So much music exists to provoke bold emotions—ecstasy, amazement, deep blues. Other music conjures pastel feelings, soft and in-between. For example, much of Harry Styles’s third album, Harry’s House, imparts the mild joy that one might get from completing a list of chores. Some songs spark the regret of failing to book the ideal dinner reservation. Over multiple listens, another sensation, like faint indigestion, may occur: concern.
Today's Liberal News
The love song, the breakup song, the party song—all are excellent pop traditions, but a good doomsday song can do the work of all three. What connects David Bowie’s “Five Years” to Prince’s “1999” to Lana Del Rey’s “The Greatest” aren’t just visions of civilizational collapse.
In an ill-fated attempt to hype myself up for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, I went on YouTube to look at an inflatable blue gorilla—a stage prop for the hip-hop act Brockhampton, who had announced that Coachella would be the group’s last booking ever. The festival unfolds in two identical three-day lineups over consecutive weekends; I was attending the second weekend, and I wanted a taste of how the first one had gone.
The Grammys giving Album of the Year to a release that peaked at No. 86 on the Billboard 200 might seem to call into question the very meaning of Album of the Year. Yet no one should be too perplexed that the Recording Academy handed last night’s final prize to We Are, by Jon Batiste, the accomplished jazz pianist and bandleader (and the music director of this publication).
Addressing a room of sparkly bodices and artfully oversized jackets at the Grammy Awards, the president of Ukraine had a simple reminder to give. “Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos,” Volodymyr Zelensky said in a surprise, pre-taped message that aired during last night’s ceremony.
Apparently one of the most exciting stories in music this year is a lack of excitement about music. In January, the question “Is old music killing new music?” went viral when a newsletter by the jazz historian Ted Gioia (republished by The Atlantic) highlighted data showing that, from 2020 to 2021, listenership for freshly released songs—in comparison with listenership for older songs—decreased.
The Atlantic’s style guide for writers bans the use of the word iconic, as it does many other words that are overused to the point of meaninglessness. So it will be hard for me to write about the delightful new Charli XCX album, Crash, at least judging by how the artist and her fans have been speaking. The term has shown up in press releases and tweets to refer to the singer, her planned tour, her album’s track list, and the Nintendo ad she soundtracked.
Turkish-made aerial drones armed with laser-guided missiles have, in the past two weeks, helped Ukraine slow Russia’s invasion. Known as Bayraktar TB2s, the drones are not just a piece of military equipment anymore. They are symbols of Ukrainian resistance—and the inspiration for a very catchy song.A track titled “Bayraktar,” of indeterminate origin, has been receiving hundreds of thousands of plays online, and is in rotation on Ukrainian radio.
After the first week of fighting in Ukraine, viewers may have tuned in to this week’s Saturday Night Live with some curiosity and fear about how the show would tackle the biggest news story in the world. The series had gone the quiet and respectful route last week by having the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York replace the usual episode-opening antics.
One of the incredible things about hip-hop is that a quick song can feel as grand and sweeping as an album, or a novel, or a galaxy. Great rappers do a generous thing—give listeners a trove of phrases to obsess over, of inflections to imitate, of messages to absorb, and of observations to steal. When the music works, it seems effortless and impossible at once.
No one seems to agree about what Russia’s saber-rattling behavior on the Ukrainian border means. In America, normally united political forces—such as Fox News commentators and the GOP—are divided over how to talk about Vladimir Putin’s latest moves. In Europe, allied superpowers are not all making the same preparations for possible war. The White House and Ukrainian leaders are openly disputing how seriously to take the threat of Putin sacking Kyiv.
The questions that arise in the face of any boycott effort—whether against an unethical retailer, a disgraced performer, or an exploitative employer—can be paralyzing. We live in a world of compromise and wickedness, built of systems guided not by virtue but by profit. So why, the boycotter must be asked, draw the line here? We also live in a world in which individuals rarely ever wield more power than institutions.
What was so spooky about the 1980s? Maybe Freddy Krueger, Thriller, and goth eyeliner just reflected Cold War anxieties and suburban dread. Or maybe technological progress in the entertainment industry better explains the decade’s Halloween-party aesthetics. After all, without certain synthesizers and drum machines, you don’t get the sinister arpeggios of John Carpenter soundtracks or the telltale beat of New Order’s “Blue Monday.
Boba Fett, the most legendary bounty hunter in the galaxy, was the product of budget constraints. Planning for the 1980 Star Wars sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, the artists Joe Johnston and Ralph McQuarrie crafted a prototype of knightlike armor for a legion of upgraded stormtroopers, the expendable soldiers of the evil Galactic Empire.
Right-thinking people agree: Like the burning of Notre Dame, Netflix’s Emily in Paris is a catastrophe for the culture. In mid-2020, when COVID-19 was still novel, the first season of the Sex and the City creator Darren Star’s new sitcom portrayed an American marketing professional (Emily, played by Lily Collins) Instagramming her way through the most sophisticated city on the planet (Paris, shot on location).
Anyone who spent their teenagedom in a black hooded sweatshirt was served a nice piece of attention bait last year in the form of a TikTok phenomenon known as the “emo test.” In it, users listened to snippets of songs by such artists as Panic! At the Disco and Paramore to see how many tunes they recognized. If you got eight to 10 songs right, you were certified “emo.” If you got more than that, then congrats—you were “broken.
No one broke Adele’s heart this time. Until now, her music has centered on the brutality of romantic rejection—the way it can throw a human soul against a wall, snapping bones that never heal right, instilling a kind of existential PTSD. Yet, though her new album is about “divorce, babe, divorce,” betrayal, cruelty, and nasty rumors are for once not part of the story.
Here’s a surprise from President Joe Biden’s time in office: One of the most prominent figures in the debate over paid parental leave—a right that 186 other countries give at least to mothers, and that could boost the national birth rate and strengthen the traditional family unit—is the gay, male secretary of transportation.Starting in August, Pete Buttigieg left work for several weeks to care for the twins that he and his husband, Chasten, had just adopted.
This story contains spoilers through the fifth episode of Succession Season 3.Logan was ill. He was the victim of an ailment so common that most people would consider it trivial. But when it gets to Logan it can plunge him into a state of anguish, deep depression, panic, even rage. Logan Roy had a UTI.
Updated at 4:53 p.m. ET on November 14, 2021.When Taylor Swift was only 22, she laid awake at night and worried about her age. That’s the confession the now-31-year-old singer makes on “Nothing New,” a track she wrote for her 2012 album, Red, but only released on Red (Taylor’s Version), the new, rerecorded version that came out on Friday. In the song, she describes how society tells young women to have fun and then shames them for experiencing life.
When the coronavirus pandemic first interrupted life around the world, you likely felt fear for your loved ones and confusion about the future. You might have experienced some less dire pangs too: an urge to stock up on chocolate bars, some relief at not having to commute. Maybe you even had a thought like the one Lana Del Rey shares in her new song “Black Bathing Suit”: “If this is the end / I want a boyfriend.
After hours of searching conversation about America and the human soul, the former president of the United States reiterated his brand identity. “Here’s what makes me optimistic … because, you know, I’m the hope guy,” Barack Obama told Bruce Springsteen in a chat recorded last year for their podcast, Renegades: Born in the USA.
This story contains spoilers for the second episode of Succession Season 3. Before he joined Succession, the actor James Cromwell insisted that his character have some scruples. In a recent interview, Cromwell said that the show’s original scripts portrayed the stone-faced Ewan Roy as holding a personal grudge against his brother, the right-wing-media baron Logan Roy.
President Joe Biden’s long career can be measured in decades, in legislative achievements, and in Saturday Night Live impersonations: Seven different actors have played him over the years. His first send-up on the show happened in 1991, when Kevin Nealon portrayed him as a straight-faced inquisitor of Anita Hill’s sexual-harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas during the the judge’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
Part of the backlash now facing Baby Boomers—seen in all those memes and essays blaming grandma for the state of capitalism—may simply stem from overexposure. The flower children’s children grew up in a world in which their elders’ revolutionary artworks had become wallpaper, trinkets, and ad fodder. Everyone who wasn’t at Woodstock is all too aware that they’ll never go to Woodstock.
Charlotte Rutherford / Sony
One of the great mysteries of our lifetime is how the banjo loop and fake drawl of Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” blew up into one of the biggest hits ever. The common explanations for its popularity just don’t suffice. Yes, Montero Lamar Hill is a marketing genius and meme master, but jokes alone don’t get auditoriums of children to sing your song.
Maybe the rise of the term fuckboy to mock men who can’t keep their Dickies zipped is a sign of progress. I’ll never forget when my middle-school social-studies teacher, introducing the class to the concept of sexism, filled the whiteboard with all the ugly words for female promiscuity—slut, whore, etc.—but could muster only praising (stud) or outdated (cad) terms for men.
To overcome what ails you, you must surrender. That is the third directive on the famous 12-step road map to sobriety and stability. Recovering from an internal battle that has had external repercussions means deciding “to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God,” according to the Alcoholics Anonymous guidebook, from which multitudes of 12-step programs—treating multitudes of psychological conditions—are modeled.
Five years to the month after releasing arguably the best album of the 2010s, the spotlight-shy Frank Ocean has emerged to share something with the world again. Late last week, he cleared his Instagram archive of all old photos—a now-common maneuver for pop stars about to move into a new artistic era—and began touting something called “Homer.
Getty ; Adam Maida / The Atlantic
Billie Eilish has some scary problems, she tells listeners on her new album’s first song, “Getting Older.” A stranger outside her door is acting deranged. Loneliness and burnout mount in her mind. Abuse and trauma darken her past. She murmurs about these things over a synthesizer that pulses like a time bomb. It never seems to explode, but the final verse does contain a shock.