Music

Everlasting Love

Everlasting Love
Article by Jessica Machado, Illustrated by Andrea Tsurumi, appeared in issue Tough; published in 2014; filed under Music.
Why Courtney Love still matters

Illustration by Andrea Tsurumi

I recently overheard a media colleague say, “I don’t get Lena Dunham. She’s no Courtney Love.” My ears perked up because I’m nosy, but also, huh? “When Courtney Love was 26 and you talked to her,” my colleague went on to explain, “she had this captivating spark. You could tell she was crazy but a genius. Lena, well, she’s just regular.”

Black to the Future

Black to the Future
Article by Alley Pezanoski..., Illustrated by Pam Wishbow, appeared in issue Maps & Legends; published in 2014; filed under Music.
How women in pop are carrying the mantle of Afrofuturism

illustration by Pam Wishbow

When my brother and I were young, our parents would build us igloo forts out of blue sheets in the living room before putting us to bed. They would turn off all the lights except for a string of white Christmas lights that looped through our plants, and turn on the jazz-fusion, African-rhythm synthpop of Afro-Parisian Wally Badarou, creating an icy new world for us. What I now recognize as a way to calm two small children before bedtime felt like magic to me then. Our living room was transformed into a timeless space that felt simultaneously prehistoric and futuristic.

And She Was

And She Was
Article by Lindsay Zoladz, Illustrated by Kami Jeanne, appeared in issue Food; published in 2013; filed under Music.
The story of the greatest girl group you've never heard of

When I ask Sally Ross-Moore if she and her sister Nancy were “rebellious” teenagers, she lets out a low, knowing chuckle. “We were,” she says. For a minute it sounds like she might elaborate, but instead she trails off, lost in a hazy, private memory of the band that she and her sister channeled their delinquent energy into.

In an interview with another journalist about a decade ago, though, her sister had been more than happy to fill in the blanks. “We’d go upstairs in the state capitol building to the rotunda and spit on senators’ heads!” Nancy said, recounting the sisters’ favorite after-school activities. “And we used to get kicked out of movie theaters all the time.” Other extracurriculars included milling around their hometown of Sacramento, playing pranks on salespeople in overpriced boutiques (Sally, who’s now 60, would ask to try on child-size garments and then throw mock tantrums when the shopkeepers suggested a larger size), and—the preferred entertainment of most teenage hell-raisers in the early 1960s—going to rock shows. After one particular concert (a Beach Boys show in 1964, on a school night no less) Nancy had an experience that would change the girls’ lives forever. “I woke up—I’d only been asleep about 15 minutes—and I’d had this clear dream, vision, whatever you want to call it, of a group of girls onstage. In my mind it was just like the Beach Boys, but girls.”

Never Said Nothing

Never Said Nothing
Article by Lindsay Zoladz, Illustrated by Kristopher Pollard, appeared in issue Fame + Fortune; published in 2012; filed under Music.
A brief history of "cunt" in pop music

Late in 2011, a song from a virtually unknown 20-year-old rapper from Harlem knocked the Internet on its ass. Azealia Banks's "212" was a wildly original debut single that found the rapper dribbling a steady stream of elastic wordplay and oh-no-she-didn't raunch over a skronky beat from producer Lazy Jay. And then there was the song's hook, a repeated provocation to a male rival for the affections of another woman: "I guess that cunt gettin' eaten."

"212" was voted Pitchfork's no. 9 track of 2011, propelling Banks to the top spot on NME's 2011 "Cool List" and earning her a coveted endorsement from Kanye West—all before she even landed a record deal. But some listeners just couldn't get past that C-word. In a December 2011 cover story for self-titled magazine, the interviewer asked Banks a question that no one would have asked, say, Lil Wayne, who was three years younger than Banks when his debut album dropped: "Is it weird to play these songs for your mother?" When she responded in the negative, he pushed on: "It's jarring hearing a young girl say 'cunt' so often." Banks brushed him off with pointed flippancy. "Sex is fucking sex," she said. "We wouldn't be sitting here if it wasn't for sex."

Raise Your Glass If U R A Firework Who Was Born This Way

Raise Your Glass If U R A Firework Who Was Born This Way
Article by Lauren Elmore, Illustrated by Kristin Rogers Brown, appeared in issue Underground; published in 2011; filed under Music.
Who's to say what makes a gay anthem?

Hey, guys.... Um, this is Ke$ha. I just wanted to say something. Um, to anyone who’s being bothered, or abused, or harassed, or bullied, I just wanted to tell you that, um...it will get better. It will. No matter if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, however you are choosing to live is beautiful, and you have my full support and all of my love. And to be yourself, and it will be better. When people are mean for no reason it’s...horrible. But, I swear to God, it will get better. So please don’t ever give up.

Party Out of Bounds

Party Out of Bounds
Article by Gabrielle Moss, appeared in issue Reverb; published in 2011; filed under Music; tagged alcohol, pop music.
Booze, the Pleasure Principle, and Party-Girl Pop

America, it would seem, is on a bender. From the shot-fueled mayhem of Jersey Shore (the most popular show in MTV’s history) to a special booze-themed episode of Glee, to the blog Texts From Last Night immortalizing those crucial missives sent while sloshed, there seems to be no way to slake our collective thirst for entertainment exploring the fun of drinking—though attempting to do so has become a popular and lucrative pursuit.

Nowhere is this quite as clear as in the music industry.

Birth of the Uncool

Birth of the Uncool
Article by SadyDoyle, Illustrated by Rebecca Green, appeared in issue Primal; published in 2011; filed under Music.
In defense of the Tori Amos fan

Illustration by Rebecca Green

Top of the Pops

Top of the Pops
Article by Jonanna Widner, Illustrated by Ray Bruwelheide, appeared in issue Make-Believe; published in 2010; filed under Music.
Justin Bieber's a lesbian hair icon--or is it the other way around?

Like any good lesbian, I care a lot about my hair. Sadly, as often happens with many a good lesbian, this hasn’t always led to particularly good choices when it comes to my ’do. During my closeted high-school years, I sported the LHB (long-haired butch, for the uninitiated) before shifting to the “can I still pass for bi?” bob in college. Post-grad, there was a coif that somehow rolled all Jodie Foster’s looks into one. And somewhere along the way, there were even bangs involved.

Break Me Off a Piece of that Breakup Song

Break Me Off a Piece of that Breakup Song
Article by Thao Nguyen, appeared in issue Art/See; published in 2009; filed under Music.
No one pays attention to breakup songs until they need them. When you first hear one you are probably not interested; you are probably turned off by its utter depression, and so you skip ahead to the next upbeat track, something with shouting and hand claps in the chorus, something for happier people.

Fortunately for you, the dirge you just flitted by is secreted away and catalogued in the depths of your mind's ear for your future employ. Months, years, possibly hours later, the shit goes down, and you are so sad. And you're searching, searching. You're pretty sure the only thing that will make you feel better is listening to something that makes you feel…sadder. Why does one crave the wallow? I do not know. But one does. You want full immersion in the dissolution. You don't want to just take the language courses. You want to go live in the country of origin; you want to stay with a host family.

Enter the breakup song to function as a vessel, a vehicle, a holding pen....

Ladies' Camp Rock

Ladies' Camp Rock
Article by Tammy Oler, Illustrated by Krista Messer, appeared in issue Consumed; published in 2009; filed under Music; tagged Bella Rocks!, fandom, Harry and the Potters, Harry Potter, music, Twilight, Twirock, wizard rock, Women in Rock, young women.
You only have to look to the history of Star Trek–
inspired music—ranging from surf-punkers No Kill I to the Klingon heavy-metal band Stovokor—to see that fantasy and science- fiction fans have made music devoted to their obsessions for generations. Nothing in the history of fandom, though, can compare to wizard rock, a thriving subculture of musicians and fans devoted to Harry Potter–inspired rock 'n' roll. But don't let the name fool you: It's witches, not wizards, who dominate this scene.
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