Renee Rapp showcases her own way of storytelling through her powerhouse vocals and vulnerable lyrics in her debut album Snow Angel. The fan-favorite actress who starred as Regina George in the Broadway production of Mean Girls: The Musical, is telling her own story through her passion for music.
A part of being vulnerable in music has to do with the craft of writing, which Rapp credits her theater experience as a skill in song-writing. “I think that amazing theater and amazing storytelling, whether it be on stage or screen, is incredible writing,” she said. Musical theater has had a large impact on her writing and she hopes it continues to do so. Growing up as a theater kid, and being a fan of Pop, R&B, and Hip-Hop music, Rapps’s bundle of influences makes her a powerful songwriter. The lyrics on this album manage to showcase Rapp’s funny, unfiltered personality while still remaining vulnerable.
Renee Rapp is known for having powerful vocals with ballads such as the title track and In the Kitchen from her debut EP Everything to Everyone. Ballads on this album include Gemini Moon, which has a really nice transition into the title track Snow Angel.
While remaining emotional in her lyrics, Pretty Girls is described as Rapps’ most up-tempo song to date, but it is still sad in her eyes. The song taps into difficulties in dating as a queer woman. “It’s a situation where I’m out and this straight girl who’s a mutual friend is like ‘you know if I wanted to I totally would’,” Rapp explains. It channels the frustration of being fetishized, but also feeds into the attraction of the Pretty Girls, ignoring all the red flags. This is illustrated in the lyric, “You think that I’d be flattered, It’s pathetic ‘cause you’re right.”
Correlating tracks on the album to her astrology chart, she feels that her Capricorn sun is represented by Poison Poison, which was rewritten multiple times before the finished product that made the album. The original version of Poison Poison received constructive criticism from friend, collaborator, and singer-songwriter Alexander 23. The concern was the original version was ‘too blatant’ and was reworked to what made the album. It has angsty lyrics talking about “the worst person on earth” with a mid-tempo somewhat relaxing beat which sounds like it wouldn’t work but somehow it does. Throughout the album, there are elements of different types of guitar, which makes the collection of songs blend together while still remaining different from each other.
Snow Angel is out now on all streaming platforms. Catch Renee Rapp on the Snow Much Fun Tour beginning in mid-September.
It has been a long time coming for the release of Leon Thomas’ debut album Electric Dusk. Named after the oldest drive-in located in Los Angeles, this album brings a nostalgic feel through the 60’s Jazz and R&B inspiration. Using only three words, Leon Thomas describes this album as “Vivid Story-telling.”
“I had a very amazing vision on how I wanted this thing to sound,” Thomas said. His vision of a cinematic, retro concept is perfectly clear as he intended it to be.
The multi-talented musician expressed that a lot of his inspiration came from Black Rom-Coms such as Love Jones which inspired the track of the same name on the album. A track named after an ‘old school’ movie perfectly complements the album title named after a famous drive-in. The ‘simplicity of lyrics’ in Blue Hundred and My Will are complemented by ‘psychedelic rock elements mixed in with R&B,’ Thomas described. “If you really listen to the effects that I am putting on a lot of the guitars, it’s definitely inspired from a place that comes from that 60’s realm.”
It was important for him to blend the inspiration from different genres. The opening track, Slow Dow,n embodies the inspiration from Jazz.
Breaking Point is a perfect illustration of this sonically and lyrically with an additional cinematic feel in the music video. Supporting the old-school film-inspired concept cohesive to the album name, the black and white music video truly feels like an old film. Illustrating a couple reaching their Breaking Point shows scenes of Leon Thomas and his partner growing distant, and eventually reaching that point by the end of the video. Hearing the lyric “We are both just filling voids” and being able to see it in the video, truly makes it seem like this song was made for film while remaining personal to Thomas. Breaking Point is the song that he is most proud of because it represents his life at the time it was created and it received a lot of love.
He expressed that writing for himself is ‘uncomfortable’ at times because it requires him to be vulnerable, in comparison to writing for others which he describes as ‘playing therapist.’ In contrast to being the one to push other artists to be vulnerable and real, Thomas jokes that when making his own music he has to really “dig deep and find some of those uncomfortable moments to talk about that I won’t say on the first day but I am going to have to sing for the entire world.” Some of the people he has worked with as a songwriter and producer are Drake, Post Malone, Ariana Grande, and SZA.
The album is fully mixed by Leon Thomas himself, but he also collaborated on songwriting and producing with colleagues. Faxonly and BNYX who he had collaborated with before working with Drake, actually sent the track Crash and Burn over to Thomas.
Set to support Ty Dolla $ign this fall on the More Motion Less Emotion Tour, Thomas said he is most excited to perform Crash and Burn live. He has already had the opportunity to perform this song live at a few shows. “It was cool to see people singing it back with me. It just came out around that time. I’m excited to sing that record now and to see how far it’s come.”
The album is available for streaming on all platforms now.
Ruel took over the stage at the Ogden Theatre during his tour. The show was a refreshing comeback after some time away from the States.
It’s hard to argue against the clear cultural impact and significance of the Eras Tour. Even Taylor Swift naysayers know that her ability to sell out a full stadium tour and still have thousands and thousands of fans waiting outside every night singing along is nothing short of extraordinary.
The tour has received top reviews from pretty much every major and well-respected publication. Music critics and journalists have said their piece about the tour and that’s great.
But Taylor’s music isn’t for them. It’s for the girls that grew up hiding from the world late at night in their bedroom, a journal and glitter gel pen in hand. Girls like me, who doodled little hearts next to the names of classmates, scribbled down some silly diary entries, and hung posters of our new favorite musician on our walls.
People keep asking me: “Why now?”
Taylor Swift has been an A-List celebrity for years to the point where many fans can’t even remember a time in their life when she wasn’t a household name. This time around, her tour and general success, feel different.
It almost feels like new fans are flooding in and jumping on the bandwagon. However, I have to argue that these fans have always been here just below the surface, but now something in them has been ignited and turned into an unmatchable passion.
Girlhood is defined by many things. For myself and probably a majority of my friends, Taylor was, in some way, a part of our upbringing. Whether she became a cornerstone in our lives (like me) or her music touched you for a brief era — a breakup, bullying spat, general hard time, or even just a catchy tune that you put on the stereo during drives around your small town with friends — her music is a common thread connecting many of us.
So, when Taylor began to revisit her old albums, rerecording and reclaiming them, it felt like we, too, were reflecting on our past alongside her.
Fans that may not have been invested to the point of endless streaming and following a tour before were touched with a new sense of nostalgia. As they heard that certain song or album that had resonated with them so truly at a time long ago, they realized how much life had changed since. They found a new meaning to Taylor Swift and were pulled down a vortex. From there, they were welcomed by a family of fans.
Another aspect of Taylor’s resurgence is her resilience in the face of adversity and, obviously, misogyny. Taylor’s story is one that is reflective of the modern music industry’s treatment of women at large. This little slice of misogyny is only part of the whole, too. Many women found themselves reflected in her battle.
Even many women who opposed Taylor during The Great War of 2016, have grown to now recognize the internalized misogyny that brought them to that point. They have since put that mindset to rest and returned to Taylor Swift, too.
This fiery combination of nostalgic girlhood matched with a powerful, fiery story of womanhood is what has brought us here: to Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour.
Across the country, fans have rallied the troops and arrived in droves at a stadium near (or perhaps not so near) them. A common feeling of understanding and excitement radiated between every person in that stadium.
I, myself, nervously clutched the friendship bracelets that I had spent weeks making. Around me, fans doing just the same were trading away. Typically, I wouldn’t push myself at a show to go make a new friend, but for Taylor? Anything.
The pre-show excitement slowly avalanched into anxiety. I didn’t know it then, but by the end of the show, that feeling would come to land at just utter peace.
Anticipation was replaced by screams… it was showtime.
I cheated. I knew the setlist ahead of time, but so did most fans.
When the setlist was first revealed, I wasn’t confident that I really understood why the eras were laid out how they were. Starting with “Lover” just didn’t feel right to me. When I thought of the Taylor Swift eras, they were in chronological order… starting with her debut album and ending with “Midnights”.
What I learned that night from watching Taylor Swift perform live is that somewhere along the way in her career, that road map wasn’t quite so simple anymore. Her story was no longer perfectly linear. She was always, and now more so than ever, in a state of self-reflection about her own work.
Releasing vault tracks alongside every Taylor’s Version album is a testament to that.
Each era felt so distinct, yet flowed into the next so seamlessly. With transitions including slithering snakes and diving into the stage, even the interludes were incredible. I never felt lost throughout the set. Taylor managed to keep the audience on focus for the full three hours, never letting the crowd lose their spark.
As for Taylor’s performance, her talent will never be in doubt. What stood out beyond her talent, though, was her work ethic, drive, and stamina.
The show wasn’t just a concert or gig, but truly a show. It was filled with a never-ending number of moving parts, stage cues, and choreographed bits. (Huge shout out to those behind the scenes who can make this possible!) Taylor has to make sure that every single night of that tour she is “on”. At no point has she shown a sign of exhaustion.
It doesn’t matter where she is, Taylor will make sure that show is memorable. Personally, I couldn’t even handle dancing along at my seat for the full three hours, so I can’t figure out how she performed the whole thing.
Every aspect of the show was also so incredibly well thought out. Taylor is known for her little easter eggs, but what makes her “Mastermind” brain capable of doing that is her natural sentimental attitude. From the visuals to the performance bits, you could tell that Taylor put herself into the show and had a heavy hand in its direction.
No one can ever say that Taylor is a passive musician. She won’t let anyone dictate her career ever again and that much was apparent from this tour.
She has kept anticipation across the entire tour by keeping every show special. Her secret songs every night have kept social media buzzing. Every weekend, I feel like I’m revisiting my own tour date when I check Twitter to see what she’s played.
The Eras Tour was technically only one night long for me. However, it feels like even the nights not spent at a stadium are just as important. The tour dates feel cohesive. The Eras era is distinct and it’s a feeling I never want to lose.
The tour connected fans across the country… and even the world. In our hearts, we’re all still the little girls who needed Taylor’s songs. I’m still the same little girl who cried because of my hometown bullies in my Pennsylvania small town. I’m still the preteen who didn’t yet know what love was, but so desperately wanted a great romance story. I’m still the same teenager who had her heart crushed, relying on her friends to bring over ice cream and play Taylor music as a coping mechanism. I’m still the scared college student who blasted “Welcome to New York” as I moved into my New York City dorm room.
And at the Eras Tour, I felt like was honoring my past while also celebrating my life now with Taylor.
We grew up with Taylor. The Eras Tour is indisputable proof that her fans are still listening, we’re here, and we’re going to keep growing up with her forever.
Note: Author attended East Rutherford Night 1. Photographer attended Denver Night 1.
Did you miss Emblem 3‘s performance at Teragram Ballroom? Don’t worry! We have you covered. We’re taking a look back at that show and thinking about how our prayers were answered when E3 reunited.
Alexander23 showcases a happier side to his emotions when crushing on someone in his new single “I Wanna Live Forever”. The “IDK You Yet” singer is known for being emotionally vulnerable in his music, but this is a new side to him that hasn’t been showcased in his music before. “After years of writing sad songs and gravely worrying about my family and friends, I have decided that good times don’t always need to be safely kept in the moment.”View this post on Instagram
“I Wanna Live Forever” is the second single that Alexander23 has dropped this year. “How To Drive” dropped in January of this year, and showcased a bittersweet feeling of loneliness. Emotionally raw lyrics and instrumentals that complement it, it’s different from the new release. While maintaining his feelings, the multitalented musical artist shows a more upbeat, hopeful, serotonin boost vibe.
Starting off with classic acoustic guitar, the sound of drums picks up the beat. The chorus picks up more electronically with a very unique style of production. It is reminiscent of the level-up noise seen in video games, which captures happiness perfectly. This is honestly a really fun, refreshing sound that still flows seamlessly with the acoustics slowing back down into the verses. The lyricism also captures the emotions of quickly falling for someone perfectly.
“This song is about falling in love all at once without concern for the next moment.”
Claiming to have written the song after going on a date with a woman, Alexander 23 showcases emotions like obsessively waiting for that person to text you back and also the feeling of them knowing you well. The single’s title appears in the chorus with the lyric, “I wanna live forever but no one can live that long.” The song finishes with “But nothing can live forever, I wanna die in your arms.”
MUSIC REVIEW: Lilac Haze Dropped a Killer Music Video for her Debut Double Singles “The Ghost That I Once Knew” and “Lilac Haze”
It’s not often that an artist is daring enough to drop dual singles. Typically, only seasoned veterans of the industry are ambitious enough to do so. However, Lilac Haze has dove headfirst into her music release. Not only did she drop double singles, but she debuted with them.
Lovers of hypnotic pop (not to be confused with hyperpop which is quite the opposite) are going to love these songs. Lilac Haze — also known as Katrina Swift — is classically trained. Honestly, if you ask us, classical training is so missed in music today. Understanding compositions and techniques on a deeper level creates music that has a focused and poised quality. In this case, Lilac Haze‘s control over her gentle voice allows the music to have a distinct sound.
Double releases are certainly intentional… (Believe it or not, there was a method to Ed Sheeran’s dual drop of “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill” in 2017). So, as you listen through Lilac Haze’s new songs, be sure to listen in a way that ties the two together. If you’re like us and love to pick apart at all of the little details and nuances, that’s how you’re going to get the best experience.
You’ll do this naturally, though, so don’t stress. The music and instrumentals of one song flow flawlessly into the next. The soft elements of blues and a bit more pungent influences of soft modern pop are what make these songs something comforting to listen to. It feels like you’re falling into a clear world with a clear message. Lilac Haze created this moment for self-reflection.
“I felt unsure and lost in my new surroundings. It’s a reflection of the loss of innocence as we mature… a farewell to your old self,” she says about “The Ghost I Once Knew.”
Now, for her namesake song, “Lilac Haze,” things were a little different. This one “is a song written for anyone who has been affected by loved ones lost to Alzheimer’s and Dementia.”
These two different songs are tied together by their true and raw emotions nested into the writing. Between strong imagery and personal touches, these songs are for those who want to get lost in their own thoughts… in their own life-reflection.
Nessa Barrett Delivers an Incredible Performance at Terminal 5 Radiated Confidence, Power, & Raw Emotion
When Nessa Barrett began putting out music with her single “Pain” in 2020, she became one of the first on a list of TikTok influencers that would start a musical journey. While many content creators have been known to move into music, only a small group of them have dared to venture into the alternative and emo subgenres.
However, attention quickly moved off of her music and toward her personal life. TikTok drama can’t be kept a secret for long in Los Angeles. Rather than people talking about her music, they talked about her relationships. Nessa joined the ranks of talented female artists whose careers would begin to be reduced to their dating history.
It was clear from the beginning that her music was going to be filled with genuine and deep emotion – not boy problems. She poured herself into the work, opening up about her experiences with mental illness including Borderline Personality Disorder and an eating disorder. Her honest approach to songwriting gave her an edge over her competition. She wasn’t letting the industry decide her next move… instead she was driven by authenticity in her life.
That ability to tap into her feelings became incredibly evident with her release of the hit single “die first” in 2022. Nessa dedicated the track to her best friend, another social media personality named Cooper Noriega, who had passed away just before the song’s release, but we’ll come back to that.
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KTJ & Carly continue their journey with storytelling lyrics and catchy beats with their new single “Shitty People”.
After seeing a handbag with the phrase “Stop Stressing Over Shitty People,” the duo was inspired to write a track that reflected on their own experiences pleasing others. The lyrics sound therapeutic, think of unleashing your thoughts in therapy which is typically chaotic. However, KTJ & CARLY seamlessly took these thoughts into a song. Taking intrusive thoughts of not being likable in platonic or romantic ways, feeling behind everyone else, or not being able to pay bills. The indie-pop duo turned thoughts that many people can resonate with into a well-constructed song.
Unleashing frustrations can also be heard in the vocals. The vocals are beautiful and seamless, but also raw. Emotional exhaustion can be heard on top of the instrumentals reminiscent of a sad part of a movie.
In comparison to some of their other tracks which have electronic-sounding instrumentals, “Shitty People” is a ballad with tranquil piano instrumentals. It appears that the duo is experimenting, but also keeping their signature sound. Although this is not their first slower song, with “Soliloquy” on from their EP “Ego Death”, “Shitty People” shows a new side to KTJ & CARLY’s sound. Continuing to stay on brand with catchy melodies and insightful lyrics, KTJ & CARLY are expanding their sound without compromising what has already been built. “Shitty People” is a perfect addition to the collection of storytelling that KTJ & CARLY have under their belt.
Their EP “Ego Death” was released prior to their first headlining tour in the summer of 2022. “Shitty People” is the first release for their next body of work, expected for release this summer.
If you would have told us in June that Daniel Seavey would be on a solo tour across the country, we wouldn’t have believed you.
When Daniel Seavey’s band, Why Don’t We, went on a hiatus, the future of the individual band members was incredibly uncertain from an audience perspective. After all, they had been amping up to a tour across the country before the heartbreaking news. One question was on every fan’s mind: What’s next?
In the moments leading up to the New York City date of the Introducing Daniel Seavey Tour, you could feel the anxiety tangible in the air. Fans may have seen clips of the concert online, but there’s something so different about being there in person. If they couldn’t have the sweet experience of Why Don’t We on tour, they would still have Daniel.
However, the moment the show began, the idea that this would be a supplement for the Why Don’t We craze was immediately squashed.