Noisey feed for https://noisey.vice.comenFri, 07 Dec 2018 09:10:05 +0000<![CDATA[Yaeji's Huge Sydney Opera House Show Exposes A Void in Sydney's Club Scene]]>, 07 Dec 2018 09:10:05 +0000

It was only in late 2017 that the Queens-born, Seoul-raised, Carnegie Mellon-educated DJ, producer and vocalist Kathy Yaeji Lee quit her graphic design job to do music full-time. In the time since, she’s released her EP2 to a warm welcome from fans and critics, and toured around the world. There’s a lot of love for what Yaeji is doing.

That love was present on Saturday night at the Sydney Opera House, for her first-ever Australian show. The fans milling in the lobby were younger and more diverse, and more expressly excited, than your standard Opera House crowd. As they all waited to be scanned into the Studio, a middle-aged white couple dressed for the theatre joined the queue, only to depart after a few minutes exchanging confused glances with one another. “I think we’re in the wrong place,” the man told his wife as they slipped out of line.

Yaeji’s arrival to the Studio stage was greeted with an explosion of applause. The level of goodwill for her in the room was palpable and rarely diminished during her whole set, even through repeated sound issues. Over the course of an hour, she paced the audience perfectly, modulating between slower tracks in her whispered, dreamy style and remixes that showcased her preternatural skill for reworking pop hits – Drake’s “Passionfruit” appeared early, Charli XCX’s “Focus” was her encore.

Ken Leanfore

“What World Bar provided for a long time was a stepping stone… People like me had their very first gigs at World Bar. Those kinds of opportunities are harder to come by after the lockouts,” says Johnny Lieu, Sydney DJ and long-time Resident Advisor contributor. “Since the lockouts, venues are open and busier for shorter periods of time, and so you get less opportunities for greener acts. Or venues respond by become more risk-averse in their music programming. World Bar in its heyday had DJs playing from early in the evening till 5 am, and bands would play until 2 or 3, which is pretty much unheard of in Sydney these days.”

“I guess it's hard for the Sydney Opera House to really foster homegrown talent, given the sheer size of the performance spaces they have available,” says Jenner. “But they are very good at booking interesting local supports, like DIN, when the opportunity arises, although I wish those opportunities arose more often.”

In this, the position the Opera House finds itself in is a tricky one. Striking the balance between raising up local artists and importing name talent that can draw a big enough crowd will never be easy. The Opera House’s move to resurrect Good God, which became the must-attend party of VIVID Live, was a welcome programming choice. But it’s difficult for a one-off event to develop local talent in the same way as an established party, which can be relied on week-in, week-out for gigs.

“The Opera House's programming does really well in elevating electronic and club music to a level that allows it to be seen as legitimate and respectable, especially to the government and outsiders who tend to look down on it,” says Lieu. “But you're only going to see top acts perform there, who have perfected their craft… I don't really see the Opera House filling the space the likes of World Bar had for so long, and it does make me wonder how that bodes for the next generation of artists.”

Then, an international like Yaeji drops in – mere months after “raingurl” became inescapable last summer – and quickly sells out her first Australian show, playing the country’s most iconic venue. It’s an impossibility for a local artist. Even in the most music-friendly city, it’s rare for a young producer to have the charisma to command a stage like that so early in their career, as Yaeji did on Saturday.

But she did not emerge fully-formed. Behind the 25-year-old’s fun, relaxed set were years of work – hundreds of hours on college radio in Pennsylvania and endless DJ gigs, even before Godmode’s Nick Sylvester came across her early tracks. In Sydney, a city with fewer stages and slots every month, there aren’t many opportunities for artists to build up that muscle memory, and, in the vacuum, they are left jostling for space at the extremes – on warehouse party line ups and the Opera House’s stages.

So for now the hope remains that, maybe, in time, the Opera House will start taking chances on booking locals, like DIN. Bump them up from the support to the headline spot. Or it could be Slim Set, or Princi, or Gussy, or Kwame, or Andy Garvey. It isn’t as if there’s a lack of talent.

Maddison Connaughton is the editor of The Saturday Paper.

This article originally appeared on Noisey AU.

59vwnbMaddison ConnaughtonShaad D’Souzawe saw thisSydney Opera Houselockout lawsyaejiclub scenessydney nightlife
<![CDATA[We Are Drowning in a Devolved World: An Open Letter from Devo]]>, 07 Dec 2018 09:07:44 +0000In 2018, 15 years after becoming eligible, Devo was nominated for the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame. The honourees will be announced a week from today. I was immediately struck by the timing of our sudden recognition: When Devo formed more than 40 years ago, we never dreamed that two decades into the 21st century, everything we had theorised would not only be proven, but also become worse than we had imagined. For me, Devo has been a long journey littered with broken dreams, but the nomination compelled me to put things in perspective. I know that many are called but few are chosen.

Forty-eight years ago, on May 4, 1970, as a member of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), I was front and centre being fired on by my fellow Americans in the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University, as we peacefully protested President Nixon’s expansion of the cancerously unpopular Vietnam War into Cambodia without an act of Congress. I was lucky and dodged the bullet, both literally and figuratively, but four students were killed, and nine more were seriously wounded by the armed, mostly teenaged, National Guard troops. Two of the four students killed, Alison Krause and Jeffery Miller, were close acquaintances of mine. Less than a year earlier, as an Admissions/Curriculum counsellor to incoming students, I had admitted them to the Honours College program.

May 4 changed my life, and I truly believe Devo would not exist without that horror. It made me realise that all the Quasar colour TVs, Swanson TV dinners, Corvettes, and sofa beds in the world didn't mean we were actually making progress. It meant the future could be not only as barbaric as the past, but that it most likely would be. The dystopian novels 1984, Animal Farm, and Brave New World suddenly seemed less like cautionary tales about the encroaching fusion of technological advances with the centralised, authoritarian power of the state, and more like subversive road maps to condition the intelligentsia for what was to come.

As I started working with my Kent State poet friend, Bob Lewis, a philosophy emerged, fuelled by the revelations that linear progress in a consumer society was a lie. Things were not getting better. There were no flying cars and domed cities, as promised in Popular Science; rather, there was a dumbing down of the population engineered by right-wing politicians, televangelists, and Madison Avenue. I called what we saw “De-evolution,” based upon the tendency toward entropy across all human endeavours. Borrowing the tactics of the Mad Men-era of our childhood, we shortened the name of the idea to the marketing-friendly “Devo.” We were not left-wing politicos. We were more informed by Jungian principles of duality in human nature, and we realised human flaws spread out across the political spectrum. Hence: “We’re All Devo,” an idea from which we did not exempt ourselves.

Then, and in the decades to follow, we witnessed an America where the capacity for critical thought and reasoning were eroding fast. People mindlessly repeating slogans from political propaganda and ad campaigns: “America, Love It or leave It”; “Don’t Ask Why, Drink Bud Dry”; “You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby”; even risk-free, feel-good slogans like “Give Peace a Chance.” Here was an emerging Corporate Feudal State. You were either inside the draw bridge at night, or outside with the gnashing of teeth.

Rebellion appeared hopelessly obsolete. If the message wasn’t sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, there could be hell to pay. More and more, it seemed like the only real threat to consumer society at our disposal was meaning: turning sloganeering on its head for sarcastic or subversive means, and making people notice that they were being moved and manipulated by marketing, not by well-meaning friends disguised as mom-and-pop. And so creative subversion seemed the only viable course of action. We mixed our outrage with equal parts satire and dark humour. What else could a poor boy do?

Prior to the resignation of the nefarious Richard M. Nixon, I partnered with a new collaborator, Mark Mothersbaugh, and with his musical prowess we found the sonic alchemy for the Devo aesthetic. We formed a band of brothers around the philosophy of Devolution, only to be proven all too right.

Presently, the fabric that holds a society together has shredded in the wind. Everyone has their own facts, their own private Idaho stored in their expensive cellular phones. The earbuds are in, the feedback loops are locked, and the Frappuccino’s are flowing freely. Social media provides the highway straight back to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. The restless natives react to digital shadows on the wall, reduced to fear, hate, and superstition. There are climate change deniers, and there are even more who think that the climate is being maliciously manipulated by corporate conglomerates owned by the Central Bank to achieve global control of resources and wealth. If only that James Bond-style fantasy were true, I would be much more excited about the future, which I fear is more of a slow-death conspiracy of dunces like in Mike Judge’s movie, Idiocracy, the movie Devo should have made.

We are drowning in a devolved, WWF Smackdown-style world, with warring, huckster TV pundits from “The Left” and “The Right” distracting the clueless TV viewership while our vile, venal Mobster-in-Chief (who makes Idiocracy’s Macho Camacho look fit for office) and his corrupt minions rob the nation’s coffers in a shamelessly cruel, Grab-'Em-By-The-Pussy Kleptocracy. They reflect the prevailing mentality of the electorate. It’s as if Christopher Nolan wrote the script for America, where Trump is the Joker handing out Cabinet positions to The Suicide Squad: Hey, Betsy! You hate public education? How’d you like to run the Department of Education? Scott, you don’t give a shit about poisoning the environment for your kids and grandkids, right? Here’s your new office, Pal. Don’t forget that soundproof phone booth!

The rise of authoritarian leadership around the globe, fed by ill-informed populism, is well-documented at this point. And with it, we see the ugly spectre of increased racism and anti-Semitism. It’s open season on those who gladly vote against their own self-interests. The exponential increase in suffering for more and more of the population is heartbreaking to see. “Freedom of choice is what you got / Freedom from choice is what you want,” those Devo clowns said in 1980.

So, let us not talk falsely now; the hour is getting late. Perhaps the reason Devo was even nominated after 15 years of eligibility is because Western society seems locked in a death wish. Devo doesn’t skew so outside the box anymore. Maybe people are a bit nostalgic for our DIY originality and substance. We were the canaries in the coalmine warning our fans and foes of things to come in the guise of the Court Jester, examples of conformity in extremis in order to warn against conformity. We were certainly not the one-hit wonders the dismissive rock press likes to say we were. We have always been the Rodney Dangerfields of Rock ‘N’ Roll. We were polarising because we did not “play ball” with the sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll messaging dictum.

But today Devo is merely the house band on the Titanic. With three generations of fans, 10 studio albums, five live albums, scores of singles, scores of music videos (a format which we pioneered), and eight world tours committed to history since our 1978 debut record, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo, we’ve all too chillingly stood the test of time. 2020 will be the 40th anniversary of our Freedom of Choice record. Don’t be surprised to see us on tour then in our iconic, red Energy Domes, careening toward the latest Presidential election/selection. Speaking truth to power is a never-ending battle. In the best-case scenario, we avoid sinking into the abyss and, as a society, scratch ourselves back to square one.

Is there any question that De-evolution is real?

Devo founder Gerald Casale is a director, and songwriter based in Los Angeles. Vote for Devo in the Rock Hall's Fan Vote here.

This article originally appeared on Noisey US.

qvqek5Gerald V. CasaleAndrea DomanickpoliticsFeaturesTrumpOpen LettersRock N Roll Hall of FamedevoGerald Casaleart-rock
<![CDATA[Big Freedia Proves That "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" Can, In Fact, Bang]]>, 07 Dec 2018 09:05:00 +0000Some Christmas songs are so catchy, so jolly, and so deeply embedded in pop culture that they inspire revulsion. An otherwise good-hearted person might hear "Jingle Bells," "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," or even "Sleigh Ride" and recoil in disgust, sickened by the sweetness. I sympathise with these holiday cynics. I didn't start writing The Noisey Advent Calendar because I wanted to hear Andy Williams singing "Let It Snow" over and over again for four hours on a grey weekday morning. I want to avoid schmaltz where possible.

Some schmaltz demands closer inspection though, and that's why we need to talk about this tweet from Paul F. Tompkins, a beloved and brilliant comedian with one terrible take:

Now, I cannot in all good conscience defend "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" as a work of art. It's a story about a reindeer whose glowing nose turned him into a social pariah. The pathos is all dealt with pretty quickly – the other shit-eating reindeers under Santa's employ wouldn't talk to Rudolph because he was different. But our hero's nose was so bright that it lit up the night sky one foggy night and forced his bullies to immediately declare him an all-time great reindeer – an animal who would, for some reason, "go down in history." That story is told over a kindergarten melody, the type of smiley-happy tune that belongs on a child's keyboard toy. It is, as Tompkins points out, for children. Small children. Small idiot children.

Written by Johnny Marks in 1939 and made famous by Gene Autry a decade later, "Rudolph…" has spawned hundreds of covers, and I seriously recommend that you don't spend any time today trawling through YouTube for a good one. There are maybe a half-dozen decent, straightforward efforts out there, but none of them are going to prove Tompkins wrong. If you hate the song from the get-go, neither Dean Martin nor Kacey Musgraves will turn you. The best of the recognisable modern covers obviously belongs to DMX, who reeled off a flawless a cappella version of "Rudolph…" on Power 105.1 in 2012, then released a studio version of the song for his Spotify Singles mini-EP last year. But even in his gruff and grizzled way, DMX stays faithful to the original.

I might as well admit here that Christmas music has already started to burrow into my brain and warp my logic. I'm only six days into this project, but the hours I've spent listening to holiday music every morning have had a profound and not altogether attractive impact on me. Friends, acquaintances, and lonely people on nearby barstools are starting to look at me funny while I wholeheartedly defend stray Christmas songs of yesteryear. I spent 20 whole minutes last night explaining the plot of Holiday in Handcuffs, an ABC Family movie starring Melissa Joan Hart, to someone I barely knew. This morning I found myself singing a festive Frank Sinatra medley in the shower. I'm not the same person I was on November 30; I have no idea what sort of monster I'll be by December 26. All I know is that it's December 6, and I'm now intent on defending "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer."

Thank God for Big Freedia, then.

"Rudy, The Big Booty Reindeer" is not for children. The first song on the Queen of Bounce's 2016 holiday EP A Very Big Freedia Christmazz recasts Rudolph as a reindeer who, in the words of Miss Tee in the first verse, "had a very large behind." He's bullied by the other reindeer, but he finds redemption one Christmas Eve when Santa comes to relieve him of his duties and ask for some instruction: "Rudy, all you do is work / Won't you show me how to twerk?"

Freedia takes charge of the song after less than a minute, howling her lines with the righteous indignation of a theatrical lawyer defending an innocent client: "Rudy only wanted a good time / Rudy only wanted to dance / He'd sneak of and listen to Freedia / Whenever he got a chance." And then it drops. Every song is an excuse for Big Freedia to explode into a bounce beat. She builds the story out a little more – "Santa tried to shake his hips / While Rudy did a standing split / Then the elves dropped a nasty beat…" – but the bass has taken over by then. Freedia makes everything fun, fiery, and deliciously weird – try telling her that she can't turn "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" into a twerk-heavy bounce classic.

There's a moral in here somewhere. Maybe it's that we shouldn't judge a song by its most tawdry interpretations, just as we shouldn't shame a large-assed reindeer just because he's different. Maybe the moral is that Christmas is for club-goers in New Orleans just as much as it's for picture-perfect families in colder climes. Either way, there's one undeniable truth – give a song to Big Freedia, and you'll never get let down.

Alex Robert Ross isn't like the other reindeer on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Noisey US.

ev3mneAlex Robert RossColin JoyceNew OrleansHip-Hopchristmas„Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer“big freediabouncetwerkingPaul F. TompkinsThe Noisey Advent Calendarrudy, the big booty reindeer
<![CDATA[Kojey Radical's Taste is Broad and Full of Surprises ]]>, 06 Dec 2018 11:30:00 +0000Kojey Radical is a rare artist – one you imagine will keep evolving, not because he isn’t extraordinarily talented already but because he’s incredibly driven. From writing music, to creating visuals with his avant-garde collective Push Crayons and designing menswear for contemporary independent brand Chelsea Bravo (where he’s creative director), Kojey is a true polymath.

In the last couple of years he’s released two accomplished bodies of work that have put him in a league of his own – 23 Winters (2016) and In God’s Body (2017). The latter is an especially inimitable listen, showcasing the Hoxton born-and-raised artist’s knack for writing meaningful and substantial stuff – in that case, a reflection of sorts on religion – in a way that never feels laborious, while the former earned him two MOBO nominations: Best Newcomer and Best Video (for “Footsteps”).

He’s a man of the people too, with his collaborations running the gamut from similarly forward-thinking newcomers like Obongjayar and Mahalia to UK OGs such as Ghetts and Shola Ama. His talent and affinity within the UK scene has earned him a nickname too – ‘King Kojey’, which he sees as a mark of respect rather than a pedestal to be put on. “It’s not a sense of duty that I feel like I have to take on, because the idea of King comes with a lot of ego,” he said in an interview with us last October. “There’s not one King, do you know what I’m saying?”

In partnership with NTS and YouTube Music, Kojey and I caught up to hear about the musical discoveries that have provided the inspiration for his sound. No two songs he makes are ever the same, so it’s no wonder the palette from which he draws his taste is broad. It also made all the sense that each one of his inspirations had a flair for putting on a show too, since Kojey is someone you have to see live. Follow through here to see his picks on the YouTube Music app.

Noisey: What was the first musical thing – whether an artist, song, album, live performance video – that you can remember someone recommending to you?
Kojey Radical: It was a lot of new jack swing. I remember vividly being given a Tasmanian Devil Walkman as a kid and I had an A-side and B-side of new jack swing – all of the classics were in there. I’m in love with this shit because it was cool, colourful and a vibe.

That was a brief but memorable era, especially with the LeVerts, Keith Sweat and Teddy Riley.
Definitely and because it was so close to hip hop, it’s a style we still celebrate so widely today.

What’s been the most iconic performance you’ve seen?
There’s two. One would be the first concert I ever went to – a Kendrick Lamar show at Electric Ballroom in Camden, and I remember being nervous because it was my first rap show. There was this moment when he slowed everything down and went into this spoken word poetry piece. I remember it as clear as day, everyone being sucked in. It meant something. I was doing spoken word at the time, so to see it being done in a rap context was really, really dope. The second one would probably be a show I saw recently called Misty, and it made me think of interesting ways you can tell a story and incorporate music at the same time.

Who is the best artist that your parents have recommended?
My dad recommended this artist called Amerado and when I got to Accra, he came to the studio where I was working and we just rapped for hours. It was dope meeting and working with someone from my dad’s generation.

What's been the most obscure discovery you've made on your own?
I got into this Christian rock-rap band called Family Force 5 and they had this song called “Love Addict” which was my favourite song at the time. At the time, I was listening to a lot of Tenacious D, Jamie T and indie rock songs. This song came out of nowhere but it’s written in a way where you wouldn’t know it’s a Christian song.

What's a music obsession of yours that you think people would be surprised to know you were into?
I don’t think anybody would be surprised because I listen to everything. But the other day, I found a Brazilian version of “You Make Me Wanna” by Usher and it sent me on a rabbit hole of Latin American music.

Which old artist have you discovered recently, and somewhat belatedly, who you now absolutely love?
Lex Amor. She’s a poet and rapper. She does everything but she hasn’t come out and claimed it all yet. I was going through writer’s block and it was her ability to tell a story and effortless approach to writing that inspired me.

Tell me about an underrated and rare YouTube video by someone very famous.
There’s two, again. Mos Def did a live version of “Say You Will” by Kanye West and it was ten minutes long at a jazz cafe in New York. It was one of the first moments I was eager to hear someone rap for that long on someone else’s song and do it completely different. The other one would be a video called “Lonely” by Amaarae, from Ghana. Her voice is so angelic and piercing, I keep going back to that video.

What’s the first music discovery you made that stands out in your memory?
A Japanese producer who’s since passed called Nujabes. I remember he did the soundtrack for Samurai Champloo. I fell in love with his take on jazz fusion hip hop especially from an Eastern perspective and I remember listening to his album Modal Soul religiously on the way to school.

Is there a release that you would say changed your life?
Yeah, Gil Scott-Heron’s We’re New Here, because it came into my life at a time where I was trying to figure out what to do with poetry and music. With the Jamie xx collaboration his approach to poetry and it being nonlinear was intriguing.

Which three albums accurately capture you as a child, a teenager and an adult?
Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Andre 3000’s The Love Below, and Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool.

The Cool is pretty old now though. Is there a record that you feel defines your adult years?
That one’s more difficult but it has to be good kid, m.A.A.d city.

What remix or sample sits in your mind?
Anything by 808INK. Charmer is easily one of the coldest producers because of his ability to flip a sample. It’s out of this world. He’s been doing this for years too, and he keeps getting colder.

What song have you discovered recently that you want played at your funeral?
Play my song “97” at my funeral and I’ll jump out of the coffin. We’re not done.

Haha. I wouldn’t expect anything other than your own music. What's the strangest genre you've come across, and enjoyed?
I don’t know what to define them as but Bloc Party and that type of sound. I guess it’s rock. When I was in college, they opened my eyes to a whole new world of music.

And what about the worst genre?
Anything screamo, I’m out. I’m not a big fan of house, ‘house’ house, fist pump music – get it out of here.

If someone hands you the aux cord, what’s your go to track?
If I’m trying to get the place hype then I’ll play Blaze YL’s “Boss”. If I’m trying to set a vibe, there’s a girl called Kaiit from Australia, who has a song called “1992”.

Discover more gems to unearth on the YouTube Music app (Apple; Android), and listen to YouTube Music's Ones to Watch artists' special NTS Radio shows here.

You can find Jesse on Twitter.

pa5kjnJesse BernardRyan BassilInterviewKojey RadicalAdvertorialYouTube MusicNoisey x NTS x YouTube Music presents Unearthed
<![CDATA[How Chris Helped Her Fans Better Understand Their Identities]]>, 06 Dec 2018 10:00:00 +0000“I spent ages trying to fit in but, I was EXHAUSTED…"

Chris (AKA Christine and the Queens) welcomes her audience at the Hammersmith Apollo, enticing them to also 'break down the walls', to be free. In an industry that still can’t seem to face shaking off the 'skimpy limits' that define the image of a female artist, she’s a breath of fresh air – playful in her embodiments of masculinity, flexing her muscles and essentially doing Nick Cave or Mick Jagger more boldly than Nick Cave or Mick Jagger.

In the middle of the US leg of the Chris tour, she invited questions from her fans via a Reddit thread. The usual wide-eyed questions followed: 'what advice do you have for a young producer/director/dancer/singer-songwriter', and excitable pleads for extra tour dates, like 'please tell me you're going to play Portsmouth'. But then there were the soft and tender, offered from behind freshly registered usernames. These asked Chris about her dreams, the songs which make her cry, and how she came to be so 'unashamedly herself'.

Christine and The Queens fans
I reached out to Lisa after noticing an instagram comment to Chris, letting her know that she'd be attending both London dates.

What would your advice be for someone who is very afraid of the opinions of other people? A young fan wrote to Chris that, 'I want to be unashamedly myself, but it's very hard'.
Helen: And it is, it absolutely is, because we can't get away from other people's opinions, we want to be liked, we want to be loved, we want to be respected and admired; it is part of being a human being. I think from what I've learnt, of having tried to conform for most of my life to what I thought I ought to be, is discovering that actually you have to be true to the part of yourself that feels the most comfortable. For somebody young now coming up, it's having to trust really, having some faith to express how you feel in your being. And it will change, it won't be static, it's a constant evolving process; today this is how you feel, tomorrow it might be different. And sometimes we all don't feel confident in who we are, sometimes we have anxieties and worries about how others see us, but it's about actually coming back to that part of yourself, that somewhere at core you want to say, 'this is who I am'.

What's the most freeing thing you've accomplished this year?
This year? Or the most freeing thing I've ever done? In my recent years, being able to really boldly come out as a lesbian at sixty.

Some of the fans that I spoke to earlier were saying that she's really expanded the idea of what a woman can be for them, that 'woman' can mean so much more.
Helen: I think that those of us who have grown up much earlier on before we even heard of the idea of trans have had difficulty with managing our masculinity and femininity and balancing it in society. It's a very difficult issue, but it's really good to see someone like her being able to be figure-head somehow.

Kerry: I would be absolutely thrilled if her being able to be gender fluid and play with masculinity and play with femininity meant that young people coming through felt that it wasn't struggle and that they could play with it. I want society to change and not for people to feel they have to change. We need to be hungrier, and hurting more.

You can find Jess on Twitter and Instagram.

]]>ev3beeJess RoseRyan BassilJess RosefansChristine and the QueensImportant Questions Raised By...chris<![CDATA[The 100 Best Songs of 2018]]>, 06 Dec 2018 09:42:17 +0000Below are the 100 best songs of 2018 as chosen by the Noisey staff. Listen to them on Spotify. Also, check out our 100 best albums of 2018.


Pusha T’s “The Story of Adidon” barely functions as a song. It’s not supposed to. The incisive and destructive three-minute diss track is just that—a well-crafted diss track—but it’s clear with each line that Pusha T takes great pleasure in every moment. He spins a narrative that is clear, efficient, and memorable, questioning Drake’s ability to father a child he allegedly didn’t want, examining his fraught internal battle over being mixed race, and alluding to God’s foreclosure of his lifetime friend/producer 40. There are eternally damning lines everyone has quoted ad nauseum—including, of course, “You are hiding a child!,” and his vicious play on Drake’s “6” sample. “OVO 40, hunched over like he 80—tick, tick, tick,” Pusha raps. “How much time he got? That man is sick, sick, sick.”

But you already knew this. In fact, there’s been no chance to forget. Every month brings a new story, detail, or burst of verbal mud-slinging from both parties. And, in a twisted way, that’s what makes “Adidon” so special. The year has been marked with petty spats from badmind artists with fragile egos. We’ve been treated to Kanye and Drake’s annoying hate/love relationship; everything on Nicki Minaj’s Queen Radio; Jay-Z and Beyoncé quietly disrupting the release of Nas’ meh album with their own meh album, only for all parties to be defeated on the charts by an Australian boy band; 50 Cent spurring on his decade-plus beef with Ja Rule by allegedly buying out all the front-row tickets at his concert; this tweet about SZA’s voice; and Azealia Banks returning from the embers to accidentally get Tesla founder Elon Musk subpoenaed because, well, 420. And yet, “Adidon” is the particular piece of contention that stuck. Since it came out in May, there’s even been a conspiratorial argument to be made that it was a catalyst for all the aforementioned fuckery to follow.

Conversely, “Adidon” also embodies the point of exhaustion we’ve all felt as these beefs have stretched long past their expiration date. At the end of the song, Pusha raps, “If we all go to Hell, it'll be worth it.” Recently, during a show in Toronto, Pusha T was forced to endure his own kind of hell after being doused with alcohol by alleged Drake fans. In one fan-recorded video, Pusha, for obvious reasons, looked irritated. Maybe, for an instant, he wondered whether this ongoing feud was really worth it. Perhaps he was tired—look, after 2018, we all are. Next year has to be better. But for now, “Adidon” captures the wicked and trivial spirit of the present. —Jabbari Weekes | LISTEN

This article originally appeared on Noisey US.

qvqwymNoisey StaffFeaturesNoiseyNoisey 2018100 songs of 2018
<![CDATA[Jay Hype's "Days" Is About Relationship Struggles We've All Had]]>, 06 Dec 2018 09:41:44 +0000Relationships are hard work, and no one knows this better than Jersey City-based Jay Hype, who sings about her relatable romantic struggles in "Days," released as part of the Noisey x SoundCloud video series. The video was directed by Jack Begert, and the concept of it came from Jay herself. "You know I'll be okay, it's just one of them days," she sings in conversation with herself. Everyone has had some of those moments where they've gotten a little booze in their system and said and done things they probably shouldn't have, as Jay laments in the video. But in Jay's situation, there is a dramatic and sinister end. Watch the video above and be sure to check out previous instalments in the Noisey x SoundCloud Video Singles series.

This article originally appeared on Noisey US.

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<![CDATA[Cardi B Says She and Offset Are "Broken Up"]]>, 06 Dec 2018 09:40:37 +0000It's official(ish): Cardi B and Offset are over. The Invasion of Privacy rapper was weirdly calm last night when announcing the split on Instagram. "It's nobody's fault, I guess we just grew out of love. But we're not together anymore," she says, without a single "OKURRR" in an earshot. It's strange to see Cardi in such a downcast mood – even in her quietest moments she usually has a flair for theatrics.

"I've been trying to work things out with my baby father for a hot minute now... Things just haven't been working out between us for a long time. I don't know, it might take time to get a divorce and I'm always going to have a lot of love for him because he's my daughter's father," she continues in her version of a makeshift press conference.

The tone is a kinda necessary reminder that what goes on in a marriage really isn't anyone else's concern. As much as Cardi's made her life an open book, and as much as her relationship with Offset has been relatively public, they've kept a lot of it to themselves. In June, it was revealed that both rappers tied the knot in an intimate secret ceremony – a bummer for us because we are thoroughly invested in hip-hop's weddings. Cardi B didn't even announce her pregnancy until she was close to her last trimester.

Their history of keeping some of this stuff under wraps only makes this announcement even stranger. Is this really the way they would announce a separation? There's something in her delivery that makes me feel like this isn't completely over. There's no sense of urgency; the two are "broken up," but not seeking a speedy divorce. Offset has an album out next week. Is it possible there will be some answers there? If not, we can plan on revisiting this conversation around Valentine's Day, keeping in mind of course, that it's definitely none of our fucking business.

Kristin Corry is a staff writer for Noisey. Follow her on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Noisey US.

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<![CDATA["Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" Is Bleaker Than You Think]]>, 06 Dec 2018 09:40:05 +0000Since its debut in Vincente Minnelli's stunning 1944 musical Meet Me in St. Louis, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" has been covered and copied hundreds of times. It's become a go-to for singers in search of homely tenderness, a mainstay on supermarket Christmas CDs. It remains one of the top-20 most-played songs in America over the holiday period. But unlike almost everything else in rotation on FM pop radio through December, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is, deep down, crushingly sad. It's so melancholic that some artists have been trying to rob the song of its emotional core for three quarters of a century.

To understand its journey, you really have to begin with Judy Garland's original from Meet Me in St. Louis:

You'll notice here that the song has brought a young girl to tears. That's "Tootie" Smith (Margaret O'Brien) trying to come to terms with her family's impending move to New York, away from the family home in St. Louis. Her elder sister Esther (Garland) is desperately in love with the boy next door, and obviously doesn't want to leave either, but their father has business interests on the East Coast and that's seemingly all there is to it. Life and love must come second.

The lyrics seem hopeful at first, but they don't do a great job of consoling Tootie. Though the first three verses drift through a quiet optimism, the song ends with Garland hinting at the emotional disaster that she's facing, letting the mask slip for a second: "Someday soon we all will be together / If the fates allow / Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow." This might be why Tootie runs from the house as soon as the song is over and, fighting through tears, reduces those snowmen to icy mush.

It could have been so much sadder as well. The song is credited to Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, though after Blane's death in 1995, Martin insisted that he wrote the song by himself. His first version was, he told NPR's Terry Gross in 2010, just too sad for Garland: "The original version was so lugubrious that Judy Garland refused to sing it. She said, 'If I sing that to little Margaret O'Brien, they'll think I'm a monster.'" Martin said that he initially refused to budge and insisted that Garland sing the song his way. It took an intervention from Tom Drake (who played John Truett, the boy next door) to convince Martin to rewrite the truly depressing sections.

And they really were depressing. Chris Willman of Entertainment Weekly interviewed Martin about the song in 2007 and posted the original lyrics at the end of his piece. It's easy to see why Garland might have been wary of singing them to a seven-year-old kid. Instead of a song about persevering through misery cobbling things together in the midst of chaos, Garland would have ended up telling a little girl to abandon all hope. In the first verse, she'd have sung: "Have yourself a merry little Christmas / It may be your last / Next year we may all be living in the past." Her line about the magic of Christmas past would have been completely inverted: "No good times like the olden days / Happy golden days of yore / Faithful friends who were dear to us / Will be near to us no more." The way that Martin had it originally, the line about having to "muddle through" would have been the sweet chaser to a bitter pill.

But even the cleaned-up version that Garland ended up singing was too downcast for Frank Sinatra, who wanted to cover the song for his 1957 Christmas LP. According to Willman, Sinatra called Martin before recording the LP and asked for the "muddle through" lyric to be altered: "The name of my album is A Jolly Christmas. Do you think you could jolly up that line for me?” Martin, then less stubborn than he was in the mid 40s, happily agreed, removing the song's gut-wrenching conclusion and replacing it with something anodyne: "So hang a shining star upon the highest bough." With that, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" became the analgesic song that you can hear from one crooner or another in any department store today.

It's a shame that, in our collective desperation to treat Christmas as a Coca-Cola commercial, we've ended up with a pale imitation of a beautiful and emotionally nuanced song. Martin's original might have been too bleak for a blockbuster, but the lyrics that Garland had for her final verse in Meet Me in St. Louis hinted at the real anxiety and trepidation of midwinter, that sense of trying to hold things together in spite of everything. There's no good artistic reason to censor that. And it's not just hyper-commercial remakes that pull the line. Even the covers that I've grown to love, like Cat Power's whisper-quiet version from 2013, go with the Sinatrafied stand-in lyrics.

I'm not sure that anyone can ever fully reduce "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" to emotional neutrality. Martin's melody is too blue and too beautiful, the sudden reach into a minor key too mournful, to be broken by some disposable lyric. As long as the chords remain the same and Garland's version is still around for reference, it'll still be sad and complex. The ghost of that line will always be there. It'll still be a song about muddling through, somehow.

Alex Robert Ross will be on Twitter, if the fates allow.

This article originally appeared on Noisey US.

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<![CDATA[The 'Surviving R. Kelly' Premiere Was Disrupted By a Gun Threat]]>, 06 Dec 2018 09:38:52 +0000

On Tuesday night, a New York City screening of a new documentary series about the sexual assault allegations against R. Kelly was evacuated after receiving an anonymous gun threat phoned in to the police. According to BuzzFeed News, the event was disrupted less than in hour into the screening. The night was meant to premiere Surviving R. Kelly, Lifetime's new six-hour, three-part series documenting the decades of allegations against him, including his 2002 arrest, as well as the recent reports of a "sex cult," and the #MuteRKelly movement.

Guests of the evening included women who have accused Kelly of sexual assault, including Kitti Jones who said she was trained to be the singer's "sex pet" in this year's BBC documentary, R. Kelly: Sex, Girls, and Videotape. Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, was also in attendance to moderate a conversation for sexual assault survivors.

"What happened tonight was awful, especially for the women who had bravely shared their painful stories on camera for the purpose of putting a stop to the violence R. Kelly has committed against young girls for decades," Burke told Buzzfeed News.

Although the Lifetime Network confirmed with The Hollywood Reporter the call came from Chicago, the identity of the caller remains unknown. Surviving R. Kelly is still scheduled to air on Lifetime this January, as confirmed in a tweet by executive producer, dream hampton. "We will not be shut down. He will deal. Airs January 3."

Kristin Corry is a staff writer for Noisey. Follow her on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Noisey US.

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