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Category Archives: New Utopia

The cult of creativity the new Utopia – Jamaica Observer

Posted: December 13, 2019 at 2:53 pm

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Waldane Walker's profanity-laced ending to his valedictory speech at the recent 2019 graduation exercises at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA) was not merely a farrago of ignorance and downright display of what the late celebrated Caribbean renaissance giant and cultural icon Rex Nettleford immortalised as bhuttooism; rather, it camouflaged a far more painful, heartbreaking, and distressing truth: For some time now, successive governments and their ministers responsible for crafting education policy, have failed to address the fundamental weakness that has undermined our entire education system, and even the kind of thinking that lies at the heart of the current decay.

The burning question, at least to me, is whether those students occupying places at our secondary and tertiary institutions can actually think. The concerning fact is that, while increasing numbers of tertiary students are graduating with certificates and degrees, a great many university and college educators among us are privately astonished that so very few of their students know anything, can write a literate paragraph, or can actually think for themselves.

I have come away from the lecture hall believing that this is because more and more of our students are being drilled to pass formula exams that are no longer a reliable guide to whether they have the vital quality and ability to think laterally and originally.

Fostering creativity

This, I suspect and I put it down to no more than a suspicion is because, in the main, our exam system is now perched at the pinnacle of an establishment which has been taken over by ideas that are profoundly anti-teaching and anti-education; a kind of post-modernism that has brought large sections of education in this country to its bending knees.

The rage in mainstream education today is all about fostering creativity among students. The alleged lack of creativity in schools, colleges, and universities was what lay behind the ideology of progressive education. The theory, as I understand it, is that children's innate creativity is harmed or stifled by being taught in any structured way by adults. Teachers, therefore, had to become facilitators, taking a back seat while children discover knowledge for themselves. The result is a catastrophe in our education system.

Much of this thinking shadowed the ideas put forward by the American academic Richard Sennett in his tome The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism (1998), in which he argues that the single-minded drive for money and success is all that appears to motivate the middle class and, consequently, their children and soon all children would grow up believing that is all life is about.

The knowledge economy?

The upshot of this was that creativity as we had come to know it, defined as identifying problems and solving them, had to be set free from elitist things such as exam standards. Schools, goes the argument, controlled knowledge from above, which implied that teachers had the audacity to actually teach. This, we were told, was out of joint with the new knowledge economy.

I don't quite know what Charles Leadbeater, the British author who popularised the idea of the knowledge economy in his book Living on Thin Air: The New Economy (1999), would quite make of this. But the idea appears to mean, contemporaneously at least, that society now revolves exclusively around communications and computers, that people must become mobile entrepreneurs, and that they must take responsibility for their own educational development and work opportunities. Fine.

But I ask: When was knowledge ever not an integral part of the economy? The notion that changes of this magnitude are new shows a disturbing contempt for history. The seismic shift of the industrial revolution and the birth of the modern age knock the Internet into what the Americans call a cocked hat. For people have always adapted, precisely because knowledge was controlled from above and taught to succeeding generations. The assault on the very nature of education we are witnessing in this country today breeds deep-seated fear for our future.

I say this because computers or videos are seen as the key to the new creativity because they can respond to children's and young adults' multiple intelligences. This is to say, interactive electronic education packages now means the average Jamaican child can conjure up pictures or graphics to explain things. This denigrates linguistic or mathematical intelligence as no more important than the visual or spatial ability, which lets a young learner or a child click on a mouse and be entertained by the resulting images. And yet, without mastery of language and number, a child or young adult isn't going to get very far in the global space on computers or anything else.

What is even more telling, as we have experienced, is that these young learners are put in charge of their own learning process. The startling suggestion is that computers will liberate them from teaching. Teachers are only now needed part-time, some claim, and have to reinvent themselves as facilitators to be able to enable students to access the technology.

What utter nonsense! Teachers cannot be replaced by computers, no matter what the rabid, capitalist, disruptive innovators among us espouse. Far from being more democratic, as I have heard it said, this abdication of adult responsibility would further disenfranchise our children who would be further lost without proper guidance. Moreover, as I have argued elsewhere, it is only by being taught hard facts that children and young adult learners learn those critical lessons about objectivity, evidence, and argument, which help identify problems and solve them. In this regard, Waldane Walker's disbelievingly disrespectful and misguided profanity at the end of his valedictory speech lifts the veil of the cult of creativity eating away at our native soul and exposing what is happening in our classrooms throughout the country at all levels of the education system. This cult has produced a classroom orthodoxy that has replaced challenges by feelings, and independent thought by propaganda.

If you doubt me, then I invite you to observe that in some quarters knowledge is now said to be obsolescent. Thanks to Walker and his supporters at the EMCVPA, among students and faculty alike, we now know that skills are increasingly being taught in a knowledge vacuum and then dressed up as pretend knowledge to be tested in formula exams and public spaces like graduations.

Of course, the world is changing, and rapidly so. But unless we all have basic knowledge, we can neither build upon it nor adapt to new challenges.

The chilling assault on education at varying levels over recent weeks was conducted in the face of a Government which, by its utterances, seeks to be tough on restoring traditional education standards. This is a sensible, if not urgent objective, and should be encouraged and supported by all well-thinking Jamaicans. For the EMCVPA's 2019 valedictory speech incident and the nationwide furore it evoked is only the latest piece of evidence to surface proving the existence of a pernicious ideology being promoted which strikes at the heart of education itself in this country.

The Walden Walker-EMCVPA incident, furthermore, is best viewed as the latest example of the way traditional education is being bullied relentlessly under the guise of promoting creativity by misguided class warriors intent on fanning the flames of social resentment against traditional education in favour of homogenised mediocrity to cover their own intellectual and political bankruptcy.

The late Beverly Lopez

As a practising Roman Catholic and woman of deep faith, the late Beverly Lopez would have understood that death is something that happens in life, rather than to life. She died, I am reliably informed, kneeling beside her bed in a praying position. While among us, she exhibited at all times kindness of spirit, a calm but willing disposition to solving problems, and an assured confidence in the future of the country in which she had her being, and which nurtured her successful business acumen. I, like the entire Stella Maris Church community, mourn her sudden passing and shall forever remember her for her faithfulness and long-standing commitment to helping the poor and dispossessed. I am certain that on the day she died Christ received her as a friend.

Everton Pryce is a former educator and government advisor. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or lxpryc@yahoo.com.

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The cult of creativity the new Utopia - Jamaica Observer

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Is Switzerland a utopia of wealth distribution? – swissinfo.ch

Posted: at 2:53 pm

Wollerau, in canton Schwyz, which is often seen as a tax paradise.

While discussions about the increasing rift between the rich and the poor are ongoing in many countries, an opinion piece in the New York Times has hailed Switzerland for its high levels of wealth distribution. Switzerland is a less socialist but more successful utopia than Scandinavia, it wrote. Is there any truth in this?

Series: Social inequality in Switzerland

In recent years, social inequality has been a popular topic in research, media, politics and even everyday conversation.

It is also a hot issue in Switzerland. One notable sign of this has been the Young Socialist partys 99% Initiative, which demands that capital income like interest or dividend payments be taxed at a higher rate than earned income. The initiative aims to achieve justice and trim the privileges of the superrich once and for all, the youth group says.

However, in an opinion piece headlined The Happy, Healthy Capitalists of Switzerlandexternal link, published in the New York Times in November, author and investor Ruchir Sharma reckons that Switzerland is the paradise of equality. Forget Scandinavia, he writes. Switzerland is richer and yet has a surprisingly equal wealth distribution.

Could the dispute about social inequality be an imported debate from countries such as France or the US? Is Switzerland really the paradise of equality?

Depending who you ask, opinions are very different:

Switzerland is doing pretty well, says Reto Fllmi, Professor of International Economics at St Gallen University. Statements like the middle class is falling behind is a debate imported from the US.

Conditions are stable in Switzerland, says Marco Salvi of Avenir Suisse, a liberal think tank. Taking pension assets into account, wealth distribution is more or less equal.

In Switzerland, the distribution of wealth is the least equal in the world, says Professor Robert Fluder from the University of Bern. And when it comes to income inequality, it ranks in the middle.

These contradictory statements indicate how political and controversial this question is. And so, for the first part of an in-depth series (see box) looking at the issue, we have gathered together a few facts and figures about Switzerland.

The Distribution of Wealth and Income in Switzerlandexternal link, a research paper by Reto Fllmi and Isabel Martinez, finds that inequality between rich and poor is not overly pronounced in Switzerland and that the income gap has not widened a great deal over the past 100 years. However, there is one exception: Income and wealth of the superrich have recently increased, says Fllmi.

In a studyexternal link published earlier this year, meanwhile, Avenir Suisse concludes that Switzerland exhibits a remarkably stable and equal income distribution.

An evaluation by the Swiss Federal Tax Administration shows, however, that the distribution of wealth became increasingly unequal in Switzerland between 2003 and 2015. During this period, the richest 1% of the population saw its wealth increase by almost 43 percent. The weakest three-quarters saw assets increase by 18.6 percent. (Occupational pension assets are not included in this calculation.)

Die Reichsten 10% haben am meisten Vermgen

Fluder, from the University of Bern, says that the results of these studies are contradictory.

It depends to a large degree on which data and definitions you look at, he says. For this reason, he and a colleague have launched a research projectexternal link to establish a new database and create a poverty monitoring tool.

Fluder does say that there is a tendency towards increasing inequality in Switzerland, though it is not as significant as in Germany or the US. Health insurance premiums and rents are on the rise, while wages are only increasing moderately. This is why times are getting tough for the Swiss lower middle-class, he says.

The tax system and the welfare state greatly influence the redistribution of wealth and therefore social equality. Compared to other European countries, wealth redistribution in liberal Switzerland is relatively low, tax rates are moderate, and neither health insurers nor pension funds redistribute from rich to poor.

Other Swiss peculiarities also contribute to social inequality:

During both World Wars, rich people living in one of the warring countries lost a considerable part of their assets, which paradoxically led to greater equality, even though it did not necessarily mean the poor were better off. This was not the case in Switzerland, where the war actually widened the gap between rich and poor.

With a home ownership rate of almost 40 percent, Switzerland has the lowest rate in the whole of Europe. And with continuously rising property prices, homeowners are becoming increasingly rich. The majority of people in Switzerland dont benefit from this.

With its low taxation rates, Switzerland intentionally attracts rich foreigners. These celebrities and superrich make a difference in the balance sheets.

Inheritance tax rates have been reduced in Switzerland and are lower than in most other countries, which preserves wealth.

Capital gains are not taxed in Switzerland. Any private person who sells shares and makes a profit does not have to pay tax on their profit, and its usually the rich who hold the shares.

Looking at it more closely, there is actually only one tax that serves equality. Switzerland is one of the few countries with a significant wealth tax, Fllmi says.

After reading this, you may wonder how it can possibly be that Switzerland fares so well when it comes to social equality. Whats the secret?

In its study, Avenir Suisse identified the following elements that could inspire other countries in their quest to fight inequality: a highly flexible labour market; a dual education system; a (semi) direct democracy and decentralised taxation.

According to Fluder, there is another secret: In Switzerland, low wages have not dropped as sharply as in other countries. This is partially due to the minimum wage policies of the trade unions.

Salvi believes that Switzerlands strong labour market is the reason why inequality is less pronounced here than in other countries: Our high employment rate is certainly a decisive factor for this, he says. Moreover, Switzerlands income level is pretty high by international standards, even when adjusted for living costs. Those who earn little in our country are still considered well-off internationally, says Salvi.

Fllmi agrees: In Switzerland, over 90 percent of 25-year-olds have completed some sort of education either by finishing their vocational training or graduating from college or university. Internationally, this is a record-high level.

Those having completed their vocational training earn between CHF4,500 and 5,500 in Switzerland, depending on the sector they work in. These are solid wages, Fllmi says. If a country has many people without vocational training who earn a low income, the wage distribution will be completely different.

The bottom line is this: even if Switzerland is not the paradise of equality as stated in the New York Times, it could certainly be worse compared with other countries.

Translated from German by Billi Bierling, swissinfo.ch

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COMMUNITY VOICES: Selling the progressive utopia – The Bakersfield Californian

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Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. CS Lewis

William Jennings Bryan was the genesis of the progressive movement in America. This movement transformed the federal government into a cancer for massively expanding the state and making it responsible for redistributing wealth, breaking up businesses, assault on private property and providing all forms of aid to the poor. He was the leading spokesman of progressivism, an ideology that would go on to redefine the Democratic Party for generations and ultimately destroy the experiment in limited government.

This movement was not new but proposed by Georg Hegel, a professor at a German university at the turn of the 19th century, the very place the founders had fled due to the authoritarian ruled nations of Europe. What was needed was a government that could direct human nature for the greater good. Karl Marx, who was a generation younger, was intent on proving that mankind could establish a progressive utopia here on earth.

Teddy Roosevelts quest for real democracy and for centralizing power was a clear break with the founders. In his New Nationalism speech, he proposed how the federal government could regulate the economy, resulting in busting up large companies and transforming the presidency from its 19th century practice of quietly governing to making it the center of all power in the nations capital. This was a Republican essentially saying that private wealth is only allowable to the extent that it benefits the greater good.

Woodrow Wilsons presidency was the beginning of the end for the radical experiment in individual liberty that the founders had fought for. Wilson spent most of his life in academia until in his 50s when he got his first real job as governor of New Jersey and two years later became president of the United States. Woodrow Wilson believed that the state trumped individual rights and was the genesis of the administrative state run by unaccountable experts. Men as communities are supreme over men as individuals. Limits of wisdom and convenience to the public control there may be: limits of principle there are, upon strict analysis, none.

Franklin D. Roosevelts new liberalism clearly betrayed the classical liberal thought of John Locke and Adam Smith, not to mention the men who signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It was a noble lie, a label cynically reappropriated to obscure the total break from an older meaning and tradition that progressive ideology represented. Progressives see the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution as outdated and no longer relevant in the way our government works today. This was everything that classical liberals had come to reject about the divine right of monarchs and the tendency of the state to trample individual liberty.

FDR proposed a Second Bill of Rights in his State of the Union address. He argued, True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. Government had to secure Americans fundamental right to a job; a decent living; a fine home; sufficient health care; financial support in old age, poor health or unemployment; and a solid education all to prevent tyranny.

Lyndon B. Johnsons presidency is primarily remembered for the Vietnam War and the Great Society. The war was a failure, and the Great Society pushed America further toward progressivism. The Great Society approach started with Johnsons disastrous War on Poverty. In reality, this wasnt a war on poverty at all; it was a war against prosperity and with a cost to date of $15 trillion and nothing to show for it. The Great Society, LBJs ultimate promise of hope and happiness, could be saved by government. Like Wilson and Roosevelt before him, Johnson would sacrifice the rights and personal liberties of individuals for government solutions to any conceived issue. The Great Society was utopian, statist and reckless and the most destructive program of the 20th century.

Progressives insist upon flexibility in political forms unbound by fixed and universal principles and have viewed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as obstacles to overcome in pushing their agenda. They are advocates of social justice and might even think they have better solutions than the founders. The common characteristic of the above presidents is grandiose narcissism, as published by the Association for Psychological Science, with Johnson ranked at the top spot, followed by Theodore Roosevelt (No. 2), FDR (No. 4) and Wilson (No. 10). It may account for why they lacked wisdom, virtue and ethics.

We appear to be in a similar state that existed in 1773 and 1857 but unaware that we are already in another civil war. As President Lincoln said in a speech, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

Jim Hansen is a retired mechanical engineer.

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7 New York City Seasonal Pop Ups To Get You In The Holiday Spirit – Forbes

Posted: at 2:53 pm

Donner & Blitzen's Reindeer Lounge at Bell Book & Candle. Courtesy of James Higgins.

Get into the holiday spirit at any of these seven New York City establishments with seasonal offerings. Sip on holiday cocktails, such as Peppermint Creams or Ginger Toddys, or indulge in Giant Nutella Stuffed Cookie with Bourbon Milk Punch or other festive treats. Whether you want to have cocktails with Santa, shop for Christmas trees or channel your inner Scrooge, these bars offer a variety of offerings to set the holiday spirit this winter.

Donner & Blitzen's Reindeer Lounge

Donner & Blitzen's Reindeer Lounge at Bell Book & Candle. Courtesy of James Higgins.

Taking over Bell Book & Candle this season will be Donner & Blitzen's Reindeer Lounge. This year will mark the first time the pop-up has come to the West Village restaurantit was in the East Village in 2017 before taking place in Greenpoint last year. As with the former pop-ups, this year will feature over-the-top holiday dcor, festive cocktails and warm bites. Options include Coal For Christmas (mint infused vodka, lemon, coconut and charcoal), Naughty List (vodka, espresso, chai and cream), Lobster Tacos and Raclette Grilled Cheese.

141 West 10th St.

New York, NY 10014

Haven Ski Chalet

Haven Ski Chalet. Courtesy of Haven Ski Chalet.

Haven Rooftop above The Sanctuary Hotel will become a winter utopia this holiday season. Dubbed the Haven Ski Chalet, guests will be welcomed with holiday lights and even a faux snow machine. Sip on festive beverages such as Toasted Almond, Peppermint Cream and Ginger Toddy, or be more daring and opt for Shot Skis.

32 West 47th St.

New York, NY 10036

HoHo Holiday Lounge

The Ho Ho Holiday Lounge at The Springs. Courtesy of The Ho Ho Holiday Lounge at The Springs.

The Springs in Greenpoint, Brooklyn has turned into the HoHo Holiday Lounge, complete with holiday cocktails and slushies, seasonal decorations and cozy fireplaces. The bars back patio will even be transformed into a Santa Land with a magical sled for those Instagram-able moments. The lounge will also welcome Gregs Trees Christmas Market, and hell bring his complete line of holiday products, the largest variety of Christmas trees in New York City, including the Fraser Fir, Noble Fir, Nordmann Fir, Balsam Fir and the exquisite new Silver Fir.

224 Franklin St.

Brooklyn, NY 11222,

Midwinter Nights Dream

Giant Nutella Stuffed Cookie with Bourbon Milk Punch ($100) at Midwinter Nights Dream. Courtesy of ... [+] Michael Boyle.

Midtowns PHD Terrance will become a whimsical dreamland with thousands of twinkling light, white and gold floral installations, swings and more. Walk through the tunnel of lights, which will boast over-the-top florals for that picturesque moment. Seasonal menu highlights include the Peppermint Mojito and the Giant Nutella Stuffed Cookie with Bourbon Milk Punch.

10 W 55th St.

New York, NY 10019

Naughty or Nice

Naughty or Nice at The Skinny. Courtesy of Andrew Werner.

If youre feeling more like The Grinch this holiday season, The Skinny in the Lower East Side will be transformed into an anti-holiday pop-up dubbed Naughty or Nice. Decked from floor-to-ceiling in gaudy, over-the-top Christmas decorations, the bar will be home to an angry Santa, burlesque performances by Miss. Velvetina, interactive games, such as the Wheel of Misfortune, and more. Enjoy holiday-inspired food and sip on cocktails while getting a bit naughty this holiday season.

174 Orchard St.

New York, NY 10002

Pink Holiday Playground

West Terrace at Pink Holiday Playground. Courtesy of Eric Cunningham.

Manhattans largest hotel rooftop bar, Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge, will launch their Pink Holiday Playground this season. Enjoy views of Times Square in a magical pink oasis that boasts ceilings covered in hundreds of hot pink twinkle lights, oversized rotating mirror balls and human-size festive bears that are all anchored by the central carousel. Sip on the Snow Globe Cocktail or indulge in Pink Dough Pie this holiday season.

485 7th Ave.

New York, NY 10018

Winter Rose Garden

Winter Rose Garden. Courtesy of Edward Menashy of Michael Kleinberg Photography.

The Lobby Bar at Dream Downtown will become an all-red rose haven with 15,000 roses this holiday season. Complete with red furniture, candles and oversized rose walls, the bar will be set for those picture-perfect moments. The experience will feature new seasonal menu items: cocktails will include the Primrose Cider and Winter Daiquiri, and food items will include seasonal Pizza Bianca (roasted mushroom, whole milk ricotta and extra virgin olive oil).

355 West 16th St.

New York, NY 10011

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Watch John Mulaney Pay Homage to All That Jazz – Playbill.com

Posted: at 2:53 pm

John Mulaney is being very selective about who can appear in his upcoming Netflix special The Sack Lunch Bunch. In the promo above, the Broadway alum puts hopefuls through a rigorous audition process reminiscent of the opening scene of Bob Fosses All That Jazz.

Not content with adults who showed some some serious dance skills and jazz hands, Mulaney picked the kidsunsurprising, given that the special is a childrens musical variety event.

John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch drops on the streaming service December 24, with guest stars Hadestown Tony winner Andr De Shields, Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford and her Sunday in the Park With George co-star Jake Gyllenhaal, American Utopia headliner David Byrne, stage and screen veteran Richard Kind, West Side Story star Shereen Pimentel, and Russian Dolls Natasha Lyonne.

Eli Bolin, who co-wrote the soundtrack to Documentary Now!'s Company parody, Original Cast Album: Co-Op, with Mulaney and Seth Meyers, also penned new songs for the special.

The two-hander, which ended January 22, was filmed for broadcast and will premiere on Netflix June 13.

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Best UK Movies & TV Shows to Watch in 2020 – HYPEBEAST

Posted: at 2:52 pm

2019 has passed us by in the blink of an eye and now we must embark on a new year together. As we start off fresh with new resolutions and goals for 2020, we have many things to look forward to, especially in the world of entertainment.

Though 2019 was a good year for both movies and TV shows, bringing us an array of gems including Quentin Tarantinos Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, directorial debuts such asThe Last Black Man in San Francisco, and HBOs Euphoria and Watchmen series, it feels like a warm-up when we take a look at the list of future hits already in line for next year.

Below is a selection of the best UK movies and TV shows to look forward to in the upcoming 12 months, from Christopher Nolans Tenet and Edgar Wrights Last Night in Soho, to the return of Sex Education and an American revamp of the BBC cult hit Utopia.

The Gentlemen January 24

Following his live-adaptation of Disneys Aladdin, director Guy Ritchie is going back to the gritty crime-comedy genre that kickstarted his career for his upcoming flick, The Gentlemen. McConaughey stars as Mickey Pearson, an American expat in London who is running a very successful weed-selling operation. When word breaks out that Mickey wants to cash out, other rogues in the city then try to usurp his territory.

Along with McConaughey, the film boasts some stellar performances from A-list talents Charlie Hunnam, Jeremy Strong, Colin Farrell, and more. Those who love Ritchies past hits, such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, will be sure to enjoy his forthcoming project.

The Kings Man February 14

Fans of the lauded Kingsman franchise will get a chance to go back to where it all started with The Kings Man. The prequel will shine a light on the origin of the super spies and the events that led up to the creation of the Kingsman organization, all while spotlighting new action-packed sequences.

Ralph Fiennes joins the cast as T.E. Lawrence, Liam Neeson plays Herbert Kitchener, Daniel Bruhl as Gelix Yusupov, Gemma Arterton joins as Mata Hari, and Rhys Ifans plays the infamous Grigori Rasputin. Harris Dickinson also rounds out the cast and Matthew Vaughn returns for directing duties.

Emma February 21

Based on the Jane Austen novel of the same name, EMMA is the upcoming British-comedy about finding your equal and earning your happy ending. Although it is a bit of an odd choice compared to other projects featured on this list, EMMA stars Anya Taylor-Joy who is most known for her roles as Thomasin in the Robert Eggers period horror The Witch, as Casey Cooke in Split and Glass, and as Lily in Thoroughbreds. The satire of social class should be an amusing watch for the new year. The film also stars Johnny Flynn, Bill Nighy and Mia Goth. EMMA releases one week earlier in the UK on February 14.

Saint Maud March 27

British psychological horror film Saint Maud should garner a lot of attention in early 2020, considering it was picked up by indie powerhouse A24 following its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2019. Written and directed by Rose Glass in her directorial debut, Saint Maud also garnered a lot of attention during its screenings at Fantastic Fest and BFI London Film Festival, and marks the emergence of a powerful new voice in British cinema. The film stars Morfydd Clark and Jennifer Ehle.

James Bond: No Time to Die April 3

James Bond fans will have No Time to Die to look forward to next year, which sees Daniel Craig taking on the British superspy mantle one last time. After leaving the service Bond, who has been living it up in Jamaica, is pulled back into the action when Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright ) from the CIA turns up asking for help to find a kidnapped scientist.

The 25th project in the famed Bond film franchise is directed by Cary Fukunaga (True Detective) and stars Academy Award winner Rami Malek as the films chief villain and Captain Marvels Lashana Lynch as Nomi. Ralph Fiennes (Gareth Mallory), Naomie Harris (Miss Moneypenny), Ben Whishaw (Q), and Lea Seydoux (Dr. Madelaine Swann) are among the films returning stars. No Time to Die is scheduled to release on April 3, 2020 in the UK and April 8, 2020 in the US.

Dream Horse May 1

Warner Bros. Pictures

Set to make its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, Dream Horse tells the story of a barmaid who recruits her husband and a group of locals to assist her in training a racehorse in the Welsh countryside. This feel good film stars Toni Collette (Hereditary) and Damian Lewis and is scheduled to be released in the United Kingdom on April 17, 2020 and the US on May 1. Dream Horse could be a real award contender.

Tenet July 17

Legendary Pictures

Details surrounding Christopher Nolans upcoming film Tenet have been scarce thus far. No surprise considering the auteur is known to be a man of secrets. Having only gotten a real glimpse of the film via a teaser trailer that leaked online earlier this year, fans can look forward to signature Nolan moves such as time manipulation, perfectly architected action sequences, and a stellar score; this time composed by Ludwig Gransson.

Tenet will be the eleventh offering from Nolan, who last graced cinephiles with Dunkirk. The film stars John David Washington, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Robert Pattinson, Michael Caine, and more.

Last Night in Soho September 25

@parisatag/Focus Films

Up next for Edgar Wright, the genius behind such hits as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Baby Driver, is psychological horror Last Night in Soho. The film is said to be inspired by other British horror flicks such as Nicolas Roegs Dont Look Now and Roman Polanskis Repulsion, and includes a mysterious time travel element. Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith and Thomasin McKenzie star.

Death on the Nile October 9

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images, Rich Fury/Filmmagic, Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Following his adaptation of Agatha Christies classic Murder on the Orient Express in 2017, director Kenneth Branagh this time turns his sights to the books sequel, Death on the Nile, for 2020. Based on the 1937 novel of the same name, the sequel will see Branagh reprising his role as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, who this time must find a killer while holidaying in Egypt.

The all-star cast this time includes Gal Gadot, Letitia Wright, Armie Hammer, Annette Bening, Rose Leslie, Ali Fazal, Sophie Okonedo, Tom Bateman, Emma Mackey, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, and Russell Brand.

Doctor Who Series 12 January 1

BBCs long-running time travel drama series Doctor Who is set to return for its twelfth series in early 2020. The ten new episodes will see Jodie Whitaker, who became the first female doctor in 2018, returning as the Thirteenth Doctor and the TARDIS traveling through time and space once more. Historical adventures are set to include meeting Frankenstein author Mary Shelley and a trip to Paris in 1943.

Doctor Who Series 12 will air on BBC One in the UK and BBC American in the US.

Sex Education Season 2 January 17

Since making its debut on Netflix in January of this year, the reactions to British comedy-drama Sex Education have been explosive, and not to mention over 40 million households tuned in to the series. The show follows a group of teens as they try to navigate through sex and relationships, both romantic and platonic, as well as their own identities. Sex Educations second season, comprised of eight episodes, airs on Netflix January 17, 2020 and stars Asa Butterfield, Gillian Anderson, Ncuti Gatwa, Emma Mackey, Connor Swindells, and Kedar Williams-Stirling.

Utopia TBD

The American remake of Channel 4 gem Utopia is slated to release sometime in 2020. The dark comedy sees five strangers banning together against the mysterious Network and its sinister plans to curb world population. Filled with heralded cinematography and storytelling, Utopia made shockwaves when it debuted in 2013 for its nightmarish brutality and will now make its way over to Amazon Prime. However, it is yet unknown how closely the plot of the US version will stick to that of its British predecessor. Helming the American revamp is Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn. Utopia will include nine parts and star Sasha Lane, Rainn Wilson, John Cusack, and many others.

Peaky Blinders Season 6 TBD

Only few months have passsed by since Peaky Blinders aired its fifth season on Netflix. However BBCs hit period drama series about a crime family in Birmingham is mostly likely to return in late 2020 for a sixth season on BBC One in the UK and on Netflix internationally.

Cillian Murphy stars as Tommy Shelby, the head of Peaky Blinders and his family clan. Set in 1920s Birmingham during a post-WWII England, the series is an exiting crime drama that may even outdo HBOs Boardwalk Empire. Hollywood A-lister Tom Hardy also stars as Alfie Solomons.

Small Axe TBD

Bbc One

Small Axe is an upcoming anthology drama from 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen. The mini-series will tell five separate stories, all set within Londons West Indian community during the late 1960s to the early 80s, and stars John Boyega (Star Wars), Letitia Wright (Avengers: Infinity War), Shaun Parkes (Lost In Space), Rochenda Sandall (Line of Duty), and Alex Jennings (Victoria).

Taboo Season 2 TBD

Created by Academy Award-nominated actor Tom Hardy and Peaky Blinders writer Steven Knight, the second season of Taboo is slated to release towards the end of 2020, over three years since making its debut in January 2017.

Set in 1814, the first season followed James Keziah Delaney (Hardy), a man thought to be long dead, who returns home to London from Africa on a mission to inherit his late fathers shipping empire and rebuild a life for himself. Eight new episodes of the dark period drama will see our anti-hero continue to explore many realities as he takes his band of misfits to a new world. Taboo season 2 will air on BBC One in the UK and FX in the USA.

Killing Eve Season 3 TBD

It has yet to be confirmed when exactly the third season of British spy thriller Killing Eve will return to the small screen. However filming has already commenced which means a 2020 release date could be possible.

The series, based on the Villanelle novel series by Luke Jennings, follows Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), a British intelligence investigator tasked with capturing psychopathic assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer); as the chase progresses, the two develop a mutual obsession. Season two ended on a heavy cliffhanger, so fans will be eager to see how the third season kicks off.

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New Illy Espresso Collection Showcases Work of Biennale Arte Artists – HFN

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NEW YORKIllycaff has launched the newest illy Art Collection, a special edition line of espresso and cappuccino cups designed by four artists participating in the 2019 Biennale Arte exhibition in Italy.

Each cup is unique, inspired by each artists personal interpretation of the expression interesting times that animated the 2019 Exhibition. The exhibition opened in May and closed late last month.

The My Sketch Book design by Cameron Jamie resembles a handwritten journal page; AD Minolitis saucer features a modernist utopia painting complemented by an espresso cup that plays with shapes and colors inspired by the work of the Memphis group. The Slavs and Tatars collective presented The Dark One, a phonetic tribute to the geographical origins of coffee. The fourth design, by Ulrike Mller, presents digital and hand-drawn graphic elements.

Illycaff has collaborated with the Biennale Arte for the last 10 editions.

The Biennale collection is available on illy.com, and at retail and hospitality outlets. The set of four espresso cups retails for $12 and four cappuccino cups for $140.

Editor-in-Chief Allison Zisko first joined HFN in 1998 and spent many years covering the tabletop category before widening her scope to all home furnishings. In her current role, she oversees all aspects of HFN, including its print and digital products, and represents the brand at home and abroad through presentations, panel discussions and HFNs podcast, The Inside Scoop.

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Focal Hi-Fi Headphones: Exploring the brands high-end lineup [Video] – 9to5Toys

Posted: at 2:52 pm

Starting with loudspeakers, professional reference audio, and even car audio, Focal has built a reputation on hi-fidelity audio. One line of hi-fidelity headphones has been making huge waves since 2012. We were sent samples of their entire hi-fi line, which isnt all they offer for headphones and are excited to share some thoughts on the collection with you. Be sure to check out the video below for more details.

Weve covered a few things Focal this year ranging from the Sphear Wireless to their Sib Evo 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos system to the 40th-anniversary event they held in July at their headquarters in France. Be sure to check those out for a deeper look into all things Focal.

While headphones from Focal start at $97 for the Sphear Wireless, and include other great on-ear headphones like the Listen Wireless, the line of H-Fi headphones start at $900 for the Elegia and goes up to a whopping $4,000 for the Utopia.

This line is developed and manufactured at its facilities in France. When I was there earlier this year for their 40th-anniversary event I was able to see some of these headphones being made and drivers being assembled but wasnt able to take any pictures at the time.

While I enjoy good sounding audio and may be a budding audiophile, my expertise in hi-fidelity headphones isnt very extensive yet. But Focal offered the chance to check out this entire line-up and I thought it would be a great time to share some thoughts with you all.

One thing youll notice about the line is that at their core they all share a similar design. A large, padded headband provides a sturdy support for large earcups that fit securely on your head. One thing that amazed me is that these are big headphones and theyre relatively heavy. But, because of the large soft headband, they never felt uncomfortable on my head even when I wore them for hours on end editing videos.

At the start of the line is the Elegia which comes in at $900. This closed-back headphone incorporates many of Focals impressive technologies into a hi-fi headphone that provides great audio at home or on the go. The M-shape aluminum/magnesium dome measures 40mm to deliver frequencies from 5 23k Hz.

Focals main focus on audio has always been a true reproduction of what was recorded. Even from this entry level pair of Hi-Fi headphones, Focal delivers incredibly tight bass and clarity.

The entry point for Focals open-back headphones, the $1,000 Elear has earned a reputation for its impressive clarity and openness. 5- 23kHz are pushed through a 40mm Aluminum-Magnesium M-shaped dome to deliver incredibly detailed audio. The large leather-wrapped headband matched with memory foam ear cushions covered in microfiber fabric are plenty comfortable for extended use.

As its name would suggest, the Clear open-back headphones are even more clarity than the Elear. Reaching far beyond what the Elear and human ear can actually hear at 5Hz 28kHz, the Clear headphones reveal incredible detail in music. Clear is priced at $1,500 which is a steep price for a pair of headphones, but a great deal compared to the next two pairs of headphones.

Microfiber ear cushions keep the Clear comfortable for long listening sessions thanks to the large overall design. Aluminum yokes give a satisfying click when being adjusted and give the Clear headphones a solid construction.

While open-back headphones are often regarded as the best way to experience audio, they do often require specific listening conditions. With the success of the Utopia headphones which well take a look at next, Focal decided to put some of that same technology, mainly the M-shaped pure Beryllium drivers, into a closed-back design for mobility or listening conditions that arent always perfect enter the Stellia at $3,000.

Unboxing and packaging on the Stellia are premium as well. The package is substantial, with a color scheme that matches the headphones. The protective travel case can hold some extra accessories, but also in the box is another separate case for the manual and extra cables.

The Stelia also sports an incredible design with its cognac and mocha finishes matched with full-grain leather across the headband. The ear cups are memory foam wrapped in full-grain leather. Their soft supple finish feels great on the ear.

Insane clarity is one of the top features in all of Focals line-up but even better with the M-shaped Beryllium drivers found in the Stelia and Utopia.

And although Focal would probably smack the Stellia off my head if he saw me using them this way, they are incredibly good for gaming. Obviously, overkill, but if clarity and positioning are what youre after, and those are probably the most important aspects when gaming, then the Stellia is an absolute beast. And I used the Stellia more often than the Utopia for gaming because the closed-back design blocked more of my keyboard noise from the Razer Huntsman Elite.

At the top of the line sits the Utopia Absolute Acoustic Purity. Coming in at $4,000, this pair of headphones incorporate all of Focals highest end tech to deliver the clearest audio experience Ive ever heard in a headphone.

On the design side, the Utopia features a similar overall shape of all of Focals other hi-fidelity headphones. A large headband wrapped in leather with lambskin leather on the cushions makes the Utopia extremely comfortable and able to be worn for long listening sessions. The carbon fiber yoke adds another high-end feature to this impressive pair of headphones.

Obviously featuring an open-back design, the Utopia has an incredible openness to it. Matched with the clarity of the M-shaped beryllium drivers and the headphone is by far the best sounding pair of cans Ive ever heard. Is it $4,000 worth? Well, that just depends on what value you place on sound. There are a ton of other great headphones for much MUCH less money, but if youre looking for the ultimate experience in clarity to hear music at an incredible level, then the Utopia is worth a look.

While visiting Focal for their 40th-anniversary event earlier this year we were able to see where they make the Utopia and what stood out was the process for the beryllium drivers. The worker must wear a protective suit as the room is heated to some pretty insane temperatures during the manufacturing process. So seeing some of the behind the scenes also makes you appreciate what goes into making these world-class headphones.

We also have the brand new Arche headphone amp from Focal here which Ive been using for a bit while testing these headphones, but well save that for another video/post.

For more thoughts on audio from Focal, check out my review of the Sphear Wireless earbuds, the Sib Evo 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos theater setup, or take a look behind the scenes from the 40th-anniversary event we attended earlier this year.

If you havent noticed yet, Ive been blown away by what Focal is doing. Theyre a premium brand but have also diversified their offerings to reach a broader audience. If you get a chance to check out some of what Focal offers, I would definitely suggest it. From their wireless earbuds to the Utopia headphones to the Grand Utopia loudspeakers, Focals dedication to high-quality audio is astonishing.

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The 20 best albums of 2019 – PopBuzz

Posted: at 2:52 pm

13 December 2019, 13:06 | Updated: 13 December 2019, 13:51

Who will take the crown for the best album of 2019?

Do you like music? Do you enjoy lists about music? Do you like reading lists that place albums into an order of preference based on criteria such as how hard did it slap? and did it make my wig fly off my bald head? If your answer to those questions is yes, then youve come to the right place.

Yes, this is the PopBuzz best albums of 2019 list. Previous winners have included Carly Rae Jepson, Khalid, The 1975 and Cardi B, and as we sat down to discuss who should join this iconic line-up, a few things became clear.

Firstly, were still not 100% sure about the difference between an album and a mixtape, so both are included here. Secondly, people rarely release truly terrible albums nowadays but theres a lot of meh albums and that makes us sad and annoyed. And finally, where the fuck is that Lady Gaga record? Smh.

READ MORE: The best TV shows of 2019READ MORE: The best memes of 2019

Before we begin, we have some honourable mentions to get out of the way. Harry Styles, we would have loved to have included you in this list but unfortunately our advance copy of Fine Line must have gotten lost in the post, so we were unable to include you in the list. A tragedy for all involved. Lil Nas X, we dont what yeehaw sorcery you conjured up get the Grammy Awards to allow an EP in the best album category but that doesnt fly here at PopBuzz HQ, despite the fact we loved the 7 EP more than we care to admit (same to you, Yungblud and Miley).

Also, shout out to Marina, BROCKHAMPTON, Caroline Polachek, Tove Lo, Sigrid, Ari Lennox and Solange for making excellent records too. Also, Euphoria soundtrack, we see you.

And finally, to our ride or die, Ms Madonna Louise Ciccone. Madame X is a dancer, an assassin and a chronically late diva, but, alas, she is not one of our albums of the year. Perdname. Ok, lets get to it...

There's no denying that 2019 was truly Megan Thee Stallion's year. Megan asserted her power in the male-dominated rap world with her liberating lyrics about sexual politics. Fever was much more than an mixtape, it was a whole movement.

Everybody might be talking about her collaboration with Ashnikko, 'Stupid', which went viral on TikTok but Yung Baby Tate truly showed off her versatility and artistic prowess on her debut, self-released mixtape GIRLS. A knock-out punch from start to finish.

After her dark Reputation era, Taylor Swift triumphantly returned with the colourful Lover and honestly, whats not to love? Sexy saxophones, dreamy romance, an Idris Elba vocal sample, Brendon Urie and Dixie Chicks features, another batch of iconic bridges and an assortment of lyrics that are up there with her very best.

A gay country musician who hides his identity behind a fringed mask? I mean, what's not to like? But beyond media buzz words and theatrics, Pony is an incredible record full of heart and soul, that has as much in common with Lana Del Rey as it does with Johnny Cash. Lil Nas X better watch out, there's a new yeehaw king in town.

Abstract himself said he made this record out of survival and Arizona Baby does sound like somebody going through it. It's also low-key one of the best records he's ever made.

The 1975's label mate The Japanese House, aka Amber Bain, stepped out of the shadows and bared it all on her radiant debut album Good at Falling. And when we say baring it all, we mean including lines like: "We don't fuck anymore but we talk all the time so it's fine". Tell it like it is!

On Oasis, Bad Bunny and J Balvin bring the heat and the absolute bangers. The pair are perfectly in sync on standouts like YO LE LLEGO, COMO UN BEB (ft. Mr Eazi), and the sultry LA CANCIN. Its official. On Oasis, J Balvin and Bad Bunny prove that its their world and were all just living in it.

Labels should give the artists tools to thrive but more often than not they squander people's talent. Songs for You is the first album Tinashe has released since going independent and it's the sound of a musician given free-reign to explore every part of themselves. 'Die a Little Bit' is experimental magic, 'Touch & Go' is heartbreaking honesty and 'Save Room for Us' is a bop for the ages. She may have debuted seven years ago but this is just the beginning. Tinashe can't be ignored.

Flamboyant is exactly that, a flamboyant, over-the-top and magnificent pop masterpiece. Dorian Electra took the concept of gender-bending pop and ran with it to a new queer utopia. A must-listen for all pop heads out there.

Summer Walker confirmed R&B is back and here to stay with her debut album Over It. Summer shows off her sultry vocals as she takes the listener on a journey from intense infatuation to heartbreak.

Beyonc is relentless. It may be almost four years since she's released an official solo album but since then she's dropped a joint record with JAY-Z, stopped the world with Homecoming and now she's curated a brilliant concept LP for the Lion King soundtrack. The Gift sees Beyonc collaborate with stars including Shatta Wale, Yemi Alade and Oumou Sangar and the songs slap. From the triumphant 'MOOD 4 EVA' to the anthemic 'MY POWER', The Gift lives up to its namesake.

BMTH went 'pop' on their sixth studio album and brought Grimes and Dani Filth along for the ride. The result is an exhilarating and unpredictable record that sounds like a band reaching a new creative peak. We have to stan.

It was hard to imagine how King Princess would live up to the hype created by '1950' and 'Pussy Is God' but Cheap Queen is a confident, cool and sexy debut with several stand out tracks including 'Watching My Phone' and bottoming anthem 'Hit The Back'. King Princess said GAY RIGHTS and honestly we love to see it.

Twigs kept us waiting 5 years (!!) and the long wait still couldn't have prepared us for the majestic beauty of Magdalene. Leading the comeback with the arresting ballad 'Cellophane' (accompanied by some stunning visuals in the video too) was a masterstroke, an alluring teaser for this bolder and brighter era of Twigs.

Following the success of Flower Boy, Tyler further cemented his reputation as being an artist truly in his own lane on Igor. His wig game was also on point this era, which is obviously the most important thing here.

I go hard, I go fast / And I never look back sings Charli XCX on the very first line of Next Level Charli, the high octane opening track on Charli. For an artist who has spent the last three years styling herself as the future (and saviour) of pop music, the lyric doubles up as Charlis personal mission statement and more broadly a ralling call against bland, playlist fodder pop of recent years. The pace rarely lets up from that point on.

After two critically-acclaimed mixtapes made with zeitgeisity producers A. G. Cook, SOPHIE, EasyFun, Charli takes a similar approach to those releases by pairing pop sensibilities with harsher production and sonic palettes, making something totally unique to her (it's hard to imagine any other pop star writing songs like 2099 or Thoughts). Then there are her army of collaborators, each of whom bring their own flavour to the feast, with stand out performances coming from Christine and the Queens on Gone and Big Freedia, CupCakKe, Brooke Candy and Pabllo Vittar on the epic 'Shake It'.

Charli still remains an underdog in the pop world but this album further cements her status as one of its most creative and trend-setting talents. Long live Charli, baby!

Not in the headspace to tour after she released Sweetener last August, Ariana Grande decided to return to the studio and do what she does best: make music.

She teamed up with her close friends and longterm collaborators and made honest music about her life and the trauma she was experiencing at the time (while she was in the studio, Ariana split up with her fianc, Pete Davidson, and her ex, beloved rapper Mac Miller, tragically passed away). Within weeks, thank u, next was born.

And this is why the whole album thrives. It wasn't overthought in some label meeting. It all came straight from Ariana's heart. Every single track rings true to Ariana. 'needy' is a striking confessional in which Ariana opens up about her insecurities and flaws, 'fake smile' is a defiant anthem in which Ariana explains she can't hide her emotions, 'ghostin' is a moving ballad in which Ariana is more candid than she's ever been. It's the most devastating song she's ever created and the best.

Ariana made and released thank u, next on her own terms and the whole world listened to her. thank u, next is so important because it's not Ariana working to fit the paradigms of pop, it's Ariana changing the paradigms of pop to work for her. Like Beyonc and Rihanna before her, Ariana is done playing by the rules... and the results are remarkable.

Now weve enjoyed a solid 10 months of Lizzo fever, just try imagining a world without her. What a sad, joyless place that would be. Thats the power of the Lizzo brand and the infectious positivity found on Cuz I Love You. Now shes here, we never want to let her go. Im getting separation anxiety just thinking about it.

Did anyone - even the lady herself - expect Lizzo to be the breakout star of 2019? No. No one did. After years of slogging it out, somewhere between 2016-18 Lizzo released a string of banging singles which, at the time, sounded promising but seemed destined to go unheard by the vast majority of people. Yet against all odds, those singles are now mega hits (Truth Hurts and Good As Hell) in part thanks to a viral trend on TikTok.

But it would be a mistake to let those singles overshadow the album that followed. Cuz I Love You is stacked with catchy hits (Juice, Tempo) and empowerment anthems (Like A Girl, Soulmate). Lizzo is a rare talent indeed; a talented singer, songwriter and rapper that everyone wishes was their best mate. The world took a DNA test and it turns out we are all Lizzos bitch.

The enduring appeal of Lana Del Rey is quite baffling in some ways. Not that shes undeserving - quite the opposite - but her music and approach to artistry just seem at odds with everything else around her. Lana is beyond passing trends and yet she is very of-the-moment. Her fifth album, Norman Fucking Rockwell!, has all the hallmarks of a timeless classic, which is remarkable considering that it was released only three months ago. How the hell does she do that?!

Theres much to dissect with Lana and lord knows every music journalist has tried. Theres the seemingly impenetrable mystic of Lanas character, one which she recently insisted is not a persona at all. There's also the constant lyrical references to bygone eras and cultural touchstones of America, and America itself. Personally speaking, I spend most of my Lana thinking time remembering her Twitter altercation with Azealia Banks, in which she told Banks to pull up anytime and then, I wont not fuck you the fuck up. Period. Just let that sink in for moment.

Getting back to the matter at hand, the secret to NFR!'s success seems to be just good old fashioned great song writing. Whether its the swirling, 9 minute epic Venice Bitch, the cinematic beauty of 'The Best Next American Record' (there she goes again!) or the title track's deadpan delivery and lyrical zingers, on Normal Fucking Rockwell!, Lana is at her most Lana and we loved every moment of it.

What is left to write about the 17-year-old wonderkid from California that hasnt already been written? It seems so obvious to say it but this was undoubtedly Billies year. She was inescapable. When future generations look back on 2019, the first image they will see will be Billie Eilish on a red carpet dressed as a high fashion beekeeper.

Part of the joy of the Billie Eilish phenomena which has captivated millions of fans, especially teenagers, is that she genuinely feels like a breath of fresh air. Billie is only interested in being Billie and she has no time for anything else. From her left field fashion choices, or her remarkable candour and general lack of fucks-to-give while doing press, and most importantly her music which, when at its best, feels like something weve never heard before; everything she does is uniquely Billie Eilish.

Take her two biggest songs to date. Every time Bad Guy or Bury A Friend comes on the radio, even now, it still sounds strange, as if the playlist team has made a mistake. Billie doesnt write chart hit music and yet shes now got two of the biggest selling singles of the year.

Much is made of Billies young age because of the maturity of her work, but a record as versatile and compelling as When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? would be remarkable at any age. Most artists can go their whole lives and not write something as dreamy, understated and ultimately devastating as i love you. The album is full of moments like that.

Billie is a once-in-a-generation artist and a natural born star. And perhaps the most exciting thing about Billie is that despite the huge success of When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, it still feels like theres even greater things to come. Long may she reign.

For the nerds out there, here's our best album lists from yesterday.

2015201620172018

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Costuming dancers in ads to pay their wages? At Velocity Dance Center, artists take on Seattles skyrocketing costs. – Seattle Times

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Forget leotards and tights. In his new work, This Space For Rent, choreographer Shane Donohue costumes his dancers in advertisements.

Im selling ads within the music, set and costumes to pay my dancers minimum wages, Donohue says. A veteran performer in Seattles contemporary dance scene, Donohue is using his first professional choreographic opportunity to address the rapid and unsustainable rise in the cost of living for Seattle artists.

Im confronting this system that doesnt work and finding a balance, he says, but its still very capitalist.

Donohues piece is one of five new works by up-and-coming local choreographers premiering Dec. 12-15 in Next Fest 2019 Ritual and Rebellion at Capitol Hills Velocity Dance Center.

Curated by a team including Velocitys new artistic director Erin Johnson, Next Fest is a result of Velocitys work supporting emerging artists with rehearsal space and creative guidance.

This year, Johnsons curatorial team encouraged the emerging choreographers to address the topics in arts culture that felt urgent to the artists creative survival.

The themes in Ritual and Rebellion echo Velocitys current publicity about its lack of stability in the Seattle arts scene. An Oct. 1 Facebook post for Velocitys Save Our Studio campaign issued an urgent appeal to its supporters, stating: Like many arts organizations in the city, Velocity is facing the possibility of closing its doors if we are not able to stabilize our finances in the next four months.

As of Nov. 21, said Velocity Executive Director Catherine Nueva Espaa, We have raised enough funds so far that we can stay in our space and we are not closing Jan. 1. Were halfway through the fundraiser now but if we dont raise the $120,000 [by Dec. 31], 2020 is looking really dicey for us, she says.

The problem isnt that they wouldnt be able to afford the rent on their physical studios but that they would run out of funds to fulfill Velocitys overall mission: to support choreographers through the creative process that involves subsidizing rehearsal space, mentoring, and paying artists a living wage while they create work.

We need more philanthropic support that isnt focused on the shiny piece of a production, says Nueva Espaa.

Since Velocitys 1996 founding by longtime Seattle dancemakers KTNiehoff and Michele Miller (originally located in the historic Oddfellows Hall on East Pine Street), the center has served as a safe space for artists seeking to create work out of the mainstream classical ballet or university dance settings. Dance is such a challenging area to produce in, says Miller. Were constantly having to ask people for money.

Next Fests 2019 lineup shows how Velocitys mission has nurtured the creation of unusual works.

Former Spectrum Dance Theater company member Marco Farronis work explores how ideas of home are shaped by time instead of geography. Farronis journey from his birthplace in the Dominican Republic to a professional creative life in Seattle inspired his creation of a drop-in world where audiences can wander onstage through his immersive solo performance.

In Utopia 1, Vladimir Kremenovic uses images and concepts of Brutalist architecture from his Bosnian roots to examine micro societies and socialism.

Expressive arts therapist and emerging choreographer Lucie Bakers work presents her spin on Eastern European rituals of the Rusalki feminine spirits associated with ecological and biological fertility.

And for her piece Filter Bubble, Hannah Rae rebels against current economic barriers to dance performance by inviting her dancers to rehearse only as it fits into their day jobs.

As performers, were raised with this hierarchy of maintaining uniqueness in artistry, she said, but I want to work in a different way that brings artists and audiences together for a different kind of experience.

_____

Next Fest 2019 Ritual and Rebellion,Dec. 12-15; Velocity Dance Center, 1621 12th Ave., Seattle; $20-$50;velocitydancecenter.org

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