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The Downfall Of SoundCloud Rap

Juice WRLD and Lil Peep on top of a red background. These two artists both got their start on SoundCloud. Illustration by Alyson Sutherland

SoundCloud was an extremely influential force in modern rap, creating a new landscape for many artists to thrive in. Artists such as Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti, XXXTENTACION, Juice WRLD, and Lil Peep got their start using SoundCloud. SoundCloud influenced how rap is made today, how artists are discovered, and the pop culture landscape in general. But in recent years its popularity has gone downhill, almost to where it was in 2011, which is a big difference compared to its massive peak in 2016-2017. So what happened? Why has the genre that changed modern rap music forever faded out of relevancy and essentially died? Well, we have to start with history first.

Raider Klan was a hip-hop collective formed in 2008 in Carol City, Florida. Led by rapper SpaceGhostPurrp, this collective featured names such as A$AP Rocky, Denzel Curry and many more. This collective had a significant cultural influence on rap and set a standard for upcoming sounds. They had a big influence over other collectives as well, such as A$AP Mob, who adapted Raider Klan’s darker tone and style. And though Raider Klan had the potential to become a large rap collective they had a falling out and ultimately fell apart because of the rapper SpaceGhostPurrp.

Lil B is one of the most underappreciated rappers for the amount of influence he had over SoundCloud rap. Lil B was essentially the original formula for SoundCloud rap as no one else was doing it at his time. He started a pattern of rapping about drugs and clothing and guns, which became the default in SoundCloud rap later on. He often described what he was doing as not being lyrical, not being serious, and said he wanted to have fun making music. Although a lot of people thought he was a joke, he took himself seriously and he started to develop a cult-like fan base. As his music evolved he started to go more and more in-depth and he started to implement more dreamy and celestial beats which influenced SoundCloud rap later on. 

True SoundCloud rap soon came around with artists like Denzel Curry, who throughout his career embraced all forms of rap coming out of the scene at the time, including music by XXXTENTACION and Ski Mask The Slump God’s members-only collective. Other notable artists to come out of this era of SoundCloud are Chris Travis, Xavier Wulf, Goth Money, Lil Peep, Yung Lean, GothBoiClique, and $uicideboy$. These were the original tried and true SoundCloud rappers that were developing a cult-like following and fanbase. Although a lot of these artists are huge now, at the time they were only promoting their songs on platforms like Youtube and SoundCloud and weren’t very big. These artists were creating a scene that was new and unique, pushing anti-pop-culture values and sentiments, true SoundCloud rap.

2016 and 2017 were when SoundCloud rap really started getting popular, with artists like Playboi Carti, XXXTENTACION, Post Malone, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty and many others.  These artists are often painted as the face of SoundCloud rap because they have released the most popular songs including Post Malone’s “White Iverson,” Playboi Carti’s Self titled album, “Luv Is Rage” and “Luv Is Rage 2” By Lil Uzi Vert, and “Ultimate” by Denzel Curry. Another huge underground podcast, “No Jumper,” came out of this era. Adam22 from “No Jumper” helped grow the underground rap scene by interviewing anyone he could. This 2016 era of SoundCloud would still hold true to the original SoundCloud rap by building a unique style that was immersive in the underground rap scene and created a cult-like following.

So what killed this immersive underground scene after its non stop growth and influence?  One contributing factor was a new label, “Mumble rap,” that was assigned to the genre. Mumble Rap  was a term originally used harmlessly by Wiz Khalifa as a description of the genre but oldheads, a term used for someone who listens to older rap, started to take this term and use it negatively to paint the genre in a bad light, with older rappers dissing this new sound wave. Many of the up-and-coming artists had either peaked or were already mainstream and signed to labels and often not considered “SoundCloud rappers” anymore due to their status or relevancy. Another factor to SoundCloud rap’s downfall came through something called clout rap. According to RXDER, a rapper and producer, clout rappers are “Rappers who don’t really care about rap and are just rapping to get clout and become famous.” Often these people would copy Lil Pump or Smokepurpp’s formula, any of them careless rappers. This label of Mumble rap increasingly put  more of a negative connotation onto the genre.

This wasn’t the end of SoundCloud rap, as other artists were still on SoundCloud releasing good music despite being at the tail end of this already dying underground trend. Notable people from this time would be artists like Juice WRLD, $NOT, and YNW Melly. This is also at the time where Lyrical Lemonade aka Cole Bennet was rising and creating music videos for rising rap stars, most notably Juice WRLD’s “Lucid Dreams.” This created more of a platform for these rappers and artists on Youtube, and allowed for them to dominate the music scene there. 

Towards the end of SoundCloud rap’s trend and life, important artists were lost like XXXTENTACION and Lil Peep, which hurt the subgenre as a whole.

So what killed SoundCloud rap? Negative image, trend hoppers, and its relevance dying. I don’t think it as a genre could come back due to its influence already having its effect on rap and the fact that TikTok has replaced it with artists like Yeat coming off it. SoundCloud rap will be remembered as one of, if not the best era of rap in general by many people. 

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Arts & Entertainment

A New Age for Star Wars

Din Djarin and Boba Fett, both mandalorians. Each mandalorian has a customized version of their famous Mandalorian armor. Illustration by Pearl McNames

First released on Nov. 12, 2019, “Star Wars” fans all over the world were able to view the “Star Wars” original series, “The Mandalorian,” on Disney+, and reignite the love and wonder they had for the universe. In the time period after the fall of the Empire, specifically five years after “Return of the Jedi, “The Mandalorian” is set after the famous events that occur in the third movie. Fans will remember these events in the original trilogy, specifically when Darth Vader dies, and Luke Skywalker follows his path to become a Jedi Master. 

“The Mandalorian” currently has two seasons, with 21 episodes total. Many fans were taken on an emotional journey following the Mandalorian Din Djarin, played by Pedro Pascal (Some might be familiar with him from shows like “Narcos” and “Game of Thrones”), who is tasked with retrieving an alien child named Grogu. “This show is a tremendous addition to the “Star Wars” canon,” says Cian McKeown, a Franklin student and longtime “Star Wars” fan. Many fans originally called Grogu Baby Yoda, due to Grogu being the same species as the Jedi Master Yoda, though the name of the species is unknown. During the show, Grogu is 50 years old, which gives some evidence to the aging process of the alien species. The first season of the series follows the pair on their journey across the galaxy as we are introduced to the subtle backstory of Din Djarin, as well as getting hinting at Grogu’s unique force abilities, and following the pair on their journey across the galaxy. The Mandalorian is trying to keep Grogu out of harm’s way, specifically from the still active Empire followers who are looking for him. Actors such as Bill Burr and Carl Weathers make their appearances in the galaxy far far away for the first time, and we are lucky to still see some old “Star Wars” references, like X-wings, scout troopers, and assassin droids. 

“The Mandalorian” is an action packed space western, full of high paced combat and it’s the true essence of a “Star Wars” story. This is a good sign, considering the high number of series that were released, or are in the process of being released, by Disney+. Fans first got to see evidence of a Mandalorian (Or rather someone in Mandalorian armor) in the movie “Empire Strikes Back,” and since then have been wanting more from the strange and mysterious character, much like Darth Maul in the Phantom Menace. There were more questions answered after the release of “The Mandalorian,” like the history of the Mandalorian race, a highly skilled and mysterious warrior creed originating from the planet Mandalore, who swear by the rule to always keep their armor on in the presence of another, and never break the creed rules. However, by the end of the first season, there are still some questions left unanswered, most of which are resolved in the second season. Even as conflicts and wonders arise in the second season of “The Mandalorian,” there is still much to praise. An example of this is in the final episode, when Din Djarin and his crew are saved by none other than the Jedi Knight, Luke Skywalker. Other than the regrettably failed final movie in the Skywalker Saga, “The Rise of Skywalker,” Luke finally gets his much deserved screen time as his true character, a calm and calculated Jedi Master. With season three of “The Mandalorian” approaching, it makes sense to talk about the other “Star Wars” original series’ featured on Disney+, such as “The Book of Boba Fett,” “Bad Batch,” and upcoming series like “Kenobi,” and “Ahsoka.” 

Fans were very excited to see the result of the release of “The Book of Boba Fett,” based on the beloved bounty hunter that met his demise (or so it was thought) to the open jaws of the sarlacc pit in “Return of the Jedi.” It is later revealed that Boba Fett was in fact not dead, saved by his Mandalorian armor, and after only five lines in the “Return of the Jedi,” he was given more to say in “The Book of Boba Fett.” Fans got to see the sneak peek reveal of “The Book of Boba Fett” after the last episode of the second season of “The Mandalorian,” in a post credit scene. 

 Additional shows on Disney+ include the animated series “The Bad Batch,” which follows a group of rebels as they make their way across the galaxy, and the long-running show ”The Clone Wars.” Fans of the universe are gifted with even more series that are coming soon, most anticipated of which is the live action show, “Kenobi,” based on Luke and Anakin Skywalker’s first mentor, Obi Wan Kenobi. The show is set to release on May 27, 2022, and features the prequel trilogy’s original actors such as Hayden Christensen who played Anakin Skywalker, and Ewan McGregor, who will be returning to the lead role of Kenobi. The show is set to take place following the “death” of Anakin Skywalker, his transformation into the sith lord Darth Vader, and how Kenobi navigates his failure to his prized pupil. The show is set to introduce new characters to aid Kenobi on his journeys, and may include the reappearance of Darth Maul, the sith who was cut down by Kenobi after he witnessed his original mentor Qui-Gon Jinn get killed by him. In the show “The Clone Wars,” it is revealed that Darth Maul was in fact not killed in “The Phantom Menace,” and was instead living on a junk planet, blinded by rage and insanity. Eventually, Darth Maul was killed by Kenobi once and for all, in the animated show “Star Wars Rebels,” on Tatooine. We will see if the story follows the “Rebels” timeline, with the eventual story ending up with Kenobi finding Luke on Tatooine.

The most recent promotion for a “Star Wars” series is the live action show “Ahsoka.” It does not yet have a release date, but is being directed by John Favreau, who directed “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett,” as well as other movies such as “Iron Man” and “Chef.” The show is sure to be a great showcase of the character Ahsoka Tano, who appeared in many different “Star Wars” shows. “The Clone Wars” and recently “The Mandalorian” have had Ahsoka appear as a protagonist, who was a great Jedi and friend to Din Djarin, and student of Anakin Skywalker. 

As a long time “Star Wars” fan, I am extremely excited to see the new series being released. I encourage you to watch these shows even if you may not be a “Star Wars” nerd like me, as most of them don’t require a lot of background knowledge to get the main point, and are fun for everyone who enjoys shows depicting flying around space at lightspeed and fighting aliens with enormous blasters.

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News

The Newest Supreme Court Justice: Ketanji Brown Jackson

Ketanji Brown Jackson during her Supreme Court confirmation trial. The trial was broadcasted live on television. Image via C-SPAN.

On April 7, 2022, the United States Senate confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson as the 116th Supreme Court Justice, making her the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. The first African-American Supreme Court Justice was Thurgood Marshall, who served from 1967 to 1991. Prior to serving on the Supreme Court, Justice Marshall was a civil rights lawyer who was very active in challenging Jim Crow laws. Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court from 1981 to 2006. The first Latina Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, was sworn in in 2009. 

Given that it is 2022, having a Black woman finally take a seat on the Supreme Court seems long overdue. “I think we need more representation in the Supreme Court. That means race, gender, ethnicity, everything. I don’t think there could have been a better choice in the new Supreme Court Justice in terms of adding new opinions and perspectives,” said Sofia Kidd (12), who was on the Franklin Constitution team this past fall.

Ketanji Brown Jackson was born in Washington D.C. in 1970. She went on to attend Harvard, for college and law school, where she became a supervising editor for the Harvard Law Review. She was a public defense attorney in the early 2000s, and she will be the first justice to have previously been a public defender. In 2009, she was nominated by former President, Barack Obama, to be the Vice Chair of the United States Sentencing Commission; she was confirmed by the Senate for this role in February of the following year. 

Brown Jackson was nominated for the Supreme Court by President Joe Biden in February of 2022 after Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement earlier this year. She was confirmed to the court by a vote of 53-47: all 50 Democrats, plus Republican Senators Collins, Murkowski, and Romney. The addition of Brown Jackson to the Court fulfilled one of President Biden’s campaign promises, to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. 

The confirmation hearings were aired on live television. It took 41 days to confirm Brown Jackson, which compared to the hearings of Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Brett Kavanaugh, is relatively short. The nomination divided the Senate Judiciary Committee by party, with the Democrats widely being in favor of her confirmation, and the Republicans being against it. 

Despite her triumph, her confirmation hearings brought many hurdles for Brown Jackson to navigate. Many questions were brought up during the trial, including her opinion on a living constitution. Her rejection of a living constitution was expected to win over more Republican senators, however they were not swayed as much as was anticipated. She also faced a certain amount of scrutiny from Senator Graham regarding her time as a public defender in Guantanamo Bay, when he took past statements out of context about U.S.-terrorist relations to paint her in a negative, “anti-American” light. 

In another instance, Senator Ted Cruz questioned her about Critical Race Theory in a school where she serves on the board, with Cruz asking “Do you agree with this book being taught to kids, saying that babies are racist?” She responded by saying “ I do not believe that any child should be made to feel as though they are racist or [as] though they are not valued or [as] though they are less than, that they are victims, that they are oppressors. I don’t believe in any of that.” 

Ketanji Brown Jackson becoming the first Black Supreme Court Justice of the United States is a moment that will go down in history. She will join Justices Marshall, O’Conner, and Sotomayor in the legacy of being the first. She will be sworn in, in late June or early July of 2022.

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Franklin’s Choir and Band Went To State!

This May, both Franklin High School’s band and choir made it to the state championship competitions. This was the first time in Franklin’s history that either a choir or band has competed at the state competition. 

The Franklin choir, directed by Karen Bohart, performed at the State Championships for choir on May 7, 2022. In order to qualify for the state competition, the choir attended multiple state qualifying festivals in February and March. At the festivals, each choir in attendance was scored against a rubric designed by the American Choral Directors Association. In order to qualify for state, choirs must receive an 81/100 or higher by two out of the three judges. The only exception to the rules of qualifying is the league champion, who is an automatic qualifier. This year the league champion was Grant High School’s choir. For the choirs that receive a score of 81 or higher in a state-qualifying festival, a video recording of the performance is then reviewed and ranked by a music educator from out of state. According to Bohart, this year only 25 out of 60 schools qualified with an 81 or higher but only the top 24 got to go to state. 

On May 7, after leaving at six in the morning for Corvallis, Franklin’s choir performed a prepared piece and then a sight-reading piece, a portion of the competition where a piece of music is given to the choir to be performed with no previous knowledge of what it was. “It was a great day and they performed very well,” said Bohart. “There are 24 choirs that sing at the 6A [level] and [we] ranked right in the middle.”

Solo performers from Franklin also qualified for state this year alongside the main choir. Maia Kleinberg qualified as a soprano voice and Vetiver Long as a bass voice. Long, who went into state as an alternate after placing second in the district competition, said, “I was really glad I got to go. Especially since I had gone to state last year online as the district [champion] but didn’t really get the full experience.” Long continued by saying, “Singing my songs in a small classroom in front of a couple [of] judges and friends I had made in the choir scene was a super friendly environment and I had no problem placing second by a few points to a friend in the bass section.” 

Two years ago the Franklin choir was on its way to qualifying for state but due to the COVID-19 pandemic they weren’t able to sing in person. “Choir is all about hearing all the voices with your own voice and that wasn’t possible online,” said Bohart. “Coming back from that and finally being in person and being able to get back to that level of performance in such a short time was really magnificent on [the students’] part.” Bohart emphasized how much she is building up the program from ground zero as she explained that almost none of the feeder middle schools for Franklin have a choir program. This means that Franklin’s choir talent isn’t getting any training before high school. “I’ve just not had any numbers coming in here at all. So it’s been more like pulling from the hallways,” said Bohart. “And so to get here after COVID, and to get this choir to this level has just been magnificent.” With the possibility of more feeder schools developing a choir program Bohart hopes to build a strong tradition of choral music-making at Franklin. 

A week after the Franklin choir performed at state, the Franklin band followed suit. On May 14 the Franklin band, directed by Jason Owens, traveled to the LaSells Stewart Center at Oregon State University to perform at the state competition for band and orchestra. In order to qualify for the state competition, bands must go to district or invitational festivals and score a 72 out of 100 on the main rubric, which is based on factors like quality of sound, musicality, and sound technique. Similar to the choir competition, they also have to complete a sight-reading portion. At a district festival, the top band automatically goes to state while the other bands that had a qualifying score but were not first in their district have a recording of their performance evaluated by judges. After reviewing the recordings, the judges invite the top 20 bands to the state championships, and this year Franklin was one of them. 

Alongside the full wind ensemble, smaller sectional ensembles qualified for their state competition as well: a clarinet ensemble, saxophone ensemble, and two percussion ensembles, one from the wind ensemble and the other from the drumline. The state ensemble championships were held on April 29 at Mount Hood Community College. 

This year’s state competitions were especially significant because it was the first year a choir or band from Franklin has competed at the state level. “The fact that we were part of the state band championships and represented Franklin High School is a huge accomplishment for us and I’m really proud about that,” said Owens. He also made sure to mention that this year there were three PIL schools in the state championships; besides Franklin, Cleveland and Grant High School also competed. 

Both program directors give credit to their students in band and choir for making it to state this year. “I gotta give it up to the kids,” says Owens. “They’ve been coming in, in the mornings before school and doing sectional rehearsals.” Owens adds that he appreciates the work ethic in the band department and all the energy that is spent on the musicianship in the community. 

“They are so hardworking. Super kind, friendly, [and] committed,” says Bohart. “They want to do the music justice and speak its truth. They’re committed to that and I love that.” When Bohart was asked if she was confident that Franklin can qualify for state again she said, “Every year. It’s a tradition. We just started it.” 

Franklin High School Choir at the State Choir Championships on May 7, 2022. Photo by Scott Burns.
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The Battle of Hearsay

Content Warning: This article contains conversation about domestic violence, drug abuse and mentions of self harm.

Another nail-biting court case has arisen out of Hollywood and this case is currently on trial for the whole world to see. This is the case of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. Depp is a revered actor, most famously known for his roles as Captain Jack Sparrow, Edward Scissorhands and Willy Wonka, and Heard is a rising star of DC for her role as Mera.

The case is centered around an op-ed which Heard wrote for the Washington Post in December of 2018. The article claimed that “two years ago, [she] became a public figure representing domestic abuse.” In May of 2016, Heard filed for divorce and a restraining order against Depp for domestic violence. Although she didn’t state his name in her op-ed, it was assumed that the alleged abuser was Depp.

As a result of Heard’s allegations, Depp has been cut by Disney, and overall ousted from the world of acting. He lost his role as Gellert Grindelwald in the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise and “Pirates of the Caribbean” removed their beloved Captain Jack Sparrow from the screen. Numerous brands also dropped Depp as a sponsor, although his perfume deal with Dior still remains intact. 

These accusations prompted him to file a 50 million dollar defamation lawsuit against Heard in 2019 for her allegations of verbal and physical abuse. Defamation means the action of damaging the reputation of someone, in the form of slander or libel. Depp argues that his reputation has been extremely tainted since the op-ed’s release, and in his opening testimony he stated that his goal is only truth: “it never had to go in this direction. I can’t say I’m embarrassed because I know I’m doing the right thing.”

Since the trial has come to order on April 11, 2022, we have heard Depp’s testimony, which lasted four days from April 19 to 21, and the 25. Heard’s testimony began on May 4 and 5, and after a week-long hiatus resumed on May 16. Before the testimonies were the crucial opening statements, which laid the foundation for the lawyers’ cases.

 Benjamin Chew and Camille Vasquez gave the opening statement on behalf of the Depp legal team. Throughout their statement they kept returning to the point that “no one had ever, in five decades, accused Johnny Depp of being violent with a woman,” as well as pointing out flaws in Heard’s story and alleged lies. 

Representing Heard was Benjamin Rottenborn and Elaine Bredehoft. In their opener they read out Heard’s op-ed, to show that despite the three quotes that Depp primarily based his case on, the whole article “is about the social change for which she is advocating.”

Every testimony has shed light on various aspects of Depp and Heard’s relationship. Psychologists have dissected the partnership, the couple’s staff have observed the alleged behavior changes, and friends have shared their perspectives. While all of these testimonies are extremely important, the direction of public support comes down to the couple’s testimonies. Depp and Heard’s testimonies are crucial because they describe not only an event or conversation itself, but their feelings and inner thoughts throughout. During a testimony, the witness answers questions from their own lawyers in a direct examination and the opposing lawyer in a cross-examination.

In the beginning of Heard’s testimony, you can see her strategy was garnering the jury’s sympathy. Heard rarely takes her eyes off the jurors, and the questions from her lawyers dealt with life before fame, her childhood in Texas, and her family. 

This line of questioning is different from the approach Depp’s team made during his testimony, which was to present the alleged truth, and stick with the facts of the case almost solely. Depp’s lawyers were attempting to win jury approval with logic instead of emotion. By using logic, Depp’s lawyers were able to cut through any part of Heard’s testimony, during the cross examination, that lacked factual evidence, and replaced it with evidence that contradicts her story.

During the duration of Depp’s four day testimony, many hard moments were recounted. One of these moments was played as a recording from inside a San Francisco hotel, where Heard had acquired a room in July 2016. The conversation between Depp and Heard commenced in close proximity, at Heard’s request, although she had filed a restraining order against him only 2 months prior. Confused and distraught by accusations of abusing Heard in the media, Depp was finished: “I was at the end, I wanted out,” he said during his testimony. He stated thinking, “I couldn’t understand why I was there, everything had been taken from me.” He had threatened to cut himself with a pocket knife, saying that the only thing that was left for her to take was his blood.

The relationship between the two didn’t start out in this way. One of the only things that was included in both Depp and Heard’s testimonies was their memories of the start. Depp stated that he thought “she was too good to be true,” and continued by naming all of her attributes that made her so unbelievable. 

Before the alleged abuse and trials he faced, Depp remembered being happy and perfectly in love. Depp explained, in his testimony, that “within a year, year and a half, she had become another person.” He claims that although he was accused, Heard is the true abuser in the relationship.

In being asked about an altercation, while in Australia, he alleged that “a very large bottle of vodka” thrown by Heard had severed the top of his middle finger. Many of their conversations were recorded and played to the court during the testimony. In one of the most famous clips from the trial, Depp answered a question about his response to Heard, in an audio file, “tell the world Johnny, tell them … I Johnny Depp, a man, I’m [also] a victim of domestic violence.” His response at the end of the audio file, and to the lawyer was, “yes, I am.” 

Heard’s testimony, unlike Depp’s, was cut short. Instead of the four days in a row Depp received, Heard was able to testify for only two days before the week-long hiatus. This very emotional testimony recounted the alleged physical pain she endured, and touched on the mental pain that was a constant struggle due to Depp’s drug and alcohol addiction. “I just wanted Johnny to say sorry, I wanted him to acknowledge that he could hurt me,” she testified. 

She recounted the first time he allegedly hit her, stating that she didn’t know how to react. She said she knew she needed to stand up for herself, although it was hard to do so. Throughout the first day of testimony she stated feelings of fear and embarrassment and said, “I had so much hope, growing old together kind of hope,” in reference to Depp before the alleged abuse.

The second day of testimony focused more on the emotional pain from addiction. “He was on a drug binge, no eating, little to no sleep, and he would just use cocaine and drink all day long. That would go for a period of time, then a major blow up, then he’d get sick, pass out, then feel really awful, and often, including this time, start a period of sobriety,” she alleged.

She recounted the struggles she felt, especially when she was around his kids, who she remembered feeling “in love with.” She also recalled his jealousy when it came to roles in shows or movies, stating she had to turn down many roles because they were too scandalous or raunchy, and even in the movies that were to his liking, she said that he would be jealous of the men and women around her. Oftentimes, many of the fights discussed on the stand allegedly started with Depp accusing Heard of cheating, flirting, or feeling aroused around co-stars. 

Along with Depp’s severe addiction, there were moments of sobriety that Heard talked about. She even stated that when he was sober “he came alive again,” along with his actions being kind and sweet, as opposed to violence. “Even though I had experience with drug use in my family I hadn’t seen anything like this,” stated Heard when asked about the period after Depp’s detox in 2014.

Throughout all his trials and tribulations, Heard said, “I did my best to support him.”  Whatever the outcome of the case is, many believe that both Depp and Heard experienced a lifetime of pain from the ordeal.

Due to this case being broadcasted, the world has been able to dissect and pull apart every part of the testimonies and questioning. The court of public opinion has favored Depp, with many saying that Heard is telling a story on the witness stand rather than just providing evidence. 

Although Heard has faced a fair amount of slander on the Internet, the majority has been directed at her legal team. Various online edits, taunts, and accusations of unprofessionalism have been planted across social media. A song has even been made making fun of the lawyer’s continuous use of the same word, “hearsay,” which has gained 2.3 million likes as of May 21 and has been used in over 3,000 other videos. 

Hearsay, meaning the report of another person’s words by a witness, is usually disallowed as evidence in a court of law. An objection of hearsay from Heard’s lawyers was so common that Depp could anticipate it frequently throughout his testimony. Heard’s lawyers objected on account of hearsay to the answers of questions they posed, and in predicting the content of Depp’s response.

TikTok has been a hub for updates and stories from the courtroom, and numerous influencers who have sided with Depp are using clips from the trial to expose and slander Heard. Depp’s supporters have been using #justiceforjohnnydepp on every clip, video, and breakdown of the case, as well as edits of Heard. The videos under the hashtag show the weight of his support, with over 14.3 billion views by May 21.

The case of Depp v. Heard, brought upon by an article, has uncovered so much more than most of the public anticipated. Both sides continue to try to prove who is the true victim and who is the abuser. The verdict of this case will determine much for the future of Depp and Heard. Many also believe that this case will forever change how people recognize the degrees and types of abuse, for instance mental abuse, which can go without external marks. Friday, May 27, will bring the closing statements and be handed over to the jury to deliberate, in hopes that the verdict will be announced by Memorial Day. 

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Arts & Entertainment

Redefining the Sad Girl

A collection of mentioned “sad girl” albums. Images via Spotify.

Like anything widely enjoyed by teenage girls, the evolving genre of female-fronted “sad girl” music has been met with some derision. While there are certainly valid criticisms of the “sad girl” niche, particularly for its habit of prioritizing white artists, its complete dismissal feels difficult to detach from the tendency to devalue female artists. Men in the indie world seem free to create work that, in the hands of a woman, would be brushed off as shallow melodrama. While sad male indie artists are canonized as legends, women’s sadness in art is often implicitly treated as simply not deep enough to take that seriously. 

However, I think there are a multitude of extremely talented artists, small and large, who have been unfairly minimized by this treatment. As a connoisseur of unhealthily depressive music with a mission to redefine and reclaim the “sad girl” genre, here are some women making excellent sad indie music for when you just need to scratch that itch. 

Perera Elsewhere

Sasha Perera, or Perera Elsewhere, describes her latest album “All of This” as “doom folk.” I couldn’t think of a better description for the rich and gloomy atmosphere Perera evokes with her work. Merging eerie acoustic elements with her experience as an electronica producer, Perera Elsewhere often feels like a fascinating confluence of Tom Waits, Lana del Rey, and Aphex Twin. 

An ever-evolving artist, Perera’s discography offers a wide range of sounds. If you prefer to lean into the gloomier side, listen to her 2013 album “Everlast,” my personal favorites off the project being “Bizarre,” “Light Bulb,” and “Drunk Man”. If you’re more into electronica with folk influence, “All of This” offers just that. Off of that album, some favorites are “Shoes,” “Something’s Up,” and “Girl From Monotronica.” She also has a host of excellent singles including “Yeah Yeah,” and “Drive.”

Adrianne Lenker

Adrianne Lenker is best known as the lead guitarist and singer of alternative/indie band “Big Thief.” However, she also boasts an excellent breadth of solo work, spanning from “Stages of the Sun,” an album she released at only 14 years old, to her most recent solo album, “songs.” What shines most in Lenker’s work is her lyricism: intimate, interesting, and evocative, her unique touch is evident whether the song is “Big Thief” or her solo work. A prodigious musician, Adrianne Lenker was accepted into Berklee College of Music on scholarship at only 16 years old and has since gone on to be one of the most skilled lyricists currently active. She cites Elliot Smith and Leonard Cohen as influences, harnessing a sound that brings in clear elements of folk and 90s indie, as well as something entirely its own. 

If you’re looking to get into “Big Thief,” I’d recommend starting with their 2022 album “Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe You.” My personal favorites off the project: “Simulation Swarm, Change,” and “Time Escaping.” Other excellent tracks are “Mythological Beauty,” “Not, Pretty Things,” and “Real Love.” As for Adrianne Lenker’s individual discography, I suggest “symbol,” “anything,” “from,” or “not a lot, just forever.”

Mitski

Mitsuki Miyawaki, or Mitski, began her musical career with the 2012 release of “Lush.” This raw, haunting album marked the beginning of a remarkable discography now spanning six albums—including her most recent project, “Laurel Hell.” Mitski grew from an indie darling into a firmly established fixture following her explosion of popularity with the 2018 release of “Be the Cowboy.” A masterful lyricist with a distinct, yet ever-evolving instrumental style, it’s hard to say this following isn’t well deserved. 

You may already be familiar with hits like “First Love / Late Spring,” “Washing Machine Heart” and “Nobody,” but if you’re looking for some underrated gems try “Drunk Walk Home,” “Stay Soft,” “Francis Forever” (which was covered in an episode of Adventure Time, BTW), “Jobless Monday,” “Bag of Bones,” “Brand New City,” “I Want You,” “Square,” or, my personal favorite, “Townie.” 

Japanese Breakfast

An Oregon native, Michelle Zauner is the frontwoman of indie pop rock band Japanese Breakfast. With piercing, airy vocals and breathtaking guitar work, Zauner often explores themes of Korean-American identity (yes, she’s Korean, not Japanese) and the death of her mother, also detailed in her excellent 2021 novel “Crying in H Mart.” 

In my opinion, the best introduction to Japanese Breakfast is just listening through her debut album “Psychopomp” consecutively. However, if you’re looking for some more specific recommendations, I suggest “Everybody Wants to Love You,” “Road Head,” “Posing in Bondage,” “Boyish,” or “Heft.” 

Phoebe Bridgers

In all honesty, Phoebe Bridgers is an artist that I didn’t quite get at first. I thought her music was nice, but I didn’t quite understand the sort of magnetic emotional attachment people seemed to have to her work. She didn’t click for me as an artist until I sat down and listened through the entirety of her 2020 album “Punisher”—but when I got it, I got it. Her work is intimate yet atmospheric, with a talent for simple yet deeply effective lyricism evident in every track. It’s melancholy and haunting, yet with an undertone of humor and hope and a real sense of storytelling.

If you haven’t been able to get into Phoebe either, I’d recommend doing what I did and just sitting down and listening to “Pushisher” or “Stranger in the Alps” all the way through. As for individual songs, some personal favorites are “Garden Song,” “I Know the End,” “You Missed My Heart,” “Savior Complex,” and “Funeral.”

Lucy Dacus

Lucy Dacus, a member of Boygenius alongside Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers, began her career with the 2015 release of the single “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore.” Since then she has released three studio albums– “No Burden,” “Historian,” and “Home Video,” all to critical acclaim. Dacus tends to explore themes of queerness, coming of age, and relationship to faith, wielding a subtle yet powerful emotional intensity. 

Lucy Dacus has remarkably consistent quality as an artist, with even her older work holding up extremely well. I think her 2018 album “Historian” will always be closest to my heart, but I’d recommend giving her discography as a whole a listen. As a place to start, try “Thumbs,” “Body to Flame,” “Nonbeliever,” “Night Shift,” or “Timefighter.“

Indigo De Souza

Indigo De Souza is a relatively new artist compared to others on this list. Her first album, “I Love My Mom,” was released in just 2018. After self-producing “I Love My Mom”, She went on to co-produce her second album, “Any Shape You Take”, with Brad Cook– who has also produced for artists like Bon Iver. De Souza creates very confessional indie rock that wrestles with a sense of anxiety, disillusionment, and a fixation on death. She’s spoken about her journey with bringing more honesty into her music rather than “poetic fluff,” and that honesty is really defining of her current work. Indigo De Souza is direct, sensitive, confrontational, and like candy for the ear. 

If you want to start listening, I recommend “Kill Me,” “This is How I Get Myself Killed,” “Good Heart,” and “Sick in the Head.”

Mélissa Laveaux

Full disclosure, Mélissa Laveaux does not entirely fit into the parameters of this list. While her work covers serious topics and has a deep emotional core, it’s also dynamic in a way that I don’t think I could really categorize it as “sad girl music” in good conscience. However, Melissa Laveaux is so criminally underrated that I would be remiss not to highlight her while I have the chance. A Canadian artist of Haitain descent, Laveaux merges rock, blues, folk, and roots with heavy Afro-Caribbean influence. Her 2018 album, “Radyo siwèl,” is a reworking of Haitian folk songs that she grew up hearing her parents play on their record player. 

Aside from Radyo siwèl, if you’re looking to get into Mélissa Laveaux try “Ching sih,” “Triggers,” “Simalo,” “Fire Next Time,” “Postman,” or listen through her 2014 album “Dying is a Wild Night.”

Jay Som

Milina Duterte, or Jay Som, makes bedroom pop that’s dreamy, intimate, and, in her own words, “headphone music.” With slow, sometimes shoegaze-inspired vocals and rich, swelling instrumentals, Jay Som pulls influence from Carly Rae Jepson, to Tame Impala, to Yo La Tengo, to Phil Elverum. Duterte is the daughter of Filipino immigrants, and also cites that cultural background as an influence on her work. Since somewhat unintentionally stumbling into public attention with the relative popularity of her 2015 Untitled demos (which would later be officially released as “Turn Into”), Jay Som has produced a total of six albums, the most recent of which being 2019’s “Anak Ko.”

Jay Som has a huge body of work, and all of it is seriously worth your time. As a place to start, try “Lipstick Stains,” “Tenderness,” “Stay in the Car,” and “Rush.”

This is just a small slice of a huge niche of spectacularly talented women making indie music. If any of these artists strike a chord with you, I urge you to explore deeper yourself— who knows, you might find something special.

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News

Books are Still Being Banned in Oregon Schools

A stack of books that have been or are banned in American Schools. Book banning and challenging is nothing new, and it continues to disrupt education all over the world. Photo by Emilia Valencia.

In 1982, a case taking on the practice of book banning in schools was brought to the Supreme Court. Island Trees Union Free School District v. Pico dealt with a school board in Levittown, NY that ordered several books be removed from school libraries for promoting anti-Christian and anti-American ideals. The court ruled that the school board could not restrict books based on content that the board members disagreed with. Despite this case, book banning is still a very relevant issue today. Students often feel they have no power in the matter, yet there are ways they can make their voices heard. Ayn Frazee, the Franklin High School librarian, said “I think students need to be really vocal about their First Amendment right. Students can contact their school boards, and can advocate for controversial titles.” 

Books being challenged or banned for content matter that is “inappropriate for students” is something occurs more in more conservative states such as Texas, where books such as “How to be an Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi are being challenged. However, Oregon isn’t safe from the challenging and banning of books. Medford School District recently removed all copies of the graphic novel adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale” for themes of sexual violence and suicide. Neither of those subjects were condoned in the book, and they are important to the message of the narrative. 

There is a difference between not having a book because it is not age appropriate, and banning it entirely. It is no shock that one could go to any elementary school in America and not find a copy of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” however, it can be a valuable educational tool for students of the appropriate age group, such as high-schoolers. “Banning books removes the opportunity for a student to make the choice for themselves about what kind of content they want to ingest. Not every book is appropriate for every person but to remove the choice is extremely detrimental,” said Frazee. 

In another recent instance of book banning in Oregon, both Hermiston and Cascade School Districts refused to participate in the 2018-2019 elementary school Battle of the Books because of a book on the reading list. “George” by Alex Gino is a children’s book with a transgender main character. Both districts deemed it so inappropriate for elementary schoolers that they did not allow their students to participate in the program. This restriction also took an opportunity away from transgender children who could have seen themselves in a book. 

According to the Oregon Office of Intellectual Freedom’s 2021 Annual Report, sexually explicit content and violence are the leading cause of books being challenged, making up about 46% of challenged books combined. Books with LGBTQ+ themes come in second, making up around 11% of all challenged books in Oregon. Grace Wilde (11), a Franklin Library Teacher’s Assistant, says “It’s really important for people who have experienced these things to be able to see themselves represented.” 

 In response to books being banned in Oregon schools, and in schools all over the world, Frazee says, “[i]ntellectual freedom is the right to choose. You get to decide what’s right for you, but you don’t get to decide what is right for other people.”

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News

The Leakage of the Supreme Court’s Draft Decision

Drawing of a gavel coming down upon Roe v. Wade to symbolize the Supreme Court’s draft decision to overturn the landmark case. Illustration by Sophie Locker.

At the beginning of May, the draft of the Supreme Court decision regarding overturning the landmark case Roe v. Wade was leaked to the public. Some feel that this decision would be detrimental to the health and livelihood of women in the United States, as it  would leave access to a legal and safe abortion up to individual states. 

The case of Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973 with a 7-2 holding that while the right to privacy is not explicitly stated in the United States Constitution, it is implied in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment that there is a “fundamental right to privacy.” This decision protected women’s right to abortion within a certain gestational time frame. 

The Supreme Court has confirmed that the leaked draft of the decision is in fact authentic, however, it is also important to note that it is not the formal opinion as no official holding has been made or released by the Supreme Court. Although the leaked decision is not final, the 98-page draft does strongly suggest that the Supreme Court will eventually make the final decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. If this ends up being the result, the progress that has been made in the last fifty years, since Roe v. Wade, regarding women’s right to bodily autonomy,  will essentially be reversed. According to the New York Times, Cecile Richards, the President of Planned Parenthood from 2006 to 2008, has stated that the Republican party is using their political power to take away women’s rights, saying “[e]nding legal abortion will not end abortion. It simply will mean that women are no longer safe in this country.” On the other side, in response to the leakage of the Supreme Court draft, Republican leaders have commented more on the breach in privacy than on the issue itself; Marsha Blackburn Republican Senator of Tennessee, stated “[t]his is an attack on the court. This is someone who’s done something that is unprecedented. They decided to leak this.”

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, women’s rights to abortions, reproductive healthcare, and contraceptives will be left to the states. In a prediction made by the New York Times, 17 states will continue to actively protect women’s rights to abortion, while the rest will continue to implement various degrees of restrictions against them. Among the remaining states that would restrict abortion rights, 13 states would implement trigger laws, legislation that determines abortions in any trimester will immediately be banned. These 13 states are namely those that are located in the South and tend to lean more conservatively. CNN is also predicting that the final decision that the Supreme Court releases will have the potential to widen the major social and political division in the United States. 

While the Supreme Court draft leakage was taking place, the Women’s Health Protection Act was about to go through the Senate. This act is a Democratic bill intended to protect abortion and women’s reproductive rights, even if the Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade. It would explicitly prohibit many forms of abortion restricitions, therefore making it more expansive than Roe v. Wade. This vote within the Senate became more complicated with the leakage of the Supreme Court draft decision as it was leaked only a few weeks prior to the day the Senate was scheduled to vote on the bill. Questions are now being raised as to whether or not the leakage could have been used to intentionally swat the senators’ votes. In response to the way the Senate voted on the bill, Vice President Kamala Harris issued a response, stating that “[t]his vote clearly suggests that the Senate is not where the majority of Americans are on this issue […] [a] priority for all that care about this issue—the priority—should be to elect pro-choice leaders.” This is an example of the downstream damage that this leakage has already created, and could be a window into the way that decisions will be made based on this knowledge. This vote illuminates the values of leaders in the U.S. government and where they stand on the issue of women’s rights. This was also expressed by Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, saying “I think it’s really important to have this vote to see where everyone stands.”

Since the initial 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade, pro-choice non-governmental organizations supporting women’s right to reproductive healthcare have been popping up around the U.S. One such organization is the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) Pro-Choice America—formally the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws—an organization working to increase abortion access in the U.S. 

Current Executive Director of the nonprofit Youth, Rights & Justice, Heather Busby began her work in abortion rights advocacy in 2021. That year, she came on as the Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas working in legislative and political advocacy and taking an ‘abortion out loud’ stance to attempt to destigmatize abortion. After her time as the Executive Director for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, she co-founded the Lilith Fund, which provides direct financial assistance for people in need of abortion care while advocating to build a movement for abortion access in Texas. 

Organizations such as these exist all around the U.S., and it is especially important to note that these resources also exist in the states that plan to implement trigger laws, such as Texas. Regardless, these organizations are not immune to the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision. When asked if it will affect organizations such as NARAL Pro-Choice and the Lilith Fund, Busby said, “[a]bsolutely. Abortion funds and support organizations are already up against a huge foe in Texas, which has been subject to Republican rule since 1994.” She continued, “[r]ight now abortion is practically inaccessible in Texas since the passage of SB8, which bans abortion at approximately six weeks. Most people who need [an] abortion now have to travel out of state, which greatly increases the cost and logistics.” The Supreme Court decision will not only directly impact women who are in situations where they wish to have an abortion, but also would make it so further progress regarding policy and social advocacy done by non-governmental organizations is practically impossible. 

Unfortunately, the draft decision has not come as a surprise to many women living in the U.S., something that Busby also touched on, saying “I felt sick, but sadly, I was not at all surprised. I knew what was at stake when Trump took office in 2016 and with Justice Kennedy stepping down and then Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s passing, the writing was on the wall. But Roe was the floor. Over the years, subsequent Supreme Court cases have opened the door to more and more restrictive legislation.”

The national divide surrounding the access to legal and safe abortions and women’s reproductive rights are not new, however, the passage of more recent laws—or the blockage of them—and more recent Supreme Court decisions have been chipping away at the progress that has been made. As Busby noted, “Until we change the rules in the Senate, it will be difficult to pass anything meaningful.”

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Arts & Entertainment

“Harry’s House” Album Review

Photo Credit: Columbia Records
Album cover for Harry Styles’ new album. Based on the room and the fact that Harry Styles is standing in it, we can only assume it’s “Harry’s House.”

On May 20, 2022, Harry Styles released his third solo album, “Harry’s House.” The 42 minute album is filled with 13 of what are possibly the most personal songs he has ever written. This album is different from his other solo albums, as the listener is able to see his experimentation with more electronic sounds as well as storytelling; however, his experimentation with genre is not as prominent as is seen in “Harry Styles,” Styles’ first solo album. This album shows off his vocal range as well, transitioning from light and airy in the beginning of the album to deep and rich at the end of the album. 

Every song featured on this album is either written to someone, or about them, including himself. It brings the listener into his world, providing them insight into his current internal struggles and dilemmas, making him more personable. 

During his time as part of One Direction, I made every effort to not like Harry Styles, however, his solo albums have persuaded me to his side. After announcing that he was dropping a new album, Styles released “As It Was.” I was hooked immediately after listening to it. 

Having now listened to the album in its entirety more times than I wish to admit, these are my thoughts on each song:

Music for a Sushi Restaurant

This song kicks off the album with a fun and lively start, along with a little experimentation with a cappella in the beginning. Styles incorporates many home comforts in his lyrics suchs as “game time” and “coffee on the stove.” This song is written to someone, comparing them to the sweet things in life. The lyrics combined with the music creates almost a sense of a celebration for life, enjoying the sweet and small moments and treating everyday like a party. 

Late Night Talking

Styles completely switches tones from “Music for a Sushi Restaurant.” While the album starts off with a celebratory sound, the tone quickly changes into the story of this internal conflict he’s having in regards to another person. While the story is more conflicted, the sound is still very much celebratory, almost confusing the ear. The song begins reminiscing about the past, a common theme throughout the album; however, by the end of the song he has transitioned from frustration of the mental attachment he has for this person, to a defeated acceptance, saying “can’t get you off my mind. I won’t even try.” This song is in my top three favorites of the album. 

Grapejuice

I have to admit, when I first heard this song I was not a fan, but after listening to this song many times, it has grown on me. This song once again seems to be about someone whom he deeply cares for, the main chorus line being “there’s just no getting through, without you.”

As It Was

This song feels like a Summer 2022 anthem to me, the upbeat sound bringing my mind to thoughts of driving in the middle of summer with the windows down. This song is also coincidentally perfect timing for us seniors and the nostalgia that is bound to come with moving on to the next stages of our lives. I can’t help but think there will be at least one moment, but definitely more, when the chorus of this song “you know it’s not the same as it was” will become all the more relevant. Ironically for the very upbeat tune of the song, the lyrics are quite existential. 

Daylight

The lyric in this song, “if I was a bluebird, I would fly to you” is probably my favorite of the whole album. This song is about the desire he has to be with a person, wanting to be with them forever and never wanting to leave; he supports this theme saying “dip you in honey so I could be sticking to you.”

Little Freak

To me this song could have two possible meanings. The first being it feels like an apology to a person he was in a former relationship with, whether that be romantic or not. Throughout the song, he continuously denies the worries he has, saying “I’m not worried about where you are,” however the number of times he denies this throughout the song implies that he is in fact worried about this person. The second possible meaning of this song is that he is writing an apology to himself, making the focus of the song being a message to himself, instead. 

Matilda

Matilda is by far the saddest song on the album. It’s about the importances of healing one’s inner child and of not minimizing one’s traumatic experiences, saying “Matilda, you talk of the pain like it’s all alright. But I know that you feel like a piece of you’s dead inside.” This song is written to “Matilda,” acting as a song of concern, friendship, wanting to help someone heal, and gratitude. This song shows off Styles’ soft and comforting voice, his higher ranges, as well as his ability to perform vocal runs. My only criticism of this song is that it feels like every other song he has written on his second solo album “Fine Line;” however, the bridge completely transforms the song and the listener can feel his whole heart and soul poured into the song. 

Cinema

The first time I heard this song, I envisioned it was right out of the scenes in movies where people are dancing in a club but everything is in slow motion. This song sounds like the internal conversation one has when they have a crush, the debate shown in the lyric “do you think I’m cool too or am I too into you,” and provides insight into the insecurity he is feeling in the moment. 

Daydreaming

Opening with a trumpet and followed soon after by a catchy beat, this song is one that I would put on to listen to while dancing in my room or getting ready for school. This song is about remembering a magical night, which makes him feel like he’s in a daydream.

Keep Driving

The song starts off with an appreciation for the small joys in life, the ones that come together to form a memory, saying “Black and white film camera, yellow sunglasses, ash tray, swimming pool, hot wax, jump off the roof.” These small moments continue into the second verse with comforts such as “Maple syrup, coffee, pancakes for two, hash brown,” with the verse ending in another of my favorite lyrics: “Egg yolk, I will always love you.” Something about that line feels so pure and heartfelt. 

Satellite

An echoey sci-fi sound of electronic sounds kick starts this song. Styles is comparing himself to a satellite waiting for the person whom he references in the song to pull him in. The lyrics “I can see you’re lonely down there, don’t you know that I am right here? Spinning out, waiting for you to pull me in” feels like when someone close to you needs support, yet is not willing to accept it. As a possibly controversial opinion, this song reminds me a lot of the style of songs Shawn Mendes released with his album “Wonder.” 

Boyfriends

Written to someone, presumably someone close to him, this song empathizes with the person it’s written to regarding the difficulty of relationships, and the complex feelings and back and forth which can exist. The soft angelic harmonies, especially in the beginning, add a dreamy and emotional quality that illuminates a connection with the audience. 

Love of My Life

My favorite song on his entire album, this song highlights Styles’ rich deep sound as he reminisces on a past relationship, that of him and England. Styles describes the thought process of writing this song, saying “I always wanted to write a song about home and loving England. To me, ‘Love of My Life’ was definitely…the most terrifying song for a long time because it’s so bare.” Throughout the song he brings up the parts of England that he loves, while also sharing his complex feelings regarding leaving, saying that though the time living in England was limited, the country is still the “love of his life.”

Styles has described his third album, “Harry’s House,” in comparison to his other albums as being “[the] biggest and the most fun, but by far the most intimate,” and as a fan, I have to agree. While this album nicely combines upbeat songs with the slow and intimate, the listener is never able to catch a break from the emotional heartache one can feel through his songs. Each and every song pulls at the heartstrings if one listens to the genuine and raw message of the lyrics.

The release of this album is just the tip of the iceberg for what we’re going to be seeing from Styles this next year as he branches out into acting. The next thing fans are waiting for is the release of the movie “Don’t Worry Darling.” Co-starring with Florence Pugh, audiences are going to be able to see a new side to Styles, and who knows, it also might be the beginning of seeing a lot more of him in a film setting. 

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Arts & Entertainment

Food for the Crȇpe Connoisseurs of Portland

Photo by: Isabella Smejtek
Far left features Mojo Crȇpes’ Mojo. Top right is Urban Crȇperie’s Ricotta Cheese Crȇpe, and bottom right features Frog and Snail’s Strawbana and Berries and Cream crȇpes.

As two students of Madame Miller’s French 5/6 class, we are clear experts on all things crȇpe and have decided to share our culinary opinions with the people. We bring you: the best crȇpes of Portland, Oregon. Disclaimer: we weren’t able to make it to every place in Portland that serves crȇpes but here are the three places we tested.For the purpose of our article, we decided to focus solely on dessert crȇpes. 

To begin, some background. Traditional French crȇpes are a thin pancake-like food with a variety of different fillings, some savory and some sweet. They are generally very light and airy with a soft yet smooth texture. Nearly flavorless, the crȇpe itself serves as a vessel for fillings or toppings, however that does not diminish the importance of both the flavor and texture of the crȇpe. Those in a Franklin French class may be familiar with Crȇpe Day or La Chandeleur, the Christian holiday that occurs on Feb. 2, on the day that, in the United States, is celebrated as Groundhog Day. Religiously, Feb. 2 is known as Candlemass, marking the day that Jesus was presented at the temple in Jerusalem. One important aspect of the celebration in France is the eating of crȇpes, the reason for which is somewhat disputed. Some say that the tradition began with Pope Gelasius I who started a candlelit procession to Rome while handing out gallettes, a food similar to crȇpes, however salty, rather than sweet, to pilgrims who attended the procession. Over the years, the gallettes slowly transitioned into today’s crȇpe. Another theory is that crȇpes represent the sun, in both color and shape, and are eaten to symbolize the end of a harsh winter. One final theory is that eating the wheat from the previous year’s harvest, in crȇpes, was a way to create luck for the next crops. Whatever the real reason may be, crȇpes are enjoyed in the classroom of Franklin French teacher Madame Miller every Feb. 2; and even when it’s not Crȇpe Day there are lots of wonderful crȇperies to discover in Portland. 

Our first stop on our crȇpe adventure: Urban Crȇperie. A restaurant in downtown Portland, Urban Crȇperie a great place to go if you’re looking for a coffee shop atmosphere. It’s definitely a sit-down place but otherwise pretty relaxed. Their sit-down experience is quite enjoyable as they play delightful background music and are decorated with light and airy colors. Once you sit down, they bring you a bottle of water as well. Everything on the menu is on the slightly spendier side; their crȇpes range from $12.00-17.00, leaning more towards the traditional yet delicious crȇpe. They had fast service and served us an absolutely beautiful Ricotta Cheese Crȇpe With Berries which was $13.00. It was pretty simple, a very thin and light crȇpe itself, which is how we think they should be. If you go here we recommend getting one crȇpe per person but sharing one is also fairly filling, more so with a savory crȇpe, which they have a lot of. Our only critique of this crȇperie was the location, as it is located on Morrison and 12th, which from Southeast Portland is a little bit of a drive. Along with this, parking in the area is very limited, and you need to pay to park. Overall Urban Crȇperie was a very comfortable place with delicious food and we would go back again. 

Next, Frog and Snail, a small crȇpe restaurant on Hawthorne. Those who frequent Hawthorne may be familiar with Frog and Snail or its predecessor Chez Machin, but for those who don’t, it’s a potentially overlooked little French crȇperie where inside you’ll find a charming setup of bistro tables and chairs. The French music playing in the background creates the perfect ambiance. In comparison to Urban Crȇperie, Frog and Snail’s crȇpes are not as beautiful or delicate, however the flavor still delivers. It’s worth noting that we did not get to enjoy these crȇpes immediately after they were made and instead had them as takeout. For Frog and Snail, we tasted two types of crȇpes, the first called Berries and Cream, and the second: Strawbana. The Berries and Cream in comparison to the Ricotta Cheese Crȇpe With Berries from Urban Crȇperie was not as good. Comparatively it was slightly bland and the texture was less silky. On the other hand, the Strawbana crȇpe went in the other direction. The Strawbana crȇpe, which included strawberries, bananas, and nutella was very flavorful with a good fruit to chocolate ratio, and in our opinion better than our next crȇperie, Mojo Crȇpes. These crȇpes are also the middle ground of the three places when it comes to pricing. Their standard sweet crȇpes are priced at $10.00, which falls in the middle of the pricing of the crȇpes we tried. Overall, the ambiance is worth it, and the crȇpes are a great option for a slightly cheaper but still enjoyable crȇpe. 

Taking the dessert crȇpe to the next level, Mojo Crȇpes on Division combines the classic crȇpe and ice cream, making a new experience out of the traditional French recipe. All of their crȇpes are served rolled up and with ice cream, flavor of your choosing, in a cup finished with whipped cream. We got the Mojo, which was $8.00. The crȇpe itself was okay but a bit on the dry and tough side, possibly so that it could contain the large serving of fruit, chocolate sauce and ice cream. Another thing to note however is that these crȇpes are extremely filling, as they do have lots of ice cream. In addition to ice cream crȇpes Mojo sells decent bubble tea if you want a little bit of extra sugar. The experience is really what you’re paying for here, this was definitely the most entertaining experience for us. It is more of a take-out rather than a dine-in spot, however there are tables and chairs for dining in if you so choose. Another bonus with Mojo crȇpes is the location. Located on 84th and Division, it is more easily accessible than Urban Crȇperie. 

In the end, our favorite crȇpe place in Portland is Urban Crȇperie. The ambiance combined with the delicious crȇpe texture and flavor is too great to ignore. They manage not only to make the perfect crȇpe, but fill it with the most delicious filling that balances out the sweetness of the berries and the more savory flavor in comparison of the cheese. Regardless of our favorite, we enjoyed them all and would recommend you visit one, if not all, when the craving strikes.