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Framing Hanley Are Back: On Writing Together Again With Kenneth Nixon

From a basement in Nashville to a breakout Lil’ Wayne cover, three studio albums, tours of the world and a final show in 2015, Framing Hanley are back on the rock scene and sounding better than ever. Calling it a career after ten successful years, the band have since found their voice again, almost by accident—or fate. Lead singer and songwriter Kenneth Nixon spoke to us about FH’s journey and upcoming album, his struggle with depression and how rock n’ roll is still a huge part of his life.

COLLEGE NEWS: After the announcement that the band would split in 2015, Framing Hanley have made a remarkable and unprecedented comeback in 2018. Could you tell us a bit about how you came to the decision to reunite and what kind of year it’s been as a result?

KENNETH NIXON: After about six months or so of being disbanded, Ryan and I started writing together again for what was originally going to be a new project entirely. That’s where our upcoming album title Sumner Roots came from; it was the name of our new project. I had gravitated toward more roots country/Americana/singer-songwriter stuff. However, as time went on, so did the gain knob on the amplifiers. We realized after a short time that we were writing Framing Hanley songs again—which didn’t come as a surprise, being the two main songwriters through the history of FH. We thought it would be silly to brand it as anything other than what it was: more Framing Hanley.

CN: You have also just released the second single, Baggage Claim, from the much-anticipated new album. How has the response been so far? 

KN: I think people are digging it. It’s a little different from what people have come to expect from Framing Hanley, I know that much. It’s one of my absolute favorite songs we’ve ever released. It’s funny because, while it’s a “relationship” song on the outside, it’s actually about our relationship with the music industry. Trying to walk away but there’s that allure—that stranglehold even—that always draws ya back.

CN: How would you say your sound has evolved and changed over the years?

KN: I always said I wanted our albums to sound like our band continued to evolve with every album we released. So, while the change is there, it’s been natural, and I think has a lot to do with always taking inspiration from what we like listening to. We’ve never been a “well we have to do this because everyone else is” band.

CN: You have spoken openly in the past about your struggle with depression. Could you tell us a bit more about that? Do you have any advice for readers going through something similar?

KN: When your identity as you know it is gone after a decade, it takes a toll on you, that’s for sure. I think there’s a dark place the majority of us get to in our lives, for different reasons. Fortunately, some never have to deal with that. Music was always what helped me write out what I was going through as a form of therapy. When that was gone, it was all bottled up and I didn’t know how to rid myself of it. I went to my doctor; they put me on pills, and holy hell that got scary. To know that there was a medicine that I was depending on to make myself feel happy again…I hated that feeling. I wanted to know that I had that control over myself, so I tossed the meds and started working on me. I picked up a guitar again…picked up a pen again. I spent time with my family more. Instead of just being in the room, I was actually “present.” Let me tell you something, witnessing the innocent laughter of adolescents will do wonders for your own happiness. My kids are all I needed to bring light to that dark place in my life. Before, I was a prisoner in my mind and had blinders on to what was going on around me. For me personally, it simply took embracing the blessings in my life to get out of that. Unfortunately, depression isn’t a one-stop shop. There are people who have it much worse than I did. Ultimately, I just didn’t want to depend on pills to make me smile. Because that’s a very scary line, I think. I’ve talked about that in more detail so I’ll get off my soapbox now—that’s what the song Puzzle Pieces is about.

CN: What do you and the rest of the band like to do in your down time to relax in preparation for a big show or tour?

KN: Well—outside of spending time with my family and watching my three boys grow—when it’s football season, you’ll find me glued in front of a television watching football all day. It’s been a rough six months for ya boy though, as a Jacksonville Jaguars fan. We’re all pretty avid video gamers. Me, not as much as I used to be because my six year old is always on my PS4, but FIFA, NHL…we’ve been known to rock some tournaments on the road to kill time.

CN: And finally, if you could collaborate with any artist (alive or dead), who would it be and why?

KN: This is a tough one. I’d say a collaboration with Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro, Jason Isbell, and Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic would make one hell of a song. I love all three of those artists (I’ll go to my grave saying that Jason Isbell is the greatest songwriter of my lifetime). So yeah, that would be a dope collab.

See also: The Lumineers: New Album Explores Addiction
Cocoon Central Dance Team is Pushing Frontiers of Dance and Comedy
Teen Actress Thalia Tran on Preparing for “Little”

The Lumineers: New Album Explores Addiction

“It’s like someone gently waking you up out of a deep sleep,” says Wesley Schultz, guitarist and singer of The Lumineers. He’s talking about “Donna,” the first track on their new album, III.

What Schultz means is that the piano part—written by Jeremiah Fraites, his bandmate of over a decade—is haunting and beautiful, an eerie sign of the heartbreak that lies ahead on III.

This latest work by the stripped-down folk band dives into deeper and darker waters than their previous albums. III tells a poignant and troubling story about the effects of addiction on a family. The album is divided into three chapters, with each chapter focusing on a different generation of the family, starting with the grandmother Gloria Sparks, followed by the son Jimmy Sparks and the grandson Junior Sparks.

“[The album] just shows a really kind of heart-breaking look at trying to love addicts, trying to love somebody that really can’t help themselves,” says Fraites.

III was largely inspired by a family member of Schultz’s who was dealing with addiction, although Fraites’ family has also been touched by addiction—his brother passed away of a drug overdose 18 years ago. For both of them, working on the album became a deeply cathartic process.

“You know how people sing about heartbreak?” Schultz askes me. “Singing about stuff that’s very real or true but hurts, it tends to bring out something in people. I think going there and saying your darkest thoughts or confessing or saying something that you’re going through that a lot of people aren’t talking about, I think it’s something about art and music that’s very healing, it’s very cathartic.”

III will be released on September 13.

On the inspiration for III

As I listen to the first few tracks of III, I understand what Schultz meant about waking from a deep sleep—the melody is beautiful, but the story grips my attention. In true Lumineers style, the music is stripped down and uncomplicated, letting the mastery of their talent shine through; while the lyrics are a complex story that call for many more listens.

I ask Schultz what it was like to bring such a personal story to a large audience, especially one as heart-rending as this.

“I think if you keep too much of a distance in how you’re talking about something—in other words if you’re not vulnerable or putting yourself out there, you’re not really telling the story, you’re not really painting the accurate picture,” he says. “I think initially I was trying to keep a distance between me and that person in the story, but as time wore on it became obvious that it would be a wasted opportunity to actually draw attention to something important. And if I don’t acknowledge that it’s part of my life, how do I expect people to acknowledge that either?”

“It’s kind of like if there’s something in your family, and then you are ashamed by it and you feel like it reflects on you and you don’t want to talk about it, then it becomes this problem that’s also like a secret, and it’s a heavier and heavier burden,” he adds. “I’m happy I did it because I’ve seen afterwards that a lot of people have said a lot of things in a short period of time of how they’ve witnessed this.”

When I ask Fraites, he says: “These lyrics, these videos, us talking about [addiction] in any way shape or form, sort of sheds some light on it or maybe gets people to talk about it and say, ‘oh maybe I do have a problem, maybe I can look for the signs, and help other people.’

“You know we never want to be preachy, and we’re not perfect people.

“But it was something that was real in both of our lives and it feels really sincere and genuine to be talking about it through the medium of this album as a whole.”

On those incredible videos

Adding another layer to the story, the band will release a music video for each song, directed by Kevin Phillips. Several have already come out, depicting the story from the first chapter of the album, and the visuals are stunning.

Schultz and Fraites discovered Phillips’ work on the film Super Dark and knew immediately that he could capture the tone of their new album.

“We knew that we has this album that was a lot darker than previous Lumineers albums, we knew that the subject matter was darker than previous Lumineers lyrics, and I think we wanted to make sure that the videos didn’t look too clean or glossed over with perfect looking model actors and actresses. We really wanted to make it feel authentic and sincere,” said Fraites.

Releasing a series of narrative music videos for every song on an album isn’t a traditional way of doing things, and the band initially had trouble getting the label on board with their plan. “We got a lot of pushback at first,” said Schultz. “And we decided to do it ourselves, and then they eventually got on board and really supported it…

“But I think if you really pour yourself and your resources into something like this it’s always worth doing you never look back and regret it.”

The response has already been overwhelming for the band, with fans reaching out with stories of their own.

On not being pigeonholed

The songs on III seem far away from “Ho Hey,” the sunny hit that launched the band into the mainstream several years ago, or their other upbeat songs, but it’s not, Schultz says.

“I think if you actually go back and go listen to the first album or the second, I can give you many, many examples of what we were singing about and why that was actually pretty dark,” he clarifies for me, when I ask. “I just think this is the first time we’ve maybe made that in music…it just sounds darker.”

The Lumineers are commonly compared to other folk bands, like Mumford & Sons, but Schultz is on record saying that comparison isn’t fair. He elaborates about why he thinks putting artists into categories doesn’t help anyone.

“If someone said to you, you’re this type of writer, I think your initial reaction would be to say don’t pigeon-hole me into this—I’m more dynamic than what you’re saying I am.”

On playing together for over a decade

Fraites and Schultz have been playing together since 2005, when they got their start in Ramsey, New Jersey. They now live in Denver—both are married now and both welcomed baby boys a year ago.

I’m curious about what it’s like to have such a long-standing and close working relationship, especially through all the change, from days of working tirelessly to make rent in NYC to being successful enough to play at the Obama White House twice.

“I feel like more the key ingredient to our relationship is that we’ve been able to not change the writing process,” reflected Fraites.

“When we first started out, we just wanted to write music together, we just needed a piano, some drums, a guitar… I think with album two we did a really good job of still figuring out a way to write music the way we’ve always done, and with this album it was the same thing. It’s a really kind of boring process.” (The band got together at a cabin in the Catskills to write III.)

“Ironically success was one of the most traumatic and difficult things to deal with,” Fraites tells me.

Schultz echoes this sentiment: “Sometimes the success of something actually throws people into a strange or destructive state of mind. And when you’re busy trying and failing, or trying but not having a ton of success, it tends to bring people together.”

“We want to write songs in a certain way,” Schultz adds. “We try to collaborate in this very honest way—like we cut a part or we cut a song—both of us know it’s because we think it’s the best thing for the song, and not for one of our egos.”

The process is clearly working for them.

III comes out on September 13 and is available for pre-order now.

See also: Cocoon Central Dance Team is Pushing Frontiers of Dance and Comedy
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Michael Jackson Ten Years Later

On the tenth anniversary of “King of Pop” Michael Jackson’s death, we examine the inevitable question of whether we should continue celebrating the singer’s legacy in light of the documentary, Leaving Neverland’s. Prior to the release of the four-hour documentary, the Jackson Estate filled a lawsuit of more than $100 million against HBO, the producers of Leaving Neverland.

The estate alleged HBO had ignored a previous non-disparagement clause, that was part of a contract made over two decades in 1992. The contract prevented HBO from airing a film produced at a Bucharest concert for Jackson’s Dangerous tour and having stuck by the contract and not aired the film, HBO have dismissed any claims of making disparaging comments against Jackson.

Leaving Neverland portrays an account of sexual abuse, centering around two alleged victims, Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck, narrating their experience, putting to bed erroneous accusations against them and Michael Jackson. Leaving Neverland additionally speaks to the victims’ family members to locate concrete answers as to how the abuse all began.The shrouded claims of sexual abuse that have persisted throughout Michael Jackson’s career, were originally brought to public attention by Jordan Chandler, a thirteen-year-old boy. Gavin Arvizowas another earlier victim, who spent his teenage years accusing Jackson of molesting him, though Jackson was acquitted of all charges in a 2005 trial, involving Jordan Chandler as well.

Michael Jackson’s “grooming process”

Regardless of the acquitted status of earlier allegations, Leaving Neverland compels viewers to revisit the original allegations with its detailed depiction of the “grooming process” involving Robson and Safechuck. The details provided by the duo align with the first two allegations: endless gifts, the form of sex used in the abuse and a swift dismissal once hitting puberty. In the documentary, Jimmy Safechuck informs the camera that Jackson had staged a pretend wedding ceremony when he was aged ten and holds up a diamond and gold ring as evidence. The ring was supposed to represent a declaration of their lifelong commitment to each other. Robson added these gifts of love were common and Michael played into their childhood vulnerability by telling them, these were bonds outsiders would not be able to understand and would send them to prison for, if they knew.

Who is to blame?

Similarly, the families of the boys were presented with gifts, from holidays and expensive jewellery to new homes and cars. The gifts prevented suspicion from being aroused, and the families even hoped the boys’ careers in the future would benefit from Michael’s attention. The public adoration of Jackson from chart-topping successes such as Thriller and Bad convoluted the perception of blame. The documentary shares a remark from TMZ, where a commentator declares Robson should instead of suing the Jackson’s estate, sue his mother for allowing him to sleep in Jackson’s bed. In addition to the parents of Robson and Safechuck being blamed, both boys were accused of lying and mirroring the stories of earlier allegations for their own gain.

Wade Robson’s father, Dennis Robson, informed Vanity Fair in 1993 that he feared losing his son if he spoke out against Jackson and admitted to being molested during his childhood, himself. Plagued by the guilt following his son’s molestation, Dennis Robson committed suicide in 2002 and four months after Jackson’s death, the father of Jordan Chandler, Evan Chandler shot himself in 2009. Presented at the acquitted 2005 trial, Jordan Chandler also held the most incriminating evidence for allegations of abuse with his drawings of Jackson’s penis marking exactly areas of vitiligo or skin discolouration.

The tenth anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death makes the subject of blame more relevant, as fans of Jackson refute any blame on Michael’s part. For the first time, TV tributes for Jackson have not been aired in light of the documentary’s release this year. It cannot be denied that elements of Jackson’s music and choreographies were held as cultural icons and still hold influence; however, we cannot reject or shift blame to put ourselves at ease. Post-Leaving Neverland, listening to Michael’s music or dancing to his videos are all choices to be made by the individual.

Alongside blame, the other question Leaving Neverland forces us to consider is, if art can be separated from the artist.

See also: 

Teen Actress Thalia Tran On Preparing For “Little”

 

33 Years of Gaga: Our Round Up of Lady Gaga’s Record Breaking Singles

As Lady Gaga turns 33 today, here’s our list of top record breaking singles sizzling with Gaga drama, unrivalled fun and overflowing symbolism.

“Poker Face” – The Fame

Released in 2008, “Poker Face,” the second single of her album, The Fame features a strong melody with two unforgettable, defining hooks, “Mum mum mum mah” and in the chorus, “Can’t read my poker face.”

The robotic resonance, as fitting with the synth pop or techno pop genre matches the hit’s heading, “Pokerface” referring to an expressionless face. In an exclusive London gig, hosted by Belvedere vodka, Gaga explained to fans how the song came into play, “You know his song is actually about when I was making love to this guy that I was dating a long time ago…I was thinking about chicks every time we had sex.”

“Bad Romance” – The Fame Monster

Following Poker Face’s glory, Gaga managed to create another chart topping success with “Bad Romance.” Written and produced with the help of Nadir Khayat, the song lyrics combined with the music video’s sinister imagery offers a dark humoured portrayal of Gaga’s complex relationship history with men at that time.

The single itself became the most downloaded song in UK Chart history, while the music video for “Bad Romance” shot up to the most viewed video on YouTube in 2010.

“Born This Way” – Born This Way

As Gaga received international acclaim with her album, The Fame, she also courted attention for her unique sense of style. At the 2010 MTV Music Awards, she wore a now iconic meat dress made up of raw steak; in spite of the controversy from animal rights groups, the outfit was hailed by the Time as 2010’s top fashion statement, which led to Gaga being labelled the top fashion buzzword by the Global Language Monitor.

Inspired by the synth pop genre that paved the success of “Pokerface,” Gaga fuses disco, techno beats and metal into “Born This Way.” Her lyrics such as “You’re black, white, beige, chola descent,” “Don’t be a drag, just be a queen” and “God makes no mistakes’ merge the different identity markers of sexuality, race and religion.”

Gaga’s chorus hook, “Cause I was born this way” goes onto to eradicate the difference, through highlighting how we are all ultimately “born this way.”

“Applause” – Art Pop

Aired in 2013, “Applause” pays tribute to the on-going support from her fans, especially during her Born This Way Ball Tour, where she experienced immense pain from a hip injury. Their applause encouraged her to continue onwards with the tour, until her performance’s movements caused the injury to worsen and sustain a tear to the right hip.

Applause’s electro pop form of tech-pop and upbeat dance music was an international victory for Gaga, reaching the top 10 across music charts in South Korea, Turkey, Israel, Japan, Scotland and New Zealand.

In typical Gaga fashion, the music video is saturated with imagery. Una Mullally for Irish Times comments on the allusion to Botticelli’s Birth Of Venus and the hands across her breasts costume being reminiscent of Bowie’s 1973 green hands and cobweb costume designed by Korniloff, that was barred from American Television.

Although, what’s Gaga without the rich symbolism, dark humor, satire and glorious drama. Happy Birthday, Lady Gaga!

See also: Selma Blair’s Incredible Moment at The Oscars

Everything You Want to Know About Jennifer Lawrence’s Engagement

Sylvia Plath’s “Newly Discovered” College Story

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The-Biggest-Highlights-from-the-2019-Grammy-Awards

The Biggest Highlights from the 2019 Grammy Awards

The biggest night in the music industry came and went with minimal controversy. This year’s Grammy Awards were packed with touching speeches, well-deserved wins and stellar performances. We’re talking musical legends like Diana Ross and Dolly Parton, and a surprise appearance by the former First Lady herself.

Like any awards show however, Sunday’s 61st annual ceremony didn’t go off without a hitch. In case you missed any of the four-hour long action, we’ve rounded up the highlights, the gossip and a healthy amount of social media drama.

When they cut Drake’s speech off 

Perhaps in the biggest plot-twist of the night, Drake—who has notoriously boycotted previous Grammy ceremonies—actually showed up to collect his trophy for best rap song.

Celebrating the hit single God’s Plan from his 2018 album Scorpion, the rapper took the opportunity to remind his fellow artists that the Grammy’s do not a winner make.

“The point is you’ve already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word, if you’re a hero in your hometown,” he said.

“Look, if there’s people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain and snow, spending money to buy tickets to your shows, you don’t need this right here. You already won. But—”

Drake was then cut off as the telecast went to a commercial, leaving viewers furious at the interruption.

Cardi B makes history

Cardi B won the best rap album award for her debut Invasion of Privacy, beating out Nipsey Hussle, Pusha T, Travis Scott, and the late Mac Miller, and becoming the first solo woman to take home the trophy.

The rapper gave an emotional speech that touched on her pregnancy and daughter, who was born in July.

“I want to thank my daughter,” she said. “I’m not just saying thank you because she’s my daughter. It’s because, you know, when I found out I was pregnant, my album was not complete, like three songs that I was for sure having. And then you know, you know how it was, we was like, we have to get this album done so I could still do videos while I’m still not showing. And it was very long nights.”

Ariana Grande tweeted and then deleted a series of insults as Cardi B took the stage, beating Grande’s late ex-boyfriend Mac Miller to the trophy. The singer called Miller’s snub “trash” and “literal bullshit,” before writing “sry” and deleting the posts.

Grande clarified afterwards that her tweets had “nothing to do w [Cardi]. Good for her. I promise. I’m sorry,” and called someone out for calling Cardi “trash”: “she’s not at all and that’s not what I meant and u know that,” she wrote in another, now-deleted tweet.

In a video recorded backstage at the ceremony and posted to Instagram, Cardi B dedicated her win to Miller, promising that she was “sharing this Grammy” with the late rapper.

Ariana drama 

The night also saw Grande win her first Grammy award for best pop vocal album with her record Sweetener. After a public spat with the show’s producer however, the star took to Instagram to confirm that she would not be attending the ceremony.

“I know I’m not there tonight (trust, I tried and still truly wished it had worked out tbh) and I know I said I try not to put too much weight into these things…this is wild and beautiful. Thank you so much. I love u,” she wrote on Sunday. 

Last week, the singer accused the organizer of the Grammys of lying about her reasons for withdrawing from a performance at the ceremony.

Grande still managed to steal the spotlight during the show however, dropping a series of photos that revealed her wearing her custom Zac Posen gown, which had been made for the event, around her house.

Women take center stage

This year, 15-time Grammy winner Alicia Keys led the show, stepping up as the first female host since Queen Latifah took on the role in 2005. Keeping the focus of the show on her love for music, she also enforced its female inclusivity. Last year’s ceremony was criticized for side-lining women, something that Keys was keen to address.

The star’s “sisters,” Lady Gaga, Jada Pinket-Smith and Jennifer Lopez, were invited onto the stage to each tell a personal story of how music changed their life and were joined by a certain former First Lady.

In a surprise appearance, Michelle Obama was forced to restart her speech, after her initial attempts were drowned out by applause.

“From the Motown records I wore out on the South Side, to the Who Run The World songs that fueled me through the last decade, music helps me tell my story,” she said.

“Music helps us share ourselves, our dignities and our sorrows. Music shows us all of it matters, every story with every voice, every note in every song.”

Captioning a photo of the group that she posted to Twitter, the former First Lady said she showed up for her close friend Alicia Keys—“one of the most genuine and thoughtful people [she knows].” 

Powerful performances

Our favorite performances of the night included Alicia Keys’ piano medley on two pianos (at the same time), Dua Lipa and St. Vincent’s seriously cool collaboration with Masseduction/One Kiss, Lady Gaga’s theatrical performance of Shallow and Kacey Musgraves serene version of Rainbow.

In answer to the question: “Was Jennifer Lopez the right person to choose to do a Motown tribute?” We think not.

Big winners 

Childish Gambino took three of the night’s biggest awards—record of the year, song of the year and video of the year—for his track This Is America. The song became the first hip-hop track to win song of the year, with Alicia Keys and John Mayer accepting the award when the rapper and actor didn’t turn up to the ceremony.

Lady Gaga also won big, accepting two awards for the soundtrack for the movie A Star Is Born. Gaga used her speech to discuss the importance of opening up about mental health, revealing that she was “so proud to be a part of a movie that addresses mental health issues” and adding: “We gotta take care of each other. So if you see somebody that’s hurting, don’t look away.”

While her co-star Bradley Cooper represented the film at the BAFTAs, Gaga bagged a further trophy for best vocal performance for Joanne.

Kacey Musgraves triumphed by winning album of the year and Dua Lipa was the only British artist to take home a trophy in a major category. Accepting her two trophies, Lipa made a small dig at the Recording Academy, thanking “all the incredible female artists” and saying “I guess we’ve really stepped up.” 

You can find a complete list of winners here.

Further reading: Kevin Hart Steps Down As Oscars Host

See Also:
The Met Gala’s Best and Worst Dressed Highlights 

Alicia Keys to Host 2019 Grammy Awards

Alicia Keys to Host 2019 Grammy Awards

Having won 15 herself, Alicia Keys is no stranger at the Grammys. This year however, the singer will claim a new role, ending James Corden’s two-year stint as host of the awards show.

The announcement came via the Grammys official Twitter page on January 15, with a post that read: “IT’S OFFICIAL! 15-time GRAMMY winner @AliciaKeys will host the 61st GRAMMYs, marking her first time as master of ceremonies for Music’s Biggest Night.”

“I’m going to host the Grammys, you heard it. I know what it feels like to be on that stage,” Keys said in a video post.

“I just feel grateful that I’m able to bring that light, that energy. I’m feeling excited, I feel really good about it.

“I feel that it’s the perfect opportunity to give that light back, especially to all the young women nominated. To me it feels like sister vibes,” she added.

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BIG news…. 🔥🔥🔥 (check my story)

A post shared by Alicia Keys (@aliciakeys) on

Unfortunately, not all of the musician’s fans have shared her excitement.

In a video the star shared on social media, Keys can be seen revealing the big news to her two young boys, Egypt and Genesis.

Following a long silence, a confused Egypt, 8, says: “What’s the Grammys?”

Keys captioned the video: “Egy and Gen want to know what the #GRAMMYS are ???”

Last April, Keys was honored at Variety’s Power of Women event in New York, after co-launching Keep a Child Alive—a nonprofit aimed at combating HIV. Using her acceptance speech, the singer spoke out about the inequality that women face in the workplace and in the world, reiterating this message at the 2018 Grammy Awards.

“Look at all the action that’s around us: women running for office in record numbers, women banding together in the entertainment industry, women demanding an end to disparity in the music industry like equal representation on the Grammy stage,” she said.

“We were told we need to step up. Well, you feel that step up now?”

Keys will indeed be stepping up as the first female host of the show since Queen Latifah took on the role in 2005. She will be at the forefront of a year that includes a considerably larger number of female nominees.

“I’m especially excited for all the incredible women nominated this year! It’s going “UP” on February 10!”

The 2019 Grammy Awards will take place at the Staples Centre on February 10 in Los Angeles.

Further reading: Kevin Hart Steps Down As Oscars Host

d-Sheeran-to-Face-Court-over-Marvin-Gaye-Plagiarism-Claim

Ed Sheeran to Face Court over Marvin Gaye Plagiarism Claim

A jury is set to decide if British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran copied Marvin Gaye’s song Let’s Get It On when he created his smash single Thinking Out Loud.

The 27 year-old’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit was rejected on Thursday, January 3 when district Judge Louis Stanton said a jury should decide Sheeran’s liability.

Judge Stanton found “substantial similarities between several of the two works’ musical elements.”

He further ruled that it was disputed whether the harmonic rhythm of Let’s Get It On was too common to deserve copyright protection.

The action was brought against Sheeran, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Atlantic Records by the estate and heirs of late producer Ed Townsend, who co-wrote Let’s Get It On with Gaye.

The classic track hit number one in 1973 while Thinking Out Loud topped the UK single charts in 2014.

The defense has argued that the newer track was characterized by “sombre, melancholic tones, addressing long-lasting romantic love,” while Let’s Get It On was a “sexual anthem.”

However, the Judge said there were similarities in the bass lines and percussion of the two songs and stated that listeners might consider both hits as having the same “aesthetic appeal.”

Sheeran denies copying Gaye.

Not the first time 

The accusation is not the first time that Sheeran has been accused of copying other artists.

In 2017, the star settled a $20 million copyright infringement claim over his song Photograph. He was sued in 2016 by songwriters Thomas Leonard and Martin Harrington, who claimed that his hit ballad had a similar structure to their song Amazing.

Another instance in 2017 also saw the team behind TLC’s 1999 single No Scrubs given writing credits on Sheeran’s Shape of You, after comparisons were made between elements of the songs.

Judge Stanton is presiding over another lawsuit alleging Sheeran copied Let’s Get It On. Structured Asset Sales (SAS)—which owns a third of Townsend’s estate—are suing for $100 million.

They claim he copied the “melody, rhythms, harmonies, drums, bass line, backing chorus, tempo, syncopation and looping” of the song.

History repeats itself

Recently, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were ordered to pay nearly $5million to the family of Marvin Gaye.

In 2013, the Motown legend’s family claimed that Thicke and Williams’ chart-topping single Blurred Lines plagiarized Gaye’s Got to Give It Up.

The Gaye family are also entitled to 50 percent of all future song royalties.

Further reading: Space Jam 2 Is Officially Starring LeBron James

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to Pay $5m to Marvin Gaye

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to Pay $5m to Marvin Gaye

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams have been ordered to pay nearly $5million to the family of Marvin Gaye, as a long-running legal battle comes to a close.

In 2013, the Motown legend’s family alleged that Thicke and Williams’ chart-topping single Blurred Lines plagiarized Gaye’s Got to Give It Up.

The family initially won the case in 2015, attesting that Blurred Lines had the same “feel and sound” of the 1977 hit, but the pair appealed.

In March this year, a Californian federal judge upheld the original ruling, resulting in an amended judgment and settlement to Gaye’s family.

Thicke and Williams, along with Williams’ publishing company More Water From Nazareth, owe joint damages of $2.8million. Meanwhile, Thicke has been ordered to pay an additional $1.8million and Williams, another $357,631.

The Gaye family are also entitled to 50 percent of all future song royalties. The song was said to have generated a total of £16.6million in revenue during the original trial.

The decision has sparked controversy among judges and music experts alike. Having instigated a number of similar copyright cases in recent years, the grueling battle has set a strict precedent for the music industry.

Many feel that the original verdict was mistaken, as the “feel” of a song cannot be concretely copied. Indeed, Williams testified that he only evoked the mood of Gaye’s song and did not directly plagiarize a sequence of musical phrases or lyrics.

“I was like, ‘Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.’ Then [Williams] started playing a little something and we literally wrote the song in about a half-hour and recorded it,” Thicke admitted in an interview with GQ.

Circuit judge Jacqueline Nguyen, also disagreed with the appeal decision.

She argued that the song “differed in melody, harmony and rhythm” and said the verdict “strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere”.

Two of Gaye’s children, however, called the resolution “a victory for the rights of all musicians” and their mother Jan added that it was a “wonderful recognition of Marvin’s creativity and the lasting value of one of his greatest songs”.

As a result of the case, instances have seen Taylor Swift gift Right Said Fred a writing credit on her single Look What You Made Me Do; and Ed Sheeran add the writers of TLC’s No Scrubs to his single Shape Of You. Sheeran is also accused of “copying” Marvin Gaye’s classic song Let’s Get it On with his 2014 ballad, Thinking Out Loud.

Further reading: From Cornfields to Concerts: Carlie Hanson’s Rise to Fame

Political Opinion

Taylor Swift Speaks up about Political Opinion

On Sunday, Taylor Swift endorsed two Democrats, Phil Bredesen and Jim Cooper, in Tennessee on Sunday via her Instagram account to her 112 million followers, sparking a huge response—both good and bad.

The popstar, 28, had deliberately kept her political opinion close to her chest in the past, telling Time magazine in 2012, “I don’t talk about politics because it might influence other people…And I don’t think that I know enough yet in life to be telling people who to vote for.”

Beneath a black and white photo of herself, she broke her scrupulous silence on the topic, saying, “In the past I’ve been reluctant to publically voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now.

“I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love.

“As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appals and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorisation of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking and date rape.”

View this post on Instagram

I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway. So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! 🗳😃🌈

A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

Spinal Tap director Rob Reiner took to Twitter to praise the singer’s political opinion, saying, “A big shout out to Taylor Swift for speaking out. You can single handedly change this country. Impress on your fans how critical and powerful their voices are. If you get them to the polls on Nov 6, everything you care about will be protected.”

While Swift’s views have been applauded by many (attracting around 1.6 million likes, including by Chrissy Teigen and Reese Witherspoon), the post also caused much controversy among Republicans.

The president of the conservative group Turning Point USA, Charlie Kirk, tweeted: “You just endorsed a Democrat in the Tennessee Senate race with a ridiculous statement saying Marsha Blackburn, a woman, is against women. You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.”

Donald Trump told reporters, “Marsha Blackburn is doing a very good job in Tennessee. She’s leading now substantially, which she should. She’s a tremendous woman. I’m sure Taylor Swift doesn’t know anything about her. Let’s say that I like Taylor’s music about 25 percent less now, okay?”

While Swift’s comments may have the power to sway the political opinion of her fans, her endorsement is no guarantee of a vote. In 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was publically supported by superstars Jay Z and Beyoncé in Ohio, but the state still swung in favor of Trump.

Further reading: Join the Fight Against Sexual Assault