Emojis are becoming more diverse, but when will they have their freedom?

50 years ago, hundreds of thousands occupied Washington D.C. in what came to be known as The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a rally led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. calling for civil and economic rights for African Americans. The march is widely credited for the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which delivered to African Americans those freedoms they so desperately desired.

And last week, another groundbreaking announcement promoting cultural diversity resonated throughout the world, drawing similarities to that historic march five decades ago.

EmojisA spokesman for Apple announced that it will soon be expanding its Emoji database to include more ethnically diverse facial expressions.

The fight is over. The Emojis have won the battle.

But they still have a long way to go to win the war.

If you know what an Emoji is, it probably means that you use them too much, and should probably stop doing that. But for those who don’t know, they are the yellow faces that express different emotions via text message conversations.

Users of AOL Instant Messenger may remember that when you typed a simple “:-)” or “:-(” to express your mood, AIM would default the text to a happy or sad face. Apple took it one step further and created more than 400 of these facial expressions so people could more accurately convey themselves. But as various media outlets have reported, practically all of the faces are Caucasian.

Hundreds of thousands of Emoji didn’t quite storm the desktop of Apple CEO Tim Cook to demand equal rights, but a writer from (of all publications) MTV.com named Joey Parker did email the company to inquire about the lack of diversity. Shockingly, he actually received a response from Vice President of Communications Katie Cotton, who informed him about the forthcoming Emoji update.

With this news, years and years of Emoji misrepresentation is finally coming to end. A major problem has been resolved.

But why stop there?

Emoji Apartheid may be over, and while that is a great accomplishment, why doesn’t somebody tackle other human rights issues these emotive icons face on a day-to-day basis?

Emoji Suffrage: let’s get these buggers the right to vote.

Emoji minimum wage: let’s get them the money they deserve.

Emoji healthcare: let’s make affordable health insurance for Emoji available on healthcare.gov.

This MTV writer opened the floodgates, but he’s only scratching the surface. We need an Emoji Luther King Jr. to step up and take them to the next level.

Because they may have their diversity, but by God, they don’t have their freedom.



As if we didn’t have enough to be afraid of, now we have to worry about mud?

I took my love and took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Till the landslide brought me down

I’ve long ago concluded that our planet hates us. Like, really hates us. With great fervor.

After thousands of years of evolution, we came along and started doing all this crazy shit. Tearing down trees. Building factories. Putting dangerous gases in the air. Planting chemicals. You name it.

And every year or so, we’re punished for it. It used to be the simple hurricanes, earthquakes, tropical storms, and the occasional tornado.

Oso landslideBut Mother Nature got creative. Tsunamis, typhoons, superstorms, polar vortex.

And now — landslides.

Up until now, I thought a mudslide was only an alcoholic beverage. And a landslide was something that only existed in a Fleetwood Mac song. And by golly, what a song it is. The Smashing Pumpkins version is also extremely good.

Unfortunately, these songs will likely not be playing on the radio anytime soon in the state of Washington, due to an actual landslide that demolished homes, steamrolled forests and killed 16 people last Saturday. Another 125 are missing.

The avalanche of mud and rock happened in Oso, Washington, a small town with just 180 people in it as of 2010. According to reports, the mud has the density equal to cement, and the landslide itself contains three times the volume of mud as there is concrete in the Hoover Dam.

And here I was thinking that a missing airplane was the strangest thing that happened this month.

Imagine sitting outside your home, enjoying some lunch and a nice bit of fresh air, when a cascade of mud suddenly engulfs you? So thick that you can’t even move? And it becomes the last thing you ever do in this world?

There’s so much to worry about in life: not getting hit by a car, not being struck by lightning, not suddenly learning that you have a dangerous peanut allergy to name a few, that you’re telling me I have to start worrying about mud too?

In the past, my biggest fright involving mud was accidentally stepping in it, and then, after being unable to get off my shoe, tracking it wherever I went for the next few hours. Because that sucks. No one likes to be “that guy” who singlehandedly muddied an entire living room floor.

But apparently mud can also kill you.

If “Mud” wasn’t already the name of a movie starring Matthew McConaughey, I’d suggest for someone to make a horror movie about people being killed off one-by-one by mud. Hey, if The Fog or The Mist could be a horror movie, so could a movie revolving around mud.

I’m officially afraid. Death by mud is by far the last way I want to die.

Except maybe going missing on an airplane.

That still wins.


North Korea is about to have a gigantic “Who Wore it Best?” competition

Tabloid magazines often like to pair up two celebrities who donned similar outfits or hairstyles during a recent time period, and display them side-by-side asking “Who wore it best?”

The juxtaposition of two similarly looking people serves two purposes: for people to actually answer the question, but also, it’s Kim Jong Unalways amusing to see two people coincidentally happening to wear something so alike.

It’s why all these magazines do it. At least that’s what I’m told.

Now I don’t know if North Korea has its own version of People, or Us Weekly, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say they don’t. If they did, however, they would not have too difficult of a time right now finding people who “wore it best.”

Why is that? Because everybody is going to look exactly the same.

The single-party state recently declared that all men must wear their hair exactly like their Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un.

If there were people out there who didn’t fully understand the state of how things are in North Korea, this should probably give you a pretty decent idea. What’s more controlling than not even allowing people to choose their own hairstyles?

And it’s not like they told people that they couldn’t have hair, which would be one thing, but they said they must style it in a very specific way.

Which brings us to the next point. If you look at Kim Jong-un’s hair, you’d see it requires heavy duty maintenance. It’s not exactly your normal, everyday haircut. If it were me, I wouldn’t even know how to go about slicking my hair straight backwards like that. So tens of thousands of North Being John MalkovichKoreans are going to have to either purchase an exorbitant amount of hair gel, or seek a hairstylist who now has to figure out how to make a living doing one haircut.

That’s the last part in all of this. That hairstyle sucks. It’s not like North Korea told everyone to look like Justin Timberlake. And before this, I don’t think many people walked into the nearest salon and said, “Give me the Kim-Jong-un.”

North Korea is essentially turning into a real life Being John Malkovich.

I know it’s just one radical country, but this is the exact type of thing that mid-20th century science fiction novels warned us about. George Orwell saw this coming when he wrote 1984. Government enforced uniformity.

Also, Dennis Rodman will never stand out more the next time he visits North Korea. And that’s saying something.

But you know what? I feel so much empathy for North Koreans after this that I am going to my local barbershop tomorrow and asking for the Kim Jong-un.

Ladies, look out this weekend. I’m coming in hot!


I love when people pretend they have a chance with newly single celebrities

Earlier today, “news” broke that celebrity power couple Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow are separating after nearly 11 years of marriage.

Martin, of course, is the frontman of the internationally renowned British rock band Coldplay, while Paltrow is an Academy Award winning actress whose career has spanned more than two decades. Both are extremely good looking.

Within minutes of this major announcement, Facebook News Feeds across the country became littered with statuses by delusional boys and girls, making subtle to not-so-subtle remarks about they now “have a chance” with either of these globally famous, Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrowculturally iconic celebrities who, again … are extremely good looking.

I know it’s all make believe. I get that.

But what I also know is that these people, somehow, some way, in the furthermost depths of their mind, believe it’s possible. That they — miraculously — think they can have a chance encounter with either Chris Martin or Gwyneth Paltrow and convince them that they should be together forever.

Because then why even bother saying anything about it at all?

It’s the delusional ones who form these impractical crushes on celebrities to begin with, so wouldn’t it only be logical to believe they would take it one step further when that celebrity suddenly becomes single? And not only that, but actually believe that fate intervened to form a wedge between the couple and break them up … for them?

I long ago came to the conclusion that famous people are not as attractive as people think. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin are bad examples of this because, well, they’re extremely good looking, but the reason why people fall in love with celebrities is because they’re constantly looking at them. In movies. In magazines. On the Internet.

The more you look at some one, the more you examine their looks, and conclude what you think of them.

If I were to become famous tomorrow, I’d have girls drooling for me. And I’m not even that handsome. But suddenly, I’d be in the consciousness of hundreds of thousands of women, all of whom are now going to form a judgment. Even if a minuscule percentage were to find me attractive, that would still equate to a lot of people.

This same formula goes for every one in the world who doesn’t look like Rocky Dennis.

Don’t be delusional, people. Falling in love with celebrities is for weaklings. And thinking you have a legitimate chance to be with them is just one step shy of the loony bin.

Those people who are already practicing their pickup lines for Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow seem to conveniently forget that they have a daughter, Apple, and a son, Moses. So if you somehow defied the natural order of the world and did obtain one of them as your significant other, it means you are now a surrogate parent responsible for the well-being of two kids under the age of 10.

Be careful what you wish for. Because getting with your celebrity crush could also mean finding yourself in Toys R’ Us on a Saturday afternoon buying Hess trucks for your new son Moses.


Jimmy Fallon is already a better Tonight Show host than Jay Leno ever was

If I wasn’t on the Jimmy Fallon bandwagon already, well, allow me to say that I am full steam ahead right now.

He’s been hosting the Tonight Show for one month and one week, and his antics have become so extraordinary that it’s almost becoming must-watch television at this point.

Whether it’s playing “Double Turtleneck Ping Pong” with Shailene Woodley and Artie Lange, convincing Kevin Bacon to enter the studio via an ’80s dance number in tribute to the 30-year-anniversary of Footloose, or performing an epic duet with Billy Joel of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” using an iPad app (posted below because it’s mandatory viewing), Fallon has gone to amazing lengths to entertain his audiences.

His tendency to create viral videos is off the charts, and I’m not sure if it’s purely him or his writing team who deserves most of the credit, but he has already entertained me in 35 days more than Jay Leno did in 20 years.

In the past, most people have identified with late show hosts according to the demographic they appeal to.

For instance, David Letterman directs most of his humor towards an older, mature audience. Conan O’ Brien, meanwhile, has always had a more youthful fan base.

But what I think Fallon has done is transcend age. By using mediums that are up-to-date with today’s technology, he’s appealing to the now. It doesn’t matter how old you are. If you want to know what’s cool, and what’s “in,” then watch Fallon.

And I really think that is something no other late night host has ever done before.

Conan O’ Brien was on the verge. He utilized YouTube to an extent, and had #TeamCoco going for him, but Fallon has taken it a step further. From my short time watching, he’s been finding the exact right gimmicks to use on each one of his guests, and he’s also realized oneJimmy Fallon Tonight Show2 fundamental truth: people like watching celebrities do things.

Combining random celebrities for a game of beer pong, charades or Pyramid is nothing short of genius. It’s a simple formula:

People like games.


People like watching celebrities interact with one another.


People like watching celebrities play games with each other. Athletic and skill games, that is.

But the point is that I am sold on Jimmy Fallon. And though my late show watching has declined drastically over the last several years, for now at least, I am making a point to tune into NBC every weeknight at 11:35 p.m.

NBC may have screwed up royally with the Leno/Conan debacle in 2010, but at least they ended up with the right guy in the end.

Also, aweema-wep, aweema-wep, aweema-wep, aweema-wep, aweema-wep, aweema-wep, aweema-wep, aweema-wep, aweema-wep, aweema-wep, aweema-wep, aweema-wep, aweema-wep, aweema-wep, aweema-wep, aweema-wep, aweema-wep.


Wait, so they seriously haven’t found this plane yet?

It’s been nearly two weeks since Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 went off the grid, and we are not the slightest bit closer to knowing where it is.

In today’s modern era, I’m amazed that an airplane can go missing long enough for it to become a story. But now we are at two weeks, and it’s beyond comprehension.

There’s been so little clues of the plane’s whereabouts that it’s barely even a top five story anymore. We have Ukraine still in DJ and Stevedissaray, the subsequent fallout of Russia’s decision to intervene Crimea, and unrelated, the testimony of Osama Bin Laden’s son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith revealing details from 9/11, the death of Wetboro Baptish Church founder Fred Phelps and the upcoming April 6 premiere of the fourth season of Game of Thrones all outdoing this story.

Hell, even the first day of spring, March Madness and the reunion of the Full House actors who played DJ Tanner and her boyfriend Steve on some crappy ABC show are getting more publicity than the Malaysian flight at this point.

The reason? Missing planes are not supposed to happen in real life.

They’re supposed to happen in distant history when technology was infinitely inferior to what it is today (See: Amelia Earhart), or in TV shows (see: Lost), but not in real life. Except it’s happening, and people don’t know how to react.

It’s fun to speculate about conspiracy theories in ancient history, when the people involved would be long dead anyway, or in TV shows, where it’s fictional. But in real life, it’s sadistic because you’re talking about actual people who were alive two weeks ago, and thousands of family members who just want to know what happened to their loved ones.

Throughout the last several days, the main updates have revolved around the timeliness of when a crew member turned off the Courtney Love theorycommunication system, the relevance of a flight simulator found in the home of captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, and whether debris found in the Indian Ocean by satellite imagery is actually a piece of the plane. It probably isn’t.

The irony behind that last piece of news, though, is it means Courtney Love was actually on the right track when she posted her own theory on her Facebook page regarding the flight’s fate.

To me — as somebody who is the furthest thing from an aviation expert and whose knowledge of the situation is limited to what has been published in major publications — only two things can officially be deduced.

1) The plane did not fly over any major countries, because it would most certainly have been detected by their own radar.

2) It landed somewhere where there is no human civilization nearby. Because, then, someone would have like …. seen it, and stuff.

That’s my contribution to this situation.

I think the other reason why people are becoming less motivated to talk about it is because, after this long, the mystery and intrigue has worn off, and I think everyone knows what’s coming: the plane crash landed in water and everyone is dead. At this point we are just waiting for the tragic inevitable.

But never in my wildest dreams, when I first blogged about this on March 10, did I imagine there still would not be a solution more than a week later. Crazy.

A person could have theoretically lapsed into a coma a day after the flight officially went missing on March 9, woke up this morning, and still would not have missed a single piece of news on this story.

But then again, if you were in an 11-day coma, then you probably have your own problems to worry about.

Just … find the plane.

Well, it didn’t take long for selfies to suck again

Earlier this month Ellen DeGeneres propelled selfies to the highest point of their existence with her mega-celebrity photo she took during the Academy Awards ceremony, which within two hours became the most retweeted picture of all time.

The photo became so popular, that for a few days, selfies were cool again. But you knew it wasn’t going to last, and that’s why, in my recap of the Oscars, I urged every one to just stop. Stop taking selfies altogether. Let’s appreciate this one, and then let’s all never do it again.

Well, it didn’t even take three weeks for selfies to reach their lowest point. 

I first heard this song, called #Selfies, on the radio while I was driving about a week ago. My thoughts as it was playing were, “What the f&%! is this?” But then I listened to the lyrics, and thought, “Of course. Of course. Why did it take so long?”

The song is terrible. Absolutely horrific. Let’s just get that out of the way. The girl speaking during it could not be more annoying — which is obviously what the song is going for — and the beat sucks. And any comparisons to the Harlem Shake are just in insult to the Harlem Shake. Because that song had an awesome beat and one of the best drops of all time.

But how can you blame the people who made this song? It was an obvious opportunity to capitalize on a word that has become so immensely popular in our country in recent years. Those people are two New York-based disc jockeys named Drew Taggart, 24, and Alex Pall, 28.

The duo call themselves The Chainsmokers, and their song has collected just under 22 million views on YouTube as of Wednesday night, and is #28 in its second week on the Billboard Hot 100. Baauer’s Harlem Shake rode its viral status all the way to #1 on that same chart, just for comparison’s sake.Chainsmokers selfie

I can’t blame them. They seized on the moment and it’s paying dividends, because now people know who they are. If they continue to create shitty, equally annoying music, then yes, I’ll hate them.

Unfortunately, their conquest is our misfortune, because we now have to bear this song for god knows how long. Much to my displeasure, it actually played while I was at the gym today. Trust me, there’s no bigger buzzkill to your workout than hearing an annoying white girl speak loudly about taking a selfie. Fortunately, I had my iPod on me.

I have to imagine that the song is so unpleasant that the novelty will wear off soon, and it will just go away. Call me crazy, but I have enough faith in humanity to believe that most people’s amusement of the song won’t actually lead them to like it. But, you know, people have let me down before … so nothing would surprise me.

The other question is: what impact will this have on the actual art of selfies?

My prediction? They won’t go away, and they’ll still be awful.

A happy song about being happy! Who’d of thunk it?

Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do
Because I’m happy

Somewhere, between 2013 and 2014, Pharrell Williams’ relevance rating went from a 2.0 on the Richter scale all the way up to a 10. Now, there’s no such thing as a relevance rating, and the Richter scale actually measures earthquake magnitudes, but you get the point.

Followers of hip hop, or popular music in general, know that Pharrell has been around for a long, long time, particularly as a member of the band N.E.R.D. My earliest memory of him is from 2004 when he collaborated with Snoop Dogg on his hit single, Pharrell“Drop it Like it’s Hot.” (Yup, that was 10 years ago.)

Pharrell is more of a behind-the scenes-guy, as a successful producer as opposed to a performer, and his meteoric rise in popularity over the last 15 months can be directly attributed to three songs: Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” which he produced, Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” which he co-wrote and sings, and “Happy,” his own song that is dominating the airwaves, and has topped not only the American charts, but the charts in nineteen other countries.

He also became the spokesman for Daft Punk at the Grammys — considering that they don’t talk — he performed “Happy” at the Academy Awards (it’s on the soundtrack for Despicable Me 2), and received a lot of attention for wearing his Elmer Fudd-like hat to both ceremonies, which was later auctioned to Arby’s for more than $40,000.

Also, his music video for “Happy” became the first 24-hour music video ever made. 

In other words, dude’s killing it.

It’s easy to see why people like the song. it’s a — for lack of a better word — happy song. Too often songs are written about topics that do not match its overall tone and mood. But “Happy” is an almost impossible song to listen to and not want to snap your fingers to and fro while swaying from side to side. I’m doing it right now, and that’s just because I’m thinking about the song. I’m also on drugs.

(I’m not on drugs.)

It also doesn’t hurt when a group of adorable schoolchildren perform your already happy song, only to somehow make it even happier:

So there’s that.

In fact, two songs that were performed at this year’s Academy Awards are presently in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, with the other being Frozen’s “Let it Go,” sung by Idina Menzel, also known as Adele Nazeem.

But I think Pharrell is actually pretty brilliant. People like upbeat songs. They like to listen to them while walking down the street on a sunny day, imagining that they’re being surrounded by a chorus of happy people and forest animals. Think “You Make my Dreams Come True” by Hall and Oates in the movie 500 Days of Summer.

So Pharrell was like, “How about I make a very cheerful, happy song about … being happy?”

And he did. And now he’s laughing his ass off all the way to the top of the Billboard charts.

Yeah, I’d be happy too.

One against 12: How a game of flip cup allowed for my greatest adult accomplishment

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everybody! The sadist in me almost enjoys that it fell on a Monday this year, and all the people who like to “go hard” were mostly unable to do so, or had to pick between the two separate weekends it fell between to arbitrarily celebrate.

But happy Irish day nonetheless.

Anyway, I noticed it’s been a while since I blogged more from a first-person perspective, recounting my own tales in a humorous way for your personal enjoyment, and instead have been focusing more on current events. It means either one of two things: a lot has been going in the world lately, or my life has just become more and more dull.

Either way, I want to return to my roots of narrating self-deprecating stories about myself, and I have one for you from this past weekend.

This one revolves around a drinking game. When Solo Cups and Bud Light are involved, there’s only so many games you can play that are suitable for a large group.Flip cup Beer pong is a pretty exclusive game that takes a while to complete, so it’s really not the best group game.

Flip cup, on the other hand, really is only fun when there’s a large group. I’m personally not the biggest fan of the game because I think it involves minimal drinking and that way too much time is spent between rounds rather than during. But, it promotes camaraderie and teamwork, and who doesn’t like that?

So that’s why I found myself on Saturday night surrounding a ping-pong table with 12 other individuals playing Survivor Flip Cup. For those unaware, this variety of the game could be played one of two ways: The winning side of any given round gets to “vote off” a player from the losing side, or, the winning side absorbs a player of choice from the losing side (our choice). Either way, the last team standing is the winner.

And that, subsequently, is how I found myself standing alone on one side of the table, competing directly against 12 others.

Ironically, I was actually the captain of the team that had the 12 members, but through a couple dozen rounds in which multiple people were swapped, I ended up on opposite side. Of course, when a team faces a deficit, the players need to compensate by drinking extra cups. For example, if it is eight against four, each person on the team of four will drink two cups in order to keep it even.

Anyway, I ended up being the solo guy on one side, and was basically the one being thrown to the wolves. The sacrificial lamb. I had to drink — and flip — 12 cups before every one else on the other team. It was like a modern day David and Goliath. And once I lost, the game would be over.

I filled the 12 cups, lined them up, and was prepared to at least go down fighting. Had their been any one else on my team to talk to, it may have been an appropriate time to deliver the “I am William Wallace” speech from Braveheart. Although, he ended up losing the battle and being gruesomely tortured to death, so that may have not been the best comparison.

But the round began, and somewhere between cups three and four, something happened.

William WallaceYou know how when you’re in the middle of something important, whether it’s school or work related, or anything else, and you’re just waiting for your brain to suddenly click, and for you to become super efficient? Only it never happens? Well it happened here, on that Saturday, during a game of flip cup.

I became a man possessed — a flip master, if you will — and successfully flipped the final six cups on one try. Suddenly, I could see the numbers in air. My brain calculated the perfect angle, speed and trajectory in which to flip every cup. I was like John Nash in A Beautiful Mind. An assembly line of one.

After flipping the twelfth cup, I looked up, and the other team had yet to finish.

I won.

The opposing team of a dozen was so impressed that they actually gave me a two-minute long ovation. And that, my friends, was probably my greatest single accomplishment since high school.

Of course, my improbable win only served to prolong the game, which continued for another 45 minutes and ultimately ended in a draw. So it actually prevented anybody from gaining any further sense of victory and arguably made the entire near two-hour game a giant waste of time … but, at least I got a great story out of it!

Next time I’m asked during a job interview about my greatest accomplishments, or have to write any type of retrospective essay on my life’s highest point, I will henceforth remember the time I overcame one against 12 in a game that’s culturally known for being most popular among college-aged girls.

Aim high, people. Aim high.

Sometimes you just have to let it burn, burn, burn: an Ellie Goulding concert experience

Last Thursday evening, an amalgamation of voices — predominantly carried by girls aged 18 to 23 — chanted “Ellie! Ellie! Ellie!” inside the Theater at Madison Square Garden, attempting to yield an encore from British pop star Ellie Goulding following her nearly 20-song set.

Among those voices was another — a stark departure from that young female demographic. Rather, a 26-year-old male, a newspaper editor and quasi-blogger from Long Island, vociferously shouting alongside the masses.

That man was yours truly.

Ellie Goulding

On March 13, I attended an Ellie Goulding concert, her second in two consecutive nights inside Madison Square Garden’s theater, a notable stop along her massive, multiple-continent tour that will stretch into August of 2014. I was there with a friend, also male, also outside that average demographic age range.

Now you may ask yourself why two males on the wrong side of 20 would want to spend money to attend such a concert knowing full well they would be in the minority, both in gender and age?

The truth is, I stopped caring a long time ago.

I certainly don’t mean it as a slight to Ms. Goulding — my intent is not to imply that there is a stigma that comes with attending one of her concerts. But unfortunately in life, there is a stigma attached to practically everything.

But I have no qualms announcing that I am a giant fan of Ellie Goulding, and it was actually the second time I’ve seen her — the first being at the Firefly Music Festival in Delaware last year, where she was one of several dozen acts performing throughout the weekend, giving me ample excuse at the time to tell people why I saw Ellie Goulding live.

This time, I needed no excuse. If I like an artist, you’re damn well right I’m not going to pass up an opportunity to see them live. And I have no shame seeing any type of artist, especially not female singer-songwriters. Heck, in the last five months, I have seen Kacey Musgraves, Sara Bareilles and Avril Lavigne live as well, all of which were respectively awesome.

Just for the record though: my musical taste is extremely eclectic, ranging from classic to indie to folk rock, and I see (and spend way too much money on) all types of shows.

But back to Ellie. Or I should I say, “Ellie! Ellie Ellie!”

Ellie Goulding2The 27-year-old has seen quite the rise in popularity the last few years. Having already achieved stardom in the U.K., her single “Lights” made her known in the U.S., reaching #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2011. Since then, she’s produced hit single after hit single, including “Burn,” “Anything Could Happen,” and “I Need Your Love,” (the latter as a featured artist for Scottish DJ Calvin Harris) over two successful albums.

It’s earned her quite the fan base, and that’s how she sold out two shows in the most famous arena in the universe.

I’m a big fan of Ellie Goulding because I have a lot of respect for anybody who writes and performs their own music, and does so with their own unique flair of artistry. Those who’ve heard Goulding before can attest that her sound is not something you hear from the typical musician, and that’s refreshing to me.

Plus, she’s really, really pretty. That helps.

Her lively, energetic performance was very highly received within Madison Square Garden, and, for the record, we succeeded in bringing her out for an encore. Which — though more of a formality than an accomplishment at these type of shows — is something I feel that my masculine, booming 26-year-old male voice had a lot to do with … more than 100 rows back from the stage.

As I said, Ellie Goulding’s sound is kind of difficult to define. She’s a pop star, no doubt, and I consider her songs a mix of a singer-songwriter and dance. They’re mostly upbeat, highly suitable for social gatherings, and, high school proms … I’m sure.

Fans of fantasy-fiction and dystopian novels like myself will also note she wrote songs for both the Hunger Games: Catching Fire and upcoming Divergent soundtracks, for what it’s worth.

But, the point is, if you like something, you have to own it. Who cares about outside perception? If you live your life wondering how others will judge you, then you have to ask yourself … are you really living?

Then, and only then, can you truly let it burn, burn, burn.