1st Place, Entertainment Page or Spread
2021-22, Division 4-5, News Design & Info Graphics
By Evan Ochoa, Abbi Bachman, Ria Lowenschuss
Ann Arbor Community HS
“BRANDO” LUCY DACUS
Let’s skip school and listen to “Brando” by Lucy Dacus. “Brando” is the 9th song on Dacus’s 2021 album, “Home Video.” NPR Music ranked “Home Video’’ third in their Top 10 Albums of 2021 ranking. The album is about growing up and the experiences that made her who she is. There are a lot of high school coming-of-age details through this album. She expands on discovering her bisexuality, and what she went through, from struggling in Vacation Bible School to her friend’s mom not letting her stay overnight at Dacus’ anymore.
The title Brando is a reference to the movie “A Streetcar Named Desire,” which premiered in 1951. In the song, Dacus’s love interest references this, showing the dynamic between the subject and how they thought they were superior to Dacus.
Dacus is a master of lyricism, which stands out in the line “Who doesn’t know left from right from wrong.” I love the wordplay, plus it is something I have never really seen done before. Dacus is very intentional with her lyrics throughout all her songs. The song is a narrative of the ups and downs of her relationship with this person, with a chorus of:
“All I need for you to admit is that you never knew me like you thought you did.” This line refers to a very dramatic friend she had in high school “whose whole personality was the media he consumed,” Dacus said.
“He claimed to know me better than anyone else but I started to feel like all he wanted from me was to be a scene partner in the movie of his life,” Dacus said in a press release.
Lucy Dacus will grip you with this song, and she won’t let go. We can all relate to someone feeling like they are better than you, just because they know an obscure artist or reference you don’t. Beyond that, Dacus has a way of writing emotions into poetry in her music. This song is one that really got me into her as an artist, and she’s now one of my absolute favorites
Beginning a new chapter in Rosalia’s career, “SAOKO” is the new single teasing her upcoming project “MOTOMAMI.” Revealed from the tracklist of this new record, “SAOKO” has been placed as the intro track of the album. It sounds as if it’s setting up for something more developed to come, with its stated yet brief presence.
The track starts off with off-kilter acoustic drum rhythms, sounding like an improvisation solo with a jazzy feel. Over this, Rosalia chants “Saoco, papi, saoco,” a saying which expresses a feeling of flair and swag, as if she’s lifting everyone around her. The overall tone of the song is to emulate a good time and uplift herself and her peers, celebrating everything they are.
“SAOKO’s” instrumentals happen to also be as uncompromising and brash, yet complicated and intricate, as Rosalia’s delivery and persona. Following the drum intro, a grimy synth bass loop starts to play, an element which will be present throughout the majority of the track. A beat also drops multiple times with a heavy, old-school dembow rhythm, an infectious sound which Rosalia has been pushing for with her latest offerings. Mixed with the braggadocio of her words, it’s clear to see how this song could set the tone for a full-length project, as well as show promise for what’s to come.
As a single, however, it is a structurally chaotic experience, latching onto multiple ideas and, in the end, is more of an intriguing piece of art than an absolute head-banger. With a relatively short run time of barely two minutes stuffs a multitude of diverse ideas into one track. With that said, its lack of replayability for me is less of a problem, considering this works well as a tempting teaser for the album to come. Since every idea here is executed well, the listener ends up wanting more than just a sample of it. Thus, any of the issues that could be nitpicked from this track are made up for by the song’s message and purpose.
“LAUREL HELL” MITSKI
Four years ago, indie-pop sensation Mitski disappeared from public view after releasing “Be the Cowboy,” her highly-acclaimed fifth album. Now, she has made her entrance back into the music world with “Laurel Hell,” after teasing fans with singles like “Working for the Knife.”
“Laurel Hell” is a return to the Mitski we know and love. In this collection of short, hard-hitting songs, Mitski creates a gorgeous and opinionated exploration of loving and losing, especially in the music industry.
Mitski wrote these songs as soon as “Be the Cowboy” was released in 2018, finishing the recordings during the Covid-19 pandemic. She released the first two singles “Working for the Knife” and “The Only Heartbreaker” in fall of 2021 to critical acclaim and growing excitement for her return to the spotlight.
I have never been a diehard Mitski fan, although I listen to and enjoy her music. In all honesty, I listened to her new album all the way through solely for this assignment. I thank the musical gods that I did. I fell in love with these songs because of Mitski’s raw and emotional writing and her varied musical talents — she draws from a multitude of genres, like electronic pop, country and blues.
“The Only Heartbreaker,” with its upbeat melody and downtrodden lyrics, is a stand-out song on “Laurel Hell.” It has not left my mind since I listened to the album. I feel connected to Mitski’s feelings of displacement and distrust of herself, which is especially prevalent in the lyrics, “So I’ll be the loser in this game/I’ll be the bad guy in the play/I’ll be the water main that’s burst and flooding.”
Mitski’s sixth album and her return to the music industry deserves to be celebrated. As an artist, a lyricist and a musician, Mitski blows music as we know it out of the water.
ND-11. Entertainment Page or Spread
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