Miscellaneous Non-Music News

Movies, Music and the Deaf Community

In the past few years, the deaf community has been given more representation on the big screen in American cinema.

Whether it was with the sci-fi movie “A Quiet Place”, 2021’s Best Picture winner “CODA,” or 2020’s nominee “Sound of Metal”: deaf stories are being highlighted on the silver screen.

The latter two films, “CODA” and “Sound of Metal” gave the audience two unique perspectives about the deaf community and how music can play a significant role.

Ever since I watched the two movies, I knew I wanted to write about them. Not only were they a huge step forward in representation in the movie industry, but the movies themselves were phenomenal. 

I didn’t necessarily want to do a movie review, but instead, just start a conversation about these films, specifically regarding how they impacted me and what I learned from them.


The title of the movie itself can be taken two different ways. CODA stands for Child of Deaf Adults as well as a music theory term that refers to the end piece of music.

This movie was interesting to me because it focused on a hearing girl, Ruby, whose mom, dad and brother are deaf. It showed aspects of her life that made her family reliant on her: such as acting as a translator for the family, helping keep their family fishing business running, and daily tasks like conveying their personal medical concerns to doctors. On the other hand, she wanted to pursue her interest in music and be involved in her school choir, and eventually go to Berklee Music school. 

It’s a simple coming-of-age story at heart.

A movie about Ruby trying to find her identity and essentially finding out what she wants to do with her life outside of her family. As she begins focusing on her passions and getting more involved with singing, she realizes that her choir rehearsals start coinciding with the duties she has for her family. It’s to the point where she really has to choose which path to prioritizing – her passion for singing or her love for her family.

What I loved about this more specifically is the charisma of all the characters. Her parents and brother were all amazing and were played by deaf actors. When “CODA” won Best Picture at the 2021 Academy Awards, it was a huge win for deaf representation. 

“CODA” is an adaptation of the French film titled “La Famille Bélier.”

It made me emotional watching it, and I recommend giving both movies a watch.  There are so many aspects of being deaf or hard of hearing that I was opened up to.

 “Sound of Metal” –

“Sound of Metal” is the story about a drummer for a heavy metal band, Ruben, who starts losing his hearing on tour and how he decides to deal with it.

The film does an amazing job of putting the audience in Ruben’s shoes by at times modifying the audio of the movie to make it sound like Ruben’s hearing ability. This stylistic choice allows us to really experience the progression of his hearing loss up close, first gradually and then all at once. 

Conversations are heard as muffled or muted as Ruben hears them, however the silences in the movie never feel empty and add to the piece as a whole.

Throughout the movie, we were able to experience Ruben’s character development firsthand. Initially, he doesn’t want to accept that he is losing his hearing at all. He plays show after show, not being able to follow along with the music of the band, till one show he can’t hear a thing. After a meeting with a doctor, he finds out he has already lost a majority of his hearing and that the only solution in his eyes is a cochlear implant. 

His journey of finding money to afford the cochlear implant is a majority of this film.

His girlfriend introduces him to a community for addicts that teaches them how to live with their deafness. It’s during this time that we really understand the importance of music no matter if you are a hearing person or hard of hearing. He eventually begins teaching the kids in this community to drum and use percussion instruments. 

What’s beautiful about this specifically is that the vibrations in the drumming and in music are how people in the deaf community can interact with music. It’s how Ruben learns to interact with music given his new condition.

The last scene of the movie is the most impactful to me.

After Ruben gets his cochlear implant, he realizes that it’s not at all what he expected. Instead of getting his hearing back, everything he hears is distorted and staticky. His girlfriend thinks he is healed now and their band can start touring again, but Ruben realizes his music career is over.

“Sound of Metal” comes to a close as we see Ruben aimlessly walking down the streets of Paris trying to adjust his implant.

Then he removes the device and we are left in silence. We experience Ruben accepting his deafness.

Although these are wins for the deaf community, in terms of representation there is always room for improvement. I really think these two films are worth a watch for their entirety. 

They are both big teaching moments as well. Moments that force people to understand that deafness is not something that needs a quick fix but it’s something to accept and take time to grasp and accommodate to.

The charisma of the casts, the acting talent, the writing, and the musical performances – it’s all impactful.

If you haven’t already be sure to check out “Sound of Metal” and “CODA.”

Miscellaneous Music News and Interviews

The Resurgence of a 1980s Classic

“Stranger Things” is one of Netflix’s biggest shows and is set during the 1980s.

This show is no stranger to dropping 80s movie references and including tons of iconic and classic songs from the 1980s to add to that effect. Not to mention, the show is about a group of teenagers that live off pop culture.

Music was as big a part of 80s culture as it is today, and due to the popularity of the show, songs from the 80s are on the charts once again. To be more specific, “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” by Kate Bush. 

The song has more significance in the show than just being a part of the soundtrack.

*Spoilers Ahead about Stranger Things Season 4*

“Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” was an influential part of saving the life of a character named Max, portrayed by actress Sadie Sink.

If you’ve seen the season, you know how important finding the right song was to save the lives of characters that were targeted by Vecna. Max had a strong connection to the song “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” by Kate Bush which led to her life being saved.

It was this concept that your comfort music can reach parts of your brain that a human’s voice isn’t able to. 

Not only was this her favorite song but the lyrics were highly significant to Max’s history, knowing her trauma. Her brother, Billy, had been possessed by a creature called the Mindflayer and was eventually killed at the end of season 3.

After Billy’s passing, Max blamed herself and had this overwhelming guilt and trauma from witnessing his death. This is reflected throughout the song as seen with the lyrics “And if only I could | I’d make a deal with God| And I’d get him to swap our places” 

Max spends day after day thinking about Billy’s death and if she could have saved him. If she could have taken his place. She’s seen wearing headphones connected to a Walkman, constantly listening to music as an escape from her reality.

The resurfacing of this song led to a lot of fans discussing what their favorite songs are and essentially what songs would “save them from Vecna.” It’s cool to see how a TV show can cause a music trend to arise.

The scientific aspect of how music activates all parts of your brain is so fascinating to me. The fact that there can be one or two songs that you have an emotional connection to can literally save your life.

I might not make it out alive if I was ever in that situation. I am too indecisive when it comes to choosing a favorite song. One day I like one song and the next I’m religiously listening to another song.

What I love about the power of the internet when it comes to popular shows is that fans do not hesitate to make edits. The song has been used in over 1.5 million edits and videos and has finally hit #1 on multiple charts after 20-ish years.

Plus, what makes that all the better is that Kate Bush wrote, sang, and produced the entire song all on her own. 

Check out “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” if you haven’t already, you won’t regret it.

Music News and Interviews

Dhruv “Blur” Song Review

Dhruv must be on whatever Harry Styles has been lately.

Dhruv’s newest single “Blur” which was released, June 22, came totally out of the left field. 

It’s more of a 70s and 80s-inspired pop track compared to Dhruv’s traditional R&B style. Not that I’m complaining.

I know I say this almost every other post, but I genuinely think this song could be the song of the summer– no– easily the song of the year.

Typically, Dhruv writes songs that hit you right in the feels and are more on the wistful unrequited love side. However, I think Dhruv has finally done it, he has made a song that makes you want to start dancing.

Right from the intro of the synthesizer, it hooks you in.

It’s always refreshing to see an artist step outside of their comfort zone and Dhruv has done just that with “Blur.” 

I had mentioned in Dhruv’s Artist Spotlight article I wrote a while back, that he grew up listening to Western Pop artists like The Beatles, so it’s really cool to see him draw inspiration from the music that inspired him to become an artist in the first place. 

He still stays true to hits roots by writing a classic love song but adds a little twist to it. It focuses on the high of crushing on someone new and almost how surreal and dream-like it begins to feel. He captures that feeling to a tee.

It’s fast-paced and the lyrics are quite intense. 

His vocals hit high notes that are so satisfying all throughout the song. Especially in the chorus when he sings “Don’t stop with your beautiful mess| Spin my world on your axis | Hold onto the madness | When does dreaming end and waking begin? | It’s all in a blur again | Soft shock, put a spring in my step | We touch and it’s static | This love’s cinematic | Where does dreaming end and waking begin? | It’s all in a blur again.”

The chorus is longer than in most songs but it’s one of the best choruses I have heard this year.

In an odd way, some parts of the song almost sound like the same melody from “Don’t You Forget About Me” but in a slighter higher pitch. That’s what really evokes that retro aspect to it.

Towards the end of the song, the last verse brings back his traditional music style in the lyrics “Sense scattered | Nothing matters | Don’t wake me up | If it shatters | Don’t wake me up | Don’t wake me up”

The background music for that verse sounds interstellar and adds a unique palate cleanser so-to-speak before hitting you with the chorus you grow accustomed to.

The more I listen to the song the more I’m getting obsessed with it.

I’m not sure how much longer I can go on without recommending a listen to this song. It might be something out of your comfort zone to listen to but I promise it won’t disappoint. 

If Dhruv can step out of his comfort zone and create a masterpiece like this, I’m sure you’ll be able to listen to a masterpiece as well.

Music News and Interviews

Wallows “Pleaser” Song Review

“Pleaser” is not a new song, nor is it underground. 

Yet, there is something so perfect about this song that has resonated with me ever since I first heard it. 

This song was one that marked Wallows’ debut and made the band who they are today. Who would have thought back in 2017 that their debut single would be such a revolutionary moment for them in the years to follow? 

The track is relatable in its entirety. About a guy who always finds himself biting his tongue and avoiding saying what’s on his mind to make sure other people are happy. Might sound familiar to those of us that are people-pleasers. 

The upbeat percussion and the head-bopping chords of the electric guitar bring the whole piece together. It’s a simple song on its own with no embellishments with the drumming, guitar, or vocals, yet the way these instruments harmonize with one another creates a satisfying tune. 

What makes this song scratch my brain is the slow intro that goes from talk-singing into full-fledged singing along with the drums and chord progression. It’s that unexpected increase in tempo that adds the cherry on top.

Not only are the instrumentals satisfying, but the lyrics are also quite impactful as well.

The lines that I love the most are from an early verse and then the chorus. The second verse of the song is where the tempo picks up and immediately gets you to start jamming along to the music. With the lines “Does it come as a surprise? | Language of averted eyes | Silence is what I do best | Still, I hear it all |  Wasting time around my head | So I talk to myself instead” 

The impact of the lines is just inexplicable. That feeling of that awkward interaction where you’d rather hold your breath and keep your opinions to yourself only to later regret it and let it rack your brain.

Out of the entire song, the one line that I always come back to is “Quite the people pleaser | If only I could please her”

Something about the lyricism of that line is truly genius to me. Being a people pleaser, albeit not knowing how to please the one person you really want to make happy.  

Another Easter egg of sorts I like is the line “I don’t want to talk to you right now”. Although the song, “I Don’t Want to Talk” from their latest album wasn’t written till 5 years after “Pleaser”, I like to think that there is some connection between that line in “Pleaser” and the title track of their sophomore album.

People-pleaser or not, this song is one that is guaranteed to tickle the brains of you all that like listening to indie rock. 

It’s a classic that captures such deep realities in a catchy melody. 

Check out the lyric video which is supposedly directed by Wallows themselves on an iPhone 7, how archaic. 

Band/Artist Profile Music News and Interviews

Her’s – A Band That Could Have Been

The UK indie-rock band, Her’s, was made up of two musicians Audun Laading and Stephen Fitzpatrick. Stephen was the lead singer and guitarist while Audun played the bass and sang background vocals. 

They debuted with their first single “Dorothy” in 2016 and eventually in 2018 they released their debut album, “Invitation to Her’s”

You may have heard their song “What Once Was”.

It’s a song that I get emotional listening to know the tragedy that hit the band. The song is about the passing of a family member with the lyrics. “My friends put on their bravest faces | Their tails between their legs, something is out of place”

The fact that these lyrics apply to the band themselves and were written by them without knowing what was coming in the future is what hurts me, as a fan, the most.  

With the releases of their singles and eventually a compilation album titled “Songs of Her’s”, the band grew a strong following and decided It was time to tour the States with their debut album. 

It was during their U.S tour that disaster struck. 

They had finished playing in Phoenix, Arizona – the third to last stop on the tour – and were on the highway driving up to California when their car got hit by a drunk driver.

The drunk truck driver was in the wrong lane and drove straight into them, causing both cars to go up in flames. Both members of Her’s along with their manager who was driving their car passed away. March 27, 2019.

Though it’s a little past the three-year anniversary of their passing, I thought it was important to highlight their work as artists and continue sharing their music with a new audience. 

While their discography is short, you can hear their passion in each song. 

The three songs I would recommend as an introduction to the band are “What Once Was”, “Speed Racer” and “Cool With You”. 

All three of these songs are dream-pop and indie rock. “Speed Racer” sounds like it’s straight out of the 50s with the rock and roll sound but still maintains that distinct indie sound. “Cool With You” is more lo-fi and has a heavier bass to it that’s perfect for daydreaming. “What Once Was” is a bittersweet bedroom-pop track that balances the syncopation of the bass with electric guitar chords and drums.

They have a total of 23 songs, so if you want to become a Her’s fan it’s not difficult to get consumed. 

If they had made it to 2022, I have no doubt they would have been one of the most popular indie bands of the decade.

You can check out Her’s discography on Spotify or YouTube.

Music News and Interviews

Hojean “Pose For Me” Song Review

We’re back with another banger by Hojean.

When it comes to Hojean’s music I never know what to expect. The beat is always fresh and comes out of the left-field while still keeping that same R&B traditional Hojean flair to it.

I have to say it, “Pose For Me” might be one of my new favorite songs of Hojean’s. It starts off with this retro 80s-funk groove and has disco-pop undertones to it combined with Hojean’s soft vocals.

The best part of the song has to be its chorus, it’s a vibe unlike any other with an infectious, almost beach-y, tune from a synth that makes you feel like you’re floating in the clouds. Levitating.

After hearing this song at least ten times while writing this post, it’s hard to tell what music component of this track I enjoy the best. Whether it’s the verses, the chorus, or the bridge each part is innovative and adds a new element to the song that catches the listener by surprise.

“Pose For Me” is a song you can enjoy without the obligation to pay attention to the song. It’s one you can simply listen to for the vibes.

For this track, Hojean keeps the lyrics simple. There’s a lot of rhyming that’s almost poetic yet it has that satisfying bounce to it. The harmonizing of the background vocals allows this song to be danceable and utterly relaxing at the same time. I can’t say it’s revolutionary, however, I’ve never heard a musician try to combine such different genres of music into one strong song as Hojean has with “Pose For Me.”

The lyrics of this song are a lot different compared to Hojean’s past singles. While he primarily writes about love, this song is very introspective. He writes about the joy of dressing up for no reason and posing in a mirror just for fun.

With the lyrics, “Runnin’ out of my mind | In and out of my head | These thoughts won’t leave and | I don’t wanna stay here | In another party with no one near so | Maybe I should go home | And dance with my reflection alone,” he writes about feeling out of place and anxious thoughts that he might never be able to change.

Seeing this side of Hojean is quite interesting and is a refreshing perspective from his past music. I love when artists show different aspects of their personalities and add depth to their work.

I personally would love to see more songs like Pose For Me from Hojean in the future. Bringing more of himself into his music and showing a new side of himself.

Just in time for the summer, Hojean might have written the best song to listen to while lazing around in the pool.

Perhaps the song of the summer, dare I say?

Check out the lyric video for “Pose For Me” on YouTube.


Best Way to Consume Music?

In the past half of the year, I have been to my fair share of concerts whether they were being streamed online or I was standing in the crowd experiencing them in real-time. Of course, during that same period, I’ve streamed more than enough hours of music from hundreds of different artists.

Listening to music is something I constantly have on in the background no matter if I’m doing homework, driving, or painting. The real question though is, what is the best way to experience music as a concept. Live in its natural form or streaming it prerecorded?

Music creates an ambiance and sets the tone for any outing or event, in restaurants or on public speakers it allows silence to be filled.

Recently, I was thinking of going to Lollapalooza and the question of if I wanted to spend the money to experience these artists live or sit in the comfort of my living room and watch their live stream on YouTube for free was racking my brain.

Starting off with live music, there is just so much that can be added to that experience besides seeing the artist performing live. Being surrounded by fans of that artist and being able to shout the lyrics along with the artists themselves can feel surreal. You notice that they sing a line differently or play a random electric guitar solo just because they feel like it. It’s something you can never have the opportunity of experiencing outside of that moment and each live performance by an artist will be unique.

There is that adrenaline that rushes through you in excitement, but it’s an experience that can only be felt in that moment. After the performance or concert is over, you’re left sitting there watching scrolling through videos and pictures trying to attain that feeling once again. Reminiscing about how you were hearing their music in real-time right in front of you and exhibiting the artists as humans.

On the other hand, streaming music is a different experience on its own. You can listen to the same song for hours on repeat and retain that freshness of it if you’re in the mood to do so. Any song is within your reach and you don’t have to go out of your way by plane or car to listen to that music.

While the upside is being able to listen to quite literally any song, you don’t get to experience the realistic quality of that instrument playing. Each time you listen would be 100% identical and you won’t hear any fumbling of chords or changes in song pitch or any variations that make music listening to an experience.

Regardless, it’s all a matter of preference and access. Go stream some music or hop in your car to hear an artist play live.

In the end, live your life and experience what you want the way you want to.

Music News and Interviews Playlists

The girl in red Phenomenon

If you’re anything like me you’ve spent hours scrolling on your phone aimlessly, especially during the pandemic. Being stuck in quarantine caused a lot of introspection and for many people, it led to self-discovery.

The ‘girl in red’ Phenomenon, like most things I encounter lately, was something I noticed arise on TikTok in the early days of the pandemic. Hundreds of comments under videos asking the video creators if they listen to girl in red.

Essentially this was a covert of asking the original posters if they were “wlw” or women-loving-women. TikTok like all social media has its own language developed by users on the app and this was just another addition to the dictionary of Gen Z slang. 

Marie Ulven, or girl in red, is a Norwegian queer indie-pop artist who more often than not writes music about falling in love with girls. Some of her most popular songs are titled “I wanna be your girlfriend”, “we fell in love in October” and “girls.” The internet took to using Girl in Red’s name to develop a way of identifying each other, and in turn, building a community. 

Like most discourse on the internet, this use of the phrase “Do you listen to girl in red?” was sort of led astray with users of TikTok flooding the comments under any video of a person who might appear sapphic, even if they had never openly discussed their sexuality. But of course, that was unavoidable with the lack of boundaries TikTok has created.

Regardless, the girl in red phenomenon isn’t really a new phenomenon as coded language has been used in the LGBTQ+ community since the 1900s and possibly even earlier. Phrases like “friend of Dorothy” or “friend Mrs. King” and even a slang language called Polari, created by gay men in the 1700s UK when being homosexual was Illegal, were used up till the 1960s.

It must have been a surreal moment for girl in red to become such an iconic figure for the Gen Z sapphic community just from writing music about her own experiences.

Music is a huge part of Gen Z culture and because music can play a role in defining your identity as well, what music you listen to might give more insight into your identity without having to be explicit about it. The artists you listen to often let other people know what type of people you surround yourself with or what kind of subcultures you take part in and that’s pretty cool if you think about it.

The real question is…do you listen to girl in red?

Well if you don’t there’s a playlist with music from Girl in Red and other queer artists in honor of Pride month.

Music News and Interviews

Wet Leg “Chaise Longue” Song Review 

I just recently discovered the band Wet Leg a week ago and the concept behind them is still a bit confusing to me. Not only their song’s names but their identity as a band and their music.

The name of their band itself is actually British slang that means a self-pitying person, though I’m not sure if that has any connection to the duo.

Wet Leg really epitomizes what an indie band is. Their song “Chaise Longue” like most of their music is indie-rock and post-punk and it’s far from mainstream. 

A chaise longue is apparently a type of lounge chair and takes a central part of this song. It was a chair given to one of the band members by her grandpa and she wrote the song while sitting on it.

While typically I write about artists I am a huge fan of,  I wanted to try something new out for a change and listen to something more outside my comfort zone. 

The song itself is honestly pretty good and I might have misjudged how odd their live performance of this song compares to their pre-recorded version. The instrumental intro of “Chaise Longue” is catchy and sounds like a typical drum and electric guitar composure found in most indie-rock songs and the instrumentals of this entire song are fairly upbeat and infectious. Instrumental-wise I can most certainly see the appeal of their style of music.

An aspect of this song that makes me feel conflicted is the verses of their music. It is a lot more of speak-singing than actual singing and the smoothness of speak-singing is more difficult to reflect in a live performance than it is in a recording. I enjoy the recording more than the live version of this song and that is something I rarely say about most music. 

The lyrics are full of innuendos and underlying jokes that are amusing at times and tie in well with the fresh melody of the song.

A few lines that I found quite unique were from the first verse “Mommy, daddy, look at me | I went to school and I got a degree | All my friends call it “the big D” | I went to school and I got the big D | I got the big D”. Of course, these lyrics are clearly not talking about a grade. The duo often uses what we call tongue-in-cheek lyrics that they write in an ironic manner and it does come off that way. 

Another set of lyrics that follow this mocking serious manner of songwriting is seen later in their song. “Is your muffin buttered? | Would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin?” I find this line amusing because it is a dialogue said by a character from the 2004 hit movie “Mean Girls”. 

Followed by the repetitive chorus of “On the chaise longue, on the chaise longue, on the chaise longue | All day long, on the chaise longue.” The repetitiveness of the chorus causes this song to inadvertently be likable and is meant to be listened to in a chill, playful way. 

A similar setup to these lyrics makes a tie in with this movie quote after the chorus sings “Is your mother worried? | Would you like us to assign someone to worry your mother?” This was my favorite line of the entire song.

Personally, I wouldn’t listen to this song or other Wet Leg songs if I was actively listening to music. I would prefer to have it on in the background if I’m doing homework or lost in thought.

Suppose it’s good to step outside of your comfort zone sometimes, I might leave this song review as a fan after all. 

If you’re interested, check out the “Chaise Longue” music video.

Miscellaneous Music Education

What makes Indie music Indie?

Before you get the wrong idea reading this blog, I want to preface that I most definitely don’t think there will be a definite answer at the end of this post. I got the idea of writing this based on the concept of indie music and just how vast and diverse it is as a phenomenon.

As indie music has become increasingly popular, I wanted to research what has attracted a large following to this type of music. What makes it stand out from traditional music genres that are easy to pinpoint such as pop, hip hop, R&B, and jazz. 

Historically, what we call indie or indie-rock music now emerged from an era in the late 1970s in the United Kingdom when post-punk, new wave, and alternative music was being released by UK record labels to go against the manufactured mainstream music at the time.

You might have heard of the band The Smiths who first came on the indie scene in the 1980s and now exemplify not only what indie music is on a musical basis, but on a cultural basis as well.

Starting off, Indie is not necessarily a genre although it has sort of developed into one just recently. Indie is short for independent and indie artists are just artists that self-produce their music and are not signed under a major label.

This ‘indie’ title starts getting harder to define once these indie artists and indie bands become famous enough to be signed under a major label. If they are signed by a label such as Capitol Records, the artists themselves are not ‘indie’ or independent anymore yet they still have that indie sound to them.

An example of a major label would be something like Universal Music Group (UMG) or Sony BMG that of course have subsidiaries of their own like Atlanta Records and Columbia Records, to which these more famous artists belong. 

What stands out in a lot of work done by indie artists is their usage of a variety of instruments in their music and most of the time indie music is instrument heavy. If you look at more of the rock and alternative side of indie music the most prevalent instruments are the electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and drums. These instruments together create this “indie sound’ that has caused a ‘genre’ around this aspect to develop. 

Of course, as I mentioned, indie is not really a genre in itself because the music could be new wave, jazz or punk, or pop too. However, a common theme I find about indie music is the strong sense of individuality you can experience in the work made by the artists. They strive to focus on a single emotion or experience instead of a full narrative.

Often when you listen to music by an indie band there is a distinct piece or component of their composition or lyrics that immediately lets you know it’s by band XYZ or by artist XYZ. Having control of their own music is what allows indie artists to put their identities into their music and take full creative control over what they produce compared to the more controlled music released by mainstream artists and record labels.

What started as a term to define independent artists has culminated not into a genre but a culture of its own. Music that actively rivals mainstream music and is best consumed in its raw form of instrumentals and chords.