Top Entertainment: Reviews by 8th grade guest-writers on their favorite songs and movies

“Anti-Hero” by Taylor Swift

Review by Ava Meder

Taylor Swift is an icon to most, if not everyone. Her new album, Midnights, blew up instantly on every social media platform. One of the more well known songs from Midnights, “Anti-Hero”, is a great song to jam out to, but there is also an important message sent across. 

“Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby, and I’m a monster on the hill,” is a line that makes the song’s message crystal clear. Comparison, insecurities, and overall thinking negatively about yourself is very common today, and this song helps explain it with powerful words and lots of repetition. 


“Block Me” by Gracie Abrams

Review by Caitlin Scahill

“Block Me Out” by Gracie Abrams is a phenomenal single released in 2022 describing the feelings of letting yourself down while nobody else notices. Abrams captivates self-reflection with this song, all while keeping an upbeat tune. “I think I’m burnin’ alive, but nobody sees the fire ‘Cause when I open my mouth, I seem to be stuck in silence,” emphasizes the significance of Abram’s true feelings about herself, highlighting her inner pain and suffering that no one else can see. Abrams describes the feelings of frustration and anxiety about her true self disguised within the upbeat lyrics of “Block Me Out”. 


“Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi

Review by Christian Olds

“Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi is a song listeners can rock out to on any occasion. Whether you’re getting ready for a big game, you’re feeling angry, or even emotional, the song has a perfect blend of low notes and high notes. A perfect example of 80s rock, this song has the best lyrics.

The best song for any occasion, this song’s lyrics will make anybody instantly fall in love with it. An example of this is when throughout the song Jovi sings, “A loaded six string on my back,” and “I’ve seen a million faces, and I’ve rocked them all.” These lyrics paint a picture of him on the road while the chorus gives listeners an idea of him on the run, making a complete story. The chorus is “I’m a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride I’m wanted dead or alive.” When you take all the lyrics and put them together, you get a song that is too good not to be listened to. When you pair the descriptive imaginative lyrics with the chorus, the song puts you in his shoes as a “Cowboy” on the run from his fans.

This song is perfect for any mood. This song works well for anything. It has a perfect blend of rock and lyrics. This song works for warmups for any sport, is a great song to blast at parties, or just to listen to by yourself. The song works when you’re angry, upset, or just wanting a song to listen to while doing work, working out, or in the car on a long drive.


“We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel

Review by Brody Chou

Many may think of the lyrics of a song as unimportant when compared to a song’s beat and rhythm. However, “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel is a song where lyrics are just as important, if not more important than anything else in the song. As Joel begins the song, he lists events that happened in the world. Moments in history that everyone knows are strung together in a rhythmic beat. Its ability to convey facts usually found in more straightforward mediums is truly unique. 

The lyrics of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” become a message of humanity’s drama. The song tells of a fire burning that is humanity, and humanity will always have drama that burns like a fire. The drama isn’t a new headline in the news, it always existed. Yet, even as the song creates the idea of a commonplace fire it still is a warning at the same time. At the end, the song’s beat quickens as if the fire has consumed all. It is even more evident in the music video of “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. Such a purpose of an all consuming fire is a warning to humanity, as drama may be commonplace but it still can destroy all with simply the ignition of a spark. 


“Mirrorball” by Taylor Swift

Review by Kyla Wilkinson

           “I’m still trying everything to keep you looking at me, because I’m a mirrorball”. Music is created to connect with an audience, and to make people feel understood. “Mirrorball” by Taylor Swift is the perfect example of this. The sixth track on Swift’s eighth album, Folklore, “Mirrorball” perfectly conveys powerful emotions throughout the song. 

           “Mirrorball” tells the story of a girl who can only shine once someone gives her the light to do so. Many of Swift’s fans deeply relate to the vulnerability and relatability of the piece. It has a melancholy tone yet can be listened to at any time, and possesses a unique sense of fragility. “Mirrorball” commonly relates to many because of how understanding it is. Swift writes about real people and complications along with loneliness and emotion. “I’m still a believer but I don’t know why, I’ve never been a natural. All I do is try, try, try.” The lyrics from this section of the bridge stick out like a shining star in the midnight moonlight. 


“Under the Table” by Fiona Apple

Review by Maggie Christensen

Music provokes emotions, and a good song is a song that can make listeners feel strongly. In the song “Under the Table” by Fiona Apple, Apple is an expert at making music that connects with listeners, making them remember their own experiences. In “Under the Table, Apple sings about her own experiences, but the lyrics contain universal themes that can make everyone remember events in their own lives. 

We can all relate to being silenced by others, knowing that they are ashamed or fearful of what you might say. When we disagree with people we want to say it, but our words affect people other than ourselves. Apple discusses the act of being silenced when she has to disagree, when she can not stand what is coming out of others mouths. She still says what she feels, despite others’ reactions. It’s empowering to hear someone in a situation you’ve been in before stand up for themselves. When you can see yourself in an artist and song, it makes it all the more special. Even though listeners and Apple are in different situations, they all share the same thoughts, and that is what makes “Under the Table” so powerful.      


“Paper Bag” by Fiona Apple

Review by Ellie Ramirez

“Paper Bag” is a very popular song, enjoyed by many people. With over two million listeners on Spotify, Fiona Apple’s 90s song is one of her most popular works. Honestly, going into my first listen, I had high expectations. With 35 million listens on Spotify, I thought this was going to be a song that I would really enjoy, like many other Fiona Apple fans. However, I was a little disappointed.

At the beginning of the song, I liked it. Then I waited, and waited, and waited, for the upbeat jam that would never come. “Paper Bag” is not my preferred style of music. I like something that I can sing and dance to. In this song, the same tune is repeated over and over again. I think that for some people, “Paper Bag” might be a favorite, but for me, I don’t think it deserves the 35 million listeners that it has. 


“Cracker Island” by Gorillaz

Review by Mary Cunningham

“Cracker Island” is a memorable song, telling the story of a ruined cult. While it is a fantastical tale, it can be applied to the consequences of many real life cults. 

From the very start of the song, it introduces listeners to a catchy beat, and doesn’t waste time getting into the lyrics. Two seconds in, listeners are told that “On Cracker Island it was born”. Within the next lines, listeners are told of a cult on Cracker Island that is obsessed with creating a ‘paradise’. Listeners learn the consequences of this, in the chorus the singer describes ‘purging his soul’ as payment. While the constant beat of the song may overshadow the lyrics, the story hidden is fascinating. The cult created the monster in an attempt to reach that paradise. Though the song refers to a monster and describes it being raised, the monster may not be a physical being at all. In the later lyrics, the cult has ‘autotuned’ the truth, leading the creation to become stronger. The monster feeds off their sadness, and grows from their seeds of lies. This creature is the consequence of the cult, their attempts to reach their paradise destroyed them. 


Top Gun: Maverick

Review by Fatima Afzal

Top Gun: Maverick (2022) is one of the greatest movies to ever be produced. Highly decorated actor Tom Cruise takes the lead role of the movie for the second time in this franchise. Originally prequelled by Top Gun (1986), this spectacle is an aftermath of the young Cruise’s character’s bold adventures in Top Gun. The movie revolves around conquering the dangers of flying military aircraft and the thrill of action. It also applies relevant morals to viewers’ lives, such as perseverance through adversity, strength through pain, and confidence in all pursuits. 

Teaching at a navy pilot school for the best of the best, old Maverick (Tom Cruise) educates new students about different aerial techniques and maneuvers for upcoming missions. However, he is a major risk-taker and struggles in managing the students as an experienced veteran. Furthermore, the drama envelopes as Rooster, the son of Maverick’s deceased best friend, becomes one of his students. Rooster blames Maverick for his father’s death as they were in the same plane when the tragedy occurred. The movie ends dramatically, with Maverick and Rooster emerging as heroes and victors of a difficult mission. An even more impressive aspect of the movie, Tom Cruise executes his own death-defying stunts, and his exceptionally gifted piloting skills are very much real. This adrenaline-coursing movie will trigger a thrill in your blood and will make you reach for a big bucket of buttery popcorn. 


“Love Me Again” by John Newman

Review by Chris Kirkos

In 2013, John Newman released a song that was an attention catcher worldwide. Featuring his feelings about his ex-girlfriend, “Love Me Again” tells an artistic story, and who doesn’t enjoy listening to a classic drama and love story? The hit lifts heads when the song’s slow beat begins. Whether it is playing on a Spotify playlist or at a public event, this song will always put listeners in a good mood. “Love Me Again” skyrocketed in popularity after being featured on Fifa 19, one of the most popular video games worldwide. 

“Love Me Again” is an enchanting, empowerful song with relatable lyrics that makes listeners want to listen to it every second. The most memorable quote from this song is most definitely, “I need to know now, know now, can you love me again?” Even though the song is ten years old, it is still gold with lyrics more powerful than just words themselves, which John Newman specializes in. This song is a must listen!


“Believer” by Imagine Dragons

Review by Shayna Fitzershtein

To anyone who would stop and truly think about the lyrics of a song, “Believer” by Imagine Dragons is an eyeopener to any listener. A song that preaches the importance of building yourself up after being broken down, “Believer” became well known worldwide with quintessential lines such as “Pain! You break me down, you build me up, believer, believer!” The band talks about going through hard stages in their lives, only to see the world in a better and brighter light on the other side of the pain. Such lines taught their listeners that it is always possible to bounce back from any struggle, large or small.

“Believer” taught the world that it is normal to hurt, and hints at important concepts such as embracing depression and coming back better from grief. Quotes such as “My life, my love, my drive, it came from… pain!” illustrate the meaning of this song. A legendary song that will never be forgotten, “Believer” by Imagine Dragons will never fade away, it will withstand the test of time forever.


“Cardigan” by Taylor Swift

Review by Sania Francis
The quiet yet enticing beginning of “Cardigan” by Taylor Swift relaxes my mind like no other. The soft piano playing in the background sets the mood for listeners to really get into the beat. For me, Swift’s vocals are an escape into a world of fantasy. 

When Swift sings, she always tells a story within her songs. She hooks the listener in through her lyrics. When her soothing voice and instruments come together, it creates a sound so magical that you forget reality. The lyrics “and when I felt like I was an old cardigan, under someone’s bed, you put me on and said I was your favorite,” sounds sorrowful but sweet, and magical enough to bring any listener into a world of happiness. “Cardigan” brings listeners back up when feeling down. The song is such a great escape from reality.


“Illicit Affairs” by Taylor Swift

Review by Jimin Ann

The climax of “Illicit Affairs” by Taylor Swift makes you scream at the top of your lungs relating to Swift’s influential voice about secret relationships. This song from Swift’s 8th studio album, Folklore, truly explains her “godforsaken mess” in a powerful fashion.

Along with Swift’s empowering lyrics, the beautiful instrumentation creates a soothing mood for the listener. Her lyrics, “You taught me a secret language—you know I can’t share with anyone else,” illustrates the anger and anxiety Taylor felt from her emotionless and purely physical relationship. Many listeners relate and genuinely vibe with this song, and said by the music industry, “Illicit Affairs” really is an artistic and beautiful piece. 

“Mirrorball” by Taylor Swift

Review by Maira Lat

“Mirrorball” is one of the more upbeat songs on Taylor Swift’s album, Folklore. With a catchy hook and a dance feeling to it, this song is great to sing to. “Mirrorball” starts off directly with the lyrics “I want you to know I’m a mirrorball.” Even though the song is fun and catchy, it also has a deeper meaning.

When Swift says “I’m a mirrorball”, she reflects on how a mirrorball has shiny, reflective pieces of glass, illustrating how different people reflect off of her. Instead of saying disco ball, Swift calls it a mirrorball, creating a deeper meaning. Many fans relate to this song because Swift explains she is a people pleaser, and will do anything to please others. Swift also talks about how celebrities are put on a pedestal and how people love watching others fall and make mistakes. An example is in this lyric, “The masquerade revelers, drunk as they watch my shattered edges glisten”. Lyrics like these really allow the fans to connect to Swift and the song itself. This song tends to get overlooked on the album, but I think it is one of Swift’s best lyrical pieces and really shows who Swift is as a person.


“Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars

Review by Meghana Kuchimanchi

Music is all about emotions, the feelings used to make people listen to a song over and over. A good song doesn’t fail to capture emotion, and as some people might agree, Bruno Mars succeeded in crafting an amazing song when writing “Just the Way You Are”.

“Just the Way You Are” has an instrumental background to set the mood and the lyrics to share a story. In the lyrics “And when you smile…The whole world stops and stares for a while. ‘Cause girl you’re amazing, just the way you are”, Mars shows that people are naturally insecure, but there will always be someone there for you. Mars connects to people through this song and it will always be remembered as a song that can make listeners feel many emotions.