UT Austin

Top Tracks on “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)”, in my humble opinion.

Photo by: Beth Garrabrant

In case you have been living under a rock, Taylor Swift fans new and old have been awaiting the re-release of “Fearless” , Swift’s sophomore album since it was first announced earlier this year. Some may say I am biased, but I wholeheartedly believe that 2006 to 2010 was the peak era in Swift’s career. 

I put aside approximately 1 hour and 46 minutes to listen to the rerecording on its release date. The album features 26 songs, yes. That’s correct. 26 songs. Twenty of which are from the original and deluxe versions of “Fearless”, along with six more songs that are “from the vault,” songs that Swift wrote but were not included in the 2008 release. 

Fans have said that the re-recordings are almost identical to the original release. For transparency’s sake, I am going to agree with them. But the difference is that in 2008, I was eight years old. I had not experienced anything that could make Swift’s songs even remotely relatable. But now, I am able to blast “Love Story” as I drive around in my car and sing along at the top of my lungs. Back in the day, I absolutely tore it up on Band Hero– I was always on the drums and my sister was on the guitar. 

Being able to listen to this album again 13 years later has made me gain appreciation for new songs and revived my love for some of the classics. Here are a few that I feel especially passionately about:

  1. “Today Was A Fairytale”

While this song was not technically released on “Fearless”, it was performed on her Fearless tour. Originally on the “Valentine’s Day”  movie soundtrack, the song debuted at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, and for good reason. It’s catchy as heck and somewhat restores my faith in finding my prince charming.

  1. “The Way I Loved You”

This song screams girl boss to me, but I cannot put my finger exactly on why. Maybe it’s just relatable. I am really bad at oversharing, so I am just going to leave it at that.

  1. “Come In With The Rain”

Another song that gets me in my feelings, but I cannot elaborate in the interest of preserving what little bit of dignity I have left. Just trust me on this one, it’s really good.

  1. “Superstar”

This is the most underrated song on this album. I know that is a very bold statement, but I can’t help it. I have always preferred slower, melodic songs that you can cry to but sing along to at the same time, and this definitely falls into that category. 

  1. “The Best Day”

The backstory of this song is really sweet, and the lyrics always seem to leave me misty-eyed. Swift recorded this song as a surprise for her parents—how sweet is that? The lyrics takes you through stages of life, from being young and not knowing “why the trees change in the fall,” being a young teenager and wondering “how my friends could be so mean,” to finally when she is all grown up and “knows why all the trees change in the fall.” Such a full circle moment. 

Whether you are a lifelong fan or just now tuning in, Swift has something in her long list of tracks that will have you replaying over and over again!

Styling Your Unconventional Clothing Items

Go take a look at your closet. Now, push aside your everyday t-shirts and jeans. What do you have back there? An old, billowy white shirt from your Halloween costume three years ago? A pair of green overalls you found at the thrift store and just couldn’t pass up? 

We all have these little items and accessories that find their way into our lives. Be it a costume piece or just something a little bolder than what you typically go for, it can be pretty hard to seamlessly fit these styles into your wardrobe. We asked several of you to share with us the most unconventional pieces in your closet, and how you style them for everyday wear. 

“My mom gave me this shawl (I think it’s called a shawl?) to wear with dresses for mass and stuff. I was drawn to it because this is the type of clothing my grandma would make me but I never thought it looked good on me, especially around dresses so I decided to style it completely differently. I made it into a shirt by adding string to tie it together, but I would suggest sewing on buttons instead, I was just rushing. But I have never worn this just because I literally came up with it right now. I’m thinking I would wear it to hang out with friends at like a fair or a festival. It’s perfect for the summer because it’s super breathable.” – Karla Zamarripa

“I got this Halloween sweater through eBay this past winter. I had recently gotten really into fashion and wanted to lean more into wearing quirky clothing. One brand I really love is Talbots and their themed sweaters from the early 2000s. I’ve always been obsessed with Halloween and when I saw this Halloween themed sweater after scrolling through all the Talbots pieces on eBay I couldn’t turn it down. Even though it’s one of my favorite pieces, it doesn’t get a ton of use. Part of this is because Austin is hot and because this piece is a bit hard to style. I would say it’s a pretty wearable piece for me now that I own more clothing, although I think that its wearability depends largely on how you feel about wearing statement pieces. I’m hoping to get more use out of this sweater in the fall when things cool down a bit.” – Ren Breach

“This denim vest with little embroidered flowers was a thrift find I got for about a dollar. It’s a bit big on me, so I find it difficult to style, but I thought it was too cute to pass up! The fit is made a bit more awkward by the straps on each side– they make the silhouette kind of unflattering from the back when tied. I think I’m gonna try to alter it into something a bit more wearable when I have more free time. For now, I like to pair it with a solid colored skirt or pair of pants and add some cute spring-themed accessories.” – Kunika Trehan

“I made this top after seeing a lot of corset tops on Depop [a digital marketplace app] and Instagram, and I bought all the materials from Etsy! My mom taught me to sew and how to make some patterns because she went to grad school for fashion, she was a huge help whenever I got stuck. I don’t wear it super often– it’s truly not the most comfortable piece and requires you to keep really straight posture the entire time you wear it. But when I do, I like pairing it with a solid pair of pants with a fun texture or silhouette (either flare or bootcut). Overall, it’s not something I find easy to wear every day, but I think it makes me feel more excited for the occasions where I do get to wear it!” – Ira Gulati

Hopefully, we’ve inspired you to pull a neglected piece from the back of your closet and look at it with new eyes. You never know what a big difference some creative styling and a dash of confidence can make!

Art Series: Reflecting on the “Gothic” Genre

It seems a fascination with the uncanny, skin-crawling sensations of the gothic narrative has led to this genre’s continuation and success throughout the centuries. First characterized by Horace Walpole’s novel, “Castle of Otranto,” published in 1764, the gothic genre is recognizable through the portrayal of medieval architecture or opulent modern architecture; ‘madness’ and the fear, confusion, or desperation mental illness can contribute to; sexual sin, often depicted through incest or sexual violence; supernatural aspects, including specters and monsters; and lastly, evil intentioned (usually) men of power and societal rank.

Instagram @celadongreen_

Often depicted in a Victorian-esque narrative, gender roles play a key part in the haunting storylines, with women usually portrayed as victims of a brutal, masculine threat to either their bodies or minds. This is not always the case, though, and as this genre evolved, the threats to sanity and personhood have been able to become less strictly gendered, but usually still containing components of dominance, submission and resistance within the relationships. usually colliding with the horror genre through these varying elements, the two are oftentimes conflated. Though these two work together nicely, the gothic is distinct in the sense of terror or great unease it creates, along with a confusion of good and evil–seen notably in Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein’s Monster”. The complications of the gothic narrative that cannot be so easily simplified into categories of right, wrong, good or bad make this genre all the more intriguing. 

Instagram @celadongreen_

In popular culture, the gothic can be seen within two of my favorite shows, “The Haunting of Hill House” and “The Haunting of Bly Manor”. These stories are both set in large secluded mansions and the question of what is real and what is not is often at play for the characters within the stories. “The Haunting of Bly Manor” draws from aspects of Henry James’ “The Turn of The Screw”, a gothic novella written in 1898; stepping further back into history, the well known novel of Charlotte Bronte’s, “Jane Eyre,” published in 1847, also shares aspects of the gothic narrative. The character of Bertha is depicted as a madwoman, a danger to society and also as an unknown phantom haunting Thorfeild. The fear and even disgust of mental illness that Rochester portrays is typical for this genre, due to the idea that there is something inherently sinister surrounding a lost mind. Jane, surrounded by mysterious sounds and an older, wealthy, yet secretive and moody ‘bachelor’ who desires her, finds herself very much within a gothic story. A novel published later, in 1966, by Jean Rhys, titled “Wide Sargasso Sea,” reimagines the character of Bertha in Jane Eyre. Antoinette–which we find out is Bertha’s true name–is the main character in this novel that revolves around shameful secrets; implications of mental illness; sexual sin related to lust; and the ‘other’ characterized not by supernatural occurrences but by cultural and racial differences seen as threats to ‘civilized’ (white) life. Prominent in this novel is also the power struggle between Rochester and Antoinette having to do with presumptions of gender roles based on masculine dominance and feminie passivity. All these shared elements are–I would dare say–common in everyday life; it seems aspects of the gothic genre through the form of secrets, sin, and power struggles pervade both fiction and reality.

This genre is so intertwined with our entertainment and culture, yet, can seem to be elusive or niche. Taking part in novels, films, and TV shows, the gothic can often be an undercurrent to more prominent genres of perhaps horror, fantasy, or historical fiction. Elusive or not, this adjective does seem to fit nicely with the mysterious genre it encompasses. 

Instagram @celadongreen_

K-Pop Through the Eyes of a Novice

So you mean to tell me…there’s more to K-Pop than learning all the names of BTS’ members?

My first exposure to K-Pop dates back to sophomore year of high school. My friends and I were sitting in pre-AP chemistry and instead of learning the periodic table; we were fangirling over the music video for EXO’s “Call Me Baby.” I am now a soon-to-be college graduate, and that song still slaps. Ever since then, I’ve been casually aware of K-Pop, dipping my toes in every now and then.

That is, until quarantine started and I found myself bored on YouTube watching videos titled: “Cute Min Yoongi Moments,” and “Ranking main rappers from girl groups.” I was a goner.

In my conversion to this cute, fun but also explosive and seductive music industry, I’ve noticed many interesting things about how it works. Here is my list of the most interesting things I’ve discovered about K-Pop.

1. The Industry

Starting with the most obvious; the K-pop industry is a cutthroat well-oiled machine producing star after star and hit after hit. The three biggest companies in K-Pop are JYP Entertainment, YG Entertainment and SM Entertainment. HYBE Entertainment (formally known as Big Hit Entertainment), who manage BTS and Seventeen, is not commonly considered among the Big Three of K-Pop companies, but they have certainly made a name for themselves.

SM Entertainment

The K-Pop industry is not for the faint-hearted. Artists train anywhere from one year to a decade, learning how to sing, dance and perform. As trainees they are constantly fighting to prove they’ve got what it takes, and the chances of becoming an idol are 1 in 1,000. Once you become an idol, it’s non-stop work. You’re performing difficult songs and choreographers on multiple music shows; promoting new music, going on variety shows, doing lives on social media, sticking to strict rules and keeping up appearances everywhere you go.

Now of course working in any industry is tough, but K-Pop takes it to another level, proving why K-Pop idols are another breed of entertainers.

2. Comebacks

In Western music, artists come out with new albums, they do a few performances at award shows or on late night shows, post about their new album on Instagram and that’s about it. In K-Pop when artists come out with new music, it’s an event, and that event is called a comeback.

Comebacks include: teasers for new music videos, several performances at music charts shows, concept photos for that comeback and several extras (behind the scenes, dance practices, variety show appearances.) In K-Pop one does not simply drop an album and then leave. Comebacks are planned down to the T. Companies put a lot of money into them, and idols put in a lot of time and effort making sure each one is better than the last.

3. Concepts

There is a certain concept being portrayed whenever idols release new music. The most popular concepts are: cute concepts, girl/boy crush concepts and dark concepts. They are essentially themes, and the music, performances and costumes are tailored to that theme.

TWICE courtesy of JYP Entertainment via Times Magazine

TWICE, from JYPE, is known for their cute and elegant concepts. BLACKPINK, from YGE, is known for popularizing the girl crush concept and it is considered to be a large reason for their success. BTS came up as a boy crush concept group before evolving into their current style. Red Velvet, a girl quintet from SME, are often called “concept queens” expertly switching between their cute red concepts and their dark velvet concepts. 

The concepts of K-Pop go to show the intense thought and artistry that goes into their music.

4. K-Pop more like International-Pop

K-Pop means Korean pop, but did you know that you don’t have to be of Korean descent to be a K-Pop idol. Over the years K-Pop has been expanding across Asia, and to facilitate this expansion, companies have been signing idols from all over the world.

Some of the most famous include; Lisa (BLACKPINK) from Thailand, Tzuyu and Momo (TWICE) from Japan, BamBam (GOT7) from Thailand and Jackson Wang (GOT7) from Hong Kong.

Lisa from BLACKPINK courtesy of YG Entertainment

Now there are some issues with foreign idols receiving racist comments from K-Pop neitzens (a term referring to those who bully idols). There are debates over if K-Pop is solely for artists of East Asian descent, and at the moment it seems that is the case. But it is fascinating to see K-Pop grow beyond the borders of its home country, truly showcasing its global impact

5. What is a maknae?

Here are just a few last minute things that I love about K-Pop. 

Maknae refers to the youngest of the group, while Hyung (for men) and Unnie (for women) refer to the elders of the group. It’s wholesome to witness the bond between all the members and to see aspects of their culture through the relationships. 

Focus cams are great for when you’ve discovered your bias (your favorite). Essentially they’re just the footage from a group’s performance but focused on one member only. Don’t ask me how many SUGA or V focus cams I’ve watched, I couldn’t tell you if I tried.

Is it just me, or does anyone else love the robot voice K-Pop YouTubers use on their videos? There’s just something about the slight sarcasm in British Siri’s voice that’s hilarious. Also K-Pop stans? Very messy, there is nothing they love more than an unpopular opinion video on idols or the industry as a whole.

K-Pop is a vast entertainment business with all kinds of ins and outs, and it’s slowly taking over the world – rightfully so. However, there are still those who dismiss K-Pop. They think it’s all a bunch of cutesy music with no depth. They talk down on male idols for wearing makeup and jewelry. They put racist expectations on them to speak English. 

K-Pop is an intricate and impactful music industry that deserves more Western recognition. It’s more than just those “seven Asian boys who sang with Halsey once.” It’s an industry full of beautiful and talented people pursuing their passion.

Featured image BTS at the 2021 Grammys courtesy of HYBE Entertainment

The Top 10 iCarly Episodes to Watch Before The New Reboot

Wake up the members of my longhorn nation! It’s your time to be up to date on everything iCarly.

So I know I’ve been binge watching iCarly since it came out on Netflix and Paramount+, but have you been up to date with everything?

No? Well, just leave it all to me…to explain the big news, of course.

iCarly is coming back! Well, kind of. 

In a recent video, Paramount+ has announced that a new iCarly reboot is in the works and will feature a select number of the original cast.

When I found out this exciting news, I realized something. Maybe not everybody wants to watch the 5 seasons of the original iCarly. 

So I took it upon myself to make this a whole lot easier for you by just telling you, in my opinion, the best episodes to watch ASAP. (Even though you should totally just rewatch the original show…)

Here’s the top 10 iCarly episodes to binge watch before the big Paramount+ reboot:

(credit: Nickelodeon)

10. iNevel

This episode brings us one of our infamous recurring iCarly characters, Nevel Papperman. Essentially, Carly and the gang think that some professional web critic is going to interview them for the web show and potentially help them gain more supporters. Once Carly goes over to this critic’s house, we find out that he’s not a professional adult, he’s just a kid who holds a bit too much power over the internet. Nevel tries to make a move on Carly when she avoids and proceeds to embarrass him. Nevel gets his revenge by leaving a bad review for iCarly which drives traffic away from the show. But the gang gets the last laugh once they give him a taste of his own medicine.

(credit: Nickelodeon)

9. iGo to Japan

Ah, an ICONIC episode in my opinion. This is the very first hour-long iCarly special that audiences got to see. We see the cast go on an adventure to perform and compete for the title of ‘Best Web Comedy’ at the fictional iWeb Awards. In their adventure, they experience many obstacles like traveling on a cargo plane, crash landing in Japan and even getting sabotaged by their fellow competitors. 

I forgot how crazy some of these episodes were until I started rewatching them.

(credit: Nickelodeon)

8. iMeet Fred

One for the books, if I must say. Carly and the gang accidentally get into an online feud with Fred (yes, THAT Fred from your childhood web browsing). What begins as an off-hand comment by Freddie, turns into what could be considered internet drama before internet drama was even a thing! But, it all is good in the end when we find out that it was all an elaborate plan to get more engagement. So, in the end, the group just ends up being good friends with the (back then) internet sensation.

(credit: Nickelodeon)

7. iSaved Your Life

This episode starts off very casual… I’m just kidding. It starts off with Freddie getting hit by a taco truck because he pushed Carly out of the way while crossing the street. I’m telling you, these are some CRAZY episodes. Well throughout the episode we see Freddie getting taken care of by Carly. While taking care of him, Carly begins to *surprise* fall in love with Freddie. Despite this being great news for him, Freddie gets told by Sam that Carly’s love may just be out of guilt and a falsified illusion she has of Freddie since he saved her life. So in the end, the two don’t end up together.

(credit: Nickelodeon)

6. iParty with Victorious

This is, yet another, historical moment in the history of iCarly. This episode is the first time we see a crossover between iCarly and another Nickelodeon show! In this episode, we find out that Carly’s new boyfriend is two-timing her with Tori Vega, the main character of the Nick TV show, Victorious. Once Carly finds out about her cheating boyfriend, she sets out on a mission to catch him in the act and to confront him about his ways. While doing this, she runs into Tori, tells her the situation. The girls team up and confront their, now former, boyfriend about his cheating ways through Carly’s web show and it’s millions of viewers. The episode ends with an ICONIC mashup of both shows’ theme songs.

(credit: JustJared)

5. iPsycho

In this episode, the iCarly gang end up in quite a problem when they decide to make a detour on their way to a web conference to help out a lonely fan, Nora, for her birthday. Once they are getting ready to leave after the party, Nora goes a bit crazy, psycho if you will, and refuses to let them leave. The gang ends up calling their friend and recurring character, Gibby, to come to their rescue in their time of need.

(credit: Nickelodeon)

4. iMeet the First Lady

iCarly did what not many shows could: meet (now former) First Lady Michelle Obama! The episode actually begins with Carly and her brother Spencer planning on spending their dad’s birthday with him. When they are suddenly not able to see him anymore due to other commitments. To make Carly feel better, the rest of the gang bands together to create a virtual birthday party for her dad. Unexpectedly, they actually end up getting investigated for apparently hacking into a secure network to do the online party. Thus causing the secret service and First Lady Michelle Obama to be sent out to inquire and find out more about this situation. Then, like always, everything turns out amazingly with Mrs. Obama being the web show’s guest star for that night’s broadcast.

3. iGo One Direction

Ok, so I know I’m biased with this one, but come on! One Direction was on iCarly! That’s kind of a big deal. 

Anyway, if you don’t remember this episode that lives rent free in my head, here’s the rundown. 

So Carly and Spencer have just come back from a trip to Mexico and find out that Carly has caught a contagious illness called ‘jungle worms.’ Fun name, I know. Later on, the group finds out that they were contacted by One Direction’s manager to get the band on the web cast. All is good and dandy until Harry Styles ends up drinking water out of Carly’s water bottle, remember that she’s over her ‘jungle worms’ but she is still contagious. So he ends up getting sick with the illness. Once they find out that he’s sick, he’s bedridden until further notice, which postpones the web show and the group’s performance. After a while, they all figure out that Harry is just acting sick to keep being pampered and cared for by Carly. Once the group finds that out, they come up with a plan to get him to perform again by acting as if they will replace him with Gibby. The plan works and the performance goes as planned.

(credit: Nickelodeon)

2. iGoodbye

In this episode, comes the end of an era. The end of iCarly to be specific. We get introduced to the idea that Carly is making plans to see her father and spend time with him at an annual father-daughter dance. Only for her to then find out that her father can’t make it so Spencer being the good older brother, plans to take Carly instead. But, then he also can’t take her since he finds out that he’s gotten sick. So her friends decide to pitch in and volunteer to take her to the dance instead. Ultimately, her dad is able to actually come and take her to the dance. Which is HUGE for the show since it’s the first and only time the audience gets to meet Carly and Spencer’s dad. Once they come back to the apartment, her father offers her the opportunity of a lifetime: go to Italy and live with him. As the episode progresses, we see the gang broadcast what seems to be their last web show and we see Carly have her last few moments in the apartment with her friends. We end the episode with each character remembering the first moments when the show had started. Very sweet ending that is incredibly meaningful to any and all who were fans of the show.

(credit: Nickelodeon)

1. iPilot

What better way to prep for the reboot than to remember the beginning? 

We begin the series by learning who each of the characters are, Carly, Sam, Freddie and Spencer are immediately introduced. We find out that Carly and Sam are in charge of holding the auditions for their school’s talent show. When they come up with a list of uniquely talented kids, their teacher shuts them down and does not let them make any decisions for the latent show. So, the two decide to come together with Freddie to broadcast a web show to showcase their classmates’ talents. Thus, iCarly was born.

According to a Showbiz article, the new reboot is announced to be geared towards adults who watched the show as kids. So, while the reboot may not have the same humor, storylines or even characters as the original, people who grew up with the show should be able to appreciate and enjoy the show.

The iCarly reboot is supposed to premiere on Paramount+ either in late 2021 or late 2022.