BTS: The K-pop Boy Band on the Rise

boy band

The Korean boy band BTS is riding the wave of their popularity, but it remains to be seen if they can make a lasting mark. “Oppan Gangnam Style. Gangnam Style.” In 2012 the rapper Park Jae-sang, also known as PSY, set the world ablaze with his dance hit “Gangnam Style.” PSY became a quick-fire success, but his star soon fizzled in the U.S. Five years later, the seven-piece boy band BTS made their U.S. TV debut via the American Music Awards and exploded on the scene with appearances on talk shows and a performance at the iconic New Year’s Eve party. The group has an uncanny ability to keep the press’s attention, but will they make a lasting mark in the industry? The boy band craze comes in waves. In the ’60s girls were screaming and fanning themselves at the sight of the perfectly rounded Afros of the Jackson 5,        …read more

Remembering the Man in Black: 12 Best Johnny Cash Songs & Covers

Johnny Cash songs

In honor of his birthday February 26, we’ve gathered 12 top Johnny Cash songs and covers for your playlist today. Few artists have had as profound an impact on the music world as Johnny Cash. Although he’s best known for his country music, Cash’s repertoire also included gospel, folk and rock — he even recorded a haunting cover of the Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt” toward the end of his career. Dubbed “The Man in Black” due to his all-black attire during concerts, Cash’s influence on the music world was far-reaching and continues to inspire artists to this day. Bob Dylan, another icon in the music world, has described Cash as an inspiration and it’s not uncommon to hear modern artists perform covers in concert. On his birthday, remember five of the most iconic Johnny Cash songs, lesser-known gems and a few covers by musicians who love the Man in        …read more

Nina Simone's 6 Most Soulful Songs

Nina Simone

Nina Simone, the ‘High Priestess of Soul,’ was born February 21, 1933. Here are six of the revolutionary icon’s most soulful songs. Nearly 15 years after her passing, traces of singer, songwriter, pianist and activist Nina Simone can still be found in contemporary culture, from an Oscar-nominated documentary to a controversially-casted biopic, a song on Jay-Z’s newest album and her upcoming induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Nina’s voice — raw and impossible to ignore — remains one of the most recognizable of the 21st century. And whether she’s singing about the state of the world or the state of her soul, her live performances feel just as urgent now as they must have decades ago. Born Eunice Waymon in Tryon, North Carolina, on February 21, 1933, Nina started playing piano as early as three and, years later, attended Juilliard with the help of a scholarship funded        …read more

Are You There God? It's Me, Gucci Mane

influential people pushing boundaries

Two influential people pushing boundaries through art, Gucci Mane and Judy Blume have a lot in common (besides their February 12 birthday). It seems like a stretch that a children’s author who directly addressed the uncomfortable aspects of puberty and a rapper who helped invent trap music would have much in common, but you might be surprised… Introducing the Trap God and Judy the Great, two forces of nature born on February 12 (although 41 years apart) who have made huge strides in their respective industries. Judy Blume, an acclaimed author best known for her controversial children’s books on the gritty side of growing up. Gucci Mane, an infamous rapper who has released thousands of songs and whose recent autobiography made it to the New York Times best-seller list. Challenging Standards and Odds If there’s one thread that connects Gucci and Blume, it’s their insistence on challenging their genre and        …read more

Small Axe and Big Tree: Bob Marley's Legacy

Bob Marley / Black History Month

Remembering Bob Marley as the revolutionary he was, not just a ganja-loving entertainer. Born February 6, 1945, and departing this world at only 36 years old, Bob Marley left a permanent impression through his musical and sociopolitical contributions. ‘Africa unite’ It was midnight on April 18, 1980. One year before Bob Marley’s untimely death, and just over 100 years since the Berlin Conference (when Africa was divided by colonial European powers), Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) declared its independence from the United Kingdom. Zimbabwe was the last African colony to gain independence from a European colonial power since the decolonization movement began after World War II. The liberation of Zimbabwe, therefore, represented the final liberation of Africa itself. As the British flag was lowered, the throng of people pulled back, craning their necks to watch the red, gold, green and black flag of Zimbabwe rise. The crowd roared. And then someone        …read more

5 Best Breakup Songs for Every Stage of Heartache

heartache, best breakup songs

Getting over someone? These breakup songs might help you through the five stages of heartache. Whether you’re the dumper or the dumpee, breakups suck. Heartache can range from being bummed out over the loss of a summer fling to having your life obliterated by a nasty divorce. But there is one thing all heartache has in common: it compels songwriters to write some of their best material. And their songs can comfort the rest of us too. The 5 Stages of Grief In 1969 Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Though she was writing about death, the five stages have since been applied to many kinds of loss — including the end of a relationship. As she continued to study the five stages, Kübler-Ross eventually came to understand that the stages are not progressive or linear but that they instead        …read more

Pop Culture to the Rescue: 40 Reasons to Get Excited for 2018

pop culture

2018 is going to be a great year of pop culture thanks to these movies, albums, TV shows and books! It’s time to turn our gaze to a new year and everything that comes with it. No, I’m not talking about weight-loss resolutions or new gym memberships. I’m thinking of something much more fun: new pop culture releases. Whatever else 2018 has in store, we can at least rest assured that we have plenty of excellent new movies, TV shows, books and music to enjoy in the upcoming year. Read on to learn about some of the most exciting new releases coming out in 2018. Movies 1. A Wrinkle in Time Fans who grew up with Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 sci-fi/fantasy novel are eagerly anticipating the March 9 release of the film adaptation. Directed by Ava DuVernay and starring a refreshingly diverse cast of Mindy Kaling, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Storm Reid,        …read more

Remembering George Michael a Year after His Christmas Departure

George Michael

George Michael, a groundbreaking artist ahead of his time who left us too soon. In 1982 George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley formed the band Wham! and released a series of number-one singles accompanied by high-energy, tongue-in-cheek music videos that made them one of the most successful musical acts in the world. As a solo artist, Michael released some of the most personal and successful albums of all time. His legacy is his drive for perfection, his personal charity, and his desire to use his incredible talents to make the world a better place for all. Wham! Bam! Here I Am George Michael’s love for music began in childhood. He was given a record player and three 45 singles: “Delilah” by Tom Jones and two others by The Supremes. One of the 45s had a chunk missing, and as the record would spin around the turntable, Michael would lift the needle        …read more

3 Music Formats on the Horizon: A Music Addict’s Predictions

music formats

From vinyl to streaming and beyond: What music formats are in our future? It felt like a big moment. It was a skin-sticking-to-itself hot and humid day in the Midwest in the late summer of 1994. I turned the key in the ignition of my poo-brown Ford Taurus and watched in delight as the removable faceplate of my brand-new, budget-friendly Craig CD player lit up in my dashboard. I withdrew Purple, Stone Temple Pilots’ newly released sophomore album, from my CD wallet and let the dazzling advanced mechanics of my newly acquired technology suck the disc into its belly. Track one playing…00:01, 00:02, 00:03. Brilliant, crystal-clear sounds. Bliss. Progress. Moving my life forward. Beyond the tedious rewinding, fast-forwarding and eaten-tape-untangling of cassettes. Far beyond the hissing, scratching and non-portability of vinyl. This was digital. This was the compact disc. It all felt miraculous, Jetson-y and new, like chemical-laden plastics of        …read more

Feeling Like an Old Dog? 5 Tricks to Learn Music as an Adult

learn music

It’s never too late to learn music! My piano student Jane is nearing a nervous breakdown. To help her learn music intuitively, I’ve just explained that I’d like her to experiment by holding down the sustain pedal and improvising with random black keys, which form a pentatonic scale. In an attempt to inspire her, I suggest the dulcet, though accidental, harmony of wind chimes in the breeze. She tenses. Her fingers curl into fists. She narrows her eyes at me. “I hate wind chimes!” she says. Did I mention that Jane is 54 years old? Most children don’t have a problem improvising, perhaps the purest form of “playing” piano — until they’ve taken formal lessons from a teacher who doesn’t emphasize or even touch upon improvisation. My unfortunately uninspired 54-year-old student had taken lessons from such a taskmaster as a child, and when she came to me as an adult        …read more