Photo illustration by Gabe Rosenberg and Kateri Ang

Music in 2020 took one of two forms: those about our current moment, and those noticeably disconnected from it. Not that one is inherently better than the other — we deserve both validation and liberation.

Some records, like Fiona Apple’s Fetch The Bolt Cutters or Run The Jewels’ RTJ4, were written far before the pandemic and this summer’s unrest, but were perfectly poised to address them. Some, like the projects from Taylor Swift, Adrienne Lenker and Charlie XCX, were born from the constraints of, consumed within, forever connected to quarantine. …

Photo illustration by Kateri Ang and Gabe Rosenberg

There’s a quote from the TV show The Good Place I can’t stop thinking about. (Don’t worry, I’ll get to music in a moment.) The central question of this thoughtful and hilarious series is how, or even if, we can become more ethical people. Whether there’s hope for any of us in such a morally complicated world.

I’ll avoid spoilers, but in the latest season, Michael (played by Ted Danson) explains to an adversary why he still keeps faith in humans, despite all the challenges they face. …

What is the sound of eking out an existence? Of stitching a life back together again? Of questioning if the old one was even worth saving? If the music of 2017 was about defying the world’s disintegration, 2018 ended with a resolution: Circumstances be damned, we will make the best of what we have.

It should be no surprise that, once again, the majority of my favorite albums and songs come from women-identifying artists. For artists on the margins, survival is a language frequently spoken; defiance is a look well-worn. “I fight time / It won in a landslide,” Lucy…

Honestly, why even bother with men this year?

By the end of last year, we were all ready for a break, for a stop to the constant waves of news and destruction. We didn’t get that in 2017; instead, we got the never-ending sea.

Putting together my best albums list, I was struck by how dominated my year in music was by women. That is to say, while some male artists and bands released good, even great, albums, few felt essential. Usually new releases by The National or Fleet Foxes or LCD Soundsystem would define the season; in 2017, they were enjoyable side dishes but never the main…

Only Good Things About This Trash Fire Year

We don’t get to choose what music connects with us when. That’s about all the lesson I got out of 2016.

Even beyond the election and political turmoil, here and seemingly everywhere else in the world, 2016 was more destructive than I expected. I graduated, left all the friends I knew, and moved twice; I searched desperately for a job; I dealt with the end of a long relationship; I tried to build a new life in a new city. Some of those came easier than others.

In 2016, music was seemingly the only good thing that happened. Well, and…

The Review Where It Happens

2015 was a heavy year. Wesley Morris, in The New York Times Magazine, called it “The Year We Obsessed Over Identity.” And yet, I can’t get this one line from Chance the Rapper out of my head.

“It’s cool with just me.
I’m cool being me.”

It’s not because our questionings of race and gender and institutions and political systems and representation aren’t necessary or interesting. They absolutely are, and they’ve lead to some of the best art of this century (and in 2015 especially). But this year’s music has not simply been reacting against current events, but thinking about…

BBC Pop Up in Brooklyn, I believe. Everyone uses this image because it’s great, so I will too.

Why Mobility is the Key to Empathetic Reporting

Zip code 70805 is known as the “most dangerous neighborhood in Baton Rouge.” The area suffers from high unemployment and poverty and has some of the highest homicide and HIV rates in the United States. Drive down Airline Highway and cross over Florida Boulevard, locals say, and the change is immediate. Buildings suddenly appear neglected, the population switches to majority-black, and rates of violence jump up.

BBC video journalist Benjamin Zand arrived in 70805 in October 2014 by a meandering path. Over the past three months, he took a flight from London — where the BBC Worldwide offices are headquartered…

This editorial originally appeared in The Wesleyan Argus

Investigating breaking news on a university campus is no different than investigating any other tight-knit community — unless you refuse to see college students as a multifaceted community with diversity of belief and behavior. In the days and then weeks following the series of student hospitalizations at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT last month, multiple news outlets, some local, many national, defaulted to this flat characterization, refusing to provide Wesleyan students with the empathy required to report on and write about a school in shock and hurt.


A critical approximation

I’m looking now at my Best Of 2013 list. Finding it hard not to reflect on my music tastes even just a year ago: “What the hell was I thinking?” There’s a lot in those 10 spots that I might think twice rewarding so generously a year later, and a lot lacking, too — pop, hip-hop, and R&B, primarily. I know my weak spots; I didn’t become a fully-fledged poptimist until this year, and hip-hop always takes me a while to digest, to obsess over. As a genre, rap took me until college to really get into. But in my…

Gabe Rosenberg

Digital news editor, music geek, pun aficionado.

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