Podcast: Sam Manzella on the 10th Anniversary of Fun’s “Some Nights”


It’s been 10 years since fun. released Some Nights, which vaulted the band into stardom when hit single “We Are Young” took over the charts in 2012. On this episode of Long Live the Music, Kiel Hauck is joined by MTV News writer Sam Manzella to look back on the album, the impact it made during a transitional moment in popular music, and the quasi-fallout of the band that resulted in very divergent paths for both Jack Antonoff and Nate Ruess. The two also discuss Antonoff’s impact on pop music in the years since the album’s release and the chances of a fun. reunion ever taking place. Take a listen!

You can read Sam’s MTV News retrospective on Some Nights here.

Subscribe to our Podcast on Apple or Spotify

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Review: Lorde – Solar Power


On Lorde’s latest, Solar Power, I want what she’s having. Oh wait. I already have it.


You can buy or stream Solar Power on Apple Music

Ella Yelich-O’Connor’s triumphant return began with a less than triumphant lead single, the title track of her new album. I liked it from the beginning, but I couldn’t deny that I understood what others found disappointing about it. But as someone who is almost exactly Lorde’s age, I got it. The idea “Can you reach me? No, you can’t!” is such a sought after feeling for me, an introvert stuck in an overly connected age. In this, I envy her.

Lorde took a lot of time away since 2017’s masterpiece Melodrama, an album I still think was robbed at the Grammys. This is a hill I’m willing to die on. She is a quiet artist, an introspective genius. Her work is meant to be listened to and experienced on an individual level. 

This is mostly in part, I believe, to Ella’s own introversion. She rarely tours, rarely sits for interviews, and she even hid on social media as an onion ring enthusiast. In Solar Power, I believe we see Lorde in her truest form. She sings of her dislike for her fame and of her obligations as an artist, but it’s not in a woe-is-me, I’m-famous-but-I’m-a-victim sense. She’s just a young woman who has a lot on her plate, as most of the folks in her (and my) generation do. 

This is an album about anxiety and finding solace from a world that demands attention in the most obnoxious ways possible. As someone of no acclaim, I even feel this in my work and in my friendships and in my internet presence. One can only imagine how that feels when you’re globally known. I don’t blame her for wanting out. 

Solar Power is a picture of today’s generation. It’s a story about a woman who just wants a break. A woman who wants to see a better world but doesn’t know the role she plays in getting there. And it’s one of my favorite albums this year.


by Nadia Alves

kiel_hauckNadia Alves has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Review: Taylor Swift – evermore

At one point in my life, I was astounded that some of my favorite artists were able to release new albums in back-to-back years. What a naive summer child I was. Taylor Swift’s third album in less than a year-and-a-half is an astounding achievement. The morning it was announced, I almost couldn’t believe that it wasn’t just an album of folklore B-sides. Swift’s ninth studio album, evermore, is its own beast, despite being a sister to this year’s folklore. Although not quite the achievement that folklore felt like at the time, the fact that evermore exists is less impressive than the fact that it is another of Swift’s absolute definitive albums.

You can buy or stream Evermore on Apple Music.

Considering that all of Swift’s records since 2012’s Red have sounded drastically different from each other, the biggest surprise from evermore is that it still holds its own identity despite being a continuation and a sequel album. Keeping most of the elements of folklore’s indie folk songwriting, evermore leans more toward indie pop with more of a polish than its predecessor. Although silence itself seems to act as an instrument at times, it’s less prominent than it was before, even on Lover, leaving an album that stands on its own as much as it highlights the best of Swift. 

Co-written with folklore’s superstar cast of Aaron Dessner of The National (who appear on “coney island”), Jack Antonoff, William Bowery (Joe Alwyn) and Bon Iver, and including an appearance by Haim on the outlaw country song “no body, no crime”, it’s no surprise that evermore follows similar beats to its predecessor. However, where folklore found hope and light throughout its runtime, evermore is more downtrodden. Evermore is folklore’s shadow in substance as well as release date. It may be difficult to see both albums as individuals in the future since they reflect one another in hindsight, somewhat similar to David Bowie’s famed Berlin Trilogy. 

While folklore provided some type of hope in this insane year, evermore shows the tiredness that the world faces 10 months into the pandemic. This is conveyed through the fictionalized stories written for each song, something that was highlighted the most on folklore. Though these stories are darker, they’re no less powerful and harken to the best of country songs, despite only housing a couple of songs that hint at a reflection of her roots. 

Driven by piano and acoustic guitar, evermore finds its footing standing between folklore’s indie vibe and Red’s mixture of pop and country. It captures a more produced effort than folklore, while balancing the sound between a mixture of genres. Although similar in texture, the albums depart in theme and sound just enough to stand apart.

Many songs on evermore reflect the sound of lost loves and the failings of love. Songs like “champagne problems” tell the story if a failed marriage proposal, and people telling the would be groom that the girl suffered from mental problems as a way to explain the outcome (“‘She would’ve made such a lovely bride / what a shame she’s fucked in the head,’ they said”). 

The deceptively titled “happiness” looks at the life after the destructive ending of what was once considered a great relationship (“Past the curses and cries / Beyond the terror in the nightfall / Haunted by the look in my eyes, that would’ve loved you for a lifetime / Leave it all behind, and there is happiness”). 

Although it’s harder to find standout tracks on the album, such as folklore’s “the last great american dynasty”, those songs still exist. “Marjorie” explores the regret of letting a loved one pass without learning everything they had to teach (“I should’ve asked you questions / I should’ve asked you how to be, asked you to write down for me / Should’ve kept every grocery store receipt”). 

Evermore is an album that delves into the melancholy just as much as its sister, folklore, delved into the positive. Although not as striking or as distinct as its immediate predecessors, evermore finds its identity by blending the last two albums sonically despite exploring the darkness of relationships. Despite the extensive ground covered in evermore, there is a constant threat of the album always being overshadowed and ultimately lost in Swift’s discography, despite how unique it is.


by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and longs for the holidays next year, when there is a possibility that enough family members will be vaccinated enough to be able to cough in their eyes. HE WANTS TO COUGH IN EYES!!!

Review: Taylor Swift – folklore

At this point, there should be very little Taylor Swift could do that would shock us. Releasing her eighth (and possibly best) album less than a year after Lover, her seventh (and possibly best) album, is one example, though. Simply put, folklore is a masterpiece of a record that exemplifies the best of Swift as an artist while reigning in just as many aspects that made her a world renowned star. Restrained, introspective and overflowing with emotional stories, folklore is as much a perfect introduction to Swift as it is a departure of her sound.

You can buy or stream folklore on Apple Music.

Folklore is almost as much of a sonic departure for Swift as 1989 was at the time of its release. While Lover reveled in the silence between notes, the anthemic stadium pop still filtered through the gaps. It’s difficult to say that folklore, an album conceived during the coronavirus quarantine, is a natural progression of Lover even though it further strips away the electrifying pop sounds and delves deeper into the indie folk genre.

Co-written with Jack Antonoff, The National’s Aaron Dressner and Bon Iver, folklore is an indie folk album that revels in Swift’s signature storytelling abilities. However, where the album gains its strength is in the mixture of personal stories and fictional characters that blend together so well, it seems like this is how Swift has written her songs all along (“my tears richochet”).

Stripped of the overt poppy gloss, it would be easy to write folklore off as a return to Swift’s country roots, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The piano and acoustic led songs would be just as good if fleshed out further so as to make them stadium rumbling anthems. However, as is, the album is amongst the most intimate of Swift’s lyrics, even when the story isn’t about her.

On a surface level, folklore appears to be almost too relaxed (“cardigan”). It lacks Swift pushing her vocals to their limits, anthemic choruses or any of those hooks that would make for an obvious top radio single. Instead, Swift’s relaxed vocals force attention to melody and lyricism. Minimalistic, folklore puts the story at the forefront with the soft twinkle of piano, acoustic guitar and surgically precise orchestration relegated to the most intense moments (“august”).

If there is a theme to folklore, it is to turn the tables on the fans who pour over Swift’s lyrics to decipher what she is singing about. Each song of folklore seems to dance from real stories, to fictional characters to the speculative heartbreak expected on Swift’s early releases.

Opener “the 1” retraces the lost loves we all held as young adults (“Roaring twenties, tossing pennies in the pool / And if my wishes came true / It would’ve been you”). Meanwhile, “the last great american dynasty” pulls at similar themes to “The Lucky One” from Red (“Who knows, if she never showed up, what could’ve been / There goes the maddest woman this town has ever seen / She had a marvelous time ruining everything”).

The twinkling piano of “mad woman” acts as a second act to Lover’s “The Man” in that it radiates years’ worth of rage from dealing with sexism, harkening back to “Look What You Made Me Do” as well as “the last great american dynasty” (“Every time you call me crazy, I get more crazy / What about that? / And when you say I seem angry, I get more angry”). Meanwhile, closing track “hoax” acts as a bookend to “the 1”, diving fully into the regret and anger of those true, lost loves (“Your faithless love’s the only hoax I believe in / Don’t want no other shade of blue but you / No other sadness in the world would do”).

The magic of folklore isn’t that it was a surprise release, but that it was a surprising delivery. Stripped of the over-the-top glam of her previous albums, Folklore manages to be just as poignant as any past releases, with Swift the artist reigning above Swift the pop star. If there is a fault in folklore, it’s that the album is a few songs too long, but I do not envy the person to decide which to cut. That folklore manages to carry the weight of the biggest pop star on the planet and retain the ingenuity of an up-and-comer is only further proof that Taylor Swift may be the best musical artist on the planet.


by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and dropped his deodorant in the toilet today, the way that champions do.

Review: Taylor Swift – Reputation

Just over three years have passed since Taylor Swift won me over, and just two years have gone by since I made that information public. At the time, I admonished myself for the lack of empathy I exhibited toward Swift as she reckoned with fame in the midst of her youth. Her latest album, Reputation, dives headlong into that very conversation from every angle imaginable.

During the album’s rollout, as narratives flew wildly, it was easy to forget that the past three years of Swift’s life consisted of more than just petty feuds with Kanye West and Katy Perry. As stories of sexual misconduct in entertainment continue to crash ashore, remember that Swift handled herself with strength and grace this summer while winning a lawsuit against an ex-radio DJ who groped her.

You can buy Reputation on iTunes.

Even one of the most powerful cultural forces in recent memory is not immune to abuses of power and had to fight for the public perception of her own character. With that in mind, Reputation takes on a significantly more meaningful role than you might think on the surface.

That’s not to say that Reputation is a great album. It’s flawed, certainly, but its significance remains.

If you’re like any of the other 700,000 people that purchased Reputation last Friday, you’re aware that several of the album’s 15 tracks are much better than the singles we were given. In this case, the missing pieces fill in the gaps quite well, making the purpose of Reputation clear. Taylor Swift isn’t embracing her dark side – she’s resolutely stating the control she has over her own relationships, her own persona, her own destiny. It’s kind of powerful in that way.

And oh, by the way, the majority of the album pulses shamelessly with buzzing synthesizers and rattling bass lines, as if to emphasize her point. When it works, as it does on the delightfully trappy “I Did Something Bad”, it elevates Swift to another level of pop excellence. When it doesn’t, we get handed hollow wannabe bangers like lead single “Look What You Made Me Do” or the impossibly clumsy “End Game” with Ed Sheeran and Future.

The aforementioned “I Did Something Bad” works so well because Swift conveys her message with such flare and clarity. During the track’s bridge, she alludes to a dying culture of victim-shaming and misplaced anger, singing, “They’re burning all the witches, even if you aren’t one / They got their pitchforks and proof, their receipts and reasons”. That self-awareness and snark makes her chorus of, “They say I did something bad / Then why’s it feel so good?” all the more bold and empowered.

It’s a strategy that plays well on other tracks like “Dress” and “Don’t Blame Me”, where Swift defiantly embraces her sexuality and control of her own love life. On “Call it What You Want”, when she sings, “I want to wear his initial on a chain round my neck / Not because he owns me / But ‘cause he really knows me”, it’s not a reinvention – it’s a reclaiming of her own story.

These moments make Reputation worth its while, even when things become uninspired (“Delicate”, “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”). Such has been the case with nearly every album of Swift’s career, so offering another cry for her to trim the fat merely seems like wasted breath at this point. Besides, this is what Spotify’s queue feature was made for.

If you’re still in need of finding a storyline in which Swift stands not in the best light, opportunities are available. For instance, take her firm apolitical stance at a time when her voice would be welcome – a stance so steadfast that she is willing to sue a blogger for even questioning her silence against dangerous alt-right groups that seem to support her.

As it turns out, Taylor Swift is complicated, just like the rest of us. Reputation, on the other hand, is not. With her sixth full length album, Swift has boldly declared her own narrative, others be damned. Whether you choose to scoff or turn up the beat and dance is up to you.


by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Taylor Swift Drops New Song “Look What You Made Me Do”

It’s here! Last night, Taylor Swift dropped the first single from her new album, Reputation. The new song, titled “Look What You Made Me Do”, is a dark dance-pop track that takes aim at her enemies, in particular, Kanye West and Katy Perry. Co-written with Jack Antonoff of Bleachers, “Look What You Made Me Do” gives us a glimpse into what could be a much darker affair when her album drops on November 10. Take a listen to the new song below:

You can preorder Reputation through a variety of outlets.

What do you think of the new song? Are you hoping for more of the same on Reputation? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Review: Bleachers – Gone Now

There is a sharp juxtaposition between the title of Bleachers’ second full-length album Gone Now and its content. In fact, the lyrics across the album’s 12 tracks seem to long for things left behind – safety, familiarity, memories – before slowly drawing us back home.

When Jack Antonoff released Strange Desire under the name Bleachers in 2014, it felt full of promise as a potential side project with legs. The success of that debut and the subsequent dissolving of fun. has changed the narrative completely. During the past three years, Antonoff has become a household name thanks partly to his role as hit songwriter for the likes of Taylor Swift, Lorde and more.

You can buy Gone Now on iTunes.

This rapid turn of events helped elevate Gone Now to one of the year’s most anticipated releases. Did Antonoff deliver? Yes, but the reasons why are complicated. Gone Now further realizes the true pop potential of Bleachers, but the resulting collection of songs fire in such different directions that it’s hard to keep up.

Gone Now certainly takes its share of opportunities to relish in Antonoff’s own brand of synthpop, especially on early singles like “Don’t Take the Money” and “Hate That You Know Me”, but it refuses to follow a single thread. “Everybody Loves Somebody” features big drums and horns, sounding like it could have belonged to fun.’s follow up to Some Nights. Likewise, you can almost hear Nate Ruess’ voice atop the folksy banjo on “I’m Ready to Move On”, while the 80s-inspired powerpop banger “Let’s Get Married” sparkles with Hot A/C glee.

If it weren’t for Antonoff’s clever songwriting, Gone Now could easily have flown off the rails in any number of directions. Instead, consistent themes and lyrics are woven throughout each of the tracks to help provide focus, with frequent hellos and goodbyes to “upstairs neighbors” and “the kids downstairs”. It’s expert storytelling as Antonoff shakes away his pop stardom in an effort to find balance. “Hey, I know I was lost, but I miss those days” he tells us in one of many moments that acknowledge the lure of the past he wishes to leave behind.

It’s clear that Antonoff had every intention of weaving Gone Now in just this manner, even if it leaves some listeners troubled that he couldn’t just pick a sound and stick to it. Perhaps that’s part of the album’s brilliance in an age of streaming. Want to digest the story in one stream of thought? Want to cherry pick tracks to queue up as your mood dictates? The choice is yours, and you really can’t go wrong.

On Bleachers’ upcoming tour in support of the album, fans will have the opportunity to walk through Antonoff’s childhood bedroom, which is traveling along to provide a glimpse into the space that inspired a young Jack. It’s another purposefully sharp inverse image of his struggle, but it speaks to a greater truth. No matter where our lives take us, we can always find home along the way.

Antonoff’s skill and transparency give him the all-too-rare opportunity to be a likable pop star, even if he can’t seem to decide if that’s what he really wants. Either way, Gone Now will provide plenty to chew on and dance to as the summer passes through, no matter which direction you’re traveling.


by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Review: Nate Ruess – Grand Romantic


Going solo ain’t easy, even if it makes total sense.

As much as we all wanted that new fun. record, it became increasingly clear that we’re as far away from it as ever. If Nate Ruess’ constant pop radio co-writing and guest vocalist adventures weren’t evidence enough, the astonishing success of Jack Antonoff’s indie sensation Bleachers made it all too clear. Fun. may be a cash cow, but there’s currently too much at stake for the individual members’ rising stock.

I’ll admit that I went into Ruess’ solo debut Grand Romantic with a fair amount of skepticism. What does a solo record even look like for an indie rock martyr turned pop star? The picture is blurry at first, but with repeated spins, Grand Romantic turns into a surprisingly delightful, introspective tale.

Built on a foundation of tracks originally meant for that elusive fun. release, and constructed alongside Some Nights producer Jeff Bhasker, Grand Romantic opens with the grand introduction we’d expect, complete with chorus and bells. That display leads directly into “AhHa” – a track so reminiscent of “Some Nights” that it even includes a haunting refrain from the original that spills into the triumphant chorus of, “Oh lord, I feel alive / I’ve gone and saved my soul”.

This hollow glance at the past preceding a triumphant step forward resounds on nearly every level, with Ruess using every inch of his vocal range to power the anthem along. It’s a statement, to be sure, but it’s far from tired. Lead single “Nothing Without Love” follows suit with its hopeful cry, leaving the dark imagery of Some Nights in the rearview mirror.

Before you can label Grand Romantic as the same devil in a new dress, it flips on its head, swaying back and forth between bouncy indie pop and calm piano ballads; joyful noise and painful reflection. Ruess even throws in a few new tricks for good measure, to varying results.

“What This World Is Coming To” is a folk-inspired duet with Beck that is instantly irresistible. Their harmonized chorus of “So let’s get high here in the moonlight / Even the stars go right over our head / I think I’m gonna shine here in the afterlife / Leaving the fight for peace of mind instead” is an instant highlight of 2015. “Moment” is a deep and personal 80s inspired ballad, a sincere glimpse inside a private journal.

On the flip side, “Great Big Storm” has potential as an uplifting, foot stomping track, but falls flat during its repetitive chorus. “Harsh Light” sounds like a Some Nights holdover that doesn’t quite have the same spark. However, to both Ruess and Bhasker’s credit, even songs that fail to fly high don’t sound out of place on Grand Romantic, and the album flows along purposefully.

Even when Ruess takes a dark detour on the painful “It Only Gets Much Worse”, he carries along his sonic sensibilities that keep the track from weighing things down. A tinkling piano and chirping strings carry him even as he sings, “I didn’t mean to let you go / I didn’t mean to bruise but I lost control”. Things come full circle when the album closes with the string-infused and optimistic “Brightside”.

What begins as a familiar friend becomes an animal all its own – Grand Romantic captures Nate Ruess at his most vulnerable, and perhaps his most daring. It may not fill the void left by the disappearance of fun., but Ruess doesn’t seem all that concerned. He shouldn’t be. He and Antonoff have both capitalized on opportunity and appear content to explore new ground while inviting us all along for the ride.


by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

fun. Post Band Update


Just a matter of weeks after we listed a new record from fun. on our Most Anticipated Music of 2015 list, the band has released a statement regarding their current status and future. While it appears that the band is still together, it doesn’t seem like there are any plans in place to move forward with a new album any time soon. Rats. You can read the full statement from the band below:

A lot of you have been asking us for an update on when to expect new music from fun. As you know, we like to give you guys news and updates when they are ready, but there has been a lot of recent chatter and we hear you and wanted to speak to you directly to explain a few things.
so here goes-
first and foremost to answer the question that has been raised most often: fun is not breaking up.
fun was founded by the 3 of us at a time when we were coming out of our own bands. one thing that has always been so special about fun is that we exist as 3 individuals in music who come together to do something collaborative. we make fun records when we are super inspired to do so. currently nate is working on his first solo album, andrew is scoring films and jack is on tour and working on bleachers music. the 3 of us have always followed inspiration wherever it leads us. sometimes that inspiration leads to fun music, sometimes it leads to musical endeavors outside of fun. we see all of it as part of the ecosystem that makes fun, fun.
you guys are EVERYTHING to us. honestly. We want to treat YOU GUYS (our amazing fan base) with the respect you deserve; and that is by making music when we are fully ready to make it and never giving you guys anything that is less than 100%. “Some Nights” was a successful album and it would have been very easy for us to jump back in the studio and capitalize on our momentum. but making records and touring when its “good for business” means nothing to us. we make records and tour when we are inspired to do so. that is the very reason why we have built such a special connection with all of you. that is how we can be the most honest to the people who support our music.
It’s also important for you guys to know that the 3 of us are very involved and supportive of all these different projects going on within the fun family at the moment. that fact that our tiny club can produce so many different kinds of music together and as individuals is very special to us.
as always, we’ll keep you guys updated!
all our love
nate, jack and andrew

Are you looking forward to Nate’s solo record, or would you prefer more music from fun.? Let us know your thoughts in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Most Anticipated of 2015: #9 The Return of fun.


It’s been nearly three years since indie pop act fun. have released any new music. That’s not to say that the trio haven’t been busy – far from it, in fact.

Lead singer Nate Ruess has been a co-writing machine, appearing on tracks from the likes of P!nk and Eminem. Guitarist Jack Antonoff launched his own indie pop side project Bleachers last year, to much acclaim. Along with pianist/percussionist Andrew Dost, the band has still been riding high off of 2012’s smash breakthrough, Some Nights.

So when will the band return from their various endeavors and release new music? Here’s what we know: the band appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last summer to perform a brand new song called “Harsh Lights” and they are currently in the process of writing new material for an unnamed album.

It seems totally plausible that the band will release that album in 2015. Will the new record match the explosive Some Nights, both in musicality and cultural relevancy? Will the band turn once again to acclaimed producer Jeff Bhasker, who helped make Some Nights such a huge sounding record? It’s clear that this trio is loaded with talent and more than capable of crafting something otherworldly. The only question is how long we’ll have to wait.

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.