Classic Movie: Rock ’n’ Roll High School (1979)
Surviving your last year of high school can be tough—especially when the new principal is trying to confiscate all of your Ramones records! Rock ’n’ Roll High School follows number-one Ramones fan Riff Randell and her couldn’t-be-more-opposite sidekick Kate Rambeau (she’s more into nuclear physics). Riff is idolized by Kate and just about the entire student body. She acts as the school’s punk rock leader, taking a three-day leave to be first in line to get tickets for a Ramones concert, where she hopes to meet her idols.
The coolest part about this movie—aside from practically everyone at the school being into the Ramones (why couldn’t this be my high school?!)—is Riff’s unstoppable attitude in following her dream of becoming a songwriter. She faces obstacles from Angel Dust, the self-proclaimed “real” number-one Ramones fan, and from her principal, who sends hall monitors to snatch her Ramones tickets!
Riff still makes the most of her high school experience, leading a sing-and-dance-a-thon in gym class to a song she wrote called “Rock ’n’ Roll High School”:
It’s like Grease, but more punk rock!
Riff stays true to herself and lives and breathes rock ’n’ roll, all while wearing the most impeccable new wave, Crayola-colored outfits. My favorite scene takes place inside her poster-covered bedroom, where a guitar is propped up against the wall. A fantasy world appears, and suddenly Joey Ramone and the gang are inside her room singing “I Want You Around”:
I also especially love the friendship between Riff and Kate. During one scene, both lay on Riff’s bed comparing their crushes—Riff’s, of course, being Joey Ramone. “I like Joey Ramone ’cause he’s tall and handsome. He looks like a poem to me.” Riff is a true romantic, and I can’t help but feel the same way every time I hear “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.”
Guess what! The entire movie is available on YouTube…
…and is jam-packed with incredible music. Watch it online like a rebel, while you still can! —Ambar Navarro
Podcast: Song Exploder
Have you ever listened to a song and wished you knew every single detail about its creation? In the podcast Song Exploder, musicians break down one of their songs, both technically and conceptually. This podcast is for technical enthusiasts and general music fans alike. You learn about musicians’ personal inspirations, as well as the execution of songs. Ultimately, it’s just fascinating and beautiful to listen to people talk about what they love.
In one of my favorite episodes, Kelela explains her song “Rewind.” I went from liking this track to being super obsessed with it after listening to her describe the missed-connection story that inspired its lyrics, and how she enlisted five different producers to create the specific sound she envisioned. Kelela explains how she out to make a Miami bass track that you can dance to, but that also sounds like it’s from another planet. Now every time I hear “Rewind,” I think about Kelela’s inspiration, the song’s evolution, and how Kelela wanted it to sound “kind of scary.” —Madeline Keyes-Levine
YouTube Channel: Nikki Milan Houston
I have always been a fan of using social media as a sort of digital scrapbook, and the videos on Nikki Milan Houston’s YouTube channel—especially the ones assembled from video clips of her and her friends—are perfect examples of that practice. Nikki’s videos are aesthetically simple, but that simplicity really resonates with me. Watching Nikki’s experiences through a screen makes me feel incredibly nostalgic, without having had those experiences firsthand. Even when Nikki shows her friends doing something as normal as dancing in the streets or going to the beach, it all seems so dreamy. —Briana ♦