Great Moments From One Love Manchester

One Love Manchester, a star-studded, beautiful benefit concert for the victims of the Manchester attack, was a resounding success. First of all, the concert raised over $3 million for victims and survivors. Second, One Love Manchester sold out: 50,000 tickets. This matters because the attacker specifically targeted a concert popular with young children. Not two weeks later, audiences – including some of the same children injured in the attack, like fantastic 8-year-old Lily Harrison – flocked to yet another concert in Manchester, showing that they will not react in fear or anger; they will react by living as they always have. This city sang and danced in the face of terrorism. Plenty of adults we’re supposed to respect have been far more cowardly. Last, the success of One Love Manchester were a personal and career triumph for Ariana Grande. These two weeks will come to define Ariana’s career: not the thing a small, terrible person did to her fans, but how she reacted. There were a lot of things to love about One Love Manchester, so here are just a few, in no particular order.

This Crowd Moment During Justin Bieber’s Set

Okay, Justin Bieber did a nice job. His set was reminiscent of Bieber’s rise to YouTube fame with simple arrangements, and his speech was surprisingly heartfelt and sweet. But did you see this police officer dancing in a circle with little girls during his speech? One of the sweetest moments of the night.

Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande’s Adorable Friendship

Don’t Dream It’s Over is an underrated ’80s classic, and Miley’s voice really knocks it out of the park on exactly this sort of song. You also couldn’t miss how cute Miley and Ariana are together. They’ve both been famous for some time now, and this clip reminded me that they’re also just nice, supportive friends in their early 20s.

The Parrs Wood High School Performance

Parrs Wood High School’s cover of My Everything, in honor of the Manchester Terror Attack victims, made the rounds last week. They performed beautifully at One Love Manchester, and were joined by Ariana herself. 12-year-old soloist Natasha Seth’s reaction was precious, and Ariana’s reaction to Natasha absolutely made me cry.

Olivia Campbell And Her Mum

15-year-old Olivia Campbell was one of the 22 murdered in Manchester, and Olivia’s mother had some words for Ariana. In her intro to Side to Side, Ariana said “I had the pleasure of meeting Olivia’s mommy a few days ago, and as soon as I met her I started crying, and I gave her a big hug. And she said that I should stop crying because Olivia wouldn’t have wanted me to cry. And then she told me that Olivia would have wanted to hear the hits. So that means that we had a totally different show planned. We had a rehearsal yesterday where we changed everything.”

Suddenly, Side To Side was a touching tribute to a teenage girl who just wanted to go out and listen to pop music on a school night.

Don’t Look Back In Anger

Oasis is as associated with Manchester as Man United (at least for those of us living across the ocean). Don’t Look Back In Anger is one of their most recognizable songs and one that has made me well up even during good times. After the attack, a crowd at a vigil even broke out into the chorus after a moment of silence. Chris Martin of Coldplay did an admirable cover. You could feel that all 50,000 audience members, at least at that moment, believed that the best way forward was not to look back in anger – at least not today.

Take That and Robbie Williams

It’s probably a pop culture personality test: do you associate Manchester with Oasis or Take That? Or are you more of a solo Robbie Williams fan? At One Love Manchester, you didn’t have to choose: crowds were treated to both Take That and solo Robbie. My ’90s heart will always love Robbie Williams singing Angels.

Niall Horan’s Crowd-Talk

Niall has the sweetest, humblest variety of boy band polish. He didn’t say anything groundbreaking, it was more the way he just sounded like a boy… standing in front of a city… telling it that he loves it, instead of like a schmoozy musician.

This Finale

Ariana ended the concert with Somewhere Over The Rainbow. She cried, I cried, we all cried. It – like the night as a whole – was a beautiful tribute to the Manchester victims, survivors, and to a city that sings and dances in the face of terrorism.


A Very Scientific Process In Making the Ultimate Boy Band

Question: Do we need another boy band?

Keep reading if your answer is yes. Because the correct answer is yes.

Executives at ABC recently announced a new reality show called Boy Band, a 10-episode series coming this summer featuring aspiring male singers vying for a spot in a – you guessed it – boy band. Viewers can vote for their favorites, with the top five forming the final group. Think American Juniors meets Making The Band, but sans sketchy Lou Pearlman and with adults.

But what if the singers of boy band past tried out for Boy Band? Would they make the cut? We make the ultimate group based on a very scientific method: what the singer was like at the height of their popularity, their voice, their voice blending with the other voices, how their popularity would shine on a reality TV competition and my own personal opinion.

Nick Carter


OG Boy Band: Backstreet Boys

Vocal Function: Lead Tenor

Personality Function: The Heartthrob

Why He Would Make The Cut: Every boy band needs a lead heartthrob with a singing ability to make you swoon in your over-postered bedroom. Circa ’99, Nick Carter was the picture perfect dreamboat, made to make the cover of Tiger Beat, YM and Teen People all over the world. Every time he asked, “Am I sexual?”, the answer is always a screeching, “YES!”.

Harry Styles

OG Boy Band: One Direction

Vocal Function: Second Tenor

Personality Function: Silent Heartthrob

Why He Would Make The Cut: That face. That accent. The way he belts those notes. That hair. The way he puts his hands through THAT HAIR.

Nick Jonas

OG Boy Band: Jonas Brothers

Vocal Function: Counter Tenor

Personality Function: The Seemingly Serious One But Actual Sex Pot

Why He Would Make The Cut: I’m talking Jealous -> now era of Nick Jonas even though the JoBros doesn’t exist and I wouldn’t even really classify them as a real boy band. But Nick is a smokeshow, can hit those falsetto notes like nobody’s business and did I mention he’s a smokeshow?

Donnie Wahlberg

OG Boy Band: New Kids on the Block

Vocal Function: Bass

Personality Function: Bad Boy

Why He Would Make The Cut: Similarly to Nick Jonas, I’d say later era Donnie Wahlberg is primo Donnie Wahlberg. I saw him on the NKOTBSB tour with BSB and I was completely shook and quite frankly upset with myself that I had not been paying more attention to Donnie all these years. He is straight up beefcake, masculine to the max sexy, and his speak/singing voice will automatically take your undergarments off.

Joey Fatone

OG Boy Band:*N SYNC

Vocal Function: Baritone

Personality Function: Jokester

Why He Would Make The Cut: Joey is the type of dude who would thrive on a reality TV competition show. He’s such a ham for the cameras that audiences would lap it right up. See: Dancing with the Stars.

BONUS: Justin Timberlake would be the second one to make the group, but like Ikaika before him, he left to pursue a solo career. Nick Jonas takes his place in a dramatic results show episode.

Disagree? Agree? Chime in!

Merry Hip-Hop Christmas Motherf#cK3R$!

There’s a famous record store in California called Ameoba Records that is known for its extensive music and DVD collection. The one in Hollywood happens to be near my movie theater of choice, so when I was killing some time before going to said movie theater recently, I walked around Ameoba and stumbled into the holiday music section. The collections isn’t as large compared to all the other sections in the store, but the fact that they have to divide it up into genre and not just by artists should tell you that this wasn’t a normal Trans Siberian Orchestra and Vince Garabaldi Trio situation. No, Ameoba had an entire Hip-Hop and R&B holiday music section which I immediately scoured through. Did I expect Whitney Houston? Sure. Destiny’s Child? OK. But did I ever think this particular CD even existed?photo-dec-08-6-42-13-pmphoto-dec-08-6-42-18-pm

Short answer: nope. Absolutely not. You’re telling me a TWO CD compilation featuring what seems to be a line-up of stars who peaked in 2005 recorded Christmas specific tracks for an album that has cover art made with Microsoft Word Art is for sale?! Because I’m a cheapo, I swiftly snapped these pix and noted to look it up on Spotify later. And boy or boy did it turn out to be gold indeed. The very first line of the entire album is said by Cam’Ron (of Hey Ma fame), and he yells out, “Merry Christmas motherfuckers!” Honestly, how can you stop there. I had to listen to the entire thing. You can stream the entire album here, but I’m selecting a few standout “favorites” from this gem of an album to spread the holiday cheer. Enjoy, bitchez!

Jingle Bells, Shotgun Shells by Onyx

Right off the bat, Onyx declares he hates Christmas, which for a Christmas album is a pretty bold move. Or gangster move, if you will. In fact, the entire song is a gangster rap song, except with a few key Christmas phrases thrown in there.

Other key lyrics: “Fuck Christmas, fuck all holidays/I’m the grinch bitch, got a new hot plate”… “Jingle Bells, Shotgun shells, n***az get shot every day, hey!”

“Deck the Halls with weed and Henny (*in the background* Black Santa!)… Y’all really think Santa tryna come out to the ‘hood? Santa ain’t comin’ out here. This is Oakland. Santa ain’t tryna get shot” – Deck the Halls by Luniz

 Christmas Treez by Baby Bash

Spoiler alert kids – “Christmas Treez” is code word for weed. But the gag is that the song’s not even really about smoking weed. It’s about fucking bitches. While high. That’s right. Because nothing says, “welcome baby Jesus” like the phrase “pearl necklace”. They just referenced Netflix and apparently this is a new release. A 2016 RELEASE. I AM SHOCKED.

Other key lyrics: “She give me that XXX from Texas/A blessed bitch/Over the next bitch/Man eat her for breakfast.”

It’s a real shock to the system when R&B group Az Yet starts singing Angels We Have Heard on High in all earnestness.

Chingy’s Christmas by Chingy

Who knew the first refreshing song on this album would be from Chingy? He actually is approaching the song with a story, and a story of philanthropy none the less! He’s “got a bag of goodies for all y’all” and gonna “make it rain gifts like Santa Claus”. Truly inspirational. And if you’re wondering what happened to Chingy, you’re not the only one.

Kb Christmas Delight by Kurtis Blow

It’s really throwing me off that this album was made this year. I legit thought this was from 2005. So hearing references like Netflix are jarring. In this song, KB starts namedropping rappers coming to his Christmas party, like Snoop and Rev Run from Run DMC. But what’s even more jarring is when when he mentions that Kim and Kanye roll up in the party.. Also, I’m not a Kurtis Blow aficionado or anything, but do his songs all sound the same?

Other key lyrics: “Ring ring at the door again, in walks Kanye and Kim/Don’t let the paparazzi in, only hip-hop fam and friends/Knock Knock who will we see? Beyonce and Jay Z/B and Jay Z came by just to party with me/No shade we ain’t sipping tea”

Surviving Christmas by Kool Moe Dee

Straight up the most depressing Christmas song I’ve ever heard. Including that Christmas Shoes one. You’ve just got to listen to this one.

The placement of these songs is so wrong. It’s a mixtape gone horribly wrong.

Ho Ho Ho (Dirty Christmas) by Ying Yang Twins

When I first picked this lost gem of an album up, the one track that really stood out to me was this one titled Ho Ho Ho (Dirty Christmas). Judging by the parenthetical addendum as well as the fact that it was by Whisper Song stars the Ying Yang Twins, I deduced the title wasn’t referring to Santa’s favorite phrase. And man oh man. Was I wrong. First of all, the hook is to the tune of Frére Jacques, but the lyrics are now: “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas/Ho Ho Ho/Ho Ho Ho/ Santa where my presents? Santa where my presents?/I’ve been good! I’ve been good!” And while a “ho” is mentioned in the beginning, it’s mostly about wanting presents? I don’t know what to do with this.

Other key lyrics: “Kids runnin’ around/playing with all their toys/You better sit your ass down/Makin’ all that noise/Take your ass outside/And ride that bike/ But your ass better come in/When that light come on”

“Macy’s got a black santa on the sixth floor!” Black Santa Clauz

It’s Still Christmas by Celly Cel

If there’s anything I’ve learned from this album is that Santa gives presents that all these rappers want, and also it all happens in the hood. In this song, we should all keep the chorus in mind when Dec. 25th comes round this year: “If we don’t get what we want/It’s still Christmas/Let the haters hate/We gon’ celebrate

Other key lyrics: “Spoiled little kids get pissed, if they don’t get everything on they’re list/Girlfriend’s mad cuz she didn’t get a ring/Boyfriend mad cuz she joined another team.”

I Can’t Wait Til Christmas by The Force MD’s sounds like a song made specifically for JCPenney TV commercials

Silent Night by J-Kwon

For a song that’s all about peace and stillness, J-Kwon’s version begins with a non-peaceful chant of “Silent Night Silent Night Silent Night Silent Night Silent Night”

Other key lyrics: “Let my girlfriend trip she don’t get no gifts today”

A sincere version of What Child Is This? shouldn’t be on the same album as “Merry Christmas motherfuckers”, right? It’s completely tone deaf.

It’s Christmas by Trick Daddy

I… kind of like this one? It’s a catchy chorus? I’ve been listening to this album for too long. IT’S TWO CDS WORTH OF MUSIC!

Other key lyrics: “I’m dancing with a fat girl but I can’t kiss her though” what are you talking about

And we’re back to the most non-merry version of Jingle Bells I’ve every heard.

Santa Baby by Khia

The producers of this album decided the best move to end this ridiculous record was to close it with a version of Santa Baby by Khia, who you might know from her work on My Neck, My Back. I feared she would turn this song too sexual, but thank God she didn’t. That aside… it’s still not good.

ICYMI: Give Me Just One Night Changes

Did anyone else watch the ridiculousness that was Dead 7 on Friday (don’t worry, I’ll get to it tomorrow)?? Of course it’s not the first time we’ve seen boy banders try their hand at acting…

Boy Band Babes Breaking Onto The Big Screen

If you’re wondering where Harry Styles has been since One Direction began their indefinite hiatus in December, he’s been (maybe) dating Kendall Jenner, tweeting about burgers and moved to Hollywood in an attempt to start an acting career. Luckily for him and for all of us, he is kicking it off with a legit movie. Harry recently got cast in Christopher Nolan’s World War II action thriller called Dunkirk, which is about “the British military evacuation of the French city of Dunkirk in 1940.” It also stars no-names like Tom Hardy, Sir Kenneth Branagh and recent Oscar winner Mark Rylance, so, NBD. There hasn’t been much detail on what Harry’s role is, but I’m assuming it’s a soldier of some sort, and he could either be on the same level of Matt Damon in Saving Private Ryan or Jimmy Fallon in Band of Brothers. EXACTLY.

But obviously this is nothing new. Harry isn’t the first boy band hunk to break into acting. There have been many in our generation alone, so let’s revisit some of their great and no so greatest hits in film and TV.

Justin Timberlake {‘N Sync}

Arguably one of the best boy band alums to have the most success as an actor, JT has won four Emmys, been nominated for a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and in a movie that was nominated for 8 Oscars (The Love Guru haha jk). Among my personal faves are Inside Llewyn Davis and his first big TV movie in DCOM Model Behavior (<-that is the full version!), as seen above. Classic, just a classic. But we all know he excels the most in comedy, thanks to every single one of his Saturday Night Live episodes. Remember when he hosted for the first time and you were like, ‘Oh shit. He’s really funny and talented and a natural’? It was magic. Even Lorne Michaels has said he would hire JT if being a comedian was his number one priority. I wouldn’t be mad at that.

Donnie Wahlberg {New Kids on the Block}

Let’s face it, Donnie Wahlberg is a more successful actor than Justin Timberlake. He may have been doing it longer, but he’s also had steady acting jobs and won acclaim for his roles over the years. He’s been on a steady CBS drama, Blue Bloods, for the past six seasons, and also starred in Boomtown and Band of Brothers. Not to mention his movie roles in Saw II through IV, and of course, The Sixth Sense, a role which I think collectively blew every viewer’s mind after realizing the dude in the bathroom was the bad boy in NKOTB. PS: the clip above is horribly dubbed en espanol but it is still so good.

Maybe just stick to their day jobs??

Unintentionally Disturbing Boy Band Lyrics

Time for a confession: although I was of prime age during the boy band golden era of 1997 – 2002, I was terribly disinterested in them. It was all too manufactured! Find 4-5 young men between the ages of 15 and 27. Make sure they can all sing. Choreograph dances that make heavy use of folding chairs. Try to ensure that key “types” are present: the cute one, the older one, the funny one, the weird-looking one with stupid hair, the sporty one, the ginger one, the posh one. Some of those might just have been Spice Girls or Disney dwarfs. All that’s left is finding songs for them to sing…. but that’s where things really fell apart. In a rush to move up the TRL charts as quickly as possible, some songs got released with lyrics that were sort of awful. Terrifying. Disturbing as heck. Now that we’re all adults here, I think it’s time to admit that these were very, very bad.

We Got It Goin On by the Backstreet Boys

“Well I’m creepin’ up on your left

Straight up funky when I get with you

Keep it ruthless when I get wet”

Did anyone else know about this? Because I sure didn’t until right now. I think they hid this creepery in the middle of the song and figured nobody would notice. You know what actually sounds like the worst thing in the world ever? A wet gentleman creeping up on my left and then being ruthless at me.

As Long As You Love Me by the Backstreet Boys

“Every little thing that you have said and done

Feels like it’s deep within me

Doesn’t really matter if you’re on the run

It seems like we’re meant to be

I don’t care who you are (who you are)

Where you’re from (where you’re from)

What you did

As long as you love me”

This song takes codependence to new and terrifying lows. It sounds a lot like BSB is definitely singing about someone with a criminal record here. “Doesn’t really matter if you’re on the run?” “Don’t care what you’ve done?” Maybe I’m just hard-hearted, but I care A LOT whether or not you’ve committed murder, stolen from a church, or have to put one of those signs on your door telling trick-or-treaters that you’re a registered sex offender. As if that weren’t enough, BSB doesn’t care “as long as you love me.” That’s what low self-esteem will do to you, kids. You’ll go out with someone who isn’t allowed within a half mile of an elementary school, as long as they say they love you.

God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You by NSync

“The heart of a child

That’s deep inside

Leaves me purified”

Dude, no. You have to date GROWNUPS, though.

Most of NSync’s 1997 Self-Titled Debut

Individually, none of the songs are too bad. But taken as a whole:

  • Drive Myself Crazy
  • Crazy For You (“wherever I go/ Whatever I do/ I’m crazy for you”)
  • I Just Wanna Be With You, which includes the words “you’re driving me crazy,” “my love is insane/ pleasure and pain,” and then an unsettling repeat of “I just wanna be with you” and “you and me gotta stay together”
  • I Want You Back (“I’m going crazy without you”)

We’re looking at a whole lot of crazy. Right? These are… not healthy relationships. If there are a lot of 20-something ladies who think that the ultimate in romance is somebody declaring that they love you so much that they are mentally unstable, I blame this album.

Can I Touch You There by 98 Degrees
Literally this whole song. I feel like if I type out the lyrics my very hands will catch an STD, but just trust me. Still, props for getting permission instead of just creeping on my left, I guess (looking at you, Backstreet Boys).


Saturday Spotlight: (Over)Play List

  • Thing that should be embarrassing but isn’t: before a lot of hit songs were overplayed on the radio, we thought they were awesome. Then they rise to the top of the charts, twenty years pass, and we STILL cannot listen to Kiss From A Rose. Hence, this playlist of the month – the only one that neither of us can listen to all the way through.
  • How about the most overplayed songs in movies? I honestly never noticed, but All Along The Watch Tower DOES show up in a lot of soundtracks…
  • I definitely agree that all of these songs are overplayed at wedding receptions, yet I also can’t imagine weddings without some of them.
  • Grantland has discontinued their Overplayed Song Of The Week feature, but their entry about Let It Go will never not be true.
  • Most overplayed songs in music history? Ambitious, but these seem pretty close. Except I’m sure someone from the ’20s would be all “wait, the Charleston’s not on there?” and there was a hey nonny-nonny song that some medieval lady swore she could never listen to again. But recent history? Sure.
  • Even celebrities have overplayed songs that drive them bonkers. No surprise: Kate Winslet’s is My Heart Will Go On.
  • Speaking over overplayed music, I think the CIA’s torture playlist probably counts – and proves the real human hatred of overplayed music. (It’s cruel, but using the Barney song is… kind of genius?)


Playlist of the Month: Songs I Liked Before They Got Overplayed

We’ll never learn. We hear a new single on the radio, declare that it’s really amazing, and maybe even tell all of our friends about it. Within a few months the song is completely overplayed, we can’t stand to listen to it, and we’re frankly embarrassed that we liked it in the first place. But since there are no secrets on the blog, we’re confessing all today: at one time, these tunes were music to our ears. Now, years after they came out, we STILL change the station when we hear the opening chords.

Molly’s Picks

Hey There Delilah by Plain White T’s

Ten years ago this March, both of us were traipsing across Europe on our semester abroad. Meanwhile, my suitemates back home had a replacement roommate (who ended up becoming our friend, so that worked out great)! Anyway, she introduced everyone to this catchy new song that wasn’t even on the radio yet: Hey There Delilah. I even remember someone asking over IM whether I had heard it (hey there, 2006). I had not. Cut to over a year later, the single reached number one and I was very, very sick of it.

Kiss Me by Sixpence None The Richer

I was in junior high, it was featured on both Dawson’s Creek AND She’s All That, and that’s no excuse. I had a head start on this song thanks to the W.B.’s heavy music marketing, so by the time it was on the radio I was already done. I mean, just kiss someplace normal.

Daughters by John Mayer

To this day, I cannot make it all the way through this song. To this very DAY. But Heavier Things was one of the defining albums of my high school years (lest anyone think I’m at all cool), and there was a time when I’d get very excited every time I heard my favorite fake-sensitive acoustic-rock guy on the radio. That all died with Daughters, as the more (and more… and MORE) I heard it, the more insipid it became.

Sugar We’re Going Down by Fall Out Boy

Because no list of songs that sounded really good before you listened to them 100+ times would be complete without something from the Fall Out Boy/ The Killers / Panic At The Disco / Kings Of Leon neighborhood.

Ho Hey by The Lumineers

“Have you heard of The Lumineers? They only play them on the indie station now but I think they’re going to get really popular!” – This idiot, c. 2012.

Traci’s Picks

Kiss From a Rose by Seal

It was the summer of 1995. I was 9 years old, Michael Keaton was Batman, not Birdman. It was a different time back then. After featuring on the Batman Forever soundtrack, the song basically launched Seal into a global superstar when the song skyrocketed constant radio rotation. It’s a good, haunting song that is perfect for Seal, but it go to the point that I heard it so much on the radio (because in 1995 we didn’t have Spotify or SiriusXM, kids) that I would demand the station be changed from the backseat of my parents’ car. It was like hearing nails on a chalkboard for me.

Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen

I, like many others, were introduced to this song via Justin Bieber’s rather brilliant homemade music video with his then-GF Selena and her BFF Ashley Tisdale. I couldn’t resist the catchiness of the song and played it on my own personal rotation constantly. And then it became popular on the radio, people started doing covers of it, and the rest is history. In defense of Carly Rae, this may be the song she’s best known for, but she’s got other great hits too. I.E. her entire album, E MO TION, which is hands down, one of the best pop albums I’ve ever heard. Get on it.

Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye

Remember when this song blew up in 2011? And how no one knew how to pronounce his name if they saw it on paper? And how we don’t know what’s happened to Gotye since?

Torn by Natalie Imbruglia

Like Seal’s Kiss From A Rose, I had an adverse reaction to this after day number 410 of the song being played on repeat in 1997. To Americans, Natalie was a new artist who had a one-hit wonder with Torn and her memorable music video in an apartment that never changed settings. To Australians, she was and still is top actress who happened to have a hit song around the world. Fun fact: Natalie’s version is actually a cover of American alternative rock band Ednaswap, who featured Torn on their 1995 album.

Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke ft. Pharrell and T.I.

Before all the legal battles and misogyny, this was a good song. In fact, I was fan of Robin’s from his other tracks like Lost Without U and The Sweetest Love, so when he came out with this tune I was excited. Then it went downhill from there.

Playlist of the Month: Christmas Songs by Jewish Artists

Hanukkah 2015 is already in the books. That means that from this point onward, people of all religions can focus on that other December holiday: Christmas. Sure, if we’re getting technical about it Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus – but it’s also turned into a cultural celebration where we put our differences aside and eat cutout cookies, decorate trees, and jam out to the likes of Barbra Streisand and Amy Winehouse. Who better to sing Happy Birthday to one of the most famous Jewish babies in the world?

Traci’s Picks

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
Mel Torme and Judy Garland

This tune is one of the iconic Christmas songs we all know and love, but did you known it was written by two Jews? Mel Torme and Bob Wells wrote it in 1945 in the middle of summer in an effort to cool down. Truth. Bob was randomly writing down wintery things on a notepad like, “Yuletide carols” and “Jackfrost” and “folks dressed up like Eskimos” because he was so damn hot, but when Mel (who was 19 at the time) took a look at it he saw them as song lyrics. The rest is history. This version features Mel on Judy Garland’s self-titled TV show, and also includes a sly Over the Rainbow ref. This is the kind of song that just warms your heart.

Happy Xmas (War is Over)
Adam Levine & Sara Bareilles

Many people have covered John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s iconic Christmas protest song, but there’s something special about the pairing of Adam and Sara. Adam has the right range for it, while Sara can literally sing anything and I’d be on board.

This Christmas
Carole King

This Christmas is one of my favorite modern day holiday jamz. Maybe it’s because I grew up listening to Platinum Christmas and heard R&B singer Joe’s version on repeat, but I associate this with pop and R&B acts, not folky types like Carole King. But that’s what makes me love this version that much more. She gives it a lived in, Tapestry quality to it that makes you want to curl up by the fire and drink hot cocoa.

From a Distance (Christmas version)
Bette Midler

Listen up. Sometimes I enjoy turning up to the easy listening radio station. I can enjoy a good Kenny G tune or Celine Dion power ballad every once in a while. I can also appreciate Bette Midler and her classic tune From a Distance. BUT, in doing research for this post, I found out she made an alternative Christmas version that is maybe even better than the OG? Maybe. But the Queen of the Jews singing “Joy to the World” at the end is the best. The best.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Amy Winehouse

No bit zone – I really think Amy would’ve made an amazing Christmas/holiday album. Her voice is already astounding, but her spin on classic songs would’ve been such a hit.

Molly’s Picks

Baby It’s Cold Outside
Idina Menzel and Michael Buble

Yes, this song is creepy, but this version subs out some of the skeevier lyrics, making it my favorite rendition.

It was only a matter of time before Idina Menzel released a Christmas album. This particular song is really just a winter song, but there are plenty of Christmas-specific tracks on the album.

White Christmas
Barbra Streisand

How about a two-fer: when he wrote White Christmas, Irving Berlin, nee Israel Baline, made the most important Jewish contribution to the Christmas holiday since the Virgin Mary. Then Barbra Streisand covered it, and while nobody, not even Babs, is Bing Crosby, this is still pretty darn wonderful.

Must Be Santa
Bob Dylan

If you ever doubt the extent to which Bob Dylan DGAF, just watch this video.

Christmas Must Be Tonight
The Band

Two things you may not have known: The Band performs a good Christmas song, and Robbie Robertson is Jewish.

Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)
The Ramones

This is my second-favorite song about sparring on Christmas (after the fantastic Fairytale of New York) – and it proves that you don’t have to grow up celebrating Christmas to know that it’s a holiday that sparks a lot of arguments.

Hamilton Explained: The Schuyler Sisters

True to our promise, we’re becoming a Hamilton blog. Okay, maybe not full time, but you didn’t really think we’d stop at one post, did you? We’ve both been playing the cast recording nonstop, and new references and allusions rise up in the songs every time we listen. I’m sure we’ll keep discovering more, but we’re ready to start unpacking some of the many-layered references in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lyrics.

First up – our introduction to the O.G. Kardashians, the Destiny’s Child-Made-Entirely-Of-Beyonces, the It Girls Of The Eighteenth Century… the Schuyler Sisters. Lyrics are in italics, the lines that I’m elaborating on are in bold, and our comments are next to bullet points.

The Schuyler Sisters

There’s nothing rich folks love more
Than going downtown and slumming it with the poor
They pull up in their carriages and gawk at the students in the common
Just to watch ‘em talk

  • In 1773, Alexander Hamilton began studying at King’s College – now Columbia University – in New York. King’s College was “overwhelmingly loyalist” at the time. [source]
  • The Liberty Pole in the Common (City Hall Park) was a popular site for debates between the Loyalists and Patriots. [source]
  • As a student, Hamilton wrote treatises, delivered speeches, and was known to frequent the Liberty Pole in the common. [source, source]
  • From similar in flow and topic to Melle Mell’s verses in Grandmaster Flash classic The Message. [source, source]

Take Philip Schuyler, the man is loaded

  • The Schuylers were a prominent Dutch American family, and Philip’s wife was Catherine Van Rensselaer of the absurdly-wealthy-and-influential Van Rensselaers. Colonial power couple, right there. [source]
  • And his house was pretty legit:schuyler

Uh oh, but little does he know that
His daughters, Peggy, Angelica, Eliza
Sneak into the city just to watch all the guys at

  • The Schuyler sisters, raised in the pretty good mansion pictured above, stayed with their aunt and uncle for a time in Morristown, NJ. At the time, Philip was serving in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. [source] They met officers in Morrisown, a revolutionary hotspot. [source]

Work, work
Work, work
And Peggy!
Work, work
The Schuyler sisters

  • The repeated “work, work” in the chorus is a bit reminiscent of Do You Love Me by The Contours – possible coincidence. [source]



  • A Rap Genius user suggests that this might be a tribute to the roll call in Hairspray’s The Nicest Kids In Town. [source]

Daddy said to be home by sundown
Daddy doesn’t need to know
Daddy said not to go downtown
Like I said, you’re free to go

  • I haven’t tracked down evidence of the Schuyler sisters gallivanting through New York – although TBH if it was a stealth sneak-out like Angelica’s describing, I guess I wouldn’t find that anyway. But since New York City was occupied by the British during the war, Philip Schuyler probably wouldn’t have wanted his daughters there. [source]
  • But—look around, look around
    The revolution’s happening in New York
    New York
  • The repeated New York, New York sounds a bit reminiscent of the Alicia Keys chorus in Empire State Of Mind.


It’s bad enough Daddy wants to go to war

  • Gen. Philip Schuyler was chosen as a major-general by the Continental Congress in 1775, and went on to aid the colonists in their instrumental victory at the Battle of Saratoga.[source]

People shouting in the square

  • During the Revolutionary War era news and treatises were often read in public (town criers, anyone?) and public debates were common, as mentioned in the first verse. Imagine a live-action internet comments section.

It’s bad enough there’ll be violence on our shore
New ideas in the air

Look around, look around—

Angelica, remind me what we’re looking for

She’s looking for me!

Eliza, I’m looking for a mind at work (work, work)
I’m looking for a mind at work (work, work)
I’m looking for a mind at work (work, work)

  • A twitter user pointed out that “looking for a mind at work” seems to be a West Wing reference:

This was also mentioned on [Which I always thought was called Rap Genius??]

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda has confirmed West Wing as an influence in writing Hamilton. [source]

Ooh, there’s nothing like summer in the city
Someone in a rush next to someone looking pretty

  • Potential allusion: The Lovin’ Spoonful’s Summer In The City – Hot town, summer in the city / Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty

Excuse me, miss, I know it’s not funny

  • Potential allusion: Jay-Z’s Excuse Me Miss. Not convinced because the flow sounds nothing like that one, but this verse definitely sounds like … something? Right? Anyone?

But your perfume smells like your daddy’s got money
Why you slummin’ in the city in your fancy heels?
You searchin’ for an urchin who can give you ideals?

Burr, you disgust me

Ahh, so you’ve discussed me
I’m a trust fund, baby, you can trust me

  • A play on “trust fund baby” – a rich kid with family money.

I’ve been reading Common Sense by Thomas Paine

  • Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was a 1776 pamphlet that you probably read or learned about in American history. It was extraordinarily popular and was influential in drumming up popular support for the Patriots’ cause. [source]

So men say that I’m intense or I’m insane

  • One Burr biographer described Angelica as “witty, intelligent, and rambunctious,” which is a nicer way of saying it anyway? [source]

You want a revolution? I want a revelation
So listen to my declaration:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident

That all men are created equal”

  • Declaration of Independence,  1776: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal […].”
  • Its words were echoed 70 years later at the Seneca Falls Convention, in the Declaration of Sentiments (We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal). Which will be relevant in like two seconds.

And when I meet Thomas Jefferson (unh!)
I’mma compel him to include women in the sequel

  • So, there’s that: the words of the Declaration were an important part of Americans’ continued fight for independence. Maybe not an intentional reference, but still interesting.
  • As for the Thomas Jefferson part: Angelica Schuyler Church carried on extensive correspondence with Thomas Jefferson. From his letters to her, it looks like she at least tried to talk politics, to little avail. Jefferson wrote: “You see by the papers, and I suppose by your letters also, how much your native state has been agitated by the question on the new Constitution. But that need not agitate you. The tender breasts of ladies were not formed for political convulsion.” [source] Can’t win ’em all.
  • Aaron Burr, however, would have agreed with Angelica: he was really into Mary Wollstonecraft. [source]. But he was still kind of a dick, though.


Look around, look around at how
Lucky we are to be alive right now

  • This could be a reference to the ‘look around, look around, look around’ part of June Is Bustin’ Out All Over from Carousel, which I forgot was like 10 minutes long. [source] Probably not, because Carousel just doesn’t feel like an influence here. Plus “look around” is like …. kind of a common expression.
  • Okay, now we’re heading into repeat lyrics, so it’s a good time to mention that I grabbed the lyrics from, where folks collaborate on explaining and breaking down lyrics. No doubt more will be added there over time, so you may want to look back in a while. [source]
  • Official lyrics are here.
  • And finally, we can both vouch that dropping $20 on the iTunes album was two Hamiltons well-spent.

Look around, look around at how
Lucky we are to be alive right now
History is happening in Manhattan and we
Just happen to be in the greatest city in the world

In the greatest city in the world!

Cause I’ve been reading Common Sense by Thomas Paine
(look around, look around)((hey, hey, hey, hey))
So men say that I’m intense or I’m insane
(the revolution’s happening in)((hey, hey, hey, hey))
(New York) You want a revolution? ((look around, look around))
I want a revelation (In New York, woah)
So listen to my declaration ((the revolution’s happening))

We hold these truths to be self evident
(look around, look around) (hey, hey)
That all men are created equal
(at how lucky we are to be alive right now) (hey, hey)

Look around, look around
At how lucky we are to be alive right now
History is happening in Manhattan
And we just happen to be
In the greatest city in the world (in the greatest city)
In the greatest city in the world!

Work, work
Work, work
And Peggy!
Work, work
The Schuyler sisters
Work, work

We’re looking for a mind at work (work, work)
Hey (work, work)
Woah-ah! (work, work)
Hey (work, work)
In the greatest city

In the greatest city
In the world!

In the greatest city in the world!

Saturday Spotlight: Back To TV Tunes


We were celebrating Back To TV week here at Cookies and Sangria, because as days get shorter and temperatures drop – no thank you to both – we at least know that we are about to slip back into our network TV routines. It’s like going back to school, except good.

Naturally, our Playlist Of The Month was TV-related – we discussed some of our favorite TV theme songs. From FNL to MTM (that’s Mary Tyler Moore, obviously), we love how a theme song can set the tone for a show. Or, in the 60s – 90s, provide exposition for the entire plot, like that one chapter you always skipped in Baby-Sitters Club books.

  • 100 theme songs in one take, on guitar – how many can you guess?
  • Not sure we agree with all of these, but how about theme songs that are totally mismatched to the show they go with?
  • Of course, one of our favorites was the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt theme song. If you’re at all interested in the show or in theme songs in general, you have to read how they did it.
  • Speaking of behind-the-scenes looks at writing a theme song, this Jay Ferguson interview on writing themes – including the US version of The Office – is a great read.

ICYMI: Deconstructing Miley

Miley Cyrus released a free album and we listened to it.

Miley Cyrus, Her Dead Petz, and Me

On Sunday, Miley Cyrus returned to the MTV Video Music Awards doing exactly what she’s been doing for the past couple of years, which is do weird shit, wear basically nothing, and talked about smoking pot. Then she ended her gig by announcing she was pulling a Beyonce and released an entire album for free on the website: Naturally, my first instinct was to listen to it just for the sake of the blog. To borrow a catchphrase from Vine – Do It For The Blog.

If Miley’s not your cup of tea, but you’re still a little curious as to what her sound is like post post-Party in the USA, here are my thoughts upon listening to this album for the first time. God Speed. To myself, I’m saying that too, because, I mean, come on.

Screenshot 2015-09-02 18.58.16

Track 1: Dooo It!

I feel like all of these titles are stream of consciousness already. If you watched the VMAs, you saw that Miley ended the show with her own performance of a new song, and this was it. The lines repeated over and over again are: “Yeah I smoke pot, yeah I love peace, but I don’t give a fuck, I ain’t no hippie”. When I watched her sing this, I felt high, and listening to it without a visual component isn’t any different. Then the song ends with: “Why they put the dick in the pussy? Fuck you!” Why so harsh, Tai?

Track 2: Karen’t Don’t Be Sad

My friend once had a friend Karen who was kinda like that one person of the group that was almost an outsider and whenever he’d tell stories about her, we’d always joke, ‘Who’s Karen?’, despite the fact he’d mention her a lot. Also, I’d never met Karen, so I was starting to think she wasn’t real. Anyways, that’s my first thought going into this song. It starts off sounding like a ballad, and it’s like a cautionary tale of Miley telling Karen not to ‘hang out with those fools’. It almost has a tone as one of those 60s songs that Frankie Valli sang about a young love. Except Miley really doesn’t want Karen to “let them win”.

Track 3: The Floyd Song (Sunrise)

If you’ve been following Miley’s life, you know she was hit with a devastating blow a year or so ago when her beloved dog Floyd died. Miles legit had a breakdown on stage because she was so heartbroken, but she’s managed to take that sadness and put it in a song. It’s not a complete bummer of a track (despite the line, ‘Death take me with you’), more so a melancholy tribute to a dog that made her really happy when he was alive. Also, her voice sounds overproduced and autotuned, more so than usual. And Miley doesn’t even have a horrible voice – have your heard her cover of Jolene?

Track 4: Something About Space Dude

I don’t know what I expected, but I guess I didn’t expect that the album (so far) would be mid-tempo tracks. Is this what it’s like for Miley when she’s high? Feeling like she’s in space and hearing random musical notes strung together to form a song?

Track 5: Space Boots

Oh, it’s another Space track. “There’s probably a rainbow, but I don’t care because all the colors left with you.” Lost love over a human or a pet? My assumption is a pet because of the record title, however she mentions she gets bored when said person isn’t there to smoke with her. And how this person is in their Space Boots. She later confirms it’s a Space Dude – from the previous song? She really misses this Space Dude, guys.

Miley Cyrus had a bunch of hit songs in her Disney Channel days and we listened to it.

A Psychological Analysis Of Miley Cyrus’ Lyrics

As a person who minored in psychology, and majored in teen pop culture, I am, I think, marginally qualified to analyze Miley Cyrus not qualified to do anything. Now, some of you may suggest that I look to Miley’s life decisions, like her engagement and major bleach-and-chop, to figure out what’s going on in Ms. Destiny Hope’s head. But I’d rather take the words straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and look to Cyrus’s song lyrics.

See You Again:

“I’ve got a heart that will never be tamed” – Miley has a cardiac condition and does not believe that treatment is available. If she is speaking metaphorically, then she does not abide by convention and thinks that trying to do so would be futile. “Never tamed” may refer to an impulse control disorder or, at the least, attentional difficulties. Like, she may have adult ADD/ADHD. Sidebar, I tried to take an adult ADD test online, then quit paying attention midway through.

“I feel like I must have known you in another life” – Miley  belongs to a faith system that espouses reincarnation. Participation in religious activities can be a protective factor for teens, so good on you, Miles! However, schizoid disorders often manifest in the early twenties, but are not unheard of in teens. Cyrus might just be delusional.

“The last time I freaked out/ I just kept looking down/ I stuttered when you asked me what I’m thinking about” – Miley appears to be suffering from a nervous break. She may have an anxiety disorder, although her inability to make eye contact could also indicate interpersonal difficulties. Contrary to popular opinion, stuttering is not classed as a nervous disorder or necessarily associated with psychological trauma. However, the behavior may manifest more frequently in times of stress.

“Felt like I couldn’t breathe/ You asked what’s wrong with me/ My best friend Leslie said “Oh she’s just being Miley”” – Miley appears to be suffering from what is commonly called a “panic attack,” meeting at least a few of the diagnostic criteria from the DSM-IV. It is encouraging that she identifies Leslie as her “best friend,” as teens with positive social support usually have better outcomes than those without. The explanation that “she’s just being Miley” may indicate that Leslie accepts Miley’s quirks — however, she may also be trying to belittle Miley by using “relational aggression.” That is, she’s manipulating interpersonal relationships to hurt Miley’s self-esteem or social standing. See, e.g., Mean Girls.

“I got this crazy feeling deep inside/ When you called and asked to see me tomorrow night/ I’m not a mind reader but I’m reading the signs” — Miley believes that she has supernatural abilities. These delusions of grandeur may point to a narcissistic personality disorder. The fact that Miley can identify a “crazy feeling deep inside” might show that she is self aware.  In psychological terms, this may also be evidence that deep inside, she is crazy.

The take-away: Miley appears to be suffering from a panic attack, and may also have trouble controlling impulses. She may or may not be Buddhist. It’s possible that Miley has a social anxiety disorder. Leslie might be a bitch. Does anyone know if they’re still best friends?

7 Things:

“I probably shouldn’t say this/  But at times I get so scared/  When I think about the previous/ Relationship we shared”: Miley is a self-aware young lady who is expressing her fears, but there is a recurring theme of anxiety appearing. I hope the “previous relationships” isn’t that past life shit again.

“It was awesome but we lost it/  It’s not possible for me not to care”: Emotional detachment has a number of causes, from psychological trauma to borderline personality disorder. I’m going to go with BPD on this one, though. Pretty commonly diagnosed (some say over-diagnosed) in young women.

“It’s awkward and silent/ As I wait for you to say/ What I need to hear now/ Your sincere apology” Cyrus really feels awkward a lot, doesn’t she? Not to worry – again, feelings of social discomfort and low self-esteem are very typical in her social cohort! Maybe she feels awkward because she has a speech disorder, because “say” and “apology” don’t usually rhyme, but somehow she makes that happen.

The take-away: Miley is very good at expressing negative feelings, which is actually a good thing – repressing negative affect can have terrible consequences. She is really exhibiting some rebellious behavior here, though – the entire song is plagiarized from Kat’s poem at the end of 10 Things I Hate About You. Badass, Miles. Badass.

Party In The USA:

“I hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream and my cardigan/ Welcome to the land of fame, excess, whoa am I gotta fit in?” Miley is insecure about finding a social group — again, very, very common concern of middle- and upper-class female teens. She is cold, but not like, jacket-cold.

“My tummy’s turnin’ and I’m feelin’ kinda homesick /Too much pressure and I’m nervous/ That’s when the taxi man turned on the radio/ And the Jay-Z song was on” Cyrus is experiencing a psychosomatic reaction to stress. Although “homesickness” is completely normal, this may also be a sign that Miley is too young to be without a familial support system. Fortunately, she finds a positive outlet in music. Unfortunately, she seems to place a great value on monetary success: while she refers to a popular rapper by name, the man driving her around is relegated to status as “taxi man,” defined by his profession.

“So I put my hands up, they’re playin’ my song/ The butterflies fly away I’m noddin’ my head like “Yeah!” /Movin’ my hips like “Yeah!”/ Got my hands up, they’re playin’ my song / And now I’m gonna be okay / Yeah! It’s a party in the USA! / Yeah! It’s a party in the USA!” Dancing, a form of exercise, provides an endorphin release. Miley responds in the affirmative. There is a party, and that party is in the United States. So is Miley.

Get to the club in my taxi cab/ Everybody’s lookin’ at me now /Like “Who’s that chick that’s rockin’ kicks She’s gotta be from out of town”/ So hard with my girls not around me / It’s definitely not a Nashville party  / ‘Cause all I see are stilettos / I guess I never got the memo: The feeling of everyone looking at her could be early manifestation of schizophrenia or narcissistic personality disorder, as discussed above. However, it is much more likely that Miley is feeling self-conscious. Totally fine. It is “so hard when [her] girls aren’t around” because the peer group is an important social support for young adults. Plus, girlfriend wore the wrong shoes and maybe someone could have told her.

Feel like hoppin’ on a flight, on a flight / Back to my hometown tonight, town tonight  / Something stops me every time, every time / The DJ plays my song and I feel alright: Cyrus has not adjusted to her new home, and is ambivalent about staying, but has developed a positive coping mechanism (attending parties in the USA), so will stay.  In studies of resilience in adolescents, the ability to control impulses is pivotal, as are communication skills – presumably, our girl is meeting some friends at these parties, helping her to adjust. Her stutter may have returned a little there.

Hoedown Throwdown:

“We get to four, five, six / And you’re feelin’ busted /  But it’s not time to quit Practice makes you perfect/ Pop it, lock it, polka dot it /  Country fivin’, hip hop hip / Put your arms in the sky, move side to side /  Jump to the left, stick it, glide” : Miley believes that you should persevere until you’ve achieved success. Atta girl! Because a positive outlook really does increase the likelihood of positive outcomes! The rest of this, I don’t really understand.

The Climb:

I can almost see it That dream I am dreaming But there’s a voice inside my head saying “You’ll never reach it”: Low self-esteem. Again. Plus, an actual voice in her head? That is what the psychologists call “not great.”

There’s always gonna be another mountain I’m always gonna wanna make it move Always gonna be a uphill battle Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose: Although this initially sounds like pessimism, Miley is simply realistic. This is better than a grandiose expectation of success.

Keep the faith, keep your faith, whoa: Miley believes in something. Possibly Buddha.

Overall analysis:

Miley talks a LOT about being unsure or having low self-esteem. This is normal, but sometimes it’s like, come on, Miley! Don’t Taylor Swift us and talk about how you’re just some poor ol’ girl who wears sneakers. You’ve been rich and famous since you were like 13, and your dad is rich and famous, too! Because of Achy Breaky Heart, though. Yeah, go ahead with your low confidence, I guess.

For real, does anyone have receipts on the whole Miley-Leslie thing?