Today's Liberal News

Spencer Kornhaber

The Rock Band That Redefined Counterculture

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.

Lil Nas X Isn’t a Fad. He’s the Future of Pop.

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.

Drake’s Tedious Descent Into Villainy

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whiteboard with all the ugly words for female promiscuity—slut, whore, etc.—but could muster only praising (stud) or outdated (cad) terms for men.

God May Forgive Kanye West, but You Don’t Have To

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.

Frank Ocean Fans Are Mad About a Million-Dollar Necklace

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.

Pop Is Making Happiness Sound Pretty Dreary Lately

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.

Pop Is Making Happiness Sound Pretty Dreary Lately

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.

Hot Vax Summer Crumbled Before My Eyes

The first time I heard there was a problem, I was hanging out in a leather bar.A friend texted with news that Provincetown, Massachusetts, the queer beach town where I’d been vacationing, had experienced a spike of COVID-19 cases among vaccinated people. He asked about the mood in town. I looked around the room and saw burly guys—it was Bear Week—chatting over beers.

HBO’s Woodstock ’99 Documentary Is a Dark Warning

We’re halfway through the first summer of full-capacity crowds at American arenas and nightclubs after pandemic-induced hibernation. Have you attended a glorious, mythmaking concert to mark the occasion?  Perhaps Foo Fighters reopening Madison Square Garden gave you chills, or maybe you air-tromboned to the band Chicago at New Jersey’s first big comeback show (NJ.com’s review: “Enjoyment came in many forms Thursday night”).

The Pop Music You Listen to Really Does Matter

Eras of music are commonly defined by particular sounds. The ’80s had gated reverb, the aughts had Timbaland’s beats, and the early 2020s have had the froggy, rasping splendor of Doja Cat’s voice. On a slew of recent hits and on her new, third album, Planet Her, the 25-year-old rapper and singer continues to prove she has an extremely now sensibility: steeped in online humor, thrilled by physical pleasure, and adaptable to whatever sound or situation gets thrown at her.

We’ve Never Heard Britney Spears Like This

When typed out in full, the chilling speech that Britney Spears gave to a Los Angeles judge yesterday afternoon comes to more than 4,500 words. Those words are now circulating online as quotations about how Spears lived in “denial” about the legal and medical arrangement that has given other people control over her life for 13 years.

The 2001 Album That Captured Modern Dread

Whenever someone disses agnosticism as pointless, bleak, or weak, Radiohead’s 2001 song “I Might Be Wrong” starts playing in my head. A guitar riff conveys all the tension of a bar that’s about to erupt into a brawl. Thom Yorke sings, in his meekest mumble, “I used to think there was no future left at all.

Pop’s Buzziest New Songwriter Knows Exactly What to Say

Great breakups aren’t just painful; they’re surreal—a space-time fissure, a smack from God, a bulletin that you’re not the world’s protagonist. Someone who was always there just vanishes. A future crumbles into a past. This is heavy stuff at any age but especially when you’re dealing with it for the first time, which means that some of the most mystic meditations on breakups have come from teen singers.

Pop’s Buzziest New Songwriter Knows Exactly What to Say

Great breakups aren’t just painful; they’re surreal—a space-time fissure, a smack from God, a bulletin that you’re not the world’s protagonist. Someone who was always there just vanishes. A future crumbles into a past. This is heavy stuff at any age but especially when you’re dealing with it for the first time, which means that some of the most mystic meditations on breakups have come from teen singers.

St. Vincent and the Limits of Rock-and-Roll Mystique

If you’ve searched St. Vincent on Twitter in the past few weeks, you haven’t seen chatter about the goofy soul sound of the 38-year-old rock star’s latest singles. You’ve seen snarky tweets about an interview that is mainly of interest to die-hard fans and people addicted to Twitter drama.In late April, the journalist Emma Madden posted—and then deleted—a Q&A with St. Vincent that the artist’s press team had allegedly tried to stop from being published.

Elon Musk Is Not Just a Celebrity

However your 2021 is going, what’s undeniable is that after Donald Trump left office earlier this year, a strange cultural quietude settled upon America. No one would dare call it peace. But the audiences for TV news and online media immediately shrunk. Rather than fretting quite as much about an imminent civil war, commentators have been arguing about sexy hip-hop videos.

Taylor Swift Knew Everything When She Was Young

At 18, Taylor Swift had some regrets. Across her smash second album, Fearless, Swift sang about moments she wanted to relive and, in some cases, rewrite. “Wish you could go back / And tell yourself what you know now,” she said on “15,” a reminiscence about her freshman year of high school. On “White Horse,” she chided, “Stupid girl, I should’ve known,” as she thought back to a breakup.

The Fierce Vulnerability of DMX

At its best, hip-hop reveals the complexity of the human voice, and few artists show that better than DMX did. The sound that came out of Earl Simmons’s mouth was often called a growl or rasp, but those terms seem insufficient upon the occasion of his death, today, at age 50. You heard breath and bone in that voice. Its dissonance and musicality were kind of like an electric guitar. It started parties by jolting fight-or-flight reflexes.

The Fierce Vulnerability of DMX

At its best, hip-hop reveals the complexity of the human voice, and few artists show that better than DMX did. The sound that came out of Earl Simmons’s mouth was often called a growl or rasp, but those terms seem insufficient upon the occasion of his death, today, at age 50. You heard breath and bone in that voice. Its dissonance and musicality were kind of like an electric guitar. It started parties by jolting fight-or-flight reflexes.

What Made Lucille Bluth So Funny

Arrested Development, the cult-beloved sitcom that debuted on Fox in 2003, was a joke-dense, fastidiously written, pun-packed satire of a poisonously entitled family. But wordplay alone was not what made Lucille Bluth, the matriarch of the clan, one of the funniest TV characters of all time. The actor Jessica Walter, who died on Wednesday at the age of 80, gets credit for that.

Stars Now Understand That Their Destruction Is Our Entertainment

“Whatever they think happened is probably pretty far from what really did,” the director Michael Ratner recently said in an interview about his new four-part YouTube documentary, Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil, whose first two installments are now out. The “they” he refers to is the general public, and the “what” is the July 2018 incident that landed the now-28-year-old singer Demi Lovato in intensive care.

The Odd Pattern That Keeps Happening at the Grammys

One year into fussing with Zoom backgrounds, who can’t relate to Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B twerking in front of a digital wallpaper of purses, diamonds, big-rig trucks, and the rappers’ own faces? At last night’s Grammys, two of hip-hop’s top talents put on a digital-meets-physical hallucination that turned out to be the best entertainment of the night. A stiletto heel doubled as a stripper pole. Cardi and Megan cavorted in a bed as big as a house.

A Playlist for Your Next Walk

Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.When asked to curate an hour of new music for Atlantic readers to listen to while walking, my mind immediately went to Sophie Xeon, the brilliant electronica producer who died at age 34 in January.

The Countercultural Sound of the 2020s

This article was published online on February 14, 2021.In music and on roller coasters, speediness makes for the fun kind of scariness. When young punk rockers raised on the Ramones began to play their own music in the early 1980s, the rat-a-tat rumble of “Blitzkrieg Bop” accelerated into something called the blast beat: an all-out rhythmic carpet-bombing over which vocalists would groan about Satan, Ronald Reagan, and the resemblance between the two.

The Lady Gaga Anthem That Previewed a Decade of Culture Wars

Updated at 5:45 p.m. on February 11, 2021.The social-media celebrity JoJo Siwa has built an empire by dressing in sparkly rainbow outfits while chattering about individuality and self-acceptance. But when she wanted the world to know that she was queer, she let Lady Gaga do the talking. In a TikTok last month, the 17-year-old Siwa filmed herself grinning and lip-synching to Gaga’s 2011 hit “Born This Way.

How Sophie Showed the Humanity of Electronic Music

Electronic music is old—1800s-old, earlier-than-Elvis old, old-enough-to-forget-it-needed-to-be-invented old. But it still sports the halo of newness because it still offers the possibility of creating tomorrow. In 1910, the Manifesto of Futurist Musicians laid out the idealistic (though fascism-linked) hope of early machine musicians: “The liberation of individual musical sensibility from all imitation or influence of the past.

The Technicolor Normalcy of Biden’s Inauguration

Everyone knows that Joe Biden’s presidential aesthetic is purposefully boring: He’s promising a national nap time after Donald Trump’s violent four-year kegger. “Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire,” the new president said during his inauguration address today, speaking where insurrectionists had recently carried Molotov cocktails.

The Pandemic Clarified Who the Kardashians Really Are

The Kardashians are proving that a certain kind of celebrity is ill-suited for the coronavirus era. (Getty / Arsh Raziuddin / The Atlantic)Kim Kardashian West’s original vision for her 40th birthday was to fly all of her friends to Wyoming for a “wild, wild Miss West” party, where, one presumes, her signature taupe shapewear would complement the rocky vistas.