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When the lights dimmed in the Boston Royale, the crowd immediately went silent. A figure walked out from stage right, dressed in a red suit and a red coat with exaggerated shoulder pads. As Rina Sawayama struck her starting pose and the opening chords of “Dynasty” began to play, the crowd erupted in cheers.
On April 29, Apple TV+ aired the final episode of “Pachinko,” an eight-episode television drama based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Min-Jin Lee. The series was such a success that, on the same day the final episode aired, Apple announced the renewal of “Pachinko” for a second season — a well-deserved achievement.
“five seconds flat” features heart-wrenching lyrics and beautiful production as it chronologically captures heartbreak and finding a new beginning. Lizzy McAlpine’s musical style has been described as a cross between folk-pop and alternative indie, with her songwriting shining through the instrumentals. McAlpine’s new work was well anticipated, with five singles released in the six months leading up to the album. She gained popularity through social media and her first album, “Give Me A Minute.” Her second album, “five seconds flat,” came out on April 8 along with a 29-minute short film that was released the next day.
Among fans of hip-hop, Pusha T’s reputation precedes him. Since the early 2000s when he and his brother No Malice formed the legendary hip-hop duo Clipse, Pusha T has enjoyed consistent acclaim from fans and critics alike. The most recent subject of this acclaim was his album “Daytona” — released as part of a series of five albums produced by Kanye West which were released on consecutive weeks during the Spring of 2018. For many fans — myself included — the soulful instrumentals and uncompromising lyrics of “Daytona” seemed like hip-hop heaven, and it was hailed as one of the best albums of 2018 and the 2010s. Naturally, I was elated when Pusha T announced “It’s Almost Dry,” his first solo release since “Daytona.”
Since the days of her association with the now-revered hip-hop supergroup Odd Future, Sydney Bennett, otherwise known as Syd, has distinguished herself as a leading voice in the alternative R&B genre. Her work with The Internet — a band that also includes respected singer and guitarist Steve Lacy — has produced two critically acclaimed albums: 2015’s “Ego Death” and 2018’s “Hive Mind.” In 2017, Syd extended this success to her solo work, releasing her debut album “Fin.” “Broken Hearts Club,” Syd’s most recent album, was announced in March following almost five years of virtual solo silence.
I felt nervous buying BookTok’s most popular book, “It Ends With Us,” by Colleen Hoover. I worried that how I felt about this book would sway my future judgments on other books I find through TikTok. I was even more nervous writing a review for it, as, for me, “It Ends With Us” raised the bar for not only all other new adult fiction books, but fiction books across the board. I now understand why there is a cult following for this book and the characters in it.
After her first experiment with hyperpop in 2016 with the EP “Vroom Vroom,” Charli XCX has been on the cutting edge of new sounds in popular music. Albums like “Charli” (my favorite album of 2019) and 2020’s “How I’m Feeling Now” have been instrumental in bringing the bubblegum bass sound — pioneered by her late collaborator SOPHIE and British music label PC Music — to the mainstream. However, as she releases the final album of her record deal with Atlantic, Charli XCX is trying something new: By her own admission, she’s selling out.
Released to Disney+ on March 11, “Turning Red” took the world by storm. Directed by Domee Shi, the movie follows 13-year-old Meilin “Mei” Lee (Rosalie Chiang) after she wakes and discovers that when she experiences strong emotions, she transforms into a giant red panda, a respected guardian animal in her family’s history. This generational curse and blessing is passed down to every daughter when they come of age; however, it can be permanently trapped in a talisman with a ritual performed during a Red Moon. As Mei struggles to control her new and changing body, she is forced to confront her relationship with herself, her friends and most importantly, her mother.
As we reflect on our last night of production as the 178th Directorate’s Arts editors, we would like to share something meaningful and expressive. We have truly enjoyed writing and editing pieces about the arts on campus and beyond, as this creative sphere allows for special connections between peoples. Art, theater, music, movies and books serve to foster a shared humanity, and we hope that our articles over the past year have reflected this valuable sentiment to the Dartmouth and Upper Valley communities. So, in our last piece as Arts editors, we use music to highlight shared Dartmouth traditions. We hope you enjoy these playlists.
“Euphoria” seduces its viewers with an absurd portrayal of high school. There is something intoxicating about watching these characters ruin their lives, a total inability to look away as their world burns around them while you snack on the couch. Episodes fluctuate between campy teen drama and somber character explorations, each desperately trying to raise the stakes by increasing shock with explicit content.
Let’s get one thing straight: “Moonfall” is a ridiculous movie. From poster promotions featuring various angles of a gigantic moon, to its absolutely wild explanation of what the moon “really is,” to its effective, self-descriptive title, “Moonfall” is a showcase of the dramatic excess that characterizes apocalyptic movies. The film demonstrates what happens when disaster director extraordinaire Roland Emmerich has fun.
This past Friday, the Hopkins Center for the Arts screened “Red Rocket” for a nearly full audience of students and community members. The celebrated film studio behind the movie, A24, released the dark comedy in December 2021, which was directed by Sean Baker (best known for his previous film, The Florida Project). Set in a Texan town on the Gulf Coast, “Red Rocket” centers on aging former porn star Mikey Saber (Simon Rex) as he returns to his hometown, Texas City. Desperate and penniless, he arrives at the house of his ex-wife, Lexi (Bree Elrod), and despite some hesitation, she eventually lets him stay and soon rekindles their romance. Mikey settles into a rhythm in Texas City — running a weed business out of a local donut shop, biking around the town and driving to strip clubs with his awkward younger neighbor, Lonnie (Ethan Darbone).
Reading “The Love Hypothesis” feels like gaining all the perks of graduate school without actually having to attend a university. Author Ali Hazelwood creates a fake relationship between cheery Olive Smith, a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University, and standoffish Adam Carlsen, a tenured professor and MacArthur Fellow. When Anh, Olive’s best friend, starts dating Olive’s former fling, Olive attempts to show that she is unbothered. Olive tells Anh that she’s also dating someone, and to prove it, Olive kisses the first man she sees: Adam. To her surprise, Adam then proposes the idea of “fake-dating” for their mutual benefit. Adam can project the image of having “roots” at Stanford so his department will stop expecting his departure after the completion of his research, and Olive can keep up her lie to Anh. The cliche of fake-dating, while drastically overused, still finds a way to my heart each time.
Like many other book lovers, I found myself trapped in the confines of “BookTok,” the community of TikTok users who share and discuss book recommendations, at the height of quarantine. The BookTok canon is both particular and chaotic, filled with young adult novels like “The Song of Achilles” and messy romance books like “Red, White, & Royal Blue.” Hanya Yanagihara’s 2015 book “A Little Life,” though not in the same genre, is still adored by those in the BookTok community. “A Little Life,” which attracted a strong fanbase but received mixed reviews from critics, operated on extremes and had a profound emotional impact on readers. My reaction to it was ambivalent. The novel operated on such insane highs and desperate lows that I was frankly left trying to recover emotionally. Yanagihara’s newest novel, “To Paradise,” elicited a similar response.
It’s been a while since I exited my young adult literature phase. Throughout seventh and eighth grade, I consumed YA novels as if my life depended on it — at least two a week at my peak. Since then, I’ve tried to reignite my excitement surrounding the genre that inspired me to fall in love with reading, but I haven’t been able to do so since middle school.
In the past decade, social media influencers have grown more and more in popularity. First, it was on YouTube. Then, it was on Instagram. Now, with TikTok, it’s easier than ever to become famous. On the Netflix reality show “Hype House,” these influencers break out of our phone screens and onto our televisions.
One of the most highly anticipated movies of the year, “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” incited a mass exodus of fans from the comfort of their couches back to the theater’s big screen. With various spoilers circulating on the internet since the movie’s release on Dec. 17, the movie demands an in-theater viewing for the most genuine experience. Racing to see it myself, I was struck by the emotionality woven into the action of this film that celebrates Spider-Man’s legacy and future.
Co-created by Justin Noble and Mindy Kaling ’01, “The Sex Lives of College Girls” provides thoughtful entertainment with a title that promises intrigue.
If you’ll excuse the pun, I seem to be building a reputation for myself as The D’s resident Taylor Swift reviewer. In May 2019, I deemed “ME!” from “Lover” uninspired. In July 2020, I fancied the mature melancholy of “folklore.” Now, in December 2021, I’d like to talk about “Red (Taylor’s Version).” There is something so innately powerful in those parentheses — they signify that Swift has become the songsmith and owner of her music. Indeed, the re-recorded version of her 2012 album is a strong, intentional reflection on fame and heartbreak, guided by its thematic and tonal lodestar, the epic 10-minute version of “All Too Well.” A pivot from the in-your-face nature of her prior pop albums, this music, like “evermore” and “folklore,” employs minimal instrumentals and lucid, expressive vocals that tell a tale of graceful rebirth.
After the strange, pandemic-dominated year of music that was 2020, 2021 felt like a return to normalcy for the music industry. Albums that had been postponed due to COVID were released, major artists like Kanye West and Drake dropped new albums and many albums devised during the lockdowns of the previous year saw artists exploring new directions. One notable musical event of the year that will not be included on this list was Taylor Swift’s re-releases of her older albums as “Taylor’s Version”; because none of that music was written in 2021, it will not be included on this list. Otherwise, here are the ten best albums released in 2021.