Album Review: Dawn FM

by John Downey '23 on January 29, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

Album Review: Dawn FM

The Weeknd Takes Us on a Trip Through Purgatory

Olivia Riportella ’25

The sudden release of R&B/pop icon The Weeknd’s new album Dawn FM on Jan. 7 has taken the world by storm. Featuring artists such as Tyler the Creator, Lil Wayne, Oneohtrix Point Never, Jim Carrey, Quincy Jones, and Swedish House Mafia, this album is packed with exciting contributions. It is on track to be one of the superstar’s most critically-acclaimed records, featuring 16 songs for a total of 51 minutes and 49 seconds. 

Dawn FM is the most intriguing release by Abel Tesfaye thus far, and certainly one of the most intriguing pop albums in years. Tesfaye has said that the record is conceptualized around the experience of listening to a retro-pop radio station while sitting in traffic in a tunnel, but the tunnel is actually purgatory. This vision makes for a fascinatingly compelling narrative, and picks up from where his 2020 release, After Hours, left off in its storyline.  

After Hours was a dancefloor record released in the midst of a global pandemic, when all dancefloors were shut down. It served as a way for The Weeknd to come to terms with his depression and darker feelings during what seemed to be the end of the world. After Hours concludes with Tesfaye’s character’s death in the angst-filled final song, “Until I Bleed Out.” Dawn FM continues the character’s journey, opening with pastoral winds and bird sounds as he looks out to the light at the end of the tunnel—which is death. His radio is turned to the futuristic fictional station 103.5 Dawn FM, hosted by The Weeknd’s real-life neighbor Jim Carrey, who parodies a blissed-out DJ. 

There is a looming terror and dread in Dawn FM, which Tesfaye ironically contrasts with a upbeat, retro-pop sound. The album is one of his most creative, with a retro, disco-synth sound of euphoria in its first half followed by a more serene sound in its second half.

Dawn FM is on the path for global domination as it has already broken impressive records in its release. For one, The Weeknd has now charted 24 songs on the Billboard Global 200, the most by any male solo artist in history. The album also debuted at No. 1 on Apple Music U.S and in 125 other countries, and it is currently No. 1 on Spotify U.S. and globally.

Additionally, this latest release has earned The Weeknd his highest critical praise on an album thus far in his career. Dawn FM received a Metacritic score of 88, while Rolling Stone rated the album four out of five stars. Various critics have acclaimed his creative artistry on the album

Notably, The Weeknd has already released an “Alternate World” deluxe version of Dawn FM, featuring a remix of “Sacrifice,” “Take My Breath,” and “Moth to a Flame.”

In exciting news, the artist has insinuated that Dawn FM will be the first installment of “a new trilogy.” Given that the storyline surrounding Dawn FM is seemingly endless, it will certainly provide the Weeknd with ample opportunity to continue experimenting with his creative style of music. 

A Fashionable Affair

by The Cowl Editor on December 11, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

A Fashionable Affair

Style Icon Paris Hilton’s Wedding Extravaganza

Olivia Riportella ’25

Pop culture icon Paris Hilton recently celebrated her wedding with a festivity-filled three-day weekend. She tied the knot with venture capitalist fiancé, Carter Reum, on Nov. 11 at the former Bel Air estate of her late grandfather, Barron Hilton. The ceremony was followed by a carnival on the Santa Monica Pier Friday night and a black-tie event Saturday evening. And, as expected, the fashion of the weekend was off the charts—Hilton revealed that she planned to wear eleven wedding dresses because “It’s 11/11.”

When the couple said “I do” on the first evening, Hilton dazzled in a stunning high-neck, long-sleeve gown designed by Oscar de la Renta’s Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim. The body and sleeves of the dress were embroidered in pressed flower thread work, which gradually faded onto a tulle ball skirt. Hilton’s veil, also designed by Garcia and Kim, featured similar floral details. 

According to Vogue, Hilton expressed that she “spent months designing [her] dress to perfection with the amazing Oscar de la Renta designers, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim.” The new bride emphasizes that she “love[d] how it turned out. I wanted something that was timeless, elegant, chic, and iconic, and I am so happy.” Reum wore a classic Zegna tuxedo to the wedding, and teared up when he saw Hilton in her gown for the first time. 

Before walking down the aisle, however, Hilton got glam with her bridal party in a custom floral-patterned silk Agent Provocateur robe that featured an array of beads and sequins. Then, after the ceremony and at the reception, Hilton changed into a princess-like gown by Galia Lahav for her first dance with Reum. The tulle off-the-shoulder dress featured a corset top that flowed into a full skirt, and she completed the look with a tiara and stunning tennis necklace. 

Hilton then changed into a second, much shorter, Oscar de la Renta dress at the reception. This one included a bustier top and A-line mini skirt, with 3D floral embroidery along the shoulder, similar to the floral patterns on her ceremony gown. Hilton later switched things up once more, slipping into a stunning custom Pamella Roland gown with sequin and pearl embroidery and pairing it with a dramatic sheer embellished cape.

For the bridal party, the bridesmaids (Hilton’s sister-in-law Tessa Hilton, cousins Farrah Aldjufrie and Brooke Wiederhorn, and the groom’s sister Halle Reum Hammond) were dressed by Alice + Olivia in stunning pink corded lace gowns featuring a V-neck, flutter sleeves and a banded empire waist. Younger sister and Maid-of-Honor, Nicky Hilton Rothschild, was dressed in an elegant, slightly different pink Alice + Olivia corded lace gown featuring long-sleeves and satin ruffles. Each bridesmaid was also given a Tzuri bracelet.

Meanwhile, the groomsmen (Reum’s brother Courtney Reum, Cade Hudson, Oliver Hammond, James Rothschild, Barron Hilton, Conrad Hilton, and Jay Milliken) were dressed in designer Nigel Curtiss tuxedos and bowties handmade by Shawn Christopher. 

Friday night, Paris sported a custom Alice + Olivia hot pink high-low dress with bedazzled mesh sleeves to her neon Santa Monica carnival bash. The bride completed her bold look with pink-rimmed heart-shaped sunglasses and a matching pink veil. Nicky Hilton Rothschild also stunned in a custom colorful bodycon mini dress with neon pink stilettos.

The newlyweds ended their extravagant weekend with another star-studded party at her late grandfather’s Bel-Air estate. Hilton sported a floor-length, custom- made Oscar de la Renta gown, covering her in silver stars from head to toe. She completed her fabulous look with a glamorous updo and smokey eye.

Needless to say, the style icon’s wedding extravaganza was quite the fashionable affair.

Album Preview: Red (Taylor’s Version)

by The Cowl Editor on November 4, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

Album Preview: Red (Taylor’s Version)

Fans Ready to Feel “Happy, Free, Confused, and Lonely in the Best Way”

Olivia Riportella ’25

Swifties: the time is near. Red (Taylor’s Version) will officially be out next week. For those who are not Swifties, do not worry: here is everything you need to know about Taylor Swift’s latest re-recorded album.

Swift is adamant that musicians own their own work, and acquiring such ownership has been an overlooked struggle which artists often face in the music industry. She has been busy re-recording six—that is right, six—of her nine studio albums recorded with Big Machine Records, since the rights to the master versions of them were sold to Scooter Braun. Braun proceeded to sell the masters to an investment group for payout. Swift claims that she was not given the opportunity to purchase them herself, and to make the best of this bad deal, she has decided to re-record these “stolen” works, carefully re-creating an astounding 25 to 30 songs per album.

Red, released in October 2012, is Swift’s fourth studio and features 16 tracks. Upon release, Red was a massive success, with smash-hit singles such as “22,” “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,”  and “I Knew You Were Trouble.” Notably, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” landed Swift her first career Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single. Red debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and remained on the chart for 171 weeks while also selling 1.21 million copies. 

Red (Taylor’s Version) will feature a whopping 30 tracks with nine bonus songs from the vault. One of these tracks is “All Too Well (10 Minute Version),” which is the original demo of the heartbreaking album classic, “All Too Well.” Fans have been eager to hear this version for years, and they are finally getting it after many teasers and hints. Swift released the full album tracklist after testing her fans with a word search that contained the names of the new tracks’ titles. There are some big-name collaborations featured on these vault tracks, such as Phoebe Bridgers, Chris Stapleton, and longtime Swift collaborator Ed Sheeran. 

This re-record will be the first out of the four albums Swift has released in the last year and a half that will be released on a vinyl format on the same day that it will be released in digital formats. 

Red (Taylor’s Version) will be released on Nov. 12, 2021 This date is a full week earlier than the original one she set, Nov. 19, 2021. Fans have speculated that the change came because Swift learned that Adele planned to release her upcoming album, 30, on the 19th, although neither artist has confirmed these rumors. 

In a June statement, Swift wrote, “I’ve always said that the world is a different place for the heartbroken. It moves on a different axis, at a different speed. Time skips backwards and forwards fleetingly. The heartbroken might go through thousands of micro-emotions a day, trying to figure out how to get through it without picking up the phone to hear that old familiar voice. In the land of heartbreak, moments of strength, independence, and devil-may-care rebellion are intricately woven together with grief, paralyzing vulnerability and hopelessness. Imagining your future might always take you on a detour back to the past. And this is all to say, the next album I’ll be releasing is my version of Red.”

Needless to say, fans should prepare to be taken on an emotional rollercoaster with Red (Taylor’s Version).

Something Wicked This Way Comes

by The Cowl Editor on October 28, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Hocus Pocus 2 Begins Filming in Rhode Island

Olivia Riportella ’25

Get ready, Friartown, because spooky season is here. While Rhode Island always offers a number of eerie festivities to get people in the Halloween spirit, this year brings a unique way for locals to get in the spooky mood: the iconic 1993 film Hocus Pocus has begun filming a sequel at La Salle Academy in Providence, RI.

According to the Providence Journal, shoots for the production began as recently as Monday, Oct. 18. Cameras could be seen rolling on the grounds of La Salle as well as inside the building, even during the school day. Many extras in the film are being played by Rhode Island locals. 

Governor Dan McKee has weighed in on the film, saying that he is “proud and honored” that “our beautiful state, with its unique scenery, landscapes, and local talent, will be the backdrop for a major motion picture.” The production of the sequel is expected to help boost Rhode Island’s economy, which suffered a hard hit during the pandemic.

The Executive Director of the Rhode Island Film & TV Office, Steven Feinberg, also spoke enthusiastically about the production, stating: “We are very excited to welcome Disney and their talented team to the Ocean State to create the next chapter of the popular and highly anticipated sequel, Hocus Pocus 2.” 

He added, “We are particularly grateful to Walt Disney Productions for providing good paying jobs for many local artists and hard-working technicians from across Rhode Island. Collaboration is key to the art of cinema and we look forward to helping the Hocus Pocus 2 team produce movie magic here in the Ocean State!”

News of a sequel to the beloved movie has created much anticipation among fans and the public at large. Indeed, with iconic actresses Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler, and Kathy Najimy returning to the big screen in their havoc-wreaking roles of the witchy Sanderson sisters, the expectations for Hocus Pocus 2 are incredibly high. 

This time around, the Sanderson witches are accidentally brought back into present-day Salem by three young women. The movie will portray the girls attempting to stop the child-hungry sisters and their mayhem. The director of the new film is Anne Fletcher, who announced that she is “so grateful to be able to play a part in bringing these witches back to life.” She explained, “Now more than ever, people need to laugh. We should be laughing every day, and there is so much fun to be had with these three unbelievable women playing delicious characters from such a beloved film.”

Details about the film are still being kept under wraps, but fans hope to find out more as production continues. Hocus Pocus 2 will continue filming in RI at locations in Providence and Lincoln until the end of the year, and is expected to make its much-anticipated debut on Disney+ in the fall of 2022. 

Album Preview: Adele’s 30

by mpalmie2 on October 21, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

Album Preview: Adele’s 30

The Music Icon’s Much-Anticipated Return

By Olivia Riportella ’25

Fans of Adele should prepare to get their tissues out, because the iconic musician is back to take them on an emotional rollercoaster with her fourth studio album. 

The singer’s newest creation is titled 30, continuing the tradition established by her first three albums of naming them after the age she was when creating them. This will be the icon’s first album in six years, bringing about much anticipation from fans.

Adele first hinted as to what her latest sound will be like with the release of her single “Easy on Me” on Oct. 15. This heartbreaking song allows listeners a glimpse into the “inner turmoil” that Adele has confirmed to be facing recently in her personal life. 

The release of this single also came with a moving new music video from the singer. The video was filmed in Quebec by esteemed director Xavier Dolan, with whom Adele has reunited for yet another collaboration. It features vintage black-and-white cinematography for the majority of the video, creating a somber mood, before ultimately switching to color. It is just as tear-jerking and beautiful as fans could have imagined after initially listening to the song. 

The music video also exemplifies the major themes Adele explores on 30. This album follows the singer’s divorce from Simon Konecki, with whom she shares a young son. She created it for her son, Angelo, as she wants him to understand why his parents’ divorce was necessary despite the hardships it created. Adele described this life-altering event as “the most turbulent period of my life,” which is certainly evident in the gut-wrenching glimpse into the album that “Easy on Me” and its accompanying music video provide.

30 is anticipated to be Adele’s most personal album yet. In a heartfelt interview with Vogue magazine, she explained, “It’s sensitive for me, this record, just in how much I love it. I always say that 21 doesn’t belong to me anymore. Everyone else took it in their hearts so much. I’m not letting go of this one. This is my album. I want to share myself with everyone, but I don’t think I’ll ever let this one go.”

Adele has confirmed that 30 will be released on Nov. 19, 2021, by Columbia Records. It was produced by Greg Kurstin, Max Martin, and Shellback, who also worked on her last album, 25, in 2015. This album is expected to be one of the most successful commercial releases of the year, based on Adele’s remarkable track record. The iconic singer has 15 Grammys, world-record-setting sales, and sixteen No. 1 hits to her name.

An exciting element of 30 that is unlike any of Adele’s previous releases, the album is expected to be available on streaming services upon its initial release. This is a significant departure from her traditional release method. For instance, her last record, 25, was out for seven months before appearing on streaming services. The singer isn’t completely abandoning her tradition, however, as Vogue reports that Adele is “adamant that [the album] come out in tangible form,” releasing it on CD and vinyl, as well.

American Horror Story Returns with “Double Feature”

by The Cowl Editor on October 7, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

American Horror Story Returns with “Double Feature”

Hit Show Promises To Scare Viewers in More Ways Than One

Olivia Riportella ’25

It has been two years since the hit series American Horror Story brought a new tale to the small screen. The much anticipated 10th season finally premiered earlier this year on Aug. 25 on FX and Hulu.

This season, producer Ryan Murphy has taken on yet another unique American Horror Story narrative. The season is split into two separate storylines—hence its name, “Double Feature.” While not much was known about the new “story” for quite some time, trailers teased the appearance of sirens and aliens, and viewers have seen these elements appear in the new season.

Many of American Horror Story’s most beloved cast members have returned this season. Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Finn Wittrock, Lily Rabe, Frances Conroy, and Leslie Grossman are some of the familiar faces that appear in its first part, “Red Tide,” which “takes place by the sea.” Many of them are also speculated to make an appearance in “Death Valley,” the second half of the season that takes place “by the sand.” 

Interestingly, Macaulay Culkin, most famously known for starring in Home Alone, is making his American Horror Story debut in “Red Tide.” While Culkin is perhaps the most well-known addition to the cast, there will certainly be other new faces appearing on screen in this new season as well.

The first part of “Double Feature,” “Red Tide,” takes place in New England. It is set in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and follows struggling writer Harry Gardner (Finn Wittrock) who moves his pregnant wife Doris (Lily Rabe) and daughter Alma (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) to the beach town of Cape Cod to seek inspiration. Harry quickly discovers that there has been a series of disturbing murders in Truro, the next town over. Soon enough, the culprits, who are some of the town’s more chilling residents, begin to make an appearance.

It is speculated that this part of the season is inspired by true events that have taken place in New England. For instance, one of New England’s most famous serial killers, Antone Charles “Tony” Costa, committed numerous murders in Truro, the town referenced in Red Tide. Costa was dubbed the “Cape Cod Vampire” because he left bite marks on each of his victims. Similarly, in “Red Tide,” the Truro victims are left dead in seemingly animalistic ways. Such real-life horror stories make this season of American Horror Story all the more sinister. 

The second part of the season, “Death Valley,” takes a turn into a 1950s black and white timeline, where President Dwight Eisenhower is confronted with an alien invasion and subsequent tests on the strange new species. Part two also depicts a group of present-day college students that is faced with the recurrence of these horrors decades later. 

Although it has yet to air, the ending of “Double Feature” will certainly be jam-packed, since part two is restricted to just four episodes. The final episodes of the season will be released in the upcoming weeks of October, with “Inside” airing on Oct. 6, “Blue Moon” on Oct. 13, and “The Future Perfect” on Oct. 20. The season finale, whose title has yet to be announced, is set to be released on Oct. 27, so American Horror Story fans will have something spooky to watch right before Halloween.