John Hersey High School

1900 East Thomas Street

Arlington Heights, IL 60004

© 2018 by The Dispatch. All rights reserved.


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!

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.