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56th Annual Grammy Awards: The Good, The Bad and The Irrelevant

The best from 2013 in the world of music were honored and made the mediocre painfully stand out.

The Grammys are weird. Like any other music award show, but multiplied by a billion, there’s this understanding that who wins is actually kind of irrelevant, but somehow we still care so much.

This year, if we pretend the nominees to begin with were the right choices (which they largely weren’t), the Grammy winners aren’t totally, offensively wrong, which is pretty much all any music lover can ask for.

But the awards show is about more than who walks away with that little gold trophy; it’s about the performances. This year was marked by an uncharacteristic lack of spectacle and a somewhat unsurprising overload of old, irrelevant musicians who are not at all representative of the industry as we hip young college kids know it.

So here’s my take on the 56th Grammy Awards: The Good, the Bad and the Irrelevant.


The Good

1. Beyonce is the queen of the world.The end.

2. Lorde continues to amaze me. I can’t decide if she’s weird or if she’s so normal that it’s weird to watch her get famous without compromising, like, at all. Regardless, I want to be her best friend, read poetry with her and make her write me beautiful pop bff songs. Her performance of “Royals” was stark and haunting, and her quirky dance moves were totally endearing. Plus, she absolutely deserved her wins: Song of the Year for “Royals,” Best Pop Solo Performance for “Royals.”

3. The robots of Daft Punk were inarguably the stars of the Grammys this year. Between their well-earned wins (Album of the Year for Random Access Memories, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Get Lucky,” Record of the Year for “Get Lucky,” Best Dance/Electronica Album for Random Access Memories and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical for Random Access Memories) and their dance-alicious performance of “Get Lucky” with vocals by Pharrell and Stevie Wonder, the electronic music masters have finally made their comeback. Random Access Memories was probably the best album of the year, so it’s amazing to me that the Grammys actually got it right this time.

4. P!nk is in this strange place where she continuously has really successful singles, but she isn’t the pop culture celebrity icon that Katy Perry or Lady Gaga have become. But she showed the Grammys what a good performer is by twirling, splitting and flipping over the audience during her performance of “Try” with fun.’s Nate Ruess. The woman is an athlete, plain and simple, and the fact that she sang almost flawlessly through all of that acrobatic spectacle just makes Taylor Swift’s and Katy Perry’s performances look even more embarrassing.

5. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis made Grammy history by performing while 33 couples got married in the audience. It was a beautiful demonstration of the power of music over culture, and it even got a few tears out of Keith Urban. Plus, the duo took home the award for Best New Artist, Best Rap Performance for “Thrift Shop” (beating out Eminem and Jay Z, which I’m still on the fence about, but “Thrift Shop” is a great song so whatever), Best Rap Song for “Thrift Shop” (beating out “New Slaves” by Kanye which I know is not fair but I’m still not terribly mad about) and Best Rap Album for The Heist.

6. The Grammys broke up with Taylor Swift, and she’s probably writing a song about it right now. Yep, one of the best parts of the Grammys this year was that Taylor Swift didn’t win a single one. And it’s not that I hate her music (well, I kind of do), it’s just that she truly wasn’t the best choice in any of her categories. And she never has been, but this year justice prevails. Her dance moves were pretty awesome, too. Power to you, girl. I look like that when I dance to Kendrick Lamar, too.


The Bad

1. There is something really obnoxious about Katy Perry to me. Well, a few things. First of all, she’s a bad singer. And when you have an entire team of songwriters at your disposal, your only job is literally to sing the songs well. You have one job, Katy, and you’re not good at it. Aside from her weak vocals, there’s something so insincere about her to me. She was a wholly unbelievable goth witch whatever-that-was.

2. “Blurred Lines” needs to die, but instead, the Grammys decided to tarnish Chicago with it. God knows why that sweet, funky band whose music has graced pep bands everywhere decided to perform with Robin Thicke, but I like to believe someone blackmailed them into it.

3. Um, can someone please explain to me how and why the greatest part of the evening was cut off? Seriously, let’s get Trent Reznor, Queens of the Stone Age, Lindsey Buckingham and Dave Grohl together, rocking the daylights out of one stage, and then lets cut the performance off because LL Cool J awkwardly talked for a few too many minutes earlier in the night. Reznor said it best via Twitter: “Music's biggest night... to be disrespected.  A heartfelt F**K YOU guys.”

4. The Best Rock Song category was kind of depressing. I generally roll my eyes at people who say “Rock is dead,” but the Grammys were trying to prove it. The Rolling Stones and Black Sabbath were nominated, and Queens of the Stone Age weren’t. Also, Nine Inch Nails wasn’t nominated at all. Ridiclous.


The Irrelevant

1. Can someone please explain to me why Metallica played one of their songs from 1989? Considering they haven’t put out an album since 2008? Like, really, I don’t understand. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the performance. I just wish I hadn’t spent the first half of it trying to understand why it was happening.

2. How did Bruno Mars win Best Pop Vocal Album? Is he even still, like, existing? And why? Why is he existing? Maybe he’s less irrelevant than I like to believe he is, but I can’t handle the thought that he’s still a big deal.

3. Okay, I know a minute ago I was mini-gushing over Chicago, but it’s only because I was in band in high school. Band kids love “25 or 6 to 4.” Ask any of us. But when I’m real with myself, I know that Chicago had no business being at the Grammys. They haven’t even put an album out since 2011, and it was a Christmas CD.

Student housing to open downtown in summer 2014

A currently vacant building near the Warehouse will be converted into student apartments set to open July 2014.

Students will soon have the option to live it up in downtown Syracuse, with all the benefits of university life a short bus ride away.

Syracuse Creekwalk Commons, a single-purpose, not-for-profit organization, will turn the now-vacant E.M. O'Donnell Building, 324 W. Water St., into apartments for up to 146 students. The building, which is adjascent to Clinton and Armory squares, is located on the Connective Corridor and a mere 500 feet from the Warehouse.

The apartments will be fully furnished with laundry facilities, a fitness center, lounges on every floor, study rooms, a theater, exhibit spaces for student work, indoor bike storage and some indoor parking. The building is connected by an enclosed bridge to the Washing Street Parking Garage.

The one- to two-bedroom apartments will be available for 10, 12 or 2 month leases, depending on the tenant's academic schedule. They will be open to students from SU as well as other area colleges and universities, like SUNY Oswego and St. Joseph's College of Nursing.

"Our goal is to have this experience be something that will help attract students to stay after graduation and add to the growth and vitality of downtown Syracuse," said James Breuer, managing partner of EMO Property, LLC, in a press release.

According to the Creekwalk Commons Facebook page, a one-bedroom apartment will cost $1,200 per month, and a two-bedroom apartment will cost $1,050 per month, per person.

Photo from the Connective Corridor website.


Blood artist to speak at Everson

Jordan Eagles, an artist who uses pig blood to create his work, will be speaking at the Everson Museum of Art about his inspiration. His exhibit, 'Red Giant,' will be on display through Jan. 5.

In 1998, art hobbyist Jordan Eagles slathered his canvas with red paint until it dripped down the white surface. The New York University student was trying to represent blood, but he was failing. His images looked flat; they weren’t coming alive like he’d wanted them to.

So he went to Chinatown and bought a pint of pig’s blood.

“I tried not being symbolic of the blood, but using authentic material,” he said.

He never looked back.

Eagles has honed his unique craft over the past 15 years, and now he has it down to an art, literally. He works by preserving blood in plexiglass and UV resin, sometimes adding copper to alter the color to a golden bronze.

Eagles’ exhibit, Red Giant, will be on display at the Everson Museum of Art through Jan. 5, and he will be at the museum at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 21, for an artist talk.

Eagles’ initial interest in representing blood in his art came from studying a series of images from a medical encyclopedia. The illustrated line drawings were so clean, sterile, emotionless — not at all representative of his ideas of life.

“Everything is connected,” Eagles said. “That’s the exploration. Is our body and our spirit connected in one vessel? After you die, what happens to the spirit?”

One of the more striking aspects of Red Giant comes from a room at the Everson usually dedicated to video and multimedia projects. In the room, four old-fashioned overhead projectors sit on the floor. Eagles has preserved blood in intricate patterns on the projectors’ glass, and the work overlaps and covers the walls. Viewers’ shadows appear upon entrance, putting them into the artwork.

“The projections are about transforming spaces and creating an area where viewers can participate,” Eagles said.

The exhibit explores the same ideas that have been a theme in his work from the beginning: the relationship between the body and the spirit and life after death. But it does so through the lens of the universe. The work asks questions about human connection — both spiritual and physical — to outer space.

“There’s always been an interest in outer space,” Eagles said. “That’s something that’s been in my brain and psyche for a while.”

He said he was inspired by the belief that the soul leaves earth after the body dies, as well as the fact that humans wouldn’t physically exist if not for stardust. He called the exhibit Red Giant for the obvious reason: Blood is red. But it’s also in reference to what our star, the sun, will become in about 5 billion years when it dies.

Steven Kern, executive director at the Everson, said he had no reservations about bringing Eagles’ work to the museum.

“We’ve got a really great history of doing things first,” he said, citing the Everson’s 1971 opening of Yoko Ono’s exhibit This is Not Here, as well as its collection of ceramics which dates back to 1916, a time when such collections were largely unheard of. “While he’s already had shows and enjoyed critical acclaim, it’s still early in his career.”

Kern said he first saw Eagles’ work at the R. Wells Gallery in Binghamton, N.Y.

“I just found the work to be completely engaging,” Kern said. “Think of how loaded blood as a medium is. On top of the stories and messages, it’s just beautiful.”

Eagles said he never imagined he’d become a professional artist when he was working with his first pint of blood in 1998, and he’s still figuring out what being an artist means to him. But he feels grateful for the opportunities he’s had along the way.

“Artists are very lucky when they find supporters to give them venues to show their work,” he said.

On the contrary, Kern insists it is the museums and their patrons who are the lucky ones.

“To find an artist who pushes the envelope and can redefine our expectations of the viewer, that’s exciting,” Kern said. “All art was new at some point.”

Eagles will be discussing his inspiration and artistic process at Thursday’s gallery talk, which is free and open to the public.

Photos from Red Giant by Jessica Cabe

Hudson Mohawke to perform as part of Bandersnatch Series

The electronic music DJ will perform with Cashmere Cat on Dec. 4 as the last UU-sponsored show of the semester.

The final University Union-sponsored concert of the semester will come from the Bandersnatch Series. Hudson Mohawke and Cashmere Cat will perform at 8 p.m. on Dec. 4 in the Schine Underground. Tickets are $5 for students and staff/faculty only, and they can be purchased at the Schine Box Office.

The first artist in the Bandersnatch Series, Chance the Rapper, will perform on Nov. 6. Scottish electronic music DJ Hudson Mohawke offers a different sound for students to enjoy.

Hudson Mohawke is signed to Warp Records as a recording artist and G.O.O.D. Music as a producer. He released his first album, Butter, in 2009 after a slew of EPs (including LuckyMe, Choices Vol.1, Puzzles and Cycling) starting in 2005. He has produced for Kanye West and Drake, among others.

The DJ is known for mashing up different styles and genres to create a whole new sound. Have a listen to "Cbat" from his 2011 EP, Satin Panthers.

Photo courtesy of Shaun Murphy/Flickr

Lou Reed, SU alum and member of the Velvet Underground, dead at 71

The influential musician died today of unknown causes.

Lou Reed, an influential rock musician famous for his time in the Velvet Underground, died today at 71. The official cause of death is still unknown, but the singer had liver surgery in May, according to a Rolling Stone article.

Reed was born in Brooklyn in 1942. He attended SU in the 1960s, and he hosted a radio show on WAER called "Excusions on a Wobbly Rail," according to the Syracuse Post-Standard. The show played a variety of doo wop, R&B and jazz music.

Reed formed the Velvet Underground after earning his B.A. from SU, and the band often partnered with Andy Warhol, who designed their iconic banana album cover for The Velvet Underground & Nico. The album was met with indifference upon release, but it has become one of the iconic records of the late 1960s. The band brought a depth to dark music and broke rock and roll boundaries. They were one of the first bands to incorporate punk in their music before that genre's explosion in the '70s and '80s. Reed is famous for his quote, "One chord is fine. Two chords is pushing it. Three chords, and you're into jazz."

Reed left the Velvet Underground in 1970 and has had a varied and daring solo career through the 2000s.

Photo by Man Alive!/Flickr.


Twenty One Pilots talk life on tour, college shows and more

Q&A: Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun of Twenty One Pilots sat down with The NewsHouse on Thursday before their performance at the Homecoming concert in Goldstein.

NewsHouse: How long have you been on tour?
Josh Dun: Oh man. Since we were born?
Tyler Joseph: It’s nice to say that. It’s nice to joke about that. We always dreamed of touring. So, what? Maybe a couple years now?

NH: Have you been writing any new music?
TJ: Yes. Well, what’s really cool is we’ve just recently, this past month, been able to move into a bus for the first time. So we take a lot of pride in that, because we slowly moved from one vehicle to the next when it came to what we traveled in. And now in the bus we have capabilities of recording in the back lounge; we have this studio. And so for a while there it was getting pretty frustrating not being able to create while traveling. Touring’s busy though, and tiring, so it’s not like being at home. It’s not like your first round of songs where all you have to do is either go to school or go to work then sit around and, instead of playing video games, you write songs. You really have to kind of be punctual and intentional about creating again.

NH: Do you ever feel like, ‘I’m just not in the mood anymore for writing’?
TJ: Yeah, no for sure. I mean, there’s a lot of things that we use that back lounge studio for that are actually as close to our version of busy work as there could be as musicians that travel around. There are things that we need to get done, you know? We have a headline tour coming up, and we have a lot of ideas for what we want our show to be like. And because of the way our setup is, we have to go in and really create and mold what that show looks like ahead of time and put a lot of ideas down. So in that case it’s like, “Okay, we’ve got to figure out this intro, we’ve got to figure out this transition, we’ve got to work out this kink here, we’ve gotta work out this thing,” so then you start realizing, like, “Oh, there is a to-do list as a musician.” But we get to create in that way, too.

NH: Do you play a lot of college campuses, or have you played before on college campuses?
JD: Yeah, I think especially starting out we did a lot. And then they’re kind of just here and there now.

NH: Is there a noticeable difference in the crowd or anything about a college show?
TJ: Yeah, for sure.
JD: Yeah, I would say.
TJ: For bands, one way of approaching it is like, “Well, the pressure’s off, because we’re not solely in charge of making sure people are coming through the door.” But at the same time, it’s like, “Well, you know, these people who put on the event are using your popularity in order to even get people’s attention, so if no one shows up, it means you suck.” So, you know, there’s two ways of looking at it. It’s really cool to partner with a college and an organization inside of that college that is dedicated to putting on an event. And I would say that an event like today, there’s much more of a mutual agreement that, “Let’s try to put on the best show and the best event that we can together,” because you guys have pressure because you’re putting on this event. We have some pressure because we’re the reason why people would come to the event. And when you play regular shows in regular venues where these guys just work at venues, they don’t care whether or not it goes off well or not, you know? So there’s a lot more invested -- time and energy. When we walk in here, there’s a bunch of students waiting to help us load our gear in, you know? So that’s just a really cool thing.

NH: Has your life changed at all since signing with Fueled by Ramen?
JD: We’ve been a lot busier since then. And we signed with the label but also simultaneously started working with a booking agency that kind of books us shows and everything. And so that kind of partnership, it’s really cool because there’s a booking agency that gets us a lot of shows, so we’ve gone on the road just exponentially more over the past year. And then there’s a record label who’s really good at what they do in marketing and making it so that it’s easier to get shows, I guess, so they go hand in hand together. And so I think from the aspect of traveling, it’s gotten a lot crazier. And before we had anybody helping us, we had a buddy who was kind of like a college student who loved booking shows, and that’s what he wanted to do, and he did all he could to get us shows, and that was more than we could have done ourselves, but at the same time it was kind of like, you know, we would go play on the weekends and stuff and work throughout the week, and now we’re just doing it all the time. So we’ve really been kind of nonstop since January, but I guess even before then.

NH: When you were starting out, did you think that you were going to make a living out of this? Did you have a Plan B?
JD: I never wanted to do anything else.
TJ: The idea that what I love to do is also how I make a living is so powerful to me to even think of. It’s like emotional. It’s amazing that it’s happening. And along with that, it’s like an honor to be able to stand up on stage and show people the songs that you created and them enjoy it. So every day that this happens, it’s like, I’m going to make sure that I soak it in. And we love to reminisce about the times where we made no money, ever. But at the same time, that was the goal, you know? We believed in ourselves. We knew that this was going to work, and I know it’s kind of crazy to say, but we knew that we had what it took, and all that we needed to apply was the effort and the time. And we’ve become very aware of the decisions that we made that could be credited to why we’re able to be doing what we’re doing now. And we don’t have hobbies. We were very focused.

NH: You recently made your late night debut on Conan. Was it everything you dreamed it would be?
JD: I think, I think it was. It’s an interesting process. I think of -- and not in the excitement factor -- but I remember before high school or whatever, even like middle school would be starting, and I was always excited for it, but like an anticipation type thing, almost nervous as well. I remember -- and maybe I’m just weird -- but I had dreams in my sleep in the coming week of when school came of like how it was going to be. And it kind of freaked me out, but I was excited about it. It’s really weird.
TJ: Yeah, I know what you’re talking about.
JD: You know what I’m talking about? And then I would show up, and I’m like, “Oh, okay, this is how it is.” And obviously I’d been to school before, I remembered. But I think that it was kind of like that for me, I think, like building up to that performance on that show. Where I’m just building up this whole thing in my mind of, “This is going to just be really crazy.” And then you show up, and it’s just very much a reality. And you go in there, and you get treated really well, and you play, and you perform for the camera, and that’s kind of it. But, so it was really cool, but I think that also it just kind of went by so fast to even really soak it all in. It’s kind of crazy to think about, you know? You watch that show all the time, or I’ve watched that show, and a lot of people watch that show, so it’s weird to think that in that small room with a camera, you’re playing in front of so many more people than are there at that time.

NH: You were nominated for a VMA for Artist to Watch. That’s got to be pretty exciting, right?
TJ: To get recognized in that way was an honor, you know? You really don’t know exactly what it means or how it happened. I didn’t know a lot about the other artists in that category, but I guess that’s the point, you know? That was the point of the category, and just to be able to have our name said by the people that said it was kind of cool, you know, on TV. And everything like late-night TV and recognition at an awards show, those are just all kind of little extras. Obviously you could accredit it to how hard we’ve worked on the road and just kind of gaining recognition and working on our live show and our music and everything, but at the same time you just kind of take those and appreciate them for what they are, but then come back to reality and know that you’ve got to go back to work. So we don’t put a ton of weight in those big moments, because we’ve learned that you can’t put all of this pressure and a lot of chips on something that’s so passing. But live music is not passing. It’s here to stay.

University Union announces Chance the Rapper for first Bandersnatch concert

Chicago artist Chance the Rapper will perform in the Schine Underground in November.

Does Syracuse have enough hip-hop yet?

University Union thinks not. After bringing Kendrick Lamar to Juice Jam and announcing performances from Twenty One Pilots and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, the student group announced Chicago's Chance the Rapper as the first act for the annual Bandersnatch Series, which features smaller, up-and-coming artists in a more intimate concert setting.

Chance the Rapper will perform with openers DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 6, in the Schine Underground. Doors will open at 7 p.m.

Chance the Rapper broke out in 2011 with his mixtape, #10Day, which he recorded during a 10-day suspension from high school. This past summer, he released his second mix tape, Acid Rap, to wide critical acclaim (including positive reactions from SPIN and Rolling Stone, as well as a nomination for Best Mixtape at the BET Awards).

Tickets for Chance the Rapper will go on sale Friday, Sept. 27, at the Schine Student Center Box Office. Tickets are $5 for all SU and SUNY ESF students and faculty.

University Union keeps surprise events coming

The student organization made another 10 p.m. announcement via Twitter, adding Vanessa Bayer and Kate McKinnon of 'Saturday Night Live' to their already impressive lineup of fall events.

University Union isn't all about the music.

At 10 p.m., the student group made an annoucement via Twitter saying two female comedians of Saturday Night Live fame will be at SU in October.

"LIVE FROM NEW YORK (Syracuse, NY...) IT'S THE #GIRLSOFSNL! Join Vanessa Bayer & Kate McKinnon on 10.16 for non-stop laughs in Goldtein Aud." Comedy Central's Nick Vatterott will open the show, which starts at 8 p.m. Doors will open at 7:30 p.m.

University Union has already gone above and beyond the call of duty by organizing the first Juice Jam Festival on Sept. 8, bringing alt-hip-hop duo Twenty One Pilots to Goldstein in October and, of course, getting Macklemore and Ryan Lewis to perform in the Carrier Dome in November.

Bayer joined the cast of SNL in 2010 and is best known for her impressions of Kourtney Kardashian and Miley Cyrus, hence UU's Twitter tease: "We couldn't get Miley to swing through 'Cuse on a wrecking ball, but we did get the next best thing..."




McKinnon joined the cast of SNL in 2012 and is best known for her impressions of Ellen Degeneres and Ann Romney.

Tickets to see Bayer and McKinnon are $5, and they go on sale at 9 a.m. tomorrow at the Schine Box Office.

Photo by

Pulse offers $10 student tickets for touring Broadway performances

Students can purchase tickets for Hello, Dolly!, 50 Shades! The Musical, War Horse, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, Memphis, American Idiot and Rock of Ages for $10 on Monday.

Students interested in seeing touring Broadway performances this year will not have to break open their piggy banks to do so.

On Monday, the Schine Student Center Box Office will have reduced-price tickets on sale for performances of Hello, Dolly!, 50 Shades! The Musical, War Horse, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, Memphis, American Idiot and Rock of Ages.

So far, theater fans have only been able to purchase season tickets for these performances. Single tickets will not go on sale until a month before the performances, and the prices will be significantly higher than the $10 tickets being offered to students. Hello, Dolly! ranges from $30 to $60 per ticket, 50 Shades! The Musical will cost $30 to $45, and while the rest of the ticket prices have not been made public yet, it is safe to assume they will be in the same range.




Pulse is the program offering these reduced tickets, and its goal is to increase student involvement in cultural programming. Check out their full 2013-2014 season of events.

Hello, Dolly! will play at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 8-10 at Crouse Hinds Theater.
50 Shades! The Musical will play at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 12 at Crouse Hinds Theater.
War Horse will play Nov. 27 through Dec. 1. Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, no show on Thursday, 8 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Landmark Theatre.
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas will play at 8 p.m. on Dec. 7 at the Landmark Theatre.
Memphis will play at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 28-30 at Crouse Hinds Theater.
American Idiot will play at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 26 at the Landmark Theatre.
Rock of Ages will play at 7:30 p.m. on March 20 at the Landmark Theatre.

Visit Broadway in Syracuse for more information on performances.

Landmark Theatre photo by Mark Garbowski/Flickr

University Union announces Twenty One Pilots concert

UPDATE: Hip-hop artist and Kanye West mentee Travi$ Scott will open for Twenty One Pilots at their Oct. 3 Homecoming show in the Goldstein Auditorium.

"Good things come in threes."

This is one of the provocative tweets from University Union, which announced at 10 p.m. that Twenty One Pilots will be performing at the third major music event on campus this semester, along with the Juice Jam Festival on Sunday and the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis Carrier Dome concert on Nov. 11.

Twenty One Pilots will perform at Goldstein Auditorium on Oct. 3. Tickets are $10 with a valid SU/ESF ID.

The concert will be part of Orange Central Weekend, the university's annual homecoming reunion weekend for alumni and other friends of the university.

Twenty One Pilots

Twenty One Pilots blend hip-hop, rock and pop to create a fun sound with thoughtful lyrics. Intricate rhyme schemes backed by pop music makes this duo one of the more compelling bands on the indie radar right now, and I couldn't be more thrilled about their coming to SU.

Check out my favorite song of theirs, "Migraine," from their 2013 album Vessel.

Twenty One Pilots photo by Douglas Mcconnell/Flickr