Kapur on Rock Music and Friendship

Kapur on Rock Music and Friendship

I have a friend who loves rock music. Floyd, The Who, The Byrds, Rolling Stones, The Doors, Guns N’ Roses…you name it, Sanjana knows it. I don’t just mean their greatest hits, either; she is no poser. Sanjana highlights the forgotten gems, the underrated masterpieces: Cream’s “Badge,” The Beatles’ “It’s All Too Much.” And she has the exceptional ability to detail every step of a rock musician’s life and loves by memory, whether it’s the history of Bon Jovi’s Sanctuary Sound recording studio (built in the basement of his New Jersey ranch home!) or George Harrison’s spiritual beliefs (he embraced Hinduism and transcendental meditation). I knew next to nothing about the genre before I met her, so the fact that I can recall all of this now––thinking alone, off the top of my head––I’d say that only further confirms how vibrant, how infectious, how real her love for rock music is. Sanjana taught me that rock has a beat, a rhythm, a personality and character like no other. It’s an anthem that pulses in stride with your heartbeat, she’d say––one that pushes you to float and strain free and live in the moment, the literal embodiment of carpe diem. There’s something brilliant and creative in rock music: where else can you find a haven where soul, extraordinary lyrics, and every metal instrument imaginable meet in the heat of intensity, charisma, insanity, thrill? To consider a genre powerful enough to define a generation, and to journey back in time while listening now and still feel that indelible, mythic mark…it’s an extraordinary thing. Difficult for me to articulate, but Sanjana––she understands it, she really does. I don’t think I see rock music at her level––what I described is a mere taste of how she feels about it––but honestly? I prefer it that way. Rock reminds me of how different we both are, and of how we’ve grown together to find comfort and our own special place in that difference. That is, without a doubt, what I love most about our friendship. This holiday season, friends, I encourage you to embrace the eccentric music tastes of those you hold dear. Who knows? You might find a couple hidden gems of your own.

Inside College Admissions: A Review by Shmuler

By Vared Shmuler (IV)

As many Pingry students may have observed, parents across the country are fascinated by the book Who Gets in and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions by Jeffrey Selingo. The book offers a thorough and informative explanation of the process of “holistic admissions,” in which American universities consider the applicant as a whole person. Selingo’s book also shares the current nuances of college admissions, and how students can begin to address the challenges of the process. Not only does this book communicate the complexities of college admissions, but it also provides insight and advice for aspiring underclassmen.

A section of the book that offers explicit advice for high school students explores the admissions process at Emory University. Within this section, Selingo writes about holistic admissions and the facets of an application that push the needle in favor of an acceptance letter. For example, a student who aspires to pursue a major in natural sciences should be enrolled in Advanced Placement courses as well as Honors classes and excel in both. Selingo offers this tip: “The applicant’s course load [should consist] of an abundance of math and science courses that are necessary for this major.” 

On the flip side, if an applicant received several subpar grades in generally easy classes, the admissions committee might hesitate to accept the applicant. One applicant’s course load was exemplary, and her display of interest in the field of work was a genuine representation of her intentions if accepted to the university. However, her record displayed several mediocre grades, so she ultimately received a rejection letter. This instance of rejection shows that four years in high school, inclusive of stellar interest and challenging courses, can be erased in minutes based on grades.

Pingry students are taught to achieve grades of the highest caliber in all subjects. Although Pingry does value sports programs and the arts, they are not the main focus. However, an academically-focused school could restrict students from pursuing their interests until the last half of high school. This may not be the best way to satisfy the expectations of a holistic admissions reading – rather, it completes only a few of the implicit requirements. 

So, what can Pingry students do to strive towards college acceptances? Here are a few steps to take to best prepare. First, they should recognize that college is on the horizon. With this in mind, the students should build a general understanding of their interests and determine what college majors best fit those interests. Second, Selingo recommends that students structure a schedule of classes that reflects those interests. Also, they should take advantage of the resources and opportunities that are available at Pingry, such as advising and the College Counseling department. Lastly, and most importantly, students should be their best selves. 

Instead of molding oneself to a college, a student should do what they enjoy. College admissions officers will generally not accept students who take a myriad of classes with no other purpose than to look good on an application. If one is interested in art, they should take one of Pingry’s many art programs. If one is interested in economics and the business world, they should join a club or take a class that shows that interest. Furthermore, students should not only choose relevant courses inside of Pingry, but also engage in extracurricular activities outside of school that correspond with their fields of interest. In doing so, they can further expand their knowledge and opportunities. 

In summary, by acknowledging the prospect of college in the early years of high school, choosing an area of interest that one is passionate about, and choosing courses of interest to surround yourself with, a student will fulfill their holistic application and broaden their college options and future successes.

FYISci

By Kristin Osika (V)

In almost every aspect of our lives, data plays a central role in decision-making. Categorical rankings determine our college list, polls sway our political leanings, and the latest COVID-19 studies determine whether or not we deem it safe to venture outside of the house. With modern technology facilitating the mammoth collection and communication of data, facts are at our fingertips: social media, news networks, and search engines provide easy, efficient access to necessary information, and, as a result, we have the opportunity to learn and know more about the world and each other than ever before. 

While this superabundance of data has innumerable benefits, it can also blind us from the real truth. In favor of convenience, we sometimes fail to question the source from where we gather our information and the integrity that lies within it. Accordingly, with the rise of our data-focused culture, there has been an increase in misinformation, which is arguably the most topical in science, given the ongoing pandemic. Because authentic scientific research papers can be exceedingly difficult for the layperson to comprehend, we almost solely rely on secondary sources for coherent interpretations, especially for information about COVID-19. Think about the most recent statistic you heard about the pandemic. Do you know the original source of that statistic? Chances are, you heard it on the news or read it in an infographic on social media; these are the places where most of us receive our information. When we are inundated with graphs, tables, percentages, comparisons, and daunting figures, to make sense of this “information overload,” we turn to the most coherent and visually-appealing interpretation. It’s only natural. 

Unfortunately, the data presented to us might not always be accurate. Both the creator and consumer of research-based informational sources can perpetuate misinformation. In a time of widespread uncertainty and unease, the validated, scientific truth can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, and creators are aware of this. Even unconsciously, some might misrepresent data to conform to a specific agenda, incite or quell fears, promote or degrade a product. It is surprisingly easy to portray accurate, scientific data out of context and thus push forward an idea that may not be grounded in fact. As consumers, we contribute to this problem through selective exposure: we rely on individual data sources to provide us with information consistent with our beliefs. This behavior feeds into our natural bias and cements our reluctance to trace agreeable data back to the source to critically examine it in its authentic form. Thus a vicious cycle ensues, one which can easily propagate falsities to the general public. 

Given the increasing amount of misinformation that is circulating the media, how should we know what to believe? To answer this question, we need to return to science. When viewed with a critical eye, authentic research conducted according to the scientific method provides an infallible source of information. Frequently, even a quick scan of a paper’s abstract or results can provide all the information you need. While primary sources provide the most direct information, certain secondary sources are often much more efficient. Though it may seem facile, the inclusion of legitimate citations is critical to a secondary source’s veracity, as long as they are used in a manner that reflects the ideas proven in the works cited. The author’s credentials and mode of publication (journal, website, news organization, etc.) can also provide important insight into source reliability.

Bias, specific agendas, and convenience saturate our media and may impede our understanding of the truth; however, not all publications perpetuate misinformation. If we continuously question our sources and maintain a healthy degree of skepticism, we can discern fact from fallacy and arrive at the truth. 

Winterbottom on Femininity in Men’s Fashion

Winterbottom on Femininity in Men’s Fashion

By Maile Winterbottom (VI)

When Vogue announced that its new issue would feature Harry Styles, the general reaction was ecstatic. Styles would be the first man to be on the cover of Vogue individually—a monumental moment for gender equality in the industry. Over the course of his career, Styles has been known to dress in a way that disregards conventional gender roles. Last year, he rocked a tutu and tights for a shoot promoting his appearance on Saturday Night Live. For his interview on the Howard Stern Show, he accessorized his outfit with a delicate pearl necklace over a lace collar. Looks like these have proven time and again that Styles is unafraid to break gender norms in fashion—and look badass doing it. 

It was not a surprise, then, that Styles’ shoot with Vogue featured him wearing a number of more “feminine” outfits. The cover shows him wearing a grand blue dress with ruffles coming down it and a blazer overtop. In another look, he wore a sweater vest with a checkered shirt and chained belt. His fan base was overjoyed to see Styles in these barrier-breaking looks; but to others, including author Candace Owens, these outfits infringed much on traditional gender norms. On November 14th, Owens started an uproar when she replied to Vogue’s tweet announcing the November issue that featured Styles; she replied with the bold statement that “there is no society that can survive without strong me . . . Bring manly men back.” Her tweet condemned Styles for wearing more feminine outfits by implying that he was not ”manly” enough. Owens’ claim proves how many of our society’s gender roles are strongly enforced through fashion. These certain standards for what is expected to be worn by women and men—and how they differ—are just one of the many toxic norms that our society accepts. The general public, especially Styles’ fan base, was not happy with Owens’ tweet; chaos ensued on all social media platforms. Numerous people defended Styles, calling him even more “manly” for having the courage to break the status quo through his outfits. On December 2nd, two weeks after Owens’ tweet, Styles seemingly ended the controversy by posting an Instagram photo with the following caption: “Bring manly men back.” In the photo, he is wearing a powder blue suit with a chiffon undershirt and is taking a bite out of a banana. This post shows Styles’ confidence in less conventional attire; he knows that he is “manly” no matter how he chooses to dress himself—and so should every young boy seeing that post.

Karuppur Talks Tech. Again

By Aneesh Karuppur (VI)

For the latest issue of the Record, the Tech Column returns to cover all of the important tech updates that you should know!

First, what’s going on in the Student Technology Committee (STC), Pingry’s student-run organization for the promotion of technology? STC is excited to welcome a new class of members once the application review is completed. Meanwhile, innovative STC projects are hitting the ground running, with detailed plans for the new school year. The teams this year include 3D Printing, Code Team, Communications, Help Desk, and others. Especially given remote learning considerations, STC’s techxpertise will have an increased relevance this year in classrooms.

In the broader world of tech news, one of the most notable releases has been the iPhone 12. Apple likes to come up with puns and taglines for each product generation, and the iPhone 12’s is, “It’s a leap year.” Aside from the fact that 2020 is almost over and 2021 is not a leap year, the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and the iPhone 12 Pro Max all attempt to hit the same wow that the iPhone X did when it launched. Physically, all three phones now have a boxy and more rectangular shape, some interesting colorways, and a new, more durable glass. The bezels (area surrounding the screen) have been reduced, bringing the design more in line with other full-screen smartphones; however, the famous notch from the X still remains. Arguably the most important feature is the inclusion of 5G, the next-generation cellular technology network. Several other smartphones, including direct competitors from Samsung, already had 5G capabilities; Apple is a little bit late to the party here, but it seems that this is the headlining feature of the new device. Other goodies include Apple’s ever-impressive chips (A14 Bionic in this iteration) and a lot of new photo technology: a LiDAR scanner (for augmented reality, a field that Apple still seems to be building out), better High Dynamic Range, some major improvements to night photography, and significant technical improvements in video. 

In non-Apple news, the Department of Justice has sued Google for alleged monopolistic practices. Working with eleven state Attorneys General, the suit is strikingly similar to the Microsoft antitrust case in the 1990s. Both concern forced product placement on company-owned platforms; in this case, its Google’s search engine on Google-owned Android and the deals with manufacturers surrounding these placements. This is the first major antitrust suit in the modern Big Tech era; Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter have all been probed and attacked for alleged monopolistic practices in much smaller cases. If the Google suit is legally sound, it could have serious repercussions for these companies and how their different product ecosystems interact. 

Game consoles have also been a major theme this summer––specifically, the competing Xbox Series X and the Playstation PS5. The former is Microsoft’s offering, and it distinguishes itself by offering more than just a gaming experience. It streams, shops, and plays games, demonstrating a trend in the tech industry of addressing numerous aspects of the user’s online life in one bundle. The PS5 is very similar, just with a new and different controller, as well as some small potential boosts to performance. Importantly, both consoles could feasibly compete with high-performance gaming computers, as both feature comparable processing, graphics, storage, and output. We have to wonder if the computer or the console will become obsolete first. 

That’s all for this issue! As technology has an increased importance nowadays, remember to get your screen breaks and do non-tech-related things every so often. 

Revivals in Fashion

By Maile Winterbottom (VI)

This fall, a range of new fashion trends have come into style; however, they may not be so unique after all.  From zebra print, which was “totally hip” in the 2000s, or patchwork denim from the ‘70s, fall 2020 has borrowed trends from past decades.

A new wave of 2000s fashion trends has swept the scene recently, from “babydoll” shirts to playful and chunky chains and animal print; baguette bags, originally supported by 2000s icons like Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears, are becoming popular again almost two decades later. Tracksuits have also been well received – and yes, the same ones your gym teachers may opt to wear. Whether it be the bedazzled Juicy Couture tracksuits famously worn by Kim Kardashian, or muted pastel velour tracksuits, tracksuits are here to stay. 

Funky prints, sweater vests, and large pants from the ‘70s are making a comeback in 2020 too. Emma Chamberlain can be seen on social media rocking a pair of hot pink spotted pants identical to a pair that teenagers in the ‘70s would have drooled over. Sweater vests are vogue-ish right now, so be prepared to start digging around in your parents’ closets. Whether on their own or paired with a collared shirt, sweater vests make a cute addition to any outfit. Patchwork denim also joins the numerous ‘70s fashion trends being brought back this season. People opt for denim with mixes of dark and light blue denim, or an even more colorful mix, like pink and purple.

Leather is everywhere this year, calling upon one of the biggest fashion trends of the ‘80s. Whether it be an oversized leather blazer to top off an outfit or a pair of statement leather pants, leather is a trendy addition to any outfit. Along with this, menswear has been popping up lately. In the past, celebrities like Zendaya and Cara Delevingne have been known to break gender barriers in fashion and rock menswear looks at red carpets. This season, oversized blazers and slacks took up the women’s fashion scene, bringing back yet another fashion trend that was hot in the ‘80s. 

It is not uncommon to revive fashion trends from the past, but this fall, it seems that almost every hot style has vintage roots. One can only excitedly anticipate what’s to come for fashion in 2021 and what items we’re going to have to steal from our parents next. 

Kapur and Chan Bring the Freshest Bops of the College App Season

By Rhea Kapur (VI) & Monica Chan (VI) We’ve reached that dreaded first semester of senior year. While our lives seem to be drowning in the realization that we have no idea who we are (but are expected to tell colleges exactly who we are), it is difficult yet even more necessary to find solace in daily comforts. The one constant comfort, besides the shared empathy of our fellow 21’ers and teachers, is music. We bring you a joint music column to share our college application playlists.

Monica:

When looking to get inspired to write my college essays, I like listening to songs with heavy background instrumentals and introspective lyrics. My first song is “When You Come Home” by Rich Brian. This song is written from a parent’s perspective, “So one day, if you find your way, I’ll be waiting for you  . . . I got all these questions to ask but I’ll save them for when you come home.” My parents have always been the most present people in my life, and so writing college applications is surreal not only for the reason that I am embarking on the next chapter of my life, but also the realization that my parents will have to watch me from afar. 

My next song choice is “Streetcar” by Daniel Caesar. This song was originally written by Kanye West, but I prefer the slower and more melodic version by Caesar. One of the most difficult parts of the application season for me is grappling with a sense of finality. We’ve prepared our entire high school lives for this time, “Let me know, do I still got time to grow? Things ain’t always set in stone, that be known let me know . . . see  I know my destination, but I’m just not there.” At this in-between teenager and adult age, we’re beginning to forge our own futures while trying to understand who we are; these events happening simultaneously make it all the more difficult. 

“Nights” by Frank Ocean is a slight wildcard. The first time I heard this song I was sitting in the backseat of my friend’s car on the way to someone’s house and we were on Route 287 when someone said, “Wait for that beat drop . . .” There was something magical about it being nighttime and zooming down at (legal) highway speeds surrounded by the laughter and company of my friends that I find relatively comforting reflecting on now. Maybe it’s because we can’t hang out with the same liberty we used to have, and those memories are all the more precious. 

Rhea:

When I write, I focus on flow. I study how each sentence glides into the next, I listen to the melody two words sing when side by side, and I observe how each thought fits with every other to form a whole, defined piece. I like to think that how I approach the art of writing – my style – tells just as much of a story as the words do themselves. For me, when it comes to college essays, that’s generally “in media res” storytelling to start, then half stream-of-consciousness reflection, half punchy declaratives. Recently, I’ve designated Spotify’s “Nightstorms” playlist as the soundtrack to my late-night writing sessions. It features recordings of every type of rainstorm imaginable, and in nearly every possible setting; there’s “Thunderstorm in the Cabin,” “Monsoon Storm,” “Lightning Strikes at the Farm,” and even “Oregon Rain.” The storms lift me out of the scramble that is everyday life, offering an escape from the minutia and creating the perfect, focused environment for essay writing. I’m fascinated by how different they sound across the world; Indonesian rainstorms are thundering, intense, incessant downpour, while Swedish ones gently patter along, each large droplet claiming its own, distinctive splash. Every storm tells its own story. And they remind me, too, to write my own stories – to lift my admissions reader into a faraway land where the lighting strikes and little details I craft make all the difference.

Monica mentioned introspection, and I agree; it’s an essential part of the essay writing process. I turn to Lana Del Rey for inspiration in this regard. As an artist, she is intimately comfortable with herself, with natural, human uncertainty. In “Born to Die,” she sings: “Sometimes love is not enough and the road gets tough – I don’t know why.” In “Freak,” it’s “Looking back, my past, it all seems stranger than a stranger.” Seniors, who can’t relate to that one!?  Del Rey’s voice brims with feeling; listen to how she sings “Ground control to Major Tom, can you hear me all night long?” in “Terrence Loves You.” Her songs build slowly to a close, a finish that is not always final. I see them as the embodiment of a dream – an imperfect, messy, wonderful subconscious world. It’s exactly where I find myself when brainstorming. At times, I’m in the lows, forehead against the cool countertop, reminding myself that, like Del Rey, it is okay – good, even – not to know, not to be okay. At others, my fingers fly across the keys to keep up with my thoughts, chasing the high of the dream and the height of introspection. Lana Del Ray is every end of the spectrum; seniors, it’s okay for us to be, too.

Prabhu Analyzes Christopher Nolan’s Classics

By Rohan Prabhu (V)

If you’ve watched the movie Inception, you probably thought it was either a masterpiece or a complete waste of three hours. How can a movie that has absolutely nothing to do with our reality be so polarizing?

If nothing else, this is representative of the beauty and effectiveness of Christopher Nolan’s film-making. Since the very beginning of his career as a filmmaker, Nolan has taken seemingly uninteresting concepts and made them intriguing. In 1999, Nolan directed his first major film, Following, about a man who follows others with the intent of using their lives as inspiration for his novel. This film showcases the nuances of his filmmaking, and many even regard it as his best work.

Nolan’s originality and creativity in the art of filmmaking has followed him in each of his movies. He modernized Batman, a character that typically remained relatively unchanged. He adapted a Danish film to U.S. and British audiences, titled Insomnia, which follows a police officer into Alaska to investigate the murder of a teenage girl. 

Although Nolan certainly likes to switch it up in his films, he retains several constants that contribute to his success. For one, he still uses 16mm film to shoot all of his movies. Nolan explained his love of film cameras: “For the last 10 years, I’ve felt increasing pressure to stop shooting film and start shooting video, but I’ve never understood why. It’s cheaper to work on film, it’s far better looking, it’s the technology that’s been known and understood for a hundred years, and it’s extremely reliable.”

Nolan also uses many of the same actors in his movies, including Cilian Murphy, Michael Cane, Tom Hardy, and Christian Bale. Additionally, he does most of the effects in his movie practically. For Inception, he created a set that spun on an axis for a scene in which Joseph Gordon-Levite’s character fights the subconscious of another person’s dream. The set simulated a zero-gravity effect. In Tenet, Nolan’s latest film, which is based on the inversion of the entropy of certain objects, Nolan’s actors had to speak backwards with accents that they didn’t have in real life. Stuntmen also had to learn how to do regular maneuvers backwards.

Undoubtedly, Christopher Nolan’s filmmaking style is unique, but his most important skill is his ability to make the viewer think. He not only achieves this through his inherently distinctive screenplays but through his storytelling ability. Where most directors structure their story around a series of three major plot points, Nolan often adds a fourth. Like other writers and directors, such as Martin Scorsese or Ridley Scott, Nolan uses his third major plot point as a resolution to their stories. However, he takes it one step further and introduces another miniscule plot point that creates a figurative “fork in the road” and plants a seed of doubt in his audience’s minds.

In Inception, Nolan’s main character, Dom Cobb (played by Leonardo Dicaprio), is wrongly charged with the murder of his wife and forced to become a fugitive. He retreats to Europe with a team of dream workers, hoping that he would be able to see his children again. When he receives an offer to break up the empire of a business giant through inception, or dreams within dreams, to regain his freedom, he reluctantly takes it. 

Viewers see Cobb succeed in his endeavor, and when Nolan portrays him embracing his children, he zooms in on a shot of a spinning top. This top, introduced earlier in the movie, is a token to tell Cobb if he’s still dreaming. If the top eventually stops spinning, Cobb knows that he’s in his own reality, and if not, he knows that he’s dreaming. Nolan ends the movie just as the top looks like it is going to stop spinning, but viewers never really know if it does. This is the seed of doubt that Nolan likes to plant.

He explains in a commencement speech at Princeton University, “I feel that, over time, we started to view reality as the poor cousin to our dreams, in a sense… I want to make the case to you that our dreams, our virtual realities, these abstractions that we enjoy and surround ourselves with, they are subsets of reality.”

So what makes Nolan’s movies so polarizing? It’s his desire to make his movies subjective to interpretation, and this quality is what makes him the best director of his era.

Karuppur Scrutinizes the Spicy Stuff in Tech

By Aneesh Karuppur (V)

Welcome back to another edition of The Pingry Record Tech Column! Let’s see how the new decade started off in the world of technology.

But first, a brief update on Pingry’s wonderful Student Technology Committee (STC). STC’s various groups are working hard in hopes of having significant results by the end of the school year. One team built a charging station near the cafeteria and is currently working on equipping it with cables. In addition, mobile charging carts have arrived and are under construction.

STC has also started a top-secret project relating to technology and interpersonal communication! Stay tuned for more updates on that group’s proposal to our existing technology issues. 

STC’s 3D Printing team hosted its first workshop of the year, when Julian Lee (V) ran an AutoCAD workshop for STC members. In the near future, the team expects to roll out workshops for the student body and faculty, which will focus on integrating 3D Printing into specific curricula. 

As of now, anybody can use the 3D printer for a valid, school-related reason. In fact, architecture and art classes have already started using it. To print, simply make a model using your CAD software of choice, save it as a .stl file, and speak to an STC member for help printing. 

Now, let’s broaden our scope of discussion and take a look at some global tech news, starting off with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January.

The buzziest part of the show was Neon, a Samsung subsidiary that is planning to make artificial humans for use in various settings. Neon ended up being completely overhyped. When excited showgoers went to the booth, they discovered that the life-sized images of people were actually just actors and not artificially intelligent cyborgs. Although Neon promises results eventually (as is the case for many tech startups!) it may take a while for anything to come of it. 

One of the main focuses of the CES was the new display technology. Samsung showed off an 8K television (which has about sixteen times more pixels than a standard MacBook screen), which would not be very special if it were not for the fact that the TV has no bezels (black bars around the edge). This means that the visual content extends the entire length and width of the TV and provides an immersive viewing experience. In other news, LG, TCL, and other major TV manufacturers introduced some minor improvements to their existing lineups.

Another interesting development was the increased emphasis on 5G. 5G is the next-generation cellular network and has been reported to be much faster than existing 4G LTE technology. 5G has already been rolled out in numerous places across the country. Since it requires special phone models, its adoption has been fairly limited thus far. Nevertheless, major carriers have promised that more devices will support 5G by next year. At CES, laptop makers like Lenovo and HP jumped on the trend by offering 5G-enabled laptops so users can work anywhere with a cellular connection. 

Well, that about wraps it up for this edition of the tech column! Be sure to continue reading in the next issue to observe the trends of the tech world.

Snowball Musings: What Music Accurately Reflects Our Generation?

By Rhea Kapur (IV)

In preparation for Snowball, Pingry’s annual winter formal, there are a couple items to consider. One is, of course, the look. For female students, it’s finding the perfect dress—classically beautiful, yet original—and for the gentlemen, a suit that stands out. Refer to this issue’s fashion column for more! Other items that come to mind include finding a date, perhaps, a group of friends to get ready with, and everything in between. In all the mayhem that ensues in the week leading up to the event, many don’t stop and think about the music. Out of sight, out of mind—until the event starts. There, it’s, “Ugh, what are the words to this again? Let’s go get a drink and wait ‘till something we know comes on.” The cycle repeats itself every year. The real fun at Snowball—or any dance, for that matter—is to vibe with your friends and just enjoy the music. Many upperclassmen I’ve talked to agree: at a dance, we enjoy the music to the fullest when, first of all, we like the songs, and even more importantly, we know the songs– the chorus, when the beat drops, and a cool freestyle that matches. And let’s be real here: a lot of the time, that isn’t the case. 

To investigate this further, I reflected on exactly what type of music is played at Snowball. A friend on Student Government sent me the suggested playlist, which is curated by members of the group and sent to the Snowball DJ. Looking at it, we see that the songs mainly fall into two categories: hip-hop and iconic bops. The latter is self explanatory: the likes of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside,” and John Legend’s “All of Me” are commonplace. These are songs that we’ve grown up listening to on the radio, the kinds of songs that friends scream out loud together, smiling, arm in arm—the songs that bring us teenagers together. These fall under the wider umbrella of “pop,” and they’re perfect for a close-knit, school-wide dance. An observation, though, if I may—at Snowball, it’s mainly the female students who dance to these songs, while the males stand on the side awkwardly. Maybe it’s because the lyrics are more touchy-feely, and that, even though male students know the words, singing along goes against the “masculine” image that they must project. Or, maybe this music just isn’t as popular among male students—but I digress. 

The roles quickly reverse, though, when songs from the former category—hip-hop—come on. These are characterized by rhythmic beatboxing and clean beats accompanied by raw, flowing rap lyrics. The most popular of them—Drake’s “One Dance,” Travis Scott’s “HIGHEST IN THE ROOM”—are decently well known to all genders and bring most people out to the dance floor. However, when just slightly less popular songs come on—Lil Uzi Vert’s “That’s a Rack,” Migos’ “Narcos”—it’s the male students that jump up and crowd around the middle of the dance floor, enjoying the beat and shouting the lyrics, while female students step back. 

Does this mean that the music tastes of our generation, our age group, also split into these two strict categories—and that the gender interests do as well? I would disagree. Take a look at recent breakout stars like Lil Nas X or Billie Eilish, for example. Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” a smashing hit, combines a country sound with the classic hip-hop beat. Both sounds are prominent, and by putting them together, Lil Nas X becomes original, a pioneer, and instantly popular. Eilish’s sound is also definitive, original; she specializes in horror pop, with tunes that are uncannily catchy but also creepy and spine-tingling, and even have a bit of the hip-hop influence mixed in with the beat. As such, Eilish’s music has an entirely different, captivating sound, unlike anything that has been heard before. Both artists have a fantastic following with teenagers of all genders and backgrounds, including Pingry’s own—both artists are on the Snowball playlist and stirred the entire crowd to their feet when played. They’ve blurred the lines between the different genres. I believe this is also reflective of the world our generation is growing up in as a whole: we’re more accepting, more fluid, more willing to combine different aspects of what is known to create what is not. Although there may not be as many artists like Lil Nas X and Eilish out there just yet, with the same degree of popularity, I think that’s the direction we’re going in. Soon, popular music will be more obviously made up of more than just two sounds. Just imagine what the dynamics at Snowball will be like when that’s the case.