the Harry Potter franchise to divide the last movie into two, a pattern also followed by The Twilight Saga’s last movie Breaking Dawn. The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay – Part 1 set quite a stir with the (literally) painful cliff hanger, Josh Hutcherson’s amazing acting, the make up artists’ stunning work, and Jennifer Lawrence’s as always Oscar-worthy performance. Although true fans to the series have already read every single book and know the ending, they still can’t help but anxiously wait for the final installment, which will focus on the final revolution led by Katniss and District 13 against the ever oppressive President Snow and the Capitol.

#10: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens // December 18, 2015

The Force Awakens indeed! Just the announcement of this new installment to the Star Wars franchise itself was enough to awaken Star Wars fans everywhere, who expressed their excitement on Facebook and Twitter. Since Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith in 2005, the hype on Star Wars has definitely cooled down, as Lucasfilm and Twentieth Century Fox adequately tied any loose ends of the movie and brought the entire series together—but a decade’s worth of hiatus was not nearly enough to kill the entire fanbase. Disney ended up purchasing Lucasfilm for a whopping $4.05 billion according to Cinema Blend, in October of 2012.

Episode VII is to be directed by J.J. Abrams, a renowned director on the Hollywood scene. Does the name sound familiar? It could be because you’ve heard his name alongside Star Trek, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Lost, and Super 8. Fans, however, are worried that Abrams could quite possibly ruin what is one of the longest running movie franchises of all time with Episode VII, especially as it was pretty clear that the Star Wars chapter had satisfyingly closed with Episode III.

This episode will focus on the Star Wars world 30 years after the Battle of Endor, and post-events as seen in The Jedi Awakens, according to Cinema Blend. But perhaps what is most exciting about this return is that many of the cast member from The Jedi Awakens will be returning, such as Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo). If the movie is no good, at least we get to see most of the original cast back on the big screen again.

 

 

– Faith Choi (’16)

Header: Universal Pictures

 

Best Movies of 2014

They don’t call them the ‘best’ for nothing.

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IFC Films

Ranked number one on Rotten Tomatoes, rated a whopping 98% on the Tomatometer, is Boyhood, directed and written by Richard Linklater. What’s so cool about this movie, though, is that it was filmed over a twelve year-period, following the perspective and life of a boy named Mason, acted by Ellar Coltrane. Think about this for a moment here; this project took twelve years to complete! Isn’t it absolutely insane and unusual? Of course, this film does have a common theme as many, many other movies; coming of age. And coming of age is definitely an extremely, if not the most, relatable theme of a movie us teenagers can watch and enjoy. Boyhood takes a whole new step on a common idea of the portrayal of a child slowly growing up, tracing the mesmerizing, yet difficult moments of maturing. As Sundance Film Festival words it, “it’s impossible to watch Mason and his family without thinking about our own journey.” As audiences watch the ambitious experiment come to life, they get completely glued to the screen; after all, they have never seen anything like it!

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Warner Bros.

Now, take a look at what IMDb asserts as the one movie released in 2014. With the rating of 7.7 stars out of 10, American Sniper took the lead on IMDb’s “Most Popular Feature Films Released in 2014.” The ranking has been based off of IMDb’s very own MOVIEmeter, a ranking system based on the opinion of “experts” within the movie category. American Sniper, following Chris Kyle (performance by Bradley Cooper), a Navy SEAL sniper, beautifully illustrates the sniper’s life and major difficulties he must face on the battlefield of the Iraq War. The film has been nominated for twenty two nominations in total, winning six of them. Though American Sniper does hold the statistics it needs to be titled “Best movie of 2014” on IMDb, there still are mixed reviews on the filmography. Nonetheless, there are positive critiques that dominate most of the reviews, praising the director, Clint Eastwood, of well crafting this action movie. Why not give this adaptation of Chris Kyle’s autobiography a try?

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Fox Searchlight

Not so long ago, TIME Magazine came out with the magazine’s famous “Top 10 Everything of 2014”, which of course, included “Top 10 Best Movies”, written up by TIME’s movie critic, Richard Corliss. On this list, The Grand Budapest Hotel ranked first, topping both Boyhood and American Sniper; in fact, Eastwood’s American Sniper didn’t even make it on to the list! The Grand Budapest Hotel, starring Ralph Fiennes as Monsieur Gustave H., the concierge at the Grand Budapest Hotel in the Republic of Zubrowka between the first and second World Wars, comically portrays he and Zero Moustafa’s, a lobby boy, friendship. As Corliss words it, “Grand isn’t good enough a word for this Budapest Hotel. Great is more like it.” Wes Anderson, the director, fantastically creates inspiration dream throughout this movie, while shooting extreme character development of both Gustave H. and Zero while they cope with death, love, and gloom. Ridiculous yet full of compunction at the same time, The Grand Budapest Hotel will not let you down.

And here, I have three (so called) best movies as claimed by three different, credible sources. Now you are left with the question you may ponder upon; which film is one that truly deserves the title of  “Best Movie of 2014”? There really is no definite answer, for what one perceives as “best movie” differs among each individual. I mean, sure I named a few movies that are potentially number one filmographies, but there are so many more first-rate movies out there, released in 2014.

So here’s my question to you: What do you think was was the best movie released in 2014?

Header: Bēhance, Pinterest, Pinterest

Albums You Should’ve Already Listened To (Or At Least Should’ve Heard Of)

Hop on your Youtube, or your Spotify, or your Melon, or your wherever, and listen to these albums right now.

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Capitol Records

1. Sam Smith : In The Lonely Hour
Many people know Sam Smith for his hit singles Stay With Me or I’m Not The Only One, but truly, In The Lonely Hour is an album worth listening to in all its glorious entirety. With a soulful voice to croon your woes away, Smith’s album is the perfect choice for a happily lonely Valentine’s Day. Or any other happily lonely day, for that matter. In The Lonely Hour successfully puts together a mix of mellow songs, like Leave Your Lover, with ones that are more upbeat, like Restart. The range works in the way only Sam Smith can, and each song works to build a story of unrequited love and heartbreak. With the amount of success that was met with this debut album, the whole music world is expecting greater things from Smith, who is currently on his world tour. Don’t know whether to pay the extra bucks for the deluxe album? I say it’s worth the money. The acoustic version of Latch, the doleful tunes of Make It To Me, and two additional tracks give you more Sam Smith, and the more Sam Smith there is in your life, the merrier (or bluesy-er?) it is. And there’s solid proof: In The Lonely Hour and Sam Smith has been nominated for the highly prestigious Grammy awards this year, and reaping a whopping four of the awards.

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Young Money, Cash Money and Republic Records

2. Nicki Minaj : Pinkprint
Nicki Minaj is well known from her…well, peculiar sense of fashion, her climax being in 2011. But there is definitely a sense of maturity brewing from the queen of rap, as her new album Pinkprint sheds light on the softer, more personal side of Minaj. It reaches a personal level of Minaj as it discusses her life pre and post fame: how it has affected not only her but her friends and family. Billboard has called it “her best album to date”, and I couldn’t agree more. With powerful collaborations with artists such as Beyoncé, Drake, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, Ariana Grande, and Skylar Gray, you can just tell from this list how great and diverse this album is. This album tones down the arrogance notch for Minaj, and brings back the focus to securing her position within the rap world, as sort of an example for female rappers to come. She is authentic, she is successful, and she’s gained respect at a whole another level with this album.

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Island Records

3. Hozier : Hozier (pronounced Ho-zhur)
Hozier’s self-titled debut album set new records in the music world, especially with its highly popular single Take Me To Church, which according to Shazam, was its #1 Most Shazamed Song of 2014. Talk about taking it to church! The album gives off a deliciously bluesy vibe that makes it next to impossible for you to switch to another album once the tracks start playing. A few of the tracks show similar categories of interest, such as Take Me To Church, Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene, From Eden, and Foreigner’s God, which all show a religious allusion that’s a heavy topic in Hozier’s album. But its generally slightly melancholy vibe makes this album the perfect song to cozy up to for your study sessions or on rainy days.

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Atlantic Records, Asylum Records

4. Ed Sheeran : x
It was first +, and now it’s x. It’s unclear what it is about Ed Sheeran and mathematical signs, but its simplicity speaks volumes, and in no way deteriorates from the overall quality of the album. His lyrics are as deep as ever, making people doubt that a human of the 21st century was able to put those feelings into such words and into such music. Sheeran’s album lacks a heavy number of features by other artists, but it works favorably for his part. Sheeran is enough with just his voice, his guitars, and his lyrics, and it’s proven through songs like Thinking Out Loud and Afire Love. This is definitely one of the more mellower albums, and contains great songs to listen to if you’re seeking for inspiration or just for focus, and Ed Sheeran, as expected, won’t let you down. If you’ve listened to +, x is just the multiplied (ha, get it?), version of it in the way that it is better and shows a more sophisticated side of Ed Sheeran, even though it’s hard to believe that Sheeran could get any more sophisticated than he already is. Plus, it’s also nominated for a Grammy this year.

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Island Records

5. Shawn Mendes : The Shawn Mendes EP/Handwritten
It would be unsurprising if you have never heard of the god of Vine singers, Shawn Mendes. Having gained his fame from the same platform as the likes of Nash Grier, Jerome Jarre, and Cameron Dallas, Shawn Mendes became an overnight sensation with his standard 6-second Vine cover of As Long As You Love Me by Justin Bieber. As he began to post more and more 6-second covers, or sometimes his original works, Mendes came close to being in his own headlining tour as part of the Magcon Tour, a tour of viners comprised of well known, popular male viners such as Nash Grier, Cameron Dallas, and Jack and Jack. But Mendes’s fame skyrocketed after he signed with the Island record label, and he soon released his first EP The Shawn Mendes EP, comprised of four songs that really bring it down to how he all started in the first place — his voice and his guitar, as proven through tracks like Life of the Party and The Weight. Mendes’s raw talented that’s hard to find in this day and age is clearly shown through these four tracks, and although he may be underrated now, his rapid rise to fame makes him and his upcoming album Handwritten (April 29, 2015) definitely two things on your radar.

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Vagrant Records, Interscope Records

6. The 1975 : The 1975
With their debut album officially released in 2013, then their deluxe album in 2014, the hype about The 1975 still hasn’t quite disappeared yet. In fact, the band had Seoul as a part of their Asian leg of their first world tour a few months ago. Their lead singer Matt Healy holds the grunge hearts of millions of teenage girls, with his luscious hair and bad boy vibes that radiate not just from photos of him but from the lyrics that he sings. The 1975’s song spectrum is definitely in polar opposites, with songs like Chocolate lifting the overall vibe of the album, while tracks like Settle Down slow down the pace. If you haven’t already, settle down, listen to this album track by track, and let Matt Healy’s beautiful voice take you someplace far away.

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School Boy Records, Interscope Records

7. Rixton : Me And My Broken Heart EP
Yet another boy-band, Rixton is a group of 4 boys who debuted in March of 2014. Not too long after, their single Me And My Broken Heart became well known, and thus they because escalated into fame, having released one more single since then. Although the band is a little too underrated for the level of their talent, with the recognition they have received thus far, they have been compared to the likes of the internationally renowned band Maroon 5. The EP is only four tracks long, but worth every penny, and once you’ve had enough of that, take some time to listen to Wait On Me, and maybe even watch some of their music videos. (I recommend Hotel Ceiling.)

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Republic Records

8. Ariana Grande : My Everything
Ariana Grande’s latest collaboration filled album has everyone from Big Sean to Zedd, while her amazing vocal range and the classic, mainstream pop tunes make this album an instant favorite. Although, to be frank, some collaborations like Hands On Me featuring A$AP Ferg simply seem to be lacking certain elements, for the most part, Grande nails her tracks with her killer notes and honey sweet voice. These are tunes made by and made for true pop divas, and are perfect for Friday night dance sessions, getting ready in the morning, or pre-game warm ups before practice begins.

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RCA Records

9. Tinashe : Aquarius
New on the R&B/rap scene, Tinashe caught the attention of millions with her hit single 2 On, which is featured in her debut album. Frequently compared to the likes of R&B queens Jhené Aiko and BANKS, Tinashe is definitely the latest thread to look out for. With songs like 2 On that are definitely mood boosting to space-y tracks like Aquarius, what makes this R&B album even better are its collaborations, which include an impressive list of A$AP Rocky, Schoolboy Q, and Future, all of whom are big names in the rapping industry. Tinashe’s sweet vocals are definitely the perfect accompaniment to the rap portions, which are weaved in and relevant to the song, a feat that seems to be hard to achieve for other songs nowadays. There is one thing for sure, however — Aquarius is the perfect start for Tinashe’s skyrocketing career.

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Glassnote Records, Island Records

10. Childish Gambino : Because The Internet
If you think this face looks familiar, it might be because you saw him as Troy Barnes on Yahoo original series Community. But Childish Gambino, also known as Donald Glover, left the show to fully pursue his budding rapping career, and Because The Internet is solid proof of the work he’s done, as well as the potential he shows for the future. If you’re up for listening to some good rap music, Gambino is the way to go. Must listen to tracks include V. 3005, III. Telegraph Ave. (“Oakland” by Lloyd), and IV. Sweatpants. Familiar names such as Jhené Aiko, Azealia Banks, and Chance the Rapper also feature in this album, making it a powerful track by track to listen to. The way Gambino raps is effortless, and from his lyrics to the mood variations of this soundtrack, Because the Internet is worth every last cent you paid to get it.

– Faith Choi (’16)

Header: Capitol Records, Island Records, Young Money, Cash Money Records

Nine Amazing(?) Things That Happen During Lunar Break (GIF post)

Let’s just say life becomes pretty freaking awesome (kinda).

Finally! Lunar Break. Time to catch up on all your missed readings, AP studies, and your 20+ hours of sleep debt (right?). Here are the nine things that KIS students do during Lunar Break that are a little too familiar to us than it should be.

1. That feeling of pure freedom once the bell rings Tuesday afternoon, knowing that you have a 5 day weekend ahead of you

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Illumination
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giphy.com

2. When the realization hits you that the majority of your break will be spent catching up on missing notes, studying for upcoming tests, or going to hagwon.

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giphy.com

3. Still – indulging on your missed TV shows, movies, and sleep for AT LEAST a day.

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Dreamworks

4. Lunar New Year: going over to your relative’s house.

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Fox

5. Lunar New Year: getting that ca$h

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Disney

6. Lunar New Year: all that food tho

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7. Avoiding responsibilities like

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8. Being a senior like…

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NBC
HEH
Cartoon Network

9. Sunday night: maniacally cramming for all the stuff you failed to do (once again) and feeling the massive weight of regret as you count up on how many hours you’ve wasted procrastinating and think about how fantastically screwed you are.

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Nintendo
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Header: Apple

Where is the Love?: An Article About Affection

Where is the love? Where is the affection? How do we find it? Is it even in KIS? Help us find out.

Is it truly Valentine’s week at KIS? Is it truly KISRAK week? It’s hard to believe so when – too often – the sight of sleep-deprived, brain-dead students milling around the campus is omnipresent during such a (supposedly) delightful holiday week. Too often the thought of affection is obscured by our other worries. How do we show our affection? How do we show our friends that we truly do care about them more than our APs and GPA? And more importantly, do we show it enough?

According to the wise words of Joonyon Park (’15),

“I simply believe the amount of time committed towards a person equates to the level of affection given. The more time you spend thinking, giving, and sharing with them, the more love there is between you and them. You start caring, together.”

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‘Affection’ depends on the person. We all have our different ways of showing affection, ranging from sentimental to tear-jerking to quirky. Here are what some of the most affectionate people of KIS had to say about their charming and warm-hearted ways of showing affection:

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“When I’m expressing care and love for my friends I hug them very often and literally tell them I love them on a daily basis. They tell me that I’m really annoying when I do that but I know they return the affection deep inside… at least I hope so.” – Sara Kim (’18)

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“I do things before they ask because I’d already have known exactly what they need/want. I’d carefully choose my words when talking to them to not hurt them in anyway. I’d look them in the eyes just to assure them that I am fully drawn into what they have to say.

P.S. OLIVIA IS AVAILABLE.”

– Olivia Kim (’16)

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“To me it all starts with language. How do you show affection though language? How do you express your true feelings to someone, show your appreciation, show your love?

Small notes left behind, quick text messages sent, welcoming words at the door when the person you love arrives home.

Truly looking into a person’s eyes and telling them how much they mean to you, how much your life would be incomplete without them. How much happiness they bring to each day. How you can’t wait to have dinner together during breakfast, how you’re excited about the next trip together, how you love listening to their stories.

Then you hug, or kiss, or smell their hair. That’s affection.”

– Mr. van Moppes

 

Even the little things count…

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“I try to talk more with them… and if I really care about someone I will listen more carefully to their worries and problems.”

– Austin Kim (’16)

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“I’m not good with mushy stuff so it’s generally trying to do little things that aren’t super sentimental but are thoughtful, like a good luck note before a dreaded test etc.”

– Stephanie Yang (’15)


In the end, it truly are the simple things that matter. The little pick-me-ups that help you get going- whether its a brief smile or a “good luck.” Affection reminds us that someone will always be by your side to help you carry on. Take some time this week (or really, any week) to really savor such moments, to truly show how much you care.

Header: Apple

Blood, Sweat, and Confidence: Thoughts and Tips from the Varsity Soccer Team

It’s time to bring your A-Game.

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2013-14 Varsity Boys Soccer Team
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2013-14 Varsity Girls Soccer Team

“For every distance you fail to cover, always know that your teammates have to run just as more.”

– Steve Kim (’15)

Soccer season? Soccer season! This year’s soccer season is just around the corner, with try outs taking place during the week of February 9th. But just the mention of try outs can often illicit a range of emotions from sheer enthusiasm to slight dread in the minds of our varsity athletes. Often associated with notoriously rigorous try out sessions full of 5k runs and repetitive workouts, soccer season can seem like a pain rather than the fun it really is. But just how do these players survive try outs every season in the cold? What thoughts motivate them to survive? What wisdom do they have to offer the next generation of varsity soccer players? Blueprint sought out five outstanding varsity boys and girls soccer players to ask them about their thoughts on the upcoming season.

  1. Tips for new players?
  2. From 1-10 how excited are you for season
  3. If you could give your team an upgrade what would it be? (i.e. uniform, team name, etc)
  4. Favorite post practice snack?
  5. What motivates you during try outs?

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Phillip An (’15) 

  1. Tips: Don’t be afraid of upperclassmen- we were all in your shoes before. The faster we bond as a team, the better our quality of play will be.
  2. How excited? 11!!!
  3. Upgrade: Confidence Boost! They’re like steroids that are legal for your mind.
  4. Post practice snack: Favorite post practice snack would be dark chocolate, because chocolate.
  5. Motivation: The wails of pain that resonate throughout the locker room after each try-out days and pretty managers (if we get to have one).

Charlie Park (’16)Evernote-Camera-Roll-20150130-182729

  1. Tips: Just run a lot, try your best, don’t give up.
  2. How excited? 9.5
  3. Upgrade: UNIFORM! because ours right now is too old and kinda uncomfortable.
  4. Post practice snack: Banana? because it contains potassium, which builds bones! And it tastes good.
  5. Motivation: The fact that I get to play for a team motivates me, and having fun with friends? And getting to play for tournaments!

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Kyle Shin (’16)

  1. Tips: I would recommend for the new players to just work hard and show their full passion about soccer.
  2. How excited? 9.5 (not fit yet…)
  3. Upgrade: Team chant…gotta be better than last year’s…
    • (The old team chant was like, “Woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo (louder) Who are we! Phoenix! Who are we! Phoenix! Are you ready, Yes! Are you ready, Yes! 3-2-1 Phoenix!” …something like that)
  4. Post practice snack: Cup Ramen!
  5. Motivation: Thinking about being the champions of the league!

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Steve Kim (’15)

  1. Tips: Similar to any other varsity sport, new players should be ready to dedicate a fair amount of time and effort to the team, giving it their very best every practice and game. Specifically for soccer, new players should quickly learn the importance of teamwork and responsibility. For every distance you fail to cover, always know that your teammates have to run just as more.
  2. How excited? 10! Those who are interested in playing soccer have been playing both in and outside of school every week leading up to the season, so everyone is excited.
  3. Upgrade: The soccer team should be receiving new, personalized uniforms every year for basic reasons. The idea of reusing the same uniforms for over four years is quite absurd and having personal jerseys with players’ own name imprinted would act as a big motivator for them to perform better.
  4. Post practice snack: Chocolate milk, banana
  5. Motivation: The fear of getting cut is probably the most fundamental motivation for all players looking to try out. For no one is guaranteed a spot on the team at that point. But more than that, the thought of playing a home game in front of the entire school with friends and family watching is another big motivation.

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Harry Song (’16)

  1. Tips: From my Varsity team experience, I would like to give some beneficial advices to new players. Although new players might be afraid to upperclassmen, he or she shouldn’t be afraid of upperclassmen and play any sports with confident mind. Also you might think that you’re always right when you play sports or something, but listen to your coaches and sunbaes if they ask you to fix some attitude or skills based.
  2. How excited? 8
  3. Upgrade: If I could give my team an upgrade, I would like to get personal sports clothing such as Nike or Adidas.
  4. Post practice snack: 삼각김밥 (triangle kimbab)
  5. Motivation: Varsity jacket and badge

Sara Drake (’15)

  1. Tips: Tips for new players are to always work your hardest and communicate all the time! The louder you are the more effective we are as a team.
  2. How excited? 11
  3. Upgrade: I would upgrade our uniforms so they are more comfortable. Right now they’re super stiff.
  4. Post practice snack: Chocolate milk and a banana.
  5. Motivation: You have to be motivated in try outs, it’s try outs. No one automatically makes a team, you have to work for it, and show the coaches what you are capable of even if they have already seen it. I always want to show that I will work my hardest and play my heart out.

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Faith Choi (’16)

  1. Tips: Key thing during try outs is to get noticed. Work hard, participate a lot, and that’s gonna get the coaches to notice you and remember your name. Especially when there are thirty to forty different girls on the same field all doing the same drill, you’re gonna wanna try to stand out. Also, try your best and work your hardest, because those are the things that will definitely pay off in the end.
  2. How excited?100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 x10000000000000000000000000000000000000 (no number can express my excitement)
  3. Upgrade: Definitely our uniforms- they’re way too stiff and a bit hot for the season we play in. And, the warm ups we used to have were the bomb. It’d also be nice if we could have some sort of stereo system to play music from during warm ups and whatnot like we can do up in the gyms!
  4. Post practice snack: Banana for that protein, Famous Amos for that sugar.
  5. Motivation: It’s the fact that I am not alone going through the thigh, butt, core burning exercises. I’m not the only one getting shinsplints. As Troy Bolton once said, we’re all in this together. Me working as hard as the rest and improving means that the team as a whole is – to a certain level – improving. Bettering my team and working hard for them, for me, and for my coaches is what honestly motivates me.

Shea Drake (’15)10984947_1049340635081026_958567028_n

  1. Tips: Come to play. No attitude, no lack of confidence, no self-doubt. Show spirit and try hard. If you don’t make the team, it’s okay because you know you tried your best. 
  2. How excited? 400
  3. Upgrade: Uniform, warm up, and bags.
  4. Post practice snack: Oreos with peanut butter and chocolate milk. If I feel healthy, then almonds.
  5. Motivation: Preparing for an awesome season with an awesome team and awesome coaches.

Sohee Yu (’16)10896998_915020905186864_1899573482296783697_n

  1. Tips: Don’t be shy and just play from your heart! Be confident in what you do, call for the ball, push yourself, and walk off the field every time knowing that you gave your best.
  2. How excited? 
  3. Upgrade: NOTHING CUZ THIS TEAM IS PERF but getting better apparel would be nice.
  4. Post practice snack: Does gogi count as a snack…?
  5. Motivation: Knowing that once I’m past it and make it on the team, I can spend time with the girls I love by playing a great sport and eating twice my usual amount.

Yena Kim (’15)

  1. Tips: What the coaches are ultimately looking for is someone coachable. They need to see that you’re willing to work your bum off even if you’re not the best player out there. They need to know that you will listen to their advice and try to learn it, because at the end of the day, the best player on the field isn’t the one with the best physical ability, but with the strongest mental ability. “I may not be the strongest, and I may not be the fastest, but you bet your ass I’ll be working the hardest.”
  2. How excited? MY EXCITEMENT BREAKS THE SCALE
  3. Upgrade: If I could give my team an upgrade it would be three things: a new uniform, or our old ones back – they were perfectly fine and soft and one of the few good uniforms out there. I appreciate that Mr. Larue took the time, effort, and consideration to change them, but the ones we got last year are scratchy and un-athletic uniforms. The second would be a set breakfast to eat everyday that we can get at school (or coach’s room) because as an athlete I know how big a difference eating breakfast makes. Number three, I would have optional Saturday open field.
  4. Post practice snack: Either an acai bowl or a smoothie. For smoothies I’ll either have a mango-banana-orange smoothie or a blueberry-strawberry-yoghurt smoothie. Both with chia seeds.
  5. Motivation: My sole motivation is the sport. Just playing soccer and the liberation it gives me motivates me. And having the season ahead of me and being excited to see my improvements as well as the improvements of other players motivate me. Also, seeing the team come together on the field and off really inspires me to just keep playing.

Header: Korea International School Yearbook