Skip to content

Category: Music

Fandom 101: Hamilton

Fandom 101 at The Hub

On Sunday, June 12, theater lovers around the country will tune in to watch the Tony Awards. Leading the field with a record sixteen nominations is Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking hip-hop musical about the life of Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. Combining historically accurate language with modern vernacular, staging critical decisions about the formation of the American nation as rap battles, and making history accessible in a whole new way, Hamilton has already garnered critical acclaim, racking up a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album, and two Drama League Awards for the 2015-2016 Broadway season.

Hamilton Cast

Not only are critics raving about Hamilton; it’s attracted a broad audience both on- and off-Broadway. Since its 2015 off-Broadway opening, more than 400,000 people have seen it, and only about a quarter of those are from New York. Tickets are sold out through the end of this year. The cast album has gone platinum and, since its release in April, Hamilton: The Revolution, the book containing the show’s libretto with Miranda’s annotations and commentary by Jeremy McCarter, has sold out its first and second printings. Despite the lack of tickets, a devoted fandom has sprung up around the show.

What’s making the story of the ten-dollar founding father so popular?

1 Comment

Pairing Music with YA Lit: “Jennifer E. Smith” edition

February and romance go hand in hand like February and below zero temperatures–at least in New England (well, maybe not this winter).  So for this edition, I chose to pair music with books by Jennifer E. Smith.  Smith’s books feature romance, and often focus on fate, serendipity, and… the spark, the instant connection, that pulls two people together.  

hello goodbye and everything in betweenHello, Goodbye and Everything in Between (2015)

Summary: On the last night before they head off to college, Clare and Aidan have to decide whether they will try to make a long distance relationship work (possibly delaying the inevitable) or choose break up (on their own terms).  The two spend the night reliving some of the important events of their relationship, keeping their memories close as they get ready to head off to different parts of the country.

Pairing: Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between shows the manys ups and downs of a relationship–and that true love, lasting love, is not always an easy path.  Because of this I chose “Book of Love” by The Magnetic Fields.  (The book of love is long and boring/ And written very long ago/ It’s full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes/ And things we’re all too young to know).  This is a great song about the endurance of love, just like the novel.

 

1 Comment

Pairing Music with YA Lit: “My True Love Gave to Me” Edition (Part 2)

Back in December I posted musical pairings for the first six stories of My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins in which YA authors illustrate how the holidays can be a time of first love, caring, and sometimes even a little magic.  As promised, here are songs paired with the last six stories in the collection.

my true love gave to me

“Krampuslauf” by Holly Black

Summary: At Fairmount’s annual Krampuslauf, an unnamed narrator and her friends, Penny and Wren, decide to confront Roth.  Roth is a “rich kid” who moonlights with Penny even though he already has a girlfriend.  Wren and the main character have had enough of him using their friend.  But when they confront Roth, impulsive Wren ends up inviting him and his preppy friends to a New Year’s Eve party.  And now the girls need to scramble to put one together.

Musical Pairing:  While the main character does find some romance toward the end of the story, more emphasis seems to be on Penny and Roth’s “relationship.”  As such, I chose “Looking Too Closely” by Fink for this short story, because Penny refuses to see Roth’s wrongdoings (The devil’s right there, right there in the details/ And you don’t wanna hurt yourself, hurt yourself/ By looking too closely) and (The truth is like blood underneath your fingernails/ You don’t wanna hurt yourself, hurt yourself/ By looking too closely).  Another great pairing would be “Ghost” by Ella Henderson–especially because Penny can’t see the evidence of Roth’s other, real relationship until it’s right in front of her (I had to go through hell to prove I’m not insane/ Had to meet the devil just to know his name).

 

“What the Hell Have you Done Sophie Roth?” by Gayle Forman

Summary: Sophie Roth has had many “what have you done?” moments as a freshman at U of B (let’s just say it stands for University of “the middle of nowhere”).  As a city girl she stands out in this tiny college in the middle of the country.  In fact she is half expecting Ned Flanders to show himself. But at a Christmas caroling concert, she meets someone who also stands out–Russell.  Russell shares with her the best pie out of town (apple pie with cheddar cheese) and helps her celebrate something she’s missing this holiday at U of B–Hannakah.

Musical Pairing:  Though I’m tempted to pair “Blue Moon” by the Marcels (or another 50’s song that might be a U of B favorite) with this short story, I’m more inclined to pairing it with The Simpsons theme song because Sophie and Russell get together over a shared Ned Flanders joke.

Comments closed

Pairing Music with YA Lit: “My True Love Gave to Me” Edition (Part 1)

The holidays and romance?  I didn’t think the two would necessarily go together.  I mean, what’s romantic about the stress of the most over-commercialized time of year?  (I apparently need to watch Love, Actually a few more times…)  But after reading My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins, I’m a holiday romance convert.  In this collection of short stories, YA authors illustrate how the holidays can be a time of first love, caring, and sometimes even a little magic.

my true love gave to me

And now I totally see it. Curling up next to that special someone by the fireplace.  Red cheeks; not just from the cold.  The perfect gift–one that symbolizes how much you care about the other person–which might not cost a thing.

So, this time I’m pairing music to each of the stories in “My True Love Gave to Me”. This first post it will include the first six stories, and in January, the final six.

1 Comment

December Playlist

Curating the ultimate playlist is a common theme within some beloved young adult novels. Think of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn or consider Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Since the all-important soundtrack to life is an evolving creative process, below is a list of newer songs to start you off your own December playlist.

“The Neverending Sigh” by: Foo Fighters from the album Saint Cecilia EP

Released in November as part of a special EP, this song proves that rock can be fun, too.

Comments closed

Musicals Can Enhance Collections and Curriculum

Music has been in the classroom for decades, but not everyone highlights the musical, which then neglects some of the most amazing storytellers from classic writers and composers such as Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webb to modern and unique writers and composers Jason Robert Brown and Lin-Minuel Miranda.

CC image via Flickr user Gary
CC image via Flickr user Gary

Besides breaking up power point lectures and textbook readings with the entertainment of music or YouTube performances, musical performance can enhance the curriculum by offering an alternate voice to the same lesson.  Perhaps a song or two from 1776 will help students remember the founding fathers who wrote the Declaration of Independence.

While a musical is not 100% factual (most need to speed history along to fit in a 2-3 hour production) the positives of including musical theater into a curriculum or library collection outweigh the historical inaccuracies.  Find me any historian who doesn’t rise up to “Do You Hear the People Sing?”

Many libraries already include musical soundtracks or DVDs, but I want to encourage the partnership between libraries and the academic curriculum by going beyond books and articles.  Let the students listen to a different type of lesson.  Musicals such as Wicked are based on popular fiction, but people often forget about the musicals that can help teach history or culture, such as racial prejudices shown in Show Boat to Vietnam protests in Hair.  American culture has always been portrayed in music and theater, why not use musicals as another format to teach?

6 Comments

Fandom 101: YouTube Musicians

Fandom 101 at The Hub

I think we can all agree that YouTube is so popular because it fosters a sense of community and togetherness that sometimes feels unprecedented and impossible. Since its arrival on the scene in 2005, YouTube has made it possible for anyone to create an account and post original content, making it easier to disseminate information and connect with like-minded viewers than ever before. It’s the perfect site for entertainment, hosting content relating to gaming, fashion, news, comedy, education, and more.

YouTube also has the peculiar reputation of being able to launch talented content creators into stardom…and ultimately a lucrative career. In particular, talented musicians can connect with and grow their fan bases, offer insight into their creation processes, and receive immediate feedback that shapes their music. In some cases, viewers financially support the music creation process, leading to album releases and tour dates for their favorite stars.

Many musicians begin by producing cover videos, in which they play music, often popular, that has already been created. They may do a straight cover or switch up the arrangement and add their own flair. Musicians typically grow their fan bases through a range of covers, anything from movie themes to pop songs to video game arrangements. Then they often move on to producing their own original music.

2 Comments

Notes from a Teens’ Top Ten Participant: Rebel Playlist

Teens’ Top Ten participants are invited to share reader responses on The Hub. This is a post by a teen in the Jordan Binder, a senior at Mount Carmel Academy in New Orleans.

Jordan says, “I love reading because it is something I have always known. It feels natural to me. I can’t seem to get enough of being transported to another place and getting to live through the mind set of another person.” Jordan wanted to share a playlist inspired by one of her favorite books, Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell.

Goodbye Rebel Blue
 The playlist is what the main character, Rebecca Blue AKA Rebel Blue, would listen to.
Comments closed

Pairing Music with YA lit: “Under Pressure” edition

September:  The summer heat gives way to sweater mornings, t-shirt afternoons, and hoodie evenings.  The leaves begin to turn into the firey oranges, reds, and yellows that might only last for a few weeks, or if we’re lucky, a whole month before the snow sets in (at least in my part of the country).  It’s the beginning of a new season and a new school year, which for many high school seniors is the start of the college application process; of finding a school that will soon become home.  Essays.  Scholarship applications.  Dreaded “We regret to inform you…” letters.  Acceptance packets.  Safety schools.  Major declarations.  And, often, LOTS of pressure from friends, parents, or even themselves.  Luckily, there are some great books to help us all through this stressful time.  So here are some of my favorite off-to-college novels, paired with music that connects to each one.  Of course, not all of us hear music the same way, just as not all of us see the books we read the same way, so this is my interpretation–”Under Pressure” style.

 

  ill meet you thereI’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios (2015)

Summary: Skylar is finally fulfilling her dream of getting out of Creek View.  She has a full scholarship to art school and is ready to take off to San Francisco, ready to leave behind the small town she grew up in.  She just has to get through the summer.  But after graduation, Skylar’s mother is a downhill slide (again) after losing her job, and Skylar feels the need to stay and take care of her.  And then there is Josh.  He used to be a giant jerk, a player, kind of a douchebag, but coming home from Afghanistan has changed him.  Both physically as he lost his leg, and mentally, as he is dealing with the aftermath of war.  Throughout the summer, Skylar and Josh grow together, becoming friends instead of work acquaintances, and falling in love one day at a time. Skylar is left wondering if it’s not only her mother she feels compelled to stay for, but Josh as well.   

Musical pairings:  There are a lot of artists referenced in “I’ll Meet You There”, providing it’s own soundtrack.  But as I read this book, there are two songs that immediately stuck out to me:  Dan Black’s “Symphonies” featuring Kid Cudi and “Sometimes” by Sound of Guns.  I connected “Symphonies” to Skylar to describe her desire to leave Creek View (Gimme, gimme, symphonies/Gimme more than the life I see), but also connected it to how she feels different than the other girls in her town, how she knows she is meant to do more with her life than work at the Paradise motel (I live, I live, I live, I live for symphonies/I know that there’s some place just right for me). “Sometimes” is the song that reminds me of Josh as he is trying to find his place back in Creek View, at first trying to be the same Josh he was before he joined the Marines, before he lost his leg (When your mind aches, pupils dilate/Give me some alcohol to stop me growing older).  The same Josh that knows his place is in the small town (Oh oh oh, I was born here and I’ll die here), and knows everything about his neighbors (Oh oh oh, see for miles and miles around here, Oh oh oh, every violence, every silence).  

Comments closed