DNCE, Tyler Glenn, and Jane the Virgin

Happy Wednesday! Here’s a little roundup of what I’ve been loving lately 🙂

DNCE

BE STILL MY JONAS BROTHERS HEART!!!! I thought I was completely satisfied with the Jonas brilliance when Nick released Last Year Was Complicated…but DNCE took it to an entirely new level for me. Basically, this group lives up to their name. I dare you to listen to this debut album without immediately feeling the need to dance around. I joked with a lot of my friends that every song on this album passes Tom Haverford’s “is it a banger” test, and while that’s totally accurate, the best part about this album is how unique it is. When DNCE came out with their first song “Cake by the Ocean”, I was instantly intrigued. Their sound, their look, their entire vibe was something new to the pop scene. Of course, as comes with the pop territory, DNCE’s songs venture into the repetitive constructs of radio tunes we love to sing along to, but I think their approach and the group’s overall style is a way for them to combat the predictability a lot of pop artists face today. This album achieves cohesion while also giving you a taste of everything from dancey, upbeat tunes to slower jams with thoughtful lyrics. They have a funky sound that weaves its way through the entire tracklist, thanks to the work of notable songwriters like Justin Tranter and Mattman & Robin. Basically, these dudes are geniuses and their work definitely shines through with DNCE.

Also, I would give anything to be their bass player. JinJoo can hit me up anytime.

Excommunication

Some of yall may be familiar with Tyler Glenn from the group Neon Trees (“Animal”, “Everybody Talks”). Excommunication – largely written by Tyler Glenn himself along with Tim Pagnotta – is his first solo album, and let’s just say, if you didn’t know who he was before listening to it, you’re about to find out some really deep stuff. I vaguely remember the media circulating around him when he came out a few years ago, but other than that, I went into listening to this album with the sole thought of really digging Neon Trees and interested to hear what Tyler’s own sound would be like. As I listened to the tracks, the theme of religion was hard to miss. The titles of the songs like “G.D.M.M.L. GRLS” (God Didn’t Make Me Like Girls), “Gods + Monsters”, “First Vision”, and finally, “Devil” set you up for very profound stories, and I was intrigued to dig deeper into the album. A simple Google search helped me connect all of the dots: the album’s title is a nod to Tyler’s Mormon family and the anti-gay policies of the religion.

Radio.com’s piece about Excommunication set a completely new tone for the album as I gave it another listen. I paid special attention to the order of the track list and was completely taken by both the profound stories from Tyler’s personal journey and the well-matched sounds mixed on each song. When you listen, you can physically feel how much of himself is poured into this album. The style is still very much his own, with electro-pop, rock vibes, but adding in lyrics like “I found myself when I lost my faith” and the exploration of truly understanding what you believe in really drives home this compilation of songs. I haven’t experienced many albums recently that are theme-driven and specifically focused on the different phases of an ongoing story, so listening to Excommunication felt like something totally brand new in the modern pop-rock genre. I really can’t stop listening to it.

Jane the Virgin

I know, I know, this review is WAY overdue. It’s widely known that getting me to start a new television show is nearly impossible, so the fact that I not only caught up with Jane but also continued watching it is a very big deal.

Not surprisingly, the ability for TV shows to skillfully feature what are considered difficult issues is always impressive to me. Jane has been achieving this from the beginning of the first season, tactfully and efficiently discussing the topics of religion, abortion, and immigration. The show is structured from telenovela storytelling, which is known to be overly saturated with drama, romance, and suspense – all of the qualities people tend to love most about current TV dramas. But Jane offers so much more. There are three generations of women of color as the main characters, one of which is an immigrant who solely speaks Spanish, and they are suddenly surrounded by scandal. The writers of this show make very thoughtful decisions about how these women navigate the obstacles they face. Their decisions are very much based around family values and relationships, rather than being dictated by the guys they are dating. The writers craft a plot in which the characters are fully immersed in real life struggles – grad school, conflicting feelings about significant others, and early parenting – while still maintaining the thrill of cleverly planned unsolved mysteries. Not to mention, the fact that it’s narrated like a classic telenovela gives just the right amount of structure and humor. Each season, the writers unfold more and more about the lives of these characters, leaving the audience constantly engrossed in their stories. Now on its third season, Jane somehow manages to be a totally unpredictable show with a completely predictable structure. So long as the writers continue to stir up this seemly perfect magic formula for storytelling, I’ll keep watching.

 

What music/show/entertainment has you hooked right now? I’d love to hear!

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Bisexual Awareness Week

Happy Bisexual Awareness Week, everyone!

While we passively acknowledge the bi+ community every time we say LGBTQ+, the B in this conversation is given little recognition. So this week, the bi+ community comes together with our allies to remind everyone that bisexuality is a valid identity and there is still plenty of work to be done to end bi erasure. We’ve all heard the ridiculous misconceptions; there continue to be predominantly negative and inaccurate representations of the bi+ community in the media, as well as discussed in queer spaces. Contrary to what some people believe, bisexuality has a very nuanced history, and the work that has been done over the years still continues today.

In honor of this work and the celebration of Bisexual Awareness Week, GLAAD hosted the first ever panel about bi+ representation in current media, which you can watch on their Facebook page. This panel featured intersecting perspectives from within the bi+ community, including advocates Alex Berg, Eliel Cruz, Bryan J. Ellicott, Ashley Ford, Denarii Monroe, and Mathew Rodriguez. All of the panelists have experience in a number of mediums that give the bi+ community a more prominent voice and tell the stories of community members across the spectrum. One thought that I couldn’t help but return to throughout the night was the fact that I had never been in a space that was so focused and dedicated to the bi+ community. Thanks to GLAAD’s Senior Strategist Alexandra Bolles, we were finally given that opportunity. It was an incredible party to witness.

The panelists discussed many issues facing the bi+ community, such as the lack of representation in the media despite statistically being the majority of the LGBTQ+ community, the negative connotations people tend to associate with bi+ people, like being indecisive, confused, or overly promiscuous. and the work that has to continue to be done in order to give the bi+ community a more positive portrayal in the media. These panelists spoke from places of personal experience, which added an incredible sense of authenticity to the panel. Their intersecting perspectives were a genuine treat for the audience to experience, as we were all there to celebrate bisexuality and discuss the ways we can all contribute to bettering visibility and offering more accurate representations of our community in the media.

Panel moderator and Mic writer Mathew Rodriguez asked the panelists to share their first memory of seeing a bi+ person in the media, and I realized how difficult that question was to answer. Panelists shared answers like Dr. Frank-N-Furter from Rocky Horror Picture Show and Callie Torres from Grey’s Anatomy, but I started to consider my own experiences and realized how upsetting it was to come to the conclusion I could probably count the amount of bi+ characters I’ve seen in the media on one hand. From a statistical perspective, Eliel Cruz, Executive Director of Faith in America, shared the correlation between visibility and funding. Using the trans community as an example, Cruz brought attention to the fact that there is a direct correlation between the representation minority groups have in the media to the amount of money and work being put into bettering their communities. We still have a lot of work to do.

On the topic of bi+ erasure, the panelists offered a number of experiences that contribute to one of the most prominent problems facing the community. Alex Berg, a producer at HuffPost Video, spoke about an instance in which a celebrity’s publicist forbade the word bisexual to be used – even though the celebrity has since come out about their sexuality and was in the process of writing a memoir in which the topic was featured. Denarii Monroe also spoke about a similar issue, sharing times when her work was not accepted because it was not the “typical” bi experience…whatever that means. In the words of Ashley Ford, “People are obsessed with certainty, which doesn’t exist.” As was proven by the different experiences of all of our panelists, everyone has their own personal relationship with what it means to be bisexual. There are different definitions depending on who you ask, there is no one “type” of bisexual person, and most importantly, our identity is not something for you to make assumptions about. Which is why we need our voices to be heard. Which is why we need to have better representation. Which is why Bi Week is so important.

I love being part of this community. After getting through the hard times of listening to people claiming that bisexuality didn’t exist and forcing people choose one side and claiming fluidity was just a way to get attention, I was able to grow and understand that my identity was valid. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by positivity within both my personal and queer spaces, but I know this is not the case for everybody. And this is why we have to keep working toward progress within the bi+ community. I want younger generations to be able to see their identities truly representation in the TV shows they watch. I want people to talk about bisexuality with the same validity they talk about gay and lesbian identities. Because of events like Bi Week and the recognition of the work that is continuing to be done within the community, I’d like to think that’s a place we can get to someday.

Thanks to everyone at GLAAD for hosting this event, and a special thanks to Alexandra for being such a rockstar.

Bi Week might just be until Friday, but for so many of us, it’s always Bi Week. 🙂

Check out my Twitter for some livetweeting from the event!