FROM THE EDITORS
Siddharth Jejurikar Lola Nedic Laura Wolfe
SENIOR EDITORS Charlie Billings Katie Fielding Diana Hernandez Katie Sanna
MANAGING EDITORS Michael Cambron Miranda Feinberg
PRESS EDITOR Ethan Lam
EDITORS Kayla Avitabile Noah Caesar-Kim Kaycee Conover
SOCIAL MEDIA Jonas Gerken Matthew Harrison
PRESS Mike Norton Yas Salon
U up? I really liked talking to you at the Brockhampton concert, and I was thinking maybe I could make you some pour over coffee while we read all 1,079 pages of Infinite Jest out loud. You kinda remind me of my ex, but she was craaaazy. Not like you—you’re not like other girls. Oh, and I will be texting you at 2am daily for the next 6–8 weeks, until you inevitably snap. If not, that’s super chill, I’m super busy with my ‘zine anyway. It’s called Melisma and ngl it’s pretty niche. You probably haven’t heard of it. Charlie Billings covered this wild synth project by some Tufts kids called World Federal Organization Club. Yeaaa, we’re like connected to the scene and shit. Then, Michael Cambron wrote a really dope article about women in pop music. I don’t listen to pop really (I prefer more chill lo-fi beats—have you heard of Tame Impala?), but I’m sure it’s great. Next, two of the head honchos of Melisma, Lola and Sidd, wrote an article about... I’m not really sure actually. Something about memes and Facebook. I don’t know, I deleted my social media. I’m off the grid rn so I can focus on my photography career. Speaking of, Katie Fielding wrote a thinkpiece about concert photography in the age of social media. I don’t really get it, since I don’t use social media anymore. But photography is cool, I guess. I’ve recently taken up this super unique hobby of collecting Kanye merch. You probably don’t get it, but if you wanna learn more about artist merch, you can read Julia Bernicker’s article about it. I personally don’t enjoy female vocalists in rock music, but Kayla Avitabile seems to be so into them she wrote an article about it. Anyway, I’m gonna go watch a Stanley Kubrick movie now. Let me know if you want to join ;) Siddharth Jejurikar, Lola Nedic, and Laura Wolfe x
STAFF Julia Bernicker Amanda Butcher Max Chow-Gillette Katelyn Desjardins Seth Gordon Jun Han Huang Taylor Jacobs Colin Keegan Adam Krasnoff Georgia Moore James Morse Geoff Tobia
Interested in writing, art, or design? Questions, comments, adulation, spam, scams, or hatemail? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
MELISMA | FALL 2019 | 3
Table of Contents 4
The Rise of the Flop Star Michael Cambron
9 12 14 17 20 22 23
Patrician Music Articleposting Siddharth Jejurikar & Lola Nedic
Concert Photography in the Age of Social Media Katie Fielding
Take Me to Merch Julia Bernicker
Feminism is the Theory, Alt is the Practice
ON THE COVER
Quiz: Which Album of the Decade are You? Spring Preview
WFOC Photo by Katie Fielding Design by Katie Fielding and Laura Wolfe
Melisma Magazine is a non-profit student publication of Tufts University. The opinions expressed in articles, features, or photos are solely those of the individual author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or the staff. Tufts University is not responsible for the content of Melisma Magazine. If you would like to submit a letter to Melisma Magazine, please send it to email@example.com. Please limit your letter to four hundred words or less.
W F O C By Charlie Billings
great college band needs something to set themselves apart from the crowd, a unique stage presence or raw talent. For World Federal Organization Club (WFOC), that edge was its distinct style, style which they have in spades. The band is a sextet composed of seniors Benny Roover (keyboards), Dan Berger (vocals, synth), Gus Meyer (drums), and Scott Einsidler (“the computer,” which will be discussed later), masters student Sam Lenney (guitar), and recent graduate Peter Atkinson (bass). WFOC is an exciting addition to the Tufts music scene because of its number of members and, more importantly, its sound and live performances. When we sat down together, Benny, Dan, Gus, and Scott told me that they had envisioned creating a synth band since their early years at Tufts, and WFOC came to fruition during their junior year as a way to achieve this goal. The band is heavily inspired by dance-punk legends LCD Soundsystem, whose work the synth band have wanted to emulate since most of the members’ freshman years. Other influences include everything from the new wave sounds of Talking Heads to the electronic experiments of Aphex Twin and Flying Lotus. Drawing from these influences, WFOC’s music is heavily layered with synth and live bass lines, interlacing drum grooves, and guitar licks. This highly textured sound stems from the band’s multifaceted instrumental process. The band works with both electronic instruments like synthesized drums, played through Ableton, and physical instruments, like the “real” drums played by Gus, who lays down the groove in their live shows. The music is rhythmbased electronic rock, with an influence from hip-hop and trap that gives their synth-rock a uniquely contemporary sound. The band’s second single, “At the Disco,” represents their high-energy live sets with its disco meets rock vibe, while their most recent release, “Pretty People,” is a hazy, slow-burning cut with a ripping guitar solo and a sprawling synth breakdown. The band agrees that their current focus is playing raucous shows at Tufts and around Boston where the audience can have a great time. Seeing people dancing and smiling in the crowd is a primary motivator for the
Their current focus is playing raucous shows at Tufts and around Boston. members of WFOC. In their performances, Dan’s energy is contagious as he screams and dances his way into a frenzy, while the other band members keep a steady, driving groove. The audience responds to the sheer energy that WFOC brings to the room, going crazy alongside the members of the band. The band isn’t just interested in creating wild parties, though. They have a self-titled full-length debut on the way, recorded in May 2019 at Bluejay Studio in Carlisle, Massachusetts, where member Peter Atkinson works. The band explained to me that they enjoyed a crazy two-day whirlwind experience at the famed studio, which has hosted recording sessions for artists ranging from Aerosmith to Yo Yo Ma. Over the course of a weekend, the band tracked the record and experimented live in the studio. They essentially recorded their frenetic live set, which they said made it fun to record the record as they’d nailed down most elements of the songs beforehand at shows in the months prior. After recording, they mixed and mastered the record themselves, as well as designed all their own album art. With the group’s members each getting a hand in the album creation process, the multitalented members of WFOC have created a unique, homegrown project that should be on the radar of every Tufts student. WFOC has left a definite mark on the Tufts music scene with their exploration of the intersection between college rock and electronic music. While most of the members are in their final year at Tufts, WFOC looks to close out their time at Tufts with a few more great shows and the release of their debut.
MELISMA | FALL 2019 | 5
THE RISE OF THE FLOP STAR By Michael Cambron The term “cult pop star” reads like an oxymoron. For the longest time, pop music has been shorthand for popular music, synonymous with mononymous icons like Prince, Madonna, Rihanna, and Beyoncé. While this definition has worked for a while, for much of the 2010s this system of genre naming hasn’t been so clear-cut. With music primarily being listened to via streaming services and with the internet having a more dominant influence on the general public, pop has adapted to these new methods of music consumption. One of the most fascinating phenomena of the 2010s is the prominence of the cult pop star, or the “flop star.” A “flop star” can be defined as an artist who has achieved considerable critical acclaim and has a devoted internet fanbase, yet lacks chart success. Three of the most prominent musicians of this vein are Robyn, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Charli XCX. Among critical and internet circles, these women have developed an untouchable, God-like status. Starting around the 2000s, many music critics began to apply a more poptimist lens to the way they analyzed music. Poptimism is the belief that pop music is deserving and worthy of being examined as critically as other genres of music, asserting that pop music is worthy of academic scholarship. This is in direct opposition to rockism, a critical lens popular in the late 20th century that asserted authenticity
and artistic merit were unique to rock music, something other genres were devoid of. Pitchfork, one of the most influential underground music publications at the time, was beginning to adopt this pop centric framework. Namely, it was one of the first publications to throw their support behind Robyn. This is an important hallmark for 2010s pop artists, allowing them to accrue cultural capital and shape pop music throughout the decade without commercial success being necessary. Though most younger folks know Robin Miriam Carlsson as Robyn and know her from her acclaimed Body Talk trilogy of EPs (later released as a full album), many forget her origins as a 90s teen pop icon. In 1997, a young Robyn secured two top ten US hits, “Show Me Love,” and “(Do You Know) What It Takes,” taken from her commercially successful debut album, “Robyn is Here.” This version of Robyn was destined to be “The Next Big Thing” and in many ways was a Britney Spears prototype. However, Robyn’s refusal to remove songs about her abortion from her subsequent albums caused them to be shelved in the states, Robyn herself seemingly left to fade into obscurity as a one-hit wonder. Robyn, obviously, had other things in mind. One of those things was starting her own record label, Konichiwa Records, in 2004. Now having full creative control, she released her self-titled record Robyn in 2005, which made
its way to U.S. audiences in 2006. Robyn received massive critical acclaim, making Pitchfork’s “Best Albums of 2005” list. Robyn directly caused many individuals to rethink their stances on pop music, setting the stage for her success in the 2010s.
Among crtical and internet circles, these women have developed and untouchable, almost god-Like Status
Simply put, “Dancing on My Own” is one of the greatest pop songs of all time: a seismic crying-in-the-club banger that gets better with every listen. Personally speaking, if someone isn’t immediately grooving along to the heavy synth-bass that opens the song the second I press play, I think less of them. This tune, as well as the Body Talk project it was taken from, achieved an instant-classic status and shaped pop music for the rest of the decade. Robyn’s friend and collaborator Joseph Mount notes that traces of Robyn can be found everywhere in today’s pop music, from the subtle influence on Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande’s synth choices, to Lorde and Jack Antonoff performing on a piano adorned with a portrait of the swedish songstress. In Robyn’s wake came Carly Rae Jepsen, everyone’s favorite runner
up to the runner up of Canadian Idol. After releasing the lowkey, folk-y debut album, Tug of War, her bubbly 2012 megahit “Call Me Maybe” became totally memeable and entirely inescapable that year. It spent nine consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, Jepsen’s only song to achieve this type of chart success. Seemingly destined for one-hit wonder status, the lead single to her Kiss followup E•MO•TION, “I Really Like You,” barely grazed the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100. Commercially, E•MO•TION underperformed, selling only about 16,000 copies its debut week. However, critics began to take note of Carly’s penchant for sticky hooks, earnest lyricism, and slick production. Word of mouth among internet circles gave it a second life. Swaths of critics and pop music fans alike formed a cult around Carly Rae. The pop music reddit forum, r/popheads, was created for the explicit purpose of discussing Carly’s music. Nowadays, Jepsen is seen as the patron saint of pure pop—say anything derogatory about her on the internet, and her devoted following will promptly excommunicate you from all corners of it. The most recent pop artist to take up the flop star mantle is Charli XCX. Similar to Robyn and Carly, Charli seemed destined for one-hit wonder status, with features on hits “I Love It” and “Fancy,” as well as her own top 10 hit “Boom Clap.” Like the other artists mentioned, she broke away from the mainstream, working with the underground collective PC Music. She released the polarizing Vroom Vroom EP working alongside SOPHIE, and two critically acclaimed mixtapes Number 1 Angel and Pop 2. Her recent album, Charli, has also received highly positive reviews, despite only peaking at #42 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and having no singles charting in the U.S. Charli XCX, Robyn, and Carly Rae Jepsen have ushered in a new era for pop stars: an era in which pop music and popular music are now distinct from one another. Having their histories as artists laid out, there are many common threads to their relative success. One aspect of flopstardom that these women share is their critical success. As time has gone on, the array of individuals writing and contextualizing music has slowly grown more and more diverse. Consequently, the efforts of female artists started to be recognized more. Through the lens of poptimism, writers began to challenge the notion that pop, a genre maligned for its perceived shallowness, vapidity, and femininity, is deserving of being analyzed precisely because of these preconceived notions.
MELISMA | FALL 2019 | 7 Moreover, Robyn, Carly Rae, and Charli all briefly skirted with mainstream success before facing a sexist and ageist music industry that regularly chews up and spits out female artists that refuse to bend to its will. Because of this, it makes it easy for critics and the everyday person alike to conceptualize and subsequently relate to the underdog narrative of the artists in question. Unlike the traditionally larger-than-life pop stars present in mainstream circles, the success of the cult pop star hinges on relatability and earnestness.
Going into the next decade, I believe that pop musicians paid dust by the mainstream will be able to find their niche.
Of course, it would be impossible to write anything about music in the 2010s without mentioning memes in some capacity. In a broad sense, thriving as a leftof-center pop artist would be nearly impossible without the internet. These artists’ prominence in online communities cannot be overstated. Charli XCX and Carly Rae, in particular, seem to have legions of fans ready to eagerly and vocally consume whatever content they release. Memes such as “Give Carly a Sword,” and the “Run Away With Meme” about Carly, in addition to Charli’s “Release Taxi” and “I thought this song was big in Germany!” memes reveal a lot about how revered these artists are. Meme culture has benefited these artists in myriad and occasionally contradictory ways, meaning the spread of these jokes adds to each artist’s relatability while simultaneously elevating them to a godlike status. For instance, whenever Carly Rae Jepsen does anything, no matter how droll, her fans deem her the queen of it. As an example, if Carly Rae posted a picture of her sitting on her couch on Instagram, fans flood the comments without fail, crowning her as the “Queen of Sitting.” Something very awkward to write out and yet important to take note of. While silly, the fact that the fanbases of these artists go the extra mile to depict their flop star of choice as untouchable icons
is very indicative of the impact of these artists’ music. Though the internet is often a hotbed of toxicity, it allows these artists to interact with fans. Charli XCX, for example, refers to her fanbase as The Angels, frequently addressing them directly via Instagram stories and indirectly by liking and retweeting statuses, often in a self-deprecating manner. This reinforces the idea that she is an authentic, real human to her fanbase, distancing herself from the stereotype of the larger-than-life pop icons present in the mainstream music scene. Opposite of the diva that consciously builds herself up to be an idol, the flop star projects a relatable image. Rabid fan bases are also important to these women financially. While their music may not chart extremely well, these artists and their labels are aware of the fact that they have a fanbase always ready to throw their support behind them, streaming their singles and albums, and purchasing merch and concert tickets. In turn, this is why Charli, Carly, and Robyn are afforded the artistic freedom that they enjoy. The time has come to address the elephant in the room. The big gay elephant in the room. It’s no secret that Robyn, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Charli XCX are immensely supported by the LGBTQ+ community. In many ways, this makes total sense. More and more queer identifying critics than ever have been able to express their love for pop music in a way that is taken seriously. Similarly, the prevalence of these artists in internet spheres can be traced back to queer people facing backlash for expressing poptimist sentiments, followed by seeking out and forming communities of their own to discuss their interests.
In other spheres, some things are much less clear. Robyn, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Charli XCX are straight, cisgender women. Their fan bases largely consist of white, cisgender gay men. As a queer, cis white guy myself who is also a fan of all of the artists mentioned in this article, I’ve been curious as to why I, and people like myself, connect to these straight ladies with such fervor. As a medium, pop music lends itself to its accessibility and simplicity. Many kids, queer or otherwise, first begin to internalize themes such as love, heartbreak, being a bad bitch, et cetera, through lyrics gleaned from pop songs. Especially for kids growing up in our heteronormative world, slowly begininning to engage with their sexuality, pop music is the way in which many gays begin to process these complex feelings. Looking towards straight women expressing both their desires and their issues with men, gay men are essentially doing the same thing by parroting back choruses. Some songs even take on deeper, gay-er, meanings. Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” is seemingly a narrative about a woman gently telling her partner that they must break up. This can easily be retooled into a queer love story, with the song’s narrator helping their lover embrace their sexuality and let their girlfriend down gently to do so. Similar to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Your Type,” with the chorus of “I’m not the type of girl for you” hitting so, so much harder when you’re me and crushing on a straight dude from your first day of sophomore year to your high school graduation. Case in point, gays have been and will continue to reappropriate the mainstream feminine perspective to shape our own narratives. Though gay male pop artists such as Troye Sivan and Adam Lambert have been gaining popularity, their fanbases largely consist of young, straight girls. For white cis gay men, it’s almost as if we are much more comfortable with the music of straight women than gay men. As to why this is, it’s essential that gay men examine their internalized homophobia and misogyny. Men, regardless of their sexual orientation, are raised to feel entitled to the thoughts and bodies of women. While fan interactions with these artists can be innocuous and hilarious, the sense of entitlement is deeply entrenched. On Charli XCX’s recent tour, one of her gay male fans asked her to sign a vial of his dead mother’s ashes. Another asked her to sign his anal douche. Both of these instances are extremely inappropriate and invasive, showing little respect for Charli. Charli’s largely gay fanbase also frequently harasses her to officially release the demo for her song, “Taxi.” While, yes, the demo does indeed slap, Charli has expressed that its
release is completely out of her control. Her fans’ relentless cries for her to release music further illustrates their disregard for her humanity. Though this example’s hyperspecificity is for the purpose of this article, misogynistic language is rampant in communites of gay men, such as the terms “skinny legend” subtly conflating success with a certain body type. Though flop stars are genuinely championed by swaths of gay men, I find it vital to make note of the more sinister motives behind this worship. Gay men often refuse to engage with our own misogyny, feeling as if not being sexually attracted to women removes years and years of patriarchal socialization. Irony is used as a shield for criticism, but regurgitating sexist language still perpetuates it, and, frankly, is just plain gross. While queer men have faced many, many hardships and find solace in the spaces that artists like Robyn, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Charli XCX created, we must be cognizant of the harmful stereotypes we perpetuate when we discuss our favorite flops. Overall, the definition of a pop star has evolved throughout the 2010s with the rise of the flop star. Going forward, this template set by Robyn, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Charli XCX has lead to many artists finding success creating left of center pop music. Indifference to the general public allows many queer artists to thrive in this lane, such as Kim Petras, who identifies as trans, and the gender nonconforming Dorian Electra gaining traction. Going into the next decade, I believe pop musicians paid dust by the mainstream will be able to increasingly find their niche among queer, internet, and critical circles just as 90s queer audiences found a home in zine culture. Though considered flops when measured by mainstream parameters, the star quality and impact of the artists mentioned cannot be denied.
MELISMA | FALL 2019 | 9
A DEEPER DIVE INTO MEME CULTURE AND THE POLITICS OF FACEBOOK By Lola Nedic and Sidd Jejurikar
f you’re an insufferable music nerd, you are probably a member of an obnoxious Facebook group or two. Pages dedicated solely to music and music sharing have recently evolved into nothing other than shitposting forums where users are enabled to meme one another’s music tastes. Some of these groups are dedicated to specific artists or genres, like Sufjan Stevens Feelsposting or midwest mEMOposting, while others are focused on music as a whole. One of such groups, Patrician Music Chartposting (PMC), has over 57,000 members and roughly 100 posts per day. Behind the facade of music discussion, these groups are by and large places where artists, their music, and their fans are parodied.
Death Grips are not the only nor the first group that this has happened to. Many artists and their albums have started as sleepers recognized only on a cult-level on message boards, before eventually becoming emblematic artists within these communities. Discourse around these figures then becomes ubiquitous and they start to be considered necessary background for further discussion. Eventually this universal recognition and acclaim turns into a source of ridicule in the form of memes. In the most tragic cases, the majority of discussion on these artists is conducted with memes, copypastas, and a variety of shitposts. This is a particular phenomenon worth exploring apart from music memes as a class: the lifespan of a memed artist (memespan).
Members of internet communities like these do not shy away from joking about critically acclaimed artists. Groups like Death Grips were once the hallmark of “patrician” music, and were revered for their experimental sound. But these days, if you were to enter a music Facebook group or subreddit and say “What are everyone’s thoughts on Death Grips?” you would be met with hostility (see Figure 1). Death Grips are an exemplar of the meme lifespan that many artists go through. These artists start out as niche groups that are only enjoyed by a select few dedicated listeners. Then, they grow increasingly popular and become cult favorites. Eventually, music discourse becomes too saturated with these groups, and listening starts to feel more like an obligation than a discovery. Once this happens, listeners resort to playful jokes as opposed to meaningful discussion.
A few of the clearest examples of the memespan include: Death Grips, Neutral Milk Hotel, American Football’s LP1, Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92, and (arguably) the entire Vaporwave movement. None of these artists, albums, or
Eventually this universal recognition and acclaim turns into a source of ridicule in the form of memes.
unpretentious artists don’t do much to facilitate pretentious fans, and still end up with the most egregious fanbases (see: Kero Kero Bonito, JPEGMAFIA). In these cases, outwardly non-pretentious artists can also become meme magnets thanks to their fans—but more on the fans later.
genre are or ever were part of the mainstream by radio play or Billboard definitions—they underwent the memespan solely on online communities. Still, it is not the purpose of music-discussion pages to find and carry out the meme-assasination of an artist. Additionally, some artists are memed more aggressively than others. So two questions remain: what makes an artist become a victim of this cycle and what makes the online community predisposed towards subjecting artists to this cycle? Many of the examples mentioned above are or are made by artists generally recognized as pretentious. In some cases, a snobby artist can evoke an even snobbier fanbase—think Neutral Milk Hotel, and more importantly, Jeff Mangum’s magnum dick energy. Neutral Milk Hotel’s fanbase has been long shitted on for being overly highbrow, which largely contributes to the band’s memeability. But while this may be the case for bands like Neutral Milk Hotel, obnoxious fans aren’t always the product of obnoxious artists. Sometimes
Considering artists whose work was predominantly released before the dawn of the internet are not usually subject to the meme-span, it is reasonable to suggest that time period is a factor. The lack of meme artists from before 1990 is likely because the rise of social media has made it much easier for music-lovers to communicate, and thus facilitates both the creation and the spread of memes. But past this cutoff period, there is no clear connection between memeability and the time period during which an artist peaked. One possible counterexample is Joy Division. This 80s Goth-ButNot-Quite-Bauhaus-Goth outfit’s debut album Unknown Pleasures was a hallmark of the alt-community to the point of being plastered on thousands of clout-farming t-shirts. Now, this cover is a meme. Searching “Joy Division Shirt Meme” on Redbubble (see Figure 2) returns dozens of creative parodies of the cover art. This is the earliest salient example to be found of the memespan, as it embodies the stages of niche approval followed by overubiquity and then finally parody.
There must be an explanatory factor for meme sensitivity not fully controlled by the artists themselves: their fans. Still, despite outliers, if you are an artist who reached prominence during or after the dawn of the internet—it does not seem to matter when you rose to prominence. For example, Neutral Milk Hotel established themselves as the seminal Folk-For-Hotboxing-A-Jeep-GrandWagoneer-With-Poorly-Hand-Rolled-American-Spirits band in the late 90s, while Death Grips crafted their unique brand of I-Piss-Straight-Zero-Ultra-MonsterEnergy-Hip-Hop in the 2010s. Both these bands rose to fame after the rise of the internet so, despite the wide gap in their peaks, are both still subject to the memespan. Additionally, an artist’s memeability seems to have even less to do with their genre than with their era. The artists that get memed, particularly in Facebook groups, create music that ranges from indie rock to experimental hip-hop
MELISMA | FALL 2019 | 11 to electro-pop—sometimes all of the above. With that in consideration, there does not appear to be a correlation between an artist’s genre and memeability. When considering cross-genre artists, a unique example of the memespan phenomena comes up: 100 gecs. Over the course of two minutes, this electronic duo can hop from Chiptune to Hyperpop to Black Metal to Dubstep— often within the same song. As you can imagine, they sound ridiculous. Ridiculous, however, does not imply bad. In fact, their ability to make listeners feel like they have just been placed in a centrifuge and given semipermanent whiplash is actually what gave them their dedicated cult of overall-wearing “pissbabies.” 100 gecs achieved late-stage status in the memecycle with unprecedented speed, likely because they intentionally fueled their own memeing on social media. This goes to show that artists have at least some degree of control over their public image vis-à-vis memespan. As the examples related to an artist’s pretentiousness show, this control is not absolute. There must be an explanatory factor for meme sensitivity not fully controlled by the artists themselves: their fans.
PMC’s contributors are forever walking the line between knowledgeable and passionate, tiptoeing between what the group deems acceptable and unacceptable. Perhaps taking a closer look at an artist that seems to be in the beginning stages of this process might be helpful. Brockhampton, a hip-hop circle-jerk, seems to fit the bill best. They first rose to fame in 2017, and were revered for their innovative production and lyrical prowess. Brockhampton quickly grew popular, but sometime between the release of Saturation III and Ginger, the group began to reach meme-status. Since Brockhampton is still in the early stages of the cycle, perhaps they represent an opportunity to observe in real-time the causes of an artist getting memed. Brockhampton fans are known for being overly pretentious, jumpsuit-wearing suburban e-boys who think that Kevin Abstract invented rap, and can only separate art from the artist when it comes to former member
Ameer Vann and the many allegations against him. The attitudes and vibe of an artist’s fanbase may be the most plausible explanation for why some music gets memed and some does not. Particularly annoying or pretentious fans may affect the reputation of an artist, making them more prone to being memed. The egregious fanbase surrounding Brockhampton has caused the group to be taken less seriously, and has thus left it more meme-able. Looking only at the artists that get memed doesn’t give us a clear picture of why some become part of the dreaded memespan of music and why some don’t. Clearly, the culture of these groups themselves is responsible for the meme-assassination of an artist. Members of these groups are expected to have a basic understanding of memed artists—enough to allow them to actively participate in the group’s discourse. But, when members become too fixated on these meme-artists, the members subject to harsh judgement and become the topic of memes themselves. This is not unique to online communities. The inclination to create in-groups is central to human practices of belonging. Niche, or “patrician,” artists initially serve as a basis for this—allowing their fans to bond over a shared interest. But news spreads fast on sites like PMC. So, when liking a niche artist becomes the norm, fandom no longer functions as a ticket to the in-group. A new member is expected to already know this artist and must refrain from caring about them too much. This leaves members constantly seeking out the most obscure music—something that will set them apart from 56,999 others. PMC’s contributors are forever walking the line between knowledgeable and passionate, tiptoeing between what the group deems acceptable and unacceptable. Failing to abide by any of the de facto “rules” of PMC might reveal to veteran members that you are really not patrician at all. And we wouldn’t want that, would we?
A LOOK BACK AT OUR FAVORITE PHOTOS FROM SHOWS WEâ€™VE COVERED THIS SEMESTER
Charli XCX | Katie Fielding Built To Spill | Kayla Avitabile
Julia Jacklin | Charlie Billings
Hatchie | Ethan Lam Crumb | Michael Norton
MELISMA | FALL 2019 | 13
Angel Olsen | Michael Cambron
JPEGMAFIA | Ethan Lam
The Frights | Katie Fielding
Kero Kero Bonito | Lola Nedic
Steve Lacy | Matthew Harrison
EarthGang | Colin Keegan
Concert Photography in in the the age age of of
Social Media By Katie Fielding orn at the rise of rock and roll, concert photography B has become one of the biggest methods for fans to connect with their favorite bands. The most famous
photos of rock legends capture the essence of their live performances for the masses that could not be there. Photos like these filled spreads in magazines like Rolling Stone and were used for merchandise, all as a way to share the joy of live music. Today, photographers may have similar intentions, but the industry has changed from the days of analog equipment and success defined by publication in print. Social media now defines the landscape of concert photography. New York City-based photographer Maggie Friedman, known professionally as Maggie London Photo, says that one of the keys to success is “having a good social media presence, posting consistently good work, and being active and engaging with people who like your work.” She personally attests to the power of social media, having worked as a freelance
It is important that the photographer is capturing shots that are not only technically good... but also compelling, capturing the energy of a live show. photographer for over seven years. She cites the fact that her Instagram page has helped her get jobs and make many connections in the industry. There is a lot of power in the reach of social media—someone commenting on a post can lead to exponentially more people seeing it on the Instagram Explore page, and if the right person comes across a post, it can lead to a new job or client. Friedman stresses, however, that this does not undermine the importance of forming connections and networking. In her personal experience, relationships built through social media can help get a foot in the door, but it takes drive to turn a connection into consistent paid work. Touring photographer Brit O’Brien, who has worked with many artists throughout her career including Hippo Campus, K. Flay, and COIN, echoed this sentiment. While she has gotten work primarily through networking and making connections within the industry, she sees social media as an integral part of her career. She has leveraged her following to spread her work and operate a successful print store, allowing her to donate more than $3,000 of her proceeds to environmental charities.
MELISMA | FALL 2019 | 15 Social media is just one component of finding success as a concert photographer, not the whole story. It does, however, undoubtedly add a new layer to getting work seen. This applies to the other end of the work as well— bands themselves understand the important role social media plays in being seen, which creates a higher demand for concert photographers. “We’re part of marketing. It’s a huge part of how a tour sells at this point. If you have good content on your social media, more people are going to come see you,” Friedman says. This is where a good photographer comes in. Advertising is a powerful tool when used well, so it is important that the photographer is capturing shots that are not only technically good with balanced composition and lighting, but also compelling, capturing the energy of a live show. “That’s what I wanted to portray in my photography… The work I love the most of mine makes me feel something.” In their use of Instagram and other social media platforms to promote themselves, bands (and often their fan pages) may unintentionally harm photographers and creatives. The phenomenon of reposting a photographer’s work without credit is a widespread problem that robs creatives not only of their rights to the photo but of job opportunities. Friedman cites The 1975’s frontman Matty Healy, who publicly stated his reluctance to credit photographers because they are capturing his likeness and using it for their personal benefit. She states that often bands do not understand how not crediting a photographer can be truly detrimental, especially a band with as wide of a reach as The 1975. “It’s not just followers, it’s not just numbers, it’s genuine paid work,” she says of the resulting lost opportunities. Another problem arises when fans repost a photo without credit. As it continues to get reposted, it gets more reach, but becomes even further removed from the original photographer. It can become impossible for one individual photographer to keep track of where their work is landing to demand the credit they deserve. O’Brien agrees with the frustration of bands reposting work without credit, but says that it’s less of an issue when fans do so because she appreciates the fact that fans are connecting with her work. There is a risk associated with publishing work on these platforms, but the intent behind the work is for photos to truly resonate with people, and sharing photos is one way people show their appreciation. Due to the vast amount of people who use social media, it can be hard for an individual photographer to be discovered, and it becomes tempting to compare oneself as well as one’s work to what they see on Instagram, for example. So much of social media has become about curating a particular style for every post to create a cohesive look for an Instagram grid.
The ease with which people can dub themselves photographers has led some to discount the skill required to do the job well. Both Friedman and O’Brien condemn allowing the integrity of their work to be compromised in pursuit of some ideal aesthetic value. Friedman recalled a time when she used to edit her photos to alternate between color and black and white to make her feed appear cohesive despite preferring her color work. This goes to show that there is an inherent difference between curated and contrived, and that difference is trying to convey something manufactured as opposed to something real. “As soon as I let go of what anyone else thought of me and I just edited things how I wanted to edit them, they looked cohesive because they were all my vision,” Friedman stated. O’Brien agrees that the main consideration should be “telling a story within… my image.” It appears that as long as a photographer has a point of view, not only will the cohesion of their feed follow, but it will maintain a sense of authenticity that cannot be forced. Another consequence of the oversaturation of photographers on social media is that often bands and aspiring photographers undervalue the importance of a quality photographer, as O’Brien pointed out. The ease with which people can dub themselves photographers has led some to discount the skill required to do the job well. People have told
her that she has “the easiest job on the road… without understanding that there is a lot that goes into each image and the work it takes to stay on top of it all every day.” Being a good photographer, or employing one, is more than just filling up an Instagram grid and should be about being an artist—“[E]very shot is special, a real moment, not captured because it was easy. [I] don’t want to be here to create ‘profile pictures,’ [I] want to be here to document a journey.” She has found that photographers aren’t vetted enough in her opinion, and that people just pick up a camera and call themselves photographers without having the knowledge or experience behind them. The devaluation of concert photographers may make it harder for those who truly value the craft to find employment if they are trying to compete in an oversaturated market. Perhaps worse, it also may lessen the emphasis on using photography to connect with viewers and convey an experience, and this could lead to a decline in this art form.
Concert photography serves to capture the essence of a show. The opportunity for wide reach does have its benefits, though. It levels the playing field for those with little experience or industry connections to get their work seen. The developments in technology have had a similar effect. Cameras have become significantly more accessible to the general public. “30 years ago if you wanted to be a photographer, you’d have to spend a lot of money to get analog equipment and buy film, and that’s not a cheap form of photography so it priced out a lot of people,” Friedman says. Now, decent entry level DSLR setups are available for a few hundred dollars, and people can even explore an interest in photography with everimproving smartphone cameras before deciding if they want to invest in more professional gear. Many people argue that this may lead to an oversaturation of photographers, but Friedman says, “I don’t think that anyone who’s relatively successful as a concert photographer Photo: Glass Animals by Maggie Friedman
is worried that’s taking work away from them.” She elaborated, saying that because concert photography serves to capture the essence of a show, the gear becomes less important. If someone has an eye for the work, they can get a good shot whether they have an entry-level camera or one that costs multiple thousands of dollars. Throughout the evolution of concert photography and all of the changes that technology and social media have contributed to, one thing remains the same: The value in concert photography lies in a professional’s ability to capture the energy of live music and share that with the world. Regardless of a photographer’s social media use or the equipment with which they shoot, they are integral to sharing the emotion of a live show with the world. Conveying the atmosphere of a show and the elation of a crowd is a skill that allows more people to truly experience music. The ability for an artist and listeners to connect through the emotional and creative content of a song is the essential purpose of music, and when a concert photographer is able to capture this fundamental intention, they are making our world a little more connected and a little brighter. Find Maggie Friedman at maggielndnphoto.com or Find Maggie Friedman at maggielndnphoto.com or @maggielndnphoto on Instagram @maggielndn on Instragram Find O’Brien at at brittanyobrien.com brittanyobrien.com or or @britobrien Find Brit Brit O’Brien on Instagram @britobrien on Instagram
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take me to merch BY JULIA BERNICKER
hen Travis Scott’s Astroworld beat Nicki Minaj’s Queen on the Billboard album chart in August of 2018, Minaj took to her Beats 1 Radio show to express her frustration: “Travis Scott is out here selling fucking clothes, and he got y’all thinking he’s selling fucking music,” Minaj said. “What we’re not gonna do is have this fucking autotune man come up in here selling fucking sweaters and telling y’all he sold half a million fucking albums, ’cause he didn’t.” Minaj isn’t the only musician who feels this way. She is addressing a larger shift in the music industry from physical to digital. This in turn has affected album sales and chart positions. Tour merch is instrumental in driving these numbers. With the rise in popularity of music streaming sites like Spotify and Apple Music, consumers no longer need to buy full albums or even songs. Since chart positions are based off of sales, Billboard has accommodated this by setting 1250 streams equal to one album sale. Still, with the massive number of streams needed to meet just one sale, artists like Scott are turning to an alternative method to boost chart positions: bundling an album and merch together. It’s an idea that fans love—what they really want is the t-shirt, and they also get the album thrown in. But where it gets sticky is that not all artists require consumers to redeem the album, meaning the bundle costs the same with or without it. If it’s essentially free, does it count as a sale? Billboard has yet to change the rules on this, but it’s clear that measuring sales is becoming more complex. And what’s even more clear is that charts still matter. Larry Miller, director of Music Business at NYU, explained to Rolling Stone: “If you talk to any artist or label president ever, even with all of the changes in the way that people
discover and listen to music, being number one is still really important not just to the labels, but to the artists themselves.” Besides skewing sales figures in their favor, there is another reason why artists bundle. This has to do with an increasingly digital music landscape where releasing music is no longer the primary source of income for most musicians. Subscription streaming platforms provide artists with much less revenue than used to come from selling physical music, so artists are making up for that gap with merch. Over the last two decades, music merchandise has skyrocketed and is now a 3.1 billion dollar industry, according to Rolling Stone. However, merch wasn’t always this lucrative. The humble band t-shirt began in the 60s and 70s, when protest movements and music were often intertwined. Fans of bands like the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, and the Ramones wanted to express the countercultural ideas they found in the music of their heroes—and what better way to do so than by wearing it on a t-shirt. In an era with no social media, tour merch was also a way to show other people what concerts you had been to, what your music taste was, and in a larger sense, what you stood for. Now, when clothing with these vintage copycat designs can be found in almost every department store, it begs the question of whether merch still represents a movement or if it has become over franchised and oversaturated. But even as some merch becomes fast fashion, the industry is gaining notoriety as a result of a growing amount of exclusivity. Instead of just selling tour merch at a concert or online, artists are changing the way
merch is sold. Limited-time drops are one of the most profitable ways to sell merch and rack up album sales. For his newest album Astroworld, Travis Scott sold 500,000 album equivalents during a 24 hour exclusive merch drop. Lil Wayne did the same thing for Tha Carter V and sold 480,000 equivalent units. Both teamed up with fashion icons, such as Virgil Abloh of Louis Vouitton, which contributed to the drop’s success. As artists compete to collaborate with the top designers and fashion houses for the best designs, merch also becomes high fashion. At the forefront of this evolution is Bravado, a company that designs merch for classic bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones alongside current stars like Travis Scott and Kanye West. With a roster of more than 200 artists, Bravado takes merch to the next level by orchestrating pop-up shops for Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo tour and even bringing Justin Bieber’s Purpose tour clothing into department stores. But this is just the beginning for the merch company. CEO Matt Vlasic wants to expand into sectors like food and beverage or leisure, which he discusses in an interview with Highsnobiety: “That’s a definite focus for us right now because it’s a lifestyle at the end of the day,” Vlasic said. “The Rolling Stones is a lifestyle. The Beatles is a lifestyle. The Doors are a lifestyle. Travis Scott is a lifestyle. There are lifestyles in all of those things, and we want to be able to have an infrastructure that can help build those.” As tour merch turns into fashion and brands and stores, the lines between them start to blur. Merch and streetwear have become tied together, creating the rise of a culture that has defined the current decade. It’s the language of this generation, in the same way that disco became emblematic of the clothing and lifestyle of the 70s. Artists have capitalized on this by expanding tour merch into wildly successful brands like Tyler the Creator’s Golf le Fleur and Kanye West’s Yeezy line. With all of this
expansion, merch isn’t just stand-alone items anymore, but a gateway to the world that the artist is creating. Whether you are buying a shirt from a specific tour or something from a brand the artist creates or endorses, it is clear that exclusivity sells. A lifestyle sells. Fans want to feel like they are a part of something unique and special; this is why people wait in lines for hours at a time during a pop-up or obsessively refresh social media feeds to check for the next surprise drop.
At its core, what drives this merch and resale frenzy is a desire for a physical connection to music. But with this exclusivity comes a side effect: resale culture. Many of the people waiting in line for merch aren’t devoted fans looking for their new favorite hoodie, but are turning around and selling what they bought for huge markups. When Frank Ocean released a limited amount of free t-shirts themed for the U.S. Midterm elections, they went for as much as $450 on resale sites like eBay, Depop, or Grailed. One fan acknowledged this exploitation in an interview with Pitchfork: “I’d definitely consider myself a Frank Ocean fan even though I don’t feel like I should label myself as one, due to the fact that I take advantage of other fans by flipping.” Some artists are trying to ameliorate this issue by charging higher starting prices for merch but this seems to just feed the resale hype even more—prices go up, competition goes up, resale goes up, consumers go crazy. At its core, what drives this merch and resale frenzy is a desire for a physical connection to music. Vinyl coming back in style in addition to the explosion of merch proves that people still want to be able to hold music in their hands, be it a record or a sweatshirt. And even more, fans are looking for connections with each other and the artists themselves. This can happen anywhere from meeting artists behind the merch stand at a local show to making friends with other fans waiting in line at a pop-up store. With such a dynamic and fast changing music landscape, merch will find new ways to keep up. Even as exclusivity and mass market compete, merch still has roots in the band tee of the social movement era. It means something to fans, and in some cases, merch might even mean more than the music itself.
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By Kayla Avitabile The term Alternative Rock conjures many images of cool looking white dudes—dressed in black—singing angsty songs about their love lives, sometimes with occasional social commentary. But when we paint the alt rock storyboard in our minds, do women come to the forefront? At a certain time, probably twenty or so years ago, you would say no. It is possible that the Riot Grrls of the ‘90s like Hole and Bikini Kill come into mind with all their grunge glory or Alanis Morisette materializing the thoughts of a generation in Jagged Little Pill; but it's likely that their male counterparts (Nirvana, Radiohead and other Grunge and Alternative megabands) come to mind first. Fast forward to the 2000s, and the images of Alt Rock probably dig into the deepest depths of your repressed middle school emo phase. Top hat-wearing Brendon Urie in the “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” music video is unrestrained, but this time one of your first thoughts might be Hayley Williams killing it with Paramore’s record, Riot. While the patriarchy still exists (unfortunately), Alternative Rock has been open to more and more feminist voices. Big names like Mitski, Charly Bliss, Girl in Red, and Courtney Barnett comprise a collective of alt femmes who embody a sense of female power. These women expand upon a legacy of feminist music that has taken multiple forms over the years, and more importantly, the question this article aims to answer: what does feminist music sound like? When I think of “feminist music,” I think punks like the Riot Grrls, but feminist music can be anything. It can be anything that promotes a message of female empowerment and agency. In the context of the artists mentioned above, we can see how even in a small sector of alternative rock, the expression of female badassery is not black and white. It is first important to understand traditional conceptions of feminist music. With the rise of second wave feminism in the 1970s also came a desire to express a feminist voice through music. The biggest authority in this effort was Olivia Records, a record label founded in 1973 by a group of separtist feminists from Washington, DC. known as the Furies. They promoted the ideology of cultural feminism that—similar to the theory of black capitalism for black civil rights activists—called for “the development of women-identified arts, religions, communities, and economic institutions” with the goal of garnering respect through a specific community’s ability to contribute to the cultural construct. For these separatist feminists, gaining cultural and economic capital was the method for securing the rights and respect they deserve. However, I discuss
For these separatist feminists, gaining cultural and economic capital was the method for securing the rights and respect they deserve. Olivia Records because they set an important precedent in Feminist music that was inevitably broken. Being separatist and lesbian, they aimed to exclusively produce music that fit their image of what feminist music is: a variant of folk music that ridiculed any form of distortion or tenants of rock music, which they preferred to call “cock rock.” While creating music that deviates from the popular and uber-masculine rock standard is a form of resistance to an institution and genre that often misogynizes women, this can’t be the sole definition of feminist music. And of course, it isn’t. Third wave feminists such as the Riot Grrls created a place for women in the traditionally masculine genre of punk music. In doing so, they were protesting punk’s male-dominated culture. Women performing a traditionally masculine genre not only bends gender norms and expectations, but also represents a type of resistance that battles oppression from the inside of the system rather than existing outside of it, as suggested by the Olivia Records cohort. As a result, feminist music can be Folk and it can also be Rock . . . but it can also be more than that. Olivia Records despised Rock music because it oozed masculinity. Lyrics from the Olivia Records camp can be hypersexual, which again, defies what society deems as female nature, i.e. purity and chastity (ever heard of the double standard?). These often unconscious sociological preconceptions act as if Rock music goes against female nature. But to ascribe these qualities to a “masculine” identity is extremely limiting, and our current society is progressively challenging the cis gender binary to counter these flawed norms. Therefore, women are not confined to a specific expression of femininity. As feminists
embraced Rock, they were able to bring their message to the mainsream. For instance, Alanis Morisette is by far one of the most influential female Alternative Rock artists of all time. Her lyrics and often purposefully unpolished vocals sonically materialize the frustrations of the modern woman. This proves that the realm of rock is a medium in which women can further feminist and female-empowering content. One current Alternative artist, Courtney Barnett, reclaims rockstardom for women through both her music and style. Courtney Barnett’s Spotify cover photo features her leaning on a chair wearing a suit, looking more like Mick Jagger than Debbie Harry. Therefore, the first image we see of her is one that defies the constructed binary. Her music has a wconversational, spoken word style and nonchalant manner. When so many women are under more pressure than men to conform to societal norms in order to become famous musicians, the aesthetic that Courtney Barnett presents (one we often associate with male groups) is a breath of fresh air. She’s just like one of the “guys” in a sense, and just for being that, she becomes a voice for female agency in music, asserting that women can do whatever the f*ck they want in a manipulative industry. Take a listen to “Pedestrian at Best”—the chorus declares: “Put me on a pedestal and I'll only disappoint you. / Tell me I'm exceptional, I promise to exploit you. / Give me all your money, and I'll make some origami, honey. / I think you're a joke, but I don't find you very funny.” These lyrics express frustration with unreasonable, gendered expectations. The verses also ramble on in a series of contradictions and self-doubt about what she is supposed to be according to societal standards. In the second verse, she admits to being “Under-worked and over-sexed, I must express my disinterest,” confirming this sense of boredom or tiredness of female expectations that stems from being hyper-sexualized and objectified in media. She doesn’t care about their money and thinks record
companies and male whims are a joke because their perspectives aren’t so much about the music as they are about profit. In addition, putting a woman on a “pedestal” of purity or representing her as some kind of delicate figure that must be protected is just an antiquated excuse to legitimize the patriarchy. However, while Barnett embodies rockstar roughness in both her guitar riffs and ranting vocals, a sense of softness that is associated with femininity does not equal weakness. In fact, being sad is just as powerful as being angry in terms of expressing a social/political message.
This mix of grit with femininity offers an authentic view of what it’s like to be caught in a constant state of cradling expectations and a desire to be raw and original. While Courtney Barnett is a modern, popular female artist representing Feminist music that embodies the grittiness of rock, we can also look at popular women in alternative today that don’t have this grit, but still convey a sense of female agency. For example, Lana Del Rey is cherished for her floating, breathy vocals in combination with her super nostalgic lyrics. Her latest album, Norman Fucking Rockwell!, has garnered recent critical acclaim for being this type of soft, melancholic adventure. Pitchfork describes, “with delicacy and grace, [it] find[s] new wings in minimalism, fresh air to breathe, a structural relief. From its cascade of opening piano notes— ‘God damn, man child’ are felicitous first words and the national mood—Norman Fucking Rockwell! achieves levity, tension, and a disarming self-awareness,” and Rolling Stone determined, “The longawaited Norman Fucking Rockwell! is even more massive and majestic than everyone hoped it would be.” This album, which is praised for this so-called “softness,” expresses a disdain for the falsehood of the American dream, a dream that is drenched in images of male glory with female contribution often in the shadows. Her opening lyrics recognize the mess of things like being in love with men that act like children, and in doing so, embodies a feminist voice that presents the challenges of female existence within the American social construct. However, these are two opposites on the spectrum, and there are many artists that fall in a sort of middle ground between this sonic softness and hardness in their work. Take a look at Charly Bliss’ Tiny Desk Concert and you hear a woman singing in a punk-tinged style, her vocal imperfections highlighted by the angsty lyrics. You also see
lead singer Eva Hendricks wearing a huge pink tutu dress amidst musical accompaniment full of poppy synthesizers. This mix of grit with femininity is such an interesting contrast and offers an authentic view of what it’s like to be caught in a constant state of cradling expectations and a desire to be raw and original. Her raspy singing comes to a climax in the second song in the set, “Young Enough,” which exemplifies growth and the difficulties associated with it, especially after leaving a toxic relationship with an “irresistible” bad-boy. In other words, the song screams of a sense of discovering identity, something that involves heartbreak and, for her, the realization that she is strong enough to exist without a man and stronger than the toxic masculinity surrounding us all. There is a great sense of vulnerability and “softness” to this emotional revelation similar to the iterations in Norman Fucking Rockwell!, but it is not shy of a sort of sonic “roughness” that is part of the journey. Hendricks recognizes that female agency is both hardness and softness, and her fronting a band full of men is another power move in and of itself. They let her take the stage in her own way, and that is something that is extremely empowering. The final case for describing the multiplicity of feminist music (even though I could cite thousands more) is Mitski, and particularly, her hit, “Your Best American Girl.” Like Charly Bliss, she does both. Mitski achieves that rock vibe with the heavy guitar distortion coupled with an ethereal floating voice for juxtaposition. The music video for the song reveals the reason for the melancholic voice. She sits hopefully across from an attractive young white man only to feel pain when he excessively makes out with another white girl instead of her (as a result, she makes out with an imaginary man next to her). What makes this important is that Mitski is Asian, and this video essentially says that “Your Best American Girl”—in accordance with traditional beauty standards—is white. She echoes one of many subjects of protest by Asian women, Black women, and other women of color who are often excluded from several aspects of society and culture, especially music with the Rock genre in particular. Needless to say, women of color are often shut out or simply forgotten when it comes to feminism as well. The third wave Riot Grrrl movement, which aimed to diversify the feminist platform, ended abruptly because of a race riot that recognized their failure at acheiving this goal. Mitski claims a space for not only the female identity in the 21st century, but the Asian identity and its importance in American pop culture. While her song is a protest to the naive desire of a man’s acceptance (just as Charly Bliss’ “Young Enough”), it also highlights a key racial component to her argument; feminist music is not just a multiplicty of sounds but differs based on a multiplcity of femme identies. That being said, it is also important to recognize the queer voices in this music. Another example could be Girl in Red’s “we fell in love in october” and “girls,” which are songs that detail a romantic experience from a girl about a girl. You could also look at the band Against Me! fronted by a
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trans woman, Laura Jane Grace and their song “True Trans Soul Rebel.” Again, the range of what feminist music can be is pretty much endless and my small analysis of a few alternative artists is only a slice of the discussion regarding this topic, but nonetheless, it gives a portrait that women are thriving in music more than ever.
Sonic expression of emotions and the identity these emotions inhabit can manifest in a variety of formats, and that is why music is one of the best forms of free speech. Looking back at the originators of Olivia records and the women of the 90s that made Alternative Rock mainstream, I’d say that they’d be pretty proud of the scene that exists now (even if it’s not the folk). Sonic expression of emotions and the identity these emotions inhabit can manifest in a variety of formats, and that is why music is one of the best forms of free speech. With these artists so accessible to a young audience, these images and sounds of female agency in such a male dominated industry is not only inspiring, but will finally bring women to the forefront of the mental image of Alternative music. As we round the third decade of the new millenium, the opportunities and the multitude of Feminist music will only proliferate. The next step is just topping the charts.
Which Album of the Decade Are You? What’s your major?
What’s on your walls?
A. American Studies B. Film & Media Studies C. Economics D. Psychology
A. Neon lights B. Copies of your handmade zines C. Nothing (It’s called minimalism, sweaty. Like the runaway intro? You heard of it?) D. Fairy lights
What’s the best book you read in high school?
How do you take your coffee?
A. The Picture of Dorian Gray B. The Catcher in the Rye C. A Clockwork Orange (only the torture scenes) D. Pride and Prejudice
A. With a splash of oat milk B. With a dash of CBD oil C. French Pressed, you have a system D. Whatever’s on the Starbucks seasonal menu right now
What was your Halloween costume?
How do you listen to your music?
A. You put on a cowboy hat and cried about being single B. A “niche” (Tarantino) movie character C. A toga D. A Powerpuff Girl (Blossom)
A. On a Walkman B. With a Crosley record player from Urban Outfitters C. With AirPods (Pro) only D. Apple Music
You cried the first time you listened — you haven’t felt anything since. Every time you listen, you either dye your hair or get a new tattoo. You fall in love with anyone with a nose piercing (they never reciprocate).
When you got to college and found out that you weren’t the only person in the world who had listened to this album, you had an identity crisis.You’re sad that this is the only Tame Impala album. Is it one guy? Is it a band? Who the fuck knows?
The day this album came out, you stole your mom’s red lipstick You miss the old Kanye — before he got — and you haven’t all weird (republican). turned back since. Your favorite hobby is You’ve called yourself separating the art from a #girlboss — and meant it. The extent of the artist, because your musical talent is a you have to. Your ukulele cover of Riptide favorite film is Fight Club (1999). Have you by Vance Joy. heard of it??
Blonde Frank Ocean
Currents Tame Impala
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy Kanye West
1989 Taylor Swift
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Spring Preview ARTISTS TO WATCH
January 17 | Magic City Hippies| Paradise Rock Club January 21 | Atmosphere | House of Blues January 25 | Red Hot Chili Peppers | The Cabot Performing Arts Center January 28 | Cory Wong | Paradise Rock Club January 31 | Lane 8 | Paradise Rock Club February 1 | ABBA | Chevalier Theater February 1 | Cold War Kids | House of Blues February 3 | Rex Orange County | House of Blues February 8 | EarthGang w/ Mick Jenkins | Royale February 10 | Tove Lo | House of Blues February 13 | YBN Cordae | The Sinclair February 14 | Chance the Rapper | TD Garden February 17 | Hayley Kiyoko | House of Blues March 5 | Boyz II Men | Chevalier Theater March 5 | La Roux | House of Blues March 19 | Billie Eilish | TD Garden March 25 | Michael Bublé | TD Garden March 28 | Indigo Girls | Chevalier Theater April 2 | Sofi Tukker | House of Blues April 3 | Anamanaguchi | Brighton Music Hall April 4 | Soccer Mommy | Paradise Rock Club April 7 | Walk of the Earth | Somerville Theater April 19 | King Krule | House of Blues April 24 | Die Antwoord | House of Blues May 3 | Mura Masa | House of Blues May 12 | Channel Tres | Brighton Music Hall May 14 | Bikini Kill | Boch Center Wang Theater May 15 | Jacob Collier | House of Blues
Though the band was founded in 2010, it was not until recently that they hit their stride with the release of Romantic (2016) and Patience (2019). This Philadelphia Punk outfit’s relentless energy is matched only by their vulnerable lyricism. With Patience being given the “Best New Music” designation from Pitchfork, they show no sign of stopping.
21 year old Samia first came to fame when her single “Someone Tell the Boys” was added to Spotify’s “Badass Women” playlist. Since then, the native New Yorker has released a handful of singles and has toured in support of Donna Missal and Remo Drive. Samia’s music is known for its upbeat Pop sound, sharp, honest lyrics, and feminist undertones. Samia is expected to release her debut album early in 2020.
BLACK BELT EAGLE SCOUT
Katherine Paul, better known as Black Belt Eagle Scout, released her second album At the Party with My Brown Friends this year, after her debut Mother of My Children in 2018. This album celebrates the love and support she received from her friends and family after coming out. As an Indigenous Swinomish/Iñupiaq artist, centering her joy rather than trauma is radical, beautiful, and deserves your attention.
ALBUM DROP RADAR January 10 | Kesha | High Road January 17| Bombay Bicycle Club | Everything Else Has Gone Wrong February 7 | Green Day | Father of All... February 14 | Tame Impala | The Slow Rush February 14 | Tennis | Swimmer February 21 | Grimes | Miss_Anthrop0cene February 21 | the 1975 | Notes on a Conditional Form