Belieb’ing in Repair

Our team chose to analyze Justin Bieber and how he immediately handled the communications issues that surrounded him whenever he chose to partake in poor ethical decision making. While Bieber had many poor decisions, we decided to focus on three incidents to further study those at a deeper level.

When we began our study we looked into past studies so that way we could have a framework and a brief understanding on PR studies of other celebrities. We looked at studies about Michael Phelps and other celebrities. From this we were able to tell that important and some of the most successful tactics were mortification to be able to repair a celebrity image. On top of this, we were able to see how the image of a celebrity before a crisis can affect how quickly or slowly an image can be repaired as well. Unsurprisingly, if a celebrity or brand has a great reputation and track record, one mistake can easily be fixed in comparison with a poor track record with lots of mistakes.

In our research, which is in total over 40 pages of materials not including our code sheets, we were able to analyze Justin Bieber and his team’s success or lack thereof of repairing his image after the following three scandals: urinating in a mop bucket and curing the name of President Bill Clinton, assaulting a limo driver and finally, getting arrested with a DUI charge. Each one of these events was detrimental to the reputation of Justin Bieber, whose brand image had been known for his innocent and charming young boy reputation. He was admired by young female fans, and these antics were a direct hit to his target demographic, fan base, and ultimately customers — the parents of these young female fans who hold the purse strings to which CD, concert ticket, and other items get purchased.

The research questions that we sought to answer were the following:
What image repair strategies did Justin Bieber use to respond to the negative public relations incidents that occurred during his scandals?
How effective were the image repair strategies that Justin Bieber used during these scandals?

After looking at media coverage, analyzing Bieber’s responses on social media, we were able to answer these questions. Overall, his strategies were not that impressive. He had no positive coverage that we could find surrounding these scandals or his responses to them. While the majority of the coverage was neutral, just detailing the facts, there was a good section that spoke of his scandal quite negatively, and many called him names. When Bieber did respond, he didn’t use mortification tactics and ultimately our team believes this was to his demise.

In comparison, when Bieber released his album, Purpose, he finally began using the mortification strategies and tactics, and that is when you can start to see his image repair truly begin. But while Bieber was not using these tactics, ultimately his reputation was slowly sinking and many were concerned that he would never be able to repair his worldwide brand and his career.

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Magazine & Feature Writing Portfolio

Event Story

More than a Foodie Maven

Gourmet doughnuts. Steak sliders. Turtle bread pudding. The third annual Texas Food Truck Showdown, hosted by the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, will be bringing a bit more flavor to the usual food truck scene in Waco. This year’s event will be on April 1 featuring 39 food trucks, live entertainment and more on Heritage Square in the heart of downtown.

While Wacoans might be acquainted with local favorite food truck vendors located along the Brazos River, of the 39 trucks, only eight are from the local area.

“We have trucks from all over… Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth, Abilene, Aransas Pass and throughout Central Texas,” said Amanda Haygood, Director of Sports and Special Events at the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce.

Food trucks will present their signature dishes to celebrity judges starting at 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. when they are opened to the public.

Celebrity judges include Lilian Halabai, Owner of Lily’s Cakes in Harker Heights and Food Network Cake Wars winner; Mai Lyn Ngo, a Dallas food blogger; Doug Renfro, president of Renfro Foods; Mitch Siegert, Owner of Truman Chocolates; and Erica Waksmunski, owner of Red Star Southern food truck in Austin.

“The panel of celebrity judges [ultimately determine] the grand champion prize award winner and they will also be judging them on different category options: best dessert, best between the bun — things like that,” Haygood said.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the attendees determine the winner of People’s Choice award by using their Tasty Tickets to purchase the food truck’s signature dishes. These tickets are counted, and the food truck with the most tickets wins. Tasty Tickets can be purchased at $5 a piece and will only be accepted until 8 p.m. In years past, they’ve had voting online, but there were issues with people voting outside of the event.

“It’s a little skewed and not something we want for the competition,” Haygood said.

The Food Truck Showdown is more than a foodie maven, it features everything from a beer and wine garden to live music to Twiggy the Water Skiing squirrel, making the event for everyone.

Additionally, members of the media will be there including IHeartRadio and KWTX. Creative Waco will also be present in charge of some vendors and organizing the live entertainment portion of the event.

“Creative Waco does a piece like a artist market,” Haygood said. “So she brings in different local artists, but she brings in outside as well, selling all kinds of artwork and jewelry.… We’ve got T shirts we’ve got hats we’ve got jewelry there also. The humane society will be there with the option to adopt pets.”

While all these things were there last year, Haygood said they’ve made some tweaks to hopefully make the event run more smoothly and have added a couple extra features.

“We’re adding a petting zoo this year, and that’ll give everyone the opportunity to do something different,” Haygood said.

While the event is family-friendly, Haygood assures it’s not just for families.

“Last year we saw a lot of different people from all walks of life,” Haygood said. “We saw young kids and young families. And middle-aged families. We had single parents and… some couples in a walker. So, just very diverse, different nationalities — which is really cool.”

Last year there were about 25,000 tickets sold, and the Waco Chamber expects there to be more. With alcohol being served in a designated tent area and the larger crowd size, some may be concerned of rowdiness, but Haygood thinks otherwise.

“Given the mass amount,” Haygood said. “Given the crowd, you know, you would expect there to be some issues, but there wasn’t. Everything was really calm. It was a really neat vibe.”

To get to the event, public parking is available downtown. Of course, first come, first serve.

“But part of the fun part of this is trying to change the cultural thoughts in that downtown is growing, and it’s vibrant so we wanna bring that ‘ park and walk’ you know like as you would do in other cities’ downtown settings,” Haygood said. “So we encourage you to park a couple blocks out. There’s a lot of cool things to do along the way too, you know.”

While downtown Waco has always had a bit of foot traffic with a hometown feel, it’s starting to gain a bit of a cool-factor. Perhaps with events such as this, bringing in a bit more flavor and keeping people from “just driv[ing] down I-35 and pass[ing Waco] by”.

“People don’t know what Waco is,” Haygood said. “There’s also the history of Waco not being the greatest place from events and things that have happened over the years. Waco is kind of like a little jewel of its own. I think we are getting on the map with different things as Waco is changing, the perception is changing… We are striving to change perceptions of Waco and show people that Waco is a great place to be. It’s a great place to live. I enjoy being able to be a part of that.”

To learn more about the event visit, http://thetexasfoodtruckshowdown.com/


Feature Story Article

Anson Massey’s throat is sore and his face is sunburnt. He just came in from work at 6 p.m. and picked up KFC for dinner for his family. His wife hands him a cup of tea as he takes a seat at his kitchen table for our interview. He’s been going nonstop since this morning.

Though his throat is sore, after 25 years of working in radio, Anson Massey’s voice booms in his family’s home.

Massey is from Groesbeck, Texas — a small town of about 4,000 people — and there is where his love for radio and announcing began.

“It seems like forever ago. I was 16 years old living in a small town of Groesbeck,” Massey said. “Ever since I was 5 or 6 years old I wanted to be a Sports Center anchor or a sports announcer. I wanted to call the games, and I used to practice that at home with my own TV, and I did that all the way up until I was in high school.”

Through a “lucky” connection, Massey was able to get his first gig in radio. A close friend of Massey’s family knew the owner of the KYCX radio station up in Mexia, who was looking for a high school student to come in and train and learn.

“I remember getting out of school [every day] and driving 12 miles from Groesbeck to Mexia, stopping at the Exxon at the corner to get fried chicken, and I’m on the air by 4 and then going all the way until 6:30,” Massey said.

He played country music, voiced commercials, read the news and gave the weather report.

“It was nothing special, just learning how to talk on air,” Massey said. “High school football became my forte. I was a very good scoreboard show host.”

After graduating from college in 2000, he had another “lucky, blessed” connection by knowing someone who had taken a job at the Texas Longhorn’s radio network. Despite being apprehensive of the big city, Massey ended up taking a leap.

“My idol was Craig Wade who was working for the University of Texas [who] hosted a TV show called the High School Extra,” Massey said. “[He] did the play-by-play for the 4A and 5A state championships, and I wanted that job and — guess what — he heard my resume tape and said ‘Get this guy here right now’.”

Wade and Massey ended up doing a state-wide scoreboard show,  and Massey said that’s when he feels that his sports career really took off.

As Massey pauses the interview, his sons keep making laps around the little one-story house from their bedrooms to the kitchen table where we sit.

“Now I’m a father of four boys, and to be honest with you it’s very hard to make a good bit of money in radio unless you catch the right break. So I just like doing it on a part-time basis,” Massey said.

For those interested in pursuing that “right break,” Massey said that being versatile and teachable is key.

“One of the things that made me a household name in radio was being very versatile,” Massey said. “I can do sales. I can do sports. I can DJ any genre of music. I can do weather. I can do traffic. I can go up in the helicopter or the airplane. I can operate the video camera while I’m reporting live on air.”

Aside from being a local household name, over the years Massey has met a lot of actors, actresses, singers and other celebrities, but one of his favorite stories is the time he met country music star Vince Gill, his mother’s favorite.

“Vince Gill walked through the studio,” Massey said. “I don’t get star struck very often, and I really didn’t get star struck there, but my mom was a big fan of Vince Gill [and] I shook his hand and I said ‘Hello, I’m not gonna ask for an autograph or anything — my mom is a big fan of yours, and she’d be thrilled knowing I’m getting to meet you.’”

Gill ended up offering to call Massey’s mother to say hello, and signed a CD for him to give her.

“He might not be the most famous, but that was one of my favorite moments [of meeting celebrities] because when you’re working with these people behind the scenes you lose that knowledge that they are larger than life to everybody else,” Massey said. “It just comes with the job.”

While meeting celebrities might be the most flashy part of the job, Massey’s favorite thing about radio is the anonymity. He even used to go by the alias Tony Trent.

“[In Radio] you don’t have to worry about how good or bad you look, your mechanics, how your eyebrows move, how your head moves. your smile,” Massey said. “I just like getting in the studio and cutting lose and being in the studio with all my music there or my sports, and it just gives you a chance to be more creative or more descriptive with whatever you’re doing.”


La La Land Review

La La Land is a classic boy-meets-girl story with as many twists as there are original musical numbers. In the current culture of passion for throwback-inspiration such as James Dean, Polaroid cameras, vinyls and vintage fashion, it is as much on-trend as it is classic. It’s funny and romantic and sad and happy, and will leave you not wondering “what happens next?” but “what if?”

La La Land is not Broadway and not a remake. It is a new musical, written and directed by Damien Chazelle. The boy is Sebastian and the girl is Mia, played by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. They are in their twenties trying to make it in Los Angeles. She dreams to be a big actress. He is a pianist who wants to open up a jazz club — a genre of music that is dying. Mia splits her time going to auditions that lead to no where and her coffee shop gig. Sebastian is seen playing for a local restaurant and an 80s cover band.

The opening scene included Mia flipping off then-stranger Sebastian while driving through LA traffic. They end up meeting again when Sebastian gives her the cold shoulder after a tough moment at his piano gig. Then they meet again at a Hollywood party, and things go from there.

While many movies make the whole film a song and dance out of the will-they, won’t-they, this movie skims it before dealing with deeper issues in their relationship. Chasing their dreams becomes more complicated as it begins to weigh on their relationship. One of the saddest moments is watching Sebastian pull out the burnt dessert from the oven at the end of a fight that was meant to be part of a celebration.

Sleeping with nostalgia, La La Land is every bit as much of a movie based on a love for the golden era of entertainment as it is a movie about chasing an idealistic — and unrealistic — life.

Sebastian states that “Los Angeles worships everything, but believes in nothing.” It’s a joke, and a funny one; but you can feel a bit of pain behind his words. People no longer care about jazz music, despite his unwavering passion for the genre.

The music from La La Land seems to not be as popular as other movie soundtracks of a similar genre. Perhaps the lack of big name artists on the roster prevented the success of music onto radio and streaming platforms — despite their relatively classic sound. They were good, but they are in no way household songs the way “Singing in Rain” still is. There has been an eerie vacantness when looking for YouTube covers; there was no rush to memorize every lyric to the songs. Still, when Gosling breaks into song it feels surprisingly natural in context.

But La La Land was a movie much more focused on the old-school cinematic motifs, and the musical-portions felt like only one aspect of that. The cinematography is retro, and the story is timeless. It questions if it’s better to be with the ones you love or let them follow their dreams. The characters are relatable. We are all a little bit Mia and Sebastian. We are misunderstood, seeking approval from those we love, with dreams so big they scare us. We look on the past with rose-colored glasses and a longing for the good that once was.


Q&A

From first glance at her bedroom, one wouldn’t immediately recognize that Maggie O’Brien is a double major. It’s pretty easy to see one, the English – on one wall sits a bookshelf filled with books; there’s a few journals stacked on her bedside table. But O’Brien will be graduating in May with two degrees: English and Biology, an unlikely pair.

Q: So what made you choose to be a double major?

A: I started as just a Biology major, but I realized that I came in with so many AP credits that I had room to do a minor. And so I wanted to do English because I’ve always had a real love for literature and reading and writing. So it just seemed to make a lot of sense, but then it wasn’t a big jump to switch from a minor to a major, and before I knew it I was a double major and I couldn’t let go of either one. I figured I could do both in four years and graduate on time.

Q: where did your love for English come from?

A: That’s kind of a ‘chicken or the egg’ question because I’ve always loved books and reading but probably part of it has to come from my mom. She’s an English professor at a local community college and also a freelance author. She writes novels — children’s novels, Christian romance a lot — and I think she’s helped instill a lot of the love for English in me.

Q: Why were you a Biology major?

A: Because science has always been a passion of mine as well. Coming in [to college] you kind of think that you have to be a biology major to be a successful pre-medical candidate. To a degree, some of that is true; I think my science background is really gonna help me later on in medical school. I’m really thankful that I’ve already taken some classes like anatomy and physiology, but yeah, I love science, too.

Q: What are you planning to do after you graduate?

A: After I graduate, I will be attending McGovern Medical School in the Fall. That’s in Houston, Texas in the Texas Med Center, and I’m really excited to live downtown for the first time. I grew up in the surrounding areas of Houston so it’s gonna be a fun experience to finally get to live in the heart of the city. McGovern’s a really good school as well.

Q:  Where do you see yourself in twenty years?

A: I hope to still be practicing medicine in some capacity. I would also love to think that I’ll be teaching in some capacity. I worked as a dance teacher in high school and from then on I’ve found a real love of teaching and mentoring, and so I think the medical field is a great way to be able let to incorporate that as well. I’m just looking forward to patient care. So, the patients that I will be treating in 20 years are the things I’m most looking forward to.

Q: What’s it like to be a double major in subjects that are so different?

A: I honestly don’t think I would be where I am today if I hadn’t studied both. I think that the things I’ve learned in both have really shaped who I am. From the biology [major], I think I have a real appreciation for the way life works around me that it’s so complicated and beautiful, and it makes perfect sense. [To] have a strong science background, I really feel prepared for medical school in that way. It was definitely challenging. I think the premed culture can be pretty cutthroat at times, especially in critical periods like junior year when people are preparing for the MCAT. That can be tough to feel a little bit like you’re living in the [Baylor Science Building]. So, I think my English [major] really saved me in that I was constantly going out and branching out from a strictly scientific background and [instead was] studying humanities. So instead of just studying biomedical pathways or formulas I was sitting in a group of students talking about novels and the nature of the personhood, [or] the nature of what that was like in 17th century Britain, [or what life] was like when the Americas were being founded.

Q: What have you learned that you believe will help you in your future career?

A: I think being able to think creatively and analytically in the way I do when I’m studying English is gonna help me be able to relate to my patients and understand their patient histories. My biology major will help me understand their disease processes, and I think both are really vital to being a good doctor.


Bustle Query Letter

Good morning,

It’s easy for audiences to root for the underdog. From Chance the Rapper to Ed Sheeran to Aaron Watson, many musicians over the years have pulled the “I did this despite the record label” card. Yet, these musicians end up signing to a record label, or at the very least, use their distribution services.

I want to write a 1,000 word article diving into this issue. Who were some of the early musicians to “do it without a label” and those that say they have, how much truth is there to that? Many musicians nowadays start off by independently releasing music to build a following to, in turn, get a label’s attention. So how much of this is just a simple marketing tactic to drive up the appreciation from the masses — to call out the “bad guys”? For example, artists like Ed Sheeran, G-Eazy, NF and others have spoken out against record labels and then once they hit mainstream success, or want to hit that “next level,” choose to sign.

I was part of Universal Music Group’s summer internship program in Nashville, TN, and have been reading music industry publications since I was in middle school. I am a senior journalism major at Baylor University who has been published on a few websites including worshiptogether.com (averaging 3.7 mil. page views per month), thoughtcatalog.com, myhomelifemag.com, baylorlariat.com, and several other company blogs. You can review some of my work at sarahannscales.com.

Thank you for your consideration. I have included a stamped envelope for your return.

Sincerely,

Sarah Scales

Bieber: The Comeback Kid

After being dubbed the youngest artist in history with five No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 chart, Justin Bieber suffered through a public backlash filled with unflattering tabloid headlines due to his immature and arrogant behavior.

His rebellious antics included everything from spitting on fans, getting caught with drugs, walking off stage, getting caught with a DUI, a smiling mug shot, peeing in public, mocking former President Bill Clinton and more. Over the course of these actions, Bieber went from teenage heartthrob to another teenage celebrity gone wild. But with his own dismissal of his fans, he left himself with very few that still belieb’d in him.

The road to Bieber’s upcoming album Purpose has been an apologetic one, including even a radio single appropriately titled, “Sorry.” It seemed that in every promotional interview he did, he was apologizing for his arrogant behavior.

Including apologies to fans, his family, former President Clinton and more. His apologies were believable, especially when paired with him allowing himself to be the butt of the joke on shows like SNL and the Comedy Central Roast.

No doubt, Bieber couldn’t do this on his own. Admittedly, manager Scooter Braun said that once Justin was ready to take his career back again, they worked together, along with their team, to come up with the perfect strategy.

For my next group project, myself and two other members will be working on analyzing the crisis communication strategies of Justin Bieber as he made a 180 on his public image.

Millennials and the PR Workforce

In a recently published article, “Silent & unprepared: Most millennial practitioners have not embraced role as ethical conscience”, Marlene Neill and Nancy Weaver presented their research findings about millennials in the PR workforce.

Overall, their findings found that there is an overall lack of confidence in offering ethical counsel within their role at work. The research surveyed a over 200 young professionals. There also seemed to be a wide gap in responses from those who have had a mentor verses those who had not and those who had had a course in ethics verses those who had not. Those millennials who had had a mentor who they discussed ethical issues with or those who had had a ethics course felt much more prepared to offer ethical counsel than those without.

Also, according to the research, out of those surveyed, many did not think that they would have to deal with ethical decisions in the future – despite having dealt with them in the past.

As a millennial, I found that the majority of this information made sense with few exceptions. When a young professional is new in their career they may not be willing to rock the boat or go against the status quo of their organization. They’re trying to please their bosses and not ruffle any feathers.

Also, it makes sense that the more training they received in ethics, the more likely they were to be confident in their abilities to provide counsel. I think that’s common with any topic or skill. The more practice you have, the more confident you will be to perform.

The one thing I found perplexing in the research, was the disconnect between millenials’ expectations for the future versus their past expereince dealing with ethical decisions. While most had to deal with ethical decision-making in the past, they did not expect to deal with it in the future.

My only explanation for this is that perhaps they believe that they will be in a position in the future where they are “higher up” and will therefore not be asked to partake in an unethical move. Or perhaps, in the past they perceived these things as unethical, and looking forward they may not see these situations as ethical. Whatever the case, I found it to be interesting for our generation, but perhaps it fits our over-confident and optimistic stereotypical nature.

Source: Neill, M. S., & Weaver, N. Silent & unprepared: Most millennial practitioners have not embraced role as ethical conscience. Public Relations Review (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2017.01.002

Goals and Objectives

After our initial meeting, our team had felt pretty good about what was expected and what we needed to accomplish. The goals and objectives that we set out for ourselves are as follows:

Goals

  • The goal of this campaign is to establish a stronger connection between MISD and alumni that will encourage these alumni to donate money to the Midway ISD Education Foundation. One step in making this connection stronger is through an event that will recognize distinguished service award for retired employees that are nominated by alumni.

 

Objectives

  • Motivate alumni to nominate retired staff members for the distinguished service award, and encourage their attendance to the reception recognizing these nominees.
  • Create increased alumni awareness of the Midway ISD Education Foundation that they can donate money and resources to.
  • Encourage a sense of responsibility for the alumni towards their alma mater.
  • Increase the number of nominations by at least 10 by March 1.
  • Promote a recognition banquet for the distinguished service award recipients during Midway’s homecoming weekend.
  • Increase annual donations to the Midway ISD Education Foundation by 10%.

Overall, we are excited to continue helping the Midway ISD Alumni and work towards making this event a reality.

First Meetings

In my senior PR media programming class, we were split into groups of three or four and assigned a nonprofit organization to work with for the semester. The goal of the project is to essentially help the organization by creating a PR campaign that could potentially be implemented. Our group was assigned to work with Midway ISD Alumni Association, and after our first meeting with Suzi Pagel, our contact for the semester, I was feeling relatively well about the project.

The first thing we needed to figure out, was what we needed to accomplish for the organization. So, we began by talking to Suzi Pagel about the current state of the organization and how she feels about their progress. This gave us the information we needed to complete a SWOT analysis. We also talked to her about what she hoped for us to achieve for them this semester.

The main things that we saw were that the organization wants to continue to foster relations within the alumni association. Through this, we decided it would be a good idea to implement an event over the Midway Homecoming weekend to honor distinguished alumni. This would help them reach their goals by creating a reason for the alumni to get together. We ended up trying to flesh out some of the details of what this event would require, logistically.

Overall, I felt pretty good about the meeting. It was productive, and we seemed to all be on the same page and were able to get a lot accomplished. I look forward to working with Suzi and Midway ISD for the remainder of the semester.

12 Semi-Non-Discovered Chill Songs You Should be Listening to Right Now

The best part? Each of these are on Spotify.

1. Get Some Scars by Lux Lisbon: They’re a UK band, so they’re destined for greatness.

2. What Would I Do Without You by Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors: Nashville based, Drew has that story-telling songwriting and  a voice that’s reminiscent of Lee Brice. It doesn’t follow the popular  verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus pattern but uses the older patterns from older country or even the more recent, “People Are Crazy.”

3. Great Summer by Vance Joy: This song just makes me feel like I’m walking along a west coast pier. Vance Joy is a personal favorite, but I love that this is on the Paper Towns soundtrack.

4. From Nowhere by Dan Croll: I love the whispering, echoing, fading in and out production. It keeps you guessing.

5. Santa Barbara by Nick Jonas: Okay, so Nick Jonas isn’t the most underground artist, but this song is certainly the most underrated on his new album. This song has cool maturity to it.

6. Naked As We Come by Iron & Wine: I could meticulously pick apart each lyric or let the buttery voices play as background music during a late night study session, either way it’s great.

7. Wildest Moments by Jessie Ware: I’m obsessed. Her voice is enchanting, the words are oh-so-relateable, the chorus is hypnotic.

8. Stay Away by Charli XCX: So, maybe this artist isn’t exactly known for her chill music, but this song is pretty calm for her so I included it anyway. It still has a pretty hard-hitting sound with her heavy production style, yet the topic and melody bring it down a few notches.

9. Aquaman by Walk The Moon: It’s so 80’s. It almost reminds me of “Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx for some strange reason. It’s romantic; from the vocals to the metaphors to the belting chorus’ line, “All I know is I wanna be here with you from now on.”

10. 10,000 Emerald Pools by Borns: If you haven’t hopped on the Borns bandwagon yet, please do so right now. He’s about to explode.

11. Running if You Call My Name by HAIM: Sister-trio band that clearly were heavily influenced by the Michael Jackson era, as seen on their singles “The Wire” and “Forever.” The opening vocals immediately draw you in, the detailed lyrics keep you interested, and the anthem-like chorus wins you over.

12. First Time by Kelsea Ballerini: She’s the next Taylor Swift (the country Taylor). But if you’re a country fan, you’ve probably already figured that out after hearing her song, “Love Me Like You Mean It.” For being such a sad, quieter song, it’s pretty dang catchy. If you’re a fan of the new sound that country has been leading towards, you will love her and this song.

Bleachers: Strange Desire

So, this post is a little bit late to the party. about a year late actually. Bleachers’ debut album Strange Desire was released back on July 15, 2014. In case you didn’t already know, Bleachers is actually comprised of one person – Jack Antonoff, also member of the band, Fun.

But you would be doing yourself a disservice f you consider Bleachers a mere side project.

The sound of the album is refreshing. In a pop world of EDM base drops, falsetto notes, and r&b influence, this record echoes an 80’s John Hughes soundtrack while simultaneously giving us something shiny and new.

Antonoff is known for his production. He is no singer-songwriter. Yet, the songs on this album still contain the lyrical depth and maturity that other sonic-driven pop artists seem to lack.

Top Picks:

1. Like a River Runs – “I woke up thinking you were still here…” Antonoff croons wistfully the very first line of the song. It’s that killer, bittersweet, “I miss you” song that every record needs, but not every record has. And this one; It’s impeccable.

2. Rollarcoaster – It’s that Coney-Island-ice-cream-eating, ferris-wheel-riding, summer-night-dancing song.

3. Wild Heart – The production on this is just simply too cool to pass up. It features clips of a voice mail, a repeating riff of synth, and an exploding chorus.

4. I Wanna Get Better – Universal yet personal. The leading single from the album, and deservedly so.

Honorable mentions: “You’re Still a Mystery” & “Shadow”

The 1975

So after several days of constant chatter surrounding The 1975, I find myself placing them at the top of my playlists for many different settings, once again.

I discovered the band about a year ago, but didn’t immerse myself in their music until a roommate of mine reintroduced them to me in the Fall. Truth be told, I was only familiar with a couple of their singles: “Chocolate” and “Girls.”

While both decent, I see these songs as just the prologue to an immense novel, full of many different colorful stories and emotions. Similarly, if the only Ed Sheeran song you were familiar with was, “Sing,” you would be missing out on his tender love songs such as “Thinking Out Loud” or incredible story-telling in “The A Team.”

The 1975 truly is hard to pin-down genre-wise. Each song has its own identity while many of the lyrics represent the typical themes of an indie band – drugs and sex.

They may call themselves The 1975, but many of their tracks seem to be taken from a time capsule from the 1980’s. Even lead singer Healy himself has mentioned that Michael Jackson is one of his greatest influences.

Yet, they are more than that. They are an Indie-Pop band, and if you were only familiar with their more popular singles, you may forget that.

With their diverse (and many times borrowed) sound, I find myself putting them on playlists for many different occasions. Songs heavy on ambience are great for studying. These include the romantic, “Fallingforyou,” Bonnie and Clyde reminiscent “Robbers,” and lyric-absent “12.”For working-out, I like to listen to the crunchy, metal sounds of “The City” as well as, “Sex.”

Yet, the songs that I keep replaying in my car, at my desk, or on a run are not dictated by their sonic DNA. Like many others out there, I tend to gravitate towards the captivating lyrical content, regardless of if I relate to them or not.

With their next album set to come out early 2016, many, including myself, are speculating as to what is to come. With so many avenues to choose from though, it seems the 1975 will not fall into the dreaded “sophomore slump” but will push on and create the equivalent of a John Hughes, blockbuster sequel.

Personal favorites not mentioned above: “Settle Down,” “Pressure,” “Medicine,” “You” and “Heart Out.”

Broods, the next Lorde.

There’s quite a bit of similarities between the two artists.

  1. They’re both from New Zealand
  2. They share a producer – Joel Little (responsible for “Royals”)
  3. They’re VERY similar vocally and sonically; Alternative/Pop sound filled with heavy beats.

Lorde made quite the name for herself with hit singles “Team” and “Royals,” but if there’s anyone that could fill her shoes, It’s Broods. (or Borns, but that’s another story)

Broods is comprised of a pair; a brother and sister. The sister seems to be the main vocal most of the time while the brother’s vocal presence varies. He seems to be completely absent in “Sober,” a minor backing vocal in the chorus of “Never Gonna Change,” and to a near duet in the chorus of “Evergreen.” Yet, when his voice is featured, it’s almost always used as a low, haunting, almost angry sound.

After listening to their album Evergreen a few times, I decided to share my thoughts on it:

1. Mother & Father- Very engaging from the first hit of the stomp-sounding beat and tambourine. Perfect for the start to an album. The chorus catchy as well, repeating the lines “I don’t want to wake up lonely. I don’t want to just be fine,” in an almost pleading anthem for help.

2. Everytime- This is probably the most angry song, filled with some of the best lyrics on the record.

“You’re leaving me waiting and acting like I’m so demanding.”

“Your eyes stay shut, and my screams fall faint.”

Having great lyrics is good, but the fact that the sound of this song matches the emotion makes it even better. You can practically see the artist scowling as you listen to the attitude in her voice. I can just imagine girls blasting this song after the end of the fight with their significant other. Correction, I can see people, in general, blasting this song because of the power in the song. It’s contagious.

3. Killing You – A much slower song contrasting with its predecessor painting the struggles of a long distance relationship with a high-pitched, wistful chorus, “It’s killing me and it’s killing you but I can make up for it on the weekend.”

4. Bridges – Not what I would have chosen for the first single due to it’s lack of instantly catchy hook and beat found in other songs, despite it’s sonic build via layering. It’s lyrics may be more poetic, but the average listener would probably have been more keen to listen to something else if they were only going to listen to one Broods song.

5. L.A.F. – This is the instant catchy beat I was talking about. Broods was smart to push this as a single with relatable lines like “I never want to be the one you forget.” This song definitely leans more pop for the album but still has plenty of electro-indie tendencies.

6. Never Gonna Change – Slow-building, but worth the wait. The first verse almost seems to have a pre-chorus at the end of it towards the end that makes the listener feel they have just woken into the scene of a catastrophe and the world is quiet except for the sparks of electric wires and buzzing of broken lights. This is fitting considering the content of the song describing a mess of a relationship.

“Had me feeling like you were the one. And it’s never gonna feel like it’s done.”

“And the stress comes to the surface but all the heroes are dead.”

“You’re next to me again but we’re still tugging on each other and tearing up the fraying loose ends.”

7. Sober – one of the slower, simpler tracks on the record, and one of the sadder describing post break-up thoughts.

8. Medicine – another slow song featuring a beat pulsing almost to the rhythm of a heart throughout and a haunting melody.

“When I’ve got nothing left to lose, I wonder what I’ll find”

9. Evergreen – Shaking off the chill of the last track, Evergreen begins once again with one of the most Lorde-esque sounding beats on the album. The chorus features a low, multi-layered chorus that contrasts with the words.

“Since we decided to be infinite
There’s no ending and there’s no fear”

10. Four Walls – Being a piano-based, sweet love song, filled with more traditional layered vocals, this is the most radio-friendly song on the record. With its still eccentric sounds and descriptions, it doesn’t stray too far from their sound, but rather expands it. A very wise choice for a single.

“And I’m trying hard to make you love me but I don’t wanna try too hard”

“Those three words now are the only thing that came to save me
Those three words now are home”

“Falling at the hand of a perfect man”

11. Superstar – Not quite as pop as Four Walls, the song still sounds like it could have been produced by Ryan Tedder from One Republic with the synth arrangement.

I’ve been dreaming of a future that looks like our past
And they’ll admire that we made it last

Although the band does have some eccentrics that may not appeal to a mass audience, they do carry the chops to build on the fan base that superstar Lorde pioneered within the pop realm.

Their music has lyrics that both have depth and can be instantly understood, and almost all are relationship based, something easily relatable.

Perhaps after a couple more years of being openers for other artists they can gain a greater following so that when their next album drops, their lead single could hit mainstream radio in the US.