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It’s 2004 – your music taste has been defined by whatever HitClips you got from your McDonald’s Happy Meal, and you stay up late every night watching lo-res versions of your favorite cartoons on your JuiceBox Personal Media Player. You’ve already seen the first Shrek at this point, obviously, but you aren’t yet aware of the lasting legacy it will leave on your life. That’s okay because in May of 2004, Shrek 2 is released, you will see it, and fall in love with the green Ogre and his soundtrack once again. The movie won’t come out for your JuiceBox, you won’t get its soundtrack on HitClips, but the image of that Ogre will be ingrained in your mind for the rest of your life. The first Shrek had an absolutely amazing soundtrack, and Shrek 2 continues that legacy. Here's why:
"Accidentally In Love" – Counting Crows
Remember how the whole plot of Shrek was an Ogre who thought he was an ugly beast then found his inner beauty when accidentally placed on a journey with a princess, and then she fell in love with him? How they accidentally fell in love? Could there be a more perfect song to reintroduce the audience to that story than “Accidentally in Love” by Counting Crows? Of course not.
The song plays over a sequence of Shrek and Fiona on their honeymoon, enjoying their newlywed lifestyle. They do everything ogre couples should do together – shave their faces, scare Little Red Riding Hood, and throw Ariel from the Little Mermaid into the ocean to be eaten by a school of sharks. Y’know – just normal couple things. This fairy-tale hodgepodge musical montage is just the tip of the iceberg of the wonderful music heard in the Extended Shrek Universe (here on out referred to as the Shrekverse).
"Funkytown" – Lipps Inc.
Far, far away from the lowly lands of Shrek’s Swamp there is Princess Fiona’s hometown, a great land of fame and fortune; the kingdom of Far Far Away. Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey travel to the kingdom at the beginning of the film to attend a royal ball held by Fiona’s parents. As the trio rolls into The land of Far Far Away, a place full of glitz and glamour unrivaled by anywhere else in the Shrekverse what better song to soundtrack their culture shock than “Funkytown” by Lipps, Inc.
Theme from Rawhide (uncredited)
While it's not on the soundtrack itself, I think it’s very important to note that on their journey to Far Far Away, Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy) covers the Rawhide theme. While not as convincing of a performance as Dan Akyroyd and John Belushi in The Blues Brothers, it’s a fun little tune and it adds to the world-building of the Shrekverse.
“I Need Some Sleep” – Eels
Remember back in Shrek when we all got really sad while listening to “Hallelujah”? Yeah, the same thing happens again with Eels’ “I Need Some Sleep.” Shrek lays restless in Fiona’s childhood bed while the song sets a somber mood. His in-laws do not approve of him, he is not the Prince Charming that the prophecy predicted; Fiona’s room is decorated with a dreamy poster of Sir Justin (Far Far Away’s Justin Timberlake), and as Shrek reads through her childhood diary, he discovers that all she wanted her whole life was to be whisked away by a knight in shining armor to become “Mrs. Fiona Charming,” rather than wife to an Ogre. Shrek cannot sleep from the current turmoil in his life, and it’s perfectly portrayed with “I Need Some Sleep” by Eels.
“Ever Fallen in Love” – Pete Yorn
Have YOU ever fallen in love (perhaps with someone you shouldn’t have fallen in love with)? Well, our hero Shrek sure has. Shrek is in love with Princess Fiona; he’s worried he’s not good enough for her, but he is determined to win her over. Shrek, Donkey, and Puss in Boots infiltrate Fairy Godmother’s Potion Factory in order to steal a “Happily Forever After Potion” to restore Fiona’s love in Shrek. They are caught in the act and make their escape with the help of Pete Yorn’s cover of “Ever Fallen in Love” by Buzzcocks.
“Changes” – David Bowie & Butterfly Boucher
A key part of Shrek 2’s plot is the Fairy Godmother giving Shrek and Donkey a potion that turns them from unsightly uggos to handsome hunky huns. While “Changes” by David Bowie is a song about a man changing with the passage of time, it still works for a man changing appearance through the use of magic. If you think about the lyrics saying “Happily Ever After Potion” instead of “time,” you can very clearly see why the DreamWorks staff chose this song over all the other songs about changing.
Turn and face the strange
There's gonna have to be a different man
Happily Ever After Potion may change me
But I can't trace Happily Ever After Potion”
While the transformation of Shrek leads to Princess Fiona believing Prince Charming to be the real Shrek, causing major turmoil for our ogre hero, but it nonetheless makes a great film sequence.
"Little Drop of Poison" – Tom Waits
Tom Waits kinda sounds like a monster and that just makes the whole movie a little spookier.
"People Ain’t No Good" – Nick Cave
The Shrek trilogy shines best in its most somber moments, and Shrek is at his lowest point of the film when he is rejected by Princess Fiona, because she has been led to believe that Prince Charming is the real Shrek. His next moments after his rough betrayal is soundtracked by “People Ain’t No Good” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Shrek is fed up with his life, he’s beautiful now, but he has no wife. Prince Charming has stolen his love, an act that most people would say would characterize you as being “ain’t no good.”
"Holding Out for a Hero" - Frou Frou
The Royal Ball is happening – Shrek and Donkey are locked away in jail by the evil Fairy Godmother, while Fiona walks down to the dance floor with Prince Charming, who she has been led to believe is Shrek. Fairy Godmother approaches the stage, changes into a sparkling red dress, and dedicates her next song to Princess Fiona and Prince Shrek (who at this point is really Prince Charming but only Fairy Godmother knows that). The Fairy Godmother sings “Holding Out for a Hero” and dedicates it to Princess Fiona and ‘Prince Shrek’ as if her son was the hero that Fiona had been holding out for. Luckily, Shrek and Donkey are able to escape prison with the help from their fairytale friends, and they head to the Royal Ball on the back of their giant gingerbread man, Mungo (not really important to the article but I think Mungo is a cool guy). Our heroes storm the castle and make their way into the ball just as Prince Charming is about to lay a kiss on Fiona, but in reality, this was really her waiting out for her true hero all along.
"Livin’ La Vida Loca" – Antonio Banderas and Eddie Murphy
In a performance that could be billed as Antonio Banderas and Eddie Murphy: Live at the Hollywood Bowl!, the dynamic duo of Donkey and Puss band together to end the film in a stunning, family-friendly performance. Shrek and Fiona are back to their ole Ogre selves, and we get stunning reprisals from fairy-tale friends like the Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs. It takes a rather morbid turn when Shrek stage-dives, landing on a puppy, presumably killing it, but even with all of that it still turns out to be a fun, dance-driven scene that rolls right into the credits.
Shrek do be livin’ la Vida Loca.
“I was a player with a phat attitude… or as I liked to call it… phat-itude…”
- Max Keeble (played by Alex D. Linz) tells us in the opening sequence of the great journey that is Max Keeble’s Big Move.
Spoilers ahead for the 2001 release, Max Keeble's Big Move!
The basic premise of the film is simple, it’s in the title, Max Keeble is moving away. In his first week of Junior High, Keeble learns his father has new a job in Chicago, and the family is due to leave at the end of the week. However, Max has built himself a life he doesn’t want to leave behind; including volunteering at an animal shelter, running his own paper route, and having a crush on Jenna (Brooke Ann Smith). Accompanied by his two best friends, Megan (Zena Grey) and “Robe” (Josh Peck), the trio launches a week-long, milkshake-fueled spree of degeneracy before Keeble is set to depart.
This Walt Disney epic had its theatrical release on October 5, 2001, and blessed the Disney Channel programming for years, teaching millions of children how to act with “phattitude.”
It was a Disney legend, but a box office flop. Because of its $18.6 million box office, against a $25 million budget, on paper, Max Keeble’s Big Move was in the red. The movie's 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes may mean that the majority of people see this as a “bad” movie. The 40/100 Metascore doesn’t help either. However, here we stand over a decade later because Max Keeble’s Big Move is a fantastic film, and a landmark in Disney’s collection of classic cinema.
We should all look up to Max Keeble, because this biopic can teach us how to balance work, school, and attacks from your enemies all while looking cool. Keeble quarrels with numerous antagonists in school and outside, including a smooth-talking business bully played by none other than 2000’s Disney legend Orlando Brown. Another fan-favorite is Evil Ice Cream Man (Jamie Kennedy), a man who rarely sells ice cream, and instead spends time trying to murder a middle-schooler. Despite hiccups from bullies, Keeble seems to breeze by untouched. It’s only when Keeble bashes heads with his principal (Larry Miller) that the story really gets interesting.
Principal Elliot T. Jindrake’s authoritarian rule over the school parallels that of Josef Stalin and the Soviet Union. Every morning begins with Jindrake’s video announcement where he strikes fear into students and makes them pledge undying loyalty to him. Jindrake’s passions are Sport, and being better than everyone, so he manipulates the school budget to build a massive football stadium. To make him even more heartless, he is tearing down an animal shelter in order to make space – the animal shelter that our hero, Max Keeble, volunteers at. It’s only with the power of friendship that he is able to prevail.
The linchpin of this film is the character “Robe” bravely performed by none other than early teens Josh Peck. This was Pre – Drake & Josh fame, but post-recognition on All That, and The Amanda Show – a priming moment in the wunderkind’s career. As Max’s best friend, Robe’s story is similar to that of Samwise Gamgee as he aids Frodo Baggins. Through thick and thin, Robe is there at Keeble’s side, and Josh Peck’s performance would’ve been worthy of a Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor, had the film been affiliated with that network.
The main cast is incredible, but let’s not forget about the ground-breaking celebrity cameos from Tony Hawk, Lil’ Romeo and Hopsin. Tony Hawk appears in the opening sequence as Max is being chased by Evil Ice Cream Man. Hawk says “Hey Max,” because obviously him and Max skate together all of the time, but after his greeting, Hawk is shot in the chest (with ice cream) by Evil Ice Cream Man. The injury didn’t seem too bad on screen, but it seemed as if the pain continued longer for Tony.
You see, this film was released on October 5, 2001. Twenty-five days later, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 was released for the PlayStation 2, and ended up selling 4.41 million copies, and became one of PlayStation 2’s highest-rated games of all time (97/100 Metacritic). Now this might seem like something good, but when comparing the game to its predecessor, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, there is a downward trend. THPS2 was released in 2000, sold 4.68 million copies, and received a Metacritic score of 98/100. Max Keeble’s Big Move was released, and just like clockwork, Tony Hawk’s ratings went down. It could be a curse. It could be wild speculation. There are a lot of unanswered questions here, but there is one thing for certain here. Tony Hawk took a hit, both on the charts, and on screen.
Marcus Jamal Hopson, better known as Hopsin, is a rapper that lives a straight edge lifestyle. As a public figure that tries to instill a positive influence in youth by not partaking in drugs and alcohol, why not have him spread that influence into a film? Prior to his earth-shattering role as “Guy #2” in That’s So Raven (2004), Hopsin started his acting career in this film as “Pizza Parlor Kid”. His screen time may not be more than four seconds, but Hopsin’s role as “Pizza Parlor Kid” is fun, entertaining, and assures us that the scene is taking place in a pizza parlor, which may not be vital information to the plot, but it does deeply enrich the Max Keeble Extended Universe.
The film may have not been financially, or critically successful, but it is fun to watch, and at an 86-minute run time, it’s really nothing more than a light binge of your Netflix list. Its plot may not be the strongest (I mean it’s called Max Keeble’s Big Move and Max Keeble doesn’t even end up moving at the end) but it makes up for it with a star-studded (mostly C and D-list) cast, and an epic food-fight scene. And most importantly, it has Max Keeble, “a player with a phat attitude,” or as he liked to call it, “phat-itude.”
Rating: 5 /7
Def Jam has announced a new collaboration in the works between some of Hip Hop’s top artists. There is one catch though; it’s made up of all of their signature ad-libs. That’s right, everything from Chance the Rapper’s “IGH” to Mike Jones' “MIKE JONES” in one album. The only lyrical content will be made up from catch-phrases, the rest will come from the top "Yo's, Yeah's, and Yuh's" of Hip Hop.
Def Jam representatives said this album is a move to "diversify the label and take it to new heights."
The release date in unclear, but a full track list has been leaked. If you need to acquaint yourself with some of the sounds that will be on the album here is a helpful tool.
Released October 5, 2018
With the debut of “Flowers” in 2016, Nicolás Pablo Rivera Muñoz began his entrance into the Indie Rock scene. The ethnically Chilean, Norway-based artist performs under the name Boy Pablo. His music is an Indie sound with new wave, surf rock, and jangle pop influences, leading to a new, but familiar style. On his newest release, Soy Pablo, he works on crafting his aesthetic. It doesn’t push the limits but helps solidify the identity Boy Pablo established with his debut EP, Roy Pablo back in 2017.
The EP kicks off to a great start with “Feeling Lonely.” For a song about such a sorrowful topic, the backing music is extraordinarily upbeat. The highlight of this track is the guitar, ripping through everything it touches, commanding the flow of the music. The upbeat nature of the track creates such a fun mood, present throughout the rest of the album overall. Boy Pablo’s music is without a doubt on the ‘fun-party’ side of Indie music, rather than ‘dark-sadboy-hour’ side.
“Sick Feeling” is accompanied by a starry-eyed, meme-like music video where Pablo plays the song on a Guitar Hero guitar while walking through a forest. The song follows the traditional Boy Pablo style of faded lyrics laid over a playfully dreamy guitar. It’s one of his catchiest songs to date and stands as one of the best parts of the album.
On songs like “t-shirt” and “Limitado,” Pablo goes for a more laidback vibe. “Limitado” uses that same dreamy guitar as heard previously, but in a more downtempo, Lo-Fi manner. It’s staggered and jaded, with few words during the verses, and a simple “Ha-ah” to suffice for the rest. These songs are good, but as you make your way through the EP, things begin to stand out less and less. With nearly the same instrumentation and style on every song, Soy Pablo melts together into one piece, rather than having its own distinct sections.
With Soy Pablo (I Am Pablo), Boy Pablo makes a statement and defines who he is an artist, and where his style is going. Just by looks of the album cover, Boy Pablo is all about A E S T H E T I C. His music is the pale-wave version of music. It’s a really refreshing take on indie rock, mixing surf rock and dream pop influences to create something new. The EP has a distinct sound, but within each track, Pablo is able to tweak the sound to fit the correct mood. Soy Pablo is short and sweet. It never tries to take itself too seriously, and always keeping an enchanting mood. Overall it’s fun, dreamy, and romantic; it’s just some good music to have a good time with.
Released September 28, 2018
Since their debut in 2013, Hippo Campus has given us the perfect music to play on a Sunday picnic or a nice day at the beach. The indie band from St. Paul has been successful in creating their own light-hearted, surfer-esque sound. However, on this newest release, the band begins to stray from their signature sound towards uncharted territory.
Bambi begins in a very similar manner to their previous album, Landmark. The beginning track starts with a slow, synthy crawl leading up to gloomy filtered vocals. But where Landmark broke away towards the bright upbeat tune that is “Way It Goes,” Bambi stays dark. Much of the album sounds like the band members picked up a random synthesizer, and just went with it. That synth in question turned out to be the Roland Juno-60. It’s featured all over the album, in a wide variety of ways.
At first, the new influences on Hippo Campus are alarming. A digital sound seems so foreign to a group of Midwestern indie rockers, but yet it fits so well. The title track is a perfect pairing of new found influences on an old sound. The synth features prominently on “Bambi” but is styled in a way that helps build on the chill aesthetic of Hippo Campus.
This is the group’s first release under the Transgressive Records label. Based in London, the company’s roster includes top indie names like Regina Spektor, Alvvays, and The Shins. The album was produced by BJ Burton, who also produced their previous album, Landmark. Burton has worked alongside other indie artists like Bon Iver and Sylvan Esso.
This album shows a successful progression in the band's work. It’s their most serious and darkest album yet. Just by view of the cover art, you can tell how different this album is for the group. This is a molded, darker, more mature Hippo Campus, and it definitely shows. The group has shown off their light indie prowess, and now it’s time for them to expand beyond. On this release, the band plays with song structure in new ways, breaking past their ‘verse-chorus-verse-chorus’ pattern into something entirely new. At times, they are able to completely abandon their past style. The track “Why Even Try” sounds like it’s performed by Death Cab For Cutie. The track is melancholic, and singer Jake Luppen sounds more like Ben Gibbard on Transatlantacism, rather than himself in any of his works.
At times, the album feels mangled and misguided. “Doubt” is one of the tracks where the new found sound doesn’t fit. The saw-like synth cuts through the song, doing more harm than good for it. There are great parts of this album that stand out and are a great example of the leaps the band is taking with this new work, but there are also so many parts that blend together into monotony. Tracks like “Honestly” and “Golden” aren’t bad, but they aren’t noteworthy either and don’t add much else to the album as a whole. Even with its pitfalls, Bambi is overall a good album with a lot of highlights and makes a nice addition to the ever-growing Hippo Campus discography.
Released August 24th, 2018
Blood Orange is the stage name of Dev Hynes, a British musician who blends the best of soul, R&B, and dance, among others, to make a truly unique sound. In his fourth studio album, Blood Orange’s Negro Swan explores Hynes’ own thoughts on black identity and the LGBTQ+ community.
Inspirational monologues are woven throughout much of the album, providing just as much weight to the album as the music does. The spoken word delivered by Janet Mock provides her multi-faceted experience as a black trans woman in America. The lyrical content of Negro Swan is rich but often obscured. Mock’s monologues provide a more direct view of the issues at hand.
At the end of “Dagenham Dream,” Hynes’ lyrics fade away and Mock takes the scene. She says,
Part of survival is, like, being able to just fit in
To be seen as normal and to, like, "belong"
But I think that so often in society in order to belong means that we have to, like, shrink parts of ourselves.
Mock’s words about fitting in and living in a place and time where you don’t conform to the status quo echo the self-love themes heard throughout the rest of the album.
Aside from Janet Mock, Negro Swan contains features by a number of other talented performers. Diddy, A$AP Rocky and Steve Lacy all leave their mark on the album. Lesser known, but equally talented musicians like Tei Shi, Ian Isiah, and Georgie Ann Muldrow also provide their own inspiration and stylings to the music. Through these features, we get elements of Hip Hop and Gospel beautifully blended into the album.
“Charcoal Baby” stands out as one of Hynes’ best tracks to date. The floating guitar strikes an immediate groove from the very beginning. According to Hynes, he didn’t own a guitar prior to the recording of “Charcoal Baby,” so the instrument features so prominently on this track because it was one of his first times recording with it. Additional vocals on the track are provided by Ian Isiah, as well as Porches (Aaron Maine).
Negro Swan expands on Hynes’ eclectic style in new ways. Ranging from the driving bass lines of “Orlando” to the soft ambiance of “Vulture Baby,” this album is a collage of different influences and perspectives blended into one. Each song carries weight and provides insights into Hynes’ personal conflicts in life. Overall, it’s inventive, inspiring, and a great album.
3 days in Munich. Not enough time to get to know the city, let alone its music scene. Nevertheless, I tried. Welcome to maybe the world’s most informal and inaccurate guide to the Munich music scene.
To get to know what a city likes, it’s best to find out what acts are touring there. I checked public poster boards, subway stations, and billboards to find out what concerts I could find in the area. What I saw shocked me. Coming soon, Nickelback (with special guest Seether), Skillet, Roger Waters. “Is this a nation cursed by Dad Rock?” I thought to myself. It couldn’t be. I pressed on for further information. I saw other posters for classical music concerts, but that made sense, I was in the land Bach and Beethoven after all. There’s nothing wrong with classical music, but it wasn’t something I wanted to venture into; opera and symphonies are far from the Bloomington basement shows I’m used to.
Throughout my journey up and down Munich’s streets in search of music, I was graced by a handful of street musicians. The soothing sounds of a lone clarinet floated through the air around the Neues Rathaus. As people walked up and down Kaufingerstraße to shop, a man sat in the middle playing his piano. In the city stood a statue of Michael Jackson, the German composer, not the beloved pop star, yet the band near it chose to cycle through the King of Pop’s discography rather than German classics.
When I first arrived to the welcoming streets of Munich I noticed hundreds of people wearing Iron Maiden. I knew Metal tended to be a more accepted genre here than in the states, so I thought nothing of it. It turns out that they were on tour, playing a show right near my hotel. I wasn’t able to go, but I watched the aftermath as hundreds of fans poured out onto the streets afterward.
[video width="406" height="720" mp4="https://wiux.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Munich.mp4"][/video]
At this point, I could tell Munich offered a wide array of musical choices for its inhabitants, but I was feeling left out. I had seen street musicians perform, and as good as they were, they lacked the captivation that concerts create. It wasn’t until my walk home from a Beer garden on my last night that I was able to catch a real show. It was 10 PM in Königsplatz. I heard music coming from down the street, through a fenced-off area. It was loud, rough, and German. I thought nothing of it at first, I was too focused on getting back to my hotel, but as I turned the corner to circumvent the closed off area, a swarm of people stood peering over the fence to see the band play.
“Warum nicht?” I said to myself. It was my last night in the city, I hadn’t seen any concerts yet, and now I had the chance to somewhat attend a free show. I stood in a crowd of strangers, peering over the fence, listening to a band unknown to me. My German speaking skills were not good enough to decode the lyrics of the songs, but I understood the punk energy they stood for. By the time I got there they were about done, and I only got to hear a few songs. As they ended and left the stage, I continued my walk back, wondering who I had just seen.
A torn poster hung on the wall of a building. It read along the lines of, “Heute: Die Toten Hosen im Königsplatz.” That was it. I had just seen the legendary German punk band, Die Toten Hosen. Sure, it was from a distance, with a muffled sound and a slightly obscured view, but with that, I was able to find peace, and end my search.
Remember Shrek? Of course you do. The 2001 animated film featuring a Scottish ogre, played and voiced by Mike Myers, won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature but more importantly, saturated the internet with countless memes based on it. Shrek is based on the picture book Shrek! by William Steig, and while that laid the groundwork for the film, the soundtrack elevates it to its brilliance. It’s got a diverse listing from solemn hymns like “Hallelujah” to the grooviest of party jams delivered by Baha Men. Here’s why the Shrek soundtrack is so fitting to the film.
"Stay Home" - Self
Shrek is a homebody. He doesn’t want to go out and socialize, mostly because he has no other ogre friends and everybody else is trying to kill him, so it’s no surprise that Shrek tends to keep to himself. A perfect example of Shrek’s personality, “Stay Home” is a song about wanting to stay home and keep to yourself. This song is a little more upbeat than he is, but it's still fitting because this is a family movie after all.
"I’m a Believer" – Smash Mouth
Written by Neil Diamond and originally recorded by The Monkees, "I’m a Believer" is a perfectly crafted catchy song. The Monkees were one of popular music’s most family-friendly bands, so could there really be a better choice? Yes, because this version is performed by Smash Mouth. The band who also performs “All Star” (which we will definitely detail in-depth later on) gives a perfect, early 2000s alt-rock rendition of this song. The opening line, “I thought love was only true in fairy tales,” is literally Shrek’s plot, so this might as well be the franchise’s official theme song.
"Like Wow!" – Leslie Carter
“Like Wow!” is performed by Leslie Carter, the late sister of pop stars Nick and Aaron Carter. Carter was signed to DreamWorks Records and this track was put into the soundtrack to test the market for her full album, set to release after the film. DreamWorks Records ended up canceling the album release, leaving “Like Wow!” as Carter’s only officially released single in her short-lived music career. This song's spot on the Shrek soundtrack serves as a tribute to her life.
"Best Years of Our Lives" – Baha Men
That’s right, there’s more to the Baha Men than finding who let the dogs out. They may never have had giant commercial success, but the Baha Men can throw a party song together pretty well. “Best Years of Our Lives” brings a great Bahamian groove to Shrek. The best part about this song is that Baha Men released a Shrek-themed music video with it, so you can you party while you get some Shrek highlights.
"Bad Reputation" – Joan Jett
How do you possibly score a fight between an ogre and a group of knights loyal to the devilishly rambunctious Lord Farquaad? With “Bad Reputation,” of course. It’s edgy, it’s upbeat, and it’s the perfect song for a knight-crushing montage. Not only that, but the song’s lyrics actually match up with Shrek pretty well. Being an ogre, Shrek faces discrimination on a daily basis. He is so hated that the intro to the film shows a mob trying to sack Shrek’s swamp. This fight represents Shrek’s fight with his bad reputation.
"My Beloved Monster" - Eels
So you’re falling in love with a monster and you’re not quite sure how to feel about it? Well, don’t worry, because the same goes for Princess Fiona and there’s actually a song for that. This song appropriately plays in a montage of events where we see Shrek and Fiona falling in love. Shrek and Fiona end up making balloons out of animals for each other and if that isn’t true love then I don’t know what is.
"All Star" – Smash Mouth
Every so often, you come across a pairing of two things that once put together become so much stronger than they were apart. Peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, Shrek and “All Star.” These two are inseparable. For better or for worse, Smash Mouth will always be tied to Shrek. It’s a meme at this point, but at least that allows Shrek to still be relevant 17 years after its release.
"Hallelujah" – Rufus Wainwright
“Hallelujah” is a song that has become big enough that it can’t be tied down to a single musician. Its original rendition by Leonard Cohen introduced it, but following covers by Jeff Buckley and Rufus Wainwright have shown that it can be reinvented time and time again. In Shrek, this song accompanies a heartbreaking montage between Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey as they all go their own ways. The somber tone of this song perfectly sets the mood for the dark time they’re experiencing.
"I’m on My Way" – The Proclaimers
You thought “Send Me On My Way” in Ice Age was the best musical pairing to an animated journey? Well, you thought wrong. With their two most popular songs “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” and “I’m on My Way” being about traveling, The Proclaimers are the perfect pick for any adventure.
"I’m a Believer (Reprise)" – Eddie Murphy
Remember how earlier I talked up All Star’s “I’m a Believer” cover being amazing? Well, I found something better for you, an Eddie Murphy cover. It loses the edgier rock sound that "All Star" brings to it, but makes up for it in the comedic act of an animated donkey singing it. Family movies tend to end on feel-good dance moments and while Shrek is no exception, playing this song during the ending gives a little bit of added fun to the cliché.
"True Love’s First Kiss" – Harry Gregson-Williams and John Powell
If you haven’t seen the movie (and you still somehow made it to the end of this article about a soundtrack to a movie you’ve never seen) “True Love’s First Kiss” plays during Shrek and Fiona’s wedding during their kiss. Fiona is cursed to look like an ogre until she receives true love’s first kiss and since Shrek is the macho, romantic ogre that he is, the curse is reversed. Shrek and Fiona kiss, this song starts playing, and in the end, Shrek becomes possibly the best ogre-themed love story you’ve ever seen.
The Shrek soundtrack isn't beautifully composed like the music in Star Wars or packed to the brim with hits like in Guardians of the Galaxy, but this soundtrack makes Shrek into a family-friendly classic. I left out a few tracks from the list; they’re not bad, but don’t impact the story in a great enough effect whereas Smash Mouth does. In my book, this is the best assembly of songs to accompany a story about a Scottish ogre looking for love. Of course, that title could possibly go to Shrek 2, but there’s a whole other time and place for that.
This playlist is made out of music from artists signed to Secretly Canadian. Secretly Canadian is a record label based in Bloomington, IN, and one of the sponsors of this year’s Culture Shock music festival.
SC artists have ranged from notable Indie names like The War on Drugs, and Yeasayer, to more experimental artists like ANOHNI and even Yoko Ono. Culture Shock alumni, Whitney, are also signed to the label.
Make sure to stop by Culture Shock on April 14 to snag some records from the bands on this local label.
BLOOMINGTON – Thousands of students gathered in protest of pasta yesterday in Dunn Meadow. IU President Michael McRobbie stated on Friday that “Indiana University’s new official noodle is Spaghetti.”
Students were not pleased.
“Spaghetti sucks,” said Freshman Lynne Guinee, 18. “Eating it is like trying to eat rope.” Guinee went on about her dislike of spaghetti, citing that it was too messy, hard to pick up and overall, “weak.”
The crowd had mixed views among what noodle IU should endorse, but it was clear spaghetti was not the answer. Penne and Cavatappi were a few of the most mentioned.
“Penne is the obvious choice here,” said Sophomore Al Dente, 20. According to Dente, Penne had a versatility and durability that he “did not see in spaghetti.” Dente made no comment on what sauce he preferred to pair Penne with.
Protesters filled garbage cans with boxes of spaghetti and set them ablaze.
IU junior Fetta Cheenie, 21, was one of those destroying the pasta. “I’d rather die than be forced to eat spaghetti,” said Cheeni. “This is the dumbest decision our school has ever made.”
The endorsement will result in all of IU’s dining halls to carry spaghetti in lieu of other noodles. A student organization called the Anti-Spaghetti Society has started to combat the change. Members of the organization plan on handing out free, non-spaghetti pasta to students so they don’t have to eat spaghetti.
Newt Dull, member of the Anti-Spaghetti Society, was among the crowd of protesters. “We’re need to band together as a community in these trying times,” he said. “We won’t let this go without a fight.”
Some rappers sold drugs, some rappers killed other rappers, Rich Brian microwaved bread. Brian Imanuel first gained notoriety as a YouTuber, entering the Hip-Hop game under the alias Rich Chigga, and his debut single “Dat $tick.” The music video contains Brian and his friends doing normal trap video activities, but with his pink polo, fanny pack, and comical expressions, it was confusing as to whether it was a joke or a serious attempt at breaking into the market. It turns out it was both. Rich Brian is now going full force into the music scene with his debut album, Amen.
The self-titled track starts off the album in a pretty predictable way. It’s a simple beat with Brian rapping over it, it’s got a couple cool bars, but for the most part it’s pretty dull. A lot of the album continues this trend, with a monotone flow set onto an interesting beat. His lines are still good, but there just isn’t a whole lot of variation is his voice. However, for what he lacks in vocals he makes up for in the underlying tracks. The beat of “Chaos” is very experimental for Rich Brian, and stands out as one his more interesting tracks. It sounds like a police siren crossed with a dying fire alarm. It’s both intriguing and unsettling, making it perfect for a track called “Chaos.”
Despite various filler, Amen still has plenty of highlights. “Cold” stands out as one of the album’s top tracks. The piano and Brian’s double-tracked vocals elevate it to a level above many of his other tracks. It’s produced really well and feels like one of the more put-together of the album. Recounting his journey fame and his quest to be the GOAT, “Flight” is another strong track on Amen. Like “Cold,” this track offers a range of variability in voice, and a break from Brian’s monotonous flow. His delivering of bars turns into the telling of a story, giving a lot of depth to the internet star.
There are a number of features on the album, with the biggest artist being Offset of Migos. His feature is on “Attention,” despite various Migos hate, the track is pretty good. Rich Brian’s style is very Trap influenced, and with Migos being the Kings of the genre, when these two are together they flourish. Another notable feature comes on the track “Introvert” with Joji. Gaining traction on YouTube under the name Filthy Frank, Joji is another YouTuber turned musician. Joji’s cloudy chill feel adds a great backing to Brian’s style, easily making “Introvert” one of the best songs of the album.
While there are some good peaks to the album, there are also a lot of low points. “Trespass,” “Enemies,” and “Kitty” all suffer from sounding more or less the same. Rich Brian’s songs tend to follow a similar path, and even when he adding choruses or features, a lot of it starts to blend together. Regardless of how you feel about Amen, or Rich Brian in general, he’s made a mark on the industry. With this release, he’s become the first Asian artist to reach #1 on the iTunes Hip-Hop chart. Brian represents a demographic rarely seen in Hip-Hop, and hopefully this won’t be the last we see of him.
Amen isn’t the best album, but for an 18-year-olds debut work, it’s pretty good. Rich Brian isn’t the best rapper in the game, but he has potential. Brian has had previous success with singles like “Dat $tick,” “Glow Like Dat,” and “Chaos,” but he’s having trouble crossing over into being an album-based artist. All in all, he’s got room to grow.
Ty Segall has been around the block. While he’s known for traditionally carrying a Lo-Fi/Garage rock vibe, Segall has used the past decade to experiment with rock ‘n roll, crafting his own unique sounds. Freedom’s Goblin is Segall’s 10th solo studio album, and his experience shows. Each track isn’t just recorded; it’s crafted into its own unique composition.
“Fanny Dog” is a fantastic start to the album. A sudden drum hit erupts into a fanfare, announcing the return of Ty Segall. With a heavy guitar, beating cymbals, and punchy lyrics, the track screams ‘power’. If that didn’t do it for you, after the second chorus there is a wailing guitar solo that previews what is to come for the rest of the album. This is Ty Segall in his element; this is Rock and Roll. Other tracks like “Alta,” and “Every 1’s a Winner” keep Segall’s traditional hard sound. At the base of “Every 1’s a Winner” there’s a heavy guitar riff that keeps a commanding grip of the track. The riff goes on throughout the entirety of the track; starting off as a simple repetition, but steadily evolving as the piece progresses.
Ty Segall is a Kinder Egg, hard and sweet on the outside, but once you open him up, he’s full of surprises. “Rain” is one of those surprises. It starts off simple, just a piano, hit of a drum, and Segall’s vocals, but once the chorus comes around it explodes into a flurry of emotion. Another surprisingly fruitful track is “Despoiler of Cadaver.” With its synthy beat and funky riff, this track sounds like it came out of the mind of George Clinton rather than Ty Segall.
“Talkin 3” isn’t much of a song, but more of an experiment. Its main components are squawking saxophones, and Segall screaming; it’s different. This ill-faded ska/punk mash-up isn’t that good of a song, but at least it’s fun. “The Main Pretender” follows, using the same instrumentation as
“Talkin 3,” but with a bearable arrangement. The saxophone turns out to be a really successful choice, it adds a good backing sound, but with a sense of displeasure.
Freedom’s Goblin is a musical journey through the scope of Ty Segall. The album is incredibly well put together, especially considering this came out only a year after his previous recording. It makes a fine collection to not only Segall’s discography, but to the whole indie rock world as well. Segall doesn’t belong to one genre, he embodies garage, glam, psych, lo-fi, among many others, and this album is the collection of that.
Former Smith Westerns members Max Kakacek and Julian Ehrlich rebranded themselves as Whitney, with the release of their debut album last summer, Light Upon the Lake. Since then they have had a steady schedule of touring as well as releasing the occasional song. Now Whitney expands on their previous success. Light Upon the Lake: Demo Recordings gives a deeper dive into Whitney’s debut album.
This album contains two songs not originally on Light Upon the Lake, “You and Me,” and “Southern Nights”. Following suit with pretty much everything else Whitney has released, these two songs are great. “You and Me” begins with a flurry of uplifting guitar riffs, stepping back as the lyrics come forward. Once the chorus hits “Oh darling, remember, you and me, darling”, the song takes a somber turn from how it began. Fast and slow, high and low, “You and Me” is a rollercoaster of emotions condensed into a few short minutes. “Southern Nights” is the only ‘non-demo’ song on the album, but keeps that same rough, mellow sound. It’s a song stripped to its bare essential, needing nothing more than Ehrlich’s vocals and a few backing instruments.
Two of Light Upon the Lake’s tracks are missing from this album, the title track, and “Red Moon.” These two tracks are already have the mellow, uncut feeling found in the rest of the demo recordings, and there wouldn’t have been much difference between them and their actual demos. They’re good songs, but not the strongest ones on Light Upon the Lake, and the two tracks replacing them on this album make for a great new sound.
Comparing some demo versions to their album counterparts lets you see Whitney’s creative process. At the 2:30 mark of “Golden Days – Demo,” there is singing, but on the album it’s replaced with horns. On “Follow - Demo” around 1:40, Ehrlich sings “Na na na …” instead of the usual refrain. Later on in the song, instead of the refrain, it’s the words “Running home again.” This demo experiments with multiple good refrains, but the album version is definitely the better pick. Tracks like “No Woman,” “Dave’s Song” and “Polly,” are nearly identical to the album versions in structure, only differing due to the raw demo sound.
These may just be a bunch of demo recordings, but they offer a whole new way to experience Whitney, as well as bringing new light to Light Upon the Lake. A new album would’ve been preferable, but having the demos to their debut album is a nice addition to Whitney’s discography.
Back in 2003, keyboardist Spencer Krug was set to play a gig, the only problem was, he had no band. Collaborating with guitarist Dan Boeckner, the duo began to write music in Krug’s apartment, picking up drummer Arlen Thompson along the way, leading to their debut EP. Their first release may have been hurried, but their newest album has been in the works for quite some time. After a seven-year hiatus, Cry Cry Cry sparks the return of Wolf Parade.
In 2016, the band released a deluxe edition of Apologies to the Queen Mary, as well as their fourth self-titled EP as a teaser as to what was to come, but Cry Cry Cry is the first true release of the group since 2010’s Expo 86.
A deep rolling piano intros the first track, “Lazarus Online”. Within the first minute, it’s apparent that there is something new here. In the seven-year hiatus that was taken, Wolf Parade obviously lived through a lot, because this is far darker than anything they’ve done.
“You’re Dreaming” incorporates Wolf Parade’s into the present. With an underlying fast-paced synth rhythm, there’s a far livelier mood to hit like on their hit “I’ll Believe in Anything”. It’s placement in the album, following “Lazarus Online” is great, offsetting a bleak track with a bright one.
“Valley Boy” continues this same feeling with choral harmonies between vocalists Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner. However, this track serves more than just a hit for Cry Cry Cry, but as a remembrance of Leonard Cohen.
“The Earth is on fire, so you finally became that bird on the wire”
This line referencing Cohen’s “Bird on the Wire”. It’s odd that the reference was found in this song, and seemed like it would have been much more fitting in “Lazarus Online” due to its somber tone.
“Baby Blue” and “Weaponized” offer a ‘break’ in the album, both being around six minutes long, but also seems to lack the same energy found previously. These tracks still stand up, but they mark a point in the album where everything starts to become a variation of each other. It’s like the songs stand on a sliding track where they’re notched up to varying levels of sadness in order to create an illusion of difference between them.
Cry Cry Cry has an aged feel to it. Krug recently turned 40, Boeckner is not far behind, and the overall sound of the album is indicative of matured songwriters. In previous work Krug developed a sound containing mostly synths, however, this album is far more piano-heavy than other albums. The members of Wolf Parade have definitely grown in their songwriting capabilities, adding more emotion, commentary, and completeness than in previous albums. For a band who just spend the better part of a decade away from each other, the album has a good sense of cohesion. It may not be the best thing Wolf Parade has ever made, but it’s nice to have them back.
It was back in 2012 when high school friends, Ian Simpson (AKA Kevin Abstract) and Ameer Vann, formed BROCKHAMPTON. Since then they’ve grown into an expansive rap collective, releasing their first mixtape in 2016, and their first album, SATURATION, just a few months ago. After a string of overwhelmingly positive reviews, BROCKHAMPTON is embracing the momentum of success with the release of their newest album, SATURATION II.
“GUMMY” starts the album off with an effervescent orchestral interlude, a siren blares, and then the real BROCKHAMPTON comes out. The overall delivery of lyrics is rather aggressive, and that same style is carried on throughout many other songs, giving all their lines a strong and effective sound. Featuring some of the collective’s strongest members, such as Abstract, Vann, Merlyn Wood, and Dom McLennon, this track gives the album a strong and diverse foundation. Not only does the song bump, but it’s video features the BROCKHAMPTON crew cruising around in Los Angeles after a heist, where they were lucky enough to make off with an alpaca named Mr. Snuffleupagus.
On “JELLO”, Abstract raps,
“Met all my friends through Kanye West, And I ain’t met him yet,”
referencing the website, KanyeToThe.com, where he first met many of BROCKHAMPTON’s members on discussion boards. Also heard in the track is Abstract and Vann speaking of the groups move from Texas to their current house in Van Nuys, deeming it the ‘Brockhampton Factory’. A simple and effective chorus, appearances by five members, and a slew of instruments and samples running around in the back, “JELLO” exemplifies the raw talent found in BROCKHAMPTON.
SATURATION II isn’t all just jams however, tracks like “FIGHT” and “QUEER” address social and racial issues in the eyes of the young American. These aren’t just songs, they’re a translation of everyday life into sound.
It’s already shocking that BROCKHAMPTON was able to release this opus just 77 days after their previous album, but they managed to work in 4 music videos for it as well. “GUMMY”, “JUNKY”, “SWEET”, and “SWAMP” all have their own video, and while each one is different from each other, they all feature member Robert Ontenient giving introductions in Spanish. The seductively suave Spanish speaking is carried on from the videos into the tracks “SCENE”, and “SCENE 2”.
“SUNNY” and “SUMMER” give a strong closure to the album. “SUNNY” has a mellower tone than many other songs on this album due to its graceful guitar backing. “SUMMER” offsets the overall sound of the album even further with a relaxing piano ballad. It’s a solo track sung by member Ciaràn ‘bearface’ McDonald, he pours it all out in a somber tone, invoking more emotion than possibly any other track done by the group. This song has been hanging around for quite some time now, making its first appearance in Kevin Abstract’s “Empty” music video, however its placement on SATURATION II is well suited.
The album has an outstanding production value thanks to the skill of Kevin Abstract, who served as executive producer. Each track stands out as its own distinct achievement, but have a weave together easily as a strong whole as well. One of the few drawbacks to this album, Ameer Vann doesn’t embrace his novelty of drug references in his lines as much, but with his great delivery, it’s pretty hard to complain about. BROCKHAMPTON is an absolute powerhouse right now, with each release better than the last. SATURATION III will be out soon, with its first single, “FOLLOW”, already released.
SATURATION II is a triumphant moment for BROCKHAMPTON. As a sequel to SATURATION, it goes above and beyond, making it easily their best work yet. The album keeps a diverse repertoire of sounds to keep it fresh, and still gives great value past the first couple of play-throughs. The lyrics stay simple and to the point, BROCKHAMPTON expresses who they are, and are not trying to play it off as anything more. Verses from members are carefully placed to keep a varied sound in the tracks. It goes from fast to slow, high to low, but there is never a dull moment. SATURATION II is a complex conglomerate that is upgraded with every member’s work, encapsulating the essence of a Hip-Hop collective.
Before slaying Dunn Meadow this Saturday, D.C. post-punk band, Flasher discusses the true meaning of punk, their origins as a band, and upcoming releases. Listen to the conversation and then rock out with them at Culture Shock on April 15.
Last week Gorillaz made their long-awaited return with the release of four new singles, featuring D.R.A.M. and Vince Staples, among others. On April 6, in an interview conducted on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 Radio, Damon Albarn, the driving force behind Gorillaz, debuted another single, “Let Me Out."
“Let Me Out” contains features from both Pusha T and Mavis Staples, and when the two are put together, they flourish. Pusha T starts the track off with a tensely aggressive tone, and coupled with a blaring car horn sample, it creates an exhilarating mood. The chorus is sung by Mavis Staples. She repeats, “Change coming, you best be ready for it"--invoking a more emotional and sensual atmosphere. “Tell me there’s a chance to make it off the streets, tell me that I won’t die at the hands of the police,” Pusha T raps, putting a political slant on the track. They have done this in a similar fashion before with the release of “Hallelujah Money” as a protest song on the eve of the election of President Trump. Overall, the track is very well put together, it flows nicely from upbeat tempos to an ominous ending, and it is a solid addition to the Gorillaz discography.
The complete album, Humanz, is set for release on April 28.
It’s been just under 20 years since Yoni Wolf coined the name WHY? as he entered the music scene while at the University of Cincinnati. In 2003, Yoni’s debut album Oaklandazulasylum put him in the limelight, even earning Pitchfork’s Best New Music. Since then, Yoni has picked up a band for himself, and their work has been in a steady decline, with their last album given a mere 3/10 by the same outlet that once praised them. WHY? has not lost hope, and as a last effort they’ve taken the past four years creating Moh Lhean as an attempt at redemption.
After 13 years as a band, and countless bad reviews among their previous albums, WHY? should be on their last leg, but “This Ole King” shows a rejuvenation that was never expected. A solo blues guitar suddenly erupts into a crescendo of musical fervor, and WHY? makes a statement that they are ready to reclaim their name with this song. Delivering a short but exciting chorus, Wolf’s vocals are entrancing as ever. Layered just underneath that, Liz Wolf’s voice entwines with Yoni’s to create an incredible introduction to the album.
Not all of WHY?’s past has been riddled in failure, their second studio album Alopecia was met with high reviews, and they channel that same energy on the track “Proactive Evolution”. Wolf’s casual style of rapping is perfectly encapsulated in the breaks, leading into great transitions to the chorus. Following in suit with their previous established styles, this song switches tempo and pitch, and will go from rather dark and belligerent vocals to a sudden stream of contended woodwinds. WHY? likes to create a sense of chaos in their songs, and it’s in that chaos that they start to thrive.
The album has two interlude tracks, “January February March,” and “The Long is All,” both acting as prefaces for their following tracks. They may not be much, but these two tracks give us insight into the changes of the band. The last time a preface like this was used was on Alopecia’s “Twenty Eight,” and even then it was really just a ‘de-stress’ track for Wolf to let loose with a few bars. With these two tracks we see that WHY? is a more cohesive band, with a better sense on how to construct their album, and how they’re taking a risk they never have before.
“George Washington” is something like something we’ve never seen before. It’s got a soothing chorus, great melodies, and most importantly, Yoni Wolf actually seems to be happy while singing. Wolf’s vocals, while they are good, tend to be rather monotonous and dull, so hearing this is a very nice change of pace.
A lightly-strummed guitar accompanies Wolf as he spills it all out on “Consequence of Nonaction.” Keeping in line with the sudden jumps WHY? is known to take, the track goes from a soft solo, to what seems like a collision of free-form jazz artists and a slam poetry night.
Moh Lhean ends on “Barely Blur” with guest vocals from Son Lux. It’s a decent track, but it ends the album on such a somber tone. “Hold on, what’s going on?” is repeated through the song, foreshadowing the future of WHY?, because as Wolf has reached his second decade in his musical career, it’s a mystery as to what he is to do next.
Even after four EPs and now being on their fifth studio album, WHY? have still not figured out how to create a masterpiece. Moh Lhean has shown that the band is out of their slump, and on their way to the top, but they’re still not quite there. Songs like “Easy”, and “The Water”, as good as they are, just don’t leave you with that lasting impact as their other tracks do. Wolf showed great change in “George Washington”, and it worked incredibly well, but on many other tracks his vocal delivery fails to show what his true capability is. However, with all of its faults, Moh Lhean still stands as a good piece of music, and one of WHY?’s best.
21 Savage – Dingbat
A Dingbat, a boxy apartment usually ranging from two to three stories tall with available parking underneath, is the perfect encapsulation of 21 Savage’s spirit. The Dingbat takes the bland apartment and turns it into something new and exciting, just as 21 Savage has done with trap.
Soulja Boy – California Bungalow
The popular building style known as the California Bungalow creates an open environment while only working with a small amount of space. This style of housing while looking glamorous, is actually quite affordable for the average family, just as Soulja Boy sports an alluring appearance while really only putting out under-adequate work.
Kanye West – Bay-and-Gable Town House
The tall standing-façade of the Bay-and-gable style has broad bay windows, creating an exceptional view from the outside in, just like West’s songs like “Hey Mama,” “Real Friends,” and “Welcome To Heartbreak” give the listeners a segue into his feelings.
Paul Wall – Tree House
The Tree House, noted for its primary use as a child’s clubhouse, is the perfect way to bring modernity into a natural setting. However, a Tree House is far more of a novelty rather than a serious contender, just like Paul Wall’s music.
Rick Ross – Igloo
The Igloo, found primarily in the Arctic regions of Canada, creates a warm and welcoming environment against the cold, just like how beneath Rick Ross’ hard demeanor lies a soft sweetheart.
A$AP Rocky – French Colonial Chateau
Used during the period of French Colonization, this architectural style invokes prominence and wealth. As the de-facto leader of the A$AP mob, and known for his exceptional sense of style, A$AP Rocky embodies everything that is the French Colonial Chateau.
Lil Uzi Vert – Pacific Lodge
Found in the Pacific Northwest, the Pacific Lodge often features exposed wood with large windows and high ceilings, allowing it to blend into the natural spaces they tend to reside in. This plays into Lil Uzi Vert’s own nature, because even though he has released an extensive amount of music, he still blends into the scene as just another rapper who has yet to truly stand out.
Lil Yachty – Houseboat
Ever since Lil Boat took over as the Creative Director of Nautica he has fully embraced his aquatic themes, and so it would only be fitting if you could see him cruising down a river in his own houseboat.
Ugly God – Neo-eclectic Home
The Neo-eclectic style has the majority of housing developments in the United States, and has steadily become the ‘norm’. Ugly God, while new to the scene has gained traction very quickly, with his debut-single “Water” currently standing at over 78 million streams on SoundCloud since its release in November 2016. With his fast-found fame, Ugly God has become the inspirational model for SoundCloud Rappers, and we will quickly see a flood of Ugly God-esque rappers, just as we see an overwhelming amount of Neo-eclectic homes.
Drake – Landfill
Drake is trash.
Just a few weeks ago at the Grammies, Chancelor Bennett, better known as Chance the Rapper, took home several awards, including Best New Artist. In the growing scene of Chicago Rappers, Chance has become a beacon of hope for everybody. But more is going on in the Bennett household than just the workings of Chance; Taylor Bennett is a growing presence in the Chicago music scene, releasing his debut album, Broad Shoulders, in 2015. Bennett has proved himself as a musical talent and is here to make a name for himself with the release of his sophomore album, Restoration of an American Idol.
Bennett kicks off the album with “The Kid’s Alright,” an incredible track showing off not only his incredible ability to lay down bars with no struggle, but also the high production value this album has.
A slow piano beat is not what you expect to start off a normal rap song, but this is exactly what happens in “Roof Gone.” The piano playing throughout the track gives a great flow to the entire song, with my only complaint being that Bennett’s voice is a little too altered to cater to the melody he is trying to create.
On “Grown Up Fairy Tales”, the Bennett brothers team up with Jeremih to create a flawless track. Upbeat raps by Chance and smooth melodies sung by Jeremih are exquisitely complemented by the raspy voice of Taylor. With guest producer Mike Will Made It, who produced tracks like “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd and G.O.O.D. Music's “Mercy,” this track is a mixture of greatness from all parts of the rap scene.
“Favorite Colors” is the first track on the album that favors synth beats over a piano backing. This song features Kyle Harvey, who worked with Bennett’s older brother on the Social Experiment album, Surf. The song itself is great, but standing at only two minutes long, it is not given enough time to fully develop.
With the shakiness of ill-formed singing on “Roof Gone”, Bennett attempts a canorous chorus again, and this time he nails it. Not only can the man rap, but he can sing, and with effortless transitions, “Play My Part” becomes another excellent addition to the album.
In the summer of 2016, Bennett went through a health scare in New York, turning his hardship into the inspiration for “New York Nights.” Notably one of the best tracks on the album, this is reminiscent of “Broad Shoulders,” the title track from his previous album.
The momentum of well-crafted music continues with “Nobody Tell a Name.” Laid over a simple, effective beat, Raury joins the already amazing featuring artists on this album, and adds a smooth tone to the track, contrasting with Bennett to create a perfect mix. “On my Koji Kondo shit” – he says in reference to the Nintendo composer, showing that in the grand scheme of things, they’re all just here to have a fun time. With surprise appearances on tracks like “Neon Lights” from Supa Bwe and Lil Yachty, we see that Bennett has gotten only the best for his album features.
With his outro track, aptly named “Chi-Town Anthem,” Bennett ends the album on the best track possible. Featuring an incredible flow accompanied by pronounced synths, you can’t listen to this song without recognizing the immense power coming from it. Bennett has crafted a masterful homage to his hometown.
Restoration of an American Idol is a coming of age story. Since his previous works, Taylor Bennett has matured tremendously, and has put everything he has into this album. Only a month before release, Bennett came out as bisexual, and the overwhelming confidence to make that decision has been shown on this album.
“Chi-Town don’t die down”
He encapsulates what this entire album is about in a single line. For now, he is known as Chance the Rapper’s brother, but Taylor Bennett has proven himself worthy of his own spotlight. The Chicago Hip-Hop scene is one full of gifted individuals – Taylor Bennett is a worthy addition to it.