It’s the dead of winter in New York and SO. COLD. Brrrr! Best cure for wintertime blues? Sunny music! That’s why I’ve been playing Cody Simpson’s “Pretty Brown Eyes” on repeat for the past week. As you know, we are major Cody Simpson fans. (Check out this awesome video of his acoustic performance when he was just starting out!) The Australian singer really brings on the beachy vibes with his latest album, Surfers Paradise, and even if it’s totally frozen outside, just one listen is sure to warm you right up. Read on to find out Cody’s thoughts about homeschooling, travelling the world, and, of course, surfing! Check it out. Continue reading
Time Magazine has their Person of the Year, and we now present the first ever . . . STACKS Person of the Year!
Last week, we asked you to nominate the person or group of people that have had the biggest impact in YOUR world in 2013. There were lots of amazing nominations, but the person with the most nominating Comments is . . . Taylor Swift!
Happy New Year!
As many of you probably know, we here at the STACKS absolutely LOVE One Direction! From their first album to This Is Us, we’ve been following their exciting journey to superstardom and loving every minute of it. That’s why we’re super-duper excited that 1D Day is coming.
For those who don’t know what 1D Day is, it’s basically an unofficial One Direction holiday. In celebration of the release of their upcoming album, Midnight Memories, 1D has launched a worldwide movement for their fans. Directioners like you (and me!) can get creative in celebrating 1D Day by making music videos, sharing favorite photos and songs, creating collages, and wearing 1D gear. 1D Day will happen on Saturday, November 23, 2013.
To make the day extra-special, the boys have a lot of really cool stuff planned. One Direction will be holding a seven-hour live video broadcast to connect with fans around the world. They’ve announced that they’re going to try to break a world record every hour (for things like highest toilet paper roll pile)! They’ll also be hanging out with some guests throughout the day: Celine Dion, Simon Cowell, Kelly Rowland, Piers Morgan, The Muppets, Khloe Kardashian, and even Robbie Williams (who used to be in a famous British boyband himself).
Here at the STACKS, we’re taking the opportunity to revisit all of our favorite One Direction activities and posts from the past. Check out our One Direction ABC, and play One Direction “Would You Rather?” with a friend who’s also a fan. If you’re really a Directioner, test your fan knowledge with our One Direction quiz! And don’t forget to check out our awesome interview with 1D.
Are you excited for 1D Day? Will you be participating? How will you show your love for all things One Direction? Share in the Comments below!
– En-Szu, STACKS Staffer
A few weeks ago, the beautiful and talented 16-year-old songwriter Kayla Stockert checked in to give us some songwriting tips. Many of you left questions for Kayla in the Comments, and here are Kayla’s replies!
DancingLavender38 asks: I am a struggling singer, and I’ve got a big voice, I just don’t know what to do with it.
Kayla: The best advice is to take singing lessons. Learn all the techniques. Even people who professional singers now (like Lady Gaga) still take singing lessons and get coached. I take them and it continues to make my voice stronger. It’s kind of like exercising to keep in shape. Good luck!
Dane says: You look nice.
Kayla: Thank you, Dane!
Victoria says: Amazing!
Kayla: Thank you so much, Victoria!
Allie asks: Hi Kayla. You came to my camp but I wanted to ask you what advice you can give about being good at singing and songwriting?
Kayla: Hey, Allie! I would say that if you really love to sing, just keep practicing every day, and be sure to schedule voice lessons to learn the proper techniques for singing. I still take them, and so do most recording artists. As for songwriting, maybe if you have a feeling one day about something or somebody, write it down right away so you don’t forget. I even sometimes use the voice memo on my phone if I don’t have a pen and I’m thinking of catchy lyrics or a melody. You can ask a friend to help you and you guys can share opinions. Songwriting is hard at first, but like anything else in life, practice makes perfect! Good Luck!
TurquoiseDolphin396 asks: I want to know how to write a good song but I have trouble. Could I have some advice?
Kayla: Hi I am going to give you the same advice I gave to Allie in the last question. Songwriting is hard at first, but practice makes perfect! Good luck!
Anonymous asks: When did you know that you wanted to be a singer and follow and achieve your dream?
Kayla: I have always liked to sing since I was a baby. I started singing at a local street fair when I was 9 and haven’t stopped performing since. I realized very early that I wanted be a singer. I practice every day and have gained so much experience that gets me one step closer to my dream. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world!
Samantha asks: What if your experiences aren’t like everyone else’s? Can you still make a song?
Kayla: Hi, Samantha! Absolutely. Most songs you hear are about love or heartbreaks, but sometimes you hear songs that don’t have to do with any of those things. If you have an idea/experience for a song, put together the words. You can always go back and change the lyrics. There are always going to be people who identify with your song.
Kyle asked: Who do you think writes the best songs?
Kayla: Hi, Kyle! I personally love Taylor Swift as a songwriter. Her lyrics are relatable, and I love the music that goes along with it.
Makayla asks: Are you nervous to perform?
Kayla: Hi, Makayla! I have moments when I get nervous or anxious about performing. For some strange reason, I get more nervous when my family asks me to sing. I think it’s completely normal to have nerves. Once I’m up there singing, the nerves seem to disappear.
Chloee asks: What makes an award-winning song an award-winning song, and how do I write one?
Kayla: Well, think of your favorite song. What do you like about it? The music or the lyrics can all be factors on what makes it popular and successful. Although award shows in general are subjective, in my opinion, a song that is relatable to people and catchy should be award-winning. Keep listening to other songs, practicing your songs, and constantly ask for opinions. Good Luck!
This is amazing advice! Thank you, Kayla for joining us on the STACKS! We love you!
— Sonja, STACKS Staffer
Wesley Stromberg, Keaton Stromberg, and Drew Chadwick are the new band, Emblem3. They auditioned for X Factor, where they wowed Simon Cowell with their original performance of “Sunset Blvd.” but they failed to make the finals. That didn’t stop them since they amassed 15 million YouTube views and fans all over the world. Their first album, Nothing to Lose, was just released in September. Read on to hear from Drew Chadwick about his life in a popular band. Continue reading
You may not have heard of her yet, but this girl is a teen to watch. Kayla has been performing music since the age of 9 at places like the Highline Ballroom, the Apollo Theater in New York City, and at other large venues. Now at age 16 she is making the transformation from singer to songwriter and musician, recording her own original songs for the first time. Anna Graceman is a fan!
Not only is she beautiful and talented, but Kayla is super-nice, and she has offered to give you, dear STACKS readers, some advice about songwriting. Read on for Kayla’s tips, and if you would like to ask her any questions, leave them in the Comments. Kayla will be joining us soon to answer YOUR questions!
Kayla: The process of writing songs takes a while for me. It’s usually late at night when all my thoughts are jumbling through my head. It’s the easiest time for me to write songs. It could be a word, a simple feeling of what I went through that day. Sometimes, I can write an entire song in minutes, sometimes it takes days. I keep my journal next to my bed to write every single idea.
For me to write a song, I have to actually experience it, usually friends, boyfriend, family or anything like that. I then show my ideas to my brother, because he also writes. I try to be as realistic as possible so my audience can relate to my normal teenage life. The more you write, the easier it will become. There are some songs that I may never sing because they are so much a part of me, but from there, it helps me get an idea for another song.
Next is the melody. This gets a little trickier for me. I sit down at my piano or guitar. (You don’t have to be that good of a player. Just playing one note to get a melody will work.) I also listen to other songs, making notes of the instruments I like, the beat, and so on. Next time you listen to a song, don’t listen to the words, but listen to the music. It may inspire you to write your own melody.
Don’t ever get stressed that you can’t complete an entire song. Just take a break from that one and maybe move on to something else. I personally have about 20 uncompleted songs, and I’m in no rush.
I currently have about 5 songs that I’m set to record. All of these songs were from my own personal feelings (about a boy). The next person I will go see is a producer, who asks me the type of sound I want and feel, and hopefully we both agree and my new songs will be ready.
I honestly think everybody has the ability to write down feelings and turn it into a song. If you can’t do it alone, find a friend and collaborate.
–Kayla Stockert, Songwriter
Do you have questions for Kayla? Leave them in the Comments, and check back soon for Kayla’s answers!
I think it’s been about a week since I mentioned how much I love Ross Lynch, and that is obviously way too long! He plays Austin in Austin & Ally, but today, I have an interview with him talking about his band R5. I have been so obsessed with Teen Beach Movie, I totally forgot about his band with his 2 brothers Rocky and Riker, sister Rydel, and best friend Ellington Ratliff. Can you guess why they call themselves R5? They have been touring all summer, but we got a quick interview with the charming and adorable Ross.
Q: What was the most interesting news story that you saw on TV or read this week?
Ross: I don’t even think I saw anything online this week because when I’m on tour I don’t really surf the web at all.
Q: So you don’t listen to the news or anything like that?
Ross: Sorry, no. (laughs)
Q: Do you have any pets?
Ross: No, I wish, but my mom won’t let me get one. I love animals.
Q: What do you feel is the most important issue to kids your age today?
Ross: The most important issue, I feel, is to get outside. I feel that social networking and all that stuff like playing video games — even I like playing video games– but you have to remember get some sun! Just get outside and enjoy life because it only lasts so long.
Q: What do you want most in the world?
Ross: I have everything I need. I don’t know if I need any more than what I have. Yes, I am pretty lucky.
Q: What’s new with R5?
Ross: Currently we are on tour to 50 cities. I just literally flew in today and I’m flying back out to Canada tonight to go back on tour. We are going to release a new album after the tour probably September or late this year. Just a lot of exciting stuff. Just playing any show we can. Just doing whatever we can.
UPDATE: The new album Louder will be released on September 24, and the first single “Pass Me By” is out now. The video reminds me a little too much of One Direction’s video for “Live While We’re Young,” but that’s not a criticism. I love them both! What do you think? Are you an R5 fan? Leave a Comment!
— Sonja, STACKS Staffer
Interview by Sue Schneider
Teen Beach Movie photo courtesy Disney Channel
You might probably know this already, but One Direction: This Is Us (rated PG) comes to theaters tomorrow!!!! I am a little bit excited so I wanted to share some beautiful photos from the world premiere of the film in London, and a few behind-the-scenes secrets. First a photo: Global superstars, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson introduce to you their big screen debut: One Direction: This Is Us! YAYYY!!!
From X-Factor in 2010 to instant smashdom, their debut album, Up All Night, released in October 2011, achieved a feat never before achieved by a British band: entering the U.S. Billboard chart at number one with their debut record. I first fell in love with them in February 2012, when they gave us this awesome and hilarious interview. (Notice how interested Niall and Louis are in Marie’s New York accent. . . . foreshadowing “Best Song Ever.”)
The band’s sophomore album, Take Me Home turned 2012 into a banner year for the boys. The album’s first single, “Live While We’re Young,” went straight to number one, and Take Me Home topped the charts in “turty-seven” countries (spoken in Niall’s Irish accent).
In July, they released “Best Song Ever,” a track written specifically for the film. The fun and cheeky video for the song broke records on VEVO with 12.4 million views in one day, making it the most viewed debut video ever on the platform.
The director Morgan Spurlock filmed in various locales for almost six months, including the band’s performance in Mexico City in early June, 2013. The behind-the-scenes footage, which runs the gamut from backstage mischief before the show to touching hometown scenes, like Harry working at the family bakery, amounted to 500 hours of material. The boys were instrumental in helping Spurlock and the editors pick the most choice moments. Says Spurlock, “They’ve given really insightful feedback about things that are very personal to them . . . to things that they remembered that we shot that we have forgotten about, and to remind us to dig and find. It was like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re right, that was a great moment.’”
Adds Spurlock, “You feel like you really do get to become a part of this journey and these boys and this band. I think every One Direction fan should take someone who isn’t a One Direction fan, because I think when people see the movie, they’ll see a different side to these boys that they probably didn’t think existed or they didn’t think they would enjoy. And I bet they’ll convert a lot more fans than they think they will.” (Harry says, That means YOU!”)
Is Spurlock a 1D fan? It’s not enough that they’re “five good looking guys that get put together in a band. That happens all the time. But the fact that, you know, they actually had the talent and the ability and the drive to kind of push it as far as they have, and continue to do, is remarkable. I’ve seen thirty-plus One Direction concerts at this point,” says Spurlock. “I am like a hardcore Directioner now!”
You and me both, Spurlock! I hope you all have a lovely time watching the movie. Leave a Comment to tell me if it lives up to your expectations. And PS, happy 20th birthday today, Liam!
Photos courtesy of Sony Pictures
The awesome and amazing China Anne McClain is not only a successful TV actress on A.N.T. Farm, but she is also part of music group with her older sisters (who are both also beautiful like China, as you can see in this video).
Q: You guys are now a group?
China: Yes we are on Hollywood Records.
Q: What was your favorite school subject and why?
China: Probably language arts, English, somewhere I can write.
Sierra: I have graduated, but when I was in school I would have to say Math. I really like Math.
Lauryn: I would have to say English too. I enjoy writing.
Q: What do you guys do to try to save the planet?
China: We try to use less water, but of course I brush my teeth and did all that stuff! (They all laugh.) I don’t leave the water running. I recycle everything I use.
Q: Are you guys really close or do you ever fight?
Lauryn: I would have to say that China and me fight more than anything because we share a room.
China: We fight over clothes. We fight over random stuff. It’s me and my brother that fight.
Aww. They are just like normal sisters!
— Sonja, STACKS Staffer
Interview by Sue Schneider
Big Time Rush has a new album called 24/7, and a summer tour happening now. And, because I have the seriously most awesome job in whole, wide world, I got to meet them when they came to Scholastic! You won’t even believe how nice they are. However nice you think they are, multiply by, like, a hundred, and that is their actual niceness factor. They all gave me hugs and called me “Darlin’” and told jokes. Pretty much a perfect day for me. Here is some of what they said, but, to be honest, I was kind of floating, so I might have missed some bits.
What is your favorite song to perform live?
Logan: “Windows Down” is a great one. That’s a show open for us. So that really kind of gets the party started for sure.
Kendall: We played some new ones in Orlando and it was our first time to see how the crowd was vibing to some of these new songs, and “Amazing” ended up working out really great. People were really into it.
Carlos: And “Confetti Falling” too.
James: “Confetti Falling” . . . the new acoustic songs we played . . . they knew all the words too, which I was kind of surprised about.
Logan: The title track “24/7″ is a lot of fun. The dance is always fun with that song.
Kendall: Very 80s and just free and having fun. I think we’ll really find out when we perform them 10 or 11 shows. After about 10 or 11 shows, we’ll know which ones are really the most fun to do. But “Windows Down” is consistently the most energetic. The pre-chorus where the beat changes and it goes into half time, is, like, I’m at my happiest because I love that kind of music. So if you look at me on stage, I probably look like an idiot. I probably have this really weird look on my face. [Laughter]
What have you learned from each other over these last few years?
Kendall: Well, I’ll just say how proud I am of our work ethic. I don’t know many people who have put in the sort of hours and dedication that all four of us have.
Logan: Patience and acceptance is huge. Learning how to work with other people, different personalities, and learning how to make the best possible product with different visions is a very cool thing I’ve learned.
James: Four different opinions.
Logan: And allowing those opinions to come into play because that’s when you take something good and you make it great.
James: We also have learned to really just have fun with everything we do. And that sounds silly because you’d think we very have fun jobs, but it can be very stressful. We’ve all just embraced the fact that we’re lucky. This is a great thing.
Logan: Not taking ourselves too seriously.
James: Yeah. You know, we have a comedy TV show, and we put out positive music and it’s nothing to be stressed over. We don’t sleep as many hours as we probably should, but at the end of the day, it helps to have the four of us, because when you’re stressed out, you have three other guys to tell you not to worry about it and to make you laugh. We have the support of each other.
Carlos: We’ve had to learn how to appreciate the things that we have. And, you know, it’s tough. We started this project and there were no boy bands, and now it’s like boy band mania. At first it was a little overwhelming. Like, “Whoa, wait a minute. We were here first. What’s going on?” But we’ve really learned to just appreciate the things that we do have, you know, and that we are working.
James: And appreciate our fans for keeping us going.
What is the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you recently?
Carlos: Our lives. [Laughter]
Kendall: The interview before this one.
Logan: Yeah. The interview before this one was embarrassing. We were playing with toys. It was funny.
Carlos: Yep. Like children.
Kendall: I got an embarrassing moment for James. James embarrassed the heck out of me when we got our Kids’ Choice Award, when we actually won two years ago and when we walked up on stage. And of course every time we do something, something bad happens. Like for instance, last year it was announcing Katy Perry for her Kids’ Choice Award. All we have to do is say, “Hey, Katy Perry, you won. Come on up.” And sure enough, she walks up and the stage collapsed or, like, a barricade collapsed over. And I’m like, “Of course.” But two years ago, we won the award and the slime was really slippery.
James: It’s like this surface with slime on it, and I’m wearing boots.
Kendall: And it’s impossible to walk on. And we win the award and we’re like, “Yes!” and we start walking up the stairs. James is like [makes stepping noise and then a thump] and straight down and slipped, and we grabbed him real quick and picked him up. That was embarrassing.
Logan: I played pool with Chris Kirkpatrick [from 'N Synch] a couple of days ago. That was embarrassing for me. I’m a terrible pool player. And I’m pretty sure he was like, “Bye Bye Bye.” [Laughter]
Kendall: You know what’s embarrassing? Me being dressed in a figure skating outfit for our TV show. That was a little embarrassing.
Carlos: For all of us. [Laughter]
Aww. They really are so sweet. Have you heard the new album yet? Do you love it? Leave a Comment!
— Sonja, STACKS Staffer