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Scene Selections: May flowers

, , , and | Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Jackie Junco | The Observer

A few weeks ago, Scene was feeling blue.

And can you blame us? As we trudged our way through the middle of the semester, our already-low spirits were lowered only still by “permacloud,” rain storms and chilly temperatures. Throw in some seasonal allergies, and you’ve got yourself the month of April.

So we did what any reasonable person would: Wrote 2,391 words and curated a comprehensive list of “entertainment” that we turn to whenever we’re sad. But as we noted then, “April showers” is only half of the phrase.

This week, we’re coming full circle. April showers bring May flowers, and last Sunday, we finally smelled the roses. It’s not just that it was 80 degrees (I even got a sunburn!). With only one week of classes to go — and the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine recently distributed to students — we here at Scene see a light at the end of the tunnel. In more ways than one!

So for our final Scene Selections of the year, we’re writing about the entertainment that truly entertains: the music that makes us close our eyes and nod our heads, and the movies and TV that make us sit back and smile.

Won’t you join us?

 

“i” by Kendrick Lamar

Aidan O’Malley, Scene Editor

Last month, I wrote about “u” by Kendrick Lamar, the sixth track off his acclaimed album, “To Pimp a Butterfly.” It’s not an easy listen; it’s a wanton attack on Kendrick by Kendrick himself, in which he literally raps between tears and swigs of alcohol.

But this month, I’m writing about the penultimate track on that genius 2015 record and the yin to “u’s” yang, “i.” There are actually two versions of this piece: the single and the album version. The single is better suited to repeat listens, but I prefer the latter, both for its inspired musical additions — the background vocals will make you want to jump up and down — and for just how perfectly it’s situated within the story of the record as a whole.

The hook of the song is catchy and simple; Kendrick repeats “I love myself!” while a rousing mix of piano, drums and electric guitar carries him into each verse. Peppered throughout this aspirational and life-affirming track are references to Lamar’s darker thematic obsessions, including police brutality. In this context, then, his declarations of self-love evolve into something revolutionary. Despite the structural and systemic forces that devalue and hold him down, Lamar still loves himself.

 

“Tell Me It’s Okay” by Paramore

Evan McKenna, Managing Editor

Yes, I listened to Paramore in middle school. No, I didn’t have an emo phase. We exist.

Don’t get me wrong, I lived for the Nashville-based band’s early anthems of rebellion, heartbreak and spite, but I think I was simply too young to fully understand and internalize the songs’ themes. And fortunately for my psyche, the development of my ability to understand complex emotions coincided nicely with Paramore’s pilgrimage from angsty to optimistic — marked by the 2013 release of their self-titled record.

My favorite track on the album was and is the pleasantly hopeful “Tell Me It’s Okay,” which encapsulates the group’s newfound optimism while still preserving early Paramore’s pop-punk perfection. “Tell me it’s okay to be happy now, because I’m happy now,” front-woman Hayley Williams sings, not only referring to the band’s reluctance to make the jump to more upbeat material, but also highlighting Williams’ own emotional indecision — in the wake of so much grief and gloom, can I allow myself to feel happy?

As a post-pandemic world comes into view, I think many of us are at a similar emotional crossroads. Some of us might feel guilty for feeling good. But this is me — and Paramore — telling you it is okay to be happy now. Goodbye middle school emo phase, hello optimistic girl summer.

 

“Glee”

Maggie Klaers, Graphics Editor

Glee: the guilty pleasure of all guilty pleasures. I am somewhat ashamed to say I enjoy the show, but how could I not? The tea is always sizzling, the songs are always bops and Sue is always on a rampage.

This semester, my roommate and I have begun what is her first watch of Glee and probably my third. Sometimes I forget how offensive and tone-deaf the show can be until I am actively watching it. For those who have not had the pleasure, I highly recommend you add it to your Netflix queue, but consider this your warning label: “Glee” is not for the faint of heart.

We are well into the fourth season now, and (worry not, no spoilers ahead) I’m realizing I have begun to measure time in terms of “Glee.” Somehow, the whole glee club has managed to graduate in the time it has taken me to claw my way through a semester. Gawking at the insanity that is “Glee” has been one of many bright spots for me these past few months.

 

“Moana”

Alysa Guffey, Notre Dame News Editor

Set on the animated, but still majestic, fictional world of Motunui, Moana encapsulates the idyllic island life with catchy songs, warm weather and a heartwarming ending.

From the get-go, Moana is a story centered around family as we learn of Moana’s relationship with her parents and grandma along with the entire close-knit village she calls home. As the movie progresses, the focus is more on Moana and her growth as an individual, leaving home and exploring the unknown, as well as her newfound friendship with Maui, which endures its challenges and leads to a strong relationship.

The Moana soundtrack perfectly parallels the good vibes of the storyline and visuals in the film, from Dwayne Johnson’s iconic “You’re Welcome” for when you need a strong karaoke song to Auliʻi Cravalho’s “How Far I’ll Go” for when you need some motivation. And for the ultimate feel-good song, I suggest “Where You Are” to feel happiness right where you are.

Also, like most Disney princess movies, there is a slightly crazy animal friend of the main character to make you laugh, and ask yourself: why does a chicken freak out in the middle of the ocean when he lives on an island?

 

“Definitely Maybe” by Oasis

John Clark, Scene Writer

This recommendation is essentially just a recommendation of Oasis. I couldn’t pick a favorite between their first two albums “Definitely Maybe” and “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory.” Although “Morning Glory” is the more mature and accessible album, the self-belief that defines “Definitely Maybe” makes it the album that I go to when I need to boost my self-confidence. It’s an album that, lyrically, is characterized by bold and defiant aspirations, a bit of social commentary and a fair share of nonsense and silliness. Musically, it is not complex, but it is extremely hype. Oasis sounds huge. It’s the sound of someone who has been ignored for too long, finally demanding attention and asserting their own self worth, something I often have to do with myself. Liam Gallagher is the heart and soul of Oasis. He breathes a youthful defiance into his older brother’s lyrics, delivering them with their trademark Mancunian accent and makes them his own with his bizarrely entertaining mannerisms, the most prominent example being his pronunciation of “shine,” which appears on more than a third of the songs on “Definitely Maybe” and on countless other songs throughout the rest of their career. The centerpiece of the album, “Live Forever,” is my favorite song. It’s an anthem about becoming happy that acknowledges that happiness is made meaningful by the obstacles we have to overcome and the people with whom we achieve it.

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About Aidan O'Malley

Aidan is the Scene Editor. He likes to watch movies (and write about them, too!)

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About Evan McKenna

Evan is a junior at Notre Dame from Morristown, Tennessee majoring in psychology and English with a concentration in creative writing. He is currently serving as the Managing Editor of The Observer, and believes in the immutable power of a well-placed em dash. Reach him at [email protected] or @evanjmckenna on Twitter.

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About Maggie Klaers

Originally from Minneapolis, Klaers is a first-year biology and visual communications design major living in Flaherty Hall. She currently serves as Graphics Editor.

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About Alysa Guffey

Alysa is a sophomore pursuing a major in history with a minor in journalism, ethics and democracy. While she calls Breen-Phillips her home on campus, she is originally from Indianapolis. She currently serves as the Notre Dame News Editor.

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About John Clark

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