Review: Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'Hamilton Mixtape' And 'Moana' Previews

Review: Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'Hamilton Mixtape' And 'Moana' Previews

Lin-Manuel Miranda is in the headlines for the second week in a row - and with good reason.

With the "Hamilton Mixtape" being made available for pre-order along with two preview tracks on Saturday, Lin-Manuel Miranda has officially been in the headlines for over two weeks. It started with the release of a clip from the upcoming Disney princess movie, "Moana," featuring a new song called, "You're Welcome." The clip is only fifty seconds long, but the idea of The Rock singing a song with a melody written by Lin-Manuel Miranda had it trending within an hour of being posted. It's catchy, has been stuck in my head since it came out, and started a trend that kept Lin on everyone's newsfeed for weeks.

A few days later, Lin was in the headlines again with even bigger news. Alessia Cara's cover of what is looking like the anthem of "Moana," "How Far I'll Go," was posted in full, followed by a music video a week afterward. Before these two songs were released, all Disney fans had were the trailer songs and a piece of the chorus from a singing Moana doll released earlier this year, so it's not surprising that they rushed to the new tracks so quickly, especially since Alessia Cara is a popular artist, known best for songs like "Wild Things" and the endlessly relatable "Here." This song felt different, though. It is very clearly the "I Want" song of the movie, set to join songs like the "Belle" reprise, "Part Of Your World," or "Just Around The Riverbend" as a part of the classic Disney princess tradition of looking for more than the life they're living. Even though it's a cover, it is very clear that this is a song that is going to stick as a major part of the Disney canon. The fact that it has the potential to be given that much attention once the movie comes out and we are allowed to hear Moana sing it is especially excited because it could mean Lin being added to a very exclusive list of people: the EGOT winners. Only twelve people have been able to succeed in winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony, and each one of them has taken over ten years to do it. If Lin manages to win the Oscar in 2017, it will have taken him just under that, as well as make him the youngest person to ever do it. The first to complete the EGOT was Richard Rodgers, which is fitting, considering Lin's musicals "In The Heights" and "Hamilton" have found their home at the theater named for Rodgers.

Speaking of "Hamilton," Lin made headlines once again toward the end of this past week, when he dropped the tracklist for the "Hamilton Mixtape," an album of covers and remixes of "Hamilton" songs, from the show, never-released, or simply inspired by the show, and each performed by famous rap and hip-hop artists. Artists like Alicia Keys, Chance the Rapper, Sia, and Usher are a part of the tracklisting, which you can see in full on Lin's twitter, and two songs were just released as previews. The first is "My Shot (Rise Up Remix)" by The Roots and featuring Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz, and Nate Ruess and is a complete reimagining of Hamilton's own "I Want" song. The song's new rhymes are all noteworthy, but Busta Rhymes' verse really stands out, especially because Hercules Mulligan's style of rapping is actually inspired in part by Busta Rhymes.

The other song released is "It's Quiet Uptown," sung by Kelly Clarkson. To be completely honestly, I was a little taken aback by this version, as the tone didn't really seem to fit the feeling the song is meant to convey and it's hard to imagine any version of the song that could beat Renee Elise Goldsberry's opening and closing verses. Still, once the song returns to the quiet piano of the original, particularly from the line, "I don't pretend to know the challenges we're facing, I know there's no replacing what we've lost, and you need time," it's hard not to be moved. The mixtape is going to be release on December 2nd, but is available for preorder now. Now that these two songs are going to keep Lin trending for a couple days and with the soundtrack to "Moana" set to release on November 18th, a few days before the movie's release, I doubt we'll be seeing any less of him on our newsfeeds any time soon.

Cover Image Credit: Cloudinary

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5 Must Hear Albums From 2017

2017 was filled with good music, but for me these five albums stood out.

2017 was filled with really good music. The year saw some great emerging talent as well as some veterans returning to reinvigorate their genre. I am a lover and follower of music – strictly for entertainment, please don’t expect a full analysis of the albums I’m about to discuss – so I was very pleased by the releases in 2017. Here are the five albums that I felt were the best of 2017.

1. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.

Artist: Kendrick Lamar

Album: Damn.

Release: April 14, 2017

Favorite Song: XXX, featuring U2

If you are a fan of Kendrick Lamar, you know he was severely snubbed at the Grammy awards when his album "Good Kid M. A. A. D City" lost to Macklemore’s "The Heist", for Best Rap Album. Kendrick should have won, hands down. This year he has been nominated for six Grammy awards with his album and singles from "Damn". His single "HUMBLE." set the tone for his album and the rest of his song did not disappoint. The album ran the gamut of topics; from politics to other rappers, and even love. Kendrick’s album is a robust telling of his life and unlike some other rappers, he is not afraid to incorporate politics into his music. Kendrick is certainly one of the best – if not the best – rappers of our generation.

2. Khalid - American Teen

Artist: Khalid

Album: American Teen

Release: March 3, 2017

Favorite Song: Cold Blooded

Khalid makes you wish you were a teenager again; so you won’t feel so out-of-sorts singing along to songs explicitly about being in high school. Thankfully Khalid is graduated now and his next album should be a little more relatable to a slightly older generation. Despite the homage to high school, his album was amazing. His songs perfectly sum up what it’s like to feel like you’re in love only to have that emotion ripped away from you. He is young but he understands the human condition and how to condense it into a three-minute song.

His song "Cold Blooded", my favorite from the album, describes what it’s like to love someone even when they’re not great for you – and how hard it is to deal with their insecurities. He has been nominated for five Grammy awards. One of those – Song of the Year – is for "1-800-273-8255", a song he collaborated on with Logic and Alessia Cara.

3. MUNA - About U

Artist: MUNA

Album: About U

Release: February 3, 2017

Favorite Song: Do U Love Me Now?

MUNA is a girl band comprised of three members: Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin, and Naomi McPherson. They opened for Harry Styles on his first solo tour. Their music is probably best described as alternative-pop. The songs are lyrically brilliant and beautifully composed. The three members wanted to create songs that were relatable to the current societal climate. "Loudspeaker" is a strong tune that makes sure the audience knows MUNA isn’t apologizing for anything.

They’ll feel and act how they want. The song "So Special" discusses the consequences of slut shaming and the ridiculous standards we put on women to be “pure.” "I Know a Place" was played as a rallying cry after the terrorist attack in Orlando that killed many members of the LGBTQ community. MUNA is empathetic and unafraid to speak out against the political injustices of our time. I expect their next album to be just as relevant.

Side note: I got to meet this band when I attended a Harry Styles concert in October. They were extremely nice and humble and I am rooting for them.

4. Harry Styles - Harry Styles

Artist: Harry Styles

Album: Harry Styles

Release: May 12, 2017

Favorite Song: Ever Since New York

Harry Styles – yes, from One Direction – released his debut solo album in 2017 and it was really good. Styles went for a slightly different sound than what his fans had grown to expect. His self-titled album went across the board; it featured pop, rock, and even some country sounds. "Sign of the Times" his first single, was an alternative-rock anthem that sounded like it should have been played at a festival in the 70’s.

Styles really experimented with his sound and his creativity with his first album; like he was trying to test everything to see what stuck. For his sophomore album, I hope he nails down his sound and takes a few more risks lyrically.

5. SZA - CTRL

Artist: SZA

Album: Ctrl

Release: June 9, 2017

Favorite Song: Drew Barrymore

SZA, Solána Imani Rowe, is a talented singer and songwriter. Her album perfectly encapsulates what it is like to fall in and out of love in the current dating atmosphere. Ctrl garnered a lot of praise, along with a few Grammy nominations, after its release this past summer. "Love Galore" featuring Travis Scott, fit perfectly into the summer atmosphere and went platinum in the US.

Her album is vulnerable and enlightened; her song "Supermodel" discusses the artist’s insecurities. SZA is not afraid to be honest or controversial; "The Weekend" tells the story of sleeping with an already taken man. SZA has produced songs with Grammy winner Chance the Rapper and Grammy nominee, Kendrick Lamar.

Cover Image Credit: Malte Wingen

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The Band's Visit

A lesser-known, but still really great Broadway Musical

 

Hey everyone Steph here and today I’m going to continue with my lesser known shows series. Today we will take a look at The Band’s Visit! This is a show that is currently on Broadway! All information comes from Wikipedia.

The Band’s Visit is a musical composed by David Yazbek with book by Itamar Moses. The musical is based on the 2007 film of the same name. The musical premiered off-Broadway in December 2016. The show won the Obie Award for Musical Theatre in 2017, as well as other awards.

Productions

The original production premiered at the Atlantic Theater Company on November 11th, 2016. It closed on January 8th, 2017. It was directed by David Cromer, with choreography by Patrick McCollum, and movement by Lee Sher. This production started: Tony Shalhoub, Katrina Lenk, John Cariani, and Ari’el Satchel. The Broadway production began previews on October 7, 2017, and opened on. November 9th, 2017 where it is currently playing at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.

Synopsis of plot

In 1996, an Egyptian Police Band arrives in Israel to play a concert. This concert is to be given at the Arab Culture Center in Petah Tikvah. However, the Band buys bus tickets to Bet Haitikvah, an isolated village in the desert rather than the concert venue. The band is welcomed by the Israeli villagers, since they have no way out until the next day. The band’s members are given rooms to stay in by the villagers. The local cafe owner Dina, and the band leader, Colonel Zakaria Tewfiq dine together.

Changes between Off-Broadway and on Broadway

In addition to numerous script tweaks, the musical arrangements for several songs were updated. Itzik’s Lullaby, for example, was changed from a solo number, into a song with backing vocals.

Recordings

The cast recording for this show is out and available for streaming. I love it, and the music is just so delightful.

 






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