These days it’s looked at as normal for celebrities to always wear a face full of makeup, and when they are spotted with a bare face, the media is quick to talk. Country music star Kelsea Ballerini took to social media herself because she wants her fans to see her true unapologetic self.

Ballerini, 24, of Knoxville, Tennessee usually has a face caked with glitter, lashes, and the whole nine for all of her performances, resulting in fans only seeing her in glam mode. However, she recently put a video on her Instagram page of her stripping herself of all things makeup and exposing her bare face to 1.2 million of her followers.

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It’s tough to begin writing about Liza Minnelli. Not that there isn’t enough information or enough questions to ask, but it’s more difficult to decide where to start. She’s done a million stage performances, sang a million songs and still seems to have the energy of a five-year-old that was just given a Mountain Dew.

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As humans, we are inclined to categorize and label aspects of the world. There always has to be a word or descriptor for something. Whether its race, sexuality, or political parties everything has to have its own clearly defined classification. However, these boxes can often pigeonhole a person and limit how much society allows them to evolve. This problem is extremely prevalent in the entertainment industry. You often hear artist complain about being typecast or how the media will make comparisons that become hard for them to escape. The same can be said of Texan singer Leon Bridges.

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Commercials have a way of popularizing songs that would otherwise only be heard by the respective fan base of the artist or group. The best commercials contain songs that can easily get stuck in your head and have you humming the tune for weeks, which will result in you googling the song. This was exactly the case for the Alaskan punk band Portugal. The Man, with their hit song “Feel it Still.”

The song can be heard in many commercials including a 2017 iPad pro commercial, a 2017 VitaminWater commercial featuring Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul, and a 2018 Cadillac commercial. I first heard the “Feel it Still” track on a commercial and after seeing it once, I couldn’t get the catchy tune out of my head all day.

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In the digital age, it is becoming increasingly difficult for musicians to stand out as individuals with something different to offer the world. The industry has become saturated with act after act, that bring the same level of talent and longevity to the game, and anyone can share their work with the world on the internet. Thirty-five year old Washington, D.C. artist Kelela has a uniqueness to her art, making her stand out in the indie R&B world.

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Singers emerge from all corners of the world, with different backgrounds, stories, and sounds. Technology and social media are evolving so rapidly, that it’s no surprise that many aspiring music artists were discovered on YouTube after posting covers of well-known songs.

The story is similar for 19-year-old Shawn Mendes, but he put a slightly different twist on it. In 2013, when the entertainment network Vine was at its peak, Mendes began posting six second clips of him singing on the app. After a childhood full of classes for acting, performing, and entertaining, singing came easily to Mendes. The self-taught guitarist gained millions of followers and garnered the attention manager Andrew Gertler who signed Mendes to Island Records in just a few months. His first single, “Life of the Party” was released in 2014 on the label.

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Everyone can relate to the nervousness and excitement of young love, but one song in particular, is able to take this indescribable feeling and put words to it.  The bubbly, R&B song, “Boo’d Up” has taken the charts and the radio by storm this summer. Its catchy chorus and engaging lyrics make it impossible to escape, whether it is being played on the radio or stuck in your head, making the song top the Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart.

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“Honestly, this is so much bigger than me,” 20-year-old Khalid said as he accepted the 2018 Billboard Music Award for “Best New Artist.” “This is for the youth, the young believers and all the dreamers out there. Do not listen to negativity. The only person in the way of your future is yourself.”

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Although R&B may seem like it’s taken a backseat to other genres, the first lady of Dreamville Records Ari Lennox refuses to let it die. Her neo-soul sound and down to earth vibe gives her the relatable edge that many artists seem to lack these days. Lennox got her first taste of fame on YouTube, where she has 33 thousand subscribers, and used to upload covers of popular songs. She has remade songs like “Drunk in Love,” by Beyoncé and “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” by Otis Redding. Lennox would add her own flavor to the songs by slowing them down and changing up the beat. Her smoky vocals have a very wide range that allows her covers to sound unique and fit her soulful demeanor.

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With more than 65 million views just five days after its release, Donald Glover’s “This is America,” has the internet buzzing. The video, which has been repeatedly called “genius, shows Glover as his alter ego “Childish Gambino” dancing with a group of African children while violent, terroristic and war-like incidents are taking place all around them.

Left open-ended and with little resolve, the video ends with Gambino running from the madness as a mob chases him (which resembles a scene  in Jordan Peele’s Get Out). It’s jarring and disturbing yet intriguing and compelling as well. The lyrics, like the video, tell a story of complicated contrasts. There are parties and guns, guerilla warfare and dancing, high-class consumerism and contraband, all in one video.  “What Gambino put together is a true picture of America where so many of us get to dance and sing and laugh and create,” journalist Isaac Bailey of CNN explained. “All the while others are largely ignored and trapped in the background, struggling and sometimes dying in a sea of ugliness that many of us would rather not acknowledge, knowing it would ruin the pretty pictures we’d rather focus on.” Evoking the transformative power of art and dance,  Glover as Childish Gambino puts America on display and instead of home of the free and the brave, we’ve become home of the ying and the yang.

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