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Reading Sally Rooney is like finally being compensated for being a young woman. Her first two novels, “Conversations with Friends” and “Normal People,” catalog the romantic and intellectual obsessions of her college-aged subjects with rare tenderness and precision. She takes seriously the kind of stories that are often deemed frivolous merely because their subject matter (girls) is not seen as a viable cultural subset for which to make art, manifested in the phrase “chick lit.” Art which portrays female perspectives — especially young, contemporary female perspectives — is often viewed as separate and illegitimate. Rooney is the novelist I go to when I want to be seen and validated, so waiting for her highly anticipated third novel was like waiting for an old friend to return home.
This is the first edition of Green To Go, a fortnightly column that will review restaurants in the Upper Valley with a focus on vegetarian options, detailed accounts of the food and ambiance and accessibility to a variety of students, especially FGLI students.
The second season of the Disney+ backstage musical and mockumentary “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” ended a few weeks ago. This season saw the show depart from its title, as the students in the drama club of East High are no longer working on a production of “High School Musical: The Musical,” but rather of Alan Menken’s “Beauty and The Beast.” Though this season dives deeper into the different characters’ development, it lacks the charm of the first season overall.
Billie Eilish revolutionized pop through the institution of a dark, eclectic style in her debut studio album “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” Between the tantalizing whispers and her penchant for contrasting harsh instruments with soft vocals, Billie Eilish united reality and fantasy to tell the story of teenage trauma through lucid dreams. Winning a whopping six Grammys in 2020, Eilish skyrocketed to mainstream success and mass fame at just 18 years old.
“The Green Knight” by David Lowery has been one of my most anticipated films of this year ever since I first saw the trailer for it in February of 2020 — a lifetime ago, in other words. I was excited to see it for a few reasons, and not just because of the fact that I’m a film minor and, as such, I’m contractually obligated to fawn over any and all A24 movies. I was excited because of my love for fantasy, my love for dark takes on well-trodden genres and because I greatly enjoyed Lowery’s last film, “The Old Man and the Gun.”
When Tyler, the Creator released his album’s new single, “Lumberjack,” on June 16, it was unclear which version of him we would get on “Call Me If You Get Lost,” his sixth studio album. Tyler’s discography has seen a major swing from aggressive and alienating lyrics to exploring introspective, vulnerable themes. The album’s first single gave us the old, aggressive Tyler; it boasted of wealth over an abrasive sample from the pioneering horrorcore group Gravediggaz, but with humor and grace infusing the lyrics. Its sound is comparable to his earlier albums, but in a way that is more mature and secure, foreshadowing the feeling of the album that would follow.
When the Marvel Cinematic Universe announced a wave of new television shows, it was no surprise that the charismatic brother of Thor, Loki, secured a series all to himself. Played by the beloved actor Tom Hiddleston, Loki won over viewers with his debut in 2011’s “Thor.” Despite his introduction as a villain, MCU fans have watched him develop into a reformed hero. Disney Plus’ new show “Loki” follows this evolution and expands on Loki’s character development by exploring the meaning of free will, faith and identity.
Marvel’s “Black Widow” weaves a touching story about abuse, family and survival. The movie tackles the difficult theme of the dehumanization of young women through fantastic acting, writing and, of course, fighting. In the larger context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though, “Black Widow” still feels like too little, too late for the titular character. After a decade as a superhero sidekick, fans can’t help but feel that Black Widow deserved more.
Spotted: HBO Max’s new show. Will ‘Gossip Girl’ be successful? Or is this just another failed reboot waiting to happen? You know you love me. XOXO
Since garnering mass attention with his music-based performances on YouTube at just 16, Bo Burnham has been an iconic presence in the comedy community. He has an impressive discography of surprisingly introspective songs, such as “Art is Dead” and “Lower Your Expectations,” which discuss the harrowing problems of comedic brilliance and leave the listener cackling while also questioning society. With his newest Netflix special “Inside,” Burnham builds on his catalogue of self-reflective songs as he struggles to understand his place in a convoluted world.
Machine Gun Kelly’s newest album transcends his former rap concentration and launches the artist into his newest exploration: pop-punk. Based heavily on popular music of the early 2000s, “Tickets to My Downfall” marks the genre’s return to popularity with a new edge that makes it stronger than before. With over 66 million streams, Kelly has seen more commercial success from this album than any of his previous work, proving his versatility by successfully making the difficult jump to a new genre.
Until recently, Annie Clark’s — who goes by the stage name St. Vincent — most personal album was “Marry Me,” her debut album, which came out in 2007. Since then, she’s leaned more and more into her St. Vincent persona. Even songs that explored her personal struggles, like “Marrow” or “Strange Mercy,” feel detached from the real Annie Clark, distorted through the filter of St. Vincent. For a long time, this strategy worked well, as much of her best work can be found on albums like “Actor,” “Strange Mercy'' and “St. Vincent.” However, the culmination of this style was 2017’s “Masseduction,” a deeply impersonal album that felt sanitized and cold, both lyrically and musically. However, St. Vincent reverses course with her most recent album “Daddy’s Home,” that features much more personal lyrics.
The popular reality television series “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is a rare staple in both queer and mainstream culture, appealing to a wide range of audiences through its blend of drama, comedy, heartwarming moments and true artistic talent. Following season 12, a fan favorite, audiences had high hopes for season 13. Ultimately, however, the latest installment was unable to live up to its potential. Despite the talent of the drag queen contestants, the stylistic and structural production of this season was notably lackluster.
In the beginning of this year’s award season, many awards shows had trouble adapting to the virtual setting necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. After watching the trials and tribulations of the Grammys and the Golden Globes, the Academy Awards executed their show quite well in comparison: The part-in-person, part-virtual show progressed without any major technical difficulties. For the third straight year, there was no host; instead, the Academy rotated awards presenters. Even with the success of the format, though, the ceremony had only 10.4 million viewers, making it the least-watched Oscars since the Academy started recording views in 1974.
Over the past few years, Netflix has capitalized on people’s fascination with the macabre. From the 2015 hit “Making a Murderer” to “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes,” “The Ripper” and then this year’s “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel,” recent Netflix originals have focused on a darker side of human nature. On April 2, this trend continued with “The Serpent.”
Whenever I walk into a party, I can’t help but ask myself how each person is experiencing the party themselves — the couple in the back curled into an embrace, the gaggle of girls infused by music, their hair a silky blur; a half-drunk group with hands raised as a pong ball sinks into stinky froth. In the colored lights and thrumming bass of a party, it’s practically impossible to see anyone clearly — to see the world through the eyes of those disguised by makeup and alcohol and fake smiles.
The 63rd annual Grammy Awards, which took place on March 14th, marked the continuation of this year’s socially distanced award season. Unlike the Golden Globes a few weeks ago, the Recording Academy chose to hold its ceremony outdoors where it could host nominees in person. The format worked well, making the ceremony feel more like a normal, pre-COVID event.
Frontwoman Tamara Lindeman takes a grand leap on The Weather Station’s fifth album, “Ignorance.” She departs from the band’s previous indie-folk sound to undertake an emotive art rock project brimming with existentialism. Lindeman interweaves personal storytelling with reflections on climate change and urbanization, bringing emotional weight to easily depersonalized issues. Despite a sometimes simplistic sound, the masterful lyricism of “Ignorance” offers a poignant take on the ongoing destruction of the natural world.
No other band has had as inconsistent a career as Weezer has. After achieving critical and commercial success with the power-pop of their 1994 self-titled first album, the darker direction of Weezer’s second album, “Pinkerton,” initially drew negative reviews, despite later achieving cult status. Lead singer Rivers Cuomo’s embarrassment over “Pinkerton” led to a long series of albums in the 2000s full of safe, boring pop music that lacked the magic of Weezer’s early work. While the band did produce a couple of albums I enjoyed during this period, particularly 2016’s “White Album,” they reached a low with 2019’s “Black Album.”
For the better part of the decade, experimental hip-hop group Clipping — stylized as clipping. — has played a pivotal role in the revitalization of horrorcore. Consisting of rapper Daveed Diggs — known for his role as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the 2015 Broadway hit “Hamilton” — and producers William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes, Clipping prides themselves on taking elements of horror films and transforming them into musical form. The trio’s name perfectly encapsulates their production style, as harsh, industrial noises overlay unnerving, spine-tingling screams and discord.