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Monthly Archives: October 2019

Caves voice is richer than ever on this stunning double album that sets desperation against empathy and faith

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds 18th album was casually announced, a week before its release, in answer to an online query from a fan on Caves Red Hand Files website. That says a lot about how Nick Cave has transformed himself over the last 12 months. Previously an entertaining but guarded interviewee, he has, more or less, thrown himself open to the public. His website began with Cave posting the words You can ask me anything online. Hes subsequently answered dozens of fans questions, from the trivial to the metaphysical, eloquently and at length.

His most recent tour was effectively its live incarnation, based around an audience Q&A, conducted without a moderator. Anyone who has attended an artist Q&A where a particularly banzai fan has ended up in possession of the microphone knows what a bold high-wire act that is. The accidental death of his son Arthur in 2016, he said, has led him to see people in a different way, giving him a deep feeling toward other people and an absolute understanding of their suffering.

And yet, for all his new-found empathy and openness, some things about Nick Cave remain enigmatic. What, for example, are we supposed to make of Ghosteens cover, a kitschy, fairytale landscape illustration that looks not unlike one of those leaflets Jehovahs Witnesses hand out at shopping centres? His description of the album is also pretty gnomic: the eight songs on the first album are the children; the two lengthy tracks and spoken word piece on album two are their parents.

Anyone seeking a more prosaic description of Ghosteens contents might note that, sonically, it continues and extends the weightless, drifting style of its two predecessors. Its not entirely clear how Bad Seeds drummer Thomas Wydler passed his time in the studio, given that this time around, there are virtually no rhythms with the more punishing of Warren Elliss tape loops and electronics replaced by warm analogue synthesiser that gives proceedings a faintly proggy feel. Indeed, Ghosteen occasionally feels like an infinitely warmer, sweeter sibling of 2016s Skeleton Tree. While that album forced its most beautiful melodies to pick their way gingerly through minefields of explosive noise and eerie, discordant soundscapes – or to submit to Cave singing them in an alarmingly parched, numb voice here theyre bolstered by soft, pillowy harmonies and stately piano. Caves voice, meanwhile, sounds rich. At an age when singers tend to start losing some of their range, his appears to be getting wider: its hard to imagine the twentysomething who snarled and howled his way through Saint Huck or Your Funeral My Trial daring to attain the high notes he achieves on The Spinning Song.

Artwork for Ghosteen by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Photograph: Ghosteen Ltd

The result is perhaps the most straightforwardly beautiful set of songs that Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have ever recorded, which fits with the albums lyrical themes. When you listen to Ghosteen, the children/ parents description makes sense. Cave has talked about how his sons death altered his work, how he found a way to write beyond the trauma to propel [myself] beyond the personal into a state of wonder. And, despite the appearance of regular Cave themes the first thing you hear is him invoking Vegas-era Elvis Ghosteen appears to depict that process. For all the cinematic attractiveness of their arrangements and the title tracks opening meditation on the beauty of the world, the long songs on album two seem darker in tone, filled with sleepless nights, departures and desperate fantasies of escape: Im waiting for peace to come, repeats one ambiguous line in Hollywood. The songs on album one, meanwhile, sound like the result of working through those emotions: lighter, calmer, concerned with empathy and faith. You feel the shift most clearly on Sun Forest, in which Cave does his patented apocalyptic thing screaming horses, burning trees, hanging bodies, Jesus mad with grief before the lyric suddenly flips the past pulls away and the future begins and I say goodbye to all that, / and the future rolls in like a wave and the past, with its savage undertow, lets go and ends up exhorting the listener: Come on, everyone!

Most listeners seemed to take Skeleton Tree as an extended treatise on grief, ignoring Caves insistence that the songs predated the loss they were presumed to be about. In fairness, you could see why, given how bleak and disturbing it sounded. But if Ghosteen is the album people supposed its predecessor to be, it sounds like nothing like you might expect of an album informed by tragedy.

On one level, it shouldnt be surprising that its as good as it is: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have been in a career-high purple patch since the last double album they released, 2004s Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus. Nevertheless, listening to Ghosteen, its very hard indeed not to be taken aback.

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When the troubled actor made a film with Zack Gottsagen, who has Downs syndrome, his drunken arrest nearly wrecked the project. The pair talk about rehab, redemption and wrestling

Where do you start with Shia LaBeouf? The former child star and teenage action hero, latter-day performance artist and Hollywood outcast vapes as a tune plays on his phone. The song is Our House by 1970s supergroup Crosby, Stills and Nash. (A very, very, very fine house.) He dances. What do you want to listen to? he asks the other actor in the room, Zack Gottsagen. Pick a song. Gottsagen, who has Downs syndrome, shrugs and looks across at me. Hes from the Guardian, LaBeouf says in a tone that might be called sceptical. He switches off the music. All right, he says. Lets talk our shit.

Ahead of this interview, I watch YouTube footage of LaBeoufs 2017 arrest for public drunkenness in Savannah, Georgia. Physically, he looks much the same now, beard and T-shirt and worked-on upper arms. Then I watch The Peanut Butter Falcon, the film he was making at the time. It stars Gottsagen as a young man with Downs syndrome who goes on the run from the retirement home he has been placed in by the state, joining a fugitive fisherman played by LaBeouf on an escape along the eastern seaboard. The result charming, Mark Twain-ish was the sleeper hit of the US summer. For Gottsagen, 34, the bustle of interviews and film festivals is something new. LaBeouf, 33, is less excited. Ive been on this rollercoaster several times, he says. So the only way for it to be fun is to do it with someone who has never been on it before.

Gottsagen has been acting in amateur plays since he was a child, inspired by Grease and Hairspray, with a striking gift as a performer. In the film, he and LaBeouf play off each other beautifully. I always wanted to do acting to express my feelings and also to show people my abilities, he says. He met writer-directors Tyler Nilson and Mike Schwartz at a California film-making camp for actors with and without disabilities. The three resolved to make a feature to showcase Gottsagen a herculean task given their lack of industry connections.

For a time, Nilson pitched the project while living in a tent in LA. When the idea did reach executives, the conversations ended when Nilson said that it would star an actual actor with Downs. Finally, with a modest budget at last in place, the trios proof-of-concept video was sent to LaBeouf. It was April 2017, the actor en route to a performance art project a month alone in a remote Lapland cabin, from where he watched the video over and over.

Gottsagen and LaBeouf in The Peanut Butter Falcon. Photograph: Seth Johnson/Signature/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

There was, LaBeouf says, a sense of truth to Gottsagen on screen he was desperate to act opposite. I knew Id be playing bass to his lead. Did the novelty of a supporting role come as a relief? He is shaking his head before Ive finished the question. Not novelty. Noveltys a shit word. Theres no novelty to Base jumping. Right? Theres no novelty to skydiving. Novelty is safe. This didnt feel safe. There is a long moment of eye contact. This felt like lighting yourself on fire.

I ask Gottsagen if he knew about his co-star before the film, and he nods and lists the hits of the chipper first act of the Shia LaBeouf story the sitcom Even Stevens he starred in at 14, the Transformers movies, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Beyond that, LaBeouf himself is acutely aware, the references get darker. The paper bag reading I Am Not Famous Anymore worn over his head at the premiere of Lars von Triers Nymphomaniac. The plagiarism of graphic novelist Daniel Clowes with his film Howard The many run-ins with the police. The general air of hot mess.

La Beouf rarely deals with journalists any more. Before his last major interview, promoting the film McEnroe vs Borg in 2018 naturally, he played John McEnroe he spent weeks with his therapist preparing answers to potential questions. His publicist insisted that all the questions for this interview focus on The Peanut Butter Falcon. Among the subjects implied to be off limits is Honey Boy, another new movie that LaBeouf stars in and wrote, about his early life as a child actor. He plays his own father. There is talk of Oscars for script and performance.

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Last week, we spent a lot of time talking about Selena Gomez. After a lengthy break from music, she released two new songs, and there was a lot to talk about. Both of the singles are definitely about Justin Bieber, and Hailey and Selena made some shady social media posts that definitely seemed like they were directed at each other. But now that the dust has settled around Selena’s big comeback, it’s Justin Bieber’s turn to cough up some new music. He’s definitely been working on something recently, and this week, he’s started posting clues on his Instagram.

Last night, I opened up Instagram, prepared to scroll through about 100 Halloween costumes and probably a few pumpkin patch pictures. While there were plenty of Halloween costumes on my feed, I stopped scrolling when I saw this post from Justin Bieber, which I didn’t even think was real at first.

So after I realized that this is, in fact, a real post from Justin Bieber’s real account, I was still just as confused. Is…is Justin Bieber bribing us? Is this some elaborate scheme to tease us about his new album? Why the f*ck did he post this atrocious Insta story screenshot with a fuchsia background? Is he this desperate for likes? Does he realize that social media likes shouldn’t be the basis for your self-esteem? Is Justin okay??

Obviously, I had many questions, and I still do. But his caption at least helped clear it up a little bit. Justin says that he’s “almost Donne, but your support will make men one faster.” So he’s not like, holding a finished album hostage until we like the photo, but he’s basically saying that he needs Instagram likes as motivation to get sh*t done. Should I try this? Hey @ my boss, I’m not gonna finish this article until my latest Instagram post gets 50,000 likes.

Wait for it…

Okay, I’m back. Sadly I did not get 50,000 likes, but I was informed that this isn’t how an actual job works. Seems unfair, but I have to pay rent this week, so here we are. Justin’s plea for likes might feel kind of desperate and thirsty, but he’s also posted some other stuff that seems to be more subtly alluding to new music.

View this post on Instagram


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Also on Sunday night, Justin posted another ugly-ass Insta story screenshot that just says “R&BIEBER.” This is most likely a hint about the direction that his new music will take, and at this point, I’m ready for anything that he decides to throw our way. While I love his pop and EDM stuff (“Sorry” still slaps), his more chilled out music is also great. His Journals project from 2013 is pretty much completely R&B, and I personally think it’s his most underrated music. If we’re entering a new ~R&BIEBER~ era, I’m all for it.

While these two posts are pretty explicitly about new music, the next two are much more cryptic. In the past few days, Justin has posted two different photos of doodles of the word “yummy” in big bubble letters, and people have started speculating that this also has something to do with whatever he’s about to release.

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Any night any day, say the word on my way.

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While the actual photos really aren’t anything special, Justin Bieber clearly has “yummy” on the brain these days. It has to mean something!! Also, both of these posts have captions that definitely sound like they could be song lyrics. I can’t wait to hear Justin sing the words “Bonafide stallion,” because I’m going crazy imagining what these songs will sound like.

Of course, there’s also a chance that Justin could just be doodling about nothing, and the captions are just random words in his brain. I remember in third grade how I would get one random word in my mind and just draw it like 500 times, and sometimes I think Justin Bieber has the brain of a third grader. Sorry, that was mean.

Whether “yummy” means anything or not, it finally seems like Justin Bieber is getting serious about releasing new music, which is great, because I can only listen to Purpose so many times. Just kidding, there is no limit to the amount of times I can listen to Purpose. That was stupid of me to even say. Regardless, I’m hoping that Christmas will come early in the form of a J-Biebs album, so everyone please go like that photo. Right now, Justin only has 7.2 million likes, so I’m starting to get nervous.

Images: Shutterstock; justinbieber (4) / Instagram

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(CNN)Kylie Jenner’s Met Ball dress also comes in an extra, extra small.

“My baby!!!!!!!! i cant handle this!!!!” Kylie captioned a few pictures of Stormi in the tiny dress.
Jenner also went all out on her own costume this year, dressing up with best friend Anastasia “Stassie” Karanikolaou, as Britney Spears and Madonna from their 2003 MTV Video Music Awards performance.
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    My baby!!!!!!!! 💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜 i cant handle this!!!!

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    In the past, Stormi and Jenner have worn matching pink butterfly costumes and also dressed up together as a thunderstorm. Stormi was the lightning bolt, and Jenner was the cloud.
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    my baby butterfly..

    A post shared by Kylie ✨ (@kyliejenner) on

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    Stormi Weather ⚡️☁️

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    Image copyright Hy Money
    Image caption John Wood and Gemma Harris had a dead parrot (Norwegian blue of course) as their table centrepiece

    To mark the 50th anniversary of Monty Python’s first broadcast, superfans John Wood and his bride Gemma Harris decided to theme their wedding on the classic comedy.

    As well as references to various Monty Python scenes and films they performed their own recreation of the Buying a Bed sketch at the ceremony in West Sussex.

    Image copyright Hy Money

    Mr Wood said the wedding had taken two years to plan.

    “Most people” at the wedding had “no idea who Monty Python is, and they don’t understand it at all,” he said.

    “Only a very small number of people will understand these little details and jokes.”

    The surreal comedy group was formed by John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Graham Chapman, and Michael Palin, and created long-running TV sketch show Monty Python’s Flying Circus and several films.

    Image copyright Hy Money
    Image caption The leg made an appearance with the couple’s wedding cake
    Image copyright Dave Randle
    Image caption The couple’s cake with topped with the pair dressed as lumberjacks

    Even the menu followed the Monty Python theme, the East Grinstead couple said.

    “The salmon mousse is a reference to the salmon mousse which kills everybody at the end of The Meaning of Life,” John said.

    “And of course we had to have spam,” said Gemma.

    Image copyright John Wood

    John said he proposed to Gemma in front of Palin and Gilliam at a fundraising event.

    Palin sent them a special wedding message saying: “I hope their marriage lasts as long as Monty Python, and is just as silly. Good wishes, Michael.”

    John said Python actress Carol Cleveland had asked why she had not been invited “to which I replied ‘If you’d like to come, you’d be extremely welcome. We would be honoured'”.

    “She replied, thanking me but saying she couldn’t come. The next thing I know, she was there to my utter shock – mind blown!”

    “Gemma, who is a graphic designer, has created all sorts of amazing things. It’s like a Monty Python universe,” John said.

    Image copyright John Wood
    Image caption Carol Cleveland made a surprise appearance at the wedding and even tried spam for the very first time
    Image copyright John Wood

    The wedding ceremony took place on Saturday in Sharpthorne in West Sussex with about 80 guests.

    Gemma walked down the aisle to the Python theme music, including the fart noise ending.

    “Then, we signed the register to the intermission music from Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” John said.

    Image copyright Hy Money

    “I loved the fact it takes the serious side of life and a lot of the sketches look normal… but there’s some ridiculous aspect of it that makes you question or think about life in a slightly different way,” he added.

    “Once you’ve seen it, you can’t not see it any more.”

    Image copyright John Wood

    The couple are planning to honeymoon at Doune Castle in Scotland, which featured in the Monty Python film, the Holy Grail.

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    Image copyright Getty Images

    Little Mix are launching a new TV talent show in which they will create and mentor new bands.

    The group – who won the X Factor in 2011 – will look for singers who will be put together to form a band.

    Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirwall all auditioned for the X Factor as solo singers before being put together to become Little Mix.

    The winning band will have the chance to join them on their summer 2020 tour.

    Little Mix said: “We want to create lots of incredible groups who really gel.

    “As we have been there and done it ourselves, we know what it takes to make a group successful, and will be there to mentor them every step of the way.

    “We want solo artists to audition as well as groups and every type of genre is welcome too.”

    Image copyright Getty Images
    Image caption Little Mix performed at Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Middlesbrough in May this year

    The Black Magic singers will coach the contestants to become members of either an all-female, all-male or mixed band as part of the show.

    They will have access to the group’s music contacts – such as the voice coaches, song writers, producers and stylists who have helped Little Mix make it big.

    Charlotte Moore, director of BBC Content, said: “One of Britain’s most popular all-female bands Little Mix will bring their magic to BBC One on Saturday nights in 2020 in a brand new show set to inspire the next generation of young artists.”

    Little Mix have had four UK number one songs during their eight-year career which has seen them become huge celebrities.

    But it’s not been easy for the group.

    Image copyright Getty Images
    Image caption Little Mix were mentored by former N-Dubz star Tulisa on the X Factor

    Jesy recently revealed how she tried to kill herself after becoming the victim of online trolls who made nasty comments about her appearance.

    Perrie has also spoken about experiencing anxiety and panic attacks and received professional help to deal with her mental health.

    Little Mix were originally signed to Simon Cowell’s record label Syco – but the band left last year.

    The X Factor judge later revealed the split happened because he fell out with their management company Modest Management.

    Little Mix The Search will air on the BBC next year.

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    Residents of the Tennessee city the Kurdish capital of America feel sold out but unsurprised by troop withdrawal

    If you spend enough time in Kurdish places, from sidewalk tea stands in the shadow of the Erbil citadel to the bullet-pocked alleys of Diyarbakir and the dusty fields along Syrias frontlines, there is a proverb you will hear. It goes like this: The Kurds have no friends but the mountains.

    It means that in the end, when Kurds are under attack and facing death, the mountains they retreat to will be the only things to protect them, whatever alliances they may have had before.

    Youll hear it in Nashville too, in Little Kurdistan, a strip of grocers and eateries tucked between an Aldi and a Waffle House along the Nolensville Pike.

    This week, Donald Trump announced he was pulling US troops from Syrias border with Turkey, seemingly giving the green light for Turkey to attack Kurdish forces allied with America. For many Kurds in Nashville many of whom came here and prospered after fleeing for their lives the sudden reversal was nothing short of a betrayal.

    A Kurdish grocery store in Nashville. Photograph: Josh Wood/The Guardian

    He betrayed the whole Kurdish nation, said Salah Osman, the imam at the Salahadeen Center mosque. We knew this is what would happen. We knew after they used [the Kurdish forces], after they did their job, they would leave them to face their future without any friends.

    To most Americans, Nashville is the country music and bachelorette party capital, a place for boozy and raucous fun at neon-lit honky-tonks on Broadway. But it is also the Kurdish capital of America, home to an estimated 15,000 Kurds, the largest such population in the US.

    When members of the Nashville Kurdish community like Osman look at images of Syrian Kurds fleeing Turkish attacks, crowded into the back of trucks or fleeing on foot with whatever they can carry, they think of their own experiences.

    There are those who were in the first wave, arriving in the 1970s after a failed rebellion in Iraq. There are those who fled Saddam Husseins genocidal al-Anfal campaign in the late 1980s, and those who fled after George HW Bush encouraged Iraqis to rise up during the Gulf war but then did not provide assistance.

    There are those who were born in refugee camps to parents who escaped with only the clothes on their backs. There are those who fled in the mid-90s, after Saddams forces, briefly pushed out of northern Iraq, stormed back in. There are those who risked their lives as interpreters for the US military, after the 2003 invasion.

    More recent arrivals have fled from Syria and from oppression and violence in Turkey.

    Sakir Cinar says sleep has been hard to come by since it was clear that Turkey was going to attack Syrias Kurds. Photograph: Josh Wood/The Guardian

    It is unlikely that the latest violence will bring another surge in Nashvilles Kurdish population. Under new asylum rules, applicants must first try to seek safe haven in a third country. It is nearly impossible for Syrians to get US visas under Trumps travel ban and the administration has set the refugee cap at an all-time low.

    Kirmanj Gundi, a Tennessee State University professor, came to Nashville in the 1970s. He spoke no English and the Kurdish community numbered in the hundreds.

    I dont know how to express my feelings, he said this week. Its sad. Its frustrating. We feel we are betrayed again. We feel we are sold out again. We feel we are used again.

    Gundi came to America after the Shah of Iran cut off funding to Kurdish rebels in a deal with Iraq. He watched more Kurds arrive in the 90s. The betrayal by Trump, he says, is more intense, the wound is deeper They were promised that they would be protected.

    Trump did not stop at clearing the way for a Turkish attack. He has sought to justify his decision by painting Kurdish forces who did the bulk of the fighting against Islamic State in Syria as potentially fair-weather allies.

    On Wednesday, Trump even defended his decision by saying the Kurds didnt help the US during the second world war.

    At a rally in Minneapolis on Thursday evening, Trump was speaking about Turkeys offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces and his decision to withdraw US troops when he suddenly brought up how he has to send letters to the families of soldiers killed in blue on green attacks, where were teaching people how to fight and then they turn the gun on our soldiers and shoot them in the back.

    He had previously praised Kurds for being among Americas most loyal allies.

    We feel like when Donald Trump makes statements like this, it affects our position in this country and how some other citizens may perceive us as a threat to this country, which we are not, said Zaid Brifkani, a Kurdish American doctor in Nashville who is president of the Kurdish Professionals Group in the city.

    We are part of this community, we are part of this American dream.

    We are free here

    Nawzad Hawrami, the director of the Salahadeen Center, says Kurds like him have found freedom in Nashville. Photograph: Josh Wood/The Guardian

    At the centre of Little Kurdistan, around the Salahadeen Center mosque, Kurdish stores are interspersed with a Latin American nightclub and a hibachi restaurant. Earlier this year, Nashvilles public schools approved adding Kurdish-language electives in high schools. During Ramadan, when the mosque is open all night, the police department stations a squad car outside. Some in the older generation only speak Arabic and Kurdish. Their children have American accents.

    We are free here. As a Kurd, as a Muslim, we are free more than in our back home countries, said Nawzad Hawrami, director of the Salahadeen Center, who lived in the Iraqi city of Halabja during al-Anfal. This is a great country, a great nation.

    Sakir Cinar got asylum in the US two years ago after, he says, he made a Facebook post critical of Turkeys president, Recep Tayyip Erdoan, that led to a mob attacking his restaurant and his arrest by Turkish authorities.

    In Nashville, working as a cook, he can say what he wants. He can speak Kurdish without having to look over his shoulder. He can speak with a journalist in public, without fearing repercussions.

    But the Turkish attack on Syria has left him sleepless, glued to his phone, checking for updates.

    My insides are hurting, crying. I just can pray, he said.

    A mural depicting scenes of traditional Kurdish life is painted on the side of a Kurdish grocer in Little Kurdistan, Nashville. Photograph: Josh Wood/The Guardian

    Nashvilles Kurds are unsure they can make a difference. Tennessees two Republican senators have spoken out. On Friday, hundreds of members of the Kurdish community protested in downtown Nashville. But at the end of the day, they are a small community with little ability to leverage state elections, let alone foreign policy.

    Trump has said he will try to broker a deal between Turkey and the Kurds and has raised the possibility of working to destroy and obliterate Turkeys economy if it does anything off limits. But despite widespread criticism, even from his closest allies, he has stood by his decision to withdraw.

    While many in Little Kurdistan feel betrayed, Trumps behavior has not soured their thoughts on America.

    When it comes to America, there are opportunities, said Gundi, the professor. When you compare America with any other nation America comes out head and shoulders above any country in the world.

    Brifkani, the doctor, said: I dont think Trump represents true American values.

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    Rise and shine from your post-Halloweekend slumber, everyone, because Kylie Jenner recreated a pop culture moment for the ages. 

    The reality TV star was only about six years old when Britney Spears and Madonna broke the internet — before it was really even the internet — with their famous kiss at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. But icons recognize icons, so Jenner and best friend Stassie Karanikolaou pulled out all the stops to reenact the moment on Saturday night in impressive detail. 

    The makeup mogul went as the Material Girl — slicking her hair back in a bun, wearing a form-fitting black ensemble and carrying a top hat — while Karanikolaou channeled the pop princess in a white bridal number. 

    In an Instagram video, the two dance around to Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” before Karanikolaou-as-Spears tells Jenner: “Kiss me.” 

    And so she does, but it’s only a brief peck — not likely to cause nearly as much conversation as Madonna and Spears’ lip lock, which went down as one of the most defining moments in award show history. 

    While no one appeared to have dressed as Christina Aguilera — who, let us not forget, was also at the VMAs that year and also kissed Madonna on stage — Jenner laid that groundwork in a past Halloween. 

    The 22-year-old rocked the look from Aguilera’s “Dirrrty” era for a night back in 2016, complete with assless chaps.

    A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

    Jenner seems to be making the most out of the holiday’s outfit opportunities this year, sporting head-to-toe black leather for some pre-Halloween festivities earlier in the weekend. 

    She attended a J Balvin concert alongside friend Sofia Richie. The two seemed to have a night to remember, swigging tequila from the bottle backstage and running into musician

    And since we’re dealing with the Kardashian-Jenners — there’s no family that takes this holiday more seriously — expect to see the costumes to continue throughout the week, because you know Kim isn’t about to be upstaged by her little sister. 

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    Gashi has some lofty goals. He’s been quietly making music for almost a decade, but over the last couple of years, people have started to take notice, including the likes of Jay-Z and Sam Smith.

    “A lot of people will say you’re going to fail if you try to win the world over,” Gashi, born Labinot Gashi, said in an interview with HuffPost. “But I’d rather fail knowing that I have the whole world listening.”

    The rapper/singer, who just released his self-titled major-label album debut on RCA Records, has seen his music log millions of streams and his billboard go up in New York’s Times Square. But life wasn’t always so glamourous. At one point, Gashi was homeless, trying to sell his music on the subway platforms of New York City. 

    Born in Libya to Albanian parents, Gashi and his family traveled around a lot to make ends meet before making their way to Brooklyn, New York, in the late 1990s. He spent many of his younger days as a refugee moving around, living in more than 20 countries before the age of 11. 

    “Me being born in Libya, being Albanian … my dad traveled to a lot of countries to get to America and try to figure it out. I think, as a kid, I heard a lot of sounds and lived in different cultures,” Gashi told HuffPost. 

    Gashi was born in Tripoli, Libya.

    The breadth of cultural experiences Gashi picked up inspired him to spend his youth finding ways to make music. But when it seemed he was on a path to nowhere, his family started losing patience.

    “My parents told me to get a job or go back to school because music was not an option,” said Gashi, who says he was homeless for about a year and a half between 2012 and 2013. “I just left. I took my mattress and I was carrying this mattress with me everywhere I would go.”

    “I used to just sit there with three jackets on and try to figure out a way to make my next move … So many people said, ‘You don’t have the look.’ So many people said, ‘Your music is not good.’ So many people said things that could have made me kill myself. But I didn’t.”

    He used that energy to fuel more of his own music, fleshing out lyrics with personal stories of the ups and downs he’d faced.

    “I’ve always expressed exactly what was going on in my mind — through dark times — me feeling like I wasn’t worth anything and dark times of me struggling to get a dollar for a sandwich. I was homeless. I was broke,” he said. “I’ve seen the bottom and I’ve seen the top.” 

    So many people said, ‘You don’t have the look.’ So many people said, ‘Your music is not good.’ So many people said things that could have made me kill myself. But I didn’t. Gashi

    The top has increasingly come within arm’s reach. Gashi’s new album has started to generate some buzz. It’s difficult to pinpoint his exact sound, but Gashi has referred to himself as “the trap Phil Collins.” 

    “The reason I said that because it’s me going to the ’80s and making an ’80-sounding album,” Gashi said.

    It was actually a ’90s film that inspired the pace of his new album: the 1997 sci-fi movie “Fifth Element,” starring Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Chris Tucker and Milla Jovovich. 

    “I wanted to create a soundtrack for my favorite movie. It’s basically futuristic sounds with Middle Eastern melodies … A lot of these sounds were made while I was watching that movie on mute,” he said. 

    In the end, Gashi wants to make relatable songs that connect people. With a self-described “dad bod,” Gashi seems comfortable in his own skin; he’s not trying to be something he’s not.

    “I’m not the guy with the abs that goes to the gym every day … that’s eating salads every day and looks perfect … I’m walking into rooms full of people and I’m dancing and I’m singing and showing people to be confident and showing people to be yourself … And when people hear my music and they hear my story, they know it’s real.”

    With two homes ― one in Los Angeles and another in New York ― Gashi’s homeless days are far behind him. Now he’s using his newfound star power to give back.

    “I make a difference in my community and I make a difference with the junior high school that I went to. I go back and I check in. Instead of talking about and tweeting about it all day, I try to make a difference in my community and my neighborhood,” he said. “I make a difference in Kosovo and when I go back and give T-shirts and clothes.”

    Engaging with fans who reach out via social media from all over the world is also important.

    “In my DMs, the entire world is writing me, telling me how much my music has saved them. And I think that’s so shocking, the fact that I can make such an impact on them without meeting them ― with my art … I have kids hitting me up in Nigeria. I got kids hitting me up constantly from India and countries that are so far away,” he said. 

    Gashi wants to be a global sensation. Which is why this new album, he says, is just a “warm-up.”

    “People forget that America was built off of immigrants. So, I think, as crazy as it is to say, I’m taking over the world and I don’t care how long it takes.” 

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    Ahead of the launch of Apple TV+ on November 1, Apple’s Apple TV app has begun to roll out to other platforms beyond Apple’s own streaming media player, Mac computers and iOS devices. Earlier this month, for example, the app arrived on Roku devices. Today, it’s hitting Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick 4K.

    Specifically, it will be available to Fire TV Stick 2nd Generation and Fire TV Stick 4K users in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain and India, starting today.

    Fire TV Basic Edition customers in more than 50 countries will also be able to find the new app in the Amazon Appstore on their Fire TV. Though not yet available, the app will launch soon on Fire TV Cube (1st and 2nd Gen.), Fire TV (3rd Gen pendant design), plus Toshiba and Insignia Fire TV Edition smart TVs, and Nebula soundbar.

    It’s not compatible with the Fire TV (1st and 2nd Gen) or Fire TV Stick (1st Gen), Amazon says.

    While the app is necessary for being able to stream from Apple TV+, that’s not all it does.

    Within the Apple TV app, you’re also able to access your iTunes library, including any shows or movies you’ve purchased or rented. However, if you want to buy or rent something new, you’ll need to do so from an Apple device first in order to have the content show up within the app.

    For Apple to have an app available on Amazon’s platform at all took years of negotiations.

    As Apple’s interest in the world of streaming media and related devices grew, it also had to acknowledge that its walled garden approach needed to be set aside. In 2017, Apple CEO Tim Cook finally announced that Prime Video would come to Apple TV. Since then, the two companies have eased up on their restrictions against each others’ products.

    The following year, Amazon expanded its assortment of Apple inventory to include other devices besides Apple TV — like iPads, iPhones, Apple Watch and Beats headphones. It also brought its FreeTime Unlimited app to iOS, while Apple Music arrived on Echo devices.

    This March, Apple Music launched on Fire TV, as well.

    And with Apple TV+, Apple is even more of a rival to Amazon, which runs its own streaming service, Prime Video.

    Apple, however, has a smaller lineup for Apple TV+ with shows like “Dickinson,” “The Morning Show,” “See,” “For All Mankind” and others. It’s unclear how well these series will perform with audiences, but Apple is giving away a year of access to its service with the purchase of new Apple devices. That gives it time to find its footing, even if several of its first tries bomb.

    Amazon says it will announce, via Twitter, when the Apple TV app is released for other devices.

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