The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - 5
Music's changing face
Not 'Game of Thrones'
'Vikings' talk shop
Stars of History fast-paced and excitingsecond sea- in.
Al Lux 0 Lll 1110 Uki1 _Y
discuss new season
By GRACE HAMILTON
Daily Arts Writer
On Feb. 27, whenthe second sea-
son of "Vikings" premieres on His-
tory Channel, viewers can expect to
revisit the conflicts of last season -
longships and all.
In an interview with The Michi-
gan Daily, actors Clive Standen and
Katheryn Winnick talk about what
is to come for their characters and
why "Vikings" is different than
The series is based onthe adven-
tures of Ragnar Lodbrok, a promi-
nent figure in Nordic literature, and
follows his raids across Europe,
playing up the family tensions and
clan rivalries along the way. "(Cre-
ator) Michael Hirst is faithful to
this society and period of time,"
Standen said. "The Vikings have
never been really given the right
justice and dedication on screen
Season one ended with many
loose ends left to be tied - among
them an affair, threatening the
strength of Ragnar's marriage to
his warrior wife, Lagertha, a death
in the Lodbrok family and a pow-
erful split between Ragnar and his
brother Rollo. While such open-
ended questions may have made
for a frustrating season finale, they
have provided fruitful ground for
Standen and Winnick's charac-
ters are at the center of these con-
flicts. Still, they are unsure what
lies ahead for their characters. For
Rollo, the question remains, will he
be able to reconcile with his broth-
er, having chosen to fight against
him? Standen recites an old Viking
saying, "bare is the back which
has no brother," perhaps affirming
viewers' projections for a reconcili-
For Winnick, the second season
is a testof identity for her character.
Lagertha has a powerful role, with
great appeal in her warrior perso-
na, fighting alongside her husband
in battle in addition to caring for
their children. Winnick attributes
most of this to history.
"Women inthe8th century had a
strong voice," Winnick said. "They
were allowed to be not only moth-
ers and young wives and farmers
but also fight in battle, also own
land, also divorce their husbands,
and eventually rule."
It's true that the historical infor-
mation surrounding the Vikings is
limited, and that which is available,
is of questionable accuracy. Still,
being a "historical drama" does
have some important implications.
"(At the end of the day) the big-
gest spoiler is actually picking up
the history books, finding out what
they did,how they met their ends or
what they achieved," Standen said.
So, while the exact plot details of
this next season remain a mystery,,
some of the blanks are already filled
This creates a stark contrast
between "Vikings" and a show like
"Game of Thrones," where writers
and actors can throw a curveball
at any point to hook viewers. Such
a show has the advantage of using
dragons, monsters and magic to
create intrigue. "Vikings," howev-
er, does nothavethe same freedom,
which creates a challenge with
regards to preserving the show's
"The show is a huge risk for the
History Channel, but one with
great payoffs," Standen said.
"Vikings" has turned into a
sort of catchall series, by targeting
both the network's typical view-
ers, those attracted to a historically
based narrative, while also luring
in a younger demographic hungry
for battle and mysticism. In this
respect, the show has proven to be
a great success.
The season finale was able to
draw approximately 3.6 million
viewers. Some people may object to
the blurred lines "Vikings" draws
between fact and fiction, but unde-
niably, something in the model is
working very well. TV audiences
are typically very divided, whether
by age, gender or economic stand-
ing. But if other shows can manage
the same balancing act, they might
find greater success.
Season two does not promise a
classroom-worthy history lesson
or fire-breathing dragons. It does
however promise a gripping plot
line, dedicated acting and some
good costumes along the way.
Back when I was still in high
school, I remember a friend
bringing up a new style of music
he'd been listening to lately:
dubstep, dub for short. I'd never
before, and _
dancing a ALPERN
of stepping in place and what-
ever the hell "dub" was.
Slowly, the genre began to
take root like a stubborn sap-
ling, gathering in strength until
it pervaded the house scene as
a whole. Skrillex, deadmau5,
Modeselektor - at Lollapaloo-
za, dubstep moved from the
dance tent to the headliner's
stage in just a year's time. Pre-
decessors like "wub" had been
around since the early '90s, but
it wasn't until the end of the
2000s that the "wobble bass"
style exploded into the limelight.
Once artists like Britney
Spears were depending on dub-
step (see 2011's "Hold It Against
Me"), it was clear that the style
had reached a critical mass.
Those rubbery basses have been
everywhere lately - even TV
commercials, the graveyard of
musical trends, have started to
feel tired when the bass drops
under some guy showing us
his cell phone. Clearly, some
shiny new influence will rise to
become the newest, "hippest"
element of pop music. But what?
For the time being, I've picked a
few other genres or styles that I
could see propping up the most
recent Disney-star musician
This is admittedly a weird
pick, but I've listed it first here
because it seems like the most
interesting possibility. Hailing
from Africa, Kwaito - and more
recently Zef - could be the next
big hit to come from an unex-
pected origin (see "Gangnam
Style"). South African group Die
Antwoord has picked up some
traction in the U.S. through
catchy (if extremely creepy)
club hits, and it's not hard to
extrapolate that some of Africa's
booming hip hop will follow.
Usually a bit slower than the
current house, Zef will need
help via incorporation of Ameri-
can artists, but the potential
explodes from there. African rap
is downright infectious, and its
boisterous presence seems like
it would fit in right at home with
the current climate of the hip-
This is not about
The New Alternative
If you've read my column
before, you know that I'm a bit
of a fan when it comes to alt. But
luckily, this has relatively little
to do with that. All you have to
do is look at the Billboard Hot
100 at the time of this article's
writing. Four of the Top-10 pre-
miered on XM's AltNation well
before they shot their way up
the charts. OneRepublic, Lorde
(to a lesser extent), Bastille, Pas-
senger - all of those names hung
around the fringes of alt-rock
before they ascended to the big
leagues. And they're only fol-
lowing in the footsteps of similar
acts like Foster the People and
Gotye, proving that we might
be in for a decade of alternative
dubstep. Once again, this is going to be
kind of a strange one to describe,
but bear with me here. I think
that, these days, it's only a mat-
ter of time before a few more
West Coast Vibe Disney music stars are born. But,
shocking plot twist - what if
lly, I have no other name the new Disney star is actually a
is, other than the phrase good musician? Maybe not liked,
'unk used to describe their but at least respected as a talent.
ecent influence (specifi- And then, in another shock, new
those Californian pioneers Disney star collaborates with a
'70s). But when a record heavyweight of the music world
andom Access Memories - think maybe Jay Z or Kanye.
Album of the Year at the And it works. Where do we go
mys, how can you ignore from there? How does the music
makes it stand out from the world reconcile such an oxy-
nominees? "Get Lucky" moron of taste? By accepting it,
ome Record of the Year more or less. Slowly, the stigma
'hat catchy groove, and will fade, and eventually some-
red Lines" has dominated body who can actually play the
arts using something like guitar will be selling out arenas
funk flavor. Regardless with Yeezus right behind them.
w you feel about either of Or not. Some perceptions are
albums, "West Coast Vibe" damned hard to break.
seems primed to explode into
every other band worried that
it's getting stale (and really, if
you don't like Daft Punk, just get
out of here).
Alpern is not listening to
dubstep. To remedy, e-mail
For the Daily
What I know about Beck:
he looks good in a fedora; he
has magical, golden locks like
his voice is
think whales Morning
What I don't
know about Beck
Beck: his first Capitol
listened to them.
The problem is that he's old
enough to be my Dad - 43 to
be exact (I looked that one up).
Despite his age, Beck is way too
chic to wear his pants too high.
That was in the early '90s, and
if you were in high school then
(the minority reading this),
you probably know Beck. I was
still learning how to poop, so
all I've got going for me is his
latest 'album, Morning Phase.
And' while I understand the
importance of placing his 12th
album in context of his first 11,
I'm not your guy for that job.
My focus is what I know: the 13
songs on this album, and I gotta
say, they're worth more than one
listen. Let's get to the music.
Firstoff,I've givenup tryingto
place the record in agenre; songs
give off vibes of soft rock, alt-
rock, folk, blues, experimental,
maybe a little country. I'm
always drawn to unclassifiable
music because it's usually the
stuff that opens new doors for
future artists to explore - think
Radiohead's complex simplicity,
or in literature, Hemingway's
In three words, Morning
Phase is soft, slow and somber.
Instrumentation is bare bones:
acoustic guitar and Beck's voice
actingasfoundation, and strings,
light pianos and harmonies
providing the character; drums
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"I'm a Scientologist, born and raised!"
is a sou
a hug. T
imal and all together of the album, almost like an
on some tunes and the anchor. The tune stands out
takes a leisurely pace for its gloom, and starts with
he album. the same full string lick from
opening track, "Cycle," "Cycle" minus the high octave.
ndscape of strings that The second verse emphasizes
tone for the rest of the this phase of sorts with some of
The orchestra sounds the simplest, yet most pointed
out of a dramatic lyrics of the whole record. "If I
rod soundtrack, and surrender /And I don't fight this
oothly into the soothing wave / No I won't go under / I'll
riff and falsetto vocals only get carried away." Instead
ning." I could definitely of fighting, Beck surrenders and
p to this album and is swept away. To where? The
wholeheartedly the day song ends with Beck droning
e a good one. angelically on the words "wave"
t's not all happiness. and "isolation," like his voice is
the wave carrying him off to
some beautiful darkness.
And don't get fooled by the
od any time, title. MorningPhase is good any
iy or night, time, day or night. The album's
versatility continues to astound
me. I usually can't study with
lyrics, but Beck's vocals are
ngs "I tore it all down relaxing and stay out of your
ied me underneath the face. Yet,.the record is not just
and now all I want is background music; it has a dual
7he lyric might also be capacity for intricacy that's just
'to "Wave," which Beck waiting to be found, especially
right in the middle for a Beck rookie like myself