Friday, December 14, 2018

Breakout Artist of the Year: Juice Wrld

Dan Flavin Roberto Escamilla Nate Donohoe
Music Critics Desk

2018 was filled with new artists reaching star level, but one stood out. Juice WRLD went from unknown to not only running the year in pure sales, but he has become a fan favorite from his personality and talent.
     Juice WRLD’s explosion of fame was kicked off by his “All Girls Are the Same” music video shot by Cole Bennett. He started out the year with around 2,500 followers in Instagram, but after the release of the video on Feb. 24, his follower count grew to over 60,000. His rise didn’t stop there. The song and video kept getting attention and so did he. By the end of March, he was over 100,000 followers. His social media numbers aren’t the only indicator of his growth. Juice then dropped a video for his single “Lucid Dreams” which collected a total of 259,000,000 views as of Dec. 13. His debut album “Goodbye and Good RIddance” released in late May sold 39,000 units debuting at number 15 on the Billboard 200 chart.
     Juice started the year off huge, but he didn’t stop there. In early July he made headlines for freestyling for over an hour straight on Tim Westwood TV and gained respect that takes most new artists years to gain. People instantly knew that the 19-year-old rapper was the real deal. Two months later he released his next project and the wait was worth it. On Oct. 19 he released “Wrld on Drugs,” his collab album with trap legend Future. He again proved his versatility by not only singing songs about his past love life but rapping about his come up and earnings from rapping. At the same time, his breakout single “Lucid Dreams” hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 R&B/ Hip-Hop Chart. Juice was also nominated for MTV’s song of the summer for “Lucid Dreams” and BET’s Best New Hip-Hop Artist. He ended the year with a track in the “Marvel Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” soundtrack. He was named Apple Music’s and Spotify’s breakout artist of the year amassing one-billion streams on Spotify in just his first year of fame.
     Juice Wrld’s talent, sales, Rockstar personality, and quick rise make him easily 2018’s breakout artist of the year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody Captures the Unique and Electrifying Story of Queen

Juliana Covino
Staff Writer

The story of Queen, a prominent rock and heavy metal band in the ’70s, has finally hit the silver screen in the film “Bohemian Rhapsody.” As one of the most progressive bands of all time, Queen had multiple hits in genres such as funk, jazz, opera, reggae, punk, disco, and gospel. The movie was released on Nov. 2, 2018 and has earned $135 million in North America and $268 million overseas for a total $404 million globally.
     The star and front man of Queen was none other than the extravagant and incredible vocalist Freddie Mercury. Rami Malek, who portrayed Mercury in the film, embodied the role perfectly by moving and acting in an identical way to Mercury. Mercury’s band mates were portrayed by Ben Hardy, Gwilym Lee, and Joseph Mazzello in the film. All the actors did an outstanding job, performing as if they were rock icons providing the audience with a powerful stage presence similar to Queen’s. In addition, the film’s costume designer, Julian Day, and his team did a fantastic job of recreating each band member’s costume. Furthermore, the musical sequences in the movie such as the Live Aid performance and the recording of “Bohemian Rhapsody” were electrifying and the best part of the movie.
     Even though the movie follows the tale of Queen’s origin, Freddie Mercury’s background and life story is a major part of the film revealing his upbringing and the struggles he faced throughout his life. The biopic proves Mercury to be the musical genius he is as the audience watches him compose famous works such as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” "Killer Queen," "Somebody to Love," "Don't Stop Me Now," "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," and "We Are the Champions."
     Overall, the film does a marvelous job of giving insight into the writing process of Queen and a behind the scenes look at the relationship between band members. Even though some aspects of the film are a slight stretch from the truth, the audience still discovers new information about Queen that they may have never known before. I would give this movie a seven out of ten for its stellar stage performances, story line, and convincing portrayal of Queen. Check out the movie while it’s still in theaters.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Too Much Like Led Zeppelin?

Cooper Hendricks
Staff Writer

Greta Van Fleet’s debut album, “Anthem of the Peaceful Army,” has left some people wondering if they have their own sound or if they’re just Led Zeppelin clones.
    Greta Van Fleet (GVF) is a new, young band of the Kiszka Brothers: Josh, Jake, Sam and their friend Danny Wagner from Michigan. The band was founded in 2012 and since then they have risen to the top of the rock music charts.
     However, even though they are hugely successful, they have been criticized for not having their own sound. Several reviewers claim that they sound too similar to the popular 70’s band, Led Zeppelin. This is easily identifiable as, the lead singer of GVF, Josh Kiszka, has a similar voice to that of Zep’s lead singer Robert Plant.
     Their music has also been criticized for having a similar soulful sound much like that of Zeppelin’s, which begs the question: Is Greta Van Fleet the savior of Rock? Or are they going to burn out too quickly?
     GVF has some really good tracks in their newest album, some of which are rising to the top of the charts, like their newest song, “When The Curtain Falls” which currently ranks at the number 9 spot on Billboard's Top Rock Songs chart. Greta Van Fleet is not unaware of the fact that they sound similar to  Led Zeppelin. In GVF’s song “Age Of Man” two lines of the song sound  like the opening lines to Zeppelin's “Immigrant Song.” This  was included as a nod towards the legendary band. Compare them: The “Age of Man” by Greta Van Fleet: “To wonderlands of ice and snow/In the desert heat where nothing grows.” Here is the opening to the “Immigrant Song,” by Led Zeppelin: “We come from the land of the ice and snow/From the midnight sun, where the hot springs flow.”
     Rolling Stone said it best. “But what’s a point of reference for many acts can become a career-long label or even millstone for a few, particularly artists whose music exudes undeniable similarity to a previous artist’s sound.” GVF is going to sound like Zeppelin to some people, and that's fine; they need time to perfect their craft and get a style down that is their own. Their new album is still very good, but it just needs an actual tone to it which doesn't sound like a Led Zeppelin rip-off.

Metro Boomin “NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES” drops without warning

Dan Flavin Nate Donohoe and Roberto Escamilla
Music Critics Desk

Producer Metro Boomin released his successor to “Without Warning” on Nov. 2, without any warning.
     He came out of retirement by just posting an album cover with the caption “NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES.” The next day he released the tracklist and the album. The album’s star studded feature list contains artists such as Travis Scott, Kodak Black, Gunna, Swae Lee, and Young Thug.
     The positives of the album were songs such as “No More (feat. Travis Scott, Kodak Black, and 21 Savage).” The track had a very ominous beat and is very fitting to the rappers on the track. The track starts with a very auto-tuned Travis Scott signing and then transitions to Kodak and 21 delivering solid verses. The highlight of the song is when the rapper’s three different renditions are played in a row. The different variations of the chorus make sure that the track doesn’t get stale. Another highlight was “Overdue (feat. Travis Scott).” The sample that Metro used was expertly chopped and blended perfectly with the other aspects of the song. Travis Scott’s performance was great. He raps a catchy flow that enhances Metro’s production.
     But this is a producer’s album not a rapper, so the most important part is the production. Metro shows his versatility and why he is at the top. He creates dark, spacy beats on tracks like “No More” and “Up to Something,” but he also makes upbeat, bouncy beats like “Space Cadet” with Gunna. Every song was mixed well and he showed his talent as a producer while not over producing. He didn’t add too many effects or try to do too much with the actual beats.
     There aren’t a lot of negatives that came with this album, but one of them is wasted features. There are some features that just feel flat. They just feel like he wanted the big name not the quality verse.
     Other than some lack-luster features on Metro’s album, it was great and we will rate it a 8.5/10.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Flaming Success!

Lauren Adler
Staff Writer

If you didn’t get a chance to see the Mask and Zany production of Flaming Idiots by Tom Rooney, then you truly missed out on an incredible performance. The show, directed by New Hope Solebury High School senior Hope King, ran from November 8th to 10th and included an array of talented. The comic story focuses on two restaurant entrepreneurs--Phili (sophomore Cameron Parker) and Carla (senior Aidan Lear)--who plan on doing whatever it takes, and I mean whatever it takes, to see their business become a hit. With the hope to make this restaurant a huge success they hire a unique staff, including Bernadette the deaf chief (senior Tara Chumbley), Eugene the aspiring big-nosed actor who waits tables on the side (sophomore Caleb Ferraez), and the foreign Ernesto Santiago (sophomore Daniel Scanlon). The show also included unforgettable characters such as Louie, (senior Jessica Rolke), Jayne Fryman (sophomore Meghan Siano) and last but not least Officer Task, played by sophomore Blake Paulson. From the seemingly endless number of ridiculous and hilarious scenes, this show was a huge comic success! Not only did my eyes never leave the stage, but a smile never left my face. 
The cast clearly put in a lot of effort to produce an amazing show, and the hard work truly paid off.
Aidan Lear, who played Carla, stated: “Although sometimes the long hours spent to put on this production felt endless, it is by far one of the most amazing productions I have yet been a part of.”
She also mentioned that she is “so thankful to everyone that came out to see the show and hopes that everyone enjoyed it!”
In case you missed the amazing production don't worry! Mrs. Pittner is selling copies of the show in both regular DVD and Blu ray, which I would highly recommend if you want to see the detailed facial expressions of the characters on stage. All profits will go straight towards the Mask and Zany theater program to support future shows and productions. From the shows hilarious one-liners to its overall spectacular performance, Flaming Idiots is definitely a production that will not be forgotten.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Carrie Underwood Makes Country History with Album Cry Pretty

Juliana Covino
Staff Writer

After time away from the spotlight country singer Carrie Underwood resurfaces with her sixth and most personal album so far.
The country pop star is back with her newest studio album, Cry Pretty, making history as the first woman to bring four country albums to Billboard's Top 200 Chart. Within the 13-song collection, Underwood shares songs about private battles (“Drinking Alone”), emotional wreckage (“Love Wins”), and upbeat sing-along tracks (“Southbound”). Underwood also teamed up with Ludacris to co-write a new song, "The Champion", which opened the Super Bowl on Feb. 4, 2018.
The album was released on Sept. 14 and surpassed Cardi B’s album, Invasion of Privacy, in sales which launched at No. 1 with 255,000 units. The album streams on all music services and can buy be bought for $10.82 or single tracks for $1.29.
Underwood says to her fans that, "The title refers to when emotions take over and you just can’t hold them back...It really speaks to a lot of things that have happened in the past year and I hope when you hear it, you can relate those feelings to those times in your life."
Underwood has been through a lot the past year receiving more than 40 stitches on her face after an accident outside her house. She has been quite silent on social media for the majority of the year until she announced the new album on her Instagram in April.
        The Cry Pretty Tour 360 starts in Spring 2019 and will kick off on May 1 in Greensboro, NC, and will play 55 arenas across the U.S. and Canada. Tickets for the Cry Pretty Tour can be found on numerous ticket websites or Carrie Underwood’s official website.

Quavo’s solo album was a let down

Dan Flavin, Nate Donohoe, and Roberto Escamilla
Staff Writers

Member of popular rap group Migos, Quavo, takes matters in his own hands and goes solo with his new album Quavo Huncho.
After an underwhelming release of Culture II nine months earlier that didn’t receive good feedback, Quavo is back. He started off strong with “Biggest Alley Oop” as the intro track. The track had a well produced unorthodox beat that set the album off on a strong foot. The other noticeable tracks were, “Rerun (feat. Travis Scott)” and “Lose It (feat. Lil Baby).” “Rerun” had an ominous vibe that has become a trademark for Travis. They used an immense amount of auto-tune, but they used it well. It didn’t sound like they needed it. It sounded like they used it as a tool to expand the sound. The track with “Lil Baby” was an okay track until “Lil Baby” came in and elevated the song to be one of the highlights of the album.
The album is far from perfect. Most tracks just sounded average, if not worse. Most songs in the middle of the project just sounded like he copy pasted the same line over and over again. The unique sound that the Migos started, largely in part to Quavo, was lost and he just sounded like a mediocre artist with a good production team. He sounded like he didn’t try to make good music he tried to make good money. If that was his goal he achieved it. Quavo Huncho sold 99,000 copies and charted second on the Billboard Top 100 list.
Quavo’s solo debut Quavo Huncho was a bottom tier album of the year. Other than some highlight features that carried their songs it wasn’t good. A repetitive flow and lack of creativity made the album feel flat. The album receives a 4/10.