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Crystal Pulido Lugo

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One World: Together At Home

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Global Citizens, a group working towards ending extreme poverty, partnered with Lady Gaga to celebrate healthcare workers and The World Health Organization, or WHO. Famous singers, actors and comedians from around the world were invited to share their art and messages of support for the cause. 

A livestream of the six-hour pre-show began on April 18 at 2p.m. EST. It was globally broadcasted on Twitter, Youtube, Amazon Prime and other streaming sites. The pre-show was a mix of music and heartbreakingly beautiful stories from healthcare workers. Stars like Jameela Jamil, Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L. Jackson and Megan Rapinoe cameoed to praise WHO and the workers putting their lives in danger to help sick individuals. A mix of singers from around the world did the same, including Adam Lambert, Eason Chan, Leslie Odom Jr, Hozier, Jennifer Hudson, Ke$ha, Lang Lang, Luis Fonsi, Vishal Mishra, Ben Platt, and Sebastián Yatra —just to name a few.

After the pre-show, the show continued at 8 p.m. EST on NBC, CBS and ABC for another two hours. The hosts Jimmy Kimmel, Steven Colbert and Jimmy Fallon kicked off the show. Stars like Beyoncé, Victoria and David Beckham, Abby Cadabby from Sesame Street, Amy Poehler, Oprah and Mathew McConaughey shared facts about COVID-19 and added kind words for the workers involved in keeping people healthy. Singers such as Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Lizzo, Paul McCartney and more came together to perform for the cause. 

Each performance brought its own surprise; due to their virtual nature, nothing was cohesive; small differences like their location, how they were filmed and the way they went about performing their song created a dysfunctional atmosphere. This fact, however, only made the show all the more beautiful. Singers from different cultures and backgrounds of music shared their art with the world, serving as a reminder that we are all going through this together. 

These times, despite being dysfunctional and odd, still seem to be bringing people closer together than ever before. With each song and message, the feeling of hope almost became tangible. More than anything, it served as a reminder that none of us are alone in this, though it may be hard to see that at times. 

Hope, love and respect all played large roles in the overall theme of the day. Anger or annoyance was nowhere to be found, even at times when it might have seemed acceptable. The respect for the work being done by WHO and the frontline workers took over any bitterness in an instant. Beyond respect and hope the theme was clear: our world will probably never be the way it was before, but that should never stop any of us from trying to find joy and hope in the present. 


Fiona Apple at Damrosch Park Aug 8, 2015.

Fiona Apple is the Freest She’s Ever Been: Fetch the Bolt Cutters Album Review

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So much has been said about Fiona Apple that it seems impossible to add anything more. With four Grammy-nominated albums, spanning genres of jazz, art pop and indie, fans have been waiting eight years for a new album. That day has finally come with “Fetch the Bolt Cutters.” 

Released on April 17, 2020 and recorded in her Venice Beach house, the album has already garnered critical acclaim, with Pitchfork giving it the first perfect album score since Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” in 2010. 

Within the heavy percussion sound, raw vocals and occasional dog bark, Apple describes the album’s central theme as “not being afraid to speak.” It’s a sentiment perfectly incorporated here as she rages against Brett Kavanaugh, invites her ex’s new girlfriend to her old things and calls out her childhood bullies.

Apple certainly holds nothing back in her songs centered around depression, jealousy, trauma, and resentment. More than that, she makes an effort to portray female relationships in a world that often tries to diminish them.

In “Shameika,” Apple describes a middle school classmate that tells her she has potential. It’s a detail that especially stands out to Apple, since middle school was when her relationships with other women were first messed up due to bullying, she told Vulture.

This relationship continued to struggle well into her adult life; in “Newspaper,” she sings to her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend, saying “I watch him walk over, talk over you, be mean to you, and it makes me feel close to you.” Perhaps there is no better example of tricky female relationships than an ex’s girlfriend, and Apple illustrates this without fault.

It isn’t until the eighth song that we see these female connections being healed. In “Ladies,” Apple mourns for the women that have been pitted against her by men, specifically in cheating relationships. It’s a bit tongue in cheek, with Apple insisting “take it easy, when he leaves me, please be my guest to whatever I might’ve left in his kitchen cupboards.”

The intense emotions that define womanhood come to a bitter peak with “For Her,” a song inspired by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual assault accusations. “For Her” is deeply personal and includes echoing vocals of multiple women, showing the true solidarity and strength that they possess no matter the circumstances.

The messages can certainly feel weighty, but ultimately, Apple finds hope in each of them with her title track “Fetch the Bolt Cutters.” It’s a fight for freedom that unquestionably wins with this album. As she puts it in her Vulture interview,“The message in the whole record is just: Fetch the bolt cutters and get yourself out of the situation that you’re in — whatever it is that you don’t like.”

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Maybe I’m Amazed: McCartney Turns 50 

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Paul McCartney’s solo debut “McCartney” turned 50 on April 17, 2020; “McCartney” was the first solo Beatle record to be released, marking the end of one era but the start of another: McCartney’s impressive and solid musical journey that’s still rocking today. 

In celebration of “McCartney” turning 50, Spotify hosted a listening party on April 17, giving fans the chance to discuss their favorite tunes and lyrics through a live chat feature. Paul McCartney also released a newly restored version of “Maybe I’m Amazed” and a music video to commemorate the big anniversary.  

“McCartney,” which was recorded between December 1969 and February 1970, encapsulates McCartney’s transition from Beatle to stoned, shaggy-haired and whiskey-breathed solo musician.  However, the album also encapsulates his marriage to Linda McCartney and her aid and devotion to him, making this album an ode to the photographer. In addition to singing background vocals, Linda also photographed for the record; she documented their rural retreat in Scotland and their everyday family life.

Though the other Beatles — John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr — and critics didn’t fancy the record, “McCartney” spent three weeks at #1 on the Billboard chart, and it stands out today as a vulnerable and raw project. Full of home recordings, experimentations and Beatle rejects, “McCartney” allowed the then 27-year-old to display his most unaltered self — which helped him through the band’s hostile breakup. 

“It was very interesting to do and it had a certain kind of rawness, because I was breaking loose after The Beatles, we all got a feeling of that, I think,” shared McCartney with his official website.

“McCartney” focuses on themes like love and the everyday, mundane pleasantries, making this record as relevant now as it was then. Check out top tunes off of “McCartney” below, and stream the album on Spotify and Apple Music today. 

The Lovely Linda: Penned by McCartney for his wife, the 44 second song is accompanied by an acoustic guitar and a beaming McCartney on vocals, who ends the opening track with giggles — giving listeners a glimpse into his happy marriage and newfound life away from the Beatles.

Every Night:“Every Night” shows McCartney’s hope and hopelessness during his trying time. Addressed to Linda, the optimistic tune remains simple with mature “woos,” playful lyrics and limited instruments, sounding like the perfect romantic campfire song. 

Man We Was Lonely: Inspired by the Beatles’ breakup, “Man We Was Lonely” takes on a folksy and country attitude with Linda singing softly and hauntingly in the background. Tucked somewhere in Scotland in their farmhouse, the two and their children were secluded, yet “were fine all the while” in their domestic haven. 

Maybe I’m Amazed:A McCartney staple, “Maybe I’m Amazed,” is one of the most loved and most popular tunes off of “McCartney,” touching peoples’ hearts to this day due to its tender lyrics about Linda’s strength and love and McCartney’s utmost gratitude and amazement. Linda got McCartney out of bed and inspired him to make “silly love songs,” until her passing in 1998 to breast cancer. “Every love song I write is for Linda,” McCartney once shared.  

Kreen-Akrore: The most experimental track on “McCartney,” was inspired by a Brazilian Indian tribe McCartney watched a documentary on. “The idea behind it was to get the feeling of their hunt,” said McCartney. The lyricless song is infused with jungle noises, intense electric guitar riffs and dramatic, heart thumping drumming that match and intertwine with McCartney’s heavy breathing. 


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The Strokes’ The New Abnormal Album Review

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The Strokes’ first album in seven years dropped on April 10, 2020, hitting us with a wave of “unborrowed nostalgia for the unremembered eighties,” as James Murphy once called it. Despite going in a new direction, “The New Abnormal” is still fairly recognizable. They’re experimenting and straying away from what everyone else in indie rock is doing to stay fresh, while also staying true to their roots. Nostalgia has always been a signature appeal for The Strokes, and not once have they failed to deliver.

On “The New Abnormal,” the songs are more low-key and have a soft tempo. Although this is nothing out of the ordinary for The Strokes, it’s still a new sound. This album takes on more of an 80s-themed vibe; much of the album’s success comes from the electropop synthesizers that give off that retro sound. 

The album’s opener, “The Adults Are Talking,” is a great song to introduce the rest of the album. “The Adults Are Talking” possesses all the characteristics of a Strokes classic, and it’s definitely a giddy tune. With sounds that pop out in a perky, vintage style. The song itself has a steady build that includes guitar pizzicato and weird cymbal hisses that makes the song a great album opener. “The Adults Are Talking” evokes a feeling of nostalgia as it takes you back to the days of “Is This It” and “Room on Fire.” 

“The eighties bands, where did they go?” Casablancas sings on “Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus,” the song that starts the 80s sound. “Eternal Summer,” “Bad Decisions” and “Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus” are all songs that embody sounds of the 1980s. “Eternal Summer” is more of a neo-R&B learning with splashes of psychedelic beats and sleek and exciting verses that reference the band Talking Heads. “Bad Decisions” is a metronomic guitar-led that passes as a 80s homage to Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself.” 

Although “The New Abnormal” contains a few songs that make the album a bit sluggish, it is safe to say that it’s still an interesting album; it’s a cool and fresh album that you’ll grow to love. 


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Saturday Night Live At Home

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“Saturday Night Live,” the late-night comedy show, has made an equal amount of fans and critics in its 45 year run at NBC. The show has served as a large contributor to both comedy and popular culture for generations. Their ability to stay relevant after all these years is unprecedented to say the least. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the show shut down after March 7, 2020. Despite obvious complications to filming in their normal studio, SNL decided to come back in a different way; on April 11, 2020, the team aired their first ever “Saturday Night Live At Home” episode. 

The show opened with none other than Tom Hanks, who stood healthy and smiling in his kitchen. Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, announced in early March that they both tested positive for COVID-19. This was a shock to many, and many fans feared they wouldn’t make it due to their older age. Since the announcement, both have fully recovered and now serve as symbols of hope in this trying time. 

Considering Hanks is a highly admired and beloved celebrity, seeing him in his home almost felt like an invasion of privacy. More than anything, this oddity served as a definite reminder of the unprecedented times we are living through. Hanks seemed to be aware of this, saying, “It’s a strange time to try to be funny, but trying to be funny is SNL‘s whole thing. So we thought, what the heck! Let’s give it a shot.” 

With that, the show jumped into their skits. If the opening felt odd, the rest of the show took the cake by far with parody songs by Pete Davidson, a couple zoom/online-based skits, an animated short and the “Weekend Update.”  Coldplay’s Chris Martin was the music guest, and he performed an acoustic version of Bob Dylan’s “Shelter From The Storm.” The show took a sudden solemn turn when past cast members came back to pay tribute to Hal Willner, the longtime SNL musical director who died of complications with COVID-19 earlier that week. 

SNL is no stranger to reacting to the world’s big crises. In fact, they have thrived off of it for many years now. People have watched on as the show added comedy in the darkest of times. The overall tastefulness of this pattern is often debated. Though I can’t speak for their past choices, I do believe that with the current state of the world, a source of lighthearted joking isn’t going to hurt anyone.

As Hanks said in the beginning, SNL did try to be funny. Though I didn’t find myself laughing at all of their skits, their presence was much welcomed. More than anything, it made one thing very clear: after four decades of being on air, they still have the desire to make people feel joy. The show served as an hour-long distraction from the rather bleak reality we are finding ourselves in nowadays. In times like this, that’s all any of us can ask for.