Saturday Night Live/NBCUniversal
For some of us, 2015 was a year of fulfillment, consistency and hope. For the rest, it served unpredictable dishes with sides of indifferent mediocrity, crushing despair and lukewarm-bordering-on-cold broccoli. That’s not to say that lukewarm-bordering-on-cold broccoli is necessarily bad, but it definitely could’ve been better.
No matter the feeling of leaving 2015 in the cracked rear view, a new calendar is upon us. With it comes so many more opportunities for change, inspiring moments in sports, reasons to believe, heartbreaking losses and chances to leave your friends hanging by staying in on a weekend night because you don’t want to deal with it. We at TwH get that. In that spirit, we gathered around our digital campfire and threw darts into our brains trying to pinpoint some of what we think may come to fruition in the coming year. Don’t quote us on this.
Tonight, Devonté Hynes will lead his project, Blood Orange, in the second show of a stand at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater with several guests, in charitable performances for Opus 118 Harlem School of Music. Along with the matinee performance this afternoon, Hynes’ two shows at the Apollo were highly anticipated and, as such, sold out almost as quickly as a Bruce Springsteen concert. For the latter, timelessness is an accepted standard; for the former, critical acclaim has become his typical accompaniment, and the Apollo shows should stand to be something of a turning point for Hynes in terms of popular recognition, even in the face of his highly-touted collaboration with Carly Rae Jepsen earlier this year, “All That,” which he co-wrote, and the Saturday Night Live appearance which followed.
Before you go jettisoning yourself into superstardom at the Apollo, however, you must prepare yourself for the endeavor. On Thursday night, in a secret show at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn, Hynes did just that, with an exclamation point.
In case you haven’t heard – or are willfully ignoring it, like the group of people who attempt to avoid discovering the victor of the Super Bowl every year – one of the great mysteries of pop music has finally come undone, albeit partially. In an interview with PEOPLE magazine, singer-songwriter and proto-Taylor Swift Carly Simon has revealed that the second verse, at the very least, of her seminal hit “You’re So Vain” is, as many suspected, about Warren Beatty. With a great sigh of relief, I’m certain, James Taylor can rock himself to sleep, and Mick Jagger has finally achieved some level of satisfaction, depending on the geography of his egotism in 2015.
What Simon also did in revealing Beatty as her muse, however, was take some of the intimacy out of listening to music. To be frank, I’d really rather she wouldn’t have done that. It isn’t so much that she’s ruined “You’re So Vain” – the classic rock stations in Charlotte, North Carolina, that seem to think Simon only ever released one song already achieved that in my youth – but she did manage to remind us that, as much as we want to feel closer to the musicians we love, they are eternally out of reach, mingling with people more famous than we in parties on yachts, dressed in white clothing after Labor Day like the bourgeois bottles on the top shelf that they are.
To be clear, I’m only half-serious, but that half is deadly serious.
Imagine being the world’s biggest pop star at 24, an icon of one musical genre and the reluctant voice of a stifled, conflicted generation. At just the time your organic rise became meteoric, you re-discovered an old passion for electrified rock and roll, the kind you used to play rambunctiously before leaving it behind in Minnesota.
To people of a certain age or inclination, July 25, 1965, is a date of considerable magnitude. On that date, in Newport, Rhode Island, the most influential songwriter of the twentieth century made perhaps the most important decision of his life, one which has left an indelible effect on pop music and American life.
There was a moment when I just sat staring at the scene in Chicago’s Union Park. It was on Sunday, the last day of the 2015 Pitchfork Music Festival. Caribou was playing on the main stage, the smell of marijuana was pungent, and I was enjoying a hot dog. There were people everywhere. Most crowded at the front of the stage for Caribou, some standing idly talking with their friends, and others, like myself, nodding along to the bassline of “Can’t Do Without You.” It was a moment of clarity that I experienced in a festival (my first) marked by a rush of emotional states which played out like a roller coaster through a grueling three day plunge. There was CHVRCHES’ maelstrom of synth, Freddie Gibbs putting Pitchfork on blast for previous line-ups, an actual maelstrom that shutdown the festival for all of 20 minutes, the dirge of listening to Panda Bear and the rowdiness of A$AP Ferg’s energetic dorkiness. Yet, throughout all of it, festival goers noticed a fair amount of community throughout the throngs of festival goers. We weren’t inundated with a slew of corporate sponsors, distractions and a disorienting amount of people. That community created an atmosphere in which we could enjoy the acts, no matter how close or far away we were from each respective stage. It was a community I was glad to be part of for three days.
The Stanley Cup is the greatest trophy in all of sports, and if you disagree, you’re wrong. It’s just a fact, you’re not allowed to have an opinion on this.
Part of what creates this aura around the Cup is that when you win it, you don’t keep it. You borrow it for awhile, and if you want to hang on to it, you have to win it again. As a player, you only get one day to hang out on your own with the Cup, so you better make it worth it.
One day doesn’t seem like a ton of time, because it isn’t. But I started thinking about this after the Blackhawks won the other night (third Cup in six years, dynasty, etc. etc. etc.). There are like, seven guys on that roster who have been around for all three. How do they keep coming up with things to do with the Cup? There is only so much you can do with a 35-pound trophy, only so many things you can eat out of the bowl on top, does it ever get boring? (The answer is obviously no, winning the Stanley Cup is never boring, it is always the most awesome thing to ever happen, STUPID question).
(Courtesy of XL Recordings)
Shamir was first introduced to a wider audience when he released the video for “Call It Off” during the 2015 YouTube Music Awards. He went from critical darling on the Internet to having his image projected out in meatspace a la electronic billboard in Times Square. Yet, the 20-year-old from North Las Vegas was met with sideways glances rather than warm embraces. The androgyny of both his colorful appearance and his high tenor drew heteronormative vitriol, for which Shamir responded in kind on Twitter by confidently announcing his gender fluidity.
As someone who strived for country stardom, experimented with punk and is now settling into a mode constructed by synthesizers, Shamir seems almost like an avatar of attention-deficit Millennials. His inspirations range in popularity from Joyce Manor to Taylor Swift – a by-product of a generation raised on having numerous browser tabs open at once. Everything is fair game. If there was a blueprint for how a young pop star should look, sound, and act in 2015, Shamir would be it.