Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tribute to Puerto Rico

Lin-Manuel Miranda released a song featuring 22 other musicians in order to raise money for Puerto Rico for hurricane relief.  The song was released on Oct. 6, with the title “Almost Like Praying.”  All proceeds of the song will benefit the Hispanic Federation’s Unidos Disaster Relief Fund, which is an organization that Miranda has been supporting since Hurricane Maria hit the island.  The song is a message of love and positivity to the people of Puerto Rico, who are still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Maria in September.

“Almost Like Praying” features many large-name musicians such as Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Luis Fonsi, Fat Joe, Gloria Estefan, Gina Rodriguez, Rita Moreno and more.  85-year-old Puerto Rican-American actress, Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for her character of Anita in “West Side Story,” is a unique feature in Miranda’s new track.

The beginning lyrics of the song are “say it loud and there’s music playing/ say it soft and it’s almost like praying.”  These lyrics originally come from the song “Maria” in the 1961 film “West Side Story,” which is sung by Richard Beymer.  “West Side Story” is about a romance between a white gang member named Tony and a Puerto Rican woman named Maria.  Miranda was motivated to use these lyrics as a way to recover the name “Maria” in wake of one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit the island of Puerto Rico.  

I was very aware even as it was happening that this was the worst hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in a hundred years, and I knew that ‘Maria’ would forever have a different connotation on the island as a result of that.  And that’s my favorite song from “West Side Story.” So I began thinking about that song and the lyrics and a way to flip it into something positive,” Miranda said in a recent interview with NPR.  Miranda’s love for the island is fitting that the tribute derives from one of the most famous love stories of all time.

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Niall Horan is Back and Better Than Ever

After the One Direction hiatus in 2016, Niall Horan is back in the music industry with successful singles and an upcoming album and tour. After signing with Capitol Records, he released his first single, “This Town,” on Sept. 29, 2016. His first single was released on Kiss FM, and shortly after he tweeted, “Been workin in the studio, wanted to share this song I just wrote with u guys. Thank you for always being there.”
“This Town” was explained to have a double meaning that is relatable to people who live in small towns, who cannot help but see someone they used to love around town. After only three days of the single being released, “This Town” reached number one on the Billboard charts.

In Horan’s time away from One Direction, he worked on music inspired by some of his favorite musicians, such as Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel. He described his new album as “more upbeat but that kind of vibe — the acoustic guitar, that kind of feel to it, nice strings.”

Eight months later, Horan released a new single, “Slow Hands,” which hit number one on the Billboard charts the same day it was released: May 4, 2017.
And, it was no surprise that Horan’s third single rocketed to the top of the charts, just like his previous singles. The explicit version of “Too Much to Ask” is number one on the iTunes chart, with the clean version following close behind at number 13. Horan confirmed that “Too Much to Ask” will follow “Slow Hands” on his upcoming album, “Flicker,” which comes out on Oct. 20.
Another song that will be on the album is “On the Loose,” which was premiered during his performance at Wango Tango in Los Angeles earlier this year. The rest of the “Flicker” track list is as follows:

“On the Loose”
“This Town”
“Seeing Blind (featuring Maren Morris)”
“Slow Hands”
“Too Much to Ask”
“Paper Houses”
“Since We’re Alone”
“Fire Away”
“You and Me”

The Target edition of the album comes with three bonus songs, called “On My Own,” “Mirrors” and “The Tide.”

On top of Horan’s album release, he is currently on a solo tour called “Flicker Sessions World Tour,” where he will perform in the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Horan is touring along side country star Maren Morris, who he also collaborated with on a song for “Flicker.” The venues are much smaller than when he performed with One Direction, however each of the stops on tour sold out within several minutes. 

Although it is a challenge for Directioners to witness Niall Horan becoming a popular solo artist, his fans have shown endless support for his upcoming music and tour.

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Justin Bieber Speaks About the Black Lives Matter Movement

Justin Bieber used Instagram to express his beliefs and opinions about the controversial Black Lives Matter movement on Saturday, Sept. 23.  His caption accompanying the Instagram picture was, “I am a white Canadian and I will never know what it feels like to be an African American but what I do know is I am willing to stand up and use my voice to shine light on racism, because it’s a real thing and it’s more prevalent now than I have ever seen in my lifetime.. we are all Gods children and we are ALL EQUAL.”

In the past, Bieber has largely avoided discussing politics throughout his career, especially on social media platforms. However, his mentorship with Usher and his friends from the hip-hop industry, who he has done past collaborations with, such as Chance the Rapper, have influenced his stance with the movement.

Bieber has previously indicated his position of support for the Black Lives Matter movement during the time of the presidential election. He was approached to perform at the Republican National Convention in 2016 for $5 million. The musician turned down the offer after he was informed that he was not able to state his political views during the performance, which meant that his “Black Lives Matter” banners were not permitted during the performance. The donors allowed him to sing in front of “All Lives Matter” banners, yet the singer and his predominately African American band still refused the offer. 

Bieber has turned to other social media platforms, such as Twitter, to raise awareness for recent tragedies like the terrorist attack in Manchester at an Ariana Grande concert, and also the telethon for Hurricane Harvey victims, which was conducted by his manager Scooter Braun. Bieber even posted a video on Instagram showing his support and love for Houston after the city was hit by the hurricane. In the video, he stated, “Just looking at these photos here from Hurricane Harvey and I just want to say that I am so sorry to all the families who have lost their homes and the people who have lost their lives. I am going to accept the Kevin Hart Challenge and give $25,000 towards the Red Cross.”



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