Beyond The Stage Magazine - January 2020

Page 1

BEYOND the stage













Revisit our previous issues at:


Buy a print copy of ANY issue at:

Beyond The Stage is a digital music publication based in the United States. You can read Beyond The Stage Magazine online for free or visit our website to buy a hard copy. Previous issues are always available to read online or order in print.


Addie Whelan Alyssa Buzzello Audrey Battis Blake Charles Chelsea Gresh Dana Jacobs Gina Scarpino Ivy Sandoval Joe Hernandez Lauren Klonowski Maggie Montgomery Marissa Sandoval Marlowe Teichman Nicolita Bradley Quinn Beaupre Samantha Aneed Sara Feigin



Addie Whelan Alyssa Buzzello Audrey Battis Bernadette Castillo Blake Charles Chelsea Gresh Dana Jacobs Gina Scarpino Maggie Montgomery Marissa Sandoval Marlowe Teichman Quinn Beaupre Sara Feigin

For Feature & Show Inquiries:

For advertising inquiries:

Follow us for updates at: @BTSMAG





43 LENNON STELLA 06 CYN 20 Best of 2019 53 iHeart Jingle Ball

12 NEFFEX 40 Z100 All Access Lounge 59 Ryland James 67 Amber Run

04 Bishop Briggs 05 Sam Fender 10 Manchester Orchestra 11 From Indian Lakes 16 Maisie Peters 17 BENEE 18 Bea Miller 19 MisterWives 37 Banks 38 Matt Maeson 39 Goo Goo Dolls 49 Cher 50 Chelsea Cutler 51 Turnover 52 Caamp 56 Alec Benjamin 57 Michael Blume 58 WHOHURTYOU 63 FINNEAS 64 Shane Smith & The Saints 65 Matt & Kim 66 Matt Bemis & Perma 71 Kim Petras 72 The Get Up Kids 73 The Chainsmokers
















In passing, you might think CYN is just another pop artist. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. CYN, born Cynthia Nabozny takes fun pop music and breathes new life into it thanks to her multi-genre influences. She’s out to create something new and different that will connect people deeply. It might seem like a daunting task, but she’s already carved out some promising music that will be sure to set her apart in the music scene. This dream of making music that is unique and fun didn’t happen overnight. In fact, CYN has been dabbling in music since her very early years of life. She says that her parents’ divorce was a big driver of her love for music. “While my parents were going through their divorce, my mom was playing ‘Foolish Games’ by Jewel a lot in the car--I had to have been like three or four years old-- but I just remember loving that song so much and I knew from then that I was gonna be a singer; that music was going to be a really big part of my life. I really don’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t obsessed with singing.” From that inspiration, CYN went on to further develop her interest in music as well as her music abilities. She started writing songs at nine, took piano lessons as a preteen and really got into making her own music in her late teen years. Growing up, she had a lot of musical influences, specifically within the genre of Motown, thanks to her Detroit roots. “I just love Motown in general. It’s like my ‘getting ready’ music when I’m about to go out,” CYN says. Make no mistake, she loves other genres as well -- as a pop artist, she uses musical influences just about everywhere to craft her unique sound. “I love Jewel and Sheryl Crow. I just feel like I tend to gravitate towards female songwriters, almost in an unfair way. I literally don’t listen to men. I love them but for other reasons [laughs]. I love Rosalita -- she’s incredible, she’s my favorite right now. She makes me feel like I can be the leader of a badass girl gang and ride a Kawasaki.” With these influences in mind, she makes her own music. When she’s asked how she would describe her sound, she says, “I start by saying that it’s pop music. Then, I say there are some electric guitars on it, though. It’s a little left-leaning--depending on who I am talking to, they get what that means. The recent stuff I have been writing has a lot of live elements, too. But the drums are programmed, so I’ve been adding a lot of 808’s and subs to my music, kind of how ‘Never-ending Summer’ feels a little bit more hip-hop, things are kind of veering into that world and less like a live drum feel, which is just kind of because of trends. But, it’s like alternative-pop. BTS 7 With a little bit of sub and 808.”

When first crafting her sound, she teamed up with producer Matias Mora. “We worked so well together. You know when you just sit down with someone and just vibe right away, you kind of let them help you into a path. Matias is a little more alternative-leaning naturally, so he really helped me fuse this like girly, sassy attitude but backing it with things that I think are more masculine elements like the electric guitar. I think there is a nice balance in ‘Holy Roller’. The track doesn’t go totally bubble-gum, and it could have. He helped me find my sound.” Her latest EP, Mood Swing is a seven-song work that explores different genres sprinkled over some really good pop music. When writing songs for the EP, she says, “A lot of my songs stemmed from one sentence. ‘I’ll Still Have Me’ came from this one idea of, ‘If I don’t have you, at least I’ll still have me’ -- just that line alone. Every lyrical choice and every melodic choice was set up to support that one sentence. I mean, that’s how a lot of the other songs were written as well. ‘Holy Roller’ that whole, ‘I’m feelin’ like a Holy Roller’ like I joined a cult’ was the first thing I wrote. ‘Never-ending Summer’ was like that, ‘Nobody’s Keeping Score’ was like that, it all kind of comes down to supporting that one mega-sentence. The top line. Or in college, we say, ‘The thesis statement’. It’s the same thing in a song. It’s like a mini-essay and each piece is leading up to the point, which is the hook. That’s the way I look at it at least.” When asked how she finds those lines and whether they come from her daily conversations or are something she takes the time to specifically think about and craft, she says, “It’s just kind of the things that I find myself saying over and over to my friends. Or things that I find myself writing over and over in my journal. After reflecting for like a whole two pages, what’s the last sentence of my journal entry? Usually that to me, is like the title.” It’s no secret that “Terrible Ideas” was a standout track from Mood Swing. It had a great, unique sound and the video was thought-provoking and overall just entertaining to watch. When it comes to the process of penning the track, CYN breaks down the wall and gets honest with us and tells the entire story of her relationship that inspired the track.



“I was dating this guy, (I’m not dating him anymore, I’m single now) [laughs]. When we first started hooking up, the first night, our first date, he was like, ‘I want you to marry me. Will you marry me?’ The

date was great he was being so sweet, and it was hot. He noticed when I would get excited when he would say stupid things like that because one of my things is that I am quick to be domestic. I am a traditional girl in a way. I mean I definitely see myself as a working woman, but I am looking forward to having a family and all that. I definitely don’t see myself as a 1960’s housewife but this is something I value, having a partner. Anyway, he started saying those kinds of things and at one point he’d be talking about things like getting an apartment together and then turn around and he’d say with a smirk, ‘Nevermind. That’s a terrible idea.’ He had an English accent, so I was like, ‘Oh my god, say it one more time and it’s going to be a song.’” And so it did. Creating the video was a good experience too, she says. “It was really low-key and chill. We had this plexiglass hanging from this clamp and I was behind it and I was spraying the water and singing. It was really quick, super-simple and probably the rawest video I’ve ever done.” Performing is usually one of the best perks for musical artists and CYN relates. She even takes it as an opportunity to show a different side of herself. “I really love to play a character, in a way. I love to get on stage and mold my words and senses to a magical feeling. I love creating a character out of my songs and then being that character on stage.” She also loves the chance to connect with young people and help them realize their dreams and that they have the power to achieve anything they put their minds to. “I spoke at my middle school last summer. A lot of young people came up to me and were like, ‘I was bullied too and I like to sing too’ and I guess I just love influencing young people and making them feel like no matter where you’re from or what your parents do, you can follow your dream, whatever that is. You just have to network and be professional and you can do anything. Young people are the most important thing to me when it comes to my shows.” Looking forward, CYN already has more music lined up. “I have a couple of songs coming out. Some of the songs are more rock & roll leaning. One of them is about getting drinks with your girlfriend after a dude is giving you an attitude. A line in it is, ‘He got mad, I got drinks.’ It’s kind of spoken, kind of hip-hop sounding, but there’s still this really feminine aspect to it. Hopefully more music videos, more songs and more shows.” She is also hitting the road with singer-songwriter Sasha Sloan this spring. We look forward to hearing the new music and seeing just where 2020 takes CYN. BTS












When you meet at fifteen years old, there’s going to be an undeniable connection in your future. For NEFFEX (Bryce Savage and Cameron Wales), the gateway to music was creating a pop-punk band. In an interview with Beyond The Stage, Savage shared, “I had two friends that were in the band. Cameron was in the band as well and that’s kind of how I got invited to come participate. When I came into the band, we kind of just hit it off as friends. After that, the band kind of broke up and we ended up just splitting off and doing our own thing.” Influenced by 90s music, Savage and Wales created NEFFEX, a duo who defies genres and creates music how they want, instead of how they’re perceived. In just a one-year period, NEFFEX released 100 tracks over 100 weeks, all of which are available on streaming services. “A lot of [releasing those 100 songs] was emphasizing our grind. I think a lot of it was kind of us fighting for getting the opportunity to do what we do now, so it was a lot more of fighting through our day jobs and just kind of motivating ourselves to just keep going even though things felt like they couldn’t. I’d say that was a big kicker in a lot of our stuff. And in all honesty, there are always a few girls we dated and that’s where a lot of inspiration came from,” said Wales. Expanding on that idea, Savage shared, “You’ll hear it a lot of our earlier 100 songs in 100 weeks, like [Wales] said, we were grinding, we were in that apartment, so it’s very motivational. Once we kind of started graduating from that, we started songwriting more about what he said: girls we’ve dated or stories we’ve heard from friends, because it’s not always about us. Sometimes, especially with a hundred songs, you run out of things to write about and so you listen to other people, you watch a movie or something and it makes you feel some type of way and then you start writing about that-it’s just a bunch of different influences.” With that exploration, NEFFEX settled on a sound, which defies genres and has landed them mentions from major music publications like Billboard along with more than two million monthly listeners on Spotify. “If you go through the hundred songs it bounces from pop to hip-hop to rock to punk to EDM. So we BTS


kind of describe it like Linkin Park; it’s like our own thing where it’s really hard to be like, ‘Oh like what was their genre?’ and [Linkin Park] said new metal and all sorts of things, but it was ‘They just kind of sound like them.’ That’s kind of what we’re going for and kind of what we like to do,” Savage shared. Influenced by music from the 90s, NEFFEX claims their sound is influenced by Nirvana, Third Eye Blind, Blink-182, Good Charlotte and more, which has ultimately built into their latest release, an EP titled, Q203. “[The recording process] was actually a lot. We honed in on a lot more because coming out of our apartment with those hundred songs, we used to record everything in there. Now with the EP, we took so much more time and I think we took about two or three months of writing, mixing and mastering instead of the one week. So, we honed in on the quality of it and getting it to where we really wanted and had time to work on it. It’s kind of



the difference of probably just time. Just having more time to work on it was a big difference for us in quality,” Wales said. He continued, “As an artist when you’re doing it all yourself as one sole person, it’s really hard because you can’t really escape from it too much. It was really nice having the process that we did where a lot of the producing and writing was on [Savage’s] side and I’d take care of the engineering. That way, [Savage] got a break for his ear and then he can freshly hear it and then we kind of improve upon the song which was nice instead of it being like, ‘I don’t even know if it sounds like a good song anymore.’ It was nice being able to pass it along and have refreshers and breaks. As we’re growing now, it’s nice that we’re working with other engineers. It makes us feel more creative and has us spending less time worrying about every little step of it.” After days in the studio and building Q203, NEFFEX has ventured out into the world performing on a European

tour earlier this year which has built a strong connection with their fans. “We’re always trying to connect to our fans in any way possible. Texting, Instagram for sure and just anyone who’s willing to converse with us. We’re happy to hear their stories. Some people bring us letters. We love talking to people in person. A lot of times that’s such a better way for us to connect. We just try our best. On our tour we did like a two-hour meet-and-greet after every single show and met every single person that was willing to stay because that’s what it’s all about,” Savage said. Wales added, “We get messages from fans all the time, which is such a good feeling. Especially things that we’ve helped get them through, things they’re grinding through, goals that they have and things that they’re trying to get out of.” Before seeing NEFFEX live, Savage and Wales shared that fans can expect tons of energy at their shows, screaming lyrics and that if fans are excited, they’ll be excited in return. Now that their European tour is complete, with more shows on the horizon, NEFFEX shared with Beyond The Stage plans for a United States tour, along with a festival in Germany. And if you thought their plans for releasing more music were on hold, NEFFEX has an album coming out later this year. In closing, Wales said, “Work hard, play hard, that’s an overall emphasis of everything we do.” And we can’t wait to see what they work towards next.






















her first-ever number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 list. The record is filled with bangers that truly show off not only Lizzo’s vocal chops This year, at the age of 17, Billie Eilish released but also her writing ability. Lizzo won over the this debut album that quickly became a hit and hearts of the general public this year with catchy contender for the best album this year. Her dark hooks and quotable lines. The past few years and brooding twist on pop captured everyone’s of Lizzo’s career have been an uphill battle, but attention including accolades from legendary with the release of Cuz I Love You she’s finally Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and Billie Joe getting to coast for a little while. - Sara Feigin Armstrong of Green Day. This album earned Eilish six Grammy nominations this year, and it is 4. thank you, next - Ariana Grande definitely one of the best of 2019. - Alyssa Buzzello One of the very best albums from 2019 came 2. Happiness Begins - Jonas Brothers into play pretty early in the year. thank u, next dropped on February 8, 2019, and most will The Jonas Brothers returning and making a agree it’s some of Ariana Grande’s best work yet. comeback was the biggest and most welcome Without a doubt, it’s her most honest work to surprise of 2019. Happiness Begins is the band’s date and that proves to be a strong reason for the fifth studio album, and first in ten years. It not only album’s success. She talks about her own trials shows what a Jonas Brothers’ album in today’s and tribulations in love and how she has chosen world would sound like with the growth of each to focus on herself for the first time. She does all brother’s art and music, but it also shows their this while simultaneously crafting, fun different growth as individual people. Over their hiatus, and just overall infectious pop music that the the brothers have all aged, matured and even masses loved. - Lauren Klonowski married. With Kevin being the quiet Jonas, Joe and Nick have both seen their own music charting 5. Heard It In A Past Life - Maggie Rogers success through DNCE and solo endeavors. The boys reunite 10 years later with chart-topping There’s no doubt that 2019 was the year of Maggie tracks, summer anthems and a brotherly bond Rogers. At the top of the year, her album Heard stronger than ever. Following the record’s release, It In A Past Life made a massive splash - leaving the band took off on 2019’s largest and longest an impression on music fans around the globe. tour to give every fan across the U.S. a chance Her infectious mixture of pop, folk, alternative to see what they’ve been missing after all these and R&B influences landed the album in the years. - Joe Hernandez number two spot on the Billboard Top 200. It’s great success launched Rogers’ into a busy year 3. Cuz I Love You - Lizzo of touring which included multiple sold-out tours, an epic stint on the festival circuit, and ended with Lizzo has taken the world by a storm over 2019, an unforgettable show in Nashville opening for while the Chicago-based artist has been making Kacey Musgraves. Her success is sure to continue music for most of her life, 2019 was the year of into the new year as she embarks on the next Lizzo. The album includes re-releases of older chapter of her career. - Gina Scarpino singles such as “Truth Hurts” which won Lizzo BTS


A RT I ST O F T H E Y E A R 1. Billie Eilish

place to start: “I can’t promise I won’t change or that I won’t fall in love with new people or ideas that’ll 2019 was the year of Billie Eilish. Racking in six change the way I see the world, but I can promise Grammy nominations, winning Apple Music’s to be me.” - Blake Charles Global Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and Album of the Year to performing at Coachella, Eilish 4. Jonas Brothers took over the world. What’s even more impressive is that she accomplished all of this before turning The Jonas Brothers are back and they weren’t 18. There’s no end to praise around how talented just going to leave 2019 without making it their Eilish is. We have loved watching her completely year. After a six-year hiatus, the brothers made dominate this year and look forward to seeing how their debut return with their single “Sucker” which she tackles 2020. - Nicolita Bradley landed the bros their second Grammy nomination for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. The Jonas 2. Lizzo Brothers also hit the road for 41 shows across the United States for their sold-out Happiness Begins 2019 was Lizzo’s year. The singer, rapper, flutist tour. From a chart-topping album, accolades and exploded with her track “Truth Hurts”, which spent nominations, inspiring documentary and explosive seven weeks at the top of the US charts, tying it tour, The Jonas Brothers are back and not stopping for the longest a female rap single has ever been anytime soon. - Marlowe Teichman on the charts. While it may seem as if Lizzo’s success appeared out of nowhere, the Detroit5. Taylor Swift born performer has been on the road for nearly a decade, touring as a solo artist since 2013. With the Taylor Swift, whether it’s from love or hate or simply internet providing a seemingly endless stream of indifference, is truly a pop star known in just about negativity, Lizzo was the light in the dark. Her self- every household. Making her triumphant return accepting, body-positive movement has proven to with album Lover, this 18-track pop anthem that inspire fans across the globe, ensuring that she is seems to touch down on the more emotional and here to stay. - Quinn Beaupré vulnerable side of things. From her collab with Brendon Urie on “ME!” to the title track “Lover,” 3. Maggie Rogers this album truly shows the brilliance of both songwriting and range from Taylor. With a diverse As an artist, making yourself known is an impressive range of influences on this latest album, this feels feat. Making yourself understood, however, is an like one of the most genuinely Taylor Swift albums even more impressive feat, and Maggie Rogers has we’ve received from Swift so far. From announcing done just that. Her music exudes a palpable feeling her Lover festivals for 2020 to having to fight for the of timelessness, as she invites you to dance while right to her masters back, Swift is clearly anything giving you a shoulder to cry on. In 2019 alone, but slowing down. While public opinion on Swift she’s released her stellar debut album In a Past seems to vary from moment to moment, you Life, embarked on her first headlining tour, and cannot deny her talent and the fact that no one has was nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammys. worked harder to try to make 2019 their year. Truly, There are far too many reasons to list why Maggie her return with Lover was a memorable moment, Rogers has become one of the year’s defining one that seems to stand above the rest of a lot of voices, but we think this quote is a pretty good the musical returns this year. - Audrey Battis BTS


B E ST CO L L A B O R AT I O N S 1. “Old Town Road” - Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus In 2019, hearing this unlikely collaboration between new rapper Lil Nas X and country veteran Billy Ray Cyrus was unavoidable. The song was on the charts for 19 weeks this year and was the longest leading number-one single in Hot 100 history. Even better, the catchy and hilarious collaboration birthed remixes which further featured Diplo, Young Thug and Mason Ramsey. - Alyssa Buzzello 2. “Senorita” - Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello This year, the Mendes Army and Camilizers got what they have been wanting for a few years when Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello released “Senorita” in the summer. The two pop stars came together to release their second collab since their 2014 single. “Senorita” took over the radio and charts becoming #1 and most-streamed song of the year. - Ivy Sandoval

artists from different genres coming together to make something great. - Lauren Klonowski 4. “Good As Hell (Remix)” - Lizzo, Ariana Grande The rising pop singer Lizzo teamed up with pop superstar Ariana Grande for a remix of her single “Good As Hell.” Grande added her own verse to the hit-making it an even more feel-good, women empowering anthem. The two most popular women in music right now coming together to end the year with a hit is what we all needed. - Ivy Sandoval 5. “Mean It” - Lauv, LANY

For quite some time, Lauv and LANY had been teasing fans about the possibility of a collaboration. This fall, they finally graced their fans with “Mean It,” which perfectly blends Lauv and LANY’s sounds. “Mean It” details the feeling of wanting to mean more to someone even though you have always 3. “Lonely” - Jonas Brothers, Diplo been their second choice. The emotion behind the song’s sentiment paired with the song’s production With so many fun and exciting collaborations this perfectly captures that pain and devastation. Just year, it’s hard to make this list. The Jonas Brothers after the song’s release, LANY and Lauv released the and Diplo have a very interesting relationship -- video for “Mean It,” which appropriately represents starting off with Diplo live-streaming Joe Jonas’ the song and the story it tells. - Gina Scarpino wedding to Sophie Turner on Instagram, to a Twitter takeover, to this great track being made. It’s relatable and fun with lyrics that bring people together. They even created a video to go along with the song and it’s another great example of



B E ST CO M E B AC K S 1. Jonas Brothers The Jonas Brothers’ comeback worked well for a number of reasons but something that particularly sticks out is the fact that their music grew up with them. They were the first boy band to reach number one in nearly two decades with their single, “Sucker” and with their sold-out arena tour, it doesn’t seem like they’re slowing down any time soon. Another thing that has made their comeback stand out is how it feels authentic to them, having watched them grow apart and now come back together, none of it seems forced like some other bands we have seen come back together in recent years. Marissa Sandoval 2. My Chemical Romance After over six years, beloved emo band My Chemical Romance is officially back. Although there is no announcement of an album yet, the band sounds just

as good as when they hang them up after playing their comeback show in December. The band was full of energy and gave everyone quite a treat including deep cuts at the exclusive Los Angeles show. What’s next for the legendary emos is anyone’s guess but they do already have a few international dates in 2020 and have the rest of their diehard fans across the world on the edges of their seats. - Alyssa Buzzello 3. FKA Twigs We hadn’t really heard from FKA Twigs since 2016. That is, until this year. She came back in full force releasing a single, then an album and even went back on tour. She also played a role in the new movie Honey Boy. FKA Twigs performed at Camp Flog Gnaw and Afropunk. You become completely enamored while watching her perform. She makes art on stage, there’s never a dull moment. - Nicolita Bradley

B E ST F E ST I VA L L I N E U P S 1. Lollapalooza Lollapalooza 2019 may have long since left Grant Park, but we’re still drooling over the lineup from Chicago’s iconic festival. The four-day fest brought an impressive combination of top acts, with powerhouses like Childish Gambino, Ariana Grande and Twenty One Pilots taking some of the top billing. Lolla made sure that 2019 would be an unforgettable year further down the bill as well, with acts like Maggie Rogers, Kacey Musgraves and Janelle Monae bringing some truly stunning performances. Of course, Lollapalooza made sure to include acts like The Band CAMINO, Conan Gray, Mitski and Alec Benjamin, all of whom are on an unstoppable upward trajectory. One of Lollapalooza’s strengths is its diversity of music genres. Acts like Flume, Lil Wayne, Tenacious D and Diesel (aka Shaq) kept that tradition alive and ensured that festival-goers could satisfy any musical craving they may have. Lollapalooza set the bar high for 2020’s lineup! - Dana Jacobs BTS


2. Coachella Due to Justin Timberlake having vocal cord issues and needing to reschedule shows he was no longer able to headline as originally planned. Then Coachella couldn’t provide a dome in the middle of the grounds as Kanye requested so he was out. Despite all this, Coachella was able to cultivate a lineup that more than satisfied its audience. With Ariana Grande, Tame Impala and Childish Gambino headlining, the festival had something for everyone on the main stage. Weekend 2 festival-goers were also able to attend Kanye’s Sunday Service on Easter, something that was completely new for this year. For the festival’s 20th anniversary they provided more diversity than before with Latinx and K-Pop groups as well as with more women than seen on previous lineups. As we prepare for the 2020 lineup to be announced, we’re hopeful that the festival continues this trend of bringing in more diverse acts. - Marissa Sandoval

B E ST L I V E P E R F O R M A N C E 1. Jonas Brothers - Happiness Begins Tour

by storm on her sweetener world tour. Surrounded by warm shades of pink, blue and purple, Grande captivated the audience with a stunning 29-song setlist. Backing her, Grande’s dancers helped bring the stage to life with incredible numbers featuring spray painting cars, a giant moon and the iconic choreography from her music video for “thank u, next”. From “God is a woman” to “no tears left to cry,” Grande left us with plenty of happy tears to cry on the sweetener world tour. - Marlowe Teichman

The Jonas Brothers comeback was probably one of the best things to happen in music this year. With their comeback, came excitement for their album and live music. With the release of their comeback album Happiness Begins, they embarked on their comeback tour which sold out within the first week. They had to add another leg of the tour before the tour even began. The Happiness Begins Tour included performances of their new songs off the album and of course, their iconic throwback hits, 3. The 1975 - The 1975 and even a couple fan requests each show making each show unforgettable and unique. Few bands have a stage set-up as instantly recognizable as The 1975. The simplicity of the Their first live performance back was one to glowing box has allowed the group to craft their live remember as they performed for the first time shows with stunning visuals centered around the together in over seven years at this year’s Billboard iconic symbol. With 2019, The 1975 continued their Music Awards. Nick kicked it off with a performance massive Music For Cars tour with an expansive arena of his hit single, “Jealous” and Joe later joined the set up, with the massive box as the centerpiece. With stage to sing he and his former DNCE bandmates’ expertly crafted lights, choreography (thanks to the hit single, “Cake By The Ocean.” Ending the medley incredibly talented Jaiy twins) and visuals, The 1975 with Kevin joining the stage and the brothers spared no detail for this show. In only two hours, coming together to sing their, at-the-time debut The 1975 managed to pack political declarations, single, “Sucker.” The infamous band of brothers heartfelt sentimentality and undeniable joy into the stole the show that night and getting even their live show. Whether it was the neon pinks and blues fellow celebrity peers into a JoBros frenzy. - Ivy of “Tootimetootimetootime” or the stark images of Sandoval starving refugees in “Love It (If We Made It),” the energy of the onstage performance spilled into 2. Ariana Grande - sweetener world tour the audience, ensuring a spectacular show for all involved. - Dana Jacobs It’s safe to say that Ariana Grande took the world



B E ST M U S I C V I D E O S 1. “Lights Up” - Harry Styles After a quiet beginning of 2019, Harry Styles blew expectations out of the water with the first single out of his sophomore album cycle. “Lights Up,” a track that immediately sets the precedent for where Styles wants to be, also contains a music video that also set the tone for what was next. With more than 43 million views, the video hits right off the bat with colorful tones and a shirtless Styles, stumbling across the frame. Not only is the video racy, but a definite adult step for the singer out of his past album. Styles is depicted throughout the video with no definite love interest, which has sparked plenty of conversations on both social media and the media. “Lights Up” is quite literally like turning the lights up on Styles’ next album and we can’t wait to see what’s next. - Addie Whelan 2. “Sucker” - Jonas Brothers The Jonas Brothers came back into the music scene with a bang when they released the video for “Sucker.” Showing off their growth not only as musicians but also as people, the video featured their stunning wives and some crazy colorful costumes. At some points, the video seems to be showing off the brothers’ glow ups, but if you were married to Sophie Turner, I’m sure you’d show her off as well. The main stars of the videos are in fact the wives Jonas rather than the brothers Jonas, as Priyanka, Sophie and Danielle get to run around a mansion in beautiful gowns and throughout the whole video, it looks like they are having the time of their lives. One of our favorite parts of the video is when they’re all singing in bubble baths on the lawn of an English manor house. - Sara Feigin 3. “EARFQUAKE” - Tyler The Creator There is no denying Tyler, The Creator’s distinctiveness when it comes to music videos. 2011 saw Tyler eating cockroaches in the “Yonkers” BTS


music video, 2019 presents his alter ego, Igor, dressed in a baby-blue suit and white wig. Posing as a talk show, the video begins with a humorouslyawkward introduction from actress Tracee Ellis Ross, reminiscent of Tyler’s days with the Loiter Squad. As the music starts, Tyler breaks out into an energetic dance, before passing out after setting the entire set on fire from a cigarette he discarded while performing. It’s quirky, confusing and encompasses the energy of “EARFQUAKE” perfectly. - Quinn Beaupré 4. “Lover” - Taylor Swift Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift co-directed the “Lover” music video alongside Drew Kirsch. The video features Swift with a love interest, played by dancer Christian Owens, in a house within a snowglobe. The concept of the music video stems from lyrics from Swift’s album 1989 - “You two are dancing in a snow globe round and round”. The couple fight and makeup in the different rooms - each color-coded and representing the seven Taylor Swift albums. Part of what makes “Lover” such a hit are the elements of nostalgia and easter eggs. Swift alludes to her past eras as well as hinting towards other songs off of Lover - “Cruel Summer” and “Afterglow”. - Maggie Montgomery 5. “Rules” - Doja Cat Cat boss, Doja Cat is at it again with another insanely creative music video for her latest release, “Rules”. She noted that it’s her favorite video to date and that she created the treatment for it herself. It’s sexy, unique and unbelievably well shot. The single is from her recently announced album, Hot Pink. Nicolita Bradley

B R E A KO U T A RT I ST S 1. Lizzo

When she opened for LANY on their most recent tour, people across the country fell in love with She’s been around for quite some time, building her and the way she puts all her emotions into her a fanbase through empowerment and body music and leaves them all on the stage. Fletcher positivity. Now, Lizzo’s made an incredible impact will be the opener for Niall Horan’s upcoming tour on the music industry, even earning coveted in 2020, so if you haven’t heard of her yet, you will conversations with people like Harry Styles, Niall soon! - Sam Aneed Horan and Ariana Grande. As she’s grown from 3. Billie Eilish garage-rapping, Minnesotan celebrity to global phenomenon, Lizzo’s identity and passion for music has remained the same. Pushing through negative With new artists breaking onto the music scene criticism and body shame, Lizzo’s strong confidence every day, it is quite the accomplishment to be and musical ability has helped her reach #1 on the considered one of the best. There’s no debate that Billboard Charts for multiple tracks, making “Juice” Billie Eilish’s style is unique in a haunting, yet really and “Good As Hell” fan-favorite tracks for 2019. - fun way which helped her break through the noise and really shine as a new artist. Her debut album, Addie Whelan WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? was considered a smash hit by both fans and critics 2. Fletcher alike. She’s nominated for six Grammy awards and it’s not hard to see why. With sold-out tours and If you didn’t hear the lyrics “Wish I could get a little record-breaking music, it’s clear that Eilish is here undrunk so I could uncall you, at 5 in the morning to stay. - Lauren Klonowski I would unf*ck you” this past year you must live under a rock. Fletcher is her name and making you feel things you didn’t want to feel is her game. Her single “Undrunk” debuted #16 on the US pop charts and she followed those with singles “If you’re gonna lie” and “About You” all songs about her ex.



B E ST A LT E R N AT I V E A L B U M S 1. You Are OK - The Maine

You Bored Yet?”, featuring the successful singersongwriter Clairo, came with a subsequent music The Maine has been one of the bands that have video starring Noah Centineo and Kaitlyn Dever helped so many people through hard times for the same day. Nothing Happens was released on years. With the released of their most recent March 22, 2019, through Atlantic Records following album, You Are OK, they helped shed light on so the release of singles “Scrawny” and “Sidelines”. many people who deal with internal struggles. The Northern Transmissions calls Nothing Happens band has shown an incredible amount of growth “consistently surprising and if nothing else a fun over the past few years and it definitely shows with experience to listen to.” - Maggie Montgomery You Are OK. One of the singles, “Numb Without You”, really stands out with the beautiful strings 4. Pony - Rex Orange County that can be heard throughout the song. The album hit number 1 on Billboard’s Independent Albums Rex Orange County made his major-label debut chart. As independent artists, this just shows what with Pony, which is the perfect follow up to his a band can do when they really put their heart and previous projects. His previous album Apricot Princess helped him gain critical acclaim across soul into everything that they do. - Chelsea Gresh the globe as fans fell in love with his brash, yet romantically poetic lyrics. Pony is the perfect debut 2. WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO in the big leagues for Rex Orange County - it is a WE GO? - Billie Eilish love letter to what his life has become since rising to fame, but still stays true to the roots that got fans Fans have been awaiting Billie Eilish’s debut album hooked in the first place. The album peaked at #3 since her single, “Ocean Eyes” was released in on the Billboard Top 200, only further proving that 2016. Eilish has spoken in interviews about how he will be continuing to make a massive mark on she suffers from night terrors and lucid dreams fans in the United States in the coming months. which both seem to play into this album. She does Gina Scarpino very little to hide the fact that she is a 17-year-old enjoying her life, starting the album off with a track 5. Saves The World - MUNA where she removes her Invisalign. Her unique voice has always been something that stood out Through their music, and by simply existing as to people and the range of songs on this release queer people, MUNA have proven themselves to allows her to show off her range. The variety also be an undeniable force in the music world. With allows her to play the role of intimidating, like their sophomore album Saves the World, they in “bad guy”, and someone that you can feel for, have come to realize their own power, and insist “xanny”. - Marissa Sandoval on using it to propel their message of love and acceptance. The record is an intricate tapestry of 3. Nothing Happens - Wallows raw emotion, delivered with the utmost respect for themselves and their audience. Gliding from synthLead singer Dylan Minnette perfectly encapsulated pop bangers (“Number One Fan”, “Pink Light”, the intention of Wallows’ Nothing Happens, saying, and “Stayaway”) to harrowing anthems (“Taken”, “If you find a way to connect with it, just stay with “Memento”, and “It’s Gonna Be Okay, Baby“) with that.” Minnette, along with Cole Preston and ease, the record is as dynamic as it is enjoyable. Braeden Lemasters, make up the hit indie band. With Saves the World, there’s no doubt in our mind Wallows released the first single off of their debut that MUNA is well on their way to doing exactly album Nothing Happens on February 1, 2019. “Are what the album title declares. - Blake Charles BTS


B E ST A LT E R N AT I V E A RT I ST S 1. The Maine

garnering Maggie Rogers a worldwide audience intent on hearing her new work. After the release of her EP Now That The Light is Fading in 2017, Rogers first major-label album Heard It In a Past Life debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200. Aside from clear talent and commitment to music, part of what makes Maggie Rogers such a well-received and successful artist is her dedication to activism - specifically with the National School Walkout, ACLU, and Planned Parenthood. - Maggie Montgomery

The Maine gave us an experience unlike any other in 2019, with the release of their record “You are OK” they also brought us Sad Summer Fest along with their headlining tour “The Mirror.” The Mirror was an experience unlike any other and we felt lucky to be able to lay flowers on the grave of the children we used to be. It was no surprise to see them listed on our best of 2019. They constantly reminded fans this past year that they are indeed OK and if they aren’t now, they will be. They finished 2019 with an incredibly successful tour and an even 4. Wallows more successful album. Their positive message is something we needed this past year and we know 2019 was a banner year for Wallows. The year prithey will continue to spread the message in 2020! or, there was a lot of anticipation building around the band leading up to a busy year of touring and - Samantha Aneed the release of their debut album Nothing Happens. 2. Billie Eilish Now, the band has an incredibly successful debut album under their belt and a year of epic shows to Alternative music is such a great genre that really match, which included a string of dates with Vamlets artists run free. The same goes for Billie Eil- pire Weekend in the UK. Nothing Happens peaked ish, the 18-year-old alternative pop sensation who at number eight on the Billboard US Top Alternative has taken the music industry by storm. From the Album Charts and number two on the Billboard US cult-classic, “bad guy” to earnest and emotional “i Top Tastemaker Albums Chart, which allowed the love you”, Eilish has shown that she can transcend band to make their stamp on music fans around the genres all the while still packaging it up with her globe. - Gina Scarpino signature alternative flair over it. Her music keeps listeners on their toes and eagerly waiting for more. 5. Boston Manor 2019 was a great year for Eilish and is likely only a little taste of what could be in 2020. - Lauren Klo- 2019 was an absolutely massive year for Boston Manor. The band released their second full-length nowski record, Welcome to the Neighbourhood, towards 3. Maggie Rogers the end of 2018 which set them up for nothing but success this year. The album presented fans with Grammy nominee Maggie Rogers got her start in a darker feel which helped give them the cult folmusic at age seven, playing harp and listening to lowing that they currently have. From an amazingly Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill. In high school, she successful headlining tour to opening up for A Day won the songwriting competition at a Berklee Col- to Remember and giving us a riveting performance lege of Music program. In college Rogers made an at Sonic Temple Festival, the band made their way effort to blend her past folk style with her newfound across the US (and the world) to show everyone love for electronic dance music. A video of Pharrell that they are a force to be reckoned with. - Chelsea Williams reacting to her song “Alaska” went viral, Gresh BTS


B E ST P O P A L B U M S 1. Happiness Begins - Jonas Brothers

very strong sincerity. Lizzo encourages everyone to find their own strength and positivity in an It has been a solid year all around for pop music, extremely catchy way which is something beautiful but the Jonas Brothers deserve the top spot thanks to see in pop music today. - Alyssa Buzzello to their fifth studio album, Happiness Begins. Full 4. Lover - Taylor Swift of catchy hooks and good vibes, this album was the perfect sound for their iconic comeback. They received their first number one ever for the debut “I want to be defined by the things that I love, not single off the album, “Sucker” and nothing’s been the things I hate,” says Taylor Swift to close out her the same since. They had a record-breaking tour, seventh studio album, entitled Lover. It’s been said were nominated for Best Pop Group Grammy and that light can come from the darkest of places, and made people come together through their music. Lover seems to prove just that. A jarring contrast One thing’s for sure, 2019 came up all Jonas. - to the darker themes and bombastic production of her previous album reputation, Lover shows Swift Lauren Klonowski exploring love, friendship, family and the world around her, all while embracing the beauty within 2. thank u, next - Ariana Grande herself. It’s fun, heartbreaking, political and even None of us were ready for this album less than cheeky at times, making for a varied, yet ultimately half a year after sweetner but we all needed it. The extremely cohesive body of work. Ultimately, Lover world knows that Ariana Grande went through it plays out like the soundtrack to this era of Swift’s in 2017 and 2018, thank u, next appeared as the journey, making for one of the best albums of 2019, phoenix from the ashes. Every track on this album and one of the strongest albums in her already shows Grande knowing that she has grown from remarkable discography. - Blake Charles everything she’s been through. Something about 5. Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent the inertia that leads her to release thank u, next Lewis Capaldi so quickly is prevalent in the songs. Each song hits on a very personal subject for Grande whether it be death and grief or having found the confidence Lewis Capaldi’s debut album is filled with beautiful to not need a man to support her. The exponential songs about heartbreak and heartache sung with growth we’ve seen just in Grande’s last three albums the most sincere voice to come into music in quite leads us to believe that her best is yet to come... some time. The Scottish singer has had a crazy though after her surprise drop of a live album, k 2019, winning multiple awards in the new artist bye for now, we’re not quite sure when we’ll get category from trusted names in music like MTV and Q Magazine. While the record’s theme of new music. - Marissa Sandoval heartbreak is clear throughout, not all the songs are ballads the record also features faster-paced tunes 3. Cuz I Love You - Lizzo like “Hollywood” and “Hold Me While You Wait.” Although this was not Lizzo’s debut album, “Cuz I His Billboard number one single, “Someone You Love You” beautifully debuted her soul-pop to the Loved” had garnered him a Grammy nomination masses this year. Filled with confidence, charisma in the song of the year category. Capaldi has had and talent, this album takes the listener on a journey an epic 2019 with the release of one of the best through the growth Lizzo had gone through with heartbreak albums in quite some time. - Sara Feigin BTS


B E ST P O P A RT I ST S 1. Taylor Swift Following the record-setting tour that was 2018’s Reputation Stadium Tour, Taylor Swift returned to the studio to record and release her seventh studio album, Lover. Though its tracks topped the charts and received three Grammy nominations, including Song of the Year for the title track, this was not the biggest Taylor Swift news of 2019. After leaving her longtime label Big Machine Records, Scooter Braun acquired Big Machine Records, including Swift’s six-album catalog. This sparked a series of publicized arguments and allegations, where Swift claims she didn’t have the opportunity to purchase the rights to her music, was blocked from performing her past hits and plans on re-recording her music to regain control of her recordings. This likely is not the end of this debate and whatever is the outcome, 2019 served as a year where pop’s biggest artist continued to speak and fight for artist’s rights. - Joe Hernandez 2. Jonas Brothers We think we can all agree that The Jonas Brothers releasing an album and making their comeback was one of the best things to happen in 2019. Fans all over the world were excited and had their hearts filled with joy. Not only did we get an album but we also got a world tour which was a show you did not want to miss. Their stage presence has grown along with them and they put on an amazing show each night. No better way to end a decade than with a Jonas Brothers comeback. The year was full of highs for The Jonas Brothers and we are so excited for all their accomplishments, and can’t wait to see what they have in store for us for the next year! - Samantha Aneed 3. Ariana Grande 2019 has been the year for pop sensation Ariana Grande. The new pop queen had quite a year beginning with the release of her #1 hit, “7 Rings” and 5th studio album, thank u, next. She has had multiple #1 singles, a new fragrance launch, multiple Grammy nominations and wins and just wrapped up her 100-show sweetener

World Tour. She is also the new face of Givenchy and has been received multiple Billboard recognitions including #1 Streaming and Hot 100 Female Artist. Grande has truly taken over pop music and the industry, breaking records, bending the rules and showing the world her talent, hard work and resilience is something unmatched. She is an artist who gives her all and has had the incredible year she deserves as the incredible artist she is. - Ivy Sandoval 4. Lizzo It’s no secret that Lizzo stole all of our hearts this year, from her dynamic live performances to the release of her debut album, Cuz I Love You. It appears Lizzo, who has been grinding away for years, has finally received the attention she deserves. From her positive, uplifting messages about self-love and loving your own body, to her incredible VMA performance. Lizzo’s talent as a musician and entertainer is unprecedented, and she has the Grammy nominations to show for it. There’s no way you’ve made it all the way through 2019 without Lizzo ending up on your radar, so if you have listened to Cuz I Love You, what’s stopping you? Step into Lizzo’s world of self-love and positive body image and you will see what all the hype is about. 2019 brought us Lizzo’s rise to stardom, and we are so excited to see what’s next for her in 2020. - Audrey Battis 5. Harry Styles Harry Styles took fans by surprise and finished 2019 with the most beautiful album released this year. He is a total rockstar and did not disappoint. Harry really opened up with this album and gave fans a glimpse of how he felt during his most recent heartbreak, and trust us, we hurt for him. He put every emotion and every feeling into every song. He doesn’t care about social norms and we love that about him. Harry ended 2019 on a perfect note and we are so thankful he decided to put music out so we can end the year on a high note! We are so looking forward to 2020 so we can see him on tour and hear all these beautiful songs performed live.- Samantha Aneed BTS


B E ST H I P- H O P A L B U M S 1. Hollywood’s Bleeding - Post Malone Coming off the heels of beerbongs and bentleys, Post Malone brings us Hollywood’s Bleeding, another perfectly crafted album. In this latest release, Post Malone revisits a lot of emotions expressed in previous albums, just this time from the lens of being an established pop star. Featuring hit singles like “Wow,” “Circles,” and the “Sunflower” collab with Swae Lee, we see Post Malone’s usual undertone of sadness paired catchy hooks and infectious beats. This third studio album truly encapsulates the genius of Post Malone--and the reason his rise to stardom was so rapid in the first place. The album very much visits both the dark side of Hollywood and the negative aspects of such widespread fame. Overall, the slight blend of genres all the while sticking to his sound and creating perhaps the most Post Malone-sounding album yet, Hollywood’s Bleeding is not an album to skip out on this year. - Audrey Battis

contain some of the biggest collaborations in music, but it’s a definite growth for Anderson .Paak as a leader across the album. Featured on the album, Andre 3000, Brandy, Nate Dogg and more all play a crucial part on the album feeling cohesive. Nominated for the 2020 Grammys, Ventura is an incredible piece of R&B work that understands emotions across all spectrums, while showcasing Anderson .Paak’s true growth potential. - Addie Whelan 4. The Search - NF

After 2017’s Perception, and the chart-topping success of “Let You Down,” NF and his devoted following found themselves in the spotlight and emerged as a prevalent figure in today’s hiphop and rap scene. Nathan Feuerstein continues his search and meaning in life, sharing his past experiences and reflecting on his newfound fame through fast, somber and vulnerable rap lyrics in his appropriately named fourth studio album, The 2. Igor - Tyler, The Creator Search. The Michigan rapper pulls heavy influence Since his days with the Loiter Squad, Tyler, The from Detroit rapper Eminem and relies on his fast Creator has proven to be an incredibly dynamic rapping and heavy production. He continues to artist as his music has evolved and his latest create the music that feeds the fans and following release, Igor, is no exception. The album follows he has gathered, and continues to showcase the a narrative of a complicated love triangle, and potential he has on The Search. Where NF takes eventual heartbreak between Tyler, the man he his music now is the biggest test as he tries to truly loves, and his lover’s ex-girlfriend who is trying to break into today’s scene and become a heavy hitter pull him away from Tyler. Igor, the white-haired wig in the industry. - Joe Hernandez alter ego of Tyler, appears in the second half of the 5. Erys - Jaden album, representing the angrier side of heartbreak, but also acts as a reset for the romantic emotions displayed in the first half of the album. In a genre It was an Erys summer. Jaden Smith beautifully occupied by familiar sounds and themes, Tyler, The continues the story of Syre as a resurrected Erys. Creator proves his brilliance once again with Igor. - Heavy production guides the storyline along. The softer songs breathe an intimacy to the work. Erys Quinn Beaupré has gotten caught up in ego and tries to navigate through life reborn. Jaden communicates this in 3. Ventura - Anderson .Paak performance as well. Coupled together it’s an Press play on Anderson .Paak’s Ventura and you’ll amazing piece of visual and sonic work. - Nicolita feel your happiness soar. Not only does Ventura Bradley BTS


B E ST H I P- H O P A RT I ST S 1. Post Malone

Gucci Mane and Nikki Minaj, just to name a few. The North Carolina rapper has also appeared on tracks alongside artists like J. Cole and Lil Nas X. With record success in the past year, it will be interesting to see what DaBaby will bring to the table in 2020. - Quinn Beaupré

Post Malone is an absolute rockstar. Post Malone took 2019 by storm with hit after hit like “Sunflower” and “Circles”. Joining forces with DaBaby, Young Thug, Halsey and even frontman of Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne (just to name a few), Post released his third studio album Hollywood’s Bleed4. Travis Scott ing. There’s no doubt Post Malone will continue topping charts and releasing hits in 2020. We’ll see Known to be king of the ragers, Travis Scott continyou on the road for more Runaway Tour dates next ued to dominate the hip-hop scene. His documentary reveals he was arrested for instigating a riot year, Post. - Marlowe Teichman during one of his shows after inviting fans to jump 2. Tyler The Creator barricades and rage with him. He held his 2nd annual Astroworld Festival which successfully sold out 2019 continues to be a year where Tyler, the Cre- and included performances from Marilyn Manson, ator continues to prove he is one of the most dy- Meg Thee Stallion, and Rosalía. - Nicolita Bradley namic artists of today through continuing to evolve and create the music he loves. Releasing one of his 5. Bryce Vine most personal albums yet, IGOR, and performing on tour dressed up in suits with a Warhol wig, Tyler To say that 2019 was Bryce Vine’s year would be is an artist releasing music and doing things in his an understatement. He released his debut album way. Tyler held his annual festival Camp Flog Gnaw, “Carnival.” From there, his single “Drew Barrymore” an event he catered to his fans and included per- went platinum and also landed on Billboard’s Top formances from himself, 21 Savage, Brockhamp- 100. His latest single off the album, “La La Land” ton, Dababy, surprise guest Drake, and many more feat. YG, went gold. This past year was full of growth artists. - Joe Hernandez for Vine and he was able to perform at multiple festivals across the country, along with his first head3. DaBaby lining tour. There is something very special about the way Vine interacts with his fans during shows, What DaBaby has done in this past year has been which is just one of the reasons he was voted into pretty remarkable. In March 2019, DaBaby released our best of 2019. From his lyrics to the production his debut studio album Baby on Baby, which sky- of his shows, he is one of a kind. His name is one rocketed the highly energetic rapper into the rap you won’t be forgetting. We are looking forward to scene. He has since released his second album seeing what Vine has in store for 2020. - Sam Aneed “Kirk”, which boasts features from some of the biggest names in hip-hop, such as Chance the Rapper,



B E ST R O C K A L B U M S 1. Father of the Bride - Vampire Weekend

“Goodbye,” Cage the Elephant’s fifth studio album was released on April 19, 2019. The album, which explores the divorce of singer Matt Shultz and exwife Juliette Buchs, was nominated for Best Rock Album at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards. The Independent says, “Social Cues is an album where Shultz bares his soul, and apparently shakes off a few demons in the process.” - Maggie Montgomery

Following their last album release in 2013, Vampire Weekend returned with their newest album, Father of the Bride. Dropping in early May, their fourth studio album showcased a diverse mixture of sounds, heavily referential with dark lyrics to contrast the spring sounding songs. Taking their album on the road for their latest world tour, many influences seem to shine through on this album 4. NINE - Blink-182 anywhere from rock to that country music kind of vibe. Regardless, this latest 18-track album 20 years and the iconic rock trio is back with release from Vampire Weekend did anything but their ninth studio album. NINE brings back the electrifying pop-punk sound we know and love disappoint. - Audrey Battis lead by lead-vocalist Mark Hoppus. Songs like 2. The Balance - Catfish and the Bottlemen “Happy Days” and “Blame It on My Youth” landed the band’s first #1 album on Billboard in the U.K. Catfish and The Bottlemen made their return to Marlowe Teichman music this year with the release of their third album 5. Everyday Life - Coldplay The Balance. The band kicked off 2019 with the release of “Longshot,” which was the first single off the album. A string of singles followed leading Four years after their last album release, Coldplay up to the album’s release in April, which landed finally returned with a two-part album, titled at number 16 on the Billboard US Top Alternative Everyday Life. Although the album was much Album chart. The Balance also earned the band different than expected, fans were shocked to hear a silver record in the United Kingdom, along with that the band had incorporated causes related to a crazy year of worldwide touring. The album’s politics, environmental and worldly events into the energy is unparalleled, which translates perfectly album, all which were incorporated into Sunrise into their live shows. The Balance was the perfect and Sunset. While normally, Coldplay’s albums progression for Catfish and The Bottlemen, and it’s are paired with a world tour, Chris Martin, the sure to bring them continued success in 2020. - band’s lead singer, shared that the band won’t tour until they find more sustainable resources, which Gina Scarpino piqued the interest of media worldwide. Everyday Life includes tracks like “Daddy,” “Trouble In Town,” 3. Social Cues - Cage The Elephant and “Champion of the World,” which includes Cage the Elephant announced the release of collaborations from Brian Eno, Scott Hutchinson Social Cues with “Ready to Let Go” on January 31, and more. - Addie Whelan 2019. Following the release of “House of Glass,” “Night Running” - a collaboration with Beck, and



B E ST R O C K A RT I ST S 1. Vampire Weekend An incredibly successful year for Vampire Weekend, 2019 included GRAMMY nominations, a brand new album, Father of the Bride and a North American tour. Critically acclaimed, the album included features from Danielle Haim and became the band’s third number one album. A strong contender on Best of 2019 albums from dozens of notable music sources, Vampire Weekend had an incredibly successful year, with plans to perform at festivals in 2020 as well as more plans to tour. Lead by singer Ezra Koenig, Vampire Weekend continues to be a strong force in the alternative scene and will definitely continue to dominate the charts. - Addie Whelan

of Andrew McMahon, went on the first leg of their ley lines tour through the U.S. and finally closed out the year with a headline run in the U.K. 2020 is set to be another great year from the band as they kick off another U.S. headline run with support from Winnetka Bowling League, and begin to tease early studio work. - Joe Hernandez 4. The Maine

2019 was a huge year for alt-pop group The Maine. They started the year launching their new “You Are OK” era that fans from all over the world instantly connected to. This era included a new album, a successful tour and a new path for the band. You Are OK was their seventh studio album and debuted at number one on the U.S. Independent Album chart. The supporting tour sold out in several 2. Catfish & The Bottlemen cities, proving to be one of their best yet. They are After releasing their third studio album, The continuing to tour in 2020 in Europe. There’s no Balance, Catfish & The Bottlemen continued denying that 2019 was a year that really guided the to build their strong fanbase through live group in a new direction that is destined for success performances and a promotional tour. Not only in the future too. - Lauren Klonowski did the UK band perform acoustic in a few shows 5. Cage The Elephant for select fans, Catfish & The Bottlemen also saw huge support from their UK fanbase through sold-out performances at Wembley and more. After taking a bit of a break from music, Cage The Additionally, the band performed throughout Elephant made their return this year and it was the U.S. supporting headliners like The 1975 and bigger and better than ever. The year kicked off Lewis Capaldi, ultimately landing a place on Best with the band releasing the lead single from the of 2019 rock lists. Although the band didn’t earn album, “Ready To Let Go,” which was immediately a GRAMMY nomination for The Balance, most fans followed by the announcement of their fifth studio wholeheartedly disagree that the band still had a album Social Cues. After its release, the album peaked at number 21 on the Billboard 200 chart, successful 2019. - Addie Whelan making it their second-highest charting album of their careers. Cage The Elephant spent their 3. flor summer touring across North America with Beck. 2019 continued to be a huge year of growth for The band’s energy is unparalleled, on Social Cues flor, a band from the small town of Hood River, and on the stage. Cage The Elephant is one of the Oregon. The group followed up the success of great modern rock bands, and they are sure to their debut album, come out. you’re hiding, with continue to bring the heat in the new year. - Gina the release of their sophomore album ley lines. Scarpino They began the year touring the U.S. in support BTS



































Some things are just a family tradition. Going to the same college, playing the same sport or working in the family business. For the Stella family, that business is music. From a very young age Canadian pop singer-songwriter, Lennon Stella has known that she would follow her family’s musical footsteps. “Coming from a musical family, my parents were always very inspiring to me, as well as the musicians my family were constantly surrounded by.” It’s not just Stella’s parents who chose music as their career path. Many of her other family members are in the music business as well; most notably, her younger sister and former-costar, Maisy Stella. The two siblings starred as Maddie and Daphne Conrad on the hit ABC television series, Nashville which aired from 2012-2018. On top of being television stars, the sisters even worked together on their own music as the duo, Lennon & Maisy. They started out on YouTube in 2012, covering the legendary Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” and it struck a chord. The video currently has over 30.5 million hits. The video even landed them on Good Morning America. Their discography together includes smash hits they cowrote for Nashville as well as covers, holiday songs and other originals. Since the show has ended, Stella has taken that time to hone in on her solo music. While she starred in a show that revolves around country music and currently resides in Music City, U.S.A., that doesn’t mean her musical sound is just country-focused. In fact, it heavily leans toward pop with a hint of indie that grants her a unique and exciting sound. Stella has done a lot of songwriting in her day. At just 20 years old, she has written music in a number of genres for herself and other artists. It is a completely different experience writing for herself versus writing for others. She says, “It definitely was a completely different thing writing for the show, as opposed to my solo music. My solo music is much more of an honest piece of who I am.” Her debut EP, Love, me granted some major success. It charted in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Spain and Australia. It also landed her a spot on Billboard’s Top Emerging Artists chart right after it’s release. She dropped four of the six tracks on the EP as singles, but the standout of those four was definitely the instant hit, “La Di Da” a synth-pop track that talks of literally holding your ears to avoid hearing someone’s empty words. It’s a hard-hitting BTS


message that meets an infectious chorus to make it a highlight of Love, me. She has collaborated with numerous artists over the years, including her sister Maisy, pop duo The Chainsmokers, English DJ Jonas Blue, former One Direction member, Liam Payne and more. However, she is letting collaborations take a back seat for the time being. She says, “Right now, I’m definitely focused on finishing this album, putting it out and seeing where that goes.” Now that doesn’t mean she won’t return to working with other people after the album has dropped. She goes on to say, “In the future, though, I would love to collab with other artists I love.” She looks to her favorite artists for inspiration to help craft her own music. Recently, she has been listening to Beach House, Tame Impala and Andy Shauf, but her all-time favorites are Fleetwood Mac and Bread. When listening to her music, you can tell that she uses these



artists as influences to create her own sound. When asked how she found her musical sound, she says, “having a lot of time and freedom to explore” is what made it possible. Stella’s latest single, “Kissing Other People” has been a huge achievement for her. She wrote the track at a writing camp in Cabo, where she also finished her upcoming album. She says, “The song was started because of something I said in passing about the process of me getting over someone to Caroline, my co-writer.” It’s a good thing she made that passing comment way back

when. That one quick moment turned into a great song that has brought Stella even more success. The official music video for the track currently has over half a million views on YouTube with no sign of slowing down. She said the video filming process was “really fun and much more lighthearted than any of the things I’ve done in the past. It had more of a funny and sweet feeling to it, so it was really fun to shoot.” It starts out in the classic house party scene-- red solo cups, people dancing, etc. Then it really starts to encapsulate the track by all the people at the party, well, kissing other



people. The first time you watch the video it is easy to see that Stella had a great time making this video and that it’s one of her best videos to date. When it comes to songwriting, Stella knows it’s not about creating music that will sell, it’s about creating art that connects with listeners and inspires them. She says, “I hope that [my music] evokes some sort of feeling when people listen to it.” Creating that connection builds a strong fan base and makes her live shows even more fun. Like most artists, touring is definitely a highlight of the job for Stella. Looking back on her time on the road, she has one notable story that still makes her laugh to this day. “Halloween night 2019, [I was] playing with The Chainsmokers and I couldn’t stop laughing gazing into Drew’s eyes as he was dressed head-to-toe as a Harry Potter character wearing a wig,” she remembers. Well, there’s a good chance she’ll have even more memories from tour later this year. Looking to the future, Stella says she’s excited to put out her new album. “[I’m really excited to be] putting my album out and getting to perform it live. I’m excited to have it in the world and sink in that feeling.” Stella has a lot to look forward to for the rest of 2020. A new album and a supporting tour sure sounds like a great way to spend the year if you ask us! We can’t wait to hear her brand new music and catch her at a show when she sets out on the road.













































When Ryland James steps in front of a microphone, he’s home. When he opens his mouth to sing, jaws drop. And when he’s on stage, he’s far more than your average small-town Canadian boy. Born in Deseronto, Ontario, a town of fewer than 2,000 residents, James has always been surrounded by music. His grandmother was a gospel pianist, so the power and groove of soul music constantly flowed throughout their home. Growing up listening to his grandma’s gospel and soul collection, he quickly developed a passion all his own. With his love for music clear from a young age, it was no surprise that as soon as James started talking, he started singing. Whether it be along with one of his grandma’s classic soul records or while she was playing piano, James never missed an opportunity to use his voice. The more he sang, the more he seemed to love it. The years of informal practicing eventually led up to a moment that James will never forget; the moment he realized that he wanted to be a singer. “There was definitely one specific moment when I was younger when I was probably about 10 years old. I heard this kid on Britain’s Got Talent singing ‘Who’s Lovin’ You’ by The Jackson 5, and my mom and grandma said to me ‘I think you could do that.’” I randomly decided to belt that song out and from that day forward, I was obsessed with singing. I don’t even remember why I decided to belt in the first place, but it kind of just came out of me.” From that moment on, the music that once filled his home was now his biggest source of inspiration. Artists like Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin were staples of James’ upbringing, helping him develop an unbreakable love for soul music and the impactful voices that sang it. Many of the genre’s most defining qualities have made their way into the now 20-year-old’s sound, as his soaring vocals, heartfelt lyrics, and understated, yet impactful sense of rhythm pay beautiful homage to the music he grew up loving. He would later BTS


find inspiration from artists like Adele, Sam Smith and Alessia Cara, all of whom demonstrate the vocal talents and lyrical potency of soul music while embracing catchy hooks and pop-friendly melodies. “Having those singers as inspirations I think melded into who I am today. I didn’t want to imitate them, but I wanted to evoke the passion that they have in their music, and I think that’s why I sing the big songs and have that soul I have today.” Simple yet dynamic, James’ first single “In My Head” is a heartbreak anthem, detailing the memory of a relationship gone awry. His voice is an absolute showstopper, crooning over the piano and acoustic guitar with ease. The verses beautifully flow to the chorus, where James’ signature belting cuts through the smooth instrumentation like a hot knife through butter. The song’s classic pop influence hits all the right marks, resulting in a perfect representation of the artists that Ryland James has grown to be. “I wrote ‘In My Head’ about a year ago in Europe when I was there for a writing trip. At the end of the trip I was in Stockholm and it was one of the last songs we wrote in the studio that day. I had three other amazing writers that I was working with, and we started working on a different song at first, but it wasn’t really working. We decided to put that one away and try something different. One of the writers started playing these chords and I was immediately drawn to it. We were all going around the room and telling stories and playing around with melody ideas and lyrics, and we built the song around all of that. The first line of the chorus is actually one of the first things that came in that song. I remember saying ‘If we fall apart’ and one of the other writers said ‘I

still got you in my head’ and that became the main focal point of the story. We wanted to create a journey of a relationship that’s becoming toxic, and then realizing that if it all ends, then we’ll still have all the memories in our head.” With the song’s release, it felt as though James was announcing himself as a fresh face to the music industry, eager to make an impact. Despite the track being his first single, his mission to create music that people will connect with and relate to was well underway. The power and vulnerability of “In My Head” has impacted people all over the world, and continues to do so with every new set of ears it touches. It isn’t a showy or complicated song, and that’s exactly why it works so well. It finds a striking balance between catchy and emotive, as it seeps itself into your mind and heart. While the track may seem like an obvious choice for a debut single, the song was never intended to be his first single or to be released at all. “When we were choosing songs to release and looking at what the first single would be, ‘In My Head’ wasn’t really even considered. It was living somewhere way back in my email, and one of the writers asked me if I was going to use the song and I was like ‘Oh yeah, I forgot about that song!’ and then it ended up being my first single.” The once-forgotten track has since become his signature song. The positive response to the song and James as a whole has got the ball rolling on turning many of his dreams into realities. One of his biggest dreams just recently became a reality, as he got to tour the United States with longtime inspiration and fellow Canadian, Alessia Cara. Getting to tour the US was a huge goal of



James’, and getting to do so with someone he’s looked up to for song long feels like the universe’s way of telling James that he’s exactly where he’s supposed to be. “The crowds have been so awesome and so receptive, and I feel like Alessia’s fans are the perfect audience to play for because they’re so welcoming. She’s been a huge inspiration for me, and her lyrics have always really connected with me, and being able to open for her and have this full-circle moment is absolutely mind-boggling. It still feels surreal to me and I still wonder every day how this is real.” While he’s recently spent his time touring the United States and Canada, he’s now starting to turn his focus towards his upcoming debut album. With a release planned for 2020, James is sure to expand upon his more soulful and classic take on pop music. “The reason we ended up choosing ‘In My Head’ as the first single from the album is that it feels like such a



good representation of what the album is going to be like. I’m so particular about these songs having a big vocal presence, so the rest of the album is very similar in that regard, in that they’re very vocally-forward songs. I do start to dip into different genres though. The core of the album is very pop-soul, but it also sort of melds into different things as well, which is really cool. I feel like one of the tracks is kinda rock-ish, but it’s hard to explain! Some of them feel very R&B, and other songs feel more pop, so they all lean in different directions.” With a new decade on the horizon, it only seems fitting that a performer as timeless as Ryland James is emerging. His voice is second to none, but his desire to create something impactful is arguably his biggest strength. When he decided to pursue singing, he aspired to make music that connected with someone the way that the music of his childhood connected with him. While this just feels like the very beginning for Ryland James, he’s already making music that matters to people, and at the end of the day, that’s all he’s ever hoped for.


















Amber Run may be a relatively new name in the American music scene, but the London-based trio have been making music together since 2012. The band is made up of singer and guitarist Joe Keogh, bassist Tom Sperring and keyboardist Henry Wyeth. We meet the trio in what looks to be a classroom above the Brooklyn venue, Warsaw. Lightweight wooden chairs are stacked up and lining the walls, with old-timey paintings and two large American flags as classroom decor. The lads introduce themselves with strong handshakes and local beers in hand. After seven years together as a band, the air around them still seems fresh and their outlook is still bright. Even with being signed to a major label very early into their careers and subsequently being dropped and re-signed by a smaller offshoot of that same label, the three-piece has never let hurdles get in their way of their voices being heard. Over their seven years as a band, the three-piece have had their ups and downs. They were signed to a major label, RCA Victor off the main company Sony, very early on in their careers and released their first album on the BTS


label. “It was a very large label, as in like a large record deal. There was a lot of money being thrown around and there were a lot of obligations that I don’t think people were ready to commit to,” Keogh explained. When that relationship ended, a guy that worked at a Sony subsidiary asked to take on the band as his own signee. They went on to release their second record through the Sony subsidiary, and then when he went on to buy out the label from Sony, taking Amber Run with him. “The business side of what we do is brutal and it can be very taxing. You feel unloved and loved within the same sentence with some of these people. The only thing that we can control is to try to release really great music and try to give the people who turn up to our shows something worthwhile and give them a little bit of ourselves. That’s all we’ve got-- the business side of things, it’s a mystery to me and I think it’s a mystery to many people who write music because it’s a different language,” Keogh told us. The band’s most recent release, Philophobia, which came out in late September is a thematic album of sorts. Philophobia is a word that means “the fear of love

or of becoming emotionally connected with another person,” and the songs on the album seem to cover themes of that nature. When we spoke with Keogh and Wyeth about the writing and recording process of this album, they didn’t seem to think this album was more thematic than their past two. Wyeth pointed out, “I think it’s obvious that all our songs are written by the same people who are in the same headspace. There’s always going to be a thematic thing, which is the encapsulation of the time and the way that you’re thinking during that period. So I think that’s why lyrically, not so much musically, there is a theme going on about relationships with people and yourself.” The band collectively writes a lot of their music, but in 2018 singer Keogh lost his grandfather whom he was very close to. They were in the process of working on Philophobia when his grandfather passed away, and the song that came to him, “Amen,” was the eulogy he wished he gave at his funeral. It didn’t feel like it would fit on the full-length record, so the band side-stepped and created The Assembly EP. “I think we’re big believers that music and songs are moments in time,” Keogh tells us. “My grandfather passing was certainly something that happened, and we felt that it would have been a disservice to a song that’s very important to me. I hope the feeling’s mutual with these guys as well, that it’s an important song for our collective, that it was important to put out as we wrote it. That’s why it’s really important and powerful that if you write something that is of a moment to try and release it at that moment.” Keogh has stated in past interviews that due to the personal nature of “Amen” that it’s very difficult for him to perform live. The fans are closely connected to the song, so he opened up on why he powers through and plays it for them. “It’s important to-- it’s taken a life of its own that people react to it and they find solace in it and because of the meaning of the song has developed to me personally. It feels like you’re pulling out stitches every night, but at the same time, it’s also really beautiful,” he tells us. Fans will tell him that the song meant a lot after their loved ones went away, and that sentiment means a lot to Keogh and the rest of the band. “I think that’s what Amber Run can give to people and is one of the most important things to us, is that we can sing this kind of stuff, we can put our hearts on our sleeves a little bit and show a little bit of vulnerability and then people can reciprocate that. And I think that’s a beautiful transaction, more important than the money they paid for the tickets and how much we paid for a recording. It’s a kindness as well, it’s a beautiful way to be able to BTS


remember my grandfather and the relationship we had. Without it [“Amen”], he’d be further in the past and I’m glad that he’s not,” Keogh went on to tell us. The trio likes to feel close to fans and make them feel like their shows are a place they belong, no matter where they come from. Because of this, the topic of Brexit comes up and how to handle the current political climate of the world as an internationally touring band with the opportunity to be outspoken to impressionable people. The band tends to not speak out much about politics and tries to keep their gigs a safe space for all fans. “We could say more, but we’re not political academics. We know as much as we read on Twitter and on the BBC,” Wyeth explains, “there are plenty of people who can speak way more eloquently and with more astute points about the political situation in the US, in the UK, worldwide, wherever, than us three. So, the fact that we’re standing on stage and some people bought tickets for a show, in my opinion, doesn’t entitle us to lecture people on how they should think, there are political analysts for that.” Keogh explains that they write about things they understand and think about, so obviously, sometimes



politics comes up. “It’s important for people to be as wellread and well versed in all the arguments as possible to come to an individual understanding of how they feel,” the singer explains to us. “We feel a very certain way, but I don’t think it’s our role, it might be other musicians’ roles that have a deeper understanding and there’s no judgment there. But personally, I want people to be happy and I think the best way to do that is to have a world community that doesn’t hate each other and respects the wants and needs of everyone. And beyond that, it’s up to the individual to decide how that’s best achieved.” Keogh is filled with insightful musings on the topic but wants to be clear that he doesn’t feel that Amber Run shows are the right place or time to be soapboxing about the band’s political leanings. He ends our interview on a statement that sticks with us for a while. “The world’s pretty tough already without me fucking shouting at you telling you you’re wrong. It seems a bit self-aggrandizing and that’s something definitely that Amber Run will never be.”















PLAYLIST 1. Falling - Harry Styles 2. Five Minutes to Midnight - Boys Like Girls 3. Nice to Meet Ya - Niall Horan 4. My Strange Addiction - Billie Eilish 5. Circles - Post Malone 6. No Limits - Alex Mali 7. Good Guy - ZAYN 8. Must Get Out - Maroon 5 9. Nightmare - PVRIS 10. Settle Down - The 1975 11. Tell Me If You Wanna Go Home - Keira Knightley 12. Carry Me Away - John Mayer 13. Like Strangers Do - AJ Mitchell 14. Problems - A R I Z O N A 15. 2020 - Great Good Fine OK