John Hersey High School

1900 East Thomas Street

Arlington Heights, IL 60004

jhhs.dispatch@d214.org

© 2018 by The Dispatch. All rights reserved.

Entertainment

Making Spirits Bright: Holiday Concert Spreads Cheer
by: Angelica Vitogiannis

The choir department held its 19th annual Holiday Concert this December 14 and 15. Director Sara Michael has worked with the choirs since the end of October to put on this show. Chamber Singers, Dickens Carolers, Women’s Choral, Concert Choir, and Treble Choir will each perform several pieces to showcase their talents along with five mass numbers. “I love that we do the mass numbers and get everyone performing together. It’s an opportunity for the students to get to know everyone in the choir department and to do some different types of challenging music.” Michael said. Many of the choir students are also involved in a-cappella ensembles such as Heart and Soul, Pulse, and Commercial Break as well as the competitive show choir groups, LadiesFirst and OnStage who will also be performing .

After taking a break from their competition shows to perform in the Holiday Concert, LadiesFirst, directed by Erin Wilhelmi, will be performing Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You”, featuring freshman Malory Leno and junior Christina Calderone as the opening soloists.

Leno explained just how thrilled she is to perform. “I am really excited to be singing a solo at a concert this big! I am a little nervous but I will try my best. I love making songs my own and show what I can bring to the piece,” Leno said. Christina Calderone describes what this performance means to her.

“I am excited for this solo because it’s my first year in show choir as a junior. I think this performance makes it fun for the performers and the audience because it is catchy, fun, and almost everyone has heard around the holidays,” Calderone said.

This is Wilhelmi’s first year directing with LadiesFirst and her first Holiday Concert. “I am so excited! I have seen the Holiday Show before, but I am just excited to be a part of it in this way and to watch LadiesFirst take the stage in an exciting, supportive atmosphere, where they can just have fun,” Wilhelmi said.

OnStage, directed by Sara Michael, will be performing “Be A Santa.” OnStage President senior Megan Derbick explained just how memorable this number is to her. “This song is so much fun to perform because it’s not like anything we normally do. It’s a perfect time for all of us to let loose and have a good time with each other on stage. There are so many elements that go into it vocally, choreographically, and musically that make it such a fun number to perform. I think that the fact that we are generally having a good time makes it very enjoyable and humorous for the audience because they know we love it!” Derbick said. 

The show concludes with the traditional “O Holy Night,” sung by the entire choir. Many of the seniors are moved by it. “O Holy Night/Silent Night’ is such a beautiful piece that’s perfect to close the show. I will greatly miss performing in this concert because it’s so meaningful to perform with all of the people I am close with,” senior Stefania Nowak said. Senior Claire Babikan describes what this concert means to her.

“I think the biggest takeaway is seeing all of our hard work pay off. I will miss being on stage with my friends. We always have so much fun in between concerts. I will also miss the adrenaline rush when the curtains first open because you can feel everyone on the stage and in the crowd get so excited,” senior Claire Babikan said.

Dickens Carolers Sing Holiday Tunes Throughout the Community
by: Natalie Wozny

A guaranteed way to get into the holiday spirit is to listen to holiday music. Lots of people love listening to these tunes months before the actual holiday. There are countless songs written about this season and even more covers and variations of these songs. What’s even better than listening to the music through your headphones is listening to it live or performing it. Hersey’s Dickens Carolers bring the holiday spirit each year with a set of performances around the area.

The group consists of eighteen members: eight boys and ten girls. The group is auditioned in the spring of the previous year and meets every day because they are also Hersey’s Chamber Singers. On top of preparing around twenty carols, they are working on other pieces for a variety of other concerts and events. The students who are a part of Dickens have very busy lives, so they received the music in the summer to get ahead of the game. 

The season for the carolers started this year at the Arlington Heights tree lighting ceremony on November 29. Once December begins, the group is booked pretty much every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, sometimes multiple times a day. The locations the singers perform at vary from country clubs to car dealerships. “My favorite memory from Dickens is when we went to the Kohl Children’s Museum. The kids were so engaged in our performance and it was really special seeing their faces light up. I loved it when we would start a song they knew and they’d start dancing or even singing along. It was really sweet seeing how they reacted with some of the carols,” junior Joanna Malec said.

Lots of work goes into making the carolers look as authentic as possible, a big part of this being the costumes. They are handled with lots of care and are many students’ favorite part of being in the group. Each singer has a special outfit of their own with a unique design. Every girl has a bonnet and every boy has a top hat. “My favorite part about Dickens would probably be the costumes that we get! The costumes represent the era of Charles Dickens and wearing the costume really gets everyone performing and watching our show in the holiday spirit,” junior Ellie Muglia said. 

Dickens Carolers is a highlight in the holiday season for the singers who are a part of the group and anyone who has the chance to see them perform. They keep the tradition of caroling alive. “Dickens is special because of the music we sing. No matter who the audience is, they’re guaranteed to know most of our pieces. In some cases, the arrangement puts a spin on the original, which is always a fun way to change up a classic carol. No matter the song, the music brings people together with genuine smiles,” Malec said. 

“The holiday season is meant to be spent with loved ones, and I believe our music really brings communities and family members closer together for the season,” Muglia says. 

To watch them perform, click here!  Video by Max Garcia

How to Spend a Winter Day in Chicago
by: Natalie Wozny

The holidays are arguably the best part of the year. The month of December has a way of bringing everyone together, because there are so many traditions specific to this season. Although there are plenty of festivities that can be done at home and around the community, luckily the gorgeous city of Chicago is nearby. Chicago looks the best it does all year during the winter due to all the displays and lights. Going to the city during the holidays is an absolute must! However, planning the trip can sometimes be tricky because there are so many options. A group of Hersey Dispatch staff members made the most of a day in the city. They had a perfect and eventful winter day in Chicago that anyone can use as a model.

The day started pretty early. By taking the 9:30 a.m. train from the Arlington Heights station, we arrived downtown at around 10:30 a.m. There are multiple train stations within the Hersey area and train schedules can be found online. By showing a student ID when purchasing Metra tickets, a discounted price is offered. It is also important to dress for the weather because much of the day was spent outside. Once we arrived at Ogilvie Transportation Center, we spent a few minutes going over the plan inside the station. There is a huge food court, so when in need of a last-minute snack or some coffee, anyone is covered. 

 

Our first stop was a coffee shop about a ten-minute walk from the station. Sawada coffee doesn’t look like much from the outside, but indoors one is greeted by rows upon rows of strung lights. There is tons of seating, a fair amount of coffee options, matcha, and a few baked goods. The wait for drinks was a little bit longer than usual, but that can only be expected in a city like Chicago. Everything was fairly priced, and everyone was satisfied with their purchases. The whole place is definitely something someone cannot find around here, and worth the walk. Not only is the coffee enjoyable, but the place itself is also aesthetically pleasing. Sawada’s urban and cozy feel makes it the perfect way to start the day downtown.

Coffee in hand, we walked for about thirty minutes to Pizza Parlor Bar’s River North location. On the outside of the restaurant, a mural of two pizza angel wings reaches across the wall. Pizza is always a crowd-pleaser and is perfect for a cold day when it comes straight out of a wood-fired oven. The restaurant had many different pizza options, as well as a few non-pizza items to choose from. The inside also includes many unique graphics and photographable neon light signs. Authentic pizza was served and was around the same portion as popular local restaurant Mod Pizza. Pizza Parlor Bar has multiple locations, but the River North site was the best fit for the day. Not like anything in the suburbs, this restaurant really captured the feeling of the city. 

After we were full from lunch, we decided it was time to do a bit of shopping and walked over to the heart of Chicago. The walk to the Magnificent Mile was about twenty minutes but very amusing since Sawada and Pizza Parlor Bar were in less busy neighborhoods. The sidewalks started to get more crowded and more oddities could be seen down the streets. There were occasional street performers and tons of stores to shop at. The holiday-themed window displays were gorgeous, some more extravagant than others. There were lights strung through the trees, which added to the spirit of the city. We ended up shopping in Water Tower Place and going to Free People and Altar'd State. These two stores are very feminine, but there are plenty of other options. Shopping in the city beats shopping in the area because it makes purchases memorable.

Once the sun started to set, we headed in the direction of the Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon. This was another thirty-minute walk, but it went by quickly because it is down Michigan Avenue the majority of the time. There are two ice skating rinks near each other, a ribbon like path and a rink. We chose to skate at the ribbon. Both rinks are free but the rental for skates at the ribbon costs thirteen dollars Monday through Thursday and fifteen dollars Friday through Sunday. I would highly recommend bringing skates from home or borrowing them from a friend from home instead of renting. The line for rentals could take over an hour depending on the day, which can feel like forever, especially in the cold. Skating itself is free and anyone can immediately step onto the ice, as long as they have their own skates. Either way, once we got on the ice, it was the highlight of the day. There was Christmas music playing from speakers around the rink and we chose to skate at night so all the buildings were lit up. Even if the whole day is not spent in the city, consider coming down just to skate because it really is magical and something that only feels right in the winter. 

 

We were worn out and hungry after skating, which we wrapped up at around eight. A short ways away was Christkindlmarket, only a fifteen-minute walk. Christkindlmarket is a German holiday-themed market, to learn more about it, watch Hersey Dispatch’s Budget Bites Video. Once we arrived there, we spent a bit of time looking around the many booths and shops. There are also a few food options, where everyone found something they liked. Once we made the most of Christkindlmarket, we headed back toward Ogilvie Transportation Center Station. This was only a thirteen-minute walk and we took the 9:30 train back home. We arrived safely in Arlington Heights at around 10:30, drained from our perfect winter city day. 

December Food: Budget Bites Christkindlmarket
by: Josh Ho and Sam Sobczak

We went down to the Windy City to take a look at some holiday activities. The Christkindl Market is a Chicago classic that has tons of great food, beverages and German imports. After the market we walked to the ice skating ribbon in Maggie Daley Park. It is a great place to go skating but make to avoid the skate rental line by bringing your own skates. 

To see the episode, click here!  Video by Josh Ho

Buona Beef 
by: Josh Ho and Sam Sobczak

On Dec. 3, the Hersey and Prospect communities gathered to celebrate the grand opening of Buona Beef in Mount Prospect.  The restaurant ran a fundraiser in memory of Alyssa Lendino, a Hersey student who sadly passed away two summers ago. Buona Beef donated all profits that night to Hersey and Prospect.  To learn more about the fundraiser, click here!  Video by Josh Ho

Hit Or Miss Christmas 2019 Movies
by: Natalie Wozny and Grace Meister

Let It Snow

 

Grace:

Netflix’s Let It Snow brings us on a timeline of three stories, each story being well-balanced by rising and falling at the same time. Julie, questioning whether to go to college or to take care of her ailing mother, runs into Stuart, a pop star, and sticks by his side throughout.Meanwhile, there is Tobin who is too nervous to tell his best friend, the Duke, that he is in love with her because of his growing jealousy of college boy, JP. Dorrie and Addie are best friends who fight over each other’s relationships. All these stories start out disjointed, but then every character eventually ends up at Waffle Town.. Let It Snow is comforting through its cheesiness, wit, and warmth and is the movie to watch when looking for a cute holiday movie. 


Natalie:

I would definitely recommend Netflix’s Let It Snow when in the mood to watch a cheesy, yet heartwarming holiday tale. It does not have the most mind-blowing plotline, but I was totally okay with it. The movie follows multiple relationships and connects them in the end by having all the characters come together at a party in a local food joint, Waffle Town. Each story has a different message and a positive ending. It is a feel-good movie and does a good job of blending all the different stories together. The characters are lovable and the casting seems to be done just right. Let It Snow has a touch of corny teen movie in it, but I appreciate the fact that there were more storylines in it than just romantic ones. This movie cannot be overcriticized in over to be enjoyed. It deserves a solid eight out of ten. 

 

Last Christmas

 

Grace:
Last Christmas offers a recognizable cast and portrays a sweet story. Emilia Clarke, playing Kate, is suffering from depression and has lost her direction. She is nearing rock bottom until she encounters a mystery man, Tom, who is played by Henry Golding. She is drawn to his positive outlook and he helps Kate down her new path to self-redemption and restoration of damaged relationships. Last Christmas offers messages beyond romance — it shows us how doing service work and unplugging from our phones allows us to enjoy the world that surrounds us. Kate comes to the conclusion that to be happy is to help others. I loved the message but still felt there were dead ends, so this movie was a solid eight out of ten. 


Natalie:

When I first saw the trailer for Last Christmas, I was expecting I basic love story. I do not want this to contain any spoilers, but it was far from that. The movie was still sentimental and had a really important message, that doing things for others is what really makes you happy in the end. I have to admit I teared up during the movie and felt inspired walking out of the theatre. It just wasn’t what I expected. I did really like the meaning of the movie, but if you think about the actual story it’s very unrealistic. This is okay in some cases, but it just didn’t work for me. I think I just got so attached to the original story and thought it was going in one direction, and didn’t like the reality that was presented in the end. It just didn’t make sense and I know that that wasn’t the main point of the movie, but it still threw me off. However, the themes of the movie make up for this so it still deserves a seven of out ten. 

 

The Knight Before Christmas

 

Grace:

Christmas movies are often filled with romance, joy, and happiness, but The Knight Before Christmas lacks these qualities. The movie takes us on the journey with a medieval knight, Sir Cole, who travels to Ohio, where he meets Brooke. The plot is full of potential but the script does not impress. The film lacks detail and connection to its audience. Most romance movies are too cliche, but this film took it too far when Brooke conveniently had a spare guest house and eagerness to house this stranger. I give it a two out of ten; you can go ahead and skip this Netflix Original. 

 

Natalie:
One of main reasons I wanted to watch this movie was because it starred Vanessa Hudgens, which turned out to be one of the only reasons I could get through this movie. The plot had a little bit of potential and I saw where they were trying to go with a fairytale Christmas story, but they made everything so predictable. I couldn’t help but zone out and sit on my phone. It just seemed as if a child thought of this story. It was really sappy, and honestly a bit cringy. This was mainly because it was so unrealistic. No one would let a stranger who believes they are a knight stay at their house for free so willingly. There also weren’t enough eyebrows raised due to the fact that he disappeared in a cloud of smoke. Movies such as this one usually work because they are at least somewhat believable or good enough to make you want to believe in them. The Knight Before Christmas was neither of these. I would give this Netflix original a three out of ten and suggest you watch a different Christmas tale. 

Shane Dawson's Content Makeover
by: Alexis Santiago

Over the years, YouTube creators have changed their content in order to maintain their subscriber count and keep up with the current trends. One particular YouTuber that had a noticeable change on their channel was Shane Dawson. Shane Dawson was known for making food reactions and talking about conspiracy theories, but decided to move away from those content and started to make docuseries based on YouTube controversies like Tana Mongeau’s Tanacon issue and Jake Paul with his The Mind of Jake Paul series. In October, Shane Dawson released another docuseries based on the famous makeup entrepreneur Jeffree Star.

 

The Beautiful World of Jeffree Star is a seven-part docuseries that follows Jeffree Star to reveal how he runs his multi-million dollar company, Jeffree Star Cosmetics. In the series, Shane was given the offer to collaborate with Morphe Makeup and Jeffree Star Cosmetics to create the now infamous and fast-selling makeup collection The Conspiracy Collection. The collection consists of two eyeshadow palettes, a collection of lipsticks and lipglosses, and merch products like jackets and bags. After asking a Morphe worker at the store in Schaumburg she states that The Conspiracy Collection won't be restocked in stores until 2020. 

 

After the series released its last episode on November 22, his subscribers were able to see the aftermath of the collection being released. The collections were shown to receive positive reactions from the beauty industry and his subscribers. Shane Dawson entered the beauty industry as an underdog not knowing anything about makeup and with the help of jeffree Star they became the most anticipated collab making us wondering what’s in store for the future for Shane Dawson.

Top 10 Movies of the Decade
by: Josh Ho

Having grown up with movies their whole lives, people often forget that film has only been around for a little more than 100 years. With film being such a new medium for storytelling, artists have only begun to scratch the surface of what is possible on screen.  Each decade is defined by a small group of artists and films that radically change and redefine the artform. Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton laid the foundation for physical comedy in the ‘30s and ‘40s. Steven Spielberg’s Jaws launched the Hollywood blockbuster in the 1970s and, since then, the film industry has never been the same.  

The 2010s were no different. In an era of technological abundance, filmmaking became more accessible and the boundaries of what was possible were pushed immensely.  As the decade comes to a close, here are the top ten movies of the 2010s. These are not necessarily the ten most well-made movies or my ten personal favorites, but rather ten influential movies that I believe defined the decade and will be revisited for years to come.  


10. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

    The 2010s saw an explosion in the popularity of comic books, thanks to the popularity of 2008’s Iron Man. The film’s success resulted in 21 other superhero movies that all co-existed within a cinematic universe. This serialized form of storytelling reminiscent of TV took the film industry by storm and dominated pop culture as a whole. Comic books were no longer frowned upon or viewed as a nerdy hobby but were celebrated. Each release of a Marvel movie was viewed as a massive cultural event. Avengers: Endgame served as the culmination of a decade of storytelling and became the highest-grossing film of all time with $2.8 billion worldwide. The film’s three-hour runtime is packed with fan-service and ties up loose ends that had been built up for over a decade. The result is an extremely wild ride and an operatic conclusion to a chapter of the biggest franchise in history.  


9. Her (2013)

    Few films capture relationships as well as Spike Jonze’s sci-fi romantic drama. The film follows Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) as he falls in love with an operating system named Samantha (Scarlett Johansson). The film tells a succinct tale of love and loss, but somehow feels bigger than itself. It tackles such complex themes not only about human nature but society as a whole. It makes the audience question what love is and how to move on from pain. As humans become increasingly dependent on technology and more isolated, the movie explores what connection looks like in the 21st century and how our relationship with technology could evolve. These philosophical musings are packed into a gorgeously-shot melancholic masterpiece.  


8. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

    Disney/Pixar has been owning animation for the past three decades with hits like The Lion King, Toy Story, and Frozen. However, the only animated movie I placed on this list is actually Sony’s 2018 superhero smash hit. Into the Spider-Verse takes full advantage of all animation has to offer, with hundreds of visual and auditory meta-references to comic books, movies, and pop culture as a whole. The way the film seamlessly blends different art styles is a feast for the eyes. The film’s soundtrack and stellar voice acting combine with a wholly original plot to create an overwhelming sensory experience. I’m comfortable saying that this is one of the best animated movies ever made.  

 

7. Boyhood (2014)

    Richard Linklater has always been obsessed with time. His debut film Slacker and his big break Dazed and Confused managed to capture distinct moments in time, like little dioramas of Austin, Texas. His widely acclaimed Before Trilogy explored a singular relationship in three separate instances nine years apart. In Boyhood, it seems as if Linklater finally was able to fully express his thoughts on time in one film. The movie, which was shot over the course of 12 years, manages to capture a boy growing up in real time. The film is raw and honest, at times feeling more like a documentary than a narrative feature. The experimental structure is a testament to the power of collaboration and dedication, and results in one of the best movies on adolescence.  

 

6. The Social Network (2010)

    Perhaps no film has aged as well as David Fincher’s The Social Network. The film’s dramatic retelling of the creation of Facebook paints Mark Zuckerberg as a jerk who exploits others for personal gain. Given all the recent Facebook scandals, the movie seems more topical than ever. Aaron Sorkin’s razor-sharp script gives the talented cast plenty of room to shine. Jesse Eisenberg as Zuckerberg is assuredly one of the most iconic roles of the decade, and Justin Timberlake demonstrates a surprising amount of acting talent. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ haunting score accentuates the foreboding tone of the movie and has inspired dozens of movie soundtracks since then. The Social Network is the perfect example of what can happen when every aspect of the film is firing on all cylinders.  

 

5. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

    Few directors possess the ability to balance comedy and drama the way the Coen brothers have been doing for decades. They are undoubtedly some of the most prolific American filmmakers, with hits like Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and True Grit. However, Inside Llewyn Davis might very well be their best work. The film follows the titular character’s life as a folk singer in Greenwich Village pre-Bob Dylan. Oscar Isaac’s show-stopping performance as Llewyn essentially launched his career. His subtle acting coupled with powerful singing ability carries the entire film. The movie borrows heavily from Homer’s Odyssey, which also mirrors the circular structure of a traditional folk song. The rich metaphors and symbolism give an insightful look into the mind of an artist. In a decade where people hide behind masks and cultivate appearances, Inside Llewyn Davis shows the struggle of a man trying to live authentically.  

 

4. Baby Driver (2017)

    Car chase and heist movies are nothing new. These action blockbusters have entertained the masses for decades. However, there’s never been anything quite like Baby Driver. There’s something exhilarating about seeing Ansel Elgort flee from cops down the Atlanta freeway set to the tune of “Bellbottoms” by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.  Acclaimed director Edgar Wright’s hyper-stylized sensibilities are all over the film. Every shot and action is perfectly timed to the beat of the killer soundtrack. This film could be considered a musical given that so much of the plot is revealed through song. Baby Driver is a delight and one of the most entertaining films of the decade.  

 

3. Lady Bird (2017)

    The 2010s saw a major shift in the film industry. Typical independent dramas started becoming more and more mainstream thanks to a small film distributor named A24. No distribution company has created so many hit movies in such a short amount of time. From movies like Hereditary to the Best Picture winner Moonlight, A24 has quickly asserted itself within the cultural conversation. Out of all of the films in A24’s vast filmography, Greta Gerwig’s debut Lady Bird is the best representation of the 2010s indie-film trend. The coming of age tale is influenced heavily by Gerwig’s upbringing and feels achingly personal. While the story on its surface has been told many times before, Gerwig’s fresh personal take gives the film an enchanting energy. The cast boasts many rising stars like Saoirse Ronan, Lucas Hedges, and Timothee Chalamet. Much like The Breakfast Club in the 1980s, I believe that Lady Bird will be viewed as one of the defining films of the decade that launched the careers of its cast.  

 

2. Whiplash (2014)

   The premise of Whiplash seems innocuous enough: a young jazz drummer attempts to climb the ranks while dealing with an intense instructor. However, that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what the film really is. Whiplash is a cerebral experience; every scene builds on the frenetic tension reminiscent of jazz music itself. The movie ensures that the audience is on the edge of its seat until the crescendo of a finale that can be viewed as either a triumph or tragedy. The movie is so solidly crafted and honed in its themes, which is hard to do in a sub-2 hour movie. Miles Teller gives the performance of his career as Andrew, the talented drum prodigy. J.K. Simmons’ Fletcher will surely be one of the most iconic film villains for years to come. Whiplash is an expertly-made study of dreams and whether or not they’re worth the cost.

1. La La Land (2016)

   If Whiplash is Damien Chazelle’s tragic study of dreams mixed with hope, La La Land is the exact opposite. Chazelle’s 2016 follow-up fully embodies the romanticism of goals and aspirations. The film’s tagline reads “Here’s to the fools who dream”. The film seamlessly combines elements of classic Hollywood musicals with modern sensibilities. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s performances carry the film with absolutely dynamic chemistry, especially during the musical numbers. The original songs are filled with joy and shot with copious amounts of energy by cinematographer Linus Sandgren. Some view La La Land as a love story, and I would agree to some extent. However, the movie is a love letter to Hollywood rather than a relationship; a dazzling ode to a city full of dreamers. La La Land is proof that musicals can still be entertaining, and is perfect escapism for a decade defined by turmoil. 

Top 10 Indie Albums of the Decade
by: Amelia Zollner

As a fan of indie and alternative music, I constantly find myself pushing to discover new artists with tiny fanbases. However, once in a while, it’s refreshing to stop and take a listen to the larger indie bands and artists that have shaped the face of indie music. Over the past ten years, indie and alternative music have both grown considerably, thanks to the breakout of several large artists that are at the forefront of reshaping these genres. In honor of the decade coming to a close this month, I decided to make a list of ten indie and alternative albums that I love and feel contributed significantly to changes within the genre.

 

10 Lorde / Melodrama (2017)

   It’s hard to talk about this decade without mentioning Lorde. The New Zealand-born singer skyrocketed to fame after her single “Royals” went viral. Following the release of her debut album Pure Heroine, the singer released Melodrama in 2017, revealing an entirely different side of herself. Pure Heroine was angsty, Melodrama was fiery and passionate, seen best in pop anthems “Green Light” and “Dynamite.”

    Best song: “Green Light”

 

9 (Sandy) Alex G / House of Sugar (2019)

    Indie artist (Sandy) Alex G was one of this decade’s biggest breakthrough artists, releasing eight albums this decade, most of which received vast critical acclaim. However, his most recent album, House of Sugar, truly showcases his widespread abilities as an instrumentalist, drawing from the fairytale of “Hansel and Gretel” to produce a variety of tracks: “Near” is daringly experimental and trancelike, “Taking” takes guitar notes and plays them backwards, and the rock song “Gretel,” serving as the album’s centerpiece, ties House of Sugar together as its most powerful track.

    Best songs: “Gretel” and “In My Arms”

 

8 Car Seat Headrest / Teens of Denial (2016)

    Car Seat Headrest, the musical endeavor of Will Toledo, amassed a large number of fans from its record Teens of Denial. It’s easy to see why; the album radiates head-banging potential. Toledo’s aggressive vocals and the lo-fi instrumentals create a solid rock album that sounds amazing live. Since then, Car Seat Headrest has been a staple for lovers of indie rock, 

    Best song: “Vincent”

7 Beach House / Depression Cherry (2015)

   Beach House’s 2015 album Depression Cherry is undeniably their best. Although their style doesn’t waver much between albums, Depression Cherry boasts a hefty number of dreamy indie anthems perfect for listening to while driving late at night. Songs like “PPP” and “Space Song” are sure to pop up on any indie music lover’s playlist, showcasing the prominence of this album in the indie industry.

    Best song: “Space Song”


6 Young the Giant / Young the Giant (2011)

   Young the Giant’s eponymous album, released in 2011, pushed the band into the spotlight after the success of their single “Cough Syrup.” Since then, Young the Giant has released three albums, but none of these match the passion they put into their debut. Throughout the album, warm guitar tones perfectly play off of frontman Sameer Gadhia’s smooth vocals, creating a relaxing rock album filled with 

 

5 Snail Mail / Lush (2018)

    Released when singer Lindsey Jordan was just 18, Snail Mail’s debut album, Lush, is a stunning portrait of adolescence and growing up. Lush features warm guitar melodies, powerful drums, and, best of all, Jordan’s stunning vocals, effectively creating a great, slightly angsty, album that translates flawlessly into live shows. 

    Best song: “Heat Wave”

 

4 Bon Iver / Bon Iver (2011)

   Bon Iver’s self-titled album put them into the center of the indie industry. This forty-minute folk album inspired by cities in the Midwest features singer Justin Vernon’s unmistakable vocals mixed with his signature folk sound, a sound he’s now strayed from as he pursues more electronic projects. Bon Iver is a melancholy album perfect for listening to late at night and, despite the popularity of their recent albums, shouldn’t be ignored.

    Best song: “Holocene”

 

3 The 1975 / I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it (2016)

   Although their most recent album has been their most critically acclaimed, The 1975’s I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it cemented The 1975’s place as one of the most popular bands of the decade with this incredibly versatile album that represented a major step out of their comfort zone and a step into other genres and styles that would reappear on their next album. Although its most popular songs are pop-rock anthems like “The Sound” and “Somebody Else,” both of which received worldwide radio time, some of its best songs are “If I Believe You,” a neo-jazz song that details singer Matty Healy’s struggle with faith, “UGH!,” an upbeat song with surprisingly sad lyrics about addiction, and “She Lays Down,” a story about Healy’s mother’s battle with postpartum depression. ILIWYS reveals what their debut album failed to do, making it their best.

    Best song: “If I Believe You”

 

2 alt-J / An Awesome Wave (2012)

   Throughout alt-J’s debut album, An Awesome Wave, singer Joe Newman’s strange, nasally voice combines with lackluster, unintelligible lyrics that tell odd stories; throughout the course of the album, a girl obsessively paces, a man loses his leg in the war, and a love triangle persists. The sheer abstraction of these lyrics caused many critics to slap negative reviews onto the album and forget about it entirely, but at its heart, the instrumentals of alt-J’s An Awesome Wave, comprised of crisp drums, complex piano melodies, and upbeat acoustic guitars, effectively intertwine with Newman’s poetic lyrics, making the album one of the most well-thought-out of the decade.

Best song: “Bloodflood”

 

1. Sufjan Stevens / Carrie & Lowell (2015)

   Singer Sufjan Stevens first emerged in the 2000s, but it’s safe to say that his album Carrie & Lowell put him at the forefront of the indie-folk and indie-rock scenes. Semi-affectionately named after Stevens’ mother and stepfather, Carrie & Lowell serves as an autobiographical album, revealing detail after detail of Stevens’ childhood against backdrops of beautifully finger-picked guitars. Stevens weaves in his own existential thoughts in his whispery voice, singing lyrics like “We’re all gonna die,” which he sings on the album’s highlight, “Fourth of July.” On Carrie & Lowell, Stevens manages to create an incredibly vulnerable atmosphere without losing any of his instrumental ability, making it my favorite indie album of the decade.

    Best song: “Fourth of July”

Theater Department Adopts Matilda
by: Alexis Santiago

This year’s fall musical takes on a popular classical children's book by Ronald Dahl called Matilda. Matilda the musical tells the story of a young girl living with her crude family and going to school and having to deal with her evil principal. However, Matilda discovers she has telekinesis powers that can help her defend herself and her friends against the principal and her family. This year fall musical stars Megan Derbick, a senior, and Joanna Malec, a junior, taking on the leading role of Matilda. You can buy your tickets for $10 and watch the show on November 14-16th.

To see the video, click here.  Video by Alexis Santiago

Matilda Squared: Double Casting Provides Opportunities to Showcase More Talent
by: Natalie Wozny

This fall, not one, but two students are getting the chance to play the leading role in the school’s musical, Matilda. Junior Joanna Malec and senior Megan Derbick are each going to be starring as Matilda in the show for two performances. Several other roles in the show have been double cast, including Ms. Honey, Matilda’s teacher. Double casting gives more students the opportunity to perform in larger roles, providing new experiences to a greater amount of young actors. On the nights when they are not playing Matilda, Malec and Derbick will still be in the ensemble as one of the children in Matilda’s class named Nigel. Each of the girls is very involved in the school’s fine arts program and is bound to make her own take on Matilda special. 

Megan Derbick

Ever since second grade, senior Megan Derbick has been in love with performing. She was really introduced to music in second grade when she started piano, and eventually in 6th grade began participating in musicals. Derbick has continued to be involved with performing arts ever since. “There is something about being on a stage that’s so thrilling. It’s doing what you love with people that you love. It’s a performers job to take the audience to another world and it’s so cool to go outside of your comfort zone in doing so,” Derbick said. 

She is now a part of Chamber Singers, Dickens Carolers, and Acapella along with being one of the Onstage presidents. She has done the musicals every year and occasionally participates in the plays. In the spring, Derbick will be one of the student directors for One Acts. 

Derbick names Matilda as her favorite production at Hersey to date. Throughout her time here, however, she has been a part of many productions that have impacted her in multiple ways. “I have learned so much about myself as not only a performer, but a person as well. I’ve  been exposed to an environment that promotes nothing but greatness, love, and connection. I have come out of my shell immensely and have gained so much more confidence!” Derbick said. 

Derbick’s directors have noticed her immense growth as well. Her progress as a performer is recognized and something she should be proud of. “I think that what I’ve enjoyed with Megan the most is the progress she has made and the steps she’s been taking. I think that the process she has gone through to be able to gain confidence in herself and beat her timidity is rewarding,” director Kyle Marquette said. 

More of a planner, Derbick likes to know what she is doing beforehand so she can constantly improve herself. Although she is constantly working on her craft, Derbick has a really silly side that choral director, Sara Michael, thinks not everybody gets to see. She also brings positivity to whatever environment she is working in. Derbick not only focuses on bettering herself, but is also always willing to help those around her. On top of it all, she stays very humble. “I think she’s so talented and pushes herself in this show like I’ve never seen her push herself before,” Michael said.  

Both Marquette and Michael agree that Derbick is perfect for portraying Matilda’s innocence. “Megan has an innocence about her, and she is trusting in people. I think she’s a person who although she trusts people, believes in people, and is supportive, she’s going to fight for the little man, and she is going to stand up for what is right and what is good,” Michael said. Matilda and Derbick both possess these traits. 

Derbick can’t wait to step onto stage as Matilda. “Matilda is a role like no other I’ve ever played before, and I’m so excited to explore the character! Matilda is not only a demanding character to play vocally and choreographically, but she has to be an incredible story teller,” Derbick says. To Derbick, Matilda is a young girl who just wants her voice to be heard. She believes she will go above and beyond for justice, fairness, and honesty - something that inspires Derbick. She can’t wait to make the audience love the character as much as she has grown to love her.

Joanna Malec:

Junior Joanna Malec is the kind of student who gives her all, no matter what she is doing. She is constantly pushing herself to be the best she can be but never takes things too seriously. “She is hilarious, she’s got a sense of humor, she’s fun to be around and is very talented. She is not afraid to go into things a little bit deeper, dive into them again from an activist perspective, and to go for that deeper level of understanding of things,” said Sara Michael, Malec’s choir director. 

Malec began singing in her Polish school’s choir. From there, she did all sorts of plays and musicals. She started auditioning for the musicals offered at her school every year in fourth grade. She also got involved with show choir by joining Centerstage, a middle school group, in eighth grade. She then continued her show choir career in high school by participating in Ladies First freshman and sophomore year and Onstage junior year. Malec was also a part of Women’s Choral her sophomore year and is now a part of Chamber Singers. 

Matilda will be Malec’s fourth official show at Hersey. Malec’s favorite memory from the productions she has been a part of comes from the play Kindertransport. “In this show, I had to cry several times. When I got to see the audience’s reaction during those scenes, it was the most incredible feeling. It was amazing to see the amount of people that were moved through that story,” Malec said.

Malec has grown into the performer she is today throughout the time she has spent in high school. “Joanna, I think, always started kind of as a little bit timid, a little shy, and a little unsure of herself. I think one of the things that is happening for her is she’s becoming much more confident in herself and is willing to take risks, and that’s what helps her,” Kyle Marquette, Matilda’s director, said. 

Malec cannot wait to portray the role of Matilda on stage, who she describes as an incredibly clever and brilliant young girl. To Malec, Matilda has an immense strength behind her words that isn’t commonly found. Matilda’s qualities also can be seen in bits of Malec’s personality. Matilda maybe be a fictional character, but she is brought to life with Malec’s interpretation. “I think that Joanna has Matilda’s determination and Matilda’s sense of right and wrong and her desire to make sure that things are done in the right way. I think that sense of there is a black and a white and doing what is right is there and I think that is what is great about Joanna in terms of Matilda,” Marquette said. 

“She has a spunkiness about her, and she’s got that fighting attitude,” Michael said.

October Food: Budget Bites Evanston
by: Josh Ho and Sam Sobczak

We headed down to the historic town of Evanston, home to Northwestern University and located right on the lake. In addition to finding three great restaurants we stopped by the campus to take a closer look at a Northwestern tradition that students began back in the 1970’s. We ate at three local favorites Great Harvest Bakery, Mustards Last Stand,and Flattop Grill.

To see the episode, click here.  Video by Connor Durkin

Oscar Season Preview and the Chicago International Film Festival
by: Josh Ho

With the changing weather comes my favorite time of year: Oscar season.  Gone are the dull and meaningless summer blockbusters, replaced by awards-friendly fare that studios try to push for awards.  These next three months historically feature the best films of the year, so it is an exciting time for movie lovers. This month, we decided to head to the Chicago International Film Festival, an annual festival that gives a first look into the year’s awards contenders.  This year’s lineup features stirring dramas, satires and everything in between. Click here for a video highlighting the festival and the can’t-miss films coming to theaters near you.  

The Politician
by: Amelia Zollner

The Politician, a Netflix original series created by Glee creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan, follows Payton Hobart, a rich, overachieving high school student who has had his life perfectly plotted out since the age of seven. Played by the talented Ben Platt of Broadway fame, Payton desperately wants to become the president of the United States one day; he spends his time carefully studying past presidencies and crafting his own life based on their stories. The first step of his master plan is to become the student body president of his class during his senior year of high school, which the first season follows.

I’ve heard plenty of different interpretations of the show, but to me, it’s a commentary on how, at times, people cover up their issues to appear resilient even though doing so can just make everything worse. During the opening sequence, which is beautifully soundtracked to Sufjan Stevens’ “Chicago”, viewers watch as trinkets, books, and medals are packed inside a wooden body-shaped box that’s fitted with a suit, glazed over, and eventually is built into Hobart, a dazzling demonstration of the fact that the Hobart we see isn’t really himself, just a shell of a person he’s made himself out to be in order to succeed in his political campaigns. The opening sequence sets a precedent for much of the rest of the show, too. 

During the first episode, Hobart is interviewed by admissions officers at Harvard, his dream school and part of his master plan to become the president. The admissions officer asks him about the last time he cried and the well-spoken Hobart responds with a lie to preserve his pristine image and secure his admission into the prestigious school. Additionally, during his run for class president, Hobart hides something he has found out about his running mate, Infinity Jackson (Zoey Deutch), potentially jeopardizing her health in a subplot that overtly mirrors Hulu’s The Act. Both of these are examples of Hobart’s inability to sacrifice his political campaign for himself or others, something that later detriments his plan for his life. 

It’s important to acknowledge that the show wouldn’t be nearly as good without its diverse and talented cast. In The Politician, diverse characters don’t exist solely to add diversity to the cast, they actually play important roles in advancing the plot, a refreshing departure from many other Netflix originals. For example, the school’s principal is played by Natasha Ofili, a deaf actress, while one of Hobart’s critics is played by Ryan J. Haddad, an actor with cerebral palsy. Additionally, Theo Germaine, a transgender actor, portrays one of Hobart’s supporters alongside a variety of actors who portray openly gay characters. 

Despite its charm and diversity, at times, the show feels exhausting. Watching a bunch of rich kids take their school election far too seriously grew slightly too unrealistic every once in a while. However, although it felt exhausting at times, Netflix’s The Politician is a charming and diverse look at the high stakes of politics. A second season is already confirmed, and it’s safe to say that I’ll be watching. 

"Mario Kart Tour" Takes First Place
by: Max Garcia

The Mario Kart franchise has been around for 27 years and has entertained many kids, teens, and adults all over the world. Starting all the way back in 1992, the first game in the series was “Super Mario Kart” on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). Mario Kart is a spin-off of the “Mario” franchise and takes the characters and world and put them in the racing genre of video games.

“Mario Kart Tour” is the newest game in the franchise, but it’s not like any other game in the series. This time, the game is not on a Nintendo system like all the other games in the franchise, it’s on mobile devices. Mario Kart is no stranger to portable devices; games like “Mario Kart Super Circuit,” “Mario Kart DS,” “Mario Kart 7,” and “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” have all been on portable systems, but “Mario Kart Tour” being on mobile, anyone with an iPhone, Android, or another phone can play Mario Kart, and with a character as popular as Mario, a lot of people are going to be interested. “Mario Kart Tour” had over 90 million downloads in its first week, being the second fastest-growing mobile game behind “Call Of Duty Mobile,” which had over 100 million downloads in about a week. 

At its core, “Mario Kart Tour” is still Mario Kart and plays like a Mario Kart game, but in order to work on a mobile device, its designers had to change things up with the controls. There are two types of ways to control, manual and drift. Manual lets players glide their finger across the screen while with drift, when players swipe left or right, they perform a drift which gives them a speed boost. Items from past Mario Kart games are returning, however, “Mario Kart Tour” also welcomes a new feature. The new ability in “Mario Kart Tour” is called Frenzy. Players can get a Frenzy when they get three of the same item, this lets them become invincible and have unlimited of the item they got for a short period of time.

 Probably the biggest difference from past games is how players unlock characters and car parts. They don’t start out with a certain amount of characters and car parts but use in-game currency to fire a pipe, which is how they get characters and parts for their car. There are three ranks for characters and car parts: normal, super, and high-end. These ranks determine how common or how rare it is to get a character or kart part. This has caused an issue with some players since some popular characters are harder to get then some unpopular characters and the in-game currency can be hard to obtain without spending money. 

This, however, hasn’t stopped the game from making money. While the game is free, “Mario Kart Tour” has made $12 million since it was released. “Mario Kart Tour” is a huge success and is not going anywhere for awhile. With its huge player base and with how much money it’s making, Nintendo is going to be pushing this game a lot. The game handles well for a mobile game and it can be played by almost anyone while bringing in new fans and old fans alike.

September Food: Budget Bites Arlington Heights
by: Josh Ho and Sam Sobczak

This year the foods crew will be taking on a new challenge. They will be traveling from location to location each month, trying to find breakfast, lunch, and dinner in that location for under $30. This special segment will be called Budget Bites. This month's episode stayed in Arlington Heights and stopped by Dunton House, Big Ange's, and Johnnie's Beef. They even had the chance to hit up the downtown Arlington Height's farmers market.

To see the first episode, click here.  Video by Josh Ho

Minecraft's Revival Brings Nostalgia to Old Players
by: Amelia Zollner

When I was younger, there was no better feeling than playing Minecraft on a humid summer night long after everybody else had gone to sleep, letting the sound of cicadas drift in through my open window and listening to Minecraft’s soundtrack composer C418’s dreamy soundscapes. I’ve always fondly looked back on this nostalgic feeling, and the vast majority of my friends were once like this too — ten or twelve, completely carefree, and sucked into the cube-composed world of Minecraft on a nightly basis. 

For those who somehow haven’t heard of it, Minecraft is a sandbox video game released by Mojang. It gained popularity due to its endless possibilities — users can either play in creative mode, in which they can build with endless resources, or survival, in which they have to survive through the world’s challenges. Minecraft has something to offer for everybody, including people like me, who, at the time of its release, had never really played video games, and that’s likely the reason that it became so popular in the first place.

Unfortunately, as with all good things, Minecraft began to fade from the public eye as its fanbase became younger. However, perfectly timed with its 10th anniversary, Minecraft has made a comeback over the past few months. 

At first, most peoples’ return to Minecraft was ironic. Last spring, plenty of accounts on social media began capitalizing on everybody’s shared nostalgia for Minecraft by sharing memes related to the game. As these memes were circulated, it almost became a joke to play Minecraft again, with many people solely redownloading the game for the humor it provided. However, many of the people who returned last spring noticed that the game’s developers had added new features worth checking out, leading them to start playing again. Arguably, as Minecraft began its revival, it gained more popularity than it initially ever had.

Minecraft’s revival brings people together. It’s such a universal game that nearly everybody has played it. A few months ago, I played it with the kids that I babysit. I have friends halfway across the world that play it. It’s such a cultural phenomenon that any mention of the game will be understood by nearly anybody.

But the best part of Minecraft’s revival is that it’s extremely nostalgic and strangely comforting. At a time when politicians are blaming gun violence on video games, the wholesome activities in Minecraft — whether it be playing minigames with friends, taming wolves, or just simply farming alone — are adding peace and solace into players’ lives, reminding them of a time when they were younger. Especially with C418’s lonely, tranquil soundtrack that’s stayed consistent throughout the game’s 10 years, Minecraft has a certain feeling to it that will never get old. 

Just a few months ago, Minecraft became the best-selling video game of all time, and although the excitement that came with its initial comeback has slightly simmered, Minecraft isn’t going anywhere for a long time. 

Getting Tik-Tok Famous: Hit or Miss?
by: Jenny An

The takeover of TikTok brings attention to a desire that most humans possess: fame. TikTok is a social media app that allows individuals to share this desire by recording quick videos that are uploaded in seconds. 

The concept of the app might spark a memory of the now-discontinued app Vine. The layout of the two apps are quite similar, but after Vine was shut down, several apps, most notably TikTok, have tried to obtain the same amount of attention. 

Creators of these TikToks have free reign on the topics that they want to film and the format in which they want to film. Once uploading these videos, the app does the rest of the work for its users. It sends the video out to users’ feeds under a “For You” section, giving the audience an opportunity to view and like videos. If enough people view and like the content, the maker goes viral. Although it all sounds easy, there is another catch: users have to get people to actually like and share the video, which is what most creators struggle to do. 

The expectations of becoming TikTok famous are generally the same between viewers and makers. The maker is supposed to spend time trying to convey an idea that would be amusing to the audience, carefully film the video, edit, and finally, post it. The next step is waiting to see if the video picks up any traction amongst the viewers.

Sophomore Cassidy Teuscher is one of the many who have had the experience of going viral on TikTok. She is known as a one-hit-wonder due to a video of her friend falling down a laundry chute reaching a whopping 11 million views. 

The process of becoming TikTok famous is purely a game of chance. Although it is not the same for everyone, the videos that become famous are not carefully executed. According to people who have gone viral on the app, their videos were shot quickly without much thought.

Teuscher went viral by posting content that she truly wanted to make, refraining from the struggle of planning videos. “I definitely did not think the TikTok would go as viral as it did. I want them to not think of me as famous. I post random videos that I don’t care about,” she said. 

Hope Fenwick, another TikTok creator, has also had some good fortune on the app and was able to create a large, consistent fan base of 178.6K followers and has received 4.9M likes in total, mostly due to her viral TikTok about the struggles of being tall.

Even though she has been trying to maintain her fame and views, she still has fun filming and does not place great stress on it. She posts the content she wants to, even if some might not do as well. Fenwick stated, “You have to put a lot on there, some hit, some don’t.” 

Another well-known maker, alumni Scott Waters, has gone viral with a TikTok of attractive girl names. He, along with Teuscher and Fenwick, stressed the fact that getting famous on the app is not something to place a large amount of stress and time on. “It is definitely so easy for anyone to get TikTok famous,” Waters said.

Although everyone thinks it takes time and effort to become famous on TikTok, the reality is to just have fun on the app and not constantly worry about what would go viral. The app is a way of bringing people of all ages together and letting them relate to all kinds of content. TikTok is supposed to be relief from stressful factors in life, not the cause.

For more on Hope's's story, click here.  Video by Angelica Vitogiannis

Tuning In To Taylor Swift
by: Angelica Vitogiannis

Taylor Swift was once a young country music star, but now has turned into a pop culture queen. Swift’s newest album Lover, released,Aug. 23, has become the top-selling album in the US. Within its first week of being released, Lover sold over 2 million copies, nearly doubling the amount of her previous album, Reputation. 

 

Leading to the release date, Swift released four singles from Lover. These songs include: “Me!”, “You Need To Calm Down”, “Lover”, and “The Archer”. “The songs showed all different sides to the album,” sophomore Nicole Vitogiannis said. “It wasn’t just one sound of music; it was a little glimpse into what the whole album would be.” 

 

The album originated when Swift read her diaries from her childhood. She recognized that memories were important and the relationships we hold with each other is everything. Swift conveyed these meanings with styles from her earlier albums as well as new techniques to make every song unique. 

“I think some of the songs are similar to her Fearless album,” freshman Haley Livesay states, whereas senior Stefania Nowak compared it to a more recent album. “I feel this album is most familiar to 1989 since it was hardcore pop,” Nowak said. 

One of the more popular songs “Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince” references highschool and how popularity seems like it is everything.”  The song mentions homecoming queens, football games, and cheerleaders, similar themes she refers to on Fearless with “You Belong With Me”.

Although “You Belong With Me” is more of a country song“ Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince” is more pop. Every song in the album has some personal meaning to it, such as “You’ll Get Better Soon”, which Swift wrote about with childhood experiences about her mom fighting cancer. Sophomore, Nicole Vitogiannis says “ As usual, the music is very much about the lyrics. I like how the lyrics are a glimpse into her life.” 

 

Swift released four deluxe packages,with the original Lover album, that are all different, which include her own personal diaries, posters, and blank journals for everyone to write down their thoughts. Whether it be in song or just words on paper, everyone has something to say. Swift believes emotions and being able to share these stories is key to understanding one another and that’s just what Lover does.

Rock n Rags Inspires Teen Style
by: Grace Meister and Natalie Wozny

In recent years, companies and stores have turned to social media to promote their products and brands. Users are constantly tagging brands, and brands are tagging users. Brands spread the word about their products by having influencers, or everyday people, share photos including the products. Local store in Highland Park, Rock n Rags, has used this strategy to gain popularity around the area. Multiple students have been featured on the store’s Instagram. 

Junior Sofia Chilovich posted a photo in a skirt from the store at Lollapalooza. Rock n Rags direct messaged Chilovich if they could repost her photo on their own account. “I took a picture and tagged them because they asked me to. I got on their Instagram by simply taking a photo, they did contact me beforehand if they could post it, which I liked,” Chilovich said. 

Kira Kessler, the daughter of the store owner, mainly runs the store Instagram, but all of the staff are logged in and post updates every day. Girls like Chilovich get onto the store’s Instagram by posting pictures and tagging the store or by taking pictures of outfits while actually in the store. Store manager Dana Turk, a senior at Stevenson, helps run the store’s social media and often selects who they feature on the account. “Some girls ask and then otherwise we just randomly ask people. If we see an outfit we really like on them then we will ask them, or if we just get good vibes from them then we ask them to model,” Turk said. 

The store has been open for 6 years now and was founded when owner, Steve Kessler was sick of purchasing overpriced clothing items for his daughter when she was in high school. “He wanted clothes that were affordable and cute so, he opened up his own clothing store with everything in it below about $100,” Turk told us. The store receives new shipments every 2 to 3 days from smaller designers based in California, New York, and even France. 

Rock n Rags wants girls like Chilovich to feel comfortable and confident in their clothing. They sell all kinds of items, from casual tank tops to homecoming dresses. Turk takes pride in the individuality of the store, believing that Rock n Rags stands out amongst surrounding stores. “We try to have trendy, kind of edgier clothes in order for girls to express themselves and feel good when they are leaving the store,” Turk said.

    

The store is known for its welcoming environment and one of a kind set up. It does not have a generic feel and aims for girls to have a unique experience each time they are in the store. Chilovich had only positive things to say about her time spent in the store. She mentioned that the store is organized and color coded, as well as the staff being friendly and helpful. “The workers were on top of everything because many people were in line to try on items, so all the dressing rooms were taken up. They continued to work through all the problems and allowed everyone to have their turn,” Chilovich said. 

    

You can find out more about the store through its social media. When looking for fashionable clothing that makes you stand out, Rock n Rags is the place to go. 

Summer is...Concert Season
by: Amelia Zollner

This summer, a plethora of artists will be making their way to Chicago as part of their summer tours. Plenty of students already have their tickets and are already anticipating shows over the summer. In honor of summer being a few short weeks away, we spoke to a few students about the summer shows they’re looking forward to.

The wait is finally over! On June 27 and 28, Shawn Mendes: The Tour will be coming to Rosemont. Both nights, the concert will begin at 7:30pm, at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont. Not only is Mendes performing, but on June 28, Alessia Cara will be the opening guest. Ticket prices range from $69 - $400+. In total, this will be Mendes’s third tour and expectations have definitely risen over the past five years since his first concert. Junior Laura Zak is one of the many attending and even though she has not attended in the past, she is still looking forward to the concert. “I’m looking forward to seeing Shawn Mendes specifically because his personality differs from other musicians and I think it’s cool the kind of music he makes at such a young age,” Zak said. “I’ve been listening to his music with my friends for years so it’s awesome to finally get to hear it live.”

Located just an hour away in Milwaukee, Summerfest is a great summer concert option for students looking to save money on festival tickets. Single day tickets are around $20 and grant ticketholders the ability to see a wide variety of up-and-coming bands, while paying extra money to get into larger stages to see headliners sets attendees back around an extra $50. This can be pricey, but if you’re set on seeing one of the headliners, which include Billie Eilish, The Killers, Bon Iver, Lord Huron, and plenty of others to fill the festival’s two-week span, the extra money is definitely worth it. If you’re not determined to see any of those artists, though, the general admission single-day ticket is still a great way to see plenty of bands. 

Rising artist-turned pop star Billie Eilish will be making a stop at the Aragon on June 9. Eilish, whose popularity exploded after her single “ocean eyes”, was playing bar-sized venues and tiny stages at low-profile festivals just a few years ago. The fact that her popularity instantaneously gained her a spot at the Aragon is definitely impressive, especially since she’s only 17. The concert will feature opener Denzel Curry and tickets are priced at around $55. Since it’s only one of Eilish’s first tours, many fans are ecstatic to see her for the first time.

In support of his sophomore album Free Spirit, the breakout pop artist Khalid will be stopping at the United Center on July 25. Over the past few years, the artist has garnered praise due to his relaxing music that’s perfect to listen to over the summer, and his concert at the United Center with rising artist Clairo will surely be a perfect way to escape the summer sun. Tickets range from $50 to a few hundred dollars. “I’m really excited to go to the show because I think it’ll be an experience with really chill and positive energy and I’ll get to see one of my favorite artists with some of my best friends,” sophomore Samantha Corley said.

West Side Story
by: Angelica Vitiogiannis

Throughout the first week in May, West Side Story had been performing at the Lyric Opera in Chicago. Hersey fine arts students were fortunate enough to experience this thrilling Broadway performance. On May 8th, choir, band, orchestra, and acting students got to spend the day watching, learning, and celebrating the end of the school year. 

As member of Hersey’s Chamber Choir, Junior Jacklyn Kragt attended this year’s performance of West Side Story. “This field trip came about in choir. Every year we go to a different musical and this year it was West Side Story.” Kragt was absolutely amazed with the Broadway performance and hopes to encourage others to go see West Side Story as well. “I wasn’t expecting how complicated the dancing would be. My expectations definitely changed for the better. The most exciting this for me was where we were sitting. We got to sit in box seats on the second balcony and even had our own little room.” As a choir member, Kragt received a greater understanding of exactly how important diction is while singing. “When anyone even slightly mumbled a word, you couldn’t really understand what they were saying.” Overall, Jacklyn Kragt believes West Side Story is a show everyone should see. 

Junior Nina Gillespie who is a part Hersey’s band also had the opportunity to go see West Side Story. “ I was really excited before hand seeing the show especially in such a high caliber environment. It was really cool and we were able to see the original choreography from when the show was first put together. I just didn’t know what to expect, especially how amazing the singers and musical pit would be, so I was just blown away.” 

Kinga Pacana is a member of the JHHS symphony orchestra. She was very excited about seeing the show and ended up being extremely impressed. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to see into the pit, but Pacana still enjoyed the show from the boxed seats. “I just liked the singing and the dancing and then the set was really cool and then the actors were really good, too”, said Kinga Pacana and would definitely recommend the show.

Freshman Otto Brautigam went with the acting class to see the performance. Despite the other fine arts departments he and his class had a few critics- “It was mainly the casting and the costuming and some of the choices that were made. For costuming I just didn’t like what a few people were wearing; that didn’t make a lot of sense.”Overall, he still enjoyed the show, in particular just spending time with his acting class and talking about it afterwards. 

“It’s like this modern story of Romeo and Juliet. That story was just really awesome and powerful and it’s fun how they changed and modernized it in their on way. I would just have liked to see something more original than trying to be the original story”.

For the Fine Arts Program, West Side Story was an amazing way to conclude the year. Students really got the experience of a lifetime!

VSCO
by: Amelia Zollner and Natalie Wozny

If you have Instagram, you’ve probably heard of VSCO. VSCO is a popular photo editing app that allows users to apply various filters to their photos. The app has a social media component too, which gives users a place to post their photos for friends to see. For some social media users, VSCO has become a place to post pictures that don’t make it onto their Instagram pages, with VSCO accounts almost serving as second Instagram accounts. Because of the app’s similarity, many users have developed varying opinions regarding VSCO.

Natalie's Take:

As I open VSCO, I’m welcomed by an array of positive quotes and pictures of friends. I could scroll through this feed for hours, because of its similar format to Instagram. If Pinterest and Instagram had a love child it would be VSCO. Whatever doesn’t make people’s Instagrams and pictures stolen off Pinterest end up here. The pictures users upload can only be favorited and republished, but the person who uploaded the photo is the only one with access to the feedback from others. That means there’s no room for negative comments and obsessing over the amount of likes someone receives. VSCO is one of the most positive social media apps I use, and that’s one of the main reasons I enjoy it. People post the pictures they actually want to post on VSCO when they aren’t worried about the feedback. The users are also mostly female, which creates a more comfortable environment for the other girls on VSCO. People focus more on the quality of the photos or their message, rather than who posted them and how many likes they got. That’s because VSCO is like-free in a way. People also tend to be more creative on VSCO in my opinion. Everyone’s editing skills are revealed. In fact, VSCO was the first app that taught me how to edit. The layout is very simple and makes the app easy to navigate. You can learn basic editing using VSCO’s features, which is another plus. VSCO gives its mostly female users the ability to post something without the fear of being judged. Floating around your feed, there are also positive quotes and inspirational photos. It’s also a chance to showcase your editing skills. I never scroll through VSCO and find myself feeling worse than when I opened it. In a world of negative social media, VSCO is a positive beam.

Amelia's Take:

VSCO is great for editing, but as social media becomes increasingly prevalent, VSCO is just one more application to keep track of. I love photography and I love the filter options that VSCO offers. However, the social media side of VSCO is just a prettier version of Instagram where people go to post stuff they don’t feel fits the energy of their Instagram page. It’s really weird how we’ve designated two identical apps for different things. Instagram is where people post pictures of themselves and their friends, while VSCO is where people post everything else that they love but feel doesn’t fit with the theme of their Instagram feed: food pictures, cheesy quotes, and snaps of nature. I hate this separation. To me, it sometimes feels like people who delegate certain pictures to VSCO are just scared of being judged for posting them on their Instagram. It’s pointless to have two apps that serve the same purpose. It requires space on phones, energy to decide what to post, and time spent scrolling through the app’s endless feed of posts. It’s just not worth it. Instead of spending so much time and energy choosing which posts to post where, delete VSCO and post what you want on Instagram.

YouTube: Making Money While Having Fun
by: Jessica Hegel and Max Garcia

YouTube is one of the biggest social media platforms with over 1.9 billion users and 50 million content creators. YouTube has changed the video industry and has spawned a new genre of work, which is becoming a YouTuber.

 

Most large content creators on the platform were able to quit their job and do YouTube full time. Senior Kelly Hannon says “I think it’s a amazing new field that is unique”. “I think it’s cool because kids are figuring out what they want to do with their life early on” says senior Nate Tehrani.

 

YouTube has a key set of requirements that must be met before a channel can be monetized. These include having 4,000 hours of watch time in the past 12 months and over 1,000 subscribers. Starting a YouTube Channel is the most difficult part. It can take people months and even years before money can start being earned.

 

The key to success is creating engaging content that will keep viewers interested which results in more watch time per video. Once a channel reaches the requirements they will be eligible to join the YouTube Partner Program where monetization is possible as well as other new features such as a copyright match tool and creator support team.

 

Once videos are monetized, advertisements will be placed throughout the video. Each view the advertisement gets earns around $0.10 to $0.30 per view. On Average a YouTuber receives $18 per 1,000 advertisement views which equates to $3 - $5 per 1000 video views.

 

YouTube consists of a domino effect. When a channel becomes monetized, the channels videos will be more likely to appear in someone's recommendation list. This results in more viewers looking at the advertisements which in turn leads to more money being earned.

 

One thing that YouTube is very strict about is their copyright policy. Youtubers must use copyright free music, or get permission from the artist to use their music. “A lot of the videos I make I want to use good music and YouTube doesn’t like that,” said Magyar. This policy is now causing some YouTubers to quit or move to different services like Twitch, one of YouTube's competitors.

 

Senior Garrison Magyar has been active on YouTube since 2011 and knows how copyright works and how it has changed over the years. Magyar recently had his first video, which involves him sneaking into Lollapalooza, blow up and currently has over 170,000 views.

 

YouTube is not the main source of income for most content creators. Once a creator establishes their social media presence they typically launch merchandise for their fans to buy. Sponsorships tend to bring in a substantial amount of money as well. “From Youtube Specifically I don’t make a ton of money. I do make money from making videos for other people, it’s just not from my channel.” said Magyar.

Lollapalooza vs. Country Thunder
by: Amelia Zollner

Welcome to festival season! It’s now the time of the year when music festivals announce their lineups and sell tickets. Every year, a plethora of students enthusiastically travels to Lollapalooza, Country Thunder, or others. With Arlington Heights located almost perfectly in the middle of the two, students have optimal access to both festivals. For some students, it’s just a matter of choosing between the two.

 

Country Thunder is one of the only festivals dedicated solely to country music. Located in Wisconsin, the four-day festival showcases country artists from around the globe. This year’s headliners include Jake Owen, Tim McGraw, Luke Combs, and Chris Stapleton. Four-day tickets cost $160, a price much cheaper than Lollapalooza wristbands. Students have noted that because Country Thunder has less artists, it’s a much more mellow environment than other festivals.

 

“My favorite thing about Country Thunder is the breaks between artists,” senior Kelly Tangney said. “You can get food, water, or just hang out with your friends before the next show starts. 4 days of it is very doable because your body can rest.”

 

Country music is often polarizing, with most people either hating it or loving it, but students who love Country Thunder encourage everybody to go.

 

“So many people from our town go and it’s fun to hang out all day with your friends,” senior Ashley DaSilva said. “I also feel like country is such a mainstream genre that everyone should like during the summer!”

 

As for the cons of Country Thunder, most students agree that their least favorite part is the mud. “It somehow always seems to rain every year so if it rains on the first day, the next 3 days are super messy. It’s hard not to get stuck in the mud when it’s a foot deep,” Tangney said. Despite this negative, however, most students agree that Country Thunder is worth it, even if it means braving a little bit of mud.

 

Lollapalooza is much more expensive in comparison, but offers a much wider variety of artists and is larger overall. Four-day wristbands cost around $400. Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, Lollapalooza offers some of the world’s most famous artists, with this years’ headliners being Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino, Twenty One Pilots, and The Strokes. Lollapalooza is also a great place to discover new artists, as there are plenty of talented up-and-coming artists listed as undercard.

 

“My favorite thing about Lollapalooza is definitely the environment,” Tangney said. “Everyone’s singing together and even though everyone there has their differences, we all share the love of music in common.”

 

Like Country Thunder, Lollapalooza also has its negative aspects. “The water stations get super crowded so it’s hard to keep hydrated. Shows are so close in time that you barely have time to walk and get food or refill water,” Tangney said.

 

So which one’s better? It’s hard to say. Different students have shared different opinions, and it really depends on what music each student likes to determine which festival they should go to.

 

“I would recommend going to both festivals if you truly love the music that’s being played. It’s not worth spending hundreds of dollars if you’re not fully into the music,” Tangney said.

April Food: Tacos
by: Josh Ho and Sam Sobczak

GRANDE JAKE'S: Grande Jake’s is a classic Mexican restaurant, the kind of place seen in a commercial. They have classic Mexican music playing and a salsa bar with homemade salsa. We ordered steak tacos with cilantro and onions. The tacos were very flavorful and well seasoned. They came with lime wedges which added a nice pop of citrus flavor. The salsa was very unique , as it is hard to find nice fresh salsa with lots of flavor. The Dispatch crew will definitely be going back to Grande Jake’s.

 

EL FAMOUS: El Famous has many locations within the Chicagoland area. The Wheeling location was not very big, but didn’t feel too crowded during the lunch rush hour. Many people came to El Famous during their lunch breaks, which serves as a testament to the quality of their food. El Famous features a wide variety of food, from Mexican classics like tacos and burritos to burgers and salads. The tacos are affordable and are decently sized. Each of their tacos comes with two tortillas, which helps the tacos feel more filling. Their steak taco is especially delicious and comes with limes to help bring out more flavor. Overall, despite an average location, El Famous offers flavorful tacos at low prices.

UNCLE JULIO'S: The nationwide chain Uncle Julio’s offers a wide variety of Mexican food and has many locations in the Chicagoland area. We visited their location in the heart of Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg. Immediately noticeable is the authentic Mexican atmosphere. With dim lighting and Mexican-style architecture, Uncle Julio’s offers an immersive experience. Their menu features many different options such as tableside guacamole and their world-famous Chocolate Pinata dessert. Their tacos, at $13, are slightly overpriced. Although the dish comes with hearty amounts of beans and rice, the tacos are disappointing. They taste dry and lack the bold flavor that customers expect at a Mexican restaurant. Overall, the atmosphere and location of Uncle Julio’s is exceptional. However, for the price, the tacos are not worth it.

Show Choir Impresses at Chicagoland Showcase
by: Amelia Zollner and Angelica Vitiogiannis

On March 1 and 2, show choirs from around the Midwest gathered in the main gym for the 26th annual Chicagoland Showcase, which Hersey has hosted since 1993. Both of Hersey’s show choirs, OnStage and Ladies First, gave energetic performances to the packed gym on March 2. OnStage’s performance, called Past Lives, focused on the classic Shakespearean story of Romeo and Juliet and featured a mashup of songs new and old, including “Past Lives”, “Can You Do This”, “Runaway With Me”, “Check Yes Juliet”, “No Tears Left To Cry”, “Runaway Baby”, “Forbidden”, “Rewrite The Story”, and “Light Up The Sky”. “The show is about learning from your past and looking to your future with open arms,” junior Anna Gorrill said. Past Lives featured junior Megan Derbick and senior Josh Min as Romeo and Juliet, and Gorrill as the narrator. For the performance, members of OnStage donned traditional renaissance costumes to invoke a historical feel, but eventually changed out into flashier costumes to put a modern twist on the story. “I felt really good about our performance this year. I think every single person up on that stage is giving it their 100% the entire show,” Gorrill said. A few hours after OnStage wrapped up their performance, Ladies First took the stage. This year’s Ladies First show was entitled Beautiful Creatures and combined the movies Heathers, Clueless, and Mean Girls. The overall theme was about building people up instead of tearing them down, which was communicated through the songs “Beautiful Creatures”, “Good Time Good Life”, “Selfie”, “Confident”, “I Did Something Bad”, “Wildhearts”, “Instigators”, and “Wham Bam”. This year’s show was particularly important to many show choir members, as it dealt with a theme that many members have personal ties to. “It means a lot to me, it fulfills me in a very specific way and there’s really nothing like it,” freshman and Ladies First member Rebecca Featherstone said. Between both show choirs, Chicagoland Showcase has definitely been a meaningful part of many show choir members’ lives. “Showcase is different from other competitions in that we are hosting instead of competing. We get to meet our show choir groups and bond with them throughout the day. I will say that Showcase performances have been and probably always will be my favorite,” Gorrill said.

The Circle of Life and Live Action
by: Stephanie Tangorra and Angelica Vitiogiannis

Revivals are prominent in every medium of entertainment. On television: Fuller House, Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life, Roswell: New Mexico, MacGyver. In theaters: Star Wars, A Star is Born. The animated Disney movies that defined our childhoods are now in live action. Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and The Jungle Book have already come out, and Dumbo, The Lion King, Aladdin, and Mulan are all slated for release in the near future. The 2017 remake of Beauty and The Beast with Emma Watson is ranked 6th on the list of the highest grossing Disney movies of all time in the US, making $5.2 million. Not counting Marvel or Star Wars movies, it is the highest grossing Disney movie of all time, while the original 1991 animated version didn’t even make the list. It was, however, the subject of over 25 years of fan appreciation, including toys, games, a tv show, a Broadway musical, and two direct-to-home sequels. While the inner child inside many grown-ups is screaming in excitement, others question the purpose behind these new remakes, wondering if Disney’s remakes are simply a gimmick for money and an attempt to hide the fact that they are running out of new ideas. Many students feel that Disney’s upcoming live-action rendition of The Lion King is solely in production for the money it will bring in. “It’s really a cash grab. Since they own the stories, people are going to see it. Because everyone knows the stories and likes them, it’s a guarantee,” senior Molly Mendez said. “I don’t like [the remakes]. The original is better. It’s messing up my childhood. We had VCRs and tapes and that’s what I grew up with,” senior Brenna Radecki said. This new version of The Lion King will not be the same stylistically, but the plot will remain the same, making it simply a replication without a new meaning. Even fans have their hesitation towards this new trend. “I honestly love Disney and think it’s great they’re recreating these movies, but I do think they need more ideas.” sophomore Lydia Banty said. On the other hand, true diehard fans are planning to hit the theaters for the new releases. “I honestly love these live action movies, I think it’s a good idea to put a new spin or twist on the story. I feel like the new Dumbo movie and Aladdin look really interesting. I like the visual effects they are using from what I have seen in the trailers and I think it would be really cool to see if they add a certain twist or maybe add new characters. It will be interesting to see how Disney will take the beloved characters that we grew up with and re-imagine them in a more modern way,” junior Stefania Nowak said. Of fifteen confirmed Disney movies coming out over the next three year

 

March Food: Fried Chicken
by: Magda Wilhelm, Josh Ho, and Blake Von Der Lippe

When asked to think of staple, classic American foods, fried chicken definitely is at the top of the list. From its first appearance in American cookbooks in the 1830s, fried chicken jumped from continent to continent, becoming a global phenomenon with a variety of different regional adaptations. This month, our crew set out to three popular restaurants nearby to find finger lickin good chicken.

 

PDQ: First appearing in Florida in 2011 to opening locations nationwide, right from the start it’s clear to see that Schaumburg’s PDQ is popular. The restaurant was nearly full of families and groups of friends settling down for lunch, and for good reason. PDQ’s chickens are always fresh- the chickens are never brought or kept frozen at the restaurant. To compliment the chicken, all the sauces and breading used are made at the joint fresh in the morning. Although salads and sandwiches are within PDQ’s area of expertise, PDQ takes the most pride in their chicken. Whether it traditional tenders or nuggets, PDQ finds a way to keep the classics first-rate, but also incorporates them into a variety of dishes with guaranteed quality. The queso crunch bowl, totchos, and some of their sandwiches incorporate their chicken, fried or grilled to perfection. Whether it’s for a quick lunch or to eat out with family or friends, PDQ’s doors are open to anyone with a craving for chicken. With a family-friendly, welcoming atmosphere, PDQ is there to ensure you get the best chicken at the highest quality

 

Bonchon: Putting a little twist on our fried chicken search this month, we decided to experience a variation of traditional American chicken: Korean fried chicken. First opening in South Korea in 2002, Bonchon spread its roots internationally soon after, opening its first U.S. restaurant in 2006 and bringing its recipes for fried chicken along with it. Now, Bonchon has 88 restaurants serving the best Korean fried chicken it can offer nationwide. Although Bonchon’s fried chicken menu may be small, it certainly makes up for it in taste and quality. Having options from spicy, soy garlic, or half-and-half sauce, Bonchon harmoniously coats fresh drums, wings, and strips with just the right amount of sauce. Offering simple side dishes like cole slaw and pickled radish, Bonchon makes sure to highlight and compliment its flavors.

 

Gators: Gators is a good wing restaurant for anyone looking to have a Buffalo Wild Wings experience. The “Award Winning Wings” comes in orders of 10 and 20 wings ranging from mild to hot. I tried their BBQ wings and tasted their buffalo wings, which were decent. They were slightly over cooked, yet still maintained flavor. Although the atmosphere may be out of date, the wings make up for it with their cooked to protection order. Their service is above average with polite and helpful waitresses. This mayAll and all, Gators would be a good place to eat out with your friends.

Author Inspires Page by Page
by: Amelia Zollner

It’s not Jason Reynolds’ first time around the block. Reynolds, a New York Times bestselling author who has published twelve books, paid a visit to Forest View Educational Center on Nov. 8 to speak to students and parents about his childhood, his writing career, and his future. (Among these discussions rested playful anecdotes about Queen Latifah, Lil Pump, and Kool-Aid.)

Reynolds realized he wanted to be an author when he was around sixteen, but he didn’t read a novel cover to cover until he was seventeen. After he spoke about his unmotivation to read books assigned in school, it became apparent that he writes books that he wished he had when he was young, books about things that he was familiar with instead of books he had no relation to.

“I write these books because I want to show the world that young people are complex. I want to show young people that their lives are valuable,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds’ most recent novel Long Way Down, which is in the process of receiving a movie adaptation created by Universal, is arguably his most successful. Spanning over 60 seconds, the novel tells the story of a boy seeking revenge for the death of his brother. And it’s told in prose, which Reynolds credits to the way the human brain works.

“We don’t think in complete sentences, especially a traumatized brain. We think in snapshots, things are coming fast, things are coming slow, but they only come in fragments,” Reynolds said.

His previous books, all written for middle-grade and young adult readers, have seen success as well, gaining him readers across the country. He certainly didn’t expect to become as famous as he is, and he says that he’s currently writing another book and aims to experiment and himself with future stories. “My work will only be good if I am challenged by it… So you won on one book. The next book, you should risk losing it all. That’s the only way that good art is ever made,” Reynolds said.

Above all else, Reynolds stays true to his own experiences. After all, when he was in school, it seems that he wanted to read books that he could relate to. “My voice sounds just like the voices in the book. My slang and the way that I speak to you all is the way I write these books,” Reynolds said. For Reynolds, who implements so much of his own childhood and so many of his own experiences into his own books, he hopes his stories are real to everybody. “I want to write books that when people read them they say to themselves I feel like ‘I could have written this,” Reynolds said. Perhaps that’s what makes his writing so lovable.  

Reputation and the "New" Taylor Swift
by: Jessica Hegel

On New Year’s Eve, Taylor Swift’s new stadium tour movie Reputation premiered on Netflix. This tour and album marked a major turning point in Swift’s career. In 2006, Swift released her first single “Tim McGraw”, which kickstarted her career as a country artist. At the age of 16, Swift released her second album Fearless along with her first documentary-style movie Journey to Fearless. The movie covers the good, bad, and ugly parts of Swift’s life along with her struggle to get her music heard. Swift soon became the country artist to beat. With all of her songs being written from her heart, she became a force to be reckoned with in the industry, as she has a valuable skill set that most artists don’t have.

 

The Fearless tour movie showed the world behind the scenes of a young, carefree country artist. The world was rocked a bit when Swift released her newest album Reputation in 2017. Swift went from writing country music to pop music in just a couple of years. The change was quite drastic and took her fans by surprise.

 

Reputation shows fans the new Swift. Gone are the days of dresses and cowboy boots, now replaced by leotards and heels. Reputation is a full high-quality video recording showcasing what one of Swift’s concerts is like. The movie is solely focused on the music and Swift’s performances.

 

There is one specific part in the movie that really struck a spot in a lot of Swift’s fans hearts. A few songs into the concert, Swift sings a medley of some of her oldest hits, including “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me”. The nostalgia quickly fades as the graphics on stage begin to glitch and the music switches to her song “Look What You Made Me Do”. This was done as a way to signify that the old Swift was a thing of the past, and the new Swift is coming full force.

 

As music changes throughout the years, the artists do too. Swift wasn’t afraid to make changes and publicize them on a large scale. Who’s next in line?

Netflix's New Bandersnatch Captivates Audiences
by: Alexis Santiago

Every month, Netflix releases new movies and shows to catch the audience's attention. On December 28, 2018, Netflix tried a new way of making movies more interacting and entertaining. Black Mirror, a TV show on Netflix, released another installment called Bandersnatch with an interactive format that allows the audience to make decisions on what the main character should do. The episode is very personalized to the viewers liking. Compared to regular movies with one storyline and one end, the narrative is in the viewer's hands.

The show contains various endings that are accessible to everyone. Depending on the choices that are made, the viewer might have to start over to a certain part because they may have gotten a bad ending. The main character is aware that his actions are being controlled by the audience member, which can intensify the plot. It’s interesting how each viewer gets a different conclusion and how each decision gets more complicated as the story moves forward.

Netflix has created an interactive story called Puss n Boots, based on the movie Shrek, but the show was targeted mostly to younger audiences. Todd Yellin, Vice President of Netflix, wanted to try this format again but targeting Bandersnatch towards older audiences.

The movie takes place in the ’80s with the viewers following the main character, Stefan Butler, to a job interview introducing his new game Bandersnatch to a game company called Tuckersoft. After viewing the game, the company wants to work with Stefan on his game to complete it. This left the viewers with a choice to accept the offer or not. Over the course of the movie, Stefan is trying to complete his game but gets hit with obstacles that cause him to be delusional and think he’s being controlled by someone.

Black Mirror is known for its crazy unhappy endings and predictions of what technology can do to us in the future, but with Bandersnatch, every choice the audience makes can be very stressful or add tension to the story. Bandersnatch created an innovated path of moviemaking that holds something new for future television.

YouTube growth promotes growing issues
by: Max Garcia

Everyone uses the popular website YouTube, but more and more people are trying to become a full-time YouTuber. With more creators rising in popularity, problems begin to arise as well.


People who watch YouTube know that YouTubers can get paid by the company and earn money. This is how many users make a living and have a job. But due to recent events, that has all changed.


Many advertisers like McDonald’s, Pepsi, and other major companies pulled away advertisements on certain channels that were “not suited for the audience” and this took many content creators by surprise, with some advertisements being completely removed.


Almost all YouTube videos that had inappropriate words or graphic content got their ads pulled away. The main argument people brought up was that the content wasn’t being made for a younger audience but for an older audience. With companies pulling advertisements away, many YouTubers lost their jobs or moved on to different platforms like Twitch. 2017 was already a really bad platform for YouTube, but it ended off even worse.


Last year, the YouTuber Logan Paul was in Japan going through a forest and filmed the dead body of a man who had committed suicide. This could have all been avoided, but because Paul put ads on the video, laughed while he saw the dead body, and told people to subscribe and buy his clothing, he caused outrage across the world.


Paul was under fire, but so was YouTube. YouTube reviewed the video, said it was able to have ads, and allowed it to be #1 trending. YouTube stated a public apology on Twitter: “The channel violated our community guidelines, we acted accordingly, and we are looking at further consequences.” Not only did Paul get more consequences like having no more ads on his videos for a month, but other content creators also had problems.


Videos that were presented as inappropriate or not suitable for advertisements had their ads removed. But with the Paul video, the ad block was at an all-time high, with YouTube now removing ads from almost every video in an effort to not have a situation like this happen again. YouTubers like Pewdiepie, Casey Neistat, and MrBeast all put some sort of sound effect over explicit language. But sometimes, that still isn’t enough, and these videos still have their ads removed.


YouTube has seen issues with its system recently and this has affected a lot of people, but most YouTubers are here to stay. The good thing about big content creators is they sell their own merchandise and they have big companies sponsor them, both of which lead to them getting paid. It’s the smaller channels that don’t get so lucky. With them not having merchandise or anything to sell, they don’t earn any money and big advertisers don’t notice them because they are so small. Hopefully, YouTube will get better and people can get back to work and get the money they deserve.

 

The Record Revival
by: Amelia Zollner

Over the past few years, record players have made an unexpected return into countless households. In an age where music streaming is constantly advancing with popular services like Spotify and Apple Music, it would seem that forms of physical music, especially records, should be obsolete by now. But despite the increasingly modern ways to stream music, records are making a comeback, and it’s a well-deserved one.

Years after the debuts of Spotify and Apple Music, listening to music has become an effortless process in contrast to listening to records, which is tedious and expensive. Vinyl listeners first need to buy a record player, which can sometimes cost hundreds of dollars, and then they have to go to record stores to buy records, which are equally overpriced. After that, they have to unwrap the vinyl from its casing, put it on the stand, and position the needle only to flip the album over halfway through. At this point, most people are probably thinking, “Why would I do all that when I could just download the album on Spotify?”

It’s not about the effort. Streaming is definitely easier and it’s still most people’s go-to method of listening to music, but records are fun. I buy records because they turn music into something tangible, something I can hold instead of something that just distantly lies beyond a screen, as my Spotify playlists do. I absolutely love putting on one of my records from my collection, stepping back, and relaxing. And I’m not the only one who feels this way. Because of their vintage feeling, records have inched their way back into many stores, years after they disappeared from shelves. According to Billboard, the majority of vinyl buyers are under 35, which is reviving an industry that most people thought would collapse.

And record stores, many of which are reopening and thriving because of the increased demand for records, are some of the coolest places I have ever been. Records can be bought at chain stores such as Barnes and Noble and Urban Outfitters, but it’s best to support local record stores. There are all sorts of them lying around the Chicago area, and the people there always greet me with friendly eyes and a barrage of music recommendations.

Records definitely aren’t replacing streaming, but they’re fun additions to the streaming process.

October: Visual Artist of the Month
by: Amelia Zollner

Senior Lauren Jin, who has excelled at art since fifth grade, has continued to pursue her passion throughout high school. “When I’m making art I feel very nostalgic in a sense. For me, painting or drawing is a form of self-reflection,” Jin said.

 

Over the past few years, Jin has spent hours perfecting her style of art. “Lauren is very independent and is usually working on something way beyond what she even needs to be doing,” art teacher Mary Renner said. Renner recognized Jin’s talent early on and helped Jin grow artistically in her classes. “Lauren already showed an enormous amount of talent freshman year,” Renner said.

 

While she enjoys all forms of art, Jin is especially proficient in sketching. “My favorite form of art is sketching because it’s very spontaneous and you can get your thoughts down on paper really quickly without thinking about it,” Jin said.

 

Jin plans to attend college to major in advertising, which will allow her to apply her various skills in art. “I plan on majoring on advertising and design, which is how I want to take my art and turn it into something that’s relevant to society,” Jin said.

For more on Lauren's story, click here.  Video by Stephanie Tangorra

October: Performing Artist of the Month
by: Stephanie Tangorra

The stakes of getting the lead role in any show are always high. To be the main role in a show means to be the face of the show, to put forth much commitment towards the show and its success. This responsibility generally goes to a junior or a senior, but this year, the lead role went to none other than freshman Rebecca Featherstone.

 

“When she found out she got the part, she was really happy. Two days later, I walked into her room and she was sobbing her eyes out because she was so scared. She was like, “I’m going to mess it up. I’m not gonna do it right. And she cried for like two hours.” Rebecca’s older sister, junior Rachel Featherstone said. “I said, ‘You’re going to be fine.’”

 

Rebecca Featherstone has been dancing all her life, but when she was ten years old, she went to go see a friend perform at Spotlight Youth Theater. It was then when she began doing musicals, and she has been doing them ever since. “Middle school show choir was when she started to take it more seriously, and that was when she started practicing more and more, and it was then I realized how talented she was,” Rachel Featherstone said. To be cast as the main role in a high school show as a freshman shows natural talent.

 

Rebecca Featherstone loves performing. “[I love] the rush. It makes me really happy. I am always really excited to go to rehearsal. It’s what gets me through the school day.” She may already have the lead role in this year’s production of Urinetown, but she’s just getting started. “I’ve always seen myself as a performer. I know I want to go into musical theatre. I’m just not sure how to at this point,” she said.

For more on Rebecca's story, click here.  Video by Jan Mathew Bautista

The Hate U Give Sparks Emotional Debate
by: Amelia Zollner

Everybody hears about police brutality and racial profiling everywhere: on the news, on social media, and in debate-driven conversations, yet, for most people, it’s still difficult to connect with incidents of racial profiling. Many people without personal ties to racial profiling don’t truly understand the psychological impact it can have, likely because most news stories regarding the issue focus on statistics rather than emotional stories. Yet the issue of racial profiling is more relevant now than ever due to the growing Black Lives Matter movement, and that’s why The Hate U Give, the new movie based on Angie Thomas’ bestselling novel, is perfect. Instead of briefly glossing over an incident of police brutality, The Hate U Give breaks it down, taking a more personal standpoint and focusing on the effect it has on one person, which allows viewers to experience every raw emotion that the main character Starr experiences.

 

The film opens with one of its most powerful scenes when Maverick, Starr’s father, gives his three young kids comprehensive instructions on what to do if they’re ever pulled over by a cop. Complying to these guidelines isn’t the only thing Starr has to do to live a relatively normal life, though. Through carefully worded dialogue revolving around white privilege, viewers realize that Starr is essentially stuck between two worlds; the high-crime, predominantly black neighborhood of Garden Heights and the private school her parents sent her to in an effort to provide her with shelter from the gang violence in her hometown, Williamson Prep.

 

Starr’s two lives are brought together when she witnesses her best friend Khalil’s tragic shooting after a cop racially profiles him and mistakes a hairbrush he’s holding for a gun. All while coping with her loss, Starr has to decide if she wants to risk her life to earn Khalil the justice that he deserves.

 

At times, The Hate U Give felt more like a horror movie than a drama. Over the span of a few days, Starr endures more pain than most people will ever go through in their entire lives. But although watching the plot unfold on the screen is terrifying, it’s even more disturbing that this happens in real life. The Hate U Give is incredibly harrowing and packed with passion for this reason, and the message it pushes shouldn’t be ignored.

Trench - Review of 21 Pilots
by: Josh Ho

In recent years, few bands have been as successful as Twenty One Pilots. The Columbus duo rose to stardom in 2015 with their breakthrough album Blurryface, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200. The album was praised by critics for its musical diversity and lyrical content, and earned the #1 spot on Alternative Press’ “Top 10 Essential Records of 2015”.

 

After touring for two years, frontman Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun took a one year hiatus in order to work on their next record. On October 5th, the band released their 5th album Trench. Trench, which was meticulously crafted in Joseph’s basement studio, is more sonically cohesive than its predecessor and just as strong lyrically, resulting in an album that is well worth the wait.

 

The album opens with “Jumpsuit”, a heavy rock song featuring a punchy bass line. The song then breaks down into a piano-laden bridge and finally finishes with Joseph screaming “Jumpsuit, jumpsuit, cover me.” This song serves as the perfect opener, giving listeners a taste of the other 13 songs on the album. The song’s eclectic nature keeps the audience on its toes and lets the listeners know that this is not an ordinary alt-rock record.

 

Joseph shows off his rapping skills on the next song “Levitate”, which features a Kendrick Lamar-esque flow and an energetic beat. In the song, the band describes songwriting as a sort of superpower. Joseph raps, “Ever since the seventh grade I learned to fire-breathe,” referring to his ability to write songs. He encourages the listeners to express themselves through song as well, singing, “You can levitate with just a little help.”

 

The next three songs on the album all share a similar sound that differs from the previous two songs. “Morph”, one of the highlights of the album, features heavy synths which gives the song an 80’s vibe. In the pop reggae hit “My Blood”, Joseph sings in a falsetto, “Stay with me, my blood. You don’t need to run.” The next song, “Chlorine”, is driven by Dun’s steady drumming and features one of the catchiest choruses on the album.

 

Arguably one of the most powerful tracks is the spoken-word track “Neon Gravestones”. In the song, Joseph gives a candid commentary on how society at times seems to glorify suicide. He says, “And, could it be true that some could be tempted to use this mistake as a form of aggression? A form of succession? A form of a weapon?” He warns the audience against choosing the “neon gravestones” and instead insists that life is indeed worth living.

 

The second half of the album, although it features different styles and sounds, is just as enjoyable as the first. “The Hype” sounds like a classic 2000s indie rock song, while “Nico and the Niners” is driven by a ukulele.

 

One of the saddest songs on the album, “Legend”, is ironically one of the poppier and happier-sounding songs. In “Legend”, Joseph talks to his late grandfather who suffered from dementia. He sings, “I'm sorry I did not visit, did not know how to take it when your eyes did not know me like I know you.”

 

Trench closes with the somber piano track “Leave The City.” In the song, Joseph reflects on his current emotional state, singing, “I'm tired of tending to this fire. I've used up all I've collected. I have singed my hands.” This could refer to the band’s exhaustion due to their newfound fame over the past several years or Joseph’s mental health struggles, a common theme throughout the band’s work.

 

Trench is an excellent work of art that features a wide variety of genres and subjects. Because of this, the album has something for everyone to enjoy. Although the album is less brash and edgy than Blurryface, Trench manages to take many different sounds and present them in a cohesive and mature way.

What's on Our Bookshelves
by: Amelia Zollner & Jan Mathew Bautista

Weaving between the hopeful past and the painful present, The History of Jane Doe by Michael Belanger follows history buff Ray’s life in the history-filled farm town of Burgerville after a mysterious character, who Ray only refers to as Jane Doe, moves in. Ray, along with his milk-addicted best friend Simon, becomes determined to uncover Jane’s past. Ray grows close to Jane, and they eventually start a relationship, but their time together is cut short by an event that causes Ray to question everything he knows. When I picked up this book, I anticipated a light, carefree read, but almost instantly found myself completely entranced by the author’s colorful writing style. The book has a weird premise, but Belanger makes it work and every character is strangely lovable.

 

At times, The History of Jane Doe is hilariously entertaining. Belanger incorporates minute details, painstakingly stitching in tiny anecdotes about the quirky town’s history and Ray’s peculiar teachers while still relaying a heartbreaking story about mental health that left me sobbing throughout the last few chapters.

 

They Both Die at the End by the up-and-coming author Adam Silvera brings us the amazing one day adventure of Mateo And Rufus, who readers get to know through their alternating perspectives. These two characters have never met one another until they both receive a call from Death-Cast, a company that calls people to tell them that they will unexpectedly die in the following twenty four hours. After receiving this call, Mateo and Rufus connect with each other through the Last Friend app, an app that allows people to meet others on their last day so they won’t be alone when they both pass. Readers don’t just follow Mateo and Rufus’ journey to death within the book, they also follow their journey in terms of how they lived on their last day.

 

The first time seeing the title of the book I knew I was up for an emotional ride and it did not disappoint. Silvera didn’t just bring readers an adventure with the two main characters; he gave them a powerful message of our mortality and caused us to think more deeply on the subject of death. Through his amazing storytelling and his skillful connections of different plot lines, he makes more the world more vast and intriguing, but still makes it relatable and heartbreaking at the end.

September: Artist of the Month
by: Stephanie Tangorra

Band isn’t easy. Many students pour their effort into band, sacrificing time to improve at playing their instruments, and Senior Alex Widomska is no exception. Widomska, who plays a variety of instruments but is especially dedicated to playing the oboe, became a drum major last year and has loved being a part of band since fifth grade.

“In fifth grade, our teacher came and was showing us the instruments. I always wanted to do percussion and I saw this instrument that sounded like a duck and I thought ‘why not try it?’ And I liked it from the start,” Widomska said.

Since then, Widomska has been excelling at the oboe, showcasing her commitment to the instrument when she plays. But being a drum major isn’t the easiest, and it takes work.

“The hardest part [of being a drum major] is that you have responsibility. You watch over the band, you’re not leading them but instead you’re with them. You’re all one and you’re a huge family,” Widomska said.

Still, she loves being a part of band and she hopes to continue after high school, aiming to major in music education and to continue playing the oboe far into the future. Widomska has a promising future in music and her friends are sure of this.

“Alex is a really strong player and she has a lot of solos because she’s the only person on her instrument in symphonic band and she has a really good practice strategy. She practices her parts when she needs to and she plays them by herself for the entire band and she sounds really good so she has a really important role in that,” Widomska’s friend, junior Nina Gillespie, said.

For more on Alex's story, click here.  Video by Stephanie Tangorra & Jan Mathew Bautista

For more on the marching band's story, click here.  Video by Stephanie Tangorra & Jan Mathew Bautista

Sierra Burgess is a Loser (Literally)
by: Amelia Zollner

In the new Netflix original movie Sierra Burgess is a Loser, Sierra Burgess is not a loser because she’s a stereotypical loser who’s in band, aspires to attend Stanford, only has a few friends, wears grandma sweaters, and doesn’t fit into the narrow confines of society’s beauty standards. Sierra Burgess is a loser because she’s painfully manipulative.

The movie’s plot begins when Jamey, a football player, asks Veronica, a cheerleader, for her phone number. Instead of handing him her own phone number, Veronica hands him Sierra’s. When Jamey texts Sierra’s number thinking it’s Veronica’s, Sierra abandons all of her morals and takes a wrong turn down the long path of catfishing Jamey, quickly realizing it’s too late to step off. Sierra and Veronica almost become a team, working together to ensure that Jamey doesn’t realize that he’s being catfished.

Plot aside, the entire foundation of the movie is problematic. The movie uncomfortably relies on overused high school stereotypes as a crutch, with its main characters being Sierra, the band girl who doesn’t adhere to society’s typical standards of beauty and therefore is an outcast, Jamey, the hot jock who turns into the main character’s love interest, and Veronica, the mean blonde cheerleader.

But the main problem that I had with Sierra Burgess is a Loser was Sierra Burgess herself.

It’s clear that Netflix wants this to be a feel-good girl power movie, but is it? Not really, if viewers take into account the ways that Sierra manipulates Jamey. She FaceTimes him, speaking in her own voice but with Veronica on camera, mouthing what Sierra says so he doesn’t decode the situation, she spies on Veronica on a date with Jamey but jumps in at the last minute so she can share a first kiss with him, and she even goes as far as to pretend she’s deaf so he won’t pair the voice he’s been calling nightly to Sierra’s face when they meet in public. That last bit is just blatantly offensive, considering Netflix’s past with carelessly representing disabilities and mental illnesses for entertainment value.

Once Sierra’s plot is discovered by Jamey, her life essentially falls apart. But instead of feeling guilty, she comes home crying about her appearance, blaming everybody but herself, even though none of what happened was because of her appearance but instead her manipulative personality, and it’s essentially impossible to feel bad for her.

Sierra then writes a song about her insecurities in an effort to remedy her feelings, even though the movie isn’t really about insecurities, and after the song is spread around the school, the pit Sierra dug for herself is instantly gone and she’s back on her feet.

After Jamey hears the song Sierra wrote, he almost immediately forgives her and falls back in love with her, this time the real Sierra instead of the odd combination of Sierra’s personality and Veronica’s looks that he believed he was in love with. And Sierra, even though she did absolutely nothing to earn anything at all, gets into her dream school and leads a successful life, continuing to date Jamey throughout college.

At the beginning of this movie, I wanted to like Sierra so bad it almost hurt. Something about her warmly lit room and her wholesome outfits made me love her character, but almost instantly, she turned into a careless and manipulative loser.

Sierra doesn’t deserve everything she got, and neither does this movie.

Fall TV Opinions
by: Josh Ho

Fall is here, and with the change in weather comes new TV shows and new seasons of popular favorites.  This summer saw many developments within the television world, so we interviewed Hersey students about their opinions on these changes and their TV viewing habits.  Click here to see what Hersey students had to say!

September Food Review: Burgers
by: Magda Wilhelm

September is coming to an end, signaling the transition into long-awaited fall. In order to pay tribute to the end of barbecue season, our crew headed out to try the signature burger of the three most recommended restaurants: Big Ange’s, JD’s, and Smashburger. Going into the restaurants, we graded each one on different categories- cost, taste, appearance, and location. Although each restaurant defended their position, Big Ange’s was definitely the favorite.

Big Ange’s: Cost- $7.35, Taste- 10/10, Appearance- 9/10, Location- 8/10

Even before pulling into the parking lot of Big Ange’s, the smell of fresh, smoked meat seeps into your car, a scent unusual yet pleasant, luring you further into the restaurant. The restaurant itself is bustling with life: the sizzling of burger patties, chefs running back and forth with slabs of meat, servers taking orders with a friendly face, and customers conversing as they enjoy the food laid out in front of them.

Standing proud with two patties blanketed by cheese, lettuce, pickles, and some crisp bacon, the Ange’s signature burger only triggers one response: “eat”. With just the first bite the burger entices with an explosion of flavor. The juices of the perfectly seasoned meat trinkle onto your tongue as the cheese creates a velvet coat in your mouth. The satisfying crunch of the pickles resonates as your teeth sink deeper and deeper into the burger. The sides only add onto the goodness. Along with their crisp fries and their own lemonade-orange juice mix creates a beautiful symphony on your tastebuds.

This burger and the restaurant together create the ultimate American dining experience. With a fairly-priced menu and a welcoming atmosphere, Big Ange’s is the epitome of classic American cuisine. Big Ange’s is waiting with open arms.

 

JD’s: Cost- $9.95, Taste- 6/10, Appearance- 10/10, Location- 8/10

The atmosphere certainly changes as soon as you walk into JD’s. The dim, subtle lighting and the vintage display case of old beer bottles certainly give off the vibe of a classy barbecue restaurant.

The atmosphere of the service and food was a little different, however. From the beginning, our visit started on a downward spiral as the cashier left mid-service to answer a phone call and proceeded to take 3 minutes to come back. The wait for the burger was also long, but once it did, it did make a grant entrance.

Served on a large, silver platter, the burger stood at a whopping 5 inches. With a thick patty, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, and a whopping pile of fried onion bits, the burger was certainly something to look at. Unfortunately, the decorations seemed to cover up the fact that the burger itself is mediocre at best. The burger meat was bland and flavorless, having a slight salt-like taste- probably the only attempt at seasoning the meat. The burger completely fell apart after one bite as well.

Overall, JD’s reminds you of a classic, old western barbecue location. Although their burger isn’t the best, we still would suggest going for some barbecue.
 

Smash Burger: Cost- $5.89, Taste- 9/10, Appearance- 6/10, Location- 9/10

Smash Burger is a modern, clean, and welcoming environment. Both manager and cashier were welcoming upon arrival. Even though Smash Burger is a corporation with many franchises, meaning the location is not particularly unique, they do not sacrifice quality with quantity. Their signature burger is simple- a patty, lettuce, tomato, onions. Classic, simple, and good.

The taste of the burger itself was satisfactory.  Although the burger was under seasoned yet cooked to the right temperature, the bland flavor of the patty was covered up by the toppings, making the burger still pretty good. The fries, however, took the burger to a whole new level. Smash Burger has their own signature fries called “Smash Fries”- french fries tossed in rosemary, garlic, and olive oil. Forget cheese fries, this is where it’s at!

Although the burger isn’t the best in town, the old diner menu style complete with burgers, fries, and milkshakes, create a great twist on classic American cuisine.

For highlights for the winner of this month's food review, click here.  Video by Gavin Hill

6 New Albums You May Have Missed
by: Amelia Zollner

Over the past few months, a surplus of surprisingly breathtaking albums have been released by a variety of bands spanning across different genres. Since the releases of many albums tend to be overshadowed by those of larger artists, here’s a list of five impressive semi-small albums that have been released over the past few months.

1. Big Red Machine / Big Red Machine

Big Red Machine is the collaborative project of two well-known and experienced artists: Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and The National’s Aaron Dessner. Big Red Machine was formed in 2008, and ten years later, after the gradual releases of a few singles, the eponymous album Big Red Machine was gently set out into the world. The album perfectly mirrors both artists’ creative styles, encompassing Vernon’s unmistakable vocals and the more electronic, precisely autotuned style of Bon Iver’s most recent album, 22, A Million, as well as the strong leads and powerful melodies of The National’s Sleep Well Beast. Songs like “Gratitude” and “Lyla” showcase both artists’ ability to create minimalistic yet meaningful tracks. All ten songs from the album are abstract, stunning, and, like most music by Vernon and Dessner, perfect for listening to late at night.

2. Forever & Ever / Sales

After a two year break, the up-and-coming lo-fi duo Sales returned in July with a brand new album titled forever & ever. Although it may have been hard to live up to the widespread appreciation of their debut album SALES LP, forever & ever is just as thoughtful and contains numerous creative tracks like “Off and On” and “Rainy Day Loop.” Sales is one of my favorite bands to listen to while studying, and this album proves perfect for that yet again with its glossy guitar melodies and singer Lauren Morgan’s determined, decisive vocals. Although it’s not really a new turn for Sales and most songs on the album simply carry on their old polished style, their style is like no other band, so who’s complaining?

3. Room 25 / Noname

Noname is the kind of rapper who’s more fit for a “chill vibes” playlist than someone’s collection of favorite rap songs. In “Prayer Song” and “Regal,” two tracks off of her new album Room 25, her voice is so delicate that she sounds more like an ASMR vlogger than a rapper. Still, she packs meaning into her songs, proudly displaying her background as a Chicagoan slam poet. There’s always been something oddly peaceful yet powerful about listening to Noname glide through creative verses about touchy topics like gentrification and racism, and this definitely holds true throughout Room 25.

4. Lush / Snail Mail

Lush is the ambitious, deeply honest debut album of Snail Mail, the solo project of 19-year-old Lindsey Jordan. The album combines Jordan’s powerful vocals with clean, warm guitar riffs. Released in June and accompanied by a stunning live tour, the album has garnered support from numerous successful artists and its singles have been featured on high profile Spotify playlists, allowing it to be spread over social media rapidly. The most popular song off of the album, “Heat Wave,” features a passionate, almost angry buildup and perfectly leads into the rest of the album, which contains other songs like “Stick” and “Deep Sea” that are more hesitant and mellow yet possess an energy that no other album can match.

5. Puppy Love / Mom Jeans.

Mom Jeans. is an energetic DIY rock band from California and their new album Puppy Love is arguably their best yet. Over the past year, they’ve gained many fans and found success in their music, much of this due to Puppy Love. Although they’re still relatively small, the album ensures that they’ll be selling out large venues nationwide in a few years. With playful, vague song titles like “you cant eat cats Kevin,” (a line torn from The Office) their songs seem approachable and friendly, but upon listening, they’re full of passion, sadness, and anger peppered with hefty drum fills and upbeat guitar riffs. Their music isn’t as polished as some other competing bands, but the unpredictability and roughness of their sound is what makes it so lovable.

6. Iridescence / BROCKHAMPTON

After a prolific year that included releasing three albums known as the Saturation trilogy, signing to a major record label, and touring the world, 13-member rap boyband Brockhampton gained an extensive and dedicated fanbase. Unfortunately, the band also faced its fair share of struggles as they came to a collective decision to kick out longtime member Ameer Vann after he received allegations of sexual misconduct. But despite everything they’ve gone through, they’ve returned stronger than ever, with their new album iridescence. iridescence is the musical equivalent to trimming trees so they grow back healthier; cutting out Vann allowed the band to grow both emotionally and stylistically. “TONYA,” one of 15 songs on iridescence, touches on Vann’s removal from the band and shows the band’s musical maturity while other, more aggressive tracks like “DISTRICT” and “J’OUVERT” expand on their previous style with plenty of room for experimental beats that define Brockhampton’s unmistakable sound.