The Most Wonderful Time at Hope College

Coming back to campus after Thanksgiving may not sound like any fun. However, there is nothing like Christmas music and festive decorations to make the last couple weeks of the semester that much better. Holland, Michigan, may be well known as a beach town, but there is something so enchanting about 8th Street covered in snow and strung with lights and stockings above the Bultman Student Center fireplace.

Every year Student Congress decorates the Bultman Student Center with everything from a 20-foot tree to poinsettias and lights. The dining halls are always festive and Phelps has one of the best Christmas playlists out there.

The annual Presidential Christmas Tree Lighting

When President John Knapp and Mrs. Kelly Knapp were at Hope they planted a Christmas tree right next to the President’s House. Every year since, our campus has come together the week after Thanksgiving for the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting.

This year was the President’s Sixth Annual Christmas Tree Lighting. The campus gathered around the tree and we counted down for the tree to light up. With a beautifully lit tree, we sing Christmas carols led by the President.

When Betty Voskuil moved into the President’s House, she wanted to continue the longtime tradition of setting up luminaries along the sidewalk of her house on Christmas. She then thought it would be even more beautiful to place the luminaries along the sidewalk through the Pine Grove. After we lit the tree at the President’s House, all the students walked through the luminaries to the Bultman Student Center.

In recent years we have decorated Santa cookies in the Bultman Student Center while Christmas hits blast through the speakers. This year, we took it to the next level and combined the Tree Lighting with the weekly SAC Coffeehouse for a Christmas-themed Coffeehouse. There were three different performers but one of the most memorable was President Voskuil opening up the Christmas Karaoke with Jingle Bells.

The whole afternoon is such a fun study break for students to gather and celebrate the holiday season, but the Christmas Tree Lighting is just one of the many festivities around campus this time of year. Dykstra Hall, for years, has a decorating contest that completely transforms the residential hall. You will never see anything like it. I’ve seen everything from a full reenactment of the movie Elf to the entire cluster wrapped in wrapping paper.

Dykstra Cluster 1-2 completely wrapped in wrapping paper.

I could go on and on about the Holland Parade of Lights or all of Durfee Hall singing Christmas Carols in the alleyway between Dykstra and Gilmore. All of these traditions make Hope that much more like home during the holidays.

57 Playlists: A Dissection of Music – Different Activities

Happy Sunday, Readers! How ya doing? Feeling the stress of finals already? I sure am… I’m five papers and one portfolio deep in words, words, words. So I’m about to give you some more words to read! Here’s my second post about music, except this time we’ll be dissecting the different types of music to listen to while doing different activities. Let’s get started!

Scenario 1: What am I doing? Working out, any time of the day. Mood: ENERGETIC. Lots of energy whenever I decide to work out or go on a run. For this, we need something very upbeat to get through the endless circles  at the Dow or crunches in your bedroom.

The ideal music choices we have for working out are:

  • Spotify Playlist: Epic Roadtrip
  • Band: Twenty One Pilates or Beyoncé (you can never go wrong)
  • Song: Sorry // Justin Bieber

Scenario 2: What am I doing? Walking to work, 8:00 a.m. Mood: Taking into account the chilly air and the sleepiness  from waking up just 37 minutes ago, my mood is unmotivated. For this activity, we need something that’s a little deeper and soulful. Not quite upbeat, but not so dreary that I fall back asleep on my long walk.

So the ideal music choices we have to fit the mornings are:

  • Spotify Playlist: Winter Acoustics
  • Band: James Bay
  • Song: Maybe Sparrow // Neko Case

Scenario 3: What am I doing? Anything around my house (maybe cleaning or doing laundry) or in the library between the dates of November 27th and December 26th. Mood: Christmas joy. During this time of the year, the best music is Christmas music, am I right? For these types of activities, we need straight up holiday jingles. But lets give it a twist because the classics get a little worn out.

The ideal music choices we have to bum around the house and be jolly are:

  • Spotify Playlist: Folksy Christmas
  • Band: Sufjan Stevens (His whole Christmas album is gold)
  • Song: Christmas Isn’t Christmas // The Boy Least Likely To OR Once in Royal David’s City // Sufjan Stevens (can’t get enough!)

And there you have it for what to listen to for different activities as you go throughout your day! Try these different tunes out and let me know if you have any suggestions for me. I love getting new stuff to listen to!

Enjoy this last week before finals, Readers!

Until next time!

 

57 Playlists: A Musical Dissection – Times of Day

Hello Readers! Happy Wednesday from my (unproductive) study session! I think many people would agree with me when I say that I’m beginning to realize how much I actually have to do before finals week. So naturally I’m procrastinating even more until crunch time actually begins.

And how do I procrastinate you may ask? Why, listen to music of course! Specifically, Spotify. (Praise!!!) No one can make it through such a grueling procrastination time without a little background noise. Now, if there’s one thing I really, really, REALLY want you to know about me, it’s that I take my music very seriously. I don’t just “throw on” whatever I feel like on a whim. There are specific genres, Spotify playlists, bands and songs I listen to when I’m in different moods or doing different activities. Honestly though, as a side note, I think that everyone should take their music seriously because it’s a crazy-good art form that is different from anything else. Think about it – someone made a beautiful noise by just plucking a string in different ways. Too cool. But I digress.

So, what I’m going to give you guys for the next few posts is a list of music for different times of the day and different moods that I’m in broken up by Spotify playlist, bands, and songs. Hopefully it gives you guys some different tracks to listen to and expands your horizons a little bit. Also! If you have any suggestions for me to write about, don’t be afraid to email me – I’m always open to new tunes! So without further ado, here we go.

Scenario 1: Where I am: Still in bed, 7:00 a.m. (music comes on right away when I wake up.) Mood: Sleep. I’m going to be honest, there isn’t really a mood at this point, so that’s why I have to let music determine it. 🙂 For this place/mood combo (which is the hardest for me to decide) we need a real mood maker, but not something so overbearing that will make me think too hard. In the same breath though, we don’t want something too fluffy either – that’s just an annoying day-starter.

SO the ideal music choices we have to start the day are:

  • Spotify Playlist: Early Morning Rise OR Creativity Boost
  • Band: Toss-up between The Civil Wars and Bahamas
  • Song: Breezeblocks // alt-J
The playlist Early Morning Rise for when I need a great mood in the mornings!
This is one of my go-to playlists for the mornings when I have to work at 8am. It’s a great mood setter.

Scenario 2: Where I am: The Kletz, 1:00 p.m. Mood: Content because I have a lot of things done and am writing (always a good sign). For this place/mood combo, we need something a little bit more upbeat since I’m in higher spirits, but, taking the dreary weather into account, we’re not going for just-got-my-first-job upbeat.

So the ideal music choices we have to fit this dreary Kletz day are:

  • Spotify Playlist: Feel Good Indie Rock
  • Band: Noah and the Whale
  • Song: Blue Meanies // Opossum
This is my afternoon playlist, Feel Good Indie Rock!
This is a great afternoon playlist that pulls me through until I can get to my evening playlists. 🙂

Scenario 3: Where I am: Doing homework in a cubby on the third floor of the library, 8:00 p.m. Mood: Worn out. It’s been quite the day, and I’d rather be home hanging out with my friends than doing homework. For this place/mood combo, we need something to wind down the day, but still keep me happy to be awake and centered on my homework.

So the ideal music choices we have to fit this tired library experience are:

  • Spotify Playlist: Darker Days (fitting) AND Dinnertime Acoustics (it’s going to be a long night)
  • Band: Hozier or Wild Child
  • Song: Pulaski at Night // Andrew Bird OR Levitation // Beach House
This is my playlist for library nights - Dinnertime Acoustic!
This is the playlist for my library nights, right when I’ve finished dinner. I like to believe that it helps me digest my dinner better.

In my next post we’ll be covering the ideal tunes and genres for the different seasons – one of the most controversial topics of musical discussion in my book. Let me know if you have any thoughts, opinions or music, as I’d be happy to chat you up about it and use your ideas!

Until next time readers!

* For those of you that were wondering, the title is in reference to the 57 playlists I have on Spotify. I knew they’d pay off someday.

Review of “Modern Vampires of the City”!

Hi Everyone! For my post, I’m going to review a recently released album by one of my favorite bands, Vampire Weekend.

vw
Modern Vampires of the City Album Cover

Vampire Weekend formed in the mid-2000s when the four members met at Columbia University. Their earlier albums, Vampire Weekend and Contra, have a distinguishable up-beat, afro-pop sound coupled with witty, intelligent lyrics. They keep their lyrical charm on their newest album Modern Vampires of the City while moving towards a more philosophical, dark sound.

The band’s main lyricist, lead singer Ezra Koenig, does not talk often about his private life but based on his lyrics, it is evident that he has been thinking about religion, aging, and death. One of the album’s more upbeat songs, “Unbelievers”, chronicles Ezra’s inner conflict with God’s imminent punishment through lyrics such as “the fire awaits unbelievers/ all of the sinners the same” and “Is this the fate that half of the world has planned for me?” One of the album’s crowning jewels, “Ya Hey” attempts to wrestle with questions that have Ezra, and many others, stumped: Why is God shrouded in anonymity? Why should God continue to love a country like America that is gradually moving away from Christianity? The chorus of “Ya Hey” draws heavily from Isaiah 43:2-3:

When you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flames shall not consume you, for I am Yahweh your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior

Here is the chorus:

Through the fire and through the flames

You won’t even say your name

Through the fire and through the flames

You won’t even say your name

Only “I Am that I Am”

But who could ever live that way?

The eery, mysterious “Hudson Bay” recounts the death of “Hudson”, while “Everlasting Arms” expresses doubt in God and the human desire to live forever; in this sense, in Heaven. Several others song like “Step” and “Worship You” continue the conversation on these topics.

I would pick a few songs to recommend from this album, but honestly I can’t pick just a few! Modern Vampires is most beautiful and lyrical as a cohesive whole, so I recommend that you listen to the album in it’s entirety.

Do you listen to Vampire Weekend? What do you think of Modern Vampires of the City? Let me know in a comment or on Twitter!

-Rachael

Lollapalooza/Last Post of the Year!!!

You guys, I am so excited to tell you about an event I’m going to this summer. You may have heard of it; it’s called…

Yes, I’m going to Lollapalooza this summer! For those who don’t know, Lollapalooza is a three-day music festival in August held in Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois. This isn’t your average summer band concert in the park; thousands of people come from all over the world to go to Lolla, and with good reason. Each year, the festival draws big name artists to headline and smaller ones to get their name out and about in the world. The headliners this year include The Killers, The Cure, and Mumford and Sons, who are each headlining a different night. 

As you can imagine, tickets for Lolla are a hot commodity. This year, a three-day pass was $235 and a single-day pass was $95. I had originally intended to buy tickets for Saturday and Sunday, but while I was buying my Sunday ticket, the Saturday tickets sold out! It turns out that tickets were gone in a record amount of time this year, so I consider myself lucky to be going only one day. If you’re still wanting to buy tickets for this year, Stubhub is probably your best bet. But be ready to pay a hefty price; single day tickets range from about $120 to $5000.

I’ve never been to Lolla before, or any music festival, so I am beyond excited to experience this! As you may have been able to tell from some past blog posts, I am a big fan of music and live concerts. So, naturally, this is the perfect event for me! One great aspect of Lolla, which I mentioned above, is learning about new bands. Of the 40 performers on Sunday, I had only previously heard of 10. I’ve spent the past few weeks exploring some of the artists I didn’t know before, and listening to more music of the artists that I had heard of. The more I listen to, the more excited I become! The performers I am most excited to see are Vampire Weekend, Two Door Cinema Club, Tegan and Sara, and The Cure. I made a playlist of some of my favorite songs, which you can listen to here:

What do you think? Any songs that you like? Tweet at me or comment below!

Like the title says, this is my last post for the school year! I’ve enjoyed blogging for you and I can’t wait to start again in the fall 🙂 If you are going to be on campus, feel free to say hi!

-Rachael

My Review of 1D’s Take Me Home!

I don’t know if these guys even need an introduction. In the very slim chance that you have no idea who they are, here is a quick biography: One Direction was formed in 2010 on the UK’s version of the X Factor. After having come on the show individually, Harry, Niall, Zayn, Louis, and Liam formed a group at the suggestion of Nicole Scherzinger. The group become surprisingly popular on the show, and have since grown to become the biggest pop act in the world right now. This past Tuesday, their second album, Take Me Home was released. If you follow my twitter, then you know that I purchased a copy. I have been listening to it non-stop, and I think that I have heard the songs enough times to review them!

1. Live While We’re Young: You’ve probably heard this song on the radio, because it’s the lead single from the album and has been getting a lot of play time in the last few weeks. It has a sound very similar to that of the über popular “What Makes You Beautiful.” The simple, yet catchy lyrics and high energy vibe make this song infectious and one of the highlights on the album. 9/10

2. Kiss You: Another fun song with simple lyrics. The message in this song is the boys asking a girl to kiss her, which is totally unrealistic considering those guys could get just about any girl on the planet to kiss them. Other than that, it’s a good one. 8/10

3. Little Things: This song is one of the biggest surprises on the album. It’s a
soft acoustic ballad about all of the imperfections someone has that makes them
unique and beautiful. All of the boys get fairly equal singing time, which
doesn’t always happen and is great when it does happen because each of them has
a lovely voice. Co-written by lyrical genius Ed Sheeran, this is easily one of the
best songs on the album. 10/10

4. C’mon, C’mon: Even though this is the shortest song on the album, it has the
liveliness of any other up beat song. The story here is a boy gets ditched by
the date he came with, sees a girl, and wants to dance with her. It’s peppy, but
not my favorite. 8/10

5. Last First
Kiss
: Love is the topic here as the boys sing that they
“want to be your last first kiss.” The tempo is a little on the slow
side, but it still has a lot of energy. This is also one of the few songs that
some of the boys (Liam, Louis, Zayn) helped to write! 8/10

6. Heart Attack: Love does not come without heartache, as is the topic of “Heart Attack”. In this song, a boy experiences the all too familiar emotions of seeing a former love interest with another boy. The song is great because it is so relatable, but my favorite part is the occasional “OWW!” yelled out in the chorus. Seriously, it’s adorable. 9/10

7. Rock Me: Sampling from the ever popular “We Will Rock You” by Queen, the main message is that a boy wants a girl to “rock him”. This is one example of how Take Me Home moves into more mature and sexually suggestive territory without being too outwardly explicit. The rock n’ roll sound helps give it a catchy yet edgier vibe. My only problem with “Rock Me” is that it references “summer ’09” like it was a big deal when in reality they were all around age 15 and probably didn’t do very much. 9/10

8. Change My Mind: A more mature sound is heard distinctly in this song as a boy tells how he is willing to not leave a girl and would change his mind if only the girl makes it known that she wants him. They do a good job of showing they are growing up, while also managing to play on their youthfulness. 9/10

9. I Would: I knew this song would be amazing before I ever heard it, because I knew it was written by three members of one of my favorite bands, McFly. This song is very similar to Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” in that the character in both songs mention how he/she is up against better competition in trying to win his/her soul mate. This is another big highlight on the album because of the on-point harmonies and cleaver lyrics. 10/10

Feels like I’m constantly playing
A game that I’m destined to lose
’Cause I can’t compete with your boyfriend
He’s got 27 tattoos!

— “I Would”

10. Over Again: Another acoustically driven song like “Little Things”. The multiple lines about healing broken pieces and starting all over again are touching and lets the audience hear a vulnerable part of them. 8/10

11. Back for You: This toe-tapping hit is based upon the band’s experience being away from home while they were touring in the United States and other parts of the world. All of the boys except Zayn helped to write this song, and two of the ones that did help, Louis and Liam, brought their personal stories to the song because they both had girlfriends while touring. I’ve found myself listening to this over and over again, and I think you will too. 10/10

12. They Don’t Know About Us: A piano driven soft medley turns into an up tempo beat while the boys sing about the troubles of being in a relationship of which people don’t approve. As Billboard.com‘s Chris Payne writes, “the modern-day Romeo and Juliet saga makes for one of the album’s best songs.” While not easily relatable, it is easily enjoyable. 8/10

13. Summer Love: Ahhh, every teenagers dream and heartbreak. “Summer Love” does a good job the painting a picture of a perfect summer romance and the hurt that comes when it ends. This is another one of the songs that starts off slow and builds momentum as it goes. 9/10

Overall: This album is a big step in the right direction after Up All Night. The boys grew up a lot in between the two albums and it shows completely. In order to enjoy Take Me Home, you have to take it for what it is, which is not much more than teen pop. Don’t expect to listen to one of the greatest albums of all time. If you are able to get past that, you will like this album.

Happy listening! Let me know what you think, either on here or on twitter!

A Few of My Favorite Things: Hope Edition!

There are so many thing I love about Hope. Like, a ton of things. So I thought I would show you some of the ones I am enjoying at the moment!

Hangout Place

One of the best parts about being a returning student in a residence hall is that there is a pretty good chance you know at least some of the people where you’ll be staying. Luckily for me, two of my really good friends from last year, Ann and Meghanne, live in the same hall as I do, and I use that to my full advantage. Whenever I need to get out of my room for a little bit or just need someone to talk to, I can always go here. The best part: they always have candy!

Practice Space

I was in a beginning piano class and in the Hope Orchestra last year, so I practically lived in Nykerk Hall of Music. Before each piano class, I would go into this room and practice my scales or whichever song I needed to have ready. The pianos in Nykerk have such a rich sound that even if I was playing something simple, it sounded amazing. I had orchestra five times a week, but whenever I felt like I needed to work on a certain piece or section more, I would go into the practice room and play for however long I felt like I needed to. The great thing about the practice rooms is that they have windows that open so you can let the campus listen to what you’re playing! This also doubles as a nice study room, which is what I’m using it for right now. 

Chapel Seat

There is a Chapel service offered every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:30-11:00 AM and a Sunday evening service called The Gathering at 8 PM. I usually go to The Gathering every week and Chapel on Monday and Friday. When I go, I always try to sit in the same spot: 2 pews ahead of the sound board on the left side. It’s not too close and it’s not too far back; I like to think of it as the “sweet spot.” I know it’s going to be a good day when I can sit there!

Study Room

I discovered this little gem in the basement of Scott Hall when I lived there last year. As you can see, it’s a little room with no windows, perfect for getting some real work done without any distractions. When I was taking a biology class last year that required almost all of my attention, I was in here more than I was in my own room! Now that I no longer live in Scott, I don’t frequent this room as much, but I still use it from time to time and I would recommend that you check it out too!

Cool Beans Drink

Some time ago, I wrote about my love of all things coffee. That hasn’t gone away, so I’m still getting several drinks from Cool Beans a week. I go for the drink, but stay in the cozy area because it’s such a nice place to relax or get some homework done. My usual order right now is a Black Squirrel with soymilk. Sooo yummy!!

There you have it! I will do another favorite things post sometime in the future, but until then, what are some of your favorite things right now?

-Rachael

I’m Going to a Concert!!

Hello dear readers!  

This week, I got one of the most
exciting pieces of news since I found out I was going to be orator in Nykerk:
I’m going to a concert of one of my all-time favorite bands, Keane, on January
27, 2013!!!

Now, if you’re like most
people I know, you are probably saying to yourself, “who the heck is
Keane?” It’s totally OK that you’re asking that, because I am so excited to
introduce you to one of the best bands ever!

Keane is a band from
England that debuted in 2004 with their multi-platinum album, Hopes and Fears.
It is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard and what got me hooked onto them.

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All of their songs have the same
kind of piano-based style. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy them so much. Most
bands that are around have mostly guitar-based songs, so hearing songs with
strong piano is like a breath of fresh air for me. And isn’t the lead singers
voice amazing? His name is Tom, and I absolutely adore him! Most of the songs
are written by the keyboard player, Tim. He must be a genius; there is no other
explanation to describe the way he is able to put together songs that are so
passionate but at the same time so lyrically and musically beautiful.

The
reason Keane is going on tour right now is because they released an album this past
June: Strangeland. I listen to it at least once every couple of days, partly
because it really lifts my mood and partly because it is just that good! I have
so many favorite songs on this album, but the one that I find myself listening
to in almost any situation is “Sovereign Light Cafe”.

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Because
they’re from England, and their music isn’t played on the radio, I generally
assume that no one I know has any idea who they are. So imagine my surprise
when one day I was talking to one of my sorority sisters, Sarah, and I found
out she is a huge fan. Like, massive. She was just as shocked as I was that someone else knew about Keane, and we
ended up having an awesome conversation about them and I felt like I was on
cloud nine because I could talk to someone about Keane and have them
understand.

During this conversation, I mentioned how badly I wanted to go to a
Keane concert, and Sarah told me she saw them in June. Needless to say, I became
very jealous, very fast. From that moment on, going to a Keane went straight to
the top of my bucket list. About two weeks later, Sarah tweeted at me that
Keane was coming back to North America next January (they left to go to
Europe/Asia). This time, you have to go, I told myself. I searched on their
website and found out they are coming to Detroit. I made plans with Sarah, and
the rest is history. I haven’t been to a concert in a few years so I am SOOO
excited for this one!! I know Sarah and I will have a blast!

What kind of music do you
listen to? What was the last concert you went to? Let me know!

-Rachael