The American stand-up comedian who also became known as a well-loved actor, author and celebrity figure within the public sphere, Bill Cosby, has been released from prison as of July 2021. The US star, whose real name is William Henry Cosby Jr, was sent to prison three years ago in 2018 following accusations of sexual assault. Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison for his crimes, though a court of appeal has now overturned that conviction. Cosby walked from prison a free man last month as the decision was overturned by a Pennsylvanian high court.
Cosby first became famous in the early 60s, when his active career as a stand-up comedian really began to take off. Cosby’s career went on to span decades, with arguably the pinnacle being The Cosby Show which ran on screens across America and the world from 1984 to 1992. The star’s six decades of success however were cut short in 2018 when he was accused of a sexualt assult that invovled drugging and molesting a young female.
The now 83 year old was accused of the assault by a Temple University employee, Andrea Constand, who was visiting Cosby at the time on his estate. Constand reported the assault around a year later, but it was with only days before the 12 year statute of limitations expired that Cosby was arrested and charged. The most recent court ruling declared the process from the previous ruling should prevent Cosby from being charged in the case.
After being charged in 2015 in regards the assault, the trial then went on to include five other accusers who relayed their traumatic experiences with Cosby back in the 1980s when Cosby was at the peak of his fame. The trial came just before the start of the widespread MeToo movement in 2017, which arguably could have contributed to Cosby’s conviction in 2018.
Samba has been for a long time the passionate soundtrack to love and revolution in South and Central America. Now the samba music world has lost iconic Brazilian samba player Nelson Sargento. Sargento died on the 27th May 2021 from the COVID-19. He died aged 96, in hospital in Rio de Janeiro as a result of the coronavirus, less than a week after being admitted to the centre. Reports have also surfaced to say Sargento was fully vaccinated against the coronavirus due to his age making him fall into a priority category for vaccination. Sargento is just one of the many beloved figureheads that have been lost this year due to the ongoing crisis of the coronavirus COVID-19 global pandemic that has taken nearly 4 million lives around the world so far.
Sagento was born in Brazil on the 25th July 1924. From humble beginnings he went on to become one of the main players in the samba and Brazilian popular music scenes over the course of the late 20th century. Sargento was a hit composer in his time and taught at the Estação Primeira de Mangueira, an esteemed samba school in Rio. He was the creative force behind hits such as ‘Cântico à natureza’, ‘Primavera’ and ‘Agoniza mas nao morre’.
Brazil was the birthplace for the samba movement, or samba urbano carioca as it is otherwise known, in the early 20th century. First starting amongst the Afro-Brazilian communities in places such as the city of Rio. The music created became known as ‘resistance music’ for its associations with revolutionaries of the time and the persistence of the folk movements in these areas. The music of samba is closely linked also to a specific dance style, common in Central and South America. The popular samba dance features circle-like movements that reflect the swell and energy of the beats.
For many of us, the pitch and fever of the dance floor may feel like a dream of yesteryear, however, a new exhibition about the history of nightclubs is opening to remind us of past glory days. The V&A Dundee in Scotland, United Kingdom, will show the ‘Night Fever: Designing Club Culture’ until the 9th January 2022. Social distancing measures to ensure visitors safety from the ongoing crisis of the coronavirus COVID-19 global pandemic will be implemented according to government guidelines throughout the year.
The exhibition will take a closer look at the history of nightclubs and club culture in Scotland and around the world. The exhibition will also take an overview of design in the areas from the 1960s until contemporary times. According to the exhibition press release it will “xplore how Scottish club culture is built on an ethos of DIY attitude, togetherness, humour, and a tightly knit network of DJs, clubs and promoters – often holding closer ties to the music and influences of Detroit techno and Chicago house, than to neighbouring scenes south of the border.’
Fashion, music, lighting, performance – the exhibition will feature a range of aspects that it sees as coming together to form the culture that starts in the nightclub. This also extends out to all stages of the process for such aspects. For example, the exhibition will also look at the significance of record covers and the art associated with the different musical periods of the late 20th century.
‘Night Fever: Designing Club Culture’ is an exhibition originally from Germany. It started life several years ago but has been updated to include a specific look at Scottish club culture thanks to its move to Dundee. It was originally curated for the Vitra Design Museum in Schaudepot in collaboration with the ADAM Design Museum in Brussels.
Legendary rapper DMX has shocked fans around the world by passing away last month, aged 50 years old. DMX’s real name was Earl Simmons, from New York, United States of America, who was born on the 18th December 1970. The young boy with a passion for music, went on to create stirs and vibrations in the New York hip hop scene in the mid 1990s.
DMX was known for his gruff and manly tones that laid the dense vocals for his many solo and collaborative tracks. He was a member of the rap collective Ruff Ryders that also included other famous rap stars such as The Lox. One of his most well known performances was in 1999 at the legendary Woodstock festival where he played to over 200,000 fans.
What started as humble beginnings in Mount Vernon, New York, ended with DMX having five number 1 albums in the USA music charts. The club anthem ‘X Gon’ Give It To Ya’, is one of his most recognisable tracks that will live on in the cultural legacy of a generation.
DMX spouted a wrap that was powerful and transformative, about the social hardships he had faced growing up and continued to experience as challenges as a young adult. His story teller style was full of spontaneous moments that gave character to each performance he gave.
Fans of the star were devastated to hear of his passing on the 2nd April 2021. The news came after Simmons was hospitalised following a heart attack at his home. He was immediately moved to the White Plains hospital, New York, critical care unit following his incident.
Following the passing of DMX, or Earl Simmons as he was otherwise known, there has been an emotional outpouring of sentiment from fans both online and in real life. Multiple digital eulogies for the star have been held across social media, whilst the Simmons family organised a prayer vigil the subsequent Monday after his death.
Tom Jones maynot the first name on the list when it comes to who is dominating the music charts these days, but a credible one nonetheless to make headlines this week. The 80 year old UK singer has made history in April by becoming the oldest male artist to win a number 1 spot in the album charts. Jones recently released an album to much acclaim titled ‘Surrounded by Time’.
The album’s name is quite appropriate for Jones’ new record, which is only the latest in his staggering long, multi-decade career. Jones first appeared on the UK music scene nearly 60 years ago in 1965. His first album stormed the charts and was titled ‘Along Came Jones’. Jones went on to become well known for his crooning vocals and the sexy overtones to his music.
Jones became most well-known for his pop single ‘Sex Bomb’ which was released in 1999. The thrilling beat and bounce of the track captured the zeitgeist of the new dawning millennium for many young lovers. With lyrics such as “Sexbomb, sexbomb you’re a sexbomb (yeah) / You can give it to me, when I need to come along”, it’s no wonder the track stayed at number 1 in the UK for weeks and remains burned into the British consciousness.
Jones was born on the 7th June 1940 to a humble background in Wales, UK. Jones received an OBE from the Queen of England for his contribution to music in 2006 and has won multiple awards for his work in the music and film industries. Jones has spent a long time in the public eye, playing to large audiences both in Las Vegas and as part of his role as a judge of the reality TV show The Voice.
Jones is the oldest artist to top the chart with an album of newly recorded material. Vera Lynn holds the record for oldest artist to reach number 1 at age 92 with a greatest hits album.
Artists of all kinds have been some of the hardest hit during the global coronavirus pandemic that has been manifesting over the past year. Without the ability to play live shows or sell merchandise in the same way, many artists have been left struggling with bills to pay.
This worsening strife has only been exacerbated by the pandemic which could be seen as the final nail in the coffin by many. Musicians have for a long time been complaining with what they see as unfair treatment from megasites such as Spotify and iTunes, and this is on top of the increasing ease and popularity with which people illegally download music.
Live events then have been one of the last secure income streams of revenue for artists. Yet, the pandemic has exposed the fragility of the system and this major structural flaw that allows for musicians and artists to subsequently fall through society’s cracks as freelancers in their industries.
Bandcamp has for a significant amount of time now been touted as the musicians’ choice of streaming and purchasing platform. Unlike other sites, Bandcamp gives notably higher returns to the artists and is seen as prioritizing a fairer music industry ecosystem. It is not surprising then that the online music streaming site has stepped up to be a big supporter of independent artists during the struggles of the pandemic.
Bandcamp Fridays were launched in March 2020 to be held on the last Friday of every month. The deal goes that any record sold via the platform on the allotted date will see 100% (well 93% once you take off payment processing fees) go to the artist themselves.
In a statement released on March 5th 2021, Bandcamp has said that over 800,000 people have taken place so far and raised over $44 million dollars to go directly for artists. The site says it plans to continue the project until the middle of 2021 minimum.
K-Pop global superstars Blackpink have urged their millions of fans to go green ahead of the 26th Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, in the UK this November 2021. The all female pop band have been anointed as advocates for the conference with the aim of rallying their staggering fan base for the cause of climate awareness.
The video, which was made in December 2020, was released to the millions of viewing fans online in February 2021 and has continued to make a storm since. Jisoo, Rose, Jennue and Lisa are the four members of the bank Blackpink, which was first formed in 2016. The band members were invited by the British Embassy in Seoul to be part of the campaign.
The last and 25th Climate Change Conference took place in Paris, six years ago. It was seen as a landmark moment in the fight against global warming when some of the world’s most significant countries in North America and Europe signed up to the deal. The aim of the treaty was to reduce global warming to a maximum of two degree celsius in the hopes of drastically slowing the environmental damage already seen creating severe weather consequences around the world.
The video was released through the Climate Ambition Summit 2020 currently taking place in Seoul, Korea. It debuted on the video sharing and social media platform YouTube where the band has millions of followers and gone on to have over three and a half million views.
Blackpink cite the 2020 Netflix documentary from David Attenborough titled A Life on Our Planet as a catalyst for their involvement in the project. They called upon their fans to also watch the documentary, which Attenborough calls his ‘witness statement’ for the planet.
Blackpink fans call themselves Blinks and have a reputation in the music industry for being some of the most devoted fans on the scene. Blackpink has the largest following on Instagram for an Asian music act with over 16 million followers.
In a strange twist of musically enhanced events, police officers in LA have been caught using copyrighted music from bands like The Beatles and Sublime to prevent video footage from protestors remaining online.
In an act that weaponises the copyright laws on social media video and image sharing sites such as Instagram, LA cops have been seen using their phones to play music that will be picked up in protestors recordings and subsequently force the removal of their videos from the online sphere.
Police officers in Beverly Hills have been reached out to by VICE news, the online news agency that first picked up the story. In a comment to the news site they have said “the playing of music while accepting a complaint or answering questions is not a procedure that has been recommended by Beverly Hills Police command staff.” They have also commented that the videos of the police officers are under review by the department.
LA resident Sennett Devermont is the protestor whose videos are in question. He runs the account @sennettd on Instagram where he often films his interactions with the police, and also shares to his second verified account @mrcheckpoint_. With over 350 thousand followers between the two accounts the story was picked up widely across social media networks, with many people condemning the police officer’s actions.
The police officer in question is BHPD Sergeant Billy Fair who attempts to play Sublime’s ‘Santeria’ in one video and ‘Yesterday’ by The Beatles in another. The obvious attempt to disrupt Devermont’s First Amendment right to film police officers is both crude and mostly ineffective according to Instagram’s copyright laws since the songs are played single use and are not the main feature of the video meaning they should be allowed by the algorithm. Instagram has not responded to comment when reached out to.
The Korean four piece pop band Blackpink are the latest musical debuts to have a Netflix documentary made following their rise to stardom and current band activities. Unless you’ve been actively ignoring the news for several years now, the exponential growth in popularity for all things Korean has seen the genre dubbed K-pop take hold in fans’ hearts and minds around the world. Now, alongside stars like Taylor Swift and Beyonce, the K-pop darlings Blackpink are the latest sonic act to receive a dubious level of fame warranting their own Netflix documentary.
The documentary titled ‘Blackpink: Light Up The Sky’ was released on the online digital streaming platform on October 14th 2020. It reached fans in three languages – English, Korean and Thai, a fact that should have been obvious to expect since it reflects the national demographics of the band itself. Whilst known as one of Korea’s biggest exports, Blackpink is distinctive for its collage of nationalities from its members, at once bringing a diversity of experience to the band itself at the same time as increasing their audience reach even further and making them potentially even more popular than counterparts such as boyband BTS and solo act Psy that have equally made their marks on the world stage.
In the Netflix documentary audiences are provided with an all access pass backstage on the band’s latest world tour, getting to know each of the band members through direct insight into their unique personalities, as well as seeing group dynamics at work. Adam Del Deo, Vice President of Documentary Features at Netflix noted the documentary for its “organic and honest moments that give viewers an authentic inside look into the lives of Blackpink, as well as the dedication and gruelling preparation each member puts into every hit song, history-making performance and sold-out arena tour.”
2021 has seen the unlikely success of the 19th century sea shanty ‘The Wellerman’ as a TikTok video gone viral has sent it soaring into the UK charts Top 40. Sailing in at no. 37, ‘The Wellerman’ original version is a heart-warming earworm known to many – though perhaps not by name for most. The previously niche world of the sea shanty singing community has been pleasantly surprised by the amount of attention received recently as a result, with social media users taking the time to create their own versions of the song, often with a 2021 coronavirus twist.
Premiered on July 16th July 2020, the video that has sent the shanty into the charts is a version by a UK group The Longest Johns from the seaside city of Bristol. Now with nearly a quarter of a million views on YouTube the video has become unprecedentedly popular and heard around the world. The craze was then picked up on TikTok where users would supplement the shanty’s old-time lyrics for more modern versions.
With more people around the world online this past year due to coronavirus lockdown restrictions, it’s unsurprising the internet has reached such depths of musical history. What’s more, the song’s bleak but hopeful lyrics are almost a sign of the times as of a group of sailors awaiting sweet gifts from said ‘Wellerman’, free themselves from a trapping with a whale. It’s easy to imagine people hoping to be free soon of the coronavirus’ grip and enjoying life’s more pleasurable delights again instead.
The original shanty is thought to date back to the early 1830s and have originated in Australia or New Zealand. The short song style remains popular to this day, with yearly festivals such as the Falmouth Sea Shanty Festival in the UK, which will also take place online this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.