Rihanna

Photo Credit: Topazia Hunter | Daily Texan Staff

Beyoncé, Rihanna and Madonna rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars every month from Spotify, while lesser-known artists are left struggling for commercial success.

Gary Powell, composer, producer and senior lecturer, said this struggle is not uncommon for most artists. Since licensing his work to Spotify, Powell has received 50 checks, amassing around a dollar in revenue. That figure is then split up between labels, producers, songwriters and artists. Powell said streaming services are just the music industry’s latest enemy.

“In the old days, a hundred purchases of a song paid the owner $90, and now it just gets you a penny,” Powell said. “That model is what we [musicians] are up against, and until it changes, it will continue to add to our demise. It only works for the companies.”

In an attempt to give artists more control over their music, Jay-Z recently purchased the music streaming service Tidal. Jay-Z, along with 15 other big-name acts, such as Kanye West, Coldplay and Alicia Keys, attended a press conference March 30, intending to use Tidal to regain control of their music. The service doesn’t offer a free option, so subscribers must choose between the $9.99 or $19.99 plan.

The service provides users with songs, artist-made playlists, videos, exclusive content and, for premium subscribers, higher-quality sound. Unlike Spotify, Tidal will not rely on ad revenue to pay its artists. Without a free tier, the company claims it will pay its artists more in royalties, but, as it recently revealed, artists are only paid more when premium listeners stream their songs.

While the artists behind Tidal set out to bring value back to music, critics express concern for the future of smaller artists on the streaming service. Currently, the 16 artists who attended the press conference have equal share of the company. Many critics boiled this down to rich artists asking for more money. Mumford & Sons frontman Marcus Mumford recently spoke out against Tidal, saying the service shouldn’t make ownership exclusive to big-name musicians.

“I think smaller bands should get paid more for it, too.” Mumford said in an interview with The Daily Beast. “Bigger bands have other ways of making money, so I don’t think you can complain. A band of our size shouldn’t be complaining. And when they say it’s artist-owned, it’s owned by those rich, wealthy artists.”

Some artists are unconvinced that controlling streaming is the root of the problem. A recent study by record label trade group SNEP revealed that major labels walk away with almost 50 percent of revenue made from Spotify, while artists get 7 percent. Artists enter these contracts with the promise of having their music played worldwide, but Powell said artists are the ones who lose in the end.

“The myth is that streaming will help get your music worldwide,” Powell said. “The likelihood of that is very low for many musicians. There just isn’t a mechanism in place for them to find any prosperity. If you were hungry or starving, you would eat anything; you’d do whatever it took to stay alive, and that’s what musicians have to do now.”

The recent announcement of a new course, “Beyoncé Feminism, Rihanna Womanism,” was met with praise, confusion and most of all, online opposition from students and alumni.

Proponents say the course, crosslisted under African and African Diaspora Studies and Women's and Gender Studies, is revolutionary and long overdue. Opponents claim these women aren’t positive influences and don’t deserve the honor of “the f-word.” Feminism today has a new face. New age feminism takes multiple forms, varying from individual to individual. While feminists can all agree on the need for equality and change, the ethnic counterparts to the much-praised Lena Dunham and Jennifer Lawrence are rarely given the same accolades, and are even criticized for similarly speaking out.

One of the course’s titular subjects, Beyoncé, has been subject to such derision, most recently facing criticism after the release of her self-titled fifth album in which she bravely declares herself an avid feminist. She proclaims her ability to bear a child, marry and have a career all the while embracing her sexuality and flaunting her body, a testament that women really can “have it all.” Straying from traditional feminism, Beyoncé outwardly expresses her sexuality in songs and onstage. She even pays homage to her roots using African dance moves many mistake as attempting to sell sex. Young African-American girls and grown women alike find empowerment in her work, reinforcing the ideals of feminism in a modern way. 

Comparatively, Rihanna unapologetically displays herself on the red carpet and the stage to show the confidence in her body and embrace sexuality while speaking of her self-made success. Her use of expletives and refusal to stray from her lively persona puts her on the same level as her male hip hop counterparts, an equality for which feminists work tirelessly to make the norm rather than the exception. Rihanna and Beyoncé both embody the ideals of modern feminism, so why do mainstream feminists make it their mission to exclude them from the movement?

They’re ruled out as feminists simply because of their ability to contribute to the movement in a modern, sensual manner. The flaw in the opposing argument lies in unintentional prejudice and internalized racism that often goes unnoticed. While we can all relate as women, social activists or feminists, the black feminist experience is unique and needs its own leaders who can empower this subgroup. Black feminism differs from the mainstream in liberation characterized by emphasizing rather than suppressing sexuality. Black women have long been directly and indirectly taught by society that their only worth is defined by their sexualization by men. These women defy this tradition by embracing their sensuality and defining its worth in their own terms, while influencing others to follow suit — a true act of feminism. Herein lies the irony in mainstream feminism: It encourages the liberation of women but only under specific terms, echoing the exact mindset that oppresses women in the first place.

A modern feminist can embrace her (or his) identity by wearing a pantsuit, a romper or barely there clothes. Modern feminism doesn’t judge solely on outside appearance. A feminist can be conservative like Emma Watson, radical like Rihanna or find a balance like Beyoncé. This New Age movement creates a cognitive dissonance as women want to let loose while maintaining a professional image. They should be allowed to twerk, work, get degrees and maintain a collective equality. This course will not only analyze the subtle, and not so subtle, womanism that Rihanna, Beyoncé and other black woman artists embody, but it will open the minds of those who narrowly define who can and can’t be a feminist.

Griffin is a journalism freshman from Houston. Follow her on Twitter @JazmynAlynn. 

Nick Young is living the life, winning games

“I’m just having a good day today.”  Those were the words of Lakers guard Nick Young after last Friday’s win against the Warriors.  Young did have a pretty good performance in the win — he dropped 21 points and is averaging 13 in what has been a surprisingly good season so far for the man nicknamed Swaggy P.

But the best part of Young’s day on Friday wasn’t his performance, and it wasn’t even the win.  It was the way he impressed the young lady sitting courtside.

None other than Rihanna was so amazed by his performance that, according to Young, she was calling his name throughout the game.

Not bad, Swaggy P, not bad.

Nick Young is certainly the envy of thousands of men worldwide.  Not only does he get shoutouts from Rihanna during games, take a look at Iggy Azalea, the girl he’s dating.

Yep, Nick Young is living the life.

Taylor Swift performs on stage at the 55th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision)

Photo Credit: AP Exchange | Daily Texan Staff

A live recap of what happened at Sunday night's Grammys. Here is everything you missed, and some things you really didn't. 

10:30 LL Cool J "does a lil' rapping" with Chuck D, T. Morello, Travis Barker, and Z Trip to close out the Grammys with what appears to be a big light show with some drums and maybe some rapping? There is a D.J. and a guitarist, but they aren't really doing any work. LL Cool J's slow and boring finale to the Grammys seems fitting after a night of musical performances that are barely more memorable than whatever LL Cool J is known for. The producers of the Grammys mix in ads with LL Cool J's performance just to mix things up.

10:15 According to Adele, people who win Album of the Year go on to worldwide success. Album of the Year for 2012 goes to Mumford and Sons for "Babel" beating out The Black Keyes, Fun., Frank Ocean, and Jack White. The sound cuts out for Mumford and Sons' speech because of cursing and too many compliments being given to Adele. The British are Coming!

10:11 Frank Ocean is wearing a sweat band to perform "Forrest Gump" with projected legs running beneath him. No one knows what is going on, but whatever it is, it looks really dumb. People run in the background, Ocean wears a yellow blazer and is obviously not running.  The twitterverse though, seems to be into this confusing, slow as Rihanna performance. Frank Ocean waddles away while whistling. And *scene*.

10:08  Elton John's "Your Song" is performed by Juanes to introduce Frank Ocean to perform. 

9:57 Now that we've remembered all of the musicians and Sandy Hook, we move into Elton John. He is wearing blue glasses and no one is surprised. T. Bone Burnet, Mavis Staples, the entire band of Mumford and Sons, and Brittany Howard. 

9:53 There is now a slideshow of artists who have died in the past year, and whose muscial tastes vary across every type of music imaginable. What is Justin doing? That's what we really want to know. But really all of these people were very talented, and we are sad. 

9:48 After a break, we return with a classical song tribute, and then Ryan Seacrest. But all of this is really just to bring on Justin Timberlake again. Everyone is happy, except for Jack White who seems distracted. Timberlake tries to claim the 2013 Grammys are the "Best Grammys Ever." No one cheers.

9:41: THE OSCAR FOR Record of the Year goes to "Somebody that I Used to Know" by Gotye featuring Kimbra. Taylor Swift, who just lost, gives them a standing ovation. Gotye thanks Prince for inspiring him to make music "growing up." 

9:40 Prince, who those of us under 40 did not know was still around, arrives on the scene to announce Record of the Year

9:35: To no one's surprise, Hayes was only here to introduce now six time Grammy winner Carrie Underwood who looks like a silver prom queen. Her eyelashes touch her eyebrows, but boy does she have some vocal range. Her dress begins to project shiny florescent blue swirls, and the future has finally arrived. The swirls turn to sparkles and Underwood belts her dress into roses, pieces of gold, and what appear to be jellyfish. No one knows what she is singing because her dress is a butterfly.

9:33 Hunter Hayes, who looks like he tried to get his hair cut like Bieber and failed, joins us for a piano solo complete with early 2000 grunge band black eyeliner.  

9:26 Katy Perry looks like a teenage dream with her middle part. After making a cut at Bon Iver, Perry presents the award for Best New Artist to Fun. probably so we can all look at Lena Dunham again. Who knew that dancy pop songs could dominate so many categories! Power couple of the year goes to Dunham and her bf for winning Best Actress at the Golden Globes and Best New Artist respectively. 

9:20 The Lumineers yelling was more than worth it to get to JACK WHITE. White looks like he's been in the sun a little bit since his ACL Live appearance in October. He plays "Love Interruption." His duet partner tries to steal the show with her beauty and maple syrup voice. There are no dancers on this stage, only professional musicians. White transfers his skills to the guitar. He sings/headbangs "Freedom at 21." He is everything Rock and Roll can be. 

9:18 The Lumineers join us for a brief set. There is some yelling. I'm not sure what it's for, but I think it might be a hipster call.

9:11 BOB MARLEY. All the Marleys tributes dance and sing. Taylor Swift is shown dancing at least as much as the Marleys on stage. 

9:10 Rihanna is back again!? Ellen is dancing. Rihanna is at least a foot taller than Bruno Mars, but half as interesting. 

9:07 Bruno Mars has what seems like the most high-energy set of the night. He dances. His personality jumps past his dance moves and into the audience, and then all of a sudden STING is there. Adele, Neil Patrick Harris, Taylor Swift, Nicole Kidman are all shown lip synching (or really singing) along.

9:05 A tribute to Bob Marley begins with Bruno Mars

8:57 The award for Best Country Album goes to The Zach Brown Band for "Uncaged"

8:54 Kelly Clarkson comes to the stage still on her winning high and brings the vocal chords that made her an American Idol winner and a favorite belting song of every high school girl since "Miss Independent" was recorded. "You make me feel like a natural woman," Clarkson sings, and we all feel like one when she's on stage with her flowy locks. While she's on stage, she goes ahead with an award. 

8:50 Post commerical break, some b-list television star introduces the Black Keys to the stage. The full brass brand in the background complements the flashy lights in the background very well, but no one in this performance of "Lonely Boy" looks lonely. There seem to be 30 people on stage. 

8:40 Carley Rae Jepsen looks like a middle schooler with her straight across bangs. She and Ne-yo present the award for Best Rap Song Collaboration  to "No Church in the Wild" by Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Frank Ocean. Beyonce is shown hugging Jay-Z. 

8:36 Rihanna appears after being descibed as "one of the bigggest pop stars ever." She sings "Stay," and seems to really be suffering from the dress code as this is the opposite of any of Rihanna's very entertaining (though very risque) dance performances. We will grant her, however, that her voice is *almost* as good as Beyonce's. 

8:27 The award for Best Pop Vocal Album goes to "Stronger" by Kelly Clarkson. Lena Dunham is shown looking very upset, but Clarkson hugs everyone and is the first genuinely happy looking winner. Clarkson makes a very funny joke about stories that should be told "after alcohol." Clarkson gives shout-outs to everyone in the audience and wins my heart forever. 

8:23 "Girl on Fire" and "Daylight" are performed by Alicia Keys and Maroon Five. Alicia Keys makes everyone forget that Maroon Five still exists by appearing in a semi-transparent dress, playing drums, and singing "Girl on Fire" live. She looks almost as good as her voice sounds. We might call this drumsynching. Keys comes close to breaking the "no breast" dress code of this year's Grammys.

8:20 Dave Grohl and some girl from NCIS appear on stage to announce awards that have been on the internet since this morning, thanking the producers, and presenting Best Rock Performance. The Black Keys win for "Lonely Boy." They are both wearing leather jackets and hold their Grammy like a football. They shout out to Akron, Ohio.

8:18 Justin Timberlake appears in two commercials during the break and snags his own hashtag: #JTGrammys

8:11 The first ever Best Urban Contemporary Album goes to Frank Ocean over Chris Brown's "Fortune" and Miguel's "Kaleidoscope Dream." Ocean tries to make a joke to open his acceptance speech and literally no one laughs. 

8:05 Justin Timberlake takes the stage in a bow tie. The video portrayed on CBS turns to a grainy sepia black & white for Timberlake's performance of "Black and White." Timberlake sings live while following choreography. The screen switches back to color for Timberlake to switch to the new "Pusher Girl" premiered last week in New Orleans.  Watching Timberlake work is watching a master: his vocal range is impeccable, his dance moves perfect, and his back up horns enticing.  

8:03 Everyone's two favorite people, Beyonce and Ellen Degeneres, appear together to introduce Justin Timberlake to the public. Ellen gets Beyonce to laugh while she is trying to talk. Beyonce demands that everyone stand for Justin's return to the stage. 

7:53 Johnny Depp appears looking like he came from a 70's birthday party. He introduces Mumford and Sons who are all wearing black. They play "I Will Wait," and dozens of screeches are heard from the audience. The lighting is golden like the sunshine that their native England rarely recieves, and the 2013 Grammys continue to lack any sort of excitement.

7:50 Faith Hill and Tim McGraw present the award for Song of the Year. It is awarded to "We Are Young" by Fun. Lena Dunham, media darling, is sitting right next to the band and appears to be the only one in the whole audience wearing color. 

The band says "I don't know what I was thinking writing the chorus for this song...we are not very young." Taylor Swift is shown applauding above her head. Fun. thanks their families for letting them live at home while they have been young. For the first time, the wrap it up music plays louder and louder. 

7:43 Best Country Solo Performance goes to Carrie Underwood for "Blown Away." Her hair is perfectly waved, and she thanks Country Music, the Lord, and "all of her amazing people" for her award and even manages to add a "golly" to her performance. 

7:40 The Grammys finally find a voice worth listening to in the R&B singer Miguel, but they make a mistake pairing him with rapper Wiz Khalifa andthe act does little more than segway to Carrie Underwood's award.

7:32 John Meyer appears in a blue velet suit. Miranda Lambert and Dirks Bentley play a slow song with a tree in the background. The slow, melodious Grammys comtinue.  

7:30 The band Fun. plays and gets doused in water. It is not that important. They play "Carry On" and continue to be a good-time party band.

7:28 The grammy for Best Solo Performance goes to Adele for "Set Fire to the Rain," a song that most of us have already forgotten about. She managed to best Kelly Clarkson with "Stronger" and the world-wide summer hit "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae-Jepsen

7:22 After a lengthy opening monologue from LL Cool J in which zero fun was had and no good jokes were made, the Grammys continues down its no-offense, no fun path with Ed Sheeran singing "The A Team". The momentum and fun of Taylor's pop dies int his set.  

7:05 Princess of pop and country alike Taylor Swift takes the stage. She sings her catchy "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" in true mad hatter style. Spinning top hat, surrealist swirls, and all. Never has Tay-Swift looked quite so normal. 

7:00 The Black Keys kick off the 2013 Grammys with rousing fast start to the album of the year race. The band has already been awarded the award for rock album for "El Camino" and rock song for "Lonely Boy"

Grammys Liveblog Recap

Adele poses backstage with her six awards at the 54th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012 in Los Angeles. Adele won awards for best pop solo performance for "Someone Like You," song of the year, record of the year, and best short form music video for "Rolling in the Deep," and album of the year and best pop vocal album for "21."
Adele poses backstage with her six awards at the 54th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012 in Los Angeles. Adele won awards for best pop solo performance for "Someone Like You," song of the year, record of the year, and best short form music video for "Rolling in the Deep," and album of the year and best pop vocal album for "21."

The two artists who undeniably garnered the most attention preceding the 54th annual Grammy Awards were triumphantly Adele and tragically Whitney Houston, each of them indelibly gifted with standout voices of their generation. Between the award announcements and performances, the attention seemed to bounce between Adele’s success and Houston’s untimely death. As predicted, Adele swept up six awards including Record of the Year and Album of the Year for her album “21.” With almost every performance came an artist’s impromptu dedication to Houston, ultimately leading to singer Jennifer Hudson’s chilling tribute performance.


7:00 pm

Backed by a full orchestra, Bruce Springsteen kicked off Grammy night with enthusiastic kicks from underneath his electric guitar. In the audience, Paul McCartney clapped along to the Boss and the E Street Band’s latest single, “We Take Care of Our Own.”

Host L.L Cool J followed up with a prayer to honor Whitney Houston, who passed away Feb. 11, a day before the show, at age 48. The audience—from Katy Perry to Faith Hill and Tony Bennett—bowed their heads as L.L. Cool J finished with, “Whitney, we will always love you.”

7:18

Nominated for six Grammy awards this year, Bruno Mars performed “Runaway Baby,” from his album Doo-Wops and Hooligans. Mars synchronized costumes and choreography with his band, looping dapper in a gold blazer as he slid into the splits mid-song, never once missing a beat or his key.

7:22

Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt joined country and R&B forces on shortened yet soulful version “Sunday Kind of Love” in tribute to another lost artist this past year, Etta James.

7:25

As expected, the award for Pop Solo Performance went to Adele for “Someone Like You,” despite competing against pop mega-forces Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Pink. In her acceptance speech, Adele said that the song changed her life. With this win and a classic look of voluminous curls and red lips, Adele proved not all pop hits are the result of sugar-coated dance beats and scantily-clad songstresses.

7:30

Chris Brown made his Grammy comeback with three nominations after a three-year absence following the release of violent images of his assault on then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009. His signature pop-and-lock dance moves dominated his song “Turn Up the Music” against a technicolor stage that times flashes of rainbow colors and skyline images perfectly as each beat dropped. With this performance, Chris Brown reminded the audience of his stage presence as he pleased the crowd with his dance moves despite his likely lip-syncing and court record of violence against women.

7:36

The clementine-clad Fergie and Marc Anthony presented the award for Best Rap Performance. Nominees include Jay-Z and Kanye West for “Otis,” Drake and Nicki Minaj for “Moment 4 Lyfe,” and Chris Brown featuring Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne for “Look at Me Now.” Watch The Throne’s Jay-Z and West won, though they unfortunately were not in attendance to accept the award. Perhaps there was another event substantially cooler and more worthy of the rap stars’ attendance?

8:06

In typical Grammy fashion of pairing performers with clearly different sounds, the unexpected duo of Rihanna and Coldplay performed together. Rihanna slithered on the ground to her hit “We Found Love,” tossing her newly blonde locks as the song’s signature techno dance beat kicked in. As her song ended, the camera cut to Chris Martin of Coldplay on an acoustic guitar playing “Princess of China" when Rihanna joined him after only a few lyrics. After a quick duet, Martin raced to stage where the rest of Coldplay was waiting to perform hit single, “Paradise.” The performance didn’t prove to be an authentic collaboration but rightfully gave two of this year’s biggest acts much-deserved stage time on music’s biggest night.

8:20

The Foo Fighters in all their bearded glory beat out rock cult favorites Radiohead, Coldplay, The Decemberists and Mumford & Sons for Best Rock Performance. The band’s winning single, “Walk,” comes from album, Wasting Light, which was recorded on tape in the garage of lead singer Dave Grohl’s garage. Grohl marks the first winner of the night to be cut off by the show’s outro music as he screamed out, “Rock 'n' Roll.”

8:30

In celebration of The Beach Boys reunion, Maroon 5 performed the California band’s classic, “Surfer Girl.” Foster The People was up next with even more well-known Beach Boys’ staple, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” Finally, The Beach Boys swung slowly along as they sung “Good Vibrations” which ended with a standing ovation by the audience and smiles all round.

8:33

It seems that only a legend is worthy of presenting another legend. Stevie Wonder introduced Paul McCartney, who crooned “My Valentine” in front of a full orchestra which included the sorrowful yet sweet strings of a classical guitar.

8:40

Surprisingly not dressed in her usual sequins, Taylor Swift took the stage in a modest boho dress. With a bango slung around her shoulders, Swift sang a lackluster version of her single “Mean.” She winked and smirked through the “I told you so” lyrics, reminding her audience that despite her poor track record as a live performer, she’s unbearably charming.

8:50

Song of the Year nominations included “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons, “All of the Lights” by Kanye West and Rihanna,“Grenade” by Bruno Mars, “Holocene” by Bon Iver and “Rolling In The Deep” by Adele. Not surprisingly enough, Adele happily skipped up the stage hand-in-hand with the song’s producer Paul Epworth to accept the award.

9:15

However, in a surprising turn of events, country’s girl-next-door Taylor Swift did not crush her country competition for Best Country Album. It was instead Lady Antebellum who won for Best Country Album with Own The Night.

9:18

Adele’s much-anticipated performance lived up to the hype as she crooned a hauntingly beautiful rendition of her song “Rolling In The Deep,” which won Song of the Year earlier in the night. With each second of her performance, from the acapella beginning to the bridge she belted out, Adele continued to outdo herself, clearly showing the world that she’s not the next big thing; she has already arrived.

9:25

Country stars The Band Perry and Blake Shelton honored Glen Campbell. Their performances pleasantly primed the stage for the true star, Glen Campbell, who proudly sang “Rhinestone Cowboy” while the audience clapped and sang along.

9:32

Jazz legend Tony Bennett sang alongside a refreshingly less-country version of Carrie Underwood’s voice that swapped southern twang for fluid jazz harmonies on “It Had To Be You.”

9:35

Bon Iver beat out The Band Perry, Skrillex, J.Cole and even Nicki Minaj who had an undeniably explosive year for new artist. He humbly accepted the award, tipping his theoretical hat to the musicians who have yet to be discovered.

9:50

In honor of the tragic death of Whitney Houston, Jennifer Hudson, who just a couple nights ago was praising Houston’s voice on “Piers Morgan Tonight,” took the stage. Hudson stood under a spotlight while she delivered an impressive (though not quite on par with Houston’s) version of “I Will Always Love You.” Considering the obviously short notice of this performance and Hudson’s chilling rendition, you have to wonder if this is a song she’s dreamed of performing since she was a little girl.

9:56

Deadmau5, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, David Guetta and Foo Fighters attempted to rouse the crowd with what the Grammy’s had been calling a “dance party” preceding the performance. David Guetta’s electronic beats slunk up and down as background music for Chris Brown and Lil Wayne in a haphazard performance that lacked cohesion. Strobe lights and smoke distracted from a performance that the show could’ve done without. As it turns out, a Deadmau5 and Foo Fighters collaboration make for a pretty abysmal performance.

10:10

Looking fresh in a tuxedo, rapper Drake teases us with an introduction of his “good friend” Nicki Minaj, instead of a performance of his own. It’s quite obvious through Minaj’s typical clothing style, that she strives to be different than your average pop or hip hop star, so her bizarre acting and rapping hybrid performance doesn’t come as much of a surprise. After rap lyrics littered with the word “bitch,” she sampled the Christmas carol, “O Come, All Ye Faithful” resulting in an odd performance that left the audience cheering but completely confused nonetheless.

10:20

The Band Perry presented the Record of the Year to Adele, sharing the same attitude as the rest of the audience with a simple, understated, “No surprise, 'Rolling in the Deep!'” At this point, does it even really matter who else was nominated?

10:25

Adele pulls off a six-for-six clean sweep with tears in her eyes as she accepts the final award of the night, Album of the Year. Despite a runny nose and a little voice cracking, she maintains a level of class and grace that other pop stars can only dream of having. “It has been the most life-changing year,” she sobs. And that is perhaps the understatement of the night.

When “California Gurls,” Katy Perry’s sugary, rollicking piece of pop, was unleashed in the summer of 2010 — out of car stereos, on TV commercials, at bars, barbecues and in the innuendo-leaden music video — it was like being steamrolled. The song, whether liked, loved or bemoaned, commands surrender — throw your hands up in defeat, give in to the fantasy; the lyrics “sun-kissed skin so hot we’ll melt your popsicle” have been woven into the pop cultural lexicon.

Perry’s song is one in a series of what the music industry and press calls Songs of Summer; the top 40 summer season hit that become so large, so beyond the scope of a four minute song that they permanently become part of the cultural consciousness. They are not forgotten. They define years, moments and artists’ careers. They are so well-known and have melodies and lyrics so easily regurgitated, that to not know them is alienating. Millenials know them: The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” (2009), Rihanna’s “Umbrella” (2007), Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” (2002).

But how does a summer song embed itself so permanently into our brains? Because you commit them to memory, says David Allan, an assistant professor of marketing at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia who has worked in the radio industry for more than 20 years, including at Clear Channel Communications. Summer songs are often experienced in the background to some of our most memorable moments — the soundtrack to summer fun. These episodic or autobiographical memories, Allan says, are why Songs of Summer stick with you 20 years later.

THE RULES

So what has 2012 wrought? With Memorial Day just behind us, there are a handful of contenders, frontrunners and outliers. To narrow down our own search, we’ve adapted some industry standard rules:

• No ballads 
• Top 40 radio fare are what will be primarily considered — they have the marketing and airplay muscle to become serious earworms. But we’ve indulged other tastes. 
• Songs that have reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 before Memorial Day are ineligible (sorry, Gotye).

Going forward, we will give weekly Song of Summer 2012 updates, looking closely at songs’ ubiquity (that “booming-out-the-car-stereo” quality), sales and Billboard chart positions and general buzz. 

THE FRONT RUNNERS

Carly Rae Jepsen, “Call Me Maybe”

Bieber and tween-teen-approved, this seemingly innocuous breeze is really more like a Canadian storm system — no use hiding, it’s everywhere.  

Usher, “Scream”

We like “Climax” better, but based on how aggressively successful this single has been, it’s foolish to discount “Scream”’s au courant club rush. 

Rihanna, “Where Have You Been”

There’s an exotic, pulsating undercurrent to Rihanna’s latest. It’s not a classic like “Umbrella,” but it’ll take hold just as well. 

Justin Bieber, “Boyfriend”

He raps! Or something. Bieber’s attempt at Justin Timberlake-ification is intriguing, possibly misguided, but formidable.

CONTENDERS 

Katy Perry, “Wide Awake”

Having dominated the Song of Summer market for the past few years, Perry is an immediate contender, regardless of the (slower) song. 

Rita Ora, “How We Do (Party)”

An homage to Notrious B.I.G.’s “Party and Bullshit,” this song is a four minute hook: Jay-Z’s latest protege is our pick for the Song of Summer’s dark horse. 

One Direction, “What Makes You Beautiful”

Even amidst other teen stars like Jepsen and Bieber, these Brits and their breakout single have staying power. Its guilty pleasure factor is ridiculous. 

Maroon 5, “Payphone”

This is the kind of shimmery, widescreen pop that was this group’s claim to fame. It’s smooth.

OUTLIERS AND INDIE JAMS

Tanlines, “All of Me”

Those droning vocals and rhythmic syncopation wash over you in a beach party montage kind of way. An alternate summer jam. 

Icona Pop, “I Love It”

If only these Swedes were more famous! This is the kind of anthemic, blow-your-roof-off blitz that would do well on Top 40 radio. You will still hear this at parties. 

Santigold, “The Keepers”

Compared to other songs on this list, Santigold’s latest single is mellower and much simpler. “Keepers” is a nice foil to summer songs’ heavy production. 

Love, Interrupted

Photo Credit: Raquel Breternitz | Daily Texan Staff

For many students, living situations in college offer a respite from living under the reins of parental supervision and are a better place for alone time with your boyfriend or girlfriend than the backseat of your ’97 Honda Civic that’s parked in the park past city curfew. Despite living in a space you can finally call your own, there are parts of you that magically disappear when your partner stays the night.

From nightly acne spot treatment application to a morning alarm that sounds off Rihanna’s “Talk That Talk,” there are some single-life rituals that should remain secret. “Sex and the City’s” Carrie Bradshaw described these often embarrassing and shameful habits best as our “secret single behaviors.” When it comes to staying the night at our partner’s place for the first time, there are parts of us that we prefer to leave behind.

Senior sociology major Georgina Guerrero can’t help but fret over one of her favorite beauty products. As it turns out the price of beauty could also cost her some embarrassment later on.

“Sometimes, I wear false eyelashes on a night when I go out, and I have the worst fear of waking up and finding one laying on the pillow or something,” Guerrero said. “I can already imagine the reaction my boyfriend would give me if he saw that; he’ll probably pick it up and just be like, ‘What the?’”

As journalism senior Kelli Fuqua looks back at the beginnings of her relationship, she can’t help but shake her head at some of the secret single behaviors that she used to avoid at all costs.

“I am a nighttime mouth breather, drooler and sleep talker. It’s not pretty, so at the beginning I made a conscious effort to keep myself awake longer so he didn’t have to witness ‘Sleeping Beastly,’” Fuqua said. “But now, I pass out anywhere and everywhere, slobber be damned.”

Whether it’s the beauty faux pas of wearing your makeup to bed instead of slipping into the sheets makeup-free or forgoing numerous rounds of nightly FIFA on your Xbox, you micro-manage each behavior by judging the risk of appearing unattractive to the person you’re attracted to. While staying the night should be an exciting step in a relationship, the mixture of nerves and hormones places an undeniable pressure to be in “date mode” throughout the night even while you sleep.

As fairly young daters, we often forget that people can still be attracted to us despite our relatively embarrassing antics. Some habits are so gross­ (like a penchant for blackhead popping), they are better to not discuss; however, most other habits like polar bear pajamas and eating in the shower should simply be laughed off. If you’re willing to progress a relationship by letting your partner spend the night, then you should also be willing to show that person, over time, who you really are.

The more time you spend with your partner, you will realize that not all secret single behavior stays secret. When one of your cringe-worthy quirks slips out while spending the night at your boyfriend or girlfriend’s place, don’t pretend like it didn’t happen. Instead, just roll your eyes and laugh it off, because it’s only a matter of time before one of their embarrassing habits slips out too.

The benefits of not taking these potentially shameful habits too seriously range anywhere from sharing overnight pimple cream before bedtime to feeling connected to the person you’re dating in a way that verbal communication can’t achieve. Revealing your secret single behavior doesn’t kill romance, it strengthens it, as you learn to genuinely appreciate your boyfriend or girlfriend for themselves — seemingly unattractive quirks and all.

Printed on Friday, March 23, 2012 as: Staying overnight may deepen relationships despite odd habits

Rihanna is horny and gets right into the action on her sixth album in as many years, Talk That Talk.

Apparently, “S&M” and “Rude Boy” were mere foreplay.

Following in the footsteps of the sexualized pop albums of Madonna’s Erotica and Janet Jackson’s The Velvet Rope, Talk That Talk is just plain down and dirty. On “Cockiness (Love It),” Rihanna, in her most dominating tone, chants “I love it when you eat it” before demanding, “Suck my cockiness and lick my persuasion.” Under a Bangladesh-produced beat that pilfers South-Asian rhythm, the song scintillates. She shows a tad bit more restraint on “Birthday Cake,” which features every possible dessert innuendo stuffed into 90 seconds. And for those who may need a little bit more help, Rihanna offers a how-to on “Watch n’ Learn” telling that “just because I can’t kiss back doesn’t mean you can’t kiss that.”

However, unlike those aforementioned albums, which sought hypersexual lyrics as a path to self-discovery, Talk that Talk has no other end but sex. Like the video for first single, “We Found Love,” the album is all smoke screens, aiming for meaning through the superficiality of calculated, shocking imagery. It gets to the general problem with Rihanna: Despite a long list of No. 1 hits that rival Madonna and Mariah Carey’s records, she continues to be a cipher, a perfect conduit for trends from Caribbean girl-next-door to edgy good girl to now clubbing sex kitten without any lasting impression.

Her aims at warmth and feeling on tracks like, “We All Want Love” and “Farewell” fail because of Rihanna’s lack of vocal charisma, let alone talent. Of course, Rihanna can still bring the big-priced producers who can be counted on to crank out hits. “We Found Love” and “Where Have You Been” sparkle with their sweet, simple lyrics and relentless Ibiza-inspired beats. And at moments, Rihanna brings energy when allowed to exhibit a freewheeling, laid back attitude, such as on second single “You Da One.”

But for a singer who has been in the business this long and who has actually released an album of surprising maturity in Rated R, Rihanna should know better than to produce an album so indistinct and even at 37 minutes, with so much filler. For all her posturing on album covers and fashion magazines as an edgy trendsetter, Rihanna continues to produce music that talks the talk without walking the walk.  

Printed on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 as: Sixth album fails to impress, excite

Review

Singer Chris Martin of the music group Coldplay performs on the “Today” show on Friday in New York. (Photo courtesy of NBC)

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

When Coldplay released its debut album, Parachutes, with its layers of beautiful, melancholic arrangements contrasting with the light-hearted lyrics of frontman Chris Martin, the band impressed audiences worldwide and started a movement that still resonates today. Alongside Radiohead, Coldplay has solidified itself atop the Britpop pedestal, each release a progressive climb towards pop icon status.

Mylo Xyloto continues in the Coldplay tradition — multiple crescendos, intricate arrangements and reflective social commentary — but with a more electronic, new wave direction.

Similar to its predecessor Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends, Mylo Xyloto shows the group branching out into different realms of music: “Hurts Like Heaven” is reminiscent of The Cure with its soaring, moody vocals and synthy passages. “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” and its arena rock guitars are complemented by a thumping bass drum. The subtle harmonies are enthralling, veiled by lightly strummed acoustic guitar that adds to the song’s powerful sound.

“Princess of China” and its fuzzy synths, electronic hand claps and vocal contribution from Rihanna, showcases the band’s admiration for hip-hop. Martin comes off as confident in territory that is familiar to the hip-hop diva, resulting in a strangely intriguing union between the two.

The album bridges the gap between Coldplay’s poppy, piano-driven past and its electronic future: There is an almost flawless balancing of the two worlds, indicating the band’s desire to intermingle sounds and ideas that might have been difficult earlier in their career. The band easily experiments, taking elements from its past that propelled it into the mainstream, while successfully adding a component of unfamiliarity.

Though, it can be displeasing at times. “Up In Flames” leans too far into the electronic realm, and unlike most songs on the album, there is no captivating build. “Us Against the World” can also be redundant: it would have been perfect on Viva La Vida, but its significance on Mylo Xyloto is out of place. This is where Coldplay experiences trouble — rather than sticking to its guns, it either leans too far to the left or right. The struggle between the complacency of its old, definitive sound and fascination with its newfound sound is apparent in these songs, taking away from the album’s overall fluidity.

Mylo Xyloto indicates a turning point for Coldplay. Yes, the piano and acoustic guitar still remain a part of the band’s music, but it is the exploration of new territory and how it will manipulate it that will prove why Coldplay is a noteworthy band.

Printed on Tuesday, October 25, 2011 as: Britpop mainstays go electronic