All photographs by Sam Franzini.

I read 30 books in 2020.

Some novels, some essay collections, some biographies, some psychological, some scientific, some historical, but all were a part of a goal I set a few years ago to start reading more. Like all resolutions, this one required mental willpower to commit to, but it also involved re-learning something so simple, yet rarely done: Picking up a book.

Mine is a near-universal case: Being a voracious reader as a child, but going to high school, required to read specific texts and essays that were really of no interest. As a kid, I remember going to the library and picking out 10…


One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to listen to more music, but specifically to branch out of my comfort zone and find artists I have never even heard before and give them a try. I reached out to friends, relied on magazine reviews and score aggregation sites like Metacritic and Album Of The Year, and wound up discovering 33 new artists whose projects I listened to. Not all stuck with me, obviously, but my goal was so successful that 6 of the 10 albums on this list came from artists I found this year, and I enjoyed…


This year, I listened to more music than any other, either a way to deal with or escape from the maelstrom of events that this year unleashed. These are 50 of the songs that made it just a little bit better.

50. Ariana Grande, “pov”
49. Little Mix, “Happiness”
48. Zara Larsson, “Love Me Land”

47. U.S. Girls, “4 American Dollars”
46. Sada Baby, “Whole Lotta Choppas (Remix) [feat. Nicki Minaj]”
45. TWICE, “I Can’t Stop Me”
44. Megan Thee Stallion, “Body”
43. Shawn Mendes, “Teach Me How To Love”
42. Billie Eilish, “my future”
41. Miley Cyrus, “Plastic Hearts”
40. Miel, “Tourist Season”…


You might remember Miel Bredouw from Vine, the six-second video sharing app that was discontinued in 2016. Her most popular clip is a scene with her playing both parts of an acting scene: “Uh, you can’t sit with us.” “Actually, Megan, I can’t sit anywhere! I have,” Bredouw said as she turned to the camera, “hemorrhoids.” My personal favorite of hers is when she’s standing on Bleecker Street in New York City, imitating Beaker from “Sesame Street.” When someone off-camera tells her, “No, it’s Bleecker,” she continues her imitation, this time more downcast. …


2020 hasn’t shaped up to be the futuristic year we all thought it would be, although it has brought fantastic music — and we’re only halfway in! Here are some of my favorite albums from the first half of 2020, unranked and complete with some must-listen songs from each one.


Not written for quarantine but perfect for it, “I Know Alone” perfectly encapsulates the feeling of being stuck in a rut with no one to come help. “Nights turn into days/That turn to grey/Keep turning over/Some things never grow/I know alone/Like no one else does,” Danielle murmurs on the chorus across a bouncy, dark instrumental, one of Haim’s pop-friendly beats. “I’ve Been Down” also perfectly matches quarantine life: “Trying to get myself through this/And I’ve been watching too much TV/Looking up at the ceiling/It’s been making me feel creepy.” …


Rina Sawayama’s debut album, “SAWAYAMA,” is finally here, and lives up to the years of hype fans have accumulated towards this project. After achieving a cult following with the 2017 “Rina” EP, she began to work on branching out in new directions. “SAWAYAMA” was the result, and it was released to widespread critical acclaim.

The first single, “STFU!” is a heavy-metal rock anthem addressing the constant stereotyping she feels as a Japanese bisexual woman in the music industry. In the song, she tells her doubters, “Shut the fuck up!/Have you ever thought about taping your big mouth shut?/’Cause I have…


Lady Gaga has finally released her much-anticipated sixth studio album, “Chromatica.” After the country and folk-influenced “Joanne,” fans were hungry for Gaga’s return to culture-defining electro-pop songs. She delivers with this record, producing a collection of 13 songs with three interludes that are pure pop, all with clean instrumentals and some of Gaga’s finest songwriting to date.

Despite the album’s strengths, the road to release was one of the clunkiest I’ve ever seen for an A-list artist. After the lead single “Stupid Love” leaked, it was released in late February with no additional changes. The release date for “Chromatica” was…


When I met Carly Rae Jepsen last year on her Dedicated Tour, my main takeaway from our interaction was her kindness. With every meet-and-greet guest, she took the time to chat and made them feel special, like she was grateful for their participation. When someone asked her what superpower she would want in the Q&A session that followed, she replied, “I think to give someone a nice day.”

I think her generosity is in part why she chose to release “Dedicated Side B,” a collection of unreleased songs from her album “Dedicated,” near the one-year anniversary of her previous album…


Courtesy of Parade

Warning! Spoilers Ahead.

After two decades and a total of 590 contestants, CBS’ “Survivor” is still on the air. The recent monumental season featured a cast of previous winners from old seasons, and the grand $2 million prize — the largest in reality TV show history since The X Factor — went to Season 28 winner Tony Vlachos, who defeated Natalie Anderson and Michele Fitzgerald in a 12–4–0 vote.

The self-appointed “Queen of Survivor” Sandra Diaz-Twine (the only person to ever win twice); steamroller winners like Kim and “Boston” Rob Mariano; under-the-radar strategists such as Sophie, Danni…

Sam Franzini

University of California, Santa Barbara | 19 | TV, Music, Satire

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