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Joni Mitchell Meets Smashing Pumpkins On Leo Sawikin’s Grunge-Tinged Folk Rock, ‘Row Me Away’ – Essentially Pop

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Leo Sawikin brought us ‘A Whole World Waiting’ earlier in the year, and is now following up with his mental health-inspired folk rock with a more grunge-tinged sound on new track, ‘Row Me Away’.

Speaking to a generation who are somewhat lost in the frenzy of modern living, Sawikin employs sounds which are both nostalgic and new to create a sense of yearning in his music. Comforting in its companionship, ‘Row Me Away’ is the sound of someone who draws on the past in order to forge a new path forward into the future, picking up techniques and inspiration from the late and greats such as Brian Wilson, Carole King, Burt Bacharach, and Jimmy Webb to bring about a truly unique sound in his own songwriting.

Speaking of the song, Leo says,

“I was trying to go for a very visual type of song when I wrote this. I wanted to evoke a feeling of blasting away from earth or from our universe in search of something brand new and entirely different.” Again, he speaks to this timeless notion, from the lyrics to the chord progression. “Using unique but familiar chord progressions like this is a great way to lay the groundwork for songs that feel nostalgic and brand new at the same time… when most people ‘row away’ somewhere, they’re not just looking for a new world, but ideally a place where the familiar is accessible.”

The melding of genres is completed to expert levels on this track, which is a truly intriguing look at who Leo Sawikin might shape up to be as an artist. With these two tracks under his belt, it’s surely going to be a brilliant debut album that he’s bringing us later on in the year.



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The Phantom of the Opera Is Returning to Broadway – Will It Succeed? – Essentially Pop

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After a hiatus, the Phantom of the Opera is returning to the stage. Broadway welcomes back its longest-serving play in its history, with the Majestic Theatre hosting the first edition on October 22. The misanthropic composer is based on Gaston Leroux’s novel, Le Fantôme de L’Opéra, and commands audiences annually, so expectations surrounding the play’s success are high. It may be a classic, yet it continues to appeal to new audiences regularly, and this season won’t be any different.

Popular Themes

Some plays revolve around niche genres. They are no less successful in the short term, but their abstract themes mean they struggle to maintain momentum for long periods. For example, fantasy and horror appeal to a particular group of people. As a result, there isn’t an influx of new customers to keep the theatres open.

Phantom doesn’t have the same issue, as highlighted by its worldwide appeal. Not only is it Broadway’s longest-running musical, but it has also enjoyed a 33-year run in the UK’s West End. Why? It’s because the play is a tale of unrequited love, and all its features enforce the concept, from the characters themselves to the music and props. Romance is powerful, and it’s this element that fascinates theatregoers from eclectic demographics. ABBA is another example as the band used relatable themes to stay relevant, even releasing a Hollywood and West End musical.

Relevancy in Pop Culture

Unfortunately, romance isn’t enough to attract the numbers Phantom of the Opera has over the decades. To hit the figures that it has since Andrew Lloyd Webber’s version opened in 1987, the musical needs to adapt, a target it has smashed continuously for over three decades. After grossing billions at the box office, Phantom was released on DVD, Blu-ray, Album, and Download, resulting in 40 million copies sold worldwide.

An indirect connection through different mediums is an effective strategy too. American sitcom, The Goldbergs, is an incredibly popular show that exposed its viewers to the play with its episode that focused on the role it played in the protagonist’s life. A more modern case study is the effect of iGaming. By taking themes from popular shows and combining them with casino promo codes, online casinos develop titles that engage and attract audiences. The Phantom of the Opera slot game, available on Bet365, features the play’s beloved main characters and enables the Phantom to once again win new audiences’ hearts.

Phantom of the Opera has over 70 major theatre awards and productions in dozens of countries in different languages. It is going nowhere thanks to the role of the relatable theme and its relevance in popular culture. That should class as success in anybody’s book.



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Dave Vargo Releases ‘Fault Lines’, The Second Single From His Forthcoming Album. – Essentially Pop

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Dave Vargo graduated from one of the most prestigious musical institutions in the world. Coming away from Berklee College of Music in Boston with honours is an outstanding accomplishment. Just spend a second looking at the famous graduates of this incredible college and you will see what I mean. This set the artist up as a touring performer and session player who went on to perform with the likes of Whitney Houston and Vonda Shepard, to name a couple, before starting to play solo.

His new single, ’Fault Lines’, has all of his usual sheen. There is an effortlessness about Vargo’s singing that falls neatly into an Americana genre but this would be to underplay the honesty and grittiness of his music that lifts it into the far bigger pool of singer songwriter music that would include the likes of Bruce Springsteen’s current style; good, honest Country rock at its best.

Dave brings all of his experience of years as a session artist to his solo work and this is very evident on ‘Fault Lines’, a song that is like an onion, revealing nuance after nuance with every listen. Typically, gravelly vocals are somehow mixed with contemplation to provide real substance that starts slow but grows in power as the track develops. The balance between acoustic and lead guitar blend perfectly with the almost march like drums, as does the additional vocals on the chorus, which add depth to Vargo’s raspy vocals in the same way Morgane’s voice enhances the vocals of her husband Chris Stapleton.

As the second single from his yet to be released new album, this is a definite move into a slightly edgier, rockier sound from the last album that will manage to please old fans but definitely garner new ones. The two releases are certainly enough to make the release of the long player something to look forward to; there are real shades of the brilliant style of fellow Berklee alumni Joe Walsh and John Mayer in the artistry and lyricism of this new release and I personally can’t wait to hear what else Dave Vargo has up his sleeve.



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We’ve Only Scratched The Surface! TIGER KING SEASON 2 Will Launch On Netflix On November 17, 2021 – Essentially Pop

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The colourful saga of America’s most notorious big cat owners continues. Sudden fame and unwanted attention from the authorities turns up the heat and unearths some stunning revelations.

With Joe Exotic behind bars and Carole Baskin closing in on ownership of his disreputable zoo, the Emmy-nominated saga continues its twisted course with Tiger King 2 as newfound revelations emerge on the motivations, backstories, and secrets of America’s most notorious big cat owners. Old enemies and frenemies, including Jeff Lowe, Tim Stark, Allen Glover, and James Garretson return for another season of murder, mayhem, and madness. Thought you knew the whole story? Just you wait.



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