Category Archives: Music/Concerts

After ten years, My Chemical Romance returns to St. Paul

By: Ann McMullen

Photo by self

After nearly a decade, My Chemical Romance returned to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on September 15th.

The band unexpectedly broke up in 2013, and their fanbase continued to grow during their years of inactivity, leading to an overwhelmingly positive response to their reunion announcement on Halloween of 2019. However, like most things announced around then, their reunion tour was postponed multiple times due to COVID-19, with the Minnesota date winding up to be almost three years after it was initially announced.

Even with all of that being said, I can confidently say that the concert was worth the wait.

Almost all 20,000 seats were full. The majority of the crowd (including myself) consisted of teenagers who were too young to even have seen MCR at their peak.

Before the main act came out, two other artists opened for them. The first of these was The Homeless Gospel Choir, a solo project of musician Derek Zanetti. With the accompaniment of a touring band, Zanetti sang a short but powerful setlist consisting of his greatest and newest songs.

Post-hardcore band Thursday was the second opener for MCR. Unlike the previous act, Thursday tended to stick to their older songs. Frontman Geoff Rickly not only had a great stage presence, but also continuously referenced MCR and how the two bands got started together back in the early 2000s, hyping the crowd up for the main act even more.

At 9:30, My Chemical Romance finally came onstage, opening with the only song released after their initial breakup: “The Foundations of Decay”. After this, the band dove into a well-balanced combination of hits and fan favorites.

My personal favorite parts of the show were all the deep cuts they played. There were three songs from their first album on the setlist, and even a few non-album tracks, but a large portion of the audience was still able to sing all of them word for word.

They catered to more casual fans as well, though. Another highlight of the show was when they played their biggest hit song, “Welcome to the Black Parade”. To my surprise, this song was played midway through the set, but was definitely one of my favorite parts. Even though it was played a bit lower than the album version, the vocals and instrumentals sounded just as great as they did fifteen years ago.

All four members looked to be genuinely enjoying themselves, too. Lead singer Gerard Way was dressed down in a floral shirt, and the other members also dressed casually despite going absolutely crazy with their instruments onstage. The audience, however, consisted of lots of dyed hair, jewelry, black clothes, and most of all, eyeliner.

I was in no way disappointed by the show MCR put on, and based on the amount of energy in the crowd, I think diehard and casual fans alike would agree with me.

How music can affect your mood

By: Christina Cyrus

Listening to music enhances your mood, it can help you concentrate, meditate, relax, etc. Listening to music is something everyone does whether it’s sad, happy, uplifting, or energetic, everyone listens to music. Although listening to music can affect your mood, that might be a surprise to some people but researchers at the University of Missouri found that listening to music can help an individual succeed to be happier, especially when the genre is happy.

During the first study by Ferguson (UofM), participants successfully improved their mood due to the boost of happiness they got from listening to music.

Music can also affect your mental health, it releases mood enhancing chemicals in the brain that can be considered a “natural antidepressant”, it causes our brain to produce chemicals like dopamine and serotonin which evokes feelings of joy.

Also, when talking about music clinically you’re talking about music therapy. Music can help your psychological cognitive or communication needs to help better your mental health.

Music can give strength to cope with problems, which you may have noticed. It can help you cope in a healthy way without harming your mental state.

Another thing is that music could cause aggression. Sometimes music can have a negative impact on people’s mental health. For example, hard rock and heavy metal may all lead to aggression, but with the aggression comes with releasing negative emotion. In other words, listening to this type of music can help you get some adrenaline released, which is good if done productively.

Overall, I feel like listening to music can help me focus sometimes because it helps me focus and keeps me focused for a long period of time. It does sometimes cause me to get distracted, which leads me to get off track, but overall, I think listening to music can honestly help you get more work done especially if you have no distractions.

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Taylor Swift’s career and achievements

By: Ella Tabor

Taylor Alison Swift was born December 13th, 1989, in Reading, Pennsylvania. She is the daughter of Andrea and Scott Swift. Swift began her journey into music when she was only 10 years old and singing for local events. She started writing her own songs and learning guitar at only 12 years old. 

She often performed at the Bluebird Café, located in Nashville, Tennessee, which helped her get a contract with Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Records. 

In 2006 she released her first single “Tim McGraw” and the song soared to the Top 10 hits on the country music charts. She then released her debut album shortly after. The success of “Tim McGraw” launched Taylor’s career in music and she only grew from there. 

Swift explored the genre ‘Country-pop’ in her albums ‘Fearless’, 2008 and, ‘Speak Now’, 2011. The success of these albums, specifically the songs “You belong with me” and “Love story”, labeled Swift as a crossover artist. 

At this time, Swift had won many awards. Some of them being: The Grammy ‘Album of the Year’ award for ‘Fearless’ in 2010. In 2012, the song off of the album ‘Fearless’ won the BMI pop award ‘Song of the Year’, and in 2014 Swift was named ‘Woman of the Year’ by Billboard Women in Music. 

Swift did not stop there. The next album by the country pop star transitioned her to a pop artist. That album is ‘Red’. Released in 2012, ‘Red’ was ranked the third best selling album from Swift. 

Swift explains the meaning behind the title in an interview with Billboard as “Pure, absolute, to the core, heartbreak”. She says, “I look back on this as my true breakup album, every other album has flickers of different things”. 

Some of the awards won by ‘Red’ include: ‘Top selling Album’ by the Canadian Country Music Association in 2013, ‘Top Billboard 200 Album’ and ‘Top Country Album’ by Billboard Music Awards in 2013, and BMI Pop Awards named songs “22” and “Everything Has Changed” as Award Winning Songs in 2015. 

October 27, 2014 the fifth studio album by Taylor Swift was released. ‘1989’.

The title refers to Swift’s year of birth, 1989. She describes the reasoning behind this as a way to make the music more her own. Stepping out of country pop and moving into, what she describes as, “synth-driver 80s pop”

Topping the Billboard 200 for 11 non-consecutive weeks, ‘1989’ would become Swift’s top selling album. Winning awards like: The Grammy ‘Album of the Year’ award in 2016 and ‘Best Music Video’ for “Bad Blood” in the same year. The ‘1989’ tour also won ‘Best Tour’ in 2016 by the iHeartRadio Music Awards.

The sixth studio album by Taylor Swift was a game changer. Released November 10th, 2017, ‘Reputation’s’ purpose was to shred Swift’s good-girl image. 

Facing some personal challenges with the press, and her heart, between ‘1989’ and ‘Reputation’, Swift made her way back into the limelight with the edgy album. 

In 2014, Swift became the subject of brutal public scrutiny. With the press constantly prodding into her personal life and critiquing her moves, it’s no wonder Swift disappeared into herself for 3 years.

‘Reputation’ differs from Swift’s other albums for many reasons. Firstly, Swift did not engage the press at all before releasing the album. “There will be no further explanation, there will just be reputation,” writes Swift on Instagram. She wanted the work to speak for itself. 

The album heavily features a new side of the singer that has been born by the negative press and rumors. The track, “Look what you made me do”, features lyrics that imply Swift’s change into a new persona. 

Needless to say, the album was a groundbreaking success. It hit number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and had the biggest sales and streams of the year. 

The American Music Awards of 2018 named Swift as ‘Artist of the Year’ in 2017, and named ‘Reputation’ as the ‘Favorite pop/rock Album’ the same year. 

August 23, 2019, ‘Lover’, the seventh studio album by Swift was released. Featuring a bright and colorful array of tracks, Swift’s ‘Reputation’ era had emerged into “Daylight” (the 18th track off of ‘Lover’).

Swift says she created the album from an “Open, free, romantic, whimsical place,” comparing it to ‘Reputation’s’ description, “All cityscape, darkness, full swamp witch.”

She spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the song “Soon You’ll Get Better,” being about her mother’s battle with cancer. She says that it was “Really, really hard to write.” Swift spoke about the song being a decision she made with her family to put it on the album. 

‘Lover’ was named one of the best albums of 2019 by many publications and critics. 

The next album to be released was during the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘Folklore’ became Swift’s eighth studio album in July-August of 2020. 

Swift conceived the songs off ‘Folklore’ during quarantine. She describes this time and the songs as “A collection of songs and stories that flowed like a stream of consciousness.” Swift gave the world a peaceful album during such an unprecedented time. 

On this album, Swift worked with many collaborators, of whom she was very open about sharing the names of. She worked with longtime musical collaborator Jack Antonoff. Swift describes him as a “Musical family”.

Interestingly enough, a man by the name of “William Bowery” owns songwriting credits on the album as well. Later, it was revealed that William Bowery is a pen name for Joe Alwyn, Swift’s boyfriend. 

‘Folklore’s’ woodsy, grayscale image, and melodies, set the mood for this album. She credits other fellow artists as inspiration for the album. Singers Lana Del Rey and Phoebe Bridges both received credit for the melodies of ‘Folklore’. 

Swift has received countless praise for ‘Folklore’. Some awards and nominations for the artist include: ‘Album of the Year,’ in 2021 by the Gold Derby Music Awards, Grammy Nomination for ‘Best Pop Vocal Album’, and the iHeart Music Award for ‘Pop Album of the Year’.

Soon after ‘Folklore’, five months later, Swift released her ninth studio album ‘Evermore’. The albums are often referred to as “Sister Albums” given their similarity in aesthetic and name. 

Swift speaks with Zane Lowe, on Apple Music Tuesday, on all things ‘Evermore’. She reveals that she felt as though the songs she was writing felt “Very diaristic” and when she released ‘Folklore’, realized that people are into the style which then gave her the green light to release ‘Evermore’. 

This past Grammy’s, ‘Evermore’ won the Grammy award for ‘Album of the Year’. 

The works done by Swift after ‘Evermore’ include 2 re-recordings. ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ released April 9th, 2021, and ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ released November 12, 2021. 

Swift re-recorded these albums because she changed record labels. Big Machine Records was purchased by Scooter Braun in 2019. Swift refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement which would’ve not let the artist speak out against Braun; who Swift has feuded with in the past. 

Braun then sold her albums to the investment firm, Shamrock Holdings, which prevents Swift from making any profit off of the albums. Swift then partnered with Universal Music Group and is now working to reclaim her work by re-recording any album released before ‘Lover’. 

‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ and ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ both feature songs Swift cut out from the original albums, “Vaulted” songs by the artist. The new ‘Fearless’ includes 6 new songs, and ‘Red’ features 10 vault tracks including a 10-minute version of the song “All Too Well”. 

Swift plans to re-record and re-claim the rest of her albums, meanwhile fans are decoding the singer’s Easter Eggs as to which album is next up. 

Keep an eye out for either ‘Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)’ or ‘1989 (Taylors Version)’. 

The challenges and criticisms she’s faced only have made her stronger throughout the years and she continues to persevere through all.

Taylor Swift has had, and continues to have, an amazing career filled with creativity and songs that have touched the hearts of Swifties all over the world.

Drake and his career

By: Julia Swee

Image taken from: Drakes Discography by AdrenalineRush1996 on DeviantArt

These days, Drake is a huge name among the common youth. More than the youth, but young adults as well. The 35-year-old rapper and actor grew up in Toronto, Canada with biracial parents; his father, Dennis Graham, is a Catholic African American, and his mother, Sandra, is white and Ashkenazi Jewish Canadian. Drake grew up listening to all different types of music, and this led him to become accustomed to many different genres.

“We have a very deep musical background. My grandmother, who passed away in Memphis, used to babysit Louis Armstrong. And my dad was a drummer for Jerry Lee Lewis,” Drake told Hip Hop Canada in 2006. Drake took his stage name from his middle name, which his father Dennis had given him. Drake’s full name is Aubrey Drake Graham.

In 2001, Drake got his big break when he landed a role at 14 in the famous Canadian teenage drama ‘Degrassi’. This gave Drake a head start in his career, as his influence rose with his role as Jimmy Brooks in the show. 

“17, 18, is when I was really getting into that hip hop phase, you know, and really studying the things that I needed to study as far as learning about flows and learning about lyrics,” Drake told GQ in an interview about his life. He told the interviewer that he was a natural, and he soon became more interested in music than his acting. During the fourth episode in the seventh season of the show, Drake’s skills are featured as he freestyles during a school talent show. This allowed viewers to take an interest in Drake’s musical career, as he was immediately deemed a very talented musician. 

In 2008, Drake quit his acting career to pursue his music full time. At the time, Drake had already released his debut album, ‘Room for Improvement’ in 2006 and his second album ‘Comeback Season’ in 2007. On February 13th, Drake released his third album, ‘So Far Gone’, which dramatically improved his career. The album’s most successful track, “Best I Ever Had” had gone on to be nominated for two Grammy awards – best rap solo performance and best rap song. This release had shown the country Drake’s best talents, and with it came the increase in his musical fame. Drake would go on to collaborate with many other famous artists such as Lil’ Wayne, Kanye West, Eminem, and was even featured in the LeBron James documentary in 2009. 

Drake’s most recent release, ‘Certified Lover Boy’, on September 3rd of 2021, showed the world that Drake still had it, as the album instantly topped charts with its release. To this day, Drake boasts the most top 10 hits, with 54 hit songs. Over the years, Drake has made many many influential pieces of music, and will forever remain in history as one of the greatest rappers of all time. 

Personally, I have listened to every single one of Drake’s albums. Each and every song he continues to amaze me with his lyrical genius and his ability to incorporate so many different types of music within each album. No matter if it’s a rainy day, a sunny afternoon, or even snowing, I can always count on Drake to bless my ears with his tunes.

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The formation of BTS

By: Musab Mohamud

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The Korean Boy band called BTS, also known as Bangtan Boys, was formed in 2012 following a series of auditions carried out by Big Hit Entertainment. They immediately rose to Korean superstardom following their first album, ‘2 Cool 4 Skool’. The young members consisting of – Jin, Rap Monster, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook started to capture the hearts and attention of fans across Korea. The Korean superstars have replicated a blueprint used by many successful boy bands. Their defining feature is the continuous success that they still enjoy to the present day. 

Their formation is reminiscent of many other successful K-Pop bands, with their auditions being carried out by a record label. The band was composed of young undiscovered stars and Korean singing competition participants. Each member had their own gimmick and role.

The group was formed around Kim Nam-Joon (Rap Monster), the first and oldest member. The next gem found was Min Yoon-gi who became known as SUGA, the other rapper of the group. Jung Ho-seok was the next to be recruited, he had a burning passion for dancing; he was signed as the group’s dancer and became known as J-Hope.

Kim Seok-jin wasn’t a singer or dancer, however he was a very attractive actor, when he joined Big Hit to further his acting career he was convinced to learn how to sing and dance. Following his quick learning he became known as Jin and joined as a vocalist/dancer.

Jeon Jung-kook was the fifth and most popular member of BTS. He was recruited straight out of a Korean singing show; he kept his name after joining the group. Kim Tae-hyung was the son of a farmer in a rural area of Korea. He adopted the stage name V, short for victory. The final member of the group was Park Ji-min, he was recruited as a star dancer; he was the final addition to a group that no one predicted would reach global prominence and win countless awards as the greatest K-Pop group of all time.

Super Bowl Halftime Show 2022

By: Julia Swee

The Super Bowl is notably one of the most famous events in America. Families from all over the country come together to watch the football game, and a lot of the time people will host parties to view the game with their friends. A huge part of the Super Bowl is the guests they have for the halftime show. The halftime show is a pretty big deal, and even if people don’t necessarily like to watch football, most will still watch the halftime performance. 

For this year’s Super Bowl, the special guests performing were famous rappers Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, as well as featured guests Kendrick Lamar and Eminem. This year’s show was the third straight show to be co-produced by Roc Nation, an entertainment and sports company founded by the famous rapper Jay-Z.

Dre, 56, took the stage first as he opened with his 2000 hit single “The Next Episode”, featuring Snoop Dogg. Dre had become famous with his rap group N.W.A, as they set the template for ‘West Coast gangster rap’ with their 1988 album ‘Straight Outta Compton’.  Dre had gone on to become an in-demand producer and businessman, as his last personal album was released in 2015. 

After the opening performance by Dre, fellow rapper Eminem took to the stage to perform his number one hit “Lose Yourself”. The performance featured rapper Anderson.Paak on the drums and as the song ended, Eminem knelt on his knees while Dre moved to the piano to play the chords to his most famous song “Still D.R.E.”

As they were finishing up, artists from New York took to the stage to perform. 50 Cent arrived to perform his version of the 2003 hit “In Da Club”, followed by Mary J. Blige performing her two most beloved anthems; “Family Affair” and “No More Drama”.

After Blige, Kendrick Lamar took the stage, the youngest performer in the show at the age of 34. According to The New York Times, in 2018 Lamar received a Pulitzer Prize for his music, specifically his fourth album ‘DAMN.’, which Kendrick performed songs from. This album was famous for tackling issues of race, faith, and the burdens of commercial success. Overall, the performance touched many people’s hearts as they came together to view the country’s most famous social event.

Why did One Direction break up

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By: Musab Mohamud

A question that still is widely asked by many fans across the globe: “Why did One Direction split up?”

The boy band consisted of recognizable faces such as Harry Styles, Zayn Malek, Louis Tomlinson, and others. The band started with a decision to combine their talents on the show British X-Factor. Shortly after the season’s conclusion the host of the show, Simon Cowell, offered them a record deal. The boys gladly took him up on his offer and began to record songs together.

The band quickly garnered international fame and fandom across the world. From appearing in Super Bowl ads, releasing platinum albums, and going on global tours, the young band seemed to be on top of the world. They released many songs headlined by the hit pop song “What Makes You Beautiful”.

They continued to trek the globe performing and publicizing their songs. However, while on a tour publicizing their album in 2014, the first blow struck the popular band. Zayn Malik, the beloved vocalist of the group had left the band.

Shortly after, in 2015, the band announced they were going on an indefinite hiatus.

Years later, with many members of the band releasing solo music, fans are left wondering what happened. One fan has many theories on why One Direction broke up. “I think Harry and Louis had a romantic split,” she says. Another fan goes in a different direction and says, “I think Zayn and Harry thought they were too big time”. 

The more realistic opinion is that all bands must come to an end eventually, and while they obviously all greatly liked each other it was time to leave their comfort zone. Another option is their record deal being too restrictive and not allowing the creative freedom that they desired.

The band gave many fans, young and old, great pleasure to this day and will not be forgotten any time soon.

School of Rock

By: Annika Getz

School of Rock is a music education program founded roughly twenty years ago by Paul Green. Green says that the idea for the program came from an assignment he gave his students. He told them to do “jam sessions” over the weekend, and noticed that they improved greatly, just by practicing their instruments in a group. Green said, “Imagine being on a baseball team and never playing games. That’s what music education was like before School of Rock. You’d just practice.”

Since its founding, the program has spread greatly, with locations all across the world. There are over one hundred locations in the U.S. alone, and three in Minnesota.

There are multiple different main programs involved in the school. Little Wing is a group for kids ages 3-5. With one lesson a week, the kids learn foundational music skills such as rhythm, dynamics, melody, and song structure.

The next group up is Rookies. Rookies is for kids 6-7 years old. Composed of children with no previous musical training, Rookies meet once a week, and learn fundamentals like chords, rhythm, and song structure. They practice with multiple different instruments, and then decide which instrument they’d like to continue with in the next group up, Rock 101.

101 is composed of kids ages 8-13. Each student get’s one group lesson a week, and one private lesson with an instructor.

The next groups up are 201 and 301, which are more or less the same, but with more difficult songs. 301 groups are also themed, while 201 and 101 are typically not. 201 and 301 are also performance groups, with mid and end season shows.

House band is a group of kids under 18, who meet several times a week, and have frequent live shows in the community.

The AllStar summer tour is a nationwide two week long tour, with the best of the best from School of Rock locations all around the country. Less than 1% of students are selected for the tour, with the audition process including both video and live auditions. Those selected travel in a tour bus, and have nightly performances at famous venues, and festivals.

Online and adult programs are also available.

I’ve been in the 201 program for one season. While it hasn’t been very long, I’ve already learned more, and improved more, than I have for the first year I’ve played guitar. Playing in group band sessions is a fun and gratifying way to improve with your instrument, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for an enjoyable music program.

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5 most streamed artists of 2021 on Spotify

By: Mary Koch

On December 1, Spotify released their top 5 artists of 2021. Spotify has over 381 million listeners worldwide, so being on the list is a big accomplishment.

In 5th place was Justin Bieber with his album ‘Justice’ which he released on March 19, 2021. His song “Peaches” (feat. Daniel Caesar & Giveon) had 925,549,910 streams as of December 1, 2021, and it’s his 2nd most played song on Spotify. “Ghost”, which has 171,459,836 streams is his 3rd most played song.

Drake is in 4th place with his album, ‘Certified Lover Boy’, which was released September 3, 2021. The song “Way 2 Sexy” (with Future & Young Thug) is his most popular song from the album, and overall, with 218,472,596 streams. His top 4 songs are all from ‘Certified Lover Boy’ which is interesting because he only released the album 2 months ago.

BTS is in 3rd with their single “Butter”. The song has 677,160,366 streams, and it was released June 4, 2021. It’s their 2nd most played song after “My Universe” which was released September 24, 2021 and has 257,570,191 streams.

In 2nd place is Taylor Swift with her album ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ which was released on November 12, 2021. She redid songs from her album ‘Red’ from 2012, other albums, and new songs. “All Too Well” (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) is her most popular song on Spotify right now. It was released less than a month ago and already has 93,107,823 streams.

Finally, in 1st place for the second year in a row, is Bad Bunny. He had over 9.1 billion streams this year, and he didn’t even release a new album. His most popular song right now is “Lo Siento BB:/” (with Bad Bunny, Julieta Venegas, and Tainy) which has 136,924,017 streams.

Music of the year/how COVID affected the music industry

By: Liv Miller

It’s known that music is a big part of today’s pop culture. With more and more new artists emerging, the music industry just keeps getting bigger.

In 2020 many artists were confined to their homes due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This sadly meant no concerts or meet-and-greets with fans, but it gave artists the opportunity to work on their own music more than ever.

Fast forward to 2021 many artists have now released new singles and albums with the time that they were given in quarantine. ‘The New York Times’ did an interview where they asked artists what they had achieved during the lockdown. Aaron Dessner, a musician and producer answered, Right as the quarantine started, I started writing so much music, and I had no idea what it was. There was no horizon line, there was a lot of uncertainty — so I just made a lot of music that I didn’t know what it was for.

So far this year many artists have released music that did great on the charts. Artists like Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, lil Nas X, Kanye West, and many more have released very successful albums so far this year.

One of those artists, Olivia Rodrigo has had her album ‘Sour’ break many records like “The most songs in the top 10 at one time” and “Most streams of a song in a week” for her first single Drivers License.”

Olivia Rodrigo isn’t the only one breaking records in 2021. With his new album, ‘Certified Lover Boy,’ Drake has broken the 2021 record for “Most-streamed artist in a day on Apple Music.”

With some COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, artists are getting the opportunity to start performing again. Whether it be at festivals, award shows, or even rescheduled tours fans are happy to start seeing their favorite artists perform live again.