Amelia Moore Throws a Pity Party on ‘Vinegar’

Amelia Moore has the most powerful chorus of 2022, thus far. In her new single, “vinegar,” out today, the 21-year-old Georgia native slowly builds throughout its verses, singing about the “bombs that bleed inside” of her and the “heavy crown” that weighs her down. When we arrive at Moore’s hook though, the expected explosion of power-pop production gets replaced with an entirely acapella performance: “Vinegar, pour it in my body,” Moore sings, her delicate, digitized falsetto fluttering in total silence. “Where it hurts, like a pity party.”

As the follow-up single to last year’s “sweet and sour,” Moore’s latest sees her join forces yet again with longtime collaborator Pink Slip — and their partnership is proving to be successful. “vinegar” is moving and effective, telling the personal story of heartache through sonics, not just lyrics. The height of the song pulls back almost everything, like a stomach dropping after receiving that text from an ex. Moore explains, “The creation of this song jump started my healing process and I hope it has the same effect on everyone who hears it.”

Listen to “vinegar,” below, ahead of Amelia Moore’s opening dates on tour with fellow alt-pop star FLETCHER in February and March.

In what ways do you see yourself shaking up the pop market, right now, through your music?

I’ve spent the last three years developing myself and my sound, and I’m ready to be an artist that defines a fresh take on “pop” music. I’m here to push boundaries and inspire a new left of center wave with originality and attention to detail.

What inspired your TikTok handle name, @iCRYATWORK? Does that still apply today?

I was in my old apartment on the phone with my producer, Pink Slip. We were talking about switching my social media handles when I looked at an art piece I made from some magazine scraps. I said, “What about iCRYATWORK? Just kidding that’s stupid right,” and Pink told me to see if its available, and it was. Complete and total accident, which I firmly believe is how all other genius ideas happen. But iCRYATWORK perfectly encompasses emotional vulnerability, which is not only extremely important to me, but it’s the exact feeling behind my brand new single, “vinegar.”

How do you go about telling honest, relatable stories while maintaining a pop appeal?

Creating art with people you can trust and feel comfortable around is key. I make music with my best friends and my best friends just happen to be the most talented pop writers and producers I know [laughs]. We just finished my debut EP, called teaching a robot to love, and there was a day I cried for literally four hours in the studio and they were all crying with me, holding me and giving me tissues.

Lyrically, what’s the story behind “vinegar”? Is it based off a true, personal experience?

“vinegar” is absolutely drawn from personal experience. My song mom, Gabriella Caspi, and I wrote this song about finally feeling ready to face all the baggage I’ve buried in a healthy and productive way. The lyrics take you through the progression of realization, action and release.

How’d you connect with Pink Slip? What’s the collaboration process like between you both?

I was introduced to Pink Slip during my first trip to LA three years ago through my good friends, JP Morray and Jacob Krupp. The first day we worked together we promised each other we’d win a Grammy and we’ve been inseparable ever since. Pink and I like to experiment a lot, whether that’s a crazy outro or a 400 layer gospel choir harmony on one line. We honestly just have fun.

The chorus is giving me major “Hide and Seek” Imogen Heap vibes. Did you think about her at all for this?

Of course. We were also really inspired by Bon Iver for this one. I’ve wanted to play with a vocoder for a really long time and “vinegar” felt like the perfect opportunity to do so.

Are there any other artists you look to for inspiration, whether in terms of style or sonics?

I feel like Rosalía and Kanye are my grandparents, Lorde and Frank Ocean are my mom and dad, and Charli XCX is my cousin.

When’s the last time you gave yourself a “pity party”? What was it for?

The other day I got in my car and immediately felt like I needed to cry. I turned on the song we just finished from the night before and just let myself feel everything. Ugly cried the entire way to the studio, very on brand of me.

How is “vinegar” a reflection of what’s to come from you in 2022?

Because it’s honest and relatable, not to mention sonically iconic and extremely refreshing. This song feels like a new beginning. I’m really just getting started this year, and I’m so excited to grow more into myself and show the world who Amelia Moore is.

Photography: Travis Bailey






Playing Dress-Up With TinyJewishGirl

TinyJewishGirl (real name: Clara Perlmutter) is truly obsessed with fashion. The 23-year-old became an internet sensation during the pandemic when her boredom with pajamas drove her to open her large and eclectic closet to the world of TikTok. She doesn’t do dances. She isn’t trying to looking sexy. She’s not even trying to put together outfits that make sense. She’s just exploring her encyclopedic knowledge of fashion and entertaining her followers in the process.

Tell me how you got started and came up with the idea to do this on TikTok. It’s a really unique perspective, the way you present fashion on TikTok.

I started NYU in the fall of 2017 and I was always wearing cute little outfits everywhere I went. Even if I was just running to the bodega, I was wearing something cute. Then the pandemic started and I moved from my apartment on the Lower East Side into my parents’ home in Connecticut. I was just wearing pajamas every single day. Granted, I do have some cute pajamas. Before the pandemic, I would go out and thrift fuzzy pajama pants, and I would wear them as real pants to parties with cute sneakers and a cropped tank top, maybe, and some layered jewelry. So I did have cute pajamas, it wasn’t all depressing clothing.

But I was getting pretty depressed, not putting on outfits every day. So I just started posting. I found a bag full of children’s shorts from Limited Too from my childhood in the back of my closet. I put them on and they all magically fit. I posted a video trying on those shorts and I think it maybe got 10,000 views, which to me at the time was an impossibly large amount of views. My camp friends were all trying to go viral doing TikTok dances, but I don’t think any of them had any success with that. So they would write in the group chat like, “Oh, I just posted this TikTok, check it out.” Which is how I got on TikTok in the first place during the pandemic.

After that video blew up, I was like, “Oh, it felt really good to just try on all this clothing.” So I started documenting trying on clothing, putting together outfits. What’s funny is my videos did not go viral at first because of anything I was wearing. It was actually because I had a lot of body hair. I had armpit hair and, I don’t know, apparently this was not normal in June 2020. I would get a lot of hate comments about it, so that would boost the algorithm and my videos would go super viral. People would jump to my defense and I would make video responses where I responded really maturely to haters and just explained, “Body hair is normal. I have it, everyone grows it, whatever.” So I started to game traction from that, but I was still nonetheless posting my fashion videos.

Talk about your style.

I’ve always had a playful, distinctive style. I definitely was ostracized for a while in high school. Being in the city, I got to fully express myself. I’ve never been afraid to experiment and I’ve always gone for things that are more eclectic. I aim for things to not make sense together. So when my fashion content started getting more attention on TikTok, people would always be like, “Is this a joke? Is this satire?” And I’d be like, “Why would I be investing in these pieces if I was going to wear them as a joke for a TikTok?’” Then I’d show my wardrobe and I’d show how much clothing I had, and people would be like, “Okay yeah, that is a lot of clothing. Maybe it isn’t a joke.”

That’s a lot of work for a joke.

I’ve heard from a lot of people on TikTok that I’m an acquired taste. People will message me, or a video will blow up and I’ll get a lot of hate on an outfit, but I’ll still gain followers off it. Then months later, I’ll get messages. I get these messages on a daily basis that’ll basically be like, “I used to hate you. I hate followed you. I thought your outfits were horrible.” Some people, they’re like, “I thought you were terrifying,” which I don’t really get. But then those, “But now you inspire me to be myself and you inspire me every day to express myself,” and all of this really nice stuff. So it’s backhanded nonetheless.

Seeing someone be themselves can be scary a little bit just because it makes you realize that you are not being your authentic self. I think the negative reaction comes from a place of a war with yourself. And when people see me continually being myself no matter what anyone says, that helps other people learn to be more comfortable in their own skin.

Your style reminds me of Chloë Sevigny in the ’90s. I would see her wearing something crazy and totally not get it, although I knew she was brilliant and knew what she was doing. It just took me a while to figure it out.

People will comment also on a daily basis saying that they’re starting to understand me and they realize that what I’m doing is smart. Also, I used to just do short videos where I show the different articles of clothing that I’m wearing. I’ve recently transitioned to doing more things where I let people in a little bit on my thought process and I’ll even include clips where I’ve tried something on and I say it doesn’t work and I explain why I don’t think it works. So I’ve been more open about my thought process just because I realized that people find it interesting and it also helps people. But at the same time, I love something that aesthetically seems like it has no grip on reality.

I’ve been psychotic in my life. I have bipolar disorder, I’ve been hospitalized and stuff. So I really own the term “deranged” and I feel like that’s what I’m going for a lot of the time. I also like to go for grandiose, out of touch things. People are like, “Oh, it doesn’t make sense,” but I’m like, “Well, who says it has to make sense?” It’s bright, it’s visually appealing, it’s eclectic and I find that fun.

I love it. It’s almost like, “That makes no sense,” and you’re like, “Thank you, that’s the point.”

I do take it as a compliment.

I’m extremely impressed with some of your favorite designers. How do you even know what Voyage is or how do you know what M Missoni in the early 2000s looked like? Do you do research or where have you gained this extensive fashion knowledge?

M Missoni in the early 2000s, my mom was buying it and I have pieces from her that she would wear that I remember super fondly from my early childhood. I am doing research constantly. Honestly, I don’t even think it’s a sane or healthy thing, the way that I would just go down rabbit holes to give myself purpose. But when I was in Zoom school, when I wasn’t in school, I was doing deep dives on Poshmark. I’d find a brand and then I’d look up literally every single piece from that brand on the internet. I look at everything and then from there I decide if I want to buy something. Because I know everything that’s there, I know what’s good and I get a general sense of the whole collection.

But Voyage, specifically, I was in a thrift store in Berlin and on a clearance rack was a pair of Voyage pants. I picked them up and they had embroidery of a mushroom and it had zig-zag seams with rhinestones on them, and it had a raw hem waistline with no belt loops. I was like, “These are the greatest pants ever.” I’m a jeans person, I’m an embroidered, printed, whatever type of pants person. So I bought them immediately. I tried them on, they fit well enough. They were a little big, but I was like, “Okay, I’ll make it work.” And it had the tag on them. From there, if I find something that I like at a thrift store or wherever, I’m going to do a ton of research. I love school, I love learning and I just treat this as another type of learning. I’ve devoted a lot of time to it. I will read articles on the internet, I will look through resale websites, I will look through old ads. I will find out everything I can find out. I will look at my computer screen for so long that my eyes are staring in two different directions and I get a migraine.

It becomes unpleasant, but I’m really committed to the rabbit hole, the research. And so from Voyage, after I got those pants, it was just a ton of research. I waited a while until I found the perfect pair of pants I wanted to buy and I got those. And then I got another pair of pants. After only three pairs of pants, all in different sizes, you start to figure out stuff like, “Oh, the sizing is horrible. It runs two sizes too small.” After that I started getting really good at finding things and searching different terms instead of just investing in the original Voyage. Sometimes you search Voyage jeans, sometimes you search Voyage London. But everything I found after the first three pairs of pants I got has been really, really cheap because I search on a weekly basis just to see what pops up that’s new. I realize that’s a brand where a lot of people don’t know anything about it.

At all.

So the person who’s selling it doesn’t necessarily know anything about it a lot of the time, and won’t bother to look it up so you can find it for cheap because they don’t know what they’re sitting on. Even though it’s one-of-a-kind handmade and all that, they have no idea.

You seem to love very high-end esoteric things, but you’re not a fashion snob. You just like things that you like, whether they’re legendary or high-end or OG or cool or new. Is that true or are you a bit of a label whore?

I’m not a label whore at all. I always tell people that there’s a lot of brands that aren’t designer, but they’re designer to me. And things that aren’t high-end at all.

I’m not buying new fast fashion, even if it’s aesthetically interesting. That’s not for me. I’m more into secondhand, sustainable shopping, even though the amount of clothing I own admittedly is not sustainable at all. But yeah, it’s really just about if I’m consistently blown away by what they’re doing. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be really loud because a lot of the clothing I own is loud, but then I have a huge collection of Stella McCartney-era Chloé. I’m fully a collector, I spend so much time every week searching for pieces. And most of that stuff is pretty minimal, the color palette is very muted.

But I think good design is good design. A pair of jeans with an interesting zipper placement or an interesting decal or a shirt that has the perfect cut, the perfect three quarter sleeves and a nice material. I like good design in general, not just bold design.

I love that you love Stella-era Chloé, because I love Stella Chloé, I love Phoebe Chloé, I love this girl, Hannah Fitzgibbon for Chloé. Tell me about Stella Chloé versus Chloé today, and what your thoughts are on it.

I’ve asked my friends, “What do you think of Chloé today?” And they’ll always say the same thing that I say, which is it is a perfect brand. Anytime I dress in a Chloé color palette on TikTok or inspired by Chloé on TikTok, people will be like, “What’s wrong with you? Where are all the layers? What are you doing? Where is the color?” And I’m like, “No, I’m just expressing a different side of my interests, which doesn’t always come out.” But I think the price point is really unattainable for me.

At the same time, every single day I go online and I look at Poshmark, the Real Real, eBay, I look at every single new Chloé thing that has been listed. I sort chronologically and I see everything new because I want to get a good sense of what’s for sale, everything, all the collections. I don’t want to just see them on the runway, I want to see some close-up pictures, all of that. It is an obsession of mine, new Chloé. I think it’s still perfect. I think it has been perfect throughout. I’m not as into Karl Lagerfeld Chloé, actually.

Why?

Of all the decades, I’m the least into the ’80s. There’re some brands that were big in the ’80s that I really love, like Christian Lacroix, but the ’80s is what I’m least into, so I’m not as into Karl’s. But I’ll see pieces from Karl’s collection online and I’ll be like, “Okay, that’s gorgeous, that’s gorgeously made.” I think it’s less youthful. What I really love about Stella McCarthy’s era of Chloé is she was so young and what she had to say was so relevant and it was so geared towards people who were my age.

I’m about to be 23 and in terms of design, just the way the low rise cut of everything, the fit and flare of things are so flattering, the interesting sleeves or the way a shirt will be the perfect amount of cropped, or the decals of fruit. Anything, everything, the horses on them, all of that is just so youthful, so fun. And also at the same time, really sexy and mature. It’s the perfect balance of youthful and mature. I have this tube top, it’s a cream colored tube top and has tigers printed on it. From Stella McCartney Chloé, I can’t remember the collection off the top of my head, but I’ve never put on a tube top and been like, “Yeah, I look mature,” other than this one tube top that I own.


TinyJewishGirl’s 20 Favorite Brands From the Past Few DecadesStella McCartney-era Chloé​

I love that a brand like Chloé gave a voice to such a young person like Stella McCartney. Anyone complaining about nepotism here can get lost. This decision was a blessing to us all, the girl clearly had a lot to say. I believe I have about 30 items in my Stella Chloe collection, ranging from jeans to a corset to sunglasses.

Voyage

The Invest in the Original Voyage line all being one-of-a-kind and handmade really appeals to the individuality complex that I developed after spending high school getting bullied for being “alternative.” I’ll admit that the diffusion lines don’t speak to me as much and I’ve passed up many opportunities to purchase pieces from them, even when the price was right. This is a brand that I actively collect and I will talk about to anyone who will listen, so I love that there is a nice history accompanying the brand, even including some drama, like famously kicking Madonna out of their store.

Mid ’90s Gaultier

People on TikTok have started saying recently that I dress like I’m from the future or for the future. I think during the mid ’90s, Gaultier had a good run of designing for a future. I mean, he even did explicitly that for the movie, The Fifth Element. I’m obsessed with the ’90s-does-future sci-fi aesthetic and Gaultier had a good run where many pieces from his collections could fit that description. And here we are, wearing all of that stuff two decades later.

Marc Jacobs

The single most hated article of clothing in my collection on TikTok are my Marc Jacobs micro shorts. I can’t remember what collection they are from off the top of my head, but they are yellow and silver jacquard, and TikTok insists that they make me look like I’m wearing a diaper. My love for them is unwavering, though. I read a book on Marc Jacobs on an airplane once in high school and I’ve been obsessed with him ever since. I miss Marc by Marc Jacobs, but God, was Heaven a great idea. Marc Jacobs is a genius and there is not a single person alive who looks better in a skirt than he does. I love his personal aesthetic, as well, like the decision to tattoo cartoons all over his body. I want the hoodie that he made with cartoons of his cartoon tattoos placed on the hoodie where they are placed on his actual body so badly. I look for it every week, but I’ve been unsuccessful so far.

Stella McCartney

I just stopped being a vegan because I was starting to feel sickly after four years of keeping it up, but I have infinite respect for Stella’s commitment to keeping animal products out of her designs and for her commitment to sustainability. Stella McCartney is also, undeniably, a cool person, aside from her designs. And damn, do I want a Rock Royalty shirt, but only if I can find the Chloé pants with the cutouts that Stella wore with that shirt to the Met Gala.

Moschino and Jeremy Scott

I designed my major at NYU Gallatin around cultural criticism and creative writing, and I truly believe that Jeremy Scott’s work is brilliant cultural commentary. I never took any fashion classes in school or even wrote any papers on fashion, but if I had another semester to go, I would’ve found some way to work a paper on Jeremy Scott’s cultural commentary in his collections into my classwork. God damn, do I have at least 3,000 words to say on the matter. I finally got a pair of Jeremy Scott Adidas and I am so jazzed about it. Old Moschino is great, too, and I love my vintage pieces, but Jeremy Scott is harder for me. I think he’s designing for the future, as well. The McDonalds stuff is straight out of Idiocracy.

Versace

My boyfriend’s grandfather just died recently. As his health was declining, we bonded over fashion. He had a large collection of Gianni Versace pieces because, as he put it, “Gianni Versace knew how to make a man feel sexy.” I love that he said that. Versace, especially menswear, and especially from when Gianni Versace was alive, will always make me think of Grandpa Norman.

Versace by Donatella

Grandpa Norman tried keeping up with Versace after Gianni’s death, but his heart wasn’t really in it and he stopped buying it eventually. I am not as familiar with Donatella’s menswear as I am with her women’s collections. Donatella designed clothing in the early 2000s that childhood me envisioned wearing if I was ever famous.

Karl Lagerfeld Fendi

I don’t know if I’m supposed to admit this, and rest in peace and whatnot, but I don’t think I like Karl Lagerfeld’s work as much as I am supposed to as someone who is into fashion. Karl Lagerfeld’s Fendi is the endeavor of his that gives me hope that I’ll someday fall down the whole Karl Lagerfeld career retrospective rabbit hole. When I look through the Spring 2000 collection, a soundtrack of angels singing plays in my head. I think I dress to make my younger self happy, and I have such vivid memories of being a little kid in the early 2000s and looking at adult women in magazines and being excited to become that some day. Karl Lagerfeld’s Fendi in that era made clothing for the grown up that I wanted to become.

2000s M Missoni

My mom had quite a few M Missoni dresses when I was growing up, and she’d always whip them out when we went to family and friends’ bar mitzvahs. In fact, she wore a very sexy bodycon M Missoni dress with a huge cutout at the chest to my b’nai mitzvah party. I wish I could wear it, but it’s nip slip central on me. My mom instilled in me and my sister our love of fashion and, more significantly, taught us to be good shoppers. I have nothing but fond memories of my mom’s style moments.

David Dalrymple for Patricia Field​

David Dalrymple designed for Patricia Field’s line, House of Field. I think Patricia Field is a god amongst men and I hold David Dalrymple in the same esteem. On numerous occasions, I have lost bidding wars on his pieces and it seems those items end up on big fashion world people’s Instagrams months later. I’m all about pieces finding a good home, so I can’t even be mad.

Ungaro

My grandma has showed me some of her very old Ungaro pieces. They are all awesome, but when I later saw what Ungaro was up to in the early 2000s I was stunned. If Karl for Fendi designed for the adult woman that I wanted to be, early 2000s Ungaro was designed for the teenager that early 2000s high school movies made me expect to become. Butterflies, sequins, beads, ruffles, lace. Cropped everything.

Betsey Johnson

I’m actually working for Steve Madden, who owns Betsey Johnson, doing social media marketing and am about to take on some responsibilities with Betsey. If social media had existed my whole life, this would certainly be a lifelong dream come true. Betsey is whimsical, bright and the best type of kitschy. I respect Betsey, herself, as a lifelong devotee to kooky style and hope to maintain even half of her vibrancy throughout my life.

Cavalli

Cavalli is one of those spectacular examples of a brand whose diffusion lines are just as incredible as the main line. Cavalli is just hot. Period. End of story.

​ Tyler McGillivary

Tyler McGillivary is a great designer, but also a nice person who I am friends with. She sent me some pieces recently and I wore a very beautiful bodycon dress by her to my high school reunion. I was very overdressed, which was perfect. She has such a brilliant sense of color and her prints are amazing.

Casablanca

Casablanca makes the most incredible button down shirts. They’re very loud, almost like ’80s and ’90s Versace button downs, but somehow much less gaudy with less offensive (and more visually appealing) color palettes.

​Hope Macaulay

I know exactly how I am going to look when I someday buy a Hope Macaulay knit and try it on, which is bulky. I love that. I’m petite with truly no shoulders, and any time I put on a really thick knit, I look in the mirror and immediately feel powerful. I think that comes from having an incredibly muscular mom (What you’re probably picking up on at this point is that I am, without a doubt, a product of my upbringing). I love her sense of color and I cannot wait to own a piece by Hope, hopefully someday soon.

Max Mulder

I love funky knits. Max Mulder pieces look like abstract portraits of bugs that I would be terrified of (if you look at their Instagram, you will understand exactly what I mean). I am all about facing my fears, so that is the number one thing in my SSENSE cart.

Eytys

My dyslexic boyfriend got so mad when he found out how Eytys was pronounced after looking at the spelling on Instagram for ages. Eytys is so fun, so cool and so hot. Great shoes. Strong aesthetics. They’re also living in the future.

Charlotte Knowles

Can I just flex for a moment and say that I have had Charlotte Knowles on my radar since before Bella Hadid wore it? For the record, not a dig at Bella Hadid, by the way. She’s very cool and I respect the fact that anything she wears suddenly enters the running to become a trend. Just trying to tell you that I, too, am cool. Charlotte Knowles is ridiculously sexy and I love a brand with a strong color palette.

Photography: James Emmerman

Styling: Scott Shapiro

Hair: Matt Benns

Makeup: Kento Utsubo

Photo assistant: John Novotny

Styling assistant: Jasmine James

Makeup assistant: Mana Atsumi




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Ascend With Poog, the Spiritual Beauty Podcast

For Kate Berlant and Jacqueline Novak, it all started with the promise of free beauty products and an extremely LA fascination with wellness culture.

From keto diets to mud baths to the boob cream Berlant received moments before our Zoom conversation, the multibillion-dollar industry has seemingly taken over the world. So in an effort to explore the bizarre, weird and, at times, existential sphere of self-care, the two longtime friends started their iHeartRadio podcast, Poog, and slowly turned it into a much broader survey of culture and whatever the fuck else they want to talk about.

In many ways, the comedians — who refer to themselves as “The Hags” — are the perfect people to execute such a heady, far-reaching concept, imbuing it with a lightness that one wouldn’t expect for a podcast that tackles topics like spiritual consumerism and the notion of shame, in addition to Berlant spearheading discussions about beauty, skincare and food, and Novak acting as the go-to source for all things wellness, including spirituality, mental health and, also, skincare.


As such, their podcast takes its name from Gwyneth Paltrow’s notorious lifestyle and wellness brand, Goop. However, Poog is different from similarly branded podcasts in the sense that Berlant and Novak use beauty and wellness as a starting point to talk about everything from snorkeling to dairy-free alternatives to colonics to analytical psychology, as proven by our 45 minute-long side conversation about Jung’s theory of synchronicity and ghosts potentially being a projection of the psyche.

“Wellness and beauty are really our Trojan horse, because the conversations devolve into just Jacqueline and I talking about, like, Interstellar,” Berlant said, before Novak added that it’s more about the “abstract parts of our interests and getting vaguely existential.”

“But it’s also dipping into products. We move back and forth,” Novak said. “Like we’re talking about Spirit and our most intimate sort of spiritual concerns, and then pivoting into blueberry martinis and creams.”





But underlying the constant ping-ponging between concepts is Poog’s desire to bring them together for a series of on-the-fly conversations that are equal parts off-kilter and insightful, which includes their lack of interest in apologizing for their love of “frivolous” things or intellectualizing the common critique surrounding the idea of “self-care” turning into this “capitalist monster,” per Berlant.

“To me, [Poog] is this space where all those things that are considered frivolous or weirdly feminine can live. It’s almost like [embracing] all these things that we’re expected to hide in spaces like the workplace,” Novak explained, with Berlant saying that they’re trying to point out that wellness, beauty and the cult “obsession” surrounding these things are “not to be devalued.”

Granted, Berlant said they have one very slight critique that mostly hinges on the industry’s current “focus on the exterior,” instead of the “interior.” Specifically, she referenced the inner work and healing that should be considered “the real fucking wellness,” though she was also quick to add that outwards-facing self-care is still “real and valid in its own right.” Because after all, Poog isn’t about shaming anyone (including themselves), rather, it’s about simultaneously “interrogating” these sorts of dynamics, while also being open to their own adherence to the “pleasure is paramount” principle.


On a similar note, Novak stressed that wellness has acted, for her, as a kind of “secret doorway” out of bouts of depression, saying that it was nice to “feel this joy at caring about stupid shit again,” before adding that there’s a lot of “healing psychology” incorporated into spirituality and self-care given their ability to get you out of that “judging mind place.”

“I was just trying to find a way to live life and that took me down those paths, which I happen to really enjoy. I sort of joke about being addicted to healing,” Novak said as a stray feather began to float around her room. A message that she’s on the right path from her spirit guides and the Archangels, I said, before things quickly devolve into a conversation about the Old Testament and The Sopranos. Just as it should.

Listen to Poog here.

Welcome to “Internet Explorer,” a column by Sandra Song about everything Internet. From meme histories to joke format explainers to collections of some of Twitter’s finest roasts, “Internet Explorer” is here to keep you up-to-date with the web’s current obsessions — no matter how nonsensical or nihilistic.

Photography: Julian Buchan
Creative direction: Julian Buchan and Liam Moore
Production design: Liam Moore
Lighting design: Stefan Ferra
Styling: Chris Horan
Styling assistant: Lauren Jeworski
Makeup: Ally McGillicuddy
Hair: Gregg Lennon Jr
Hair assistant: Bailey Stiles
Producer: Katie White

Say Goodbye to the Green M&M’s Baddie Phase

Say bye-bye to the Green M&M‘s lip gloss and go-go boots.

On Thursday, Mars Wrigley revealed that the M&M characters had been redesigned to be “more inclusive, welcoming, and unifying” within a “more dynamic, progressive world.”

“M&M’S has long been committed to creating colorful fun for all, and this purpose serves as a more concrete commitment to what we’ve always believed as a brand: that everyone has the right to enjoy moments of happiness, and fun is the most powerful way to help people feel that they belong,” chief growth officer Cathryn Sleight said in a press release. “As one of the world’s most iconic candy brands, who better to commit to a world with more moments of fun by increasing a sense of belonging around the globe than M&M’S?”

The makeover, which also extends to the six characters’ personalities, includes some big changes like the Orange M&M’s acknowledgment of his anxiety and a friendlier relationship between the Brown and Green M&Ms to emphasize the importance of women supporting women.

However, Brown and Green’s style overhauls have garnered way more attention than their newfound friendship, with a newly bespectacled Ms. Brown getting some new block heels and Ms. Green no longer being an anthropomorphic sex icon. Granted, it’s the latter that has Twitter up in arms, seeing as how Green’s lip gloss and long lashes are no more, not to mention her iconic white go-go boots, which have since been switched out for “casual sneakers.” A travesty, indeed.

They really got my sis Green M&M in these old maiden, 40-50 year old auntie sneakers instead of their iconic boots. I- pic.twitter.com/xdO2FAfCya

— ɳew year ɳick (@Creat1ve) January 20, 2022

We love an inclusive rebrand, of course, especially when it comes to product logos and mascots that actually do need a serious update. On the other hand, we also loved that Ms.Green was unapologetically hot and knew it, using it to expose the male M&Ms as the blathering fools they are, which is exactly what we mean when we’re talking about bad bitch representation.

Needless to say, the internet has spent the day mourning the loss of our hottie candy queen in the only way it knows how: By making tongue-in-cheek jokes about the switch-up being “slut erasure” and an attack on a “sex positive icon.”

“The green M&M, newly liberated from her white boots, lets loose,” NPR’s Danielle Kurtzleben wrote while parodying the radio giant’s popular “Fresh Air” broadcast. “She talks social reproduction theory, how patriarchy and capitalism violently reinforce each other, and what a sexy lady M&M says about gender as a construct.”

what they’re doing to the green m&m is slut erasure. despicable

— Joanna Rothkopf (@joannarothkopf) January 20, 2022

every single one of my tinder bios was a crime but I was proud of “red m&m in the streets, green m&m in the sheets” anyway rip to a sex positive icon

— Tori Bedford (@Tori_Bedford) January 20, 2022

Today on Fresh Air:

The green M&M, newly liberated from her white boots, lets loose. She talks social reproduction theory, how patriarchy and capitalism violently reinforce each other, and what a sexy lady M&M says about gender as a construct.

Stay with us.

— Danielle Kurtzleben (@titonka) January 20, 2022

Meanwhile, others compared Ms. Green’s new look to Lola Bunny’s controversial makeover for Space Jam 2, with writer Brittany Spanos writing, “they’re silencing the fictional hotties.”

first lola bunny and now the green m&m….they’re silencing the fictional hotties

— brittany spanos (@ohheybrittany) January 20, 2022

Truer words have never been tweeted. R.I.P. an icon.

Photo via Shutterstock / Ekaterina Minaeva





Blake Gray’s Louis Vuitton Photo Diary From Paris

In the past few years, TikTok superstar Blake Gray has been courted by nearly every top fashion brand in the world, from Valentino to Balmain to Ferragamo and more. Thanks to his huge online reach — 10+ million followers on TikTok, over five million on Instagram etc. — the social media phenom has become a front row fixture in New York, Milan and beyond. He also hosted the red carpet arrivals for last year’s CFDA Awards.

Last December, Gray flew out to Miami for Louis Vuitton’s menswear show, which was held just days after its men’s artistic director Virgil Abloh passed away. The show doubled as a memorial and tribute for the late designer, whose final collection for the brand debuted yesterday as part of Men’s Paris Fashion Week. Gray was once again invited to the show, and he documented his day for PAPER in an exclusive photo diary, below.

“Slept in super late (thanks jet lag) and started off my day around noon with my favorite dish: Homemade Spaghetti Bolognese.”

“Went straight into grooming with a full stomach and lots of excitement for the show. Tried something new with my hair and went with a middle part.”

“Finally ready for the show! Super pumped and filled with joy to see Virgil’s last collection in person tonight.”

“One of my favorite things I’m wearing tonight has to be my shoes. Super classy and I always love a good clean white sneaker.”

“I hope they have this look in my size.”

“Just got back to the hotel. The show was amazing and I loved everything on the runway! Definitely gonna have to go shopping tomorrow.”

“This is where I’ll be sleeping tonight. Sweet dreams!”

iPhone photos: Courtesy of Blake Gray/ Professional Photography: Tiziano Raw

Christy Carlson Romano Wants a Queer ‘Cadet Kelly’ Reboot

Christy Carlson Romano spilled the tea in 2021: about why she and Shia LaBeouf aren’t friends; how she lost $60,000 to psychics; how she could have been Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries. The former child actress who helmed her career on Disney as perfectionist Ren Stevens in Even Stevens, the strict “villain” Jennifer Stone in Cadet Kelly and the voice of Kim Possible spent the majority of the year dishing on her life behind the scenes — connecting the hunger for celebrity gossip with broader life lessons on YouTube. And she’s gone viral for it.

Romano, though now, is far from her days at Disney. Well, at least in terms of working. Currently, she’s sporting a crewneck sweatshirt with Mickey Mouse’s signature icon emblazoned on it. “I was like, ‘I’m going to wear it ironically because PAPER understands,’” she chirps over Zoom from her home office. Based in the Austin Texas area, Romano has enough sprawling land around her to spread out. Pivoting toward the window of her office, she insists on showing me her daily view teeming with the greenery often captured in her videos. “When you think of Texas you’re like, ‘flat and hot,’” she explains. “That’s just not the way Austin is. It’s very lush and there’s water.” And it’s where the magic of making her video content happens.

Born in Connecticut, the former child actress made her Broadway debut as Mary Phagan in the musical Parade before landing her role as Ren. For years, she’d balance a handful of Disney projects, try her hand at a music career and even pen a novel. Romano found herself confronting demons along the way, struggling with depression, self-harm and addiction. After getting married and before getting pregnant, she’d make the decision to be sober. “Mentally I had drank every drink and partied at every party,” she says of her revelation. “I had seen and done a million things, and I’d had my heart broken a million times.”

Her relationship with Hollywood had transformed, too. She moved into more voice acting roles and TV films and movies. But after a while, Romano felt like she was being typecast as “the bitchy brunette.” She could do it, but she felt like the talent pool was too big and “it was too complicated to vie for the opportunity to work.” Instead, she decided it was time to start working for herself. In 2011, she enrolled at Barnard College where she earned a film studies degree, which has helped in establishing her platform.

The current iteration of Romano’s YouTube channel is a departure from what it was a few years back. In 2019, Romano began her first foray in the digital space with Christy’s Kitchen Throwback, where she’d invite former Disney co-stars and childhood actors to cook with her. From what she could tell, her audience “didn’t want her to do off-the-cuff stuff:” They craved splashy, curated content. Ironically, it’s the opposite of what has helped her channel take off now. Romano struggled with how to present herself because her audience knew her from a particular era. ”I’m not all that different of a person [now], but I think that your emotional range changes as your life experience grows,” she says.

But it became a challenge to secure celebrities and incentivize them. “We were starting to pay people to come on the show and that felt a little inauthentic to the show itself,” she recalls. Her views weren’t spiking and “ad-wise I wasn’t making a ton of money with this high production value.” So she began testing out content. Romano ended up pivoting to a giveaway show, but she was no MrBeast. She attempted reaction videos, but the celebrity coordination aspect was, again, a challenge.

She considered leaving YouTube, but in the interim, she was also building her TikTok presence. A video of Romano speaking to her younger self, called “Big Sis Advice,” went viral for its candor from the perspective of her younger self and current self: “It was me checking in mental health-wise with a person as if we were FaceTiming.” During the TikTok video, she was also walking and moving — something inherent to it that she felt appealed to viewers. And then there was the added isolation of COVID. “I realized quickly that what people were wanting and what they’re really needing since the pandemic is to feel like they have someone to talk to,” she explains. “They need that connection, they need that community.”

Romano, who had long avoided discussing her Hollywood experience, had an epiphany for what to do next: “Let’s give the people what they want. Let’s talk about Shia LaBeouf. Let’s talk about ‘Circle of Life.’ Let’s talk about what it’s like to have stalkers. Let’s give the people the stories that they never knew I had inside of me.” It was pretty easy since “the media runs with it.” But for Romano, there was a strategy behind it. She ultimately decided that while perhaps the gossip or Hollywood history element would lure people in, she wanted “to extract a bigger purpose” from her 10-minute videos. “I’m trying to provide somebody with something more than just a tea element,” she says.

It was her video about LaBeouf, titled “Why I Don’t Talk to Shia LaBeouf” that went viral — a meditative visual that featured Romano telling her story while walking a path in nature. (Those walks have become hallmarks of her videos now.) The clickbait headline garnered the attention of Disney fans and older millennials, and from there, Romano was on the road to a rebrand. For her, she needed to muddle through the discontent and confusion she endured, and find a throughline into her present-day career. “It’s like, ‘How do you lean into the past, but also embrace it and make it okay and positive?’” she asks. And more importantly, she didn’t want it to be “cheesy.”

You might be wondering if Romano is worried that she’ll run out of stories to share. At the moment, she block-shoots five episodes, which covers her for a while. And because she’s been in the entertainment industry since she was six years old, she has roughly 20 years of stories. Still, she treads lightly with her past and others. “There’s some lines that just don’t need to be crossed, not because I don’t want them to be crossed, but more or less because there’s no value to them,” she says. Some of her audience, she’s found, want her to add a “sense of conspiracy” to her videos.” But she’s here to talk about her lived experience. The reason why she believes her approach works is because she has authority on the topic she’s discussing on her channel, which adds value.

Despite highlighting certain celebrities in her videos – like LaBeouf, Hathaway or Hilary Duff – Romano has yet to hear from anyone she’s included in her storytelling. She’s happier, she says, that it hasn’t happened. “I probably would feel really self-conscious about making any other videos if it came back to me and they were having any kind of opinion,” she laughs. Regardless of what stories she shares, she still has a lot of empathy for the famous people in them. “I still have a respect for them because I know where they’re coming from,” she says of her peers.

For Romano, the Disney characters that have defined her career have remained on her mind. Just like fans have long-theorized that there were queer undertones between her character Jennifer and Duff’s Kelly, she’s thought about it, too. “I personally believe that Jennifer Stone [in Cadet Kelly] would be a really interesting character if she was married to a woman and she was the principal of a school,” she says, before adding, “And there was a Kelly student that came and then she had to deal with that again.” The actress believes it could prompt a reboot that way. She believes it “would be a big deal for Disney” and for representing the LGBTQ+ community in the military as long as it wasn’t “for an inauthentic play.” And Ren? Romano thinks she’d be working in politics and found the man of her dreams.

With her re-storytelling, Romano has reflected on her own experiences working at Disney and what she wants to do to pave the way forward. “What I appreciated about Disney was that they always really did try to make sure that the kids were okay,” she recalls. All film productions, she believes, would benefit from having a social worker or an advocate on set “that would protect the mental health of the children.” Through her conversations on YouTube, she wants to endorse that. “I never would’ve probably thought to advocate for that kind of thing, unless I came to terms with some of this drama,” Romano says. While she thinks people want her to disparage Disney, she won’t – she’s fond of the network. She just wants the entertainment industry to be better for the next generation: “It’s just bigger than the topic of, ‘Did Disney fuck you up?’ It’s more or less, ‘What is the industry doing as a whole to protect kids?’”

Whether her videos center celebrities in them or not, Romano’s channel will remain a place to share her own metamorphosis with the ASMR backdrop of her Austin hikes. If her audience is there, she wants to be the “safe space” for them: “I’m the big sister who figured it out.”

Photo courtesy of Christy Carlson Romano


When We Were Young Festival Memes Are Already Here

In a sign that the nostalgia train is finally catching up with Millennials and Gen Z (and that we as a generation are, in fact, getting older), the newly announced emo/ pop punk throwback festival, When We Were Young, is already getting a lot of buzz.

Featuring a lineup that reads like the t-shirt wall in a Hot Topic, the fledgling festival is set to take place later this year in Las Vegas with headliners My Chemical Romance, Paramore, Avril Lavigne, The Used, AFI, Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday and more. The lineup of emo, pop punk and post-hardcore acts ranges from the peak 2000s to more contemporary artists and the festival announcement immediately triggered a wave of gushing nostalgia from former angsty teenagers who spent their formative years writing Wattpad fanfics and fantasizing about their dream Warped Tour lineups as if they were a fantasy football draft.

Amidst the all the reminiscing about the cringey RAWR xD days, the festival has already drawn its fair share of criticisms from the relatively benign, like the glaring omission of The Killers from an event called “When We Were Young,” to concerns over pricing and organizers. Given the current climate surrounding festival safety in the wake of last month’s Astroworld tragedy, the fact that Live Nation, the same promoter behind Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits and said ill-fated Travis Scott festival, were also the same people putting on When We Were Young did raise a few alarmed eyebrows.

That said, a generation that grew up on platforms like MySpace, LiveJournal and Tumblr processed the news using the only way they know how: memes.

me and my friends pulling up to the When We Were Young festivalpic.twitter.com/zEaAeVk8Xr — VS (@VS)
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pic.twitter.com/hJLFbjK3Wg — Cameron Hurley (@Cameron Hurley)
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Is this a Twitter Spacehttps://twitter.com/wwwyfest/status/1483499818357964802u00a0u2026 — Ghostly (@Ghostly)
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pic.twitter.com/u9QNuPQsz2 — BOW!E u2606 (@BOW!E u2606)
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my timeline rnpic.twitter.com/GjvMQRLuwk — Soup (@Soup)
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rumor has it the when we were young festival wristband will be an i heart boobies bracelet — Molly Sheban (@Molly Sheban)
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Me at when we were young festivalpic.twitter.com/q3GJvxkWgO — Sonny Side Up (@Sonny Side Up)
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On my to Vegas for the When We Were Young Festivalpic.twitter.com/oty9ocy59S — Larry. 2ufe0fu20e30ufe0fu20e32ufe0fu20e32ufe0fu20e3ud83eudd73 (@Larry. 2ufe0fu20e30ufe0fu20e32ufe0fu20e32ufe0fu20e3ud83eudd73)
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get in loser, we’re going to the when we were young festpic.twitter.com/H3VNhUA6XS — luna u1d56u1d57u1d5bu2082u2080u2082u2082 (@luna u1d56u1d57u1d5bu2082u2080u2082u2082)
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when we were young fest starterpackpic.twitter.com/qRWLWCw8zO — dut (@dut)
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if the entry wristbands at when we were young fest donu2019t look like this, i donu2019t want to gopic.twitter.com/5LmoxFZhGn — gods favourite emo (@gods favourite emo)
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Me and my girl pulling up to When We Were Young Festpic.twitter.com/JDiVKwnzG2 — ud835udd88ud835udd8dud835udd86ud835udd95ud835udd86ud835udd98 (@ud835udd88ud835udd8dud835udd86ud835udd95ud835udd86ud835udd98)
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When We Were Young Fest: Paramore, My Chemical Romance, Avril Lavigne, Silverstein, A Day to Remember, Pvris, Pierce the Veil, Sleeping w/ Sirens, AFI, Bring Me The Horizon, The Story So Far, Mayday Parade.nnMe:pic.twitter.com/KPemJ0UquV — paramore is back ud83eudd51 (@paramore is back ud83eudd51)
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me after reading the when we were young lineuppic.twitter.com/mlkvgq91OY — shelby fine (@shelby fine)
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no-one:nnthe When We Were Young fest graphic designer:pic.twitter.com/FEGjgChr1K — Luc (@Luc)
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Photo via Getty/ Naki/ Redferns

Meet Froglady: New York’s Rainbow-Colored Soul Singer

It’s impossible to scroll past Jess Girillo (AKA Froglady), the self-declared “frog jester who sings.” Their hair is dyed rainbow, from root to tip, and occasionally shaped into giant spikes that frame their head like sun rays; they decorate their face with clown-inspired glam, extending the corners of their mouth like The Joker, and finish everything off with piercings, stickers, fake freckles, painted tears or multi-colored contacts — a children’s book protagonist who’s been tossed through teenage trauma and dropped into the online algorithm.

A style star in their own right, the 22-year-old New Yorker is also a trained musician, though their sound might surprise you. Taking notes from the likes of Amy Winehouse (a la Back to Black), Froglady revives a neo-soul, rock genre so few of their contemporaries are leaning into, right now. On Faces, Froglady’s indie nine-track debut, they lend their jazzy vocals to a retro band of moody piano melodies, grungy guitars and fuzzy drums. While it could easily be pulled from another decade, the themes explored on Faces reflect that of their generation, from mental health to self-expression and isolation.

“Froglady is the version of myself that I aim to be on my best day” as they tell PAPER. “Bold and obnoxious and dramatic and sensitive and true.” Indeed, a balanced explosion of all this comes through on Faces, bringing together their “kookie little world” of technicolor beauty and Muppets plushies with more introspective, honest songwriting poured straight from the heart. “Froglady tells you stories, and forces you to look at them and to listen.”

Below, PAPER gets to know Froglady a bit more, as we dive into their “lifelong love of frogs” and the many different faces they’ve worn over the past two years that inspired this breakout LP.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Jess Girillo (Froglady)🤡🃏🐸🎪🌈 (@froglady444)

Where did the name, Froglady, come from? How do you feel it represents you as an artist?

My artist name, Froglady, came from my lifelong love of frogs. People always ask me why I love frogs so much and, honestly, it’s hard for me to answer that question. Frogs have just always been a part of my existence and kookie little world. Maybe Kermit from the muppets has something to do with it because I’ve been watching The Muppet Show since I was probably three. The name, Froglady, definitely represents me as an artist because it’s weird and different enough that you won’t forget it. It’s silly, but it stands out, and that suits me as a musician and a performer.

What’s your musical background? How did you get your footing in this field?

I’ve been performing live for years. I started singing in choir in high school, but it wasn’t for me. I was always more drawn to singing songs that meant something to me, whether written by me or others. I did a lot of cover performances in high school and started writing my own music when I was around 16. I’ve only been releasing my original songs for the past four years and my first ever release was recorded in my friend’s dorm room when I was still in college in 2018.

For those that follow your Instagram, the sound of your music might come as a surprise. How did you land on that sound?

I honestly love that my sound and genre come as a surprise to people who may know of me from social media. It’s a juxtaposition that I think works well for me. People don’t really know what to expect when I get up on stage and they’ve never heard of me before. I’ve experimented with a lot of different sounds over the last six years in terms of my own music. I think I landed in the spot I am now because of my upbringing with music. I was raised listening to all the most incredible R&B and soul singers. I can thank my mom for that because I draw inspiration from my soulful childhood music roots. I’ve struggled with the idea that I wasn’t able to use my voice to its full capacity with some of the music I was making in the past. So for this project and moving forward, I wanted to focus on creating music that allows space for me to use my instrument and tell stories that are threaded with emotion.

For you, what’s the relationship between your image and your music?

My relationship between my music and my image is always tied to my intense emotions. I use self-expression as an outlet for my emotional state. Both music and physical presentation create avenues for me to say what I need to say about my experiences and who I am — to pour a bunch of my heart out all over the place, so that you can’t look away or close your ears. Froglady is the version of myself that I aim to be on my best days: Bold and obnoxious and dramatic and sensitive and true. Froglady tells you stories, and forces you to look at them and to listen.

Who’d you work with on Faces? What does that collaborative process look like?

I got to work with so many talented people on this album. Firstly, all of the songs were produced by my friend, Sean Hardin. I’ve known Sean for years and used to work with him at a music school I attended back when I was in high school. I approached Sean about a year ago after I had many of the songs in a really rough demo phase. Sean can play literally every instrument and always knew exactly what vibe or energy I was going for when piecing together all of the final instrumentals for the project. He’s the type of creative that you can sit down with, tell him a few descriptive words for the song, maybe a bit of the story and he’ll give you a track that makes you want to spill your guts out all over it. Which is what I did [laughs].

I also had the privilege of working with so many of my co-workers at Mansion Studios NYC, a recording studio in Brooklyn. I’ve been working there since they opened this past summer and recorded many of the final versions of the songs off the album there. My co-workers have helped me mix and record most of the tracks, and have encouraged me so much throughout my creative process.

What’re some of the themes you explored lyrically on Faces?

A big lyrical focus for Faces is, of course, my experiences with love over the past two years. I like to explore the concept of being or not being a “digestible person,” especially in relation to interpersonal relationships and my relationship with myself. I actually almost named the album, Digestible Faces, instead of just Faces because of that theme. I also wanted to use this project as an opportunity to begin talking about my struggles with mental illness, the joys of self-expression and the love I have for my chosen family. I tend to use imagery throughout the album that you can see in my looks like clowns, bugs and big hearts.

“Froglady is the version of myself that I aim to be on my best days: Bold and obnoxious and dramatic and sensitive and true.”

Is there a song on this album that you feel best represents you as an artist, right now?

I feel the song that represents me most as an artist off Faces is “Cycles.” Not only is it the most recent song I wrote and recorded off the album, but it feels like the closest I’ve gotten so far to emulating a certain sound and feeling through my music. The song tells a story about where I am as a person and creating, breaking old cycles and evolving with every day that passes. “Cycles” is about seeing yourself in love, but it’s also about loving yourself enough to realize you deserve the things you want and work so hard for.

Who do you look to for inspiration, sonically? Who’re your music idols?

My top four musicians that inspire me are Mary J. Blige, David Bowie, Prince and Amy Winehouse. I’ve been listening to these incredible artists for my entire life and know pretty much every song they’ve ever released. I’ve studied them and still refer to them often. They’ve always kind of been like my guardian angels for music making and I wouldn’t be the artist I am today without their magical influence.

How’d you land on the name, Faces, to best wrap up all the songs and ideas of this album?

I ended up naming the album Faces because I feel as though the album does a pretty good job of showing the many faces I’ve worn over the last two years. The concept behind the album is focused on the masks and emotions that have dictated and influenced my life. I wanted to create space to explore my feelings and the layers that exist to Froglady and, of course, the layers that exist to Jess. We all have different faces that we wear.

Photography: Morganne Boulden



SpiceDAO Roasted for Plans to Turn ‘Dune’ Art Book Into NFTs

In a validating development for anyone thats been critical of hypebeast-like culture that has grown around the proliferations of NFTs, a crypto group is currently getting roasted after it was discovered that they massively overpaid for a copy of a book about Alejandro Jodorowsky’s adaptation of Dune under the erroneous impression they could mint and distribute it as NFTs.

Having reportedly paid $2.66 million at auction for the book which is roughly 100 times the original asking price, the decentralized autonomous organization, SpiceDAO, announced their latest acquisition on Twitter, outlining their intention to “make the book public (to the extent permitted by law),” “produce an original animated limited series inspired by the book and sell it to a streaming service” and “support derivative projects from the community.”

However, what they failed to realize is that they had only bought the edition of the book, not the rights to reproduce the work, just as buying a Spiderman comic doesn’t give you the right to make a Spiderman movies as one commenter pointed out. SpiceDAO had in effect purchased a limited edition copy of the book and not the legal rights to the work.

To add insult to injury, the book has already been fully scanned and available online since 2011, making their whole plan to burn the copy as a marketing stunt in an effort to up the price of their planned NFT series. (Though their plan to sell a video of them burning the book as an NFT as well could still work.)

You bought a collectible for 100X estimated value. Do you think if you bought a Spider-Man comic you could start making Spider-Man movies as well?pic.twitter.com/hKDzwn0xN2 — Journalistic Facts (@Journalistic Facts)
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pic.twitter.com/sXIEkLdVMY — and enough champagneu2026 to fill the nile!! (@and enough champagneu2026 to fill the nile!!)
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I guess this is the natural result of NFT culture. You bought a scarcity-limited copy of a thing, and now you think you u201cownu201d the thing. — Michael Engard (@Michael Engard)
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thank you for helping to obliterate the myth that people with a lot of money earned it through skill and intellect — Arlan Hellison (famous) (@Arlan Hellison (famous))
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SpiceDAO’s massive financial L aside, it is at least a good opportunity to revisit the illustrations by Moebius and H.R. Giger that were originally used to pitch the film adaptation. Given the popularity of Denis Villeneuve’s latest iteration of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic, the phonebook-sized tome full of concept art, notes and more that went into the making of the avant-garde French-Chilean filmmaker’s adaptation.

Photo via Christie’s

TikTok Star Peach PRC Comes Out

Peach PRC has come out.

On Sunday, the TikTok star told her 1.8 million followers that she’s a lesbian in a video featuring her new trending tracks, “god is a freak,” before explaining in the overlay text that she wanted to share “since this song is blowing up.” Not only that, but Peach also took to her Instagram to make the announcement alongside a slideshow of some gorgeous golden hour pics where she’s wearing a sheer, bubblegum pink nightie.

“came out as a lesbian today,” she wrote in the caption.”to be fair the closet was made of glass lol.”

Even so, fans flooded the comments with congratulatory messages, writing things like “regardless, coming out is still a celebratory event” and “I hope life just continues to get better for you now that you can openly live as your true self.”

“THANK YOU for making the world a little more pink and girly and gay and amazing and for just allowing yourself to be vulnerable,” a third commenter said. “Because when you allow yourself to openly celebrate who you are, others will be a lil more okay with loving themselves too!! Congrats on ur new adventure..”

Meanwhile, others praised her for providing the “hyper-femme lesbian representation” we need, with one fan saying that their “young lesbian self could have really used this when I was growing up”

“You have NO idea how many lives you are changing by proudly living as an openly visible lesbian,” they continued, before another added, “incredibly proud to see someone who is both hyperfemme and queer thriving in the spotlight, it gives me hope for myself and my friends.”

As for Peach herself, the social media star told Pedestrian.tv in a statement that the “response has been really beautiful and supportive.”

“I feel so welcomed by the lesbian community,” she said before adding, “and finally at peace with something I’ve been shying away from for the longest time.”

Check out Peach’s posts below.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Peach PRC (@peachprc)

@peachprc

the people on my private account already know this but pls be nice 💖 any negative comments will be deleted

♬ original sound – Peach PRC

Photos via TikTok / @peachprc

Britney Spears Responds to Jamie Lynn’s Interview

Britney Spears has entered the chat, and it’s pretty clear she’s fed up with her sister. After Jamie Lynn Spears did her first big interview with Good Morning America on Wednesday since Britney’s conservatorship ended in November, Britney chimed in to tell her side of the story. She took to Twitter on Thursday evening to address one of the biggest points of contention in the sisters’ back and forth — those remixes that Jamie Lynn did in 2017.

Britney called out Jamie Lynn back in July for performing her songs at the 2017 Radio Disney Music Awards. She wrote at the time, “I don’t like that my sister showed up at an awards show and performed MY SONGS to remixes !!!!! My so-called support system hurt me deeply !!!!” But Jamie Lynn said in her Good Morning America interview this week that she didn’t understand why it bothered her sister, even going so far as saying they had worked out the issue already.

pic.twitter.com/yZBEysen4O — Britney Spears (@Britney Spears)
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Apparently Britney didn’t get the memo that they’d worked it out, because in her lengthy Twitter post in response, Britney said that the award show set was all she ever wanted amid her conservatorship controversy. “If you were me, you might understand asking for 13 years for remixes to go into a small venue show and on tours !!!! 13 years later they assign me as the MOTHER OF ALL … heart of gold … Britney sitting there seeing a 15 minute performance of everything I have ever wanted.” She also threw in another harsh dig at Jamie Lynn, saying she was the baby of the family, adding, “She never had to work for anything. Everything was always given to her !!!!”

But alas, Jamie Lynn wasn’t about to let Britney have the last word, so she jumped on Instagram to share a note of her own. Calling Britney’s post a lie, Jamie Lynn also added that her family has gotten death threats over this whole ordeal. “Sadly, after a lifetime of staying silent, I have come to realize this isn’t going to be a reality, and I may have to set the record straight myself in order to protect mine and my family’s well being,” she wrote.

Because the primary reason for Jamie Lynn’s GMA interview was to promote her upcoming book, Things I Should Have Said, Britney also called her out for seemingly capitalizing on the situation for profit. And while she sarcastically wished her sister success with her book, Britney clearly felt otherwise.

But Jamie Lynn maintains that she’s not using Britney for any of this — they just have shared experiences. “I hate to burst my sister’s bubble, but my book is not about her,” she wrote. “I can’t help that I was born a Spears too, and that some of my experiences involve my sister. I’ve worked hard since before I was even a teenager, and I’ve built my career in spite of just being someone’s little sister.”

pic.twitter.com/ck3xs31V2j — Britney Spears (@Britney Spears)
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It was Jamie Lynn’s Nightline interview Thursday night, though, that brought Britney back today for what is (maybe) the final word for now. In the interview, Jamie Lynn alleged that Britney had once locked the two of them together in a room with a knife, adding that Britney’s behavior over the years has been “erratic, paranoid and spiraling.”

In yet another Twitter note from the pop star, she accused Jamie Lynn of stooping to “a whole new level of LOW.” She added, “So please please stop with these crazy lies for the Hollywood books !!! NOW and only NOW I do know only a scum person would make up such things about someone.” She wrapped up her emphatic note with a trophy emoji, telling her sister she wins at this war of stooping the absolute lowest.

Photo via Getty/ Frank Micelotta

Kylie Jenner Just Hit a Major Instagram Milestone

It’s official — Kylie Jenner is the most followed woman on Instagram. She hit her 300 millionth follower on Thursday, which also means she’s the only woman to top the 300 million mark. Now the only two people with more Instagram followers than her are footballer Cristiano Ronaldo with 389 million and Instagram itself with a total of 460 million followers.

Naturally, Jenner’s mom and biggest fan, Kris, shared the fun news on Instagram on Thursday, writing, “I’m so proud of my girl @KylieJenner!! You are beautiful inside and out and have the most amazing heart! Keep on reaching for the stars and inspiring us with all you do!! I love you my angel.”

See on Instagram

Though Jenner has several companies, TV presence,and an extremely meme-able quality about her, she actually doesn’t post that much on social media. Her pictures are actually pretty sporadic. That doesn’t stop each one from garnering millions of likes, though. Her most liked photo, at 155.6 million views and more than 24 million likes, is the announcement of her second pregnancy with Travis Scott, which she shared on September 7. It’s also holding strong as the fifth most liked post on Instagram.

Her most recent photo is from a week ago, where she’s still visibly pregnant. However, fans are convinced Jenner’s actually already given birth to her second child. Between TikTok speculation and rumors floating around on Instagram, the theories are very, very convincing. Especially when you consider Jenner’s history of trying to keep her pregnancies under wraps. Who knows, the surprise social announcement may even become one of the most liked photos on Instagram when it happens.

Either way, Jenner’s already topped 301 million followers and counting. And while she’s currently the most followed woman on Instagram, both Ariana Grande and Selena Gomez aren’t far behind with 289 million each.

Logan Paul Scammed Out of $3.5 Million Over Fake Pokémon Cards

Logan Paul got straight up scammed.

Back in December, the YouTuber-turned-boxer announced that he’d dropped $3.5 million on a first-edition base set of Pokémon cards, except he didn’t end up getting what he bargained for.

On Thursday, Paul uploaded a very dramatic video where he was joined by known card collector, Bolillo Lajan San, and some people from the authentication company, who originally paid $2.7 million for the set before selling it to him.

However, when the owner of the company opened the sealed box, it turned out it actually contained a bunch of G.I. Joe cards, eliciting an “oh my god, bro” from Paul himself.

“G.I. JOE?? G.I. JOE?!?! It could have been anything else,” Paul yelled, as the inspector said “we all got duped.”

“This is the biggest fraud in the entire history of Pokémon,” another authenticator said before another rep explained they were “confident it was legit” because it was sealed. Unsurprisingly though, Paul went on to express his immense disappointment in his purchase, saying, ““I’m a super positive person, bro, and I’ll always be the one to look at the bright side.”

“And I am trying,” he said, “But this is very hard.”

It’s unclear whether Paul will go after the authentication company and how he’ll find the scammer, but TMZ did reveal that Bolillo Lajan San already reimbursed him for the lost $3.5 million.

Watch the video below.

Photo via Getty / Victor Decolongon

MSCHF Secured the Bags

As much as we may not want to admit it, we live in a materialistic society. We’re swayed by fancy labels, covet shiny things and are awestruck by price tags with lots of zeros attached to it. We aspire to be that person and want to broadcast that as loudly as we can to as many people around us as much as possible, but the reality is that most of us can’t afford to live the life of luxury that we’d like. Fortunately, as the old adage goes, MSCHF has found a way to help you at least fake it until you make it.

The Brooklyn art collective responsible for projects such as Lil Nas X’s infamous Satan Shoes, turning Birkin Bags into Birkenstocks and selling Chick Fil-A on a Sunday is back with their latest drop that lets people buy shopping bags from some of the world’s top fashion retailers — just the bags. Aptly titled, OnlyBags, MSCHF’s new endeavor sees them reselling shopping bags from Prada, Hermès, Burberry, Rolex, Supreme and Ikea, all the way down to a humble plastic bag, so you can at the very least give off the illusion that you’ve just been on a massive shopping spree.

“If there’s one thing we know from acquiring our bag samples, it’s that strolling down the street laden with (empty, of course!) Balenciaga, Valentino, Rolex, et al. is one hell of a power trip,” MSCHF writes in the site’s manifesto. “Carrying an armload of bags puts you in dialogue with all the images you’ve seen of people carrying armloads of bags. Who are they? Celebrities, whether due to their talent or wealth–the most conspicuous of consumers. Who are you? Someone who now has this visual signifier in common with celebrities. At the very least, you look rich.”

Featuring a lookbook of paparazzi shots showing the glamorous A-list life you could be living walking down 5th Avenue or Rodeo Drive with a bunch of bags adorning your arms, MSCHF is selling the facade of materialistic wealth with all the shallow meaning capitalism affords. Those interested in padding out their personal collection can purchase bags at $40 a piece (which is a pretty steep markup for some, but a lot more affordable that even a pair of Fendi socks) or get the whole collection for $480.

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Photos courtesy of MSCHF

Chris Olsen and Ian Paget Explain Why They Broke Up

Chris Olsen and Ian Paget are opening up about their recent split.

Last week, the TikTok stars confirmed their breakup after two years of dating in separate statements issued to E! News, with Olsen writing that they wanted to “take some time apart and grow as individuals” and Paget reassuring fans that his ex was still his “best friend and always will be.” Now though, the exes are giving their followers some insight into what led to their split, and it turns out that a big reason behind their decision was the “pressure” of being seen as this “perfect amazing couple.”

“Being in the public eye the way that we’ve been through these last like year and a half, two years, is wild,” Paget said on Thursday in a joint YouTube video with Olsen.

“For now, we’ve just decided that it would probably be in our best interest to be moving through the world unromantically,” he said, before adding that they were “okay” and also wanted their fans to know that “just because we’re not together in a romantic relationship, doesn’t mean that we can’t work on a very meaningful, deep connection and relationship. I will always love this human so much.”

Olsen then chimed in by saying while they knew no one “meant to put that pressure” on them, being upheld as a romantic ideal still caused a strain in their relationship, especially since they were only together for seven months prior to their accidental TikTok fame.

“When you’ve only been together for seven months, you don’t even know each other that well,” Olsen explained. “So to suddenly be shipped as this perfect amazing couple — who, if we ever were to break up, people aren’t going to believe in love — was just like a lot pressure.”

However, Paget once again stated that they were still going to be close, saying that “life happens and being in this public eye is crazy.”

“So we just kind of ask for some privacy, some support,” he went on to add. “We’ll still be in each other’s lives and we’ll still be in your guys’ lives together, separate.”

Watch their entire video below.

Photo via Getty / Emma McIntyre

Fans Think They Spotted Zayn Malik on Dating Apps

We’re not even two weeks into 2022 and we’ve already been blessed with what might just be Zayn Malik on a dating app. A video that looks a lot like Malik started making the rounds on social media last week, and fans have a lot to say about it. The short clip is pulled from dating site WooPlus, a site tailored to plus-size people, and whoever this man is — Malik or not — looks like someone we’d want to match with.

The name on the profile is “Zed,” with a location of Ottsville, PA (near where Malik was living with ex Gigi Hadid), which could all point to it really being him. We all know how easy it is to create a fake persona online, but “Zed’s” face looks all-too-familiar — not to mention the neck tattoos pictured seem extremely similar to Malik’s.

Fans of the Dusk Till Dawn singer who believe it’s actually him on WooPlus are not amused with whoever shared the video publicly. They’ve taken to Twitter to call out the person behind it all, reminding everyone that he deserves at least a little bit of privacy. Others took a different approach, seeing the video as their sign to join WooPlus and shoot their shot.

If you get the privilege, the opportunity to get paired with THE ZAYN MALIK on a dating app, stop leaking his pictures, yes we’re desperate to see him, but not without his consent. Have some human decency. — strap some f**ing balls ud83eudd28 (@strap some f**ing balls ud83eudd28)
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me omw to download that dating app so i can match with zaynpic.twitter.com/6s5pyL4bfF — farahu0fd4 IT’LL BE OKAY u2764u200dud83eude79 (@farahu0fd4 IT’LL BE OKAY u2764u200dud83eude79)
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Considering Malik shared with Billboard back in 2016 that he liked “fuller women,” WooPlus — which markets itself as the “best online dating app for all people who love plus size singles” — feels like the right fit as far as dating apps go. Of course, it’s all just speculation right now, but if any of you happen to match and meet-up with “Zed,” we kindly ask that you report back.

Photo via Getty/Axelle/ Bauer-Griffin/ FilmMagic

TikTok Star Rory Teasley Allegedly Strangled to Death by Boyfriend

Rory Teasley, a.k.a. too2pump4tv, has died. He was 28.

On Thursday, authorities responded to a 911 call made by the TikTok star’s boyfriend of 10 years, Docquen Jovo Watkins. Upon arriving at a Pontiac, Michigan apartment, deputies from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office found Teasley unconscious and not breathing. He was then transported to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

According to local news outlet Click on Detroit, Watkins allegedly strangled Teasley to death after the couple had an argument over a video game called Overwatch. When questioned by police, Watkins apparently told them that Teasley was “sleeping” on the couch.

A true social media maven, Teasley’s main platform was TikTok, where he amassed more than 200,000 followers for his dance and comedy videos. He was also a popular Instagram creator who was known to his 62,000 fans as “Everybody Gay Best Friend Rory” and posted under the handle “2Pump4TV.”

@too2pump4tv Getting Old A Mf 😭😭😭🤣🤣‼️😩 #Fyp #ForYouPage #2Pump4Tv #Old #routine #journaling #bye2021 #fitcheck #2021recap ♬ Floor Cracking (Building Wall Ceiling Ground Concrete House Crack Noise Clip) [Sound Effect] – Finnolia Sound Effects

Watkins has since been charged with second-degree murder and is currently being held at Oakland County Jail without bail. He is due in court for a probably cause conference on January 18 and scheduled for a preliminary examination on Jan. 25.

Read Click on Detroit’s full report here.

Photos via TikTok / @too2pump4tv

Meet the Kim Kardashian of FishTok

While you probably have no idea who Luke “The Goldfish Guy” Hagopian is, there’s a very good chance you’ve seen his mega-famous fancy goldfish bobbing around your TikTok For You Page.

The 21-year-old Illinois native is the brains behind Luke’s Goldies, a social media behemoth devoted to chronicling the lives of his fancy goldfish. The channel exploded in popularity at the beginning of the pandemic and has since become one of the hottest properties in the FishTok universe with 3.5+ Million TikTok followers, 400k+ YouTube subscribers and 220k+ Instagram followers. Every day, millions of people tune in just to watch Luke play around with his dopey little army of multi-colored sentient floating matzo balls.

“Fancy goldfish” is their technical name, by the way. We aren’t talking about janky plastic bags full of thin, slimy, ticking death bombs you get for tossing a ball into a bucket at the carnival. Adult fancy goldfish can cost between $300-$500 with certain large Asian breeds running as high as $2,000. Currently, Luke’s most expensive fish is named Brad and is worth about $350. (He gets all his fish for free now, thanks to a sponsorship from Goldfish Island, the StockX of Fancy Goldfish.)

@lukesgoldies Who is Clarence? Do you reallt want to know? #clarence #fish ♬ original sound – The Goldfish Guy

Luke’s Goldies has become so big that he’s been able to launch a successful Goldfish-themed merch line off the channel and has secured enough sponsors to make documenting Goldfish a full-time job. This is all thanks to his roster of internet all-stars like Big Bubba, Lil Dumpy and Clarence, a cute orange blob with stunning flowing white fins that went viral after choking on a plant.

Clarence is far from the most popular fish in Luke’s tanks. That title currently sits with Big Bubba, who gained popularity after wreaking havoc in Luke’s tanks and attacking all the female goldfish during breeding time. Another one of his fish stars is Mr. Cow, who predictably looks like an aquatic cow. This fish has grown such a following that a recent fan art contest for the speckled black, white and orange goldfish received more than 120 submissions.

One unintended consequence of being the biggest name on FishTok is women “swimming” into his DMs. “They’re mostly in their 40s and 50s,” Luke says. “One lady on YouTube kept saying I was cute, but she was over 50 and I don’t think she realized I’m only 21. Also, I’m a religious Christian, so right now I’m only looking for someone to eventually marry.” When asked what he’s looking for in a potential partner, Luke chuckles and responds, “They just have to like goldfish and Jesus.”

@lukesgoldies Bubba almost lost this one to Brad #fish #goldfish #aquarium ♬ original sound – The Goldfish Guy

At no point did Luke think his obsession with goldfish would translate into any sort of social media following or income, as a chemical engineering student from an unassuming religious Armenian family. His father and grandfather worked as chemical engineers, while his two older brothers and one older sister all graduated with, you guessed it, chemical engineering degrees, as well.

Being Armenian, the obvious connection is to suggest that Luke Hagopian is like the Kim Kardashian of FishTok. While he appreciates the title, he’s quick to point out, “My fish are the celebrities. If I was walking around the street with Bubba he would have a higher chance of getting recognized.” So maybe he’s more like the “Kris Jenner of FishTok,” a stage mom for fancy fish.

The rise of Luke’s Goldies to social media glory was partially the result of COVID lockdown boredom. Luke was studying at Illinois Institute of Tech when everything shut down in March 2020, forcing him to move back home. Back then, he was an irrelevant social media user who had been posting pictures to an account, called “lifethroughluke,” with around 2,000 followers.

@lukesgoldies

Mr. Cow is a little gassy today.

♬ original sound – The Goldfish Guy

A few weeks into quarantine, Luke’s brother, who also didn’t have a big online presence, posted something unrelated to goldfish that went viral on TikTok. Luke was fascinated by how videos could circulate the app without having a following, which seemed impossible to do on something like Instagram. So he started posting videos of his goldfish to TikTok and, after three uploads, one hit 10k views — by far the most views on anything he had ever made.

Luke kept posting videos and, in under a month, had his first mega-viral TikTok: a memorial for a goldfish, named Nubbin, that had recently passed. It got more than 1 million views. At that point, his account only had around 1,000 followers. “It was crazy to think. I had never thought a video of mine would reach a million people,” he says. “That’s massive. A million people are watching my fish.”

He began posting three or four videos a day and immediately became the hottest property on FishTok, pouring himself into Luke’s Goldie’s and spending 15-20 hours a week on fish maintenance (cleaning tanks, changing filters, dealing with sick fish) and another 30 hours alone producing content. Within two months, he had more than 100k followers on TikTok.

@lukesgoldies Touching goldfish is not what kills them. 9 times out of 10, it’s poor water quality. #fish #goldfish #aquarium ♬ Sunset Lover Night Trouble – SelteMemset

The secret to Luke’s success was branding each fish with a name and personality. He noticed people starting to follow individual fish storylines and pick their favorites, like Lil Steve and Bethany. Nubbin was frequently compared to a real-life version of Gumbo from The Adventures of Gumball. Followers even began tagging their spouses in videos of the fatter fish.

His next big breakout star was a controversial jet-black lumpy chode of a fish, named Bubba, who rode the coattails of the #MeToo movement to FishTok infamy. Bubba was part of a gift package he got from his sponsor GoldFish Island and came in the same shipment as a female he was supposed to mate with. When Luke put them in the same tank, Bubba became too aggressive with this egg-ramming and he had to separate them to chill out for a bit.

Quick anatomy lesson: Goldfish mate by having the male ram the female to knock her eggs out of her egg sack. Once the eggs come out, the male fertilizes them and, after two to seven days, the eggs hatch. Luke doesn’t keep decorations in the tank because males and females could hurt themselves on sharp corners during rough goldfish sex. (Goldfish are freaks in the sheets, apparently.)

@lukesgoldies Reply to @estelle_1976 And especially being new fish, being stressed from spawning is no good for a fish right after shipping. They need peace #fish ♬ Coffee for Your Head – Vinyll

Luke posted a video of this saga and it went viral on FeminisTok with people labeling Bubba a “typical male” because of his behavior. Commenters went as far as to call for Bubba to be euthanized because of his “history of sexual assault.” Luke eventually responded to the controversy by showing a video of him pretending to execute Bubba in clove oil, the equivalent of a gas chamber to goldfish. (It was actually just a salt bath to help heal up a surface injury he’d gotten the day prior.)

“The FishTok community definitely has some toxic people in it,” Luke says. “If they see people posting videos of alternative ways to raise fish, they will often not accept it as the correct way. Some people get very grounded in their own ways and express their distaste through hate comments.”

A good example of this was “Heatergate,” a FishTok debate over whether you should use heaters directly in the tank. Things got so “heated” in the comment section that users began threatening others with physical violence. “I’m not here to create any enemies,” Luke continues.

@lukesgoldies Reply to @bartwatson1 so how do they survive in the wild? They don’t… these fish are domesticated. #goldfish #fish #ranchu #aquarium ♬ Morning Mood – Ave Maria

Some people say Luke’s fish shouldn’t even be in a tank to begin with. “These are domesticated fish,” he clarifies. “If they were released into the wild, they would be killed. If you release these fish in an open and connected freshwater system, you might have an invasive species problem on your hands. Over time, these goldfish could de-evolve into common breeds that could become an issue, or they would die. Domesticated breeds are not made for the wild.”

Luke contends that he gives them a good life. “You can tell their emotions and mood based on how active they are,” he says. “I’ve been around them enough to know when they’re stressed out and when they’re fine. In hospital tanks where they have little room and no friends, they don’t swim around much and are calm, but in their big tanks with their sand and other fish, they swim, are active, and have a great time.”

Fans of Luke’s Goldies have become so connected to his fish that when one passed over the summer it turned the comment section of his channel into a viral virtual wake.

@lukesgoldies Day 44 Final Viola Update: She is Gone. He cause of death and dissection are discussed in my YouTube video. #fish #goldfish #viola ♬ A sad but beautiful chorus like a church funeral – Kurippertronixxx

Meet Viola, Luke’s third FishTok all-star: Viola was a huge orange female with a red head and yellow eye circles. In July, she became sick and her reproductive tract filled up with liquid. Luke posted a video where he used his thumb to aspirate some of the liquid out by pressing on her belly. This forced a stream of water to shoot out of her like a water balloon that had been punctured. The video got 41 million views and grew an audience of people checking in regularly for updates on Viola’s health.

Unfortunately, after 40 days of medication and TLC, Viola’s condition wasn’t improving and Luke decided to euthanize her. This was devastating to the community of people who had rallied behind Viola during her struggle. (Then, Luke posted a video autopsy explaining how she died, which was somewhat weird to watch. We’d been following Viola for a month and suddenly was watching him knife through her like the fish guy cutting lox at Zabars. It was like if a favorite celebrity died and then you also got to watch the coroner hold up their liver and be like, “Brittany Murphy died from mold, look!”)

In recent months, Luke has decided to scale down the amount of fish he’s looking after because of how time-consuming and expensive it was becoming. Right now, he has around 45 fancy goldfish, but at the height of his collection had close to 140.

@lukesgoldies Thank you guys for an amazing year! We’ve come a long way in 2021! #2021 #2022 #newyear #happynewyear ♬ original sound – MaguireMemes

Raising this many fish is not cheap. With tanks, filters, feed and more, Luke spends around $500 per month to maintain his pod (some months he’s spent as much as $1,500). Now that his account’s gone viral, his costs are covered by sponsorships and merch, but before he was just a guy with a massive goldfish obsession shelling his entire salary from Potbelly into this wildly expensive hobby.

Luke plans on graduating college in a few months and is looking to buy his own property, so he can build a greenhouse, bigger goldfish ponds and maybe even a turtle pond. This will enable him to focus on making more aquatic educational content and continuing to grow Luke’s Goldies.

Though it should be noted, Luke’s Goldies was recently dethroned as the top FishTok account by a rival channel, called Fish4Ever, that now boasts 3.8 million TikTok followers. Luke’s still a whale in the universe though and, because of the money he makes from his brand, can work on the channel full-time after he graduates. Needless to say, he has no plans to work as a chemical engineer anytime soon.

Photo courtesy of Luke “The Goldfish Guy”


Julia Fox Clears the Air About Her Ex

Right now, Julia Fox and Kanye West have got the entire internet buzzing. The unexpected couple made their public Interview debut, with the Uncut Gems actress writing a blog accompanied by professional photos taken on their second date. But this isn’t the first time one of Fox’s relationships has caught a lot of online attention.

Related | Coolest Person in the Room: Julia Fox

In December, the actress — who is also an artist and former dominatrix — took to her Instagram stories to go on a rant about her baby daddy and ex-husband pilot Peter Artemiev. She wrote things like “HAVE YOU SEEN THIS DEAD BEAT DAD? He can be found at most strip clubs, Lucien, Paul’s bbg, Casablanca, the streets etc.” and “This man left me with a 5 month old and a dog and a home and ALL THE BILLS. It’s wrong!!! It’s not fair.”

Artemiev later told Page Six, “I was saddened to learn of the utterly false statements made on social media by Julia Fox, my co-parent, who is clearly struggling. Out of respect for her privacy and to protect our child, I will not comment further.”

This, of course, caused a lot of commotion amongst Fox’s followers. And since her romance with Ye, the drama got resurfaced. So, Fox decided to address the issue in a statement to The Cut.

Related | Why Did Ye Surprise Julia Fox With Racks Full Of Diesel?

“I really just kind of want to clear the air. Because I obviously was not expecting all the publicity to come after I had come for my son’s father online,” she said. “My son’s father and I had our issues and I wanted to scare him into being a better dad, but I went about it the wrong way. My son’s dad loves his son more than anything in the world. He just has some issues that I shouldn’t have made public.”

Later, she added in a text message to The Cut writer Brock Colyar, “The overall message is that if ur in a toxic relationship, get out of it cuz u never who know or what could be waiting on the other side

Kardashian_Kolloquium Muses on Kanye’s Muses

New Year, new chapter in the Kimye divorce saga that has captured tabloid media.

Kanye has announced his Gap x Yeezy x Balenciaga collaboration following confirmation of his courtship with Julia Fox, who has mostly been wearing Balenciaga on their outings. Of course, Kim Kardashian — most recently seen jetting around with Pete Davidson while accumulating a decent number of career milestones — has been wearing Balenciaga for months. In a coy piece for Interview about the new relationship, Fox confirmed that she had been styled by Kanye for their dates, just as Kardashian had been for years.

The plot of an already epic public performance of divorce has thickened.

@kardashian_kolloquium Reply to @twink_enthusiast #greenscreen my face is so swollen from a laser I did ln lol but still had to come to gloat #kanye #yeezy #balenciaga #gap ♬ can I talk my shhh again – Luke

After all, as Patrik Sandberg pointed out on Twitter, Balenciaga has been outfitting pretty much every scene of Kimye’s apparent efforts at an iconic uncoupling.

The jarring combined optics of Fox and West’s casual paparazzi shots with their posed images for Interview obviously raise one avenue of questions: does Kanye have a “new” muse? Are muses really replaceable? What does it mean to be a “muse,” anyway?

Then we recall a series of connections screaming to be decoded: West and Davidson have hung out before, Fox once modeled for a SKIMS social media campaign, and West once utilized paparazzi photos (featuring Kardashian and a bunch of others styled to be her lookalikes) for a Yeezy campaign.

Related | Break the Internet: Pete Davidson

There is, of course, the additional link of PAPER’s very own 2019 “Break the Internet” cover, which depicted Davidson and Fox as Ken and Barbie dolls. One thing is clear: all these people knew one another long before romantic entanglements began; and, in the case of Yeezy, the media landscape itself has already served as backdrop for a new kind of product placement.

So did PAPER’s feature accidentally anticipate the roles Fox and Davidson would go on to play for two of media’s most effective entertainers? Barbie dolls are known to fulfill two functions: Companionship and blank-slate bodies for games of “dress up.” After all, Davidson has already been photographed in SKIMS, and now Fox is donning the designer oft-associated with Kimye. Would it be a conspiratorial, cynical, or merely critical thought to consider that these costumed media events are, in fact, curated?

These images tell a story…pic.twitter.com/pLqyhOmIK4 — Paper Magazine (@Paper Magazine)
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Marketing beyond the runway is nothing new. Barbie, the doll herself, has been dressed by designers from Oscar de La Renta to Christian Dior to Alexander McQueen. Plus, luxury fashion observes a long tradition of collaborating with cinema’s greatest directors and actors; it’s an artful approach to product placement that simultaneously elevates the films and further mythologizes the brands. In 1967, Yves Saint Laurent tailored Catherine Deneuve’s suits for her “fragile and seductive” depiction of Severine in cult-classic Belle de Jour.

“Another example is Givenchy doing Audrey Hepburn’s films,” Iolo Lewis Edwards of High Fashion Talk tells me. “And a more recent one is Chanel doing Spencer.” One of my TikTok followers, Dedric Mandel, also pointed out that Prada provided wardrobe for Baz Luhrmann’s luxe take on The Great Gatsby. There’s something about being dressed by a great designer that graduates a story’s more basic characters into influential “icons.” Legend has it, after all, that trench coat sales went up following Belle de Jour’s release.

Related | Break the Internet: Kim Kardashian

These kinds of collabs are mutually beneficial. That fun trench coat “fact” is now often included in YSL lore. Fashion in film can help to affirm the legacy of couture, which might otherwise risk withering within its increasingly outdated “Ivory Tower.” In a conversation with Grazia d’Annunzio for NYU, fashion historian Valerie Steele said: “Fashion goes up and down. There’s a long-term self-rule for luxury. A lot of these companies plant their flag on ‘heritage, luxury,’” and the idea that “history continues with us.”

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Both designer and director are driven by a common goal: harnessing the power of story to engage audiences — thereby blurring lines between audience and consumer — and ensure posterity.

Stories make this possible; they evoke emotion. Emotions bolster memory and amplify attachment. In a well-known Ted Talk about the power of storytelling in marketing, David JP Phillips identifies three hormones that well-told stories can induce in humans: dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins. He calls this triad the “devil’s cocktail.” This is partly the reason Keeping Up with the Kardashians was so successful despite its divisiveness; it was a collection of well-structured stories about a family. Stories that also happened to be 45-minute-long commercials for Kar-Jenner products. More blurred lines.

Related | Coolest Person in the Room: Julia Fox

Apparently media has mixed a new devil’s cocktail in the form of tastemaker Kanye, muse-cum-mogul Kim, “It Boy” Pete, and artsy bombshell Julia. They’re telling a tale as old as time: heartbreak, rebounds, honeymoon phases. They’re employing an age-old writing rule: show, don’t tell (for the most part). One element, however, is different. The medium.

At first, Americans consumed media primarily through print, then radio, then movies and TV (especially: reality TV), and now social media. Though no singular form of media wholly replaces the one that precedes it, the latest technology trends do tend to take over. The controversial presence of influencers at the 2020 Met Gala opened a conversation about whether the cool kids of social media will constitute our next wave of celebrities. And let’s not forget that it was TikTok where Gen-Z trended the concept of “main character moments,” reminding us that the aforementioned power of story transcends books and movies, persisting even in a social media-centered era. What I’m trying to say is: a mosaic of media stories being told through musical concerts, Instagram posts, sound bites from radio interviews, posed Paparazzi shots and curated press releases framed as confessionals might be replacing good ole fashioned movies and TV.

Where might that leave fashion and its notorious attraction to narrative?

@kardashian_kolloquium #greenscreen #kanyewest #juliafox #balenciaga #theory #mediatheory #donda #analysis #popculture #kimkardashian #hyperreal #kardashians #kimye ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

From a successful collaboration with Fortnite in 2020 to the 10-minute Simpsons short featured at Paris Fashion Week to jokes about The Metaverse with Mark Zuckerberg, Balenciaga creative director (and West’s close friend) Demna has demonstrated deftness at keeping up with the demands of digital culture.

That’s why this collaboration makes perfect sense. Why shouldn’t Demna and Ye’s collaborative campaign be barely indistinguishable from tabloid (and social) media itself?

Related | Yeezy Gap Enters Its Balenciaga Era

This postmodern approach has been brewing for a while, but I’d argue that Kimye’s direct application of it began with the end of Keeping Up with the Kardashians and the beginning of the Donda promotional events (for which, of course, Kanye wore Yeezy Gap).

Kardashian and West, forever living out Main Character Moments, knew they would not need traditional structures like a show or an album to continue telling compelling stories. At the first Donda event, Kimye teased tabloids by matching in red, blurring lines between reality TV and theater, raising questions without providing answers. The final Donda event: Kim wore a Balenciaga wedding gown and “married” Kanye again in a baffling scene that goaded the public to keep guessing.

Kimye, most powerful as a team, perform their complicated relationship with one another in a new-media style of branded storytelling that we may understand better once we can examine it retroactively. Whatever it is, would Balenciaga dressing this media experiment really be so different from classic collaborations between great designers and cinema directors?

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And is it really a surprise that Balenciaga is partnering with Yeezy and GAP, enabling more accessibility to a wider market, just as Kardashian recently did with SKIMS and Fendi? Doesn’t this uncover a certain marketing convenience to Kimye’s romantic partnerships? Both Davidson and Fox offer alternative, accessible appeal, bringing two media moguls back down to earth just in time for collaborations intended to blur lines between the “high end” and the every day.

In a way, not much has changed. We may be scandalized that classic “confused ex” West is finally rebounding with a rising star, but Kardashian is still positioned as his original muse, the first one to wear Balenciaga before we discovered it would be accessible. Even if their courtship is in earnest, Fox inherently represents West’s next phase of messaging: everyone can have their “Cinderella story” once Balenciaga x Yeezy hits GAP shelves. Kardashian ruled the Yeezy Season 6 campaign, and she continues to rule this one. I personally don’t believe we have seen the end of Kimye’s quiet collaboration.

Related | Kanye West: In His Own Words

Still, there is a reason we’re all so affected by what should probably be forgettable photos of fancy people’s rebound flings. Kimye had always seemed like a marriage of the curated and the chaotic; a line that appears to be blurring as their union dissolves (for now).

This uncanny series of events is a resonant reflection of the hyperreal condition of modern media. The lines between advertising and “real life” blur more by the day. This is why I am glad West has disclosed the Balenciaga deal so quickly. Consumers are entitled to transparency about promotional marketing.

In any event: our questions about Davidson and Fox aren’t actually about whether or not their romances with Kardashian and West are for real. What we’re really wondering is why the word “real” increasingly comes encased by quotation marks, and whether there’s a line at all between who Davidson and Fox were when they broke the Internet together in 2019 and where they are today.

Photography: Tommy Dorfman for PAPER

Chris Olsen and Ian Paget Break Up

TikTok‘s favorite couple is no more.

In separate statements issued to E! News, Chris Olsen and Ian Paget confirmed they’ve split after two years of dating.

“The past couple of weeks have been difficult for Chris and me, but ultimately, he’s my best friend and always will be,” Paget wrote in his statement. However, he also went on to add that they were both “excited to explore our new relationship moving forward. We thank everyone for their continued love and support, in a way, this is just the beginning.”

As for Olsen, he stated that he would “always have so much love for Ian” after going “through an incredible amount together.”

@chris

Not an end, just a shift ! We love u forever.

♬ Drilla – liverpoolfans.com

“We’ll always be connected in a beautiful way. While we’re going to take some time apart and grow as individuals—this isn’t the end of our time together, but a shift,” he said, echoing his TikTok announcing their breakup, which features the caption, “Not an end, just a shift ! We love u forever.”

Olsen continued in his statement, “I can’t wait to keep cheering [Paget] on.”

Read both of their statements here.

Photo via Getty / Bruce Glikas

Influencers Who Threw Maskless In-Flight Party Stuck in Mexico

A number of Canadian influencers and reality stars are stuck in Mexico after footage of their maskless in-flight party went viral.

According to CBC News, the group flew from Montreal to Cancun on a Sunwing flight that was privately chartered by promoters 111 Private Club on December 30. However, footage of the flight showed that it quickly turned into a rowdy party that blatantly disobeyed COVID safety regulations with maskless guests filling the aisle to drink, dance and vape together ahead of the six-day, all-inclusive event. At least one person has already tested positive for COVID-19.

Related | Influencers Were Offered Money to Criticize Pfizer Vaccine

As a result, Sunwing canceled the group’s return flight to “ensure the safety of crew and passengers,” per a statement. The airline’s decision apparently came after 111 Private Club’s James William Awad refused to accept all of Sunwing’s terms, as Awad said “Sunwing refused to provide meals to the group for a [five-hour] flight.” Even so, he went on to insist he agreed to most of the terms, including paying for in-flight security.

At least two other airlines have also declined to fly the attendees back, including Air Transat and Air Canada. So far, Air Canada has denied a total of 19 people, though the airline told CBC it’s been “difficult” to identify everyone without the original Sunwing flight manifest. Granted, the outlet also reported that about 15 people who made it back to Montreal were detained and held for two hours by authorities before being released.

During a Wednesday briefing, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the videos “a slap in the face,” adding that he was “extremely frustrated” to see these people “putting themselves, putting their fellow citizens, putting airline workers at risk by being completely irresponsible.”

The Canadian government has also confirmed that the departments of Transport, Public Safety and Health are all investigating the situation. Partygoers potentially face up to $5,000 Canadian dollars in fines for each on-board offense. Not only that, but anyone convicted of endangering others or giving Canadian border officials false information will also receive additional fines and/or jail time.

Read CBC News’s full report here.

Photo via Getty / Fabrizio Gandolfo / SOPA Images / LightRocket

Walmart Metaverse Looks Like Hell

Odds are you may not fully know or understand what the “metaverse,” is but you’re definitely sick of hearing about it at this point. Along with “crypto” and “NFTs,” metaverse was easily one of the most popular buzzwords of 2021 with Facebook being one of the major industry leaders to make the pivot towards a virtual business model. And while there certainly is a great deal of hype from Silicon Valley behind the metaverse, it seems like no one has asked if this is anything the public wants.

A proof of concept video presented in 2017 at SXSW recently resurfaced, imagining what shopping at Walmart in virtual reality would look like. Created by Mutual Mobile, the VR experience imagines what the future of shopping at Walmart might look like with users navigating a virtual supermarket, grabbing products off digital shelves that instantly show things like nutrition facts, price comparisons or recipe recommendations, and having their order shipped off to them via drone.

This is how Walmart envisions Shopping in the #Metaverse.nnThoughts? pic.twitter.com/5l7KhoBse7 — Homo Digitalis (@Homo Digitalis)
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While not originally intended as a vision of what a Walmart metaverse might look like, it also isn’t far off from what others have presented in the virtual space either. Given the new wave of omicron cases prolonging any return to pre-pandemic life, it’s not hard to imagine a world where retailers rolled out some sort of VR substitute in an attempt to make online shopping more immersive — but it begs the question: do we really need a Walmart metaverse?

As any one who’s tested out their friend’s Oculus headset can attest, trying to do anything in VR can be a chore. From finicky controls to a lack of depth perception, the platform doesn’t lend itself particularly well to simple object manipulation, which would no doubt make trying to grocery shop a long and drawn out process.

As many Twitter users point out, there really is no point in reinventing the wheel when eCommerce is perfectly fine the way it is now. From serious cynical critiques to satirical dystopian visions about what a Walmart metaverse might look like, check out the best reactions and memes, below.

“Your size has already been verified, put back those XL condoms”.https://twitter.com/DigitalisHomo/status/1478094074909540354u00a0u2026 — Ross O’Donovan (@Ross O’Donovan)
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Image prediction: banananConfidence: 99.81%pic.twitter.com/llYEcLyC3m — neural net guesses memes (@neural net guesses memes)
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please get vaccinated i canu2019t do this. i canu2019t do thishttps://twitter.com/DigitalisHomo/status/1478094074909540354u00a0u2026 — ivy hollivana (@ivy hollivana)
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Looks like they’ve got rid of all the good things about going to the shops and kept all the bad things. It also looks painfully slow.nnHowever, they’ll probably win, and at some point I’ll have to be taught how to do this by my kids. While they’re wearing clothes made out of NFTs — Gareth A Hopkins (@Gareth A Hopkins)
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This is the same mistake over and over again when new technologies come along we try and shoehorn the status quo into it. A good ecommerce UI is way faster and more user freindly than this nonsense. — Dean Leigh (@Dean Leigh)
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can’t waitpic.twitter.com/obkbxhkS6G — MK uea00 (@MK uea00)
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You can’t tell shareholders that you’ve already made eCommerce as good as it’s going to get – you have to pretend that there’s new possibilities for growth out there on the metaverse crypto blockchain. Think of how twitter introduces new features nobody wants every year. — waterboard apes (@waterboard apes)
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Texas Walmart be likepic.twitter.com/bQUEgWcgbn — TarZangief (@TarZangief)
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Photo via YouTube

Matt Damon Roasted for ‘Cringe’ New Crypto Ad

Matt Damon is getting clowned for his new crypto commercial.

Yesterday, the actor appeared in an advertisement for Crypto.com, which aired on the small screen during Sunday’s NFL games and was previously seen in movie theaters during the previews. And while it’s par for the course to see a celeb getting paid the big bucks to endorse the latest new fad, Damon’s commercial was so over-the-top “cringe” that the internet couldn’t help but roast the shit out of it.

Related | TikTok Bans Influencers From Promoting Crypto

With corny lines like “fortune favors the brave” juxtaposed with clips of historic moments like the Wright Brothers’s first flight, the star had everyone rolling their eyes thanks to his grandiose declarations that framed potential investors as intrepid trailblazers who “embraced the moments and commit.” And one of the biggest takeaways? “Jesus Christ does he not have enough money already.”

Matt Damon doing a crypto ad. Jesus Christ does he not have enough money already pic.twitter.com/mS3tUgJ6HT

— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) January 3, 2022

I’m starting to get the impression that Matt Damon gets off on cringe.

I’m also surprised it isn’t a deep-fake Bruce Willis shilling this. https://t.co/7ofiC2Trbi

— Mathew Buck (@FB_BMB) January 3, 2022

However, it wasn’t just Damon’s weird payday that got tongues wagging, as one person criticized the spot as some “macho-baiting crypto pitch where the viewer must ACT NOW or he’s a weak pussy.”

“Is that this is a top 3 classic pitch all financial schemes have used to goad men into forking over their paltry savings,” they continued, while another added, “When a celebrity invests on Crypto as part of their portfolio they have no choice but to make shit like this so that their crypto investments go up. It’s both a Ponzi scheme and a Pyramid scheme.”

saddest thing about Matt Damon’s macho-baiting crypto pitch where the viewer must ACT NOW or he’s a weak pussy is that this is a top 3 classic pitch all financial schemes have used to goad men into forking over their paltry savings. Nothing has changed in 150 years

— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) January 3, 2022

When a celebrity invests on Crypto as part of their portfolio they have no choice but to make shit like this so that their crypto investments go up. It’s both a Ponzi scheme and a Pyramid scheme.

— Stream Last Christmas by Wham (@MToph91) January 3, 2022

On the whole though, most just used the ad as an opportunity to make fun of Damon, with some alluding to his movie career by joking, “that commercial makes me think Matt Damon is angling to play a Winklevoss Twin in Bitcoin Billionaires” and “this mf bought a zoo im not taking any financial advice from him.”

That commercial makes me think Matt Damon is angling to play a Winklevoss Twin in Bitcoin Billionaires.

— Ben Mezrich (@benmezrich) January 3, 2022

this mf bought a zoo im not taking any financial advice from him https://t.co/OdRozUq8Ia

— zach silberberg (@zachsilberberg) January 3, 2022

Meanwhile, others opted to skewer the Damon’s dramatic speech by commenting things like, “‘fortune favors the brave so spend your life savings on a cartoon monkey wearing sunglasses’ – Matt Damon,” and “[matt damon strolls past a spanish galleon] are you going to put your life savings into the pretend computer dog money that you can’t spend or are you a pussy.” And honestly, all of them sound like better commercials than whatever this Crypto.com ad was.

“fortune favors the brave so spend your life savings on a cartoon monkey wearing sunglasses” – Matt Damon https://t.co/ZYosxMtbVA

— Valley Boys Podcast (@valleyboyspod) January 3, 2022

[matt damon strolls past a spanish galleon] are you going to put your life savings into the pretend computer dog money that you can’t spend or are you a pussy

— Ulysses S. Cocksman (@USCocksman) January 2, 2022

This commercial where Matt Damon compares buying $5 in ElonAssCoin to the Wright Brothers inventing flight or astronauts exploring space really hypes me up pic.twitter.com/8fOzCc46K0

— John W. Rich (Fake Tech Exec) (@Cokedupoptions) December 31, 2021

Photo via Getty / Axelle / Bauer-Griffin / FilmMagic



The Artist Behind Anonymous Pop Project HIDDEN PPL Reveals Himself

In January of 2021, a faceless bedroom-pop project called HIDDEN PPL dropped its debut single, “ROMANCE IN THE PARK,” without revealing any information about the identity behind it. Clocking in at just under one minute and 30 seconds (very PinkPantheress), the sparkly track led with fast, pitched up vocals, making it even more difficult to distinguish the mysterious singer

HIDDEN PPL continued releasing monthly songs over the year — now 12 in total — all of which are featured on its first full-length album, DON’T LET IT DIE, out today. Covering a range of topics from love to growth and hope, the track list is perfectly bite-sized, and packed with bright, efficient melodies and easy production that can be streamed, from start to finish, in less than 20 minutes.

Today, the musician responsible for HIDDEN PPL has revealed himself to be BRONZE AVERY, the LA-based queer artist who’s been building his own solo career for quite some time now (and recently found a fan in Charli XCX). Exclusively for PAPER, AVERY talks through making his new album, and all the lessons he learned from writing and releasing an anonymous project, below.

Why, initially, did you want to approach making this music project completely anonymous?

The music industry can be very self-serving, while also actively trying to tear you apart. So much of your success is directly correlated to your personality, your physical appearance and what you can offer the world. It can sometimes feel like the music comes last and I wanted to start a project where the music came first.

What’s the significance of the project name, HIDDEN PPL, beyond its tie to anonymity?

I think when you decide to hide, the world has a way of trying to find you. The name HIDDEN PPL isn’t about hiding, but more about being found. Sometimes you have to go away so that people can actually listen to what you have to say.

Along the way, what did anonymity grant you creatively that you don’t have as BRONZE AVERY?

There’s a beautiful sense of “nobody really cares about this but me right now,” so I was able to take risks and go for choices I normally wouldn’t. I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to do and I didn’t have to worry about anyone judging me. It taught me so much about my personal music and inspired me to make art in a similar format. It also gave me the confidence that I could make a really cohesive album for myself, which is something I’ve started to work on this year.

When you look at this body of work, what are some of the larger themes you explored lyrically?

It’s thematically connected by romance, change, growth and hope. There’s this constant push and pull of being angry that situations aren’t working out and being hopeful that they might one day. There’s also a heavy presence of the word “yeah.” I think it’s used somewhere close to 90 times on the record.

You’re rare in that you sing, write and also self-produce. How did that process change or develop for HIDDEN PPL?

In so many ways, HIDDEN PPL taught me how to be an even better producer, writer and singer. This project gave me the freedom to be experimental and write completely off the cuff. With that being said, I’m thankful for Hayden Scott, Emily Vaughn, Shawn Binder, Tyler Aubrey, Carmen Vandenberg and Saint Wade for their contributions, as well. I tagged them in for very small and specific purposes. They were the only other musicians I told about this project and I trust them deeply.

Otherwise, most of everything for DON’T LET IT DIE was produced/ written by me within an hour or two and I would spend much more time getting the mixes right afterward. I think the primal/ instinctual quality of this music has totally changed how I make and perceive music in my life now. Everything I’m making today tends to be raw, lo-fi, dance forward and immediate, with a slight dreamy sheen.

I love that the songs are all so short. Did you go into creating them knowing you wanted this length? Do you think music is moving in this direction as a result of short attention spans and social media?

I love that the songs are so short too. To be honest, my favorite songs on longer records tend to be short little blips or interludes, so I think it’s natural that all of the songs aren’t what’s standard to radio in terms of length. I think music is naturally heading in this direction with a heavier demand on quantity and the increasing speed of which we share music. We see this on TikTok all the time. When you lean into it, it’s really beautiful to constantly share what you’re working on, even if it’s not perfect or just an idea. Also, since I put pressure on myself to release a song a month, the songs had to be shorter to give me a bit of legroom to actually pull it off.

Did you find freedom in pitching up your vocals? Something interesting happens where it’s no longer tied to a gender or age. How do you think that impacts the storytelling and relatability?

The first song I ever made for this project was “FAST FLIGHT.” It was about a long-distance fling during the height of the pandemic. I watched this video on how Kota Banks made her song “Never Sleep” and I tried some of the techniques. It basically consists of me slowing the entire track down, singing my takes, and then placing everything back in normal speed, which naturally pitches the vocals 20% higher.

Pitching the vocals created this sense of anonymity in the project, which is something I realized I had been dying for. You can hear your thoughts and musical ideas with much more focused clarity when it’s not coming from the sound of your own voice. I found myself crying a lot of the time to these songs, and I had never done that with my own music before. It just cuts deeper when someone else is singing your feelings to you.

Is there a lyric you’re most proud of on this project? Why?

“Like fire and metal we melt ’til we settle/ Mold into place ’til we’re something unique.” It’s a lyric from the last song on the album, called “CHANCE IT.” Every time I hear that lyric I want to cry. I think when people come into your life it can be similar to igniting a spark. We as humans can be so hard on the exterior, just like metal, but when we meet someone special, that solid exterior starts to melt down. It can never be the same way again, but it starts to shift and form into something special. Something that could only be made by that connection or that flame.

How long have you been working on this project? How did it develop or evolve over the duration of this time?

The first song was made June 2020, so it’s been over a year and a half. The goal was to release a song a month in 2021, which leads into the album that exists here today. I fought so hard for this project. I had so many insecurities: Will people think I’m weird for doing this? People aren’t gonna understand the vocals. They’re just gonna be mad these aren’t my songs. He’s entering his flop era. But I just pushed out those thoughts and leaned into the process. I knew at the end of everything, it would all make sense. It’s also why I kept it a secret, I couldn’t have any outside opinions straying me off my path. Now there’s an album. I don’t think it could have happened any other way.

How do you think the album title, DON’T LET IT DIE, fully represents or embodies this project?

DON’T LET IT DIE explores the depths we’re willing to navigate to keep something alive. Just like flowers, we plant seeds with the hope something beautiful will sprout. We hold onto the hope that enough flowers will grow in our garden to keep us happy forever. Some flowers bloom and wilt quickly, while others stick around. Despite the seasons and the bloom they bring, we never stop planting those seeds and hoping the care we give them is enough.

Photography: Cara Friedman





The 40 Best K-Pop Songs of 2021

Despite hope for a “return to normal,” 2021 was a year at odds. Offices reopened (somewhat), live music returned (kinda) and we finally put on real clothes (as if). The reality is that we lived through the year in a discombobulated half-state. So it makes sense that music would reflect such discordance, and nowhere was that more apparent than in the K-pop industry, which made bigger, bolder strides into the Western market, while pushing the bounds of genre back at home.

From synthwave to hyperpop to pop-rock, K-pop embraced the noise of 2021 through a multitude of hybrid sounds. When times got tough, the music got harder to define. Rookie groups broke through, scoring major hits and taking K-pop to the next level on the global stage. Meanwhile, established groups got louder and funkier, finding a groove to call their own and embracing a myriad of soundscapes (industrial! traditional! ambient! orchestral!). 2021 was confusing, and therefore, it sounded confused.

These 40 songs span the spectrum of a very dissonant year. Before you scan for your favorites, a few notes: this list includes only official singles, so no b-sides, and just one song per group or artist is considered (the exceptions being units or soloists who released music outside of their group.)

40. “Vamos” by Omega X

In a year defined by second chances, Omega X’s debut feels kismet. Its stacked, 11-member lineup includes artists from either disbanded or inactive boy groups, giving them all another opportunity to achieve success. So “Vamos” is more than a debut single; it’s redemption. With its blustering, brassy instrumental and celebratory shout-sing outro, “Vamos” makes it clear that Omega X is more than ready to carry the “noise music” mantle of K-pop’s 4th generation.

39. “My Treasure” by TREASURE

After a prolific debut year (three single albums and an excellent pre-release track from vocalist Bang Yedam), YG Entertainment’s rookie boy group TREASURE has been relatively quiet on the music front. It’s a shame, considering how January’s “My Treasure” set them on a promising path. Is it a song that could have been on Glee? Sure. Is it a bop? Absolutely. It sounds like cotton candy. Sentimental and saccharine, “My Treasure” ultimately crescendos into something truly magical, showing off the prism of their maturing musicality.

38. “Madonna” by LUNA

An icon in her own right, LUNA’s ode to the queen of pop (yes, that Madonna) is as shameless as Madge herself. That’s what makes it so effusive. LUNA is in on the joke. “When I grow up, I want to be like Madonna,” she belts over the thrum of a dance beat. “I want to vogue how I wanna.” There’s truly nothing more gratifying than shameless pop music, and “Madonna” knows exactly what it is: visceral and versatile, just like the fabulous iconoclast who’s singing it.

37. “XOXO” by Jeon Somi

The devil works hard, but Jeon Somi works harder. The 20-year-old soloist dropped two impactful singles and her first LP this year, and she somehow still had time to film TikToks with at least 75 percent of the entire K-pop industry. Somi’s charisma could power a small town, and while “XOXO” only scratches at the surface of what she has to offer, its stomping beat and anthemic hook begin to cultivate a signature sound — one delivered with a whole lot of gum-snapping, hip-swaying sass.

36. “Like Water” by Wendy

Wendy spent 2020 like so many of us: rehabilitating and reflecting. After more than a year away from the stage due to injury, Red Velvet’s shining vocalist returned with a soaring ballad dedicated to her fans. “Like Water” is a soothing balm for a restless soul, a reminder that love — for yourself, and for others — is as essential to the health and wellbeing of the human spirit as water. There’s so much warmth and empathy in Wendy’s delivery. Allow it to wash over your sorrows and let yourself be reborn anew.

35. “BEcause” by Dreamcatcher

The industry’s resident alt grrrls are known for their dynamic fusion of heavy guitars, crystalline vocals and nightmarish flourishes. “BEcause,” released in July, delivers on all fronts — featuring a frantic drum-and-bass breakdown in the second verse with a sampling of the screeching strings of Psycho’s iconic shower scene. It’s far from Dreamcatcher at their most screamo, but “BEcause” builds to its own feverish conclusion.

34. “Queendom” by Red Velvet

No group wears duality as effortlessly as Red Velvet. Their releases often fall on opposite poles of the conceptual spectrum: “red,” their bright, quirky side; and “velvet,” their slinky, soulful side. But “Queendom” lands somewhere in the middle. It’s playful refrain of “ladida-do ba-badida” is an earworm by design, bolstered by a pretty melody. But the quintet’s lush vocal harmonies and divine ad-libs elevate even the most standard pop-house beat. They’re queens for a reason.

33. “What Type Of X” by Jessi

Beloved by her peers and (finally) by audiences in South Korea, Jessi has had the kind of meteoric rise this year most people can only dream of, thanks to her 2020 smash “Nunu Nana” and the continued success of her YouTube variety show, where she regularly makes her guests sweat over her refreshingly American candor. New Jersey’s finest dropped her jolting pièce de résistance, “What Type Of X,” in March, and it’s the perfect introduction to the rapper and performer’s ferocious flair. Subtlety? Jessi’s never heard of her. “I’m a different type of beast,” she spits as the guitar kicks in. Don’t you know you’re talking to a motha-effin rock star?

32. “Pirate” by Everglow

The dance floor is where people go to free themselves — a baptism under the hum of the music, through the fog of ecstasy. With “Pirate,” Everglow delivers a shimmering sermon: a boisterous club banger anchored by a pulsing rhythm and a girl-power message. (It brings to mind another hooky, empowerment anthem with a club beat: Girls Aloud’s “Something New.”) Everglow’s particular brand of girl crush has always been bold and in-your-face, but “Pirate” is giving camp and attitude. They’re inviting you to put on your sparkliest eyepatch and join them on the dance floor.

31. “We Go” by fromis_9

A good way to measure a fromis_9 title track is by how many pixie sticks you’d need to consume to get on their level. “We Go” is nowhere near as relentless and madcap as past singles “FUN!” (it’s literally screaming at you) and “Love Bomb,” but it’s no less charming. A summer track with a retro-pop pulse, “We Go” is breezy without losing momentum. It’s fun without being all-caps FUN!, teeming with enough feel-good energy to fuel even the cloudiest of days.

30. “Peaches” by Kai

True to its name, Kai’s second solo single “Peaches” is both sweet and sensual. It exists on another plane of existence entirely, where desire is expressed through languid motion and hushed whispers. There’s a hypnotism to its lo-fi arrangement, which incorporates traditional Korean instrumentation. Like its namesake, “Peaches” is a simple delicacy.

29. “Beautiful Beautiful” by ONF

While their peers embrace darker synths and moodier visuals, ONF kicked off 2021 with a blast of sonic sunshine. “Beautiful Beautiful” has everything: harmonized chants, an a cappella section (!!!), funky chords, and an electric guitar solo. It’s a symphony of bright, retro sounds, and in today’s K-pop landscape that feels refreshingly new.

28. “Bonnie & Clyde” by Yuqi

This year saw the members of (G)I-DLE explore the individual depths of their artistry. Propelled by a trance beat and a swift rock undercurrent, “Bonnie & Clyde” harnesses the full power of Yuqi’s smoky vocals and enticing bravado. It’s a beguilingly compulsive tale of ride-or-die love, and it’s a confident entry in Yuqi’s solo repertoire that cements her as a certified pop girlie with her own color.

27. “KILLA” by MIRAE

It typically takes rookie groups a few releases to establish their sound. MIRAE only needed one. The rookie boy group debuted with “KILLA,” a swaggering electro-house banger with a confident, futuristic swing. (Futurism is in their name, after all.) The squelching synths luxuriate in the track’s full-bodied soundscape, but the bombast of the production doesn’t detract from the group’s robust vocals, which soar over the song’s climactic maelstrom of warped beats. It’s an electrifying debut, and the scary thing is… this is only the beginning of their careers.

26. “Sticker” by NCT 127

Was there a more divisive single this year than NCT 127’s “Sticker?” From its biphonic opening flute riff and distorted bass, the disjointed track is an attack on the senses. There’s a sharp dissonance between the flute and the melody, the dirty synths and the even grimier vocals. Yet, the production itself is minimal, subdued even, allowing NCT 127’s vocalists to ground the song in their prowess (and to unleash their growls). NCT is a limitless concept — an infinite number of boys, experimenting with unorthodox sounds and rhythms, spinning nothing into something. “Sticker” is weird. Full stop. But there’s a real thrill to its madness.

25. “Love So Sweet” by Cherry Bullet

K-pop has been riding the retro synthwave for the past few years, and Cherry Bullet’s “Love So Sweet” is the latest entry in the canon. The song’s percolating synth and the members’ bubblegum vocal delivery create a truly inescapable hook, elevating “Love So Sweet” from a sweet, simple pop song to a delectable confection you want to indulge in again and again.

24. “Mafia in the Morning” by Itzy

In the two years since their energetic debut, Itzy have carved out a lane all to themselves. Their music is loud, confident, and a little mischievous. So while April’s “Mafia in the Morning” seemed like a new direction for the group (more rap, less melody; a vacuous hook), it actually emphasized Itzy’s ability to insert their ethos into any sound. What makes “Mafia in the Morning” so charming, beyond its unbeatable performance, is the irresistible energy the girls bring to it.

23. “libidO” by OnlyOneOf

OnlyOneOf attracted a lot of attention this year for “libidO”‘s provocative choreography (just some light crotch-grabbing, NBD), but lost in the conversation was the stellar quality of the song’s funky, atmospheric production. The criminally underrated group has been building their own multifaceted soundscape since their debut, but “libidO” takes it up a notch, edging the group closer to ecstasy with its throbbing bass and sotto voce silkiness.

22. “After We Ride” by Brave Girls

Following the unexpected and long-overdue viral success of their 2017 sleeper hit “Rollin’,” Brave Girls is the Cinderella story of 2021. Their resurgence thankfully led to new music, with the veteran girl group releasing “After We Ride” in August. The lovelorn synthpop track shimmers in the amber of regret, the kind of late summer song that will leave you crying your glitter off on the dance floor. But through those tears, you’ll find catharsis — and that’s the power of a good pop song.

21. “Tamed-Dashed” by ENHYPEN

Driven by a slick bass line and an anthemic hook, “Tamed-Dashed” is a potent mix of grit and gravitas. There’s a frenzied youthfulness to its tone — exuberant in nature, slightly sinister by choice. It’s no less dizzying and intense as their other 2021 release, “Drunk-Dazed,” but “Tamed-Dashed” beats with a thumping propulsion. Tinged with rock flourishes and taught melodies, “Tamed-Dashed” is an exhilarating adrenaline rush.

20. “Bewitched” by PIXY

The allure of rookie group PIXY’s brand of dark, audacious pop lies in the production. It’s physical and addictive, brimming with aggressive bloghouse energy. “Bewitched’ is a siren call to the dance floor. It glitters and glitches, rendering the listener completely powerless to its intoxicating spell.

19. “Butter” by BTS

Of the countless accomplishments under this song’s belt — 10 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100; 13 wins on South Korea’s music show circuit; and a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance — perhaps its greatest achievement (aside from fueling an entire population’s serotonin intake) is the ease of its smooth delivery. BTS have nothing to prove. To Western audiences. To critics. To you. To me. When the history books are written, their chapter will be scribed in gold. “Butter,” with its bright synths and funky bass line, is them confidently acknowledging their own legacy. It’s the celebratory culmination of a long self-love journey. It’s their ability to stand on the world’s biggest stages and playfully ask, “Hate us?” — only to respond to their own taunt with a gleeful and unanimous, “Love us!”

18. “Cinema” by CIX

The beauty of K-pop and its kaleidoscopic vision is that it allows groups to mix up their sound, to wear new concepts and see what fits. In 2019, CIX debuted with the sleek, sophisticated “Movie Star,” and it set them on a path of slinky, understated melodies and sultry performances. But this year, they embraced a fresher sound. (Think: boys with permed, pastel hair, dancing around their rooms in hoodies and overalls while being bathed in saturated color.) It’s luminous without being too cute, a capital “P” pop song with dreamlike harmonies, sparkling synths and an inescapable hook. It’s the kind of sound that makes hearts flutter, and it fits CIX like a glove.

17. “Rock With You” by Seventeen

When Seventeen debuted in 2015, they quickly became known for their fresh sound, which is often a way of saying “bright and youthful.” But boys eventually become men, and their sound in recent years has teetered from transcendent EDM to slinky melodrama to swing-band panache. With the release of “Rock With You,” however, it seems like Seventeen has found a signature groove. Here, in its sparkling melodies and rock-tinged rhythms, the song is a nice bookend to Seventeen’s boyish debut era. It’s sentimental with an edge — and the members have never sounded better. “Rock With You” allows Seventeen to strut into their new era with purpose.

16. “Advice” by Taemin

Nobody loves drama the way Taemin loves drama. He embodies it fully, visually and physically. The patron saint of carnal pop released just one single this year before he was called to fulfill his enlistment duties, but it left an immeasurable impact. In many ways, “Advice” is classic Lee Taemin, otherwise known as SHINee’s eternal maknae and SuperM’s sage chaos master. Baroque and intoxicating, the song itself is a harmonious dance between major and minor, of rhythmic arpeggios and mesmerizing EDM riffs. “Advice” is luxurious. It sounds expensive. As if Taemin would have left us any other way.

15. “Eleven” by IVE

There’s not a song on this list that has made as much of an impact in such a short amount of time as the enchanting debut single from rookie girl group IVE. Released at the start of December, “Eleven” has already taken over TikTok with its percussive pop hook and dazzling choreography — and it’s currently racing up the charts in South Korea. It serpentines its way to your heart, a gleaming bit of brilliance that establishes this entrancing six-member group as surefire supernovas.

14. “Bambi” by Baekyun

Leave it to K-pop’s reigning king of R&B to get us all hot and bothered before commencing his mandatory enlistment. If there’s one thing Baekyun knows how to do, it’s ride a note to an electrifying climax. The man’s vocal stamina is unparalleled. “Bambi” follows a sensual groove, but it’s the atmospheric guitar and Baekhyun’s silky smooth delivery (those exalted melismas!) that leaves us yearning for more.

13. “Gambler” by Monsta X

Few groups have learned to wield their sex appeal like Monsta X. Case in point: “Gambler.” With a rubbery bass and a vigorous electric guitar riff (just listen to rapper I.M slide in on that riffage), “Gambler” is the lethal mix of Monsta X’s hard-hitting sound, suave visuals and synthwave. The wailing guitar is no match for main vocalist Kihyun, while rapper/vocalist/maverick Joohoney — who participated in the track’s writing, production, and arrangement — unleashes his own gravelly power vocal alongside Kihyun for an electrifying conclusion.

12. “Don’t Call Me” by SHINee

It’s one thing to push pop into the future; it’s another to dismantle it completely and play with the parts. K-pop legends SHINee fall into the latter category. For 13 years, they’ve eschewed trends to define their own distinct musicality — from pristine electropop to rhythmic bangers. On “Don’t Call Me,” their first release as a unit since 2018, SHINee takes a hard-spun K-pop sound as it’s currently being expressed — dark synths, clattering hi-hats and weighty beats — and renders it bolder, edgier and more dynamic. And that piano breakdown? SHINee’s back, indeed.

11. “Thunderous” by Stray Kids

When Stray Kids dropped their second studio album NOEASY in August, it was a playful nod to critics who deride their particular brand of “noise music.” (NOEASY is pronounced as noisy.) But the thing about noise is that it’s impactful, and lead single “Thunderous” is the loudest of them all. Boisterous and boastful, the song forges an immersive experience teeming with dynamism and attitude. There’s so many textures in its production — the brassy drop, the clanking percussion, the superhero opening, the sly vocal delivery. On paper, the frenzied mix of traditional Korean instruments and noisy samples (car horns!) shouldn’t work. But as Felix says, Stray Kids don’t play by the rules. They are self-referential. They are unabashedly fun. And they have nothing to apologize for.

10. “NAKKA (with IU)” by AKMU

Siblings Lee Chanhyuk and Lee Suhyun of AKMU (short for Akdong Musician) are favorites on the Korean music charts. For good reason: Their discography is full of youthful bops and cathartic ballads. The throughline, of course, is Chanhyuk’s captivating lyricism — his ability to paint a lyrical portrait so vividly and humanly. “NAKKA” finds the brother-sister duo playing in a new musical sandbox alongside singer-songwriter IU: icy synthwave. But the lyrics have never been warmer and more potent. “Trust me, close your eyes and fall,” Suhyun and IU sing over a gurgling bass line. “One, two, three, hold your breath and fall.”

9. “Scientist” by Twice

The yassification of Twice’s sound in recent years has yielded some of the brightest gems of the group’s career catalog. “Scientist” shines because it follows Twice’s tried-and-true formula of success — bouncy synths, happy melodies and catchy hooks — while continuing to defy expectations and push themselves musically. A real standout track for vocalist Mina, who anchors the verses with a suave performance, “Scientist” allows all nine members to shine vocally through lush harmonies and quirky vocalizations. It’s undeniably vivacious, but there’s a sophistication that elevates it from cute to consistent.

8. “Lilac” by IU

This year, IU embraced turning 30 with a real sense of confidence and perspective, and on “Lilac,” aging has never sounded more beautiful. The queen of the charts welcomed this new chapter with a groovy goodbye to her twenties. “Tell me I look pretty like the first day we met,” she breathily sings over a dreamy city-pop beat. “Could this last goodbye be any sweeter?” IU’s ability to spin everyday moments and universal feelings of existential dread into magic is what makes her such a singular voice in the global K-pop landscape. As one chapter ends, another begins, somewhere in IU’s eternal spring.

7. “Luna” by ONEUS

ONEUS released a handful of singles this year, each a reflection of the group’s multifaceted sound. But there’s something about “Luna” and its potent fusion of synthwave and traditionalism that feels the most like ONEUS. It’s dramatic and decadent, teetering on the edge of theatrical. The progression of the chorus builds to a stunning climax of oscillating harmonies, traditional Korean instruments, and soaring vocals from the members and a pansori singer. (Notably, “Luna” is sung entirely in Korean.) In K-pop, every group has to find that one thing that sets them apart from their peers. ONEUS are storytellers, and the beauty of their folk tales is that they weave together past and present so gracefully — creating their own mythos one fable at a time.

6. “ASAP” by STAYC

At one point, STAYC’s “ASAP” was truly escapable. You couldn’t open TikTok or scroll through Twitter without hearing the catchiest of hooks or seeing its memorable choreography. After a breakout debut year, “STAYC girls” came back with a mega-bop that, despite its title, was kind of laid-back. Still, “ASAP” is bright, whimsical fun. But don’t be fooled: It also packs a real punch. There’s a pluckiness to the group’s vocal delivery — don’t keep them waiting, boy! — and an undercurrent of energy conducted through bursts of chirpy synth notes and layed harmonies. In retrospect, “ASAP” is a self-fulfilling prophecy for the amount of time it takes to get this one stuck in your head.

5. “Bad Love” by Key

Synthwave clearly has K-pop in a chokehold, but there’s not a single artist who embodies this style of exuberant dance music like Kim Kibum, SHINee’s elusive chanteur. “Bad Love” is as much an extension of himself and his artistry as the wardrobe he painstakingly curated for his album rollout, or the pulpy, retrofuturism concept he conceived and fought for. Key knows exactly who he is and what he wants to bring to the pop ecosystem, and that’s genuinely thrilling in an industry where control is rarely conceded. He’s been a student of pop his whole life — Bowie, Gaga, those are his muses. With “Bad Love,” Key is now the master.

4. “After School” by Weeekly

In lieu of caffeine, listen to Weeekly. The rookie girl group has been honing their repertoire of sticky, upbeat jams since their relentlessly peppy debut. On “After School,” Weeekly stick to their bubblegum roots while also broadening their musical scope with a deeper, bouncier bass and reggae-infused rhythms. “Ready, set, go! Feel it,” the members chant, celebrating the blissful moments they spend together, after school on their skateboards. “I’m so good with you,” they sing together. Youth has never sounded this sweet.

3. “Savage” by aespa

“Oh my gosh,” Winter drawls. “Don’t you know I’m a savage?” From its opening line, aespa’s “Savage” is a battle cry, delivered oh-so-deliciously by the rookie girl group currently taking the industry by storm. While aespa’s “Next Level” was undoubtedly the song of the year on the Korean music charts, it’s the group’s October release that really proves what these girls can do. (The answer is everything. They can do it all! You don’t need a naevis to see that.) Exaggerated and dissonant, “Savage” is a blitz of brash synths, trap beats, punchy rap verses, earworm hooks and piercing vocals. It shouldn’t work, but it does. It’s that thrilling discordance that’s afforded aespa this level of success so early into their careers. “Get me get me now,” they chant on the chorus. You know that’s a challenge, right?

2. “0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You)” by Tomorrow X Together

When you’re young, life feels overwhelming all of the time. Where else is there to turn while processing those big feelings and messy emotions than music? No group captures the moody tumult of adolescence quite like Tomorrow X Together. They are boys, interrupted, and this year they channeled their teen angst and boyish rebellion into a slew of singles — but “0X1=LOVESONG” stands atop the rubble of their youth as a beacon of real catharsis. The song, which features up-and-coming singer-songwriter Seori, is overflowing with anthemic melodies, bellowing chants and heavy drums. “I know it’s real, I can feel it,” Taehyun screams at the top of his lungs — searching for release from his endless ennui.

“Hello Future” by NCT Dream

In a year defined by more fear and entropy, NCT Dream’s “Hello Future” seems like a tie-dyed fever dream. It’s disorienting, like most NCT releases are, with its industrial instrumental and gurgling synths. Relief comes in the form of a truly euphoric climb to a hook so bright and so heightened it will make you forget — momentarily — about your worries and instead escape into an alternate reality where you don’t have any worries at all. “I’ve been waiting for you, welcome,” they sing in unison. “Wherever it may be, we’re coming together/ Don’t worry about anything/ It’ll be alright, hello future.” Escapism is a luxury, and we cling to wherever we find it — be it through music, books or other art forms. It’s not revisionist; we know the world is on fire. Yet, escapist media allows us to be slightly removed from it, to imagine a different ending. “It’s not far, open your eyes,” Renjun sings on the bridge. So open your eyes and let the unbridled hope of “Hello Future” carry you away. It’s nice to be reminded that there is a future worth living.

TikTok Discovered the Majesty of Caroline Polachek’s ‘Pang’

2019, a year that feels like it happened eons ago, was a glorious time for music, giving us albums such as Tyler, the Creator’s IGOR, Charli XCX’s Charli, 100 gecs’ 1000 gecs, FKA twigs Magdalene, Billie Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go? and, most importantly, Caroline Polachek’s Pang.

The former Chairlift frontwoman’s highly anticipated solo debut, which featured executive production by Danny L Harle, hit the right balance between tear-stained sentiment and impeccably crafted gloss-pop. Now, two years after the fact, it looks like TikTok has finally caught up with the brilliance that is Polachek’s Pang.

The latest viral dance trend to hit the app sees users recreating the music video for “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings” in the comfort of their own homes. From the hid-led sashays to the gestural hand movements, the video’s choreography — with its campy-yet-tasteful ’80s vibe — looks tailor-made for TikTok’s proclivity for easy-to-learn dances.

@secretsfromag1rl

some of my fav music video choreo ever also ??? remember dc miss caroline herself

♬ So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings – Caroline Polachek
@bridgitmendlerrocks

##carolinepolachek

♬ So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings – Caroline Polachek

It was perhaps only a matter of time, until the TikTok trend made its way back to Polachek herself. As the originator of the dance, there was no world where Caroline couldn’t resist reprising her role in a TikTok of her own just to show the kids how it’s really done.

@carolineplz

oops it’s me ♡

♬ So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings – Caroline Polachek

Revisit the official music video (and get a chance to learn the moves for yourself) for Caroline Polachek’s “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings” in all its glory, below.

Photo via YouTube

T-Pain Might’ve Made Napster Relevant Again

It’s no secret that streaming has not been the most beneficial arrangement for artists. From payouts that amount to a fraction of a fraction of a cent to the pandemic making any income from live performances practically nonexistent, it’s abundantly clear that change needs to be made — but is the solution an almost defect music-sharing service from the 2000s? According to T-Pain, it just might be.

The rapper and autotune icon tweeted out an infographic that broke down how many streams of a given song it would take to make an artist $1, ranging from over a thousand plays needed on YouTube Music to surprisingly Napster of all places with just 53 streams required.

Just so you knowu2026u2026pic.twitter.com/t8m3PerxT9 — T-Pain (@T-Pain)
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While it’s difficult to determine just how credible these numbers are, given that the infographic seems to be pulled from a Reddit post without any direct sources, the apparent fact that Napster is not only still around but the most financially beneficial streaming platform for artist came as a bit of a shock.

Napster being the highest paying platform is some serious M. Night Shyamalan shithttps://twitter.com/TPAIN/status/1476032631255060490u00a0u2026 — ud83cudf84Christmas Penguin Johnny Dangeru2744 (@ud83cudf84Christmas Penguin Johnny Dangeru2744)
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Me when Napster is trendingpic.twitter.com/vZJ9rZU8XX — Pizza Dad (@Pizza Dad)
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Napster: from the music industry’s bad guys in the 2000’s to paying artists more than any other streaming service in 2021…pic.twitter.com/e2vD9aOyVC — SportzStew u24cb (@SportzStew u24cb)
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I’m old enough to remember when Napster was the bad guy to the music industry. Google said hold my beer as they rob artists legally. — Robert Nelson (@Robert Nelson)
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The reemergence of Napster in the streaming conversation in turn triggered a wave of Y2K nostalgia for those that vividly remember the days of waiting hours for Linkin Park MP3s over a dial-up connection.

#napster is trending and if you didn’t download “Everything in its Right Place” on your desktop over dial up then you can’t call yourself a Millennial — Ana Gou00f1i-Lessan (@Ana Gou00f1i-Lessan)
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If you didn’t use one of these devices to listen to all the music you stole from Napster, you can’t sit with us.n#90sEphemerapic.twitter.com/nUmEbThD3h — ud83dudc9bud83dudc1dEbony Edwards-Ellisud83dudc9bud83dudc1d (@ud83dudc9bud83dudc1dEbony Edwards-Ellisud83dudc9bud83dudc1d)
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Napster era kids be likepic.twitter.com/Cpq9jtD80B — SVM (@SVM)
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The trip down memory lane also reminded people of the fact that Metallica was the first major group to sue Napster, triggering the first of many lawsuits that would eventually bankrupt the company and shut down the peer to peer file sharing service.

as the day will continue the “fuck lars ulrich” posts will continue to flood in, some people will be mad about napster, some people will be mad because lars is a dogshit drummer, but everybody will agree fuck lars ulrichhttps://twitter.com/MonstersOfRock/status/1475137196608864263u00a0u2026 — there’s only one DJ helix (@there’s only one DJ helix)
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Am I the only one who has never forgiven this motherfucker for Napster?https://twitter.com/monstersofrock/status/1475137196608864263u00a0u2026 — Beanie ud83duddd1ud83dudc3cud83eudd54ud83dudc31 (@Beanie ud83duddd1ud83dudc3cud83eudd54ud83dudc31)
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It remains to be seen whether or not T-Pain’s streaming revelation will result in an uptick in traffic for Napster or incentivize more artists to migrate over to the platform, but it would be a poetic full circle moment if the music industry’s salvation came from one of its biggest former bogeymen.

Photo via Getty/ Mike FANOUS/ Gamma-Rapho

Grimes Wants a New Day Job

Fresh off her medieval cyberpunk fantasy lightsaber duel in the official music video for new single “Player of Games,” Grimes is already back to tease a possible collaboration with The Weeknd.

The synth-pop artist teased the release to fans on her official Discord server, replying to the suggestion of working with The Weeknd on track with a, “Hmmmm surprises for yalls,” before going on to outright confirm that the name of the song is called “Sci Fi.”

As Stereogum points out, the two talents joining forces feels like an inevitability given that “Player of Games” was co-produced by The Weeknd’s frequent collaborator Illangelo and the video was directed by Anton Tammi, the same person that handled all the After Hours visuals.

The promise of a new project on the horizon also has Grimes contemplating a step away from the spotlight, or at the very least a new day job. “Celebrity culture is suffocating a f,” Grimes tweeted before going on to clarify that, “I’m not quitting music, but def changing my main day job after BOOK 1. Music industry feels old and tired, reliant on archaic systems.”

Celebrity culture is suffocating a f. Iu2019m not quitting music, but def changing my main day job after BOOK 1. Music industry feels old and tired, reliant on archaic systems — ud835udd0aud835udd2fud835udd26ud835udd2aud835udd22ud835udd30 (u231bufe0f,u23f3) u16b7u16b1u16c1u16d7u16d6u16cb (@ud835udd0aud835udd2fud835udd26ud835udd2aud835udd22ud835udd30 (u231bufe0f,u23f3) u16b7u16b1u16c1u16d7u16d6u16cb)
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Grimes is certainly not alone in wanting to distance herself from the exploitative machinations of the music industry and she had no shortage of suggestions for new career paths for her to pursue in the replies. Among them included an invite from popular Twitch streamer Hasan Piker to join him on the platform with fellow streamer pokimane offering to help Grimes if she was interested.

become a twitch streamer — hasanabi (@hasanabi)
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hmu if u need help any with that.. — pokimane (@pokimane)
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Photo via Getty/ Theo Wargo