Right in the Feels: “Magic Shop” by BTS

Sometimes a song is more than a song.

Sometimes a song reminds you of who you are and what you can be. Sometimes a song holds your hand and gently brings you out of the darkness and into the light. Sometimes a song gives you the words you’ve been searching your whole life to find to help you make sense of all the things you want and need and hope for.

Sometimes a song saves you.

Sometimes a song helps you save yourself.

I spent a really long part of this last year hating myself.

I didn’t want to admit it then, but I was depressed—in a way I’m not sure I’ve ever really experienced before. I had days when I just laid in bed and thought the absolute worst, meanest things about myself; days when I looked in the mirror and couldn’t find one good thing about the person looking back; days when I would cry for hours and then frantically push the heels of my hands against my eyes until they hurt when I heard the door click and knew someone was coming home and would see me because I didn’t want them to see how bad it was.

It was bad. I felt bad. And I felt so guilty for feeling so bad. Because I had my job, my health, a healthy family that I got to see every day. Compared to so many, I was so lucky.

And that just made me hate myself even more.

I focused a lot of that self-loathing on two things: my extroverted personality and my writing. Those were two things that I used to cherish—they were two things that I’d always believed made me special. But depression takes your view of yourself and distorts it like a funhouse mirror. It takes the stuff that makes you special and convinces you that it actually just makes you weird and hard to love. It makes you focus on the things people said 10 years ago about you being “exhausting” to be around or that gift you gave when someone was sad being “too much” or your writing having “no real point.” It brings out the worst in you—in my case, that’s my perfectionism, my belief that if people don’t say I’m the best at something, then I shouldn’t be doing it at all. Because what’s the point?

To the very few people I shared my struggles with, I described it as feeling like the good things about me had atrophied during the pandemic. I felt so guilty for feeling so bad that once the dark days of winter settled in, I’d stopped feeling much of anything. And for someone whose entire personality is based on feeling things deeply and strongly, that was the worst part of it all.

I was afraid I was never going to be really happy again. That I was never going to be me again.

Then, I saw a Korean boy band perform on the Grammys.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week: BTS, The GRAMMYs, and That Fangirl Feeling

Every fangirl knows that feeling.

You’re watching a TV show and two characters share a look, and you know they’re going to be the next fictional couple to keep you up at night writing fanfic in your head. You’re scrolling through Tumblr, and you see a GIF of an actor, and you know that you’re going to be looking up their entire filmography on IMDb. You’re watching a movie trailer, and you know this is going to be the only movie you want to talk about for the next 6 months.

You’re watching a band perform at the GRAMMYs, and you know that you’re going to be headed down a YouTube rabbit hole of every version of that song and every staging of that choreography.

Before Sunday night, it had been a long time since I’d felt that feeling. It’s that little spark in your fangirl soul that a lifetime of bouncing from one obsession to another tells you is going to grow into a fire that’s bright and warm and all-consuming. And I’d started to genuinely worry that I’d lost the ability to feel that spark—that this year had taken away the part of me that can throw herself into a new fandom with reckless abandon, happy tears, and lots of capslock.

I feel the most like me when I’m deep in that feeling (and usually when I’m dragging other people into it with me—or enabling the ones already there), and without it, I didn’t feel like me anymore.

Who knew all it would take to bring back the best version of me was 7 guys from Korea dancing on top of a building in snazzy suits?

Hi, my name is Katie, and I’m obsessed with BTS.

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I’m Off the Deep End (Watch as I Obsessively Talk About Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga)

“We’re far from the shallow now…”

There was nothing shallow about Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s performance of their Oscar-winning, Grammy-winning, and everything-else-winning hit from A Star Is Born. In fact, in an Oscar telecast filled with a surprising number of high points (Olivia Colman! Melissa McCarthy covered in rabbits! Women winning so many things! Spike Lee climbing Samuel L. Jackson like a tree!) their breathtaking take on the instant-classic “Shallow” might have been the moment with the most depth—or at least the moment people rewound the most to make sure they caught every last detail.

And there were some magical details to catch. From the way Gaga seemed to hold her breath as he sang and their ridiculously intense eye contact to his smile as she sang and that final intimate chorus that launched a thousand tweets, it seems people can’t get enough of them and their performance (myself included).

So what made this moment so special? Why can’t we stop talking and tweeting about it?

It felt real. Even if these are two actors who are both talented enough to be nominated for Oscars. Even if they’re just good friends (who like to look into each other’s eyes for so long it seems they’re trying to break some kind of record). The intimacy they created on that stage felt real, and sometimes what we feel matters more to us than the facts.

What I felt—more than anything else—was the best kind of vulnerability from both of them, and that’s where real intimacy comes from. Cooper has talked often about being unable to hide when you sing, and that was certainly true in this performance. From the minimal staging to the soft lighting and even the lack of introduction and stripped down arrangement, the moment was all about the two people sharing it and nothing else. Which isn’t an easy thing for an actor who didn’t sing before doing this movie and for a singer who’s used to hiding behind a persona when she takes the stage. All they had was each other and a piano, and that proved to be more than enough.

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TV Time: Once Upon a Time 6.20


Source: telltaletv.com

Title The Song in Your Heart

Two-Sentence Summary When the Black Fairy challenges Emma on her wedding day and brings her back to a time when she felt alone, flashbacks reveal that her mother’s wish to help her find her happy ending gave her a song that she’s always carried with her, which helps her understand that she’s never truly been alone. After facing the Black Fairy, Emma is finally able to marry Killian—right before a new curse descends on Storybrooke.

Favorite Line “They say that a captain’s heart belongs to his ship, but with this ring, it now belongs to you.” (Killian)

My Thoughts Greetings, fellow Oncers! I’m coming to you from my hotel room at Walt Disney World’s lovely Contemporary Resort, where I’m enjoying a much-needed dose of magic this week. Typically, I try to avoid writing of any sort on my vacations since I do so much writing when I’m home, but I couldn’t leave the NGN Family without a place to talk about this episode. And after hearing the news of Jennifer Morrison’s departure from Once Upon a Time this morning, I also knew I couldn’t leave you without a space to talk about what she has meant to you, what Emma Swan has meant to you, and what you think is going to happen to the show without her should it be picked up for a seventh season.

I know that I am going to miss both Emma Swan as a character and Jennifer Morrison as an actor on my favorite television show more than I ever imagined before learning the news today. Writing about Emma’s journey completely changed me as a writer and as a woman, and meeting Morrison remains one of the highlights of my life as a fangirl. While I’m incredibly sad to lose this character (and am really hoping the show just ends instead of trying to go on without her), I’m so thankful for what Emma brought into my life—including most of you reading this. NGN became what it is today because of how much fun I’ve had writing about Emma’s journey and how much I’ve loved connecting with all of you about it.

A few members of the NGN Family have reached out to me today about writing a letter to Emma for The Fan Mail Project, and I wanted to let all of you know that you can definitely do so. I haven’t started putting together that part of the book yet, so please don’t shy away from writing something about this character if she’s meant something to you over the years. You can send them to nerdygirlnotes@gmail.com whenever inspiration strikes you. And if you already wrote to Emma but want to edit your letter, you can always do that, too. (Lord knows I’m going to be adding so much more to mine!)

But enough talk of endings…Let’s talk happy beginnings instead! Since I have to be up early to catch a flight on Soarin’ Around the World at EPCOT, I’ll leave most of the analysis up to you this week, but here are some discussion topics to get you started:

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You Were Never on Your Own: What a One Direction Concert Taught Me About Fandom

Sometimes inspiration strikes in the most unexpected places...like a One Direction Concert.

Sometimes inspiration strikes in the most unexpected places…like a One Direction Concert.

I went to a One Direction concert last week, and it was one of the most inspiring things I’ve done in a long time.

I know—it’s probably strange to hear a 27-year-old woman describe a boy band concert as “inspiring,” but my experience was less about what was happening onstage and more about what was happening in the crowd. Yes, those boys from Britain were quite charming and talented, and they put on a heck of a show. But for me as a woman interested in fandom and how we engage with the things we love, the best thing about that concert was watching the preteen and teenage girls around me scream, cry, dance, and hug their fellow fangirls through every song.

Teenage girls can’t catch a break. They’re hardwired to care about things with a single-minded intensity that leads many to label them “crazy” or “silly” for feeling things as strongly as they do. And then when they take in what the world is saying about their impassioned reactions to things, they start to clamp down on their enthusiasm, and the world then labels them “vapid” or “shallow” because of how little they seem to care. It’s a vicious cycle designed to do nothing but make these girls feel bad about themselves.

So it brought me immense joy to see thousands of girls and women unashamedly expressing the fullest extent of their enthusiasm last Thursday night at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, New York, from the moment One Direction came onstage until long after the last encore had finished. I’ve seen that stadium filled with Buffalo Bills fans on Sunday afternoons for years, and this was no different—thousands of people joining together to cheer and share their excitement over something they love. People just want to make it something different because sports fandom is generally the realm of adult men, while boy band fandom is the realm of young women. And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out which group of not-so-different fans gets more respect from the world at large.

It was nice—for one night at least—to watch young women express whatever emotions they were feeling in the moment without having to explain them, apologize for them, or feel self-conscious for feeling as strongly as they do about things. And it was because they knew they weren’t alone. They were surrounded by other young women who were feeling those same feelings just as strongly as they were. They had hands to hold while they jumped up and down, people to dance with, and friends (new and old) to hug as they shared their overwhelming joy.

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Fangirl Thursday: Playlists Full of Feelings

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of playlists on my iPod: “Workout Mix,” “Road Trip 2013,” “Yoga Time,” “Alias Songs,” “Extraordinary,” “Perhaps I Would,” “I Will Always Find You”…

Why yes, I do have multiple playlists devoted to songs that remind of my favorite fictional characters and couples. Doesn’t everyone?

Music makes us feel, so it’s always made sense to me that the right song would make me think about the characters and relationships that make me feel, too. It’s what we do as fans; we take the things we’re passionate about and make deeper connections with them than the ones we’re given during the small amount of time we spend in the movie theater, reading, or watching TV.

It all began—as so many things in my life as a fangirl did—with Alias. Season Three of Alias was a time of immense angst, so naturally, ever sad song reminded me of the time Vaughn spent thinking Sydney was dead or the time Sydney spent watching Vaughn be married to someone else. From the entire More Than You Think You Are Matchbox 20 album to Coldplay’s “The Scientist” and Garth Brooks’s “The Dance,” I spent my entire sophomore year of high school listening to angst-ridden songs—not because I was an angry teenager but because I was a fangirl.

More than 10 years later, I’m still the kind of fangirl who hears a song and immediately finds a character it relates to. And when I do, I add it to the playlist. Some of my playlists (like “Extraordinary,” aka my Castle/Beckett mix) also have songs used on the TV shows or in the movies themselves, but I love discovering new songs that unexpectedly give me all the feelings.

Today I want to share my top five songs from my three most-played fangirl playlists, ones devoted to Castle and Beckett (from Castle), as well as Snow and Charming and Emma and Hook (both from Once Upon a Time).

Extraordinary: My Castle/Beckett Playlist
1. “Shake It Out” (Florence and the Machine)
And I am done with my graceless heart, so tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart…
This song will always be Kate Beckett’s anthem to me. I discovered it right around the time “Kill Shot” aired back in Season Four, and its empowering theme of moving beyond the demons we carry with us seemed to be a perfect emotional companion for everything Beckett was going through in that episode.

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The Magic of Music: My Favorite Disney Songs

Is "The Circle of Life" one of your favorite Disney songs?

Is “Circle of Life” one of your favorite Disney songs?

Music has a way of moving us like little else on Earth. The right song—heck, the right note of the right song—can instantly bring tears to our eyes and goose bumps to our skin. Music has a magic that’s all its own.

Combining the magic of music with the magic of Disney only seems to amplify that ability to move people. The greatest Disney movies are made great by their soundtracks, and great Disney songs live on in pop culture forever. Hearing a specific song from a Disney film can transport you back to the movie theater where you had your first movie-going experience, or it can remind you of a time when you first watched a child fall in love with the magic of Disney. Disney music calls to mind Disney memories, and those are magical experiences for all of us.

While I’m enjoying my own magical experience in Disney World, I wanted to start a conversation here about your favorite classic and contemporary Disney tunes. Here are my 10 favorite songs from Disney films, and I hope you share yours in the comments!

1. Circle of Life (The Lion King)
The best Disney songs resonate on a level deeper than just their relevance to the film they’re in, and that’s certainly true of this song. Its poignant lyrics are matched by a sweeping score, which builds to a soaring crescendo that is guaranteed to give you the best kind of chills. There has never been a better song for introducing the spirit of a Disney film. The stirringly unique beginning of this song, coupled with the image of that rising red sun, created a truly iconic Disney moment.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (8/18 – 8/25)

After a few weeks in which nothing very special happened in the world of television, this week was like a breath of fresh summer air. So You Think You Can Dance had its best episode in ages as the All Stars took on the role of choreographers for the night, with some incredible results. Suits gave us a fantastic flashback episode that gave us new insight into Harvey and Donna’s complex relationship and finally answered the eternal “Will they or won’t they?” question with “They did.” And the VMAs provided audiences with plenty of things to discuss—both the good (Jennifer Hudson’s “Same Love” appearance) and the shockingly bad (I’m looking at you, Miley).

In fact, my favorite TV moment of the week comes from last night’s VMA ceremony. While Harvey and Donna’s chemistry on Suits was insane this week, there was nothing hotter than Justin Timberlake’s decades-spanning performance on MTV. I may be biased because he’s my favorite all-around entertainer and live performer (and #1 celebrity crush), but that performance of his biggest hits proved why he is the celebrated showman he is today. His skills as a dancer are mind-blowing, and he has stage presence and easy charisma to burn.

Also,  *NSYNC reunited, and it was beautiful. I didn’t know how much I needed to see all of them singing “Bye Bye Bye” together again until it was happening.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

Daily Dose of Feelings #21

Do you want to know something that never fails to make me cry? Watching someone do what they were born to do. Not just something they’re good at—or even great at—but to paraphrase A League of Their Own, something that gets inside of them and lights them up. There’s nothing quite like watching someone with a God-given gift bask in the joy they feel while using that gift. It’s a feeling of pride for someone you’ll never know, a strange sense of secondhand accomplishment.

It’s the feeling I get every time I watch a Rachel Berry solo on Glee. Lea Michele is truly a once-in-a-generation talent; she was born to sing big songs on big stages to big ovations. And I love that she has always infused her portrayal of Rachel with that same sense of devotion to performing. The stage is and always will be Rachel’s first love—her happy place, her home. And there’s something so moving about watching this character—who has dreamed of being something special her whole life—find the one place where there is no one better, no one more special, than she is.

Everyone has their favorite Rachel Berry solo, and mine is “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.” I’ve been a fan of that song since I was a little girl, and to hear it sung with such passion and such strength made me fall in love with it all over again. But this moment is about so much more than the song choice. It’s about a love story deeper than any other Glee has ever tried to sell: the love Rachel has for the stage.

Michele glows in this performance; her inability to contain her own happiness is what makes this scene so powerful. You know you’re not just watching a character do what they love; you’re watching an actress do what she loves, too.

The moment when Rachel sees Carmen Tibideaux sit down to watch her is my favorite moment in the whole scene. As soon as she sees the woman behind her rejection from NYADA, Rachel turns her performance up to another level, almost daring Carmen to continue to doubt her. That confidence is something this character almost lost after that rejection, so to see it come back in such a definite way was incredible. Rachel may doubt a lot of things about herself, but she knows she’s a great performer—and it’s beautiful to watch her prove her greatness on the biggest stage.

The joy of performing is something nearly impossible to describe. It’s something that can only be felt, and only the best of the best can translate that joy into something tangible for audiences to latch on to. Michele is so good at making you feel everything Rachel feels as she’s singing—whether it’s pain or joy. In this moment, she’s feeling a kind of joy and sense of purpose unlike any she’s ever experienced, and if that’s not a powerful thing to behold, then I don’t know what is.

The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (3/3 – 3/10)

This was a relatively slow week in the world of TV for me. Most of my shows were on hiatus, although Once Upon a Time was new and incredibly well-acted and well-paced. However, “The Queen Is Dead” was just too sad for me to think of it as the best thing I saw on TV this week. It was beautifully executed, but it was such a heavy hour of television.

With that in mind, I chose something lighter and more fun for this week’s pick for TV’s best moment of the week. Last night, Justin Timberlake came back to host his fifth episode of Saturday Night Live, and it was as enjoyable as I’d hoped it would be. I was always more of a Backstreet Boys fan growing up, but ever since Timberlake began his solo career, I’ve become a major JT fangirl. Apparently I’m just a sucker for a good song-and-dance man (with the emphasis on dance).

Timberlake’s performances of “Suit and Tie” and “Mirrors” on SNL showed off his characteristic style of performing—making doing it all look almost ridiculously easy.

What was your favorite thing on TV this week?