Finally, a resurgence of great protest music in America

Childish Gambino, protest song "This Is AmericaAfter a decade of bland tunes dominating the pop world, good music has at last stormed the country. This has happened largely under the guise of protest music. I use the term broadly to mean music that confronts social ills. This could be injustice, conformity, hypocrisy, whatever. Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” has thrust the matter into the spotlight, of course. Discourse about the song has flooded the news cycle, spawned YouTube commentary, and propelled the music video to an astonishing almost one billion views. Although not the only cause, the rise and election of Donald Trump certainly energized this wave. Perhaps this heralds a new era of great music. Continue reading →

Great musicals inspired by “The Wizard of Oz”

The Wizard of Oz posterSince it’s 1939 release, The Wizard of Oz has become an enduring part of American popular culture. For the film adaptation, the writers took liberties with Frank L. Baum’s novel. The film, rather than novel, has come to define the elements of the Oz story. The annual holiday broadcast, starting in 1956, ensured a lasting presence for generations of children. The film gives us memorable songs, a classic epic hero quest, and a powerful message, topped with Judy Garland’s endearing performance. More remarkably, the movie has inspired several reinterpretations. Each one has become great in its own right. While there have been a number of retellings, three examples stand out. Continue reading →

Todrick Hall unleashes a creative tornado

Visionary. Inspiring. A creative tornado. These and more describe multi-faceted artist Todrick Hall. He unleashed his latest album last month, Forbidden, and is currently on tour. Yesterday he breezed through Toronto (his schedule has him appearing virtually every night in a different city). I had the good fortune to catch his show. As with his previous project, Straight Outta Oz, the music expresses his unique artistic vision. The themes touch on life’s challenges: racism, being true to oneself, relationships. Continue reading →