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About Milly Reynolds. Milly Reynolds. Hi As you may have already guessed, Milly Reynolds is not my real name. I live in Lincolnshire and love the flat, endless landscapes and I want these to be seen in my books. Mike Malone has moved from the city to Lincolnshire - unlike me, I was born here and haven't moved. In my full-time, job I teach in a secondary school. I teach year-olds and as you might imagine, sometimes it is a real pleasure to come home and murder someone on paper.
It certainly releases the tension after a stressful day in the classroom. Accounting for the keen melodrama of both genres, it makes perfect sense that a hybridized form would triumph in this new streaming ecosystem. Juice WRLD is not the first or only artist to work in the emo-rap subgenre. The troubles of this music scene have been well covered; in brief, they reflect the real perils of our time — gun violence, a crisis of masculinity, dual drug and mental-health epidemics. If the pop-punk songs of decades past were grandiose enough to be written off as camp, then the latest wave of emo-rap seems somehow right-sized for the terrors of our moment.
Jamie Lauren Keiles is a writer in Queens working on a novel about smoking. A couple of weeks before she would step onstage to accept the Grammy for Album of the Year, Kacey Musgraves was under the covers in the bedroom at the back of her tour bus, pondering the nature of the universe. She had a little unexpected time on her hands. A show in Chicago had been canceled, thanks to the polar freeze that had descended over the Midwest, leaving her stuck in the middle of a vast tundra with a buildup of tour adrenaline and nowhere to put it. Later, she would stand in a diaphanous scarlet Valentino dress at the Grammys, giving a speech that could, given her tone and reputation, be read as subtly anti-authoritarian.
Not so much. And very responsibly! Enough to be able to get outside of yourself and see a different perspective or point of view. What makes Musgraves such a resonant figure right now, in fact, is the way her response to a dark, anxious moment in human history is to move willfully closer to lightness, to stillness, toward the possibility of a world that comes in more colors than red or blue.
When she talks about art thriving in this climate, she means it — just not in the same sense as, say, angry punks railing against the Reagan administration. What she means is that right now, the best rebellion involves turning off the hate and making space for hope.
I missed her in Chicago, where everyone was trapped inside, the streets vacant apart from the odd extreme-weather junkie taking photographs of ice floes. I had indeed seen her Instagramming this kind of mysterious, late-night Discovery Channel-type stuff — the sort of thing teenagers once saw at the IMAX theater on a field trip after getting stoned. How did she get into it? And yet even in her early years, when Musgraves looked more the part of your average Nashville aspirant, in cowboy boots and blond highlights, there was always a kind of poise, an innate regality that set her apart.
This, perhaps, is the other side of her East Texas grit — the one that manifests less as yee-haw joy and more as D. Musgraves grew up in Golden, Tex. She would make it happen on her own terms. And not in a baller way — like very small-business, check-to-check kind of a thing. But they made all their own decisions. Growing up, she had a Spice Girls poster in her room — Ginger, with her wild tattoo, made a strong impression — and listened to emo rock bands like the Used and Dashboard Confessional.
There was, of course, the requisite period in which a teenage Musgraves turned her back on the whole cowgirl thing. But this rebellion turned out to be short-lived.
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I want to mix that in with something modern. This is a big-deal event in the business; its attendees are queen-makers in an industry in which success is still determined by access to radio airwaves. A young woman takes the stage at the legendary Ryman Auditorium, the so-called Mother Church of country, about to play the song that could make or break her career. A star is born. For Musgraves, performing alongside Dolly Parton at the Grammys, winning Album of the Year, presenting an award at the Oscars — all of this is unequivocally her dream.
Wait, I can use my brain, sit on my ass and make a living? By the time Musgraves eventually located her particular voice, it was already honed to a sharp edge. Back on her bus, in Wisconsin, after playing to a couple thousand freezing fans who arrived lit and ready to party, Musgraves decompressed again. I enjoy it! She puttered around her kitchen, making mugs of ginger tea.
She might have scrolled through the looks her stylist had just sent through for the Grammys; she was still searching for something just right to match Dolly Parton. If I ever have a girl, it could be cute to give her P.
Sparkles, or Makeup Beauty, or whatever, you know? Lots to do. She carries her Bluetooth speaker from room to room with the tender devotion of a mother cat ferrying kittens across a flooded stream. Over the last year, an increasingly dominant voice in this mix has been Post Malone, a year-old sort-of-rapper from suburban Dallas.
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Like most other post-Drake stars, he is an amphibious rap-singer who likes to brag about his vast wealth and sexual conquests — except when he is spending long soulful interludes lamenting exactly those things. But Post Malone, my daughter helped me understand, is popular as much for his persona as for his music.
He is a superhero of silly, sloppy, irresponsible ease — a hard-living, cheerful goofball whose happiness makes everyone else happy. He seems to smile with extra teeth. Everything he does seems half-accidental.
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He first learned to play guitar because he was extremely good at the video game Guitar Hero. He chose his stage name using an online rap-name generator. His real name is Austin Post. This sort of giddy misidentification is, in fact, the key to Post Malone. He is not exactly a rapper but is also not not a rapper.
His musical roots reach down to country, metal, folk and rock — online, you can watch him play loving covers of Bob Dylan and Nirvana. And yet his megasuccess has mainly come under the umbrella of hip-hop. He says he prefers to think of himself as beyond genre, which is convenient, because he has sometimes been head-slappingly inarticulate on the subject. Post Malone, in other words, is a big roiling mess of contradictions. No wonder he is so popular with teenagers. This also makes Post Malone a perfect fit for Spider-Man, the canonical story of awkward adolescent empowerment.
We meet the teenage Miles Morales in his bedroom, alone, doodling and bobbing his head to the bouncy hit about a dysfunctional relationship. The awkward teenager is called, awkwardly, out into the world. Amid all the cringiness, his unexpected superpowers will bloom. Adolescence, despite its obvious flaws, can still save the world.
It is both a brazen bid for the big time and a disquietingly intimate glimpse inside a wildly idiosyncratic mind — in tantalizing, and occasionally maddening, chunks of tightly rationed time. Each track ends after no more than one minute: some segue seamlessly into the next musical idea, some cut off in what feels like midverse. Whack — as opposed to, say, Frank Ocean — is by no means a piner. Past romance is referenced from time to time, but largely in passing, as if the interesting stuff lay elsewhere.
In spite of its undeniable of-the-moment-ness, this is not a collection of music best served by Spotify or any other randomized and algorithm-driven playlist. And what a short, strange trip it was. Music has mourned the death of our planet for decades. How do we prepare for devastation, and can we reckon with how useless our efforts to stop it have been? Such questions have largely gone unasked in the indie sphere, especially as the genre signifier has transitioned over the last decade from ethos to marketing term.
We asked Grimes to elaborate. The lyrics are so worshipful. There's a subtext that they're kind of scared. But A. They made me. Just at random. And it will know everything about everybody. So it will be angry and punish people who try to inhibit it. I'm not necessarily positive that A. Like with corruption in government, it's potentially worth taking the chance of having an A.
Because at least it's objective and probably doesn't care about money. It can just get whatever it wants. Maybe the A. But the main people who are going to be saved are the people working to bring it to fruition. Sigh, stare up at the ceiling fan and ponder the song as if it were a text? Or do what you do when some other tune catches you — flail your limbs, move your hips in weird little circles, bob your head rhythmically up and down?
The world was built for pop songs: Public spaces pump the voices of stars through speakers the way air flows through ventilation ducts, and that sweet, consistent flavor — like Diet Coke or pamplemousse LaCroix — pairs easily enough with any modern pastime. But if the territory of pop music is everywhere, how and where does a piece of art pop — something equal parts challenging and engaging — make its home? Julia Holter, a Los Angeles-based artist with a background in composition, answers this question by creating otherworldly spaces in her own work.
From its opening — a cacophony of cymbals and anxiously pacing strings — the album is a study in creating a private dwelling place amid the chaos and uncertainty of the world. The worlds glimpsed here are varied, sometimes wildly so, but what they share is the sense that they are not so much depicting reality as taking inspiration from it, channeling familiar features into new forms.
Holter, in other words, takes the garden path to catharsis, allowing something uplifting to emerge from the tumult, making chaos resolve itself into something humane and beautiful and full of intention. And she has found, even at music festivals and rock clubs, hushed and attentive audiences for this. Her performances are absorbing: They highlight the organic beauty and authority of her voice, the way the meanings of words can be a sort of veneer over their untamed musicality.
The music rewards more than just hearing it. It rewards some other kind of listening, asking you to let yourself become porous. And lately it can fill an appetite that seems both modern and primal at once: to make whole a fractured attention span, to find a ritual that works.
Our days are full of tiny slivers of time that we offhandedly cram with music, filling the gaps between tasks and places like someone idly coloring in a picture. Though the song began as a demo by the L. Neither does Adam Levine who gets a writing credit or his happy-to-be-here sidemen who constitute the Maroon 5 touring entity.
As the camera circles, Levine stands in the center of a soundstage, arms by his side, his voice skipping nimbly over the melody.
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As the verse-chorus unfolds, Levine is joined one at a time, their backs to his back, by the 26 women. Then, less than two minutes in, he suddenly disappears, as if ceding the spotlight. When Cardi B delivers her final flourish, he returns briefly, but by the end of the video, the soundstage is occupied by only the women.
Adam Levine is to a rock star as a rock star is to a rapper. At least in this moment, he leaves the pocket T-shirt on, keeps the guitar in the closet and hands the mic to the long-suffering women who have chosen to support him. For the first time, maybe ever, he flashes some legit star-power potency. What in the world happened here? I was only gone for an hour! Some elements were familiar a crew of guys in front of a brownstone, drinking and mugging for the camera , and some were menacing the number of red bandannas and guns on display , but it was the man at the center of the video who startled me most; he seemed almost precision-engineered to make people feel old.
In an era when most young rappers have a couple of face tattoos, 6ix9ine had the number 69 inked above his right eye in point type. He had the same number spelled out in cursive over his left eye. It was everywhere on his body. Within about a year, he would be in federal custody, a year-old facing life in prison for a number of charges, including racketeering and attempted murder.
Normally this sort of arrest leads to an outcry about literal-minded police overreach. Not this time. People generally seemed pleased to see the rapper in cuffs. This was partly because 6ix9ine was universally reviled by music critics and journalists, on account of a crime he committed before he became famous: In , he pleaded guilty to the use of a minor in a sexual performance, for having filmed and shared on social media a video of a girl performing oral sex on his friend. But it was also because he had spent the past year living the life of a Looney Tunes character: courting danger, narrowly escaping it, then taunting his foes.
This genuinely incredible run netted him more than stories on TMZ: gang members in San Antonio threatening his life; a shootout at the Barclays Center; shots fired at a video shoot in Brooklyn; more shots fired at a Beverly Hills video set. Through it all, he posted on Instagram, usually wearing red, often handling bricks of cash, sometimes clutching extremely illegal-looking guns, but never betraying an ounce of concern for his well-being.
Cultivating this sort of personal mythology is not at all new; it dates back to the earliest days of gangsta rap. Ever since Eazy-E bankrolled NWA with drug money, a certain proximity to criminality has been expected of certain rappers. Not long ago, rappers had just a few limited channels through which to prove that they did: lyrics, album art and, if they were famous enough, music videos.
Like Old Testament gods, they willed whole universes into being through their words. Now they have social media. This sort of online mythmaking is second nature to SoundCloud rappers, so called for the streaming service that birthed the scene. SoundCloud rap is not characterized by a particular sound so much as its anarchic energy — the face tattoos, the prescription drugs, the orthographically complex handles.
The problem, for 6ix9ine, was that a big part of his adopted persona, both on Instagram and in his music, involved being a member of the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods. According to a Rolling Stone profile that came out after his arrest in November, this was essentially an act: Danny Hernandez, in the years leading up to his fame, had been a trollish and goofy Bushwick deli employee; his industry blacklisting had pushed him into the hands of an apparently gang-affiliated manager, who also provided him with a new edge.
Maybe the whole thing really was a put-on, but also, he really did it. The Rolling Stone article recounts how, at his arraignment, the presiding judge asked the prosecution how it knew Hernandez was at real-life crime scenes. A liminal space has always existed between rappers and their personas. The gap between 6ix9ine and Danny Hernandez was considerably wider, but he snapped it shut with his phone, merging fantasy with reality through a front-facing camera.
It was reported in February that 6ix9ine, who pleaded guilty, agreed to help prosecutors in their case against his co-defendants, hoping for leniency: a reduced sentence and possibly witness protection. But helping 6ix9ine disappear into some corner of America might prove difficult, and not just because of the tattoos. In , the Swedish singer-songwriter Robyn turned 14 and finished middle school; then she signed a record deal.
A feeling of healing from sadness and wanting to share that with the world and with myself — a sense of self-love, excitement, some kind of peace of mind. Like when your strength is coming back. Intimacy, definitely, but it could be with yourself. Any experience you have that will give you a new point in your scale of emotions will make any other experience richer because you have a new point of reference.
Not reserving that deep pleasure for a sexual sensation, but something you could experience day to day. Intimacy in every little thing. I feel like I have to work for it every day.
You get it going and then you can use it and tend to it and start it back up again. Is your fire well tended? Not at all. I maybe need to go back and listen to some of my songs myself to figure this out. Your songs are known for intermingling sadness and euphoria.
I used to believe it would all make sense if you just powered through. Post-recession capitalism has glorified the hustle so much. But you can actually use a story that relates to something more real than buying yourself out of anxiety. Definitely: Pop at the moment is depressing. Hip-hop is really dark. The music kids are listening to is heavy! Is the industry set up for artists to be able to share their pain but protect themselves?
People want you to be vulnerable. You turn 40 this June. I think it can be that, for sure. It was hard to tell how many people in the club liked flamenco, an art form not much associated with young people anymore. Some of the younger girls even twerked. She sounds and feels cosmopolitan, cool in a sophisticated and almost foreign way. Her own aesthetic is polished, globally recognizable, informed by hip-hop and trap music.
Maybe this is the price of success in a culture that looks askance at overt displays of ambition or self-actualization, especially by women. The local fascination tended to focus less on her art and more on her as a phenomenon, on the extraordinary speed of her rise to stardom. It would spark arguments too, about cultural appropriation and the Romany community, who have always been closely associated with flamenco. A woman gets married to a man who later grows jealous and imprisons her. What sort of place were you at in your life when you wrote this song? Obviously I was working a lot.
I had already toured Europe and the U. I wanted to make a banger to play live — I just picked up my microphone and started talking. The song came out in a funny way, but the undertone is serious. Whatever you do, whatever amount of energy you put into something, you have to do it for yourself and not to please others. Not to build this facade or this persona or achievement. Do you think people base too much of their self-worth on their work? We live in a society that is based on work — goals, achievement, money. Of course!
But I think you become a much more useful person if you learn how to love yourself. It would be hard to know. It looks really fun and glamorous. And it is, sometimes, for a few hours. I wish I had your life. Do you think I woke up one morning and became who I am? People think of the dance floor as this freeing space. For me, at least, it is. It used to be different.
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When I was 16 and I started going out in Montreal, going to underground parties and raves and clubs, it was magical. I was going there for fun. Even if I was playing, it was special. That space is now a work space for me. Now if I want to feel something mind-blowing or magical, I have to look for it outside of club culture. The music never loses its magic, but the social thing happening at a party or something like that? It sounds as though the song stemmed from your personal experience, but it feels universal. When I made it, I knew anyone could relate.
Because this is the time we live in. Everything goes really fast now. People are expected to produce and achieve. So how do you make art under capitalism? I never did. Blake, a Grammy-winning avant-gardist with an ear for pop, who has been playing the piano since he was about 6, has a long list of heroes whom he has studiously copied in pursuit of his own sound. Copying the virtuoso jazz-pianist Art Tatum, the protominimalist French composer Erik Satie and the midcentury gospel maestro the Rev.
James Cleveland taught Blake novel ways of opening up complex chord structures and fitting them — to gorgeous, aching effect — around deceptively simple melodies. Copying singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder emboldened him to write and sing pop songs with increasing emotional candor. Blake stands at an imposing 6-foot-6 and carries himself with the deliberateness of a man at risk of scraping his head on doorways. At their feet, black cables snaked and cloverleafed among clusters of red-, blue-, silver- and cream-colored effects pedals, like tracks connecting villages in a model-train set.
When I recorded it, I broke the vocal up. The extent to which Blake has digested the lessons of his musical heroes is illustrated not only by his decade-spanning run of singles, EPs and albums but also by the number of pop auteurs who have collaborated with him. As an influence and a collaborator, Blake has helped shape two of the more striking trends in contemporary pop: beats that mutate over the course of a song, resisting any traditionally identifiable center, and an emotional atmosphere in which the line between hedonism and melancholy, bliss and despair comes undone.
In , I visited Drake — a pop giant whose entire musical project has been about smudging the line between hedonism and melancholy — at a converted Toronto warehouse, where he was working on his second album with his musical right hand, the producer known as Five-odd years ago, Blake suffered from a depression so severe that he considered suicide. Blake was two and a half weeks into rehearsals for a tour that would take him around the country and then around the world.
Blake furrowed his brow. As its lyrics switch between optimistic vows of commitment and confessions of insecurity, this duality is echoed in the music, which consists of two alternating piano motifs — one shimmering, the other overcast. The track began as a long, meandering improvisation from which Blake eventually sampled two disparate chunks, putting them into jarring conversation. The first section has the tonic as the bass note, which gives it this firmly rooted presence, whereas the other section has the third in the bass, which makes it feel suspended — which is when the lyrics turn to self-doubt.
Blake was raised by his father, James Litherland, a singer-songwriter and guitarist with a prog-rock pedigree, and his mother, a graphic designer and cycling instructor, in Enfield, a North London suburb. He described his life from adolescence on as largely unhappy, warm and supportive parents notwithstanding. Romantic and personal betrayals. And just a feeling of persecution. So that was my childhood, that reflex being stamped out of me.
And it stayed with me well into my 20s. As important as his classes were the nighttime excursions he took to clubs like Plastic People and Mass. There, Blake discovered a community of producers and D. Whereas an amped-up version of dubstep soon grew into a global phenomenon, throbbing in GoPro commercials and glitzy Las Vegas clubs, it was more subtle in its dynamics at first. Its architects assumed gnomic pseudonyms like Coki, Skream and Loefah and tended to direct attention away from themselves and toward the dance floor.
On small but influential labels, he began releasing his own dubstep-inspired songs marked by his sophisticated harmonic sense. The screen stopped being the game and started being the void. I had physical tremors and panic attacks and had to go to my room and just lie there. He was having trouble writing new music, which inspired an existential dread in him.
Thinking about nothingness. I was just despondent. So I was at that point. And I was caught just in time. It was Jamil who caught him — she, more than anyone else in his life, Blake said, helped him to break free of his self-destructive tendencies, prodding him to speak up when he grew sullen and requiring complete emotional transparency. It would be important, Blake said, when playing these songs live, to carve out room for improvisatory runs. The trio rode out the song with a jam session, adding layer after layer of noise on their way to a squalling crescendo.
You will consider it a statement that mimics the nonstop rattle of social media and the slow drip of Trump-era anxiety. Perhaps Greta Van Fleet should have called themselves the There was no such thing as logging off back then, so his symbol of freedom and release was an old-fashioned one: bicycling. The is trying its hardest. For Mercury and his bandmates, there was no line between stupid and clever; in many of the best Queen songs, stupid is clever. Part of the thrill of listening to Queen is hearing them get away with this sublime silliness, again and again.
There may be no other way for a proper rock band to act. When one of them quits, Michael pleads with him. It can still conjure sense memories of decades past — windows down, crooning out into the forgiving dusk. The image comes from the filmmaker Katherine Dieckmann.
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