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Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)

We All Scream for “Scream Queens”

Scream QueensLike many Ryan Murphy shows before it, Scream Queens is not perfect. The man who created Glee and American Horror Story does not exactly know how to make a fast-paced, plot-driven series, when to tone down the camp, and struggles at times to find coherent endings to the series he helms. But Scream Queens, FOX’s comedy-horror series that just wrapped its first season on Dec. 8, reaches levels of hilarity and campiness that is nothing more than pure fun, and seems to have the potential to be Murphy’s best show yet.

The show follows the sorority sisters and pledges of Kappa Kappa Tau of Wallace University, an exclusive group that only accepts the richest, prettiest, and most popular of girls. The new president, Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts), runs the sorority with her wealth, style, unmatched meanness, and her minions, Chanel #2 to Chanel #5. Yet when Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) decides that KKT has to accept all of their pledges, no matter how nerdy or lame, all hell breaks loose. Of course, that is not where the story ends. The audience is reminded of a mysterious death that occurred in the sorority house 20 years ago, which may have something to do with the serial killer on the loose at Wallace. Known as the Red Devil, due to their creepy, full body devil costume, this killer seems to only have an interest in the girls of KKT and the people around them.

A serial killer terrorizing a bunch of sorority girls is not a new story by any means. But what makes Scream Queens so fun to watch is how quick and witty it is when it comes to nonstop jokes. Each character talks so fast that it’s almost hard to keep up, which allows for every silly, crude, ridiculous remark to hit the audience so fast that they cannot help but pay attention. The comedy element works perfectly for the show, allowing it to be as campy and over the top as it can be. It does not try to push dramatic elements like Glee, or even try to truly scare the audience and fail, like American Horror Story. It knows that it’s a show to entertain and make someone laugh, and it completes that job to a T.

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“The Night Before” Rings in the Holidays

Night BeforeWhile the latest film produced by Seth Rogen may not be a new Christmas favorite to watch every year, it certainly provided viewers with gut-wrenching laughter and a nice transition into Christmas time. The Night Before revolves around the tradition of three best friends: Isaac (Rogen), Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and Chris (Anthony Mackie). These longtime friends have always spent Christmas Eve together since the death of Ethan’s parents, but now that they all are growing up and forming their own traditions, this year will be their last spent together.

The friends parade through the city with their ridiculously  ugly Christmas sweaters as they try to follow their previous escapades. They venture to bars, Chinese food eateries, and even mimic the giant piano scene in F.A.O Schwartz from Big, opting for a rendition of Kanye West’s “Runaway.” The song undoubtedly adds extra laughs to the scene, especially as the surrounding parents tried to cover their children’s ears. This goofy humor continues as the trio moves onto karaoke and sing surprisingly rather well—though the same can’t be said about their dance moves.

Regardless of the fact that it is their last year of completing this tradition, the friends seem to repeatedly get caught up in their own concerns and lives. This develops into the core dilemma of the movie: they are grown up now. Chris is becoming a famous football player, Isaac is married and about to have a child, and Ethan still has some growing up to do as he grapples with abandonment issues. However, the film manages to not make it get all gushy and stereotypically emotional like most other Christmas movies. It solves the issues between them using more humorous methods rather than the typical feel-good ones.

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“Mockingjay Part 2” Misses Its Target

Katniss 2A brutal plotline and heavy themes have always made The Hunger Games a complicated series. Suzanne Collins’ dystopian story about a girl at the center of a rebellion is expertly nuanced with social commentary that makes it a standout in its genre. It’s a shame, then, that the final film installment feels rather dull.

After the immense popularity of the books, The Hunger Games got the Hollywood treatment in 2012, kickstarting a franchise that would make a huge success out of its cast. Starring as the arrow-slinging heroine Katniss Everdeen was Jennifer Lawrence, now an A-lister and recently named Entertainment Weekly’s Entertainer of the Year. Beside her was Josh Hutcherson as the earnest baker Peeta and Liam Hemsworth as the brooding Gale. Rounding out the cast was Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks, both perfect fits for their quirky portrayals of Haymitch and Effie, respectively.

The Hunger Games was most successful when it focused on just that: the games. In a post-apocalyptic world where children are forced to kill each other for sport, the first two installments of the series were packed with themes about the media and big government. By the time we reach Mockingjay, Katniss has incited a full-scale rebellion movement as factions throughout the districts have gone to war. As the series draws near its conclusion, the wellbeing of an entire civilization is at stake, but the significance of it all gets lost in translation from book to film.

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Adele Returns to Mixed Reviews

Adele 2015English singer-songwriter Adele has serenaded us once again with her powerful vocals and love-struck ballads. The Grammy-winning artist released her last album, 21, in 2011, which earned her extreme popularity in the media and love from critics. Her follow-up to that album, 25, was just released on Nov. 20. Given the significant time gap between her previous album and 25, one would think there would be some sort of uniqueness to her new work. Unfortunately, Adele has crooned us with her same old style. This is her third studio album filled with a jumble of slow songs that all sound the same when thrown together (not to mention her lack of creativity with the numbered title once again). When giving this album a listen all the way through, you’ll find very few standout tracks and tons of noticeable flaws.

It is undeniable that the woman has tremendous talent, but it would have been nearly impossible to top the success she had with her latest album. 21 was certified diamond in the U.S., setting the bar high for 25. After much anticipation, the lead single, “Hello,” was released in October and was highly successful in the media and with critics. Much like her older work, “Hello” is a powerful, slow love ballad that honestly sounds just like it could be placed on her album 21. Although it was typical of her to release a song like this, it is certainly a track that gets stuck in your head, plays on every radio station, and contains lyrics that are plastered all over the internet. “Hello” was a perfect lead single for 25, getting everyone excited for its release.

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Alessia Cara is Pop Music’s Break Out Star

Alessia CaraAlessia Cara, 19-year-old singer-songwriter, got her start in the music world by posting acoustic Youtube covers of popular songs from her bedroom floor in Brampton, Canada. She was discovered by Taylor Swift after covering “Bad Blood” and Swift tweeted at her, impressed by her cover. Having 66 million Twitter followers, Swift’s tweet helped bring attention to and propel Alessia’s single, “Here,” to No.1 on Billboard and Twitter emerging artists chart, according to

On Nov. 13, Alessia released her debut album, Know-It-All. Her voice is dominant, soulful, and captivating throughout the album. Many of the ideas present in the songs were relatable to me because I’m the same age as Alessia and this really captured my attention. Since Alessia contributed to the songwriting, the album is so real and personal, giving it an individual touch; she describes experiences I have been through myself, in a different perspective, making it fascinating.

The first track is “Seventeen,” and it’s an ideal opening to Know-It-All because it sets the mood for the rest of the album; it’s an invigorating song where Alessia celebrates and embraces her youthfulness. She discusses how, as a young girl, she’s always yearned to grow up, but now that she’s older, she wishes she could, “freeze the time at seventeen.” It’s a fun, upbeat song and symbolizes Alessia’s freshness in the music career.

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Blue Hawk Records Spotlight: Kellan Brennan

Kellan BrennanOne of the contributors on this semester’s Blue Hawk Records compilation album is jazz artist Kellan Brennan. Brennan is a junior communication major focusing on radio and TV studies at the University. He has been playing piano for nine years and enjoys listening to and playing all genres of music. Some of Brennan’s influences are Steely Dan, Esperanza Spalding, Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, and Sublime.

“Kellan is a phenomenon that only comes around once in a while, personality wise and musically,” said Liam Frank, a junior music industry student, about our featured artist. “His music shows great understanding of standards in his favorite genres, while also mixing a bit of mystery so that the listener can’t quite classify it.”

It wasn’t until Brennan started here at Monmouth and began to listen to more jazz that he started writing more music. He has since been very active in the local music scene, writing music and playing locally.

“Jazz can be anything you long as it’s dynamic,” Kellan said about the combination of jazz and R&B influences with pop and rock foundation that can be heard in his music.

For this semester’s compilation album, Brennan has recorded a song called “Old Soul” in Lakehouse Studios. Kellan says this song is about that classic “Piano Man” bar scene and a beautiful, smart, amazing girl. Originally, he only had two chords that he knew had to be made into a song, and this foundation became the masterpiece that is “Old Soul.”

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“Fallout 4” is the Best Game of the Year

Fallout 4 2015I’m about two hours into Fallout 4 and have just made friends with “Dogmeat,” a stray German Shepard and my first in-game companion. I’m walking along, mostly following a road, occasionally going through ruined woods, and doing a bit of scavenging. By the time I come upon a red rocket gas station, I’ve picked up a double-barrel shotgun and a pipe-rifle to go with my 10mm handgun. Dogmeat and I kill off a few nuclear mole-rats infesting the place and are quite happy to find some empty cans and a hotplate.

I lockpick a door, hack a computer, and find a journal entry. It has details on caves beneath the gas station which contain stores of smuggled goods. I take a minute to give Dogmeat some stuff to carry, tell him that he’s a good dog, and then we’re off running through cave-muck and nuclear waste in search of new guns. After what felt like a few minutes, we’ve picked the cave clean and we’re headed back to Sanctuary where we’ll store our loot. I take a quick break to check how long I’ve been playing, and am more than a little surprised to find that I’ve logged four more hours, and it’s now 2:30 a.m.

Bethesda, Fallout 4’s developer/publisher, excels at making immersive open-world games where players lose themselves in the fiction. The last Bethesda game of this type was the wildly successful Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. Skyrim is considered by many to have been the best game of the last console generation, and commercially it sold over 20 million copies. Skyrim also received numerous “Game of the Year” awards from various gaming websites/publications. There were two key features which made Skyrim so successful: it had hundreds of hours’ worth of content and it provided a uniquely immersive experience to players. Skyrim gave you choices, and it made you feel like the character you were playing was an embodiment of you.

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Drama Reigns in Season Two of “The Royals”

The Royals Season TwoHeavy is the head of he who wears the crown.

The he in this case refers to Cyrus (Jake Maskall), the reprehensible monarch that schemed his way onto the throne in May’s season finale of The Royals. The original E! drama about the fictitious royal family returned on Sunday after a surprisingly entertaining inaugural season packed with scandals and conspiracy theories. Season Two picks up two months into Cyrus’ reign of terror, and as always, it’s anarchy in the monarchy.

At its core (and its best), The Royals is about the sibling relationship between Prince Liam (William Moseley) and Princess Eleanor (Alexandra Park). While both indulge in the lifestyle of the rich and the famous, they are shocked back into reality when their older brother, Robert, dies under mysterious circumstances. As Liam suddenly becomes the heir apparent and all eyes turn to the royal family in this tragedy, life beyond the palace gates is flipped upside down.

The Royals functions largely as a soap opera, but this isn’t a bad thing, nor is it unexpected—airing on the same network as the Kardashians, over-the-top drama is practically a requirement. Still, Royals remains grounded in its character dynamics and family themes. Liam and Eleanor’s supportive relationship is a fresh take on the sibling bond, and is foiled nicely by their respective struggles with their vain mother, Queen Helena (Elizabeth Hurley), and earnest father, King Simon (Vincent Regan).

Much of the show’s success can be attributed to creator Mark Schwahn of One Tree Hill fame. Schwahn expertly paced the first season with juicy scandals and snappy dialogue to distract viewers from a slow-burning conspiracy theory that drove the plot for the second half of the season. This structure, combined with a memorable variety of both sympathetic and despicable characters, makes Royals well worth the return for Season Two.

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Waiting On Mongo Rocks Asbury Park

Mongo Asbury ParkThe smooth, funky bass line and the giddy up of the guitar welcome you onto the dance floor like old friends you haven’t seen in awhile. There are conjoined shouts of a crowd and one amplified voice above them all singing “’Cause this is thriller, thriller night and no one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike.” The beast was Waiting On Mongo (WOM), a local jam band, and it struck at Langosta Lounge, a boardwalk bar in Asbury Park, on Friday, Oct. 23. WOM plays the same venue again the night before Thanksgiving on Nov. 25.

Lead singer and bassist TJ McCarthy, 25, said, “We’re willing to play anywhere as long as there’s a good scene with good people.” Sure they do it for fun (a lot of musicians just say that), however when a band really enjoys interacting with the different people in the audience, that’s when they spread the fun vibes around. “They’re half the show, ya know, and we like to pick up on what the crowd likes and roll with it,” McCarthy said.

WOM plays for many different audiences, and it is adaptability that will make or break any band. This past summer, along with playing at local Jersey Shore bars, WOM played a pool party gig, a wedding and a few house parties. Lead guitarist Mike Susino, 24, said, “We would play on the moon or in someone’s basement in Lancaster, PA. It doesn’t matter to us.”

Coming off their successful debut on a festival circuit at Souper Groove in September, WOM is always looking for new people that would enjoy their music as much as them. But the band’s odd name is not out there yet; people do not identify with it or the story behind the name either.

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Blue Hawk Records Spotlight: Dan and Jackson

BHR Dan JacksonEvery semester, students in the Music Industry program at the University take Applied Music Industry 3 where they get to experience every aspect of scouting artists, producing and recording music and releasing an album. Joe Rapolla, Chair of the Music and Theatre Arts department and specialist professor, said, “This is a very unique and great experience for these students and it has the ability to reach across many different majors.” Last week we read about  Dan Amato, our first Blue Hawk Records artist this semester. Let’s meet some more artists on the compilation album!

Fresh from Long Valley, NJ, are the freshmen Music Industry duo Dan and Jackson. They are made up of Dan Gilby and Jackson Weippert from the group The Jake Squilby Band, who are well-known in their hometown. Their band name was actually from Dan’s twin brother, Jake, who also goes to Monmouth.  Dan and Jackson have been playing music for 10 years and have known each other for six years. About four years ago they realized that their love of music could be brought together, so they just picked up some instruments in a friend’s basement and started jamming. That eventually turned into playing a few events at their church and grew into several shows throughout their community.

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“Persona 4: Dancing All Night” is Persona Non Grata

Persona 4 Dancing All NightLet me start off with a little disclaimer: I have a bias for video games from the Persona series. I first encountered the Shin Megami Tensei series (and its Persona spin-off) in my senior year of high school. Since that time, I’ve paid close attention to both series, with Persona specifically becoming my favorite videogame series. As a little background, Shin Megami Tensei is a series centered on the occult and the ending of the world. Players fight to control the fate of these worlds (for better or for worse) by taming and controlling various creatures from folklore, religions and mythologies ranging from a Unicorn to Thor to Jack Frost. In some ways, it’s like a more adult version of Pokémon (much, much more adult). Shin Megami Tensei titles normally feature deep and mature plot points with branching storylines. Characters live and die depending on the choices you make, and in some cases, your decisions will literally have world-ending consequences. Actually, in some games, you may even choose to end a world deliberately. If you like moral conundrums, the occult and playing god, this series may be for you.

Now we get to the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series, a spinoff of the Shin Megami Tensei series, which has surpassed its parent series in popularity. For the purpose of this story, I will only be referring to titles from Persona 3 forward (the preceding titles were much more similar to other Shin Megami Tensei titles). Persona is the Latin word for mask, and a psychological term created by Carl Jung for a sort of social mask that people wear. Think of how your personality changes in different circumstances/company and how you might behave around friends as opposed to family—those different sides of your personality are called personas. Persona games are heavily influenced by Jungian psychology, and in more than one game, you actually sit through lectures on the subject.

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The Outlook
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The Outlook
Monmouth University
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Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151