Lost to Dance: Daft Punk Announce End of Career
by Dan O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
On Monday, Feb. 22, Daft Punk posted a video to their YouTube channel titled, “Epilogue.” This video marked the end of a lucrative and impressive career in the music industry that spanned three decades. The split comes after both members, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, grew tired of their careers in music, although there is no specific reason for the split. The two musicians can now look back and enjoy a remarkable and influential career that affected millions of fans around the world for the better.
The electronic dance duo is best known for wearing robot helmets in public as well as during performances. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the pair became popular for bringing the European electronic music scene onto the charts. Songs like “Da Funk” and “One More Time” were all huge hits during their early years. Daft Punk quickly started to catch the attention of other artists as well, making their name well known in the music business.
One hit single, “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” became so popular that rapper Kanye West sampled the song’s chorus in his hit song, “Stronger.” West’s song ended up giving him his third No. 1 hit single. The group would later produce a few of Kanye West’s songs, including “Black Skinhead.” Daft Punk’s influence and hard work over the first half of their career even got them the job as the primary songwriters for the sci-fi film Tron: Legacy.
Many artists who reach the heights that Daft Punk had reached about mid-way into their career would consider themselves successful. The duo gained popularity once again in 2014, however, with the release of their album Random Access Memories. Hit songs like “Get Lucky,” “Lose Yourself to Dance” with Pharrell Williams, and “Instant Crush” with Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas lifted the duo to earn three more Grammy Awards for their work.
Daft Punk even helped with songs “I Feel it Coming” and “Starboy” by The Weeknd. This pair of hits helped to keep the band in the spotlight deep into their careers. The influence that Daft Punk has had on modern music and pop culture in turn is immense due to their inventive music style. The group’s live shows supported their reputations as musicians who consistently pushed the boundaries of popular music, with blazing light shows and a matching futuristic space aura throughout their performances. No electronic music group had ever brought the same energy and extravagance that Daft Punk did to their live shows.
The release of their final YouTube video “Epilogue” has actually left some fans speculating whether or not this announcement will set the stage for a final comeback for the band. The implications of this are powerful, as Daft Punk have already proven numerous times that their talent and longevity as artists speaks to how impressive their careers have been. Daft Punk have already given their fans an immense amount of joy from their illustrious career, and a comeback would be icing on the cake.
In Memoriam: Remembering Eddie Van Halen
Legendary Guitarist Passes Away at 65 from Lung Cancer
by Daniel O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
On Tuesday, Oct. 6, Eddie Van Halen passed away at the age of 65 from cancer. His god-like guitar riffs made him one of the most important and respected guitarists of all time. His band, Van Halen, is often considered to be one of the greatest rock groups of all time. His passing is a major blow to the music industry and to fans around the world.
Eddie Van Halen is also well known among his peers for his two-handed tapping of the guitar’s fretboard. He utilized this technique most notably in hit songs like “Eruption,” “Hot for Teacher,” and Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” His band, Van Halen, was formed in 1972 in Pasadena, CA. Originally, the band was named Mammoth, but eventually changed to the name Van Halen, since the band was the brainchild of both of the Van Halen brothers. Under their new name, the band started playing clubs and bars throughout the Pasadena area and made a name for themselves locally.
As the band grew, so did Eddie Van Halen. Van Halen released its self-titled debut album, which rose to No. 19 on the Billboard 200. From there on, the band started touring and releasing more albums. In their album 1984, Eddie Van Halen debuted his masterful finger-tapping technique in “Hot for Teacher,” and the band got their first and only No. 1 single, “Jump.” Van Halen took the music industry by storm, creating a harder and louder rock and roll sound than previous legends like Jimmy Page.
Countless members of the music industry paid tribute to the passed guitar legend on social media. Friends of Eddie Van Halen, the thrash metal band Metallica, tweeted,
“We are enormously saddened to hear about the untimely passing of Eddie Van Halen. We considered him an inspiration, an idol, and after spending a summer together on the road in ’88, a friend. Sending love to Alex, @wolfvanhalen & everyone in the greater VH family.” Other legends from that era including Nikki Sixx, Gene Simmons, Steven Tyler, and AC/DC all shared their thoughts and feelings about the passing of a legend in music history, a friend, and contemporary of their individual crafts.
Eddie Van Halen’s legacy will be one that lasts for decades to come. His impact not only on rock and roll, but also the music industry as a whole was immense. Listeners today will find the hard-driving guitar style he popularized just as energetic and lively as it was in the 1980s. The impact Eddie Van Halen had on the world of music can be seen in songs like “Jump” and “Panama,” which are widely recognized for their catchy pop feel despite being driven by rock and roll forces. The pure speed and energy that Van Halen exerted through his guitar influenced rock, metal, and even blues guitarists that came after him. The world will truly miss the glamorous excitement that Eddie Van Halen brought to music.
First Victory in Infamous Harvey Weinstein Case
An Important Step in Disarming Hollywood’s Predators
by: Daniel O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
In recent years, it has come to light that the entertainment industry, particularly Hollywood, is riddled with sexual assault and abuse. Since the #MeToo movement emerged, popular figures such as Kevin Spacey, Sylvester Stallone, Jamie Foxx, and many others have been accused of sexual misconduct by many women. Recently, one figure in particular, Harvey Weinstein, has become the face of sexual abuse in Hollywood.
On Feb. 24, a Manhattan jury found Weinstein guilty of criminal sexual assault in the first degree and rape in the third degree. The trial lasted six weeks in total, and the jury convicted him in four days. He was not found guilty of the two charges of predatory sexual assault that many of the victims were hoping for. The sexual assault charge comes from 2006 and involves his former assistant Mimi Haleyi, while the third-degree rape charge comes from 2013 involving actress Jessica Mann.
Over a dozen women came forward accusing Weinstein of various forms of sexual abuse during his time as a producer. Weinstein claimed that all sexual encounters with his accusers were consensual and that he was innocent. This trial was the beginning of what many hoped would be the start of a crusade against sexual harassment in the entertainment industry.
After the verdict was announced to Weinstein, he was handcuffed and removed from the courtroom by court security guards. Not long afterwards, he left the courthouse in an ambulance. Currently, he is being held in a hospital cell awaiting treatment for a failed back surgery that occurred back in December. After he is successfully treated, he will be moved to the infamous New York City prison, Rikers Island. Weinstein’s lead defense lawyers are planning to appeal the decision made by the court as soon as Weinstein is sentenced.
Weinstein is due in court on March 11 before he faces another trial in Los Angeles for more sexual misconduct charges. Ultimately, the conviction of Weinstein is a massive leap forward for the #MeToo movement. Many supporters of the movement hope that the verdict will encourage more victims to come forward, whether it be against Weinstein or any other abusers.
The Weinstein case raises many concerns regarding the institutional power that Hollywood has. Since Weinstein was not the only accused powerful figure of the #MeToo movement, there now stands the serious issue of the abuse of power in the entertainment industry. Up until the recent trial, Weinstein’s acts depicted the non-existent moral code of the entertainment elite. Now, the abusers see the first true signs of consequence for their actions.
The entertainment industry is centered on self-expression, yet the power dynamic of institutions like Hollywood prevents this. The #MeToo movement is an empowering way for victims to come forward and share their stories, even though they may be debilitating to share. With the Weinstein verdict last week, it is more likely that more survivors will come forward and share their stories. The #MeToo movement is picking up steam, and it is an important, powerful outlet for the survivors of senseless and heinous acts at the hands of people like Weinstein.
The Strokes Reunite on New Year’s Eve
Host Concert at the Barclay’s Center
by: Daniel O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
On Dec. 31, thousands of fans packed into Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn to see The Strokes perform their New Year’s Eve set. For many of the fans, this concert was the first time seeing The Strokes in quite a while. The band took a major hiatus in the 2010s because they have been touring and recording since 2001. The band’s last album release, Comedown Machine, was in 2013. Their most recent release was in 2016 with their EP Future Present Past. To say the least, this New Year’s Eve celebration with the band’s reunion in their home of New York City was extremely anticipated.
Their setlist was unique from the beginning. They started with “Heart in a Cage,” followed by “You Only Live Once.” These two songs gave them continued fame in 2006 after a three-year hiatus. The crowd was fully invested after these two classics were played. From then on out, lead singer Julian Casablancas used his charm and wit to keep the audience engaged as The Strokes had somewhat long periods between songs.
They played “Reptilia” as time was winding down towards midnight. With minutes left, they invited the opening acts, Mac Demarco and Hinds, onto the stage. When the ball dropped on the live video feed and the new year started, The Strokes played their own rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” to celebrate. Immediately following that, the members left the stage and waited to come out for a rather lengthy and powerful encore. This is when the true Billboard hits like “Last Nite” and “Someday” were played by the band.
The most important and noteworthy part of the concert was the encore. One of the songs, called “Modern Girls and Old Fashion Men,” had been released in 2004. The next song, however, was an entirely brand-new song called “Ode to the Mets,” which showed the growth of the band in their songwriting. The Strokes’ principal songwriter and frontman, Casablancas, has taken a deeper and more detailed approach to songwriting, seen in their newest song played at their New Year’s Eve concert in Brooklyn, which is a slower song compared to their typical style.
After the audience got a taste for the new Strokes, Casablancas hinted at a new album release for the band. Their first major work since 2013, the rock industry is excited to see the ways that The Strokes have changed. There seems to be immense growth and endurance in Casablancas’ act, and the rest of the band is near perfection in concert. Like many other rock bands before them, The Strokes are trying to learn how to adapt to the current music scene. The rock industry and the fans of The Strokes have quite a bit to be hopeful for going into the new year.
Ricky Gervais to Host Golden Globes
Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres to Receive Awards
by: Daniel O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
For the fifth time in his career, Ricky Gervais will host the Golden Globes in 2020. Gervais hosted the awards show four previous times, from 2010-2012 and then once again in 2016. Gervais is well-known for being the creator of the British television series The Office and for his somewhat offensive and controversial humor. During his previous occasions as host of the Golden Globes, he not only targeted specific stars like Bruce Willis, but he also took aim at the head of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Lorenzo Soria, as well as President Donald Trump. Gervais’ controversial nature has been popular among audience members in the past, and the 2020 show is likely to be a hit because of that.
This past year’s show was hosted by Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh, bringing in the lowest ratings in quite a while. Gervais’ style may be able to improve the ratings for the Golden Globes, as he is a fan favorite. The Golden Globes did not have hosts before Gervais debuted back in 2010, so it seems fitting that he hosts the 2020 awards ceremony.
By signing Ricky Gervais to be the host for this coming year’s ceremony, the Golden Globes are diverging from some other award shows, who are now opting to conduct award shows without hosts. This recent trend started with Kevin Hart stepping down from the Academy Awards position back in December of 2018.
This year is the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards, with nominations coming out next month. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which has been in charge of the event since 1944, represents more than 55 countries and has tried to make the Golden Globes ceremony a diverse celebration of the creativity and ingenuity of the award winners. A new addition to the ceremony is the nomination of Pierce Brosnan’s sons, Paris and Dylan, to be Golden Globe Ambassadors. They will take the stage during the ceremony to promote the charity of their choice, FEED, which is dedicated to eliminating childhood hunger. This year marks the first year that the two brothers will share the honor together.
One specific individual to watch this year is Tom Hanks, who already has eight Golden Globes to his name and 15 nominations overall. According to IndieWire, Hanks will be honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award, a lifetime achievement award to honor his commitment to and influence on Hollywood and the film industry overall. Ellen DeGeneres will also receive the Carol Burnett Award, which is a lifetime achievement award for an individual that has made incredible contributions to television. Both of these awards are extremely prestigious. The 2020 Golden Globe Award nominees will be announced on Dec. 9 at 8 a.m. The award show itself will be on January 5, 2020 at 8 p.m. in Los Angeles, California. The ceremony will be televised by NBC, and it will be produced by Dick Clark Productions. Both film and television eligibility criteria for nominations can be found online on the Golden Globes website.
Abbey Road Returns to the Top of the Charts
The Beatles Set Another Record with Anniversary Re-Release
by Daniel O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
While Abbey Road first came out on Sept. 26, 1969, the album now tops the UK charts again after the release of its expanded anniversary edition.
This accomplishment sets a new record for the UK charts. According to BBC News, the longest gap between when an album tops the charts and then re-reis 49 years and 252 days, thanks to Abbey Road. Back in 2017, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison made the previous record when they topped the charts with the re-release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely-Hearts Club Band. Sgt. Pepper topped the charts in the UK after 49 years and 125 days.
According to Rolling Stone, the re-release of Abbey Road features all 17 of the original tracks such as “Octopus’ Garden” and “Something,” as well as new mixes, home demos, alternate takes, and instrumental recordings. Abbey Road was the last album that the band recorded together, although “Let it Be” was released after Abbey Road. Abbey Road is one of the most popular albums of all time, not only because of the hits “Come Together” and “Here Comes the Sun,” but also because of the second side of the album.
The second side of the album, from “You Never Give Me Your Money” all the way to “The End,” is the Fab Four’s masterpiece as artists. The entire second side of the album flows like one song, never taking a single moment to stop and breathe. This concept of a singular, united side of an album is one of the reasons that the Beatles are so popular, even today.
Every year during the week that Abbey Road was released, fans of the Beatles travel from all over the world to visit the studio where the album was recorded, as well as recreate the cover art of the album. The cover features all four of the Beatles crossing Abbey Road, which is located in St. John’s Wood, West London. On the cover, the Fab Four cross the street: John Lennon in front clad in all white, Ringo Starr behind him dressed in a black suit, then Paul McCartney with bare feet, and ending with George Harrison in all denim.
The music of Abbey Road is important to many people around the world, and its cultural significance prevails as shown by yet another chart-topping run. By setting this unprecedented record for longest gap topping the charts, Abbey Road solidifies itself as one of the greatest works of art of all time.
Ameer Vann’s EMMANUEL: A Vulnerable Return
by Daniel O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
Ameer Vann’s six-track EP EMMANUEL is his first release since he was removed from the BROCKHAMPTON roster in May 2018. Since then, Vann has spent his life out of the public eye. He was released by the band due to multiple accusations of sexual misconduct by many women.
On top of the sexual misconduct accusations, he was also accused of having a relationship with a minor, which Vann has denied. He released a statement saying, “Although my behavior has been selfish, childish, and unkind, I have never criminally harmed anyone or disrespected their boundaries…” After this statement, he went on a personal hiatus that eventually culminated in EMMANUEL.
This hiatus not only allowed Vann to think about how his life had drastically changed, but also saw his old bandmates release two successful albums, iridescence and GINGER. In that time, he seems to have figured out his complete outlook on what had happened. The opening title track has an inconsistent yet heavy beat that backs up his dark lyrics. Here, he references his terrible childhood multiple times and makes a reference to his suicidal thoughts. The rest of the album follows down this same dark, twisted, and depressed lyrical dirge.
The next song, “Pop Trunk,” continues the same depressed theme of the previous track, this time backed by a trap beat. “Los Angeles” begins with the same darkness that has consumed Vann, but transitions into referencing his time with BROCKHAMPTON. The most harrowing lyric of the song is “I lost my friends to Los Angeles.” Lyrics like these are bound to grab the attention of the rest of the hip-hop industry, especially those familiar with Vann’s story.
The most important takeaway from this intense EP is that Vann is in conflict with himself and his old band. He is struggling to figure out the desperation that he feels, but completely accepts that he is going to be hated for what he was accused of. Vann is an excellent example of a tortured artist that is attempting to kickstart his career again. He brings the same energy that he did in BROCKHAMPTON, except this time there are more intense emotions involved.
Many believe that Vann’s work with BROCKHAMPTON, specifically the Saturation projects, is his best. EMMANUEL, however, is filled with emotions that portray Vann as someone who has weathered the worst storm and somehow is still alive. The EP is an outlet for him to explain his emotions, not just his side of the story. The isolation that he feels and his obvious maturity due to the circumstances is shown throughout the entire EP. The anger and despair present on the new EP are what makes it his most vulnerable project to date.
Ameer Vann’s fans wholeheartedly expected a redemption album, but instead got clarity in the form of a powerful six-track EP. This was supposed to be just a comeback EP, but EMMANUEL ended up putting his heart and soul on display for the world to see. While BROCKHAMPTON still touts itself as the boy band of hip-hop, Vann steps into the spotlight with a menacing project of masterful lyricism and bleak, foreboding emotion.
Vampire Weekend Album
Father of the Bride
by Dan O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
Vampire Weekend has always been an important part of the alternative music scene, and the arrival of their newest singles show that the band is still as influential as before. The group released two singles, “Harmony Hall” and “2021,” both which demonstrate a revolutionized sound.
Following their singles, Vampire Weekend announced that their fourth studio album, Father of the Bride, is scheduled to come out this year. Their upcoming album comes six years after their last album, Modern Vampires of The City, which won Best Alternative Album at the 56th Grammys in 2014. The band, however, has struggled since Rostam Batmanglij left the band in 2016 to pursue his own songwriting and producing aspirations as a solo artist.
In 2008, the band released their self-titled debut album during a time when modern rock giants like The Strokes and The White Stripes were challenged with how to stay relevant. Ezra Koenig and Rostam Batmanglij, as the main song writers in the band, showed that rock was not going to die so easily. Vampire Weekend’s unique sound and lyrics gave garage rock and alternative music the kick it needed to stay alive.
Father of the Bride is set to come out later this year and has the potential to be Vampire Weekend’s best work yet. The hype surrounding the album has been building up since the success of Modern Vampires of the City in 2013.
The new album promises the continuation of the band’s well-known sound combined with different textures and, of course, their Ivy League humor hidden in between the lines of their lyrics. The long wait is finally over; Vampire Weekend is back and better than ever.
Jack White Opens Detroit Record Press
by Dan O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
Jack White may not be a household name when it comes to music lovers, but he is without a doubt one of the most influential artists and producers of the 21st century.
On Tuesday, January 15, White’s record label, Third Man Records, announced the opening of a new master recording studio in the label’s Detroit-based complex. The studio offers a vinyl pressing aspect, as well. White opened his new recording studio in the hopes of completing his dream of keeping vinyl pressing alive. For the White Stripes founder, vinyl recordings may not be the way of the future, but that does not mean they need to be a thing of the past.
According to Rolling Stone, White said, “I like to take what’s beautiful about what’s already been proven—what works—and ask how can we marriage that with what’s happening right now?” about his love for vinyl pressing. For White, it is not about the fame; what matters is that music can be created in ways that are innovative and efficient. The master recording studio is not just meant for vinyl recordings; White is providing all types of recording equipment, new and old, which allows for the engineers to work with multiple types of formatting, including digital and tape.
The new master recording studio will be led by two of White’s most capable engineers, Bill Skibbe and Warren Defever. Skibbe mixed White’s most recent album Boarding House Reach and has worked on White’s side projects, The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs, in the past. Warren Defever has produced for Iggy Pop and The Stooges. Both engineers have experience producing over 1,000 albums between the two of them. The expertise of both engineers, combined with White’s revolutionized ideas for music production, makes the new Detroit-based studio a step forward in innovating the music industry.
When looking at White’s track record, there is no question about his influence in the music industry. Although White may not be in the spotlight like he once was with the White Stripes, his talent and genuine love for music has allowed for him to stay relevant in an ever-changing world of music.