Too much homework? Need a mental break from all those studies? Well, then take the time to binge a new TV series on Netflix! Regardless of whether you’re mooching off your parents account or if you’ve got your own, here’s a list of the 5 best shows to binge on Netflix when you’re not in the mood to cram.
Grey’s Anatomy- Love drama? How about hot doctors? Well then you have come to the right place. The show follows Meredith Grey, who is starting off as an intern at a hospital in Seattle. Not only do we watch her struggle with maintaining relationships with her colleagues and trying to keep a lid on some family drama, she finds herself in a forbidden romance as well. With 14 seasons posted on Netflix, with number 15 on the way, this show will have you drooling for more.
Stranger Things- Full of sci-fi and 80s culture, this thriller follows Joyce as she investigates the disappearance of Will, her 12 year old son. As they investigate Will’s disappearance, they come to unravel a series of conspiracies, exposing the details of government experiments and the collusion of supernatural forces. With Stranger Things seasons 1 and 2 both on Netflix, it will keep you hanging on the edge of your seats. There are, of course, jumpscares. You’ve been warned.
Daredevil- Are you a Marvel fan but you can’t wait for the next Marvel movie? Daredevil is the perfect watch for breaks between films. It will also get you hooked and transition you into a Marvel Defender. By day, Matt Murdock is a blind lawyer, trying to fight for the little guy in court. At night, he hunts the dark streets and alleys of Hell’s KItchen. With his senses heightened, Murdock takes on mobsters and villains alike. With season 3 on the way, Daredevil will open up a new world of fantastic Marvel characters for you.
The Office- Based off of the originally British television show, The Office is a documentary style show following the co-workers of Dunder-Mifflin and how they run their business as well as the shenanigans they get up to. With 9 season now added to the platform, it’s perfect to binge watch when your trying to study.
Friends- Rich with 90s pop culture, this sitcom follows 6 friends living in New York City and the crazy twists and turns of their lives. With plenty of relatable characters and great stories, you’ll be laughing on the sofa with a cup of coffee.
Is Clarke University considering anything and everything for its athletics? Some students on campus, specifically student athletes, feel as though their respective sports are being overlooked by administration, thus, making them feel unimportant.
Decorated teams like Baseball, Softball, and Track and Field all been competing off campus since each of their inaugural seasons. Baseball competes at A.J. Spiegel Park in Peosta which is about a 20-minute drive. Softball competes at Veteran’s Memorial Park which is a 7-minute drive, and Track and Field have never even had home field advantage as they are always on the road. These teams, along with two Lacrosse teams, two Golf teams, two soccer teams, and potentially our new football team will have to share one indoor facility throughout the year, the Gantz Center, which is also a 7-minute drive from campus. Clarke does not provide transportation to these off-campus facilities.
Baseball, Softball, and Track and Field have been exceptionally successful in the past few years; however, a number of student-athletes feel as though they have nothing to show for it.
Campus is changing, and some concerns are coming to light. There is little word from the administration regarding what exactly these new facilities are going to look like. Students can visibly see the plethora of space there is on campus, and that there is a lot of room for possible facilities for sports that seem to have been forgotten.
In a conversation with All-American baseball player, Michael Lopez, a junior from Rancho Cucamonga, California, he expresses his discontent with the current facilities stating, “I feel like our team is consistently successful, however we still get the short end of the stick having to drive 20 minutes to practice every day. A lot of us are from far away states and don’t have cars at our disposal.”
Lopez continues with expressing frustration stating, “It just sucks because student-athletes work as hard as we can to represent Clarke and what has Clarke done for us? Now that they are taking trees down, I can see that there is definitely room on campus for a baseball field or even an Avila type facility which is a full length make-shift football field, soccer field, softball field, and baseball field…I know I am not alone by saying there is room for this type of facility at Clarke.”
Clarke softball players also express their frustration and feelings of neglect. Ally Renforth explains the softball field is less than conducive for competition and practice, “…we have to haul all of our equipment from Gantz to [Veteran’s Memorial Park] to the school. It’s a constant struggle having to chase down equipment.”
Renforth continues to express her frustrations with the actual field, “We play at a community field. Kids ride their bikes across it and even run onto our field during practice. We have to put up a fence in order for our field to be regulation, we have an extremely small dugout for our team, and we have a scoreboard with broken pegs for plastic numbers that fall off. In all of my four years of college softball we are the only team I’ve seen with less than satisfactory facilities like ours.”
Renforth continues to state, “don’t get me wrong, we are content with the facilities that we have, but now that Clarke is making new facilities for a team that doesn’t even exist yet, it kind of hurts feeling as though we have been totally forgotten about.”
In closing with Lopez he expressed, “Clarke is doing a lot of things right, but they are also doing a lot wrong. The university should be caring thoughtfully about their current students and student-athletes because we are the best chance they have at generating donors. Instead, most of us are unhappy and envy schools like Georgia Gwinnett, University of Dubuque and the facilities that many teams in our conference have. I understand sports aren’t everything in life, but Clarke is wasting the chance to bring a championship culture across all sports to campus.”
Personally being affected by this, it seems like Clarke is jumping the gun on some of the decisions they make. This article is not meant to be taken offensively. I think Coach Regalado is doing a great job recruiting a team and getting the Clarke community excited about football. Administration is doing a great job in supporting football on the Clarke campus. The soccer and lacrosse teams are all equally deserving of benefiting from these future facilities. All of these things aside, it still doesn’t hide the fact that current student-athletes feel neglected for a shiny new object when they have put in the blood, sweat, and tears in order to make their sports worthy of respect.
When I first realized I liked girls, I was only ten years old. I had been watching Teen Titans, a show on the Cartoon Network one Saturday morning when the character Starfire came on screen. She had bright red hair and an outrageously animated body, but the way her character spoke had made my chest feel warm.
Being a child, I shoved the feeling away to analyze at a later date, unable to recognize how much that moment would shape my young life. The time for analysis never came. Instead, I worked my way through middle school, developing crushes on girls in my grade, but all the same shoving the infatuation away because of course, it was wrong. Unnatural. After all, it was Rose that fell in love with Jack, and it was Edward that fell in love with Bella, and that was just the way things were.
The way everything was.
Recently, however, the film Love, Simon has challenged this heterosexual status quo, the movie hitting theaters internationally, acting as a shock to the largely straight system of cinema. The film has earned mixed reviews from people both within and outside of the LGBT+ community. A majority of the reactions have been positive, celebrating the success of one of the first, widely released young adult films that features a gay protagonist.
However, some critics have picked the film apart, discrediting every cliche and dismissing every cheesy one liner, all the while posing the question of whether Love, Simon was necessary.
In a society completely saturated with films based around teen stereotypes, it surprises me that only now is the necessity of high school rom coms called into question. Films such as Fault in Our Stars, Twilight, and Ten Things I Hate About You, which all feature heterosexual, high school couples, have had the honor of becoming classics among the millennial generation.
Yet, now that a film of the same formula has taken the box office by storm with a gay main character, Hollywood has suddenly “run out of ideas,” repeating the same narrative and pandering to “PC culture.”
I understand the frustration with Hollywood’s monotony. Love, Simon is by no means a cinematic masterpiece. At times, the writing heavily relies on stereotypes audiences may be tired of, and the use of clichés sometimes pushes the narrative right over the line of cheesy. But that’s what makes Love, Simon so crucial in the fight for representation. Finally, the LGBT+ community has gotten their own Twilight, just… with less vampires and more rainbow motifs.
To give context to why a film like Love, Simon is so important, it’s necessary to understand the current state of LGBT+ cinema. One of the most popular movies ever to feature a gay couple is the French film Blue is the Warmest Color. The movie illustrates a relationship between a nervous 18-year-old named Adèle and an older, free spirited woman named Emma, who is implied to be in her 30’s. Their relationship is taboo and secretive, which eventually causes a rift between them. Eventually, Adèle is left behind by Emma, and, with the love of her life gone, Adèle spirals into depression while her ex moves on to a more mature, stable relationship. To make matters, and the film as a whole, even worse, spliced between scenes of emotional manipulation and angst are vulgar, bordering on pornographic sex scenes between Adèle and Emma.
These distressing themes are commonplace within LGBT+ films. Characters tend to either be hypersexualized or broken apart, a happy ending out of the question. For a young member of the LGBT+ community, it can be frightening to look towards media for reassurance, only to be told that the kinds of relationships you may be looking for can only end in tragedy. Love, Simon takes these thematic elements, these pornographic scenes, and flips them on their head, instead creating a sweet but inspiring tale that seeks to empower teenagers who are just starting to explore their identities and sexualities.
In fact, even members of the cast of Love, Simon themselves have been inspired by the film, the lead actor Keiynan Lonsdale (picturedright) coming out as queer just after shooting for the movie was wrapped. Reflecting on what it was like to play a closeted gay character, Lonsdale said to the Hollywood Reporter on March 16th, “Representation matters, and it’s just the truth. You watch something, and depending on how the story is told and how these characters feel to you, it influences your life, it influences how you feel about yourself and people that you meet.”*
Stories like Lonsdale’s unfold every day– kids coming out to their families and friends all the while never knowing exactly what kind of reaction they’ll get. Lonsdale acknowledges that he was lucky to come out in an environment that was so immediately accepting, though he admits that, regardless of knowing he’d be met with nothing but support, it was still a terrifying experience. Love, Simon was created with the purpose of quelling some of that inherent fear. By giving an honest, yet lighthearted look into the life of a gay teenager, Love, Simon has become an invaluable resource for queer kids who are terrified of making themselves known. Seeing the main character find peace in his own skin gives kids within the LGBT+ community an example to look towards, letting them hope for their own happy ending.
There is a small group of students on Clarke’s campus who participate in a program that is not widely known by other students. This program, “Connect and Serve,” began in the spring semester of 2016, and consists of Clarke students partnered with students just across the street at Dubuque Senior High School. These Clarke students mentor the Senior High School students through a program adapted from the University of Minnesota’s Check and Connect program which works to improve the graduation rates among high school students.
This semester, eight Clarke University mentors were each paired with at least one Dubuque Senior High School student and met weekly with their mentees. We developed academic goals to improve grades through academic supports, improved behavior at school, improved the students’ attitudes towards academics. Of these eight Clarke students, four are volunteers and the other four are in the “Connect and Serve” course instructed by Clarke Sociology Professor Rachel Daack. This one-credit hour course meets once a week to discuss each mentee’s progress in the program and to provide support and ideas that can improve the mentoring experience and outcomes of the high school student mentees. Clarke students also explore social research and participate in community organizations with goals similar to Connect and Serve.
Clarke University hosted a visit event on campus this spring semester for the Senior High mentees. The student mentees ate lunch in the cafeteria with their mentors, toured campus, and participated in a Q & A with Clarke mentors about college life. The high school students thoroughly enjoyed the unlimited lunch buffet in Clarke’s dining hall (especially the ice cream sundae bar), the opportunity to see a dorm room, and hearing from their college mentors about what college life is like in comparison to high school. Many of the student mentees left campus with new considerations of attending college after high school and programs they may be interested in participating in. Overall, the event successfully opened the student mentees’ eyes to life beyond high school, which has in turn motivated the students to do well in school in order to attend college after graduation. The mentoring program will continue into next year as new mentors are being recruited in order to grow the program.
The Dubuque police department monitors social media to track and respond to threats in the Dubuque area.
The police department will now focus some attention on social media in response to the alleged shooting threat directed toward Dubuque Senior High School on February 22. This allows the police department to not only respond quickly to confirmed threats but also to control any hearsay about discredited threats. The Dubuque community and its institutions benefit from the police department’s efforts to monitor social media.
For special circumstances, like the Dubuque Senior High School shooting threat, the police department will assign an officer to monitor social media for threats, according to Joe Messerich, a Lieutenant on the Dubuque police force. However, the police department does not staff specific police officers to oversee social media for threats. Instead, the police department has intelligence officers who gather vital information and relay it to the police officers.
Although, Lt. Messerich said all officers are expected to act as intelligence officers to find trends on social media – whether it involves underage house parties, gang-related posts, or possible threats – and relay the information to the department.
Another way officers monitor social media is during their own time when they are off-duty. If the officers peruse their social media accounts and come across something alarming, then they are expected to use their judgment to consider if it is a threat. “It doesn’t matter who you are,” said Lt. Messerich. “You’ll find information on something on social media.”
To report any threats, call the Dubuque police department at (563)589-4415 or Crime Stoppers at (800)747-0117.
Lt. Messerich said the now-discredited Dubuque Senior High School shooting threat was a rumor that “spread like wildfire” because social media users would share the story without any credible sources.
The rumor forced the police department to follow more leads and investigate more individuals, to which they dedicated one police officer to sift through social media for information on the possible shooting threat. This assigned officer would then contact people to see if the threats circulated were credible.
The Walk Out on March 14 was another circumstance that compelled the police department to monitor for threats. Those who participated in the Walk Out to protest gun violence left the safety of their school/building to march to Washington Park. The latter location is an open area which exposed individuals to possible threats; so, the police department had to take all precautions necessary to protect students and community members involved.
The police department monitored the “National Walk-Out Day – Dubuque” Facebook page and analyzed users’ comments to determine if they were possible threats. The police department needed a solid understanding of the threat-level during the Walk Out, and they turned their attention to Facebook to analyze the situation.
Lt. Messerich said, “We must know if 50 people from Loras or 2,000 people from the community are going to determine the level of safety.”
The police department monitoring social media for threats benefits the community and its institutions. Clarke University, a private Catholic university, benefits from the police department’s examination of social media.
Sister Joanne, Clarke University’s President, showed excitement and support for Dubuque monitoring social media. She said, “Lots of people and groups monitor social media. Clarke does. People are naïve if they think their texts and tweets and whatever are not being monitored. Given the pervasiveness of social media and the increased incidents of violence, I think the monitoring of social media by law enforcement is increasingly necessary.”
Sr. Joanne continued, “Such surveillance could provide our campus community with an advanced warning about a potential threat of violence or alert us to any abusive behavior being perpetrated by or directed at a member of our campus community.”
Laura Naber is a Clarke University student directly affected by the Dubuque Senior High School shooting threat.
Laura said, “As a student teacher at Dubuque Senior High School this year, I was affected by the supposed shooter threat in late February when classes were canceled for an entire day. While the administration and police handled the threat with the utmost concern and professionalism, the incident caused me to reflect on my future career in education and the influence of social media in the classroom and society.”
Laura continued, “While social media can be a great tool for communication, it has also become a negative pool where people post ignorant comments and bully others through an LED screen. Because this is becoming more and more of an issue, I think it is
important for police officers to monitor social media posts for potential violence and threats. If there are serious issues and concerns circulating the internet, law enforcement should be made aware so that immediate action and protection can be taken to avoid any detriment to innocent people.”
Caitlyn Ambrosy is a life-long Dubuque resident who attends Clarke University. She said, “In a society where social media is an ever-growing presence to which many believe there is a sense of anonymity and lack of consequences, a law enforcement presence is necessary. In the instance of the threat towards Senior High School, having a police presence on social media allowed for a quick, tactical, and thorough response to investigate the threat and protect the students.”
After bartending for over 20 years, a woman we will be referring too as Kay, suffers of shooting pains up and down her arms, pinching in her wrists, and numbness in her hands; she suffers from severe arthritis. Due to not having medical insurance, Kay took matters into her own hands by smuggling Oxycodone in her bags after a trip to Mexico.
This shows the lengths United States citizens will go to find treatment or care if they are without healthcare. Those that cannot afford health care
“Look, I am a bartender and I will be for the rest of my life. It is just too easy not to do! My child gets sick all of the time and I have this issue with my hands. We go down there [Mexico] every year, it’s just too easy to pass up”, Kay said.
The main reason for the smuggling was because of the prices of Oxycodone, or any other non-over-the-counter medications in the States.
If healthcare were to be more affordable for the single mother of three she would consider getting a plan. She does not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid.
Kay told reporters, “They [Doctors] tried charging me 70-80 bucks a bottle? I buy 20 dollars’ worth in Mexico and I’m set for the year”.
According to HealthCare.gov, the lowest premium rate in the state of Iowa costs $429.69 if you are over the age of the 50. That is without monthly costs and deductibles.
Kay’s daughter is a student at NICC. After graduating at Senior High, she planned on attending Clarke University and wanted to continue her bowling career to the collegiate level.
“They [Clarke] told me I was not able to compete or attend because we didn’t have health insurance to cover for any accidents or injuries… Yeah, it was upsetting but I got over it quick”, Kay’s daughter said.
According to the Clarke University website, “All Clarke students must be covered by health insurance… Clarke University does not endorse a specific student insurance plan”. This is due to the Affordable Care Act.
However, the website does list a number of options and suggestions of different health insurance company’s students can contact.
According to Clarke Health Services Nurse, Tammy Moore, states, “The complicated part about health care is that everyone’s situation is different. But, all students are able to be seen here. We are limited to what we can do, so usually if they [students] need further care and have issues with parents’ plans or they are out of network, we send them to Hillcrest or Crescent Community Health Center”.
Although all situations are different, health insurance is something that is supposed to help us, not harm us. Some benefit, while others actually struggle more because of their lack in coverage.
“It wasn’t always this way”, Moore says, “We used to accept students onto campus whether they were insured or not. But it all falls back on liability”.
For now, campuses like Clarke University are doing their best to provide quality healthcare to all students, despite economic differences regarding health insurance opportunities.
Since the social media campaign spark in October 2017, the #MeToo movement hits close to home with members of the Clarke community. They hope Clarkies will participate in the upcoming “Denim Day” on April 26th.
The #MeToo movement spread across the United States when actor Harvey Weinstein was accused by several women in Hollywood of sexual assault. Within hours, women were posting on their social media accounts “#MeToo,” showing that they too are survivors, and support the awareness of sexual abuse. For some Clarke University students, faculty, and staff, the media outburst ignited conversation of just how often sexual assault happens.
Triston King, Assistant Director of Engagement and Intercultural Programs at Clarke University, says it is time to take action on such a prevalent issue in today’s society. “If you are looking at the #MeToo campaign as a shift in culture, as something where people look at this and say, ‘Oh my gosh! Today forty women that I know on my Facebook feed posted this.’ Think about that. Think about how many women you have on your profile. Think about the ratio of women you have who actively post and that you pay attention to.” This was a personal driving force for King. He suggests that the real way to make a cultural shift is to raise awareness for the issue.
Renee Dionisio, student, had similar ideas as King. Together, they decided to sit at a table in Clarke’s atrium and start the conversation in late November. Dionisio sat at the table with small pieces of paper and a box, prompting members of the Clarke community to write either #MeToo or #IHave. “A lot of people did not know what it was, so I had to explain it to them. I could tell they were uncomfortable to even write #MeToo or even #IHave.” The table was set up for two weeks. Dionisio recalls, “It was hard until one person came and wrote #MeToo. She told me her story and was very wide open with it.” For her, this moment and an encounter she had with a faculty member put things into perspective.
After the fourteen days were up, the slips were posted on a wall in the Fabiano conference room at Clarke. In the end, about forty slips were turned in and hung on the wall. A majority of these slips read #MeToo, and about a third of those had stories attached to them. A conversation took place at 7 p.m. on November 20 in the conference room.
King says that these were posted on the conference room wall for two reasons. Firstly, King said it gave those survivors a voice that they deserve. He told members of the Clarke community, “We want you to feel completely free to write down everything and anything that happened to you.” This allowed students to write anonymously so they would not have to hold back any details. It also gave other students an opportunity to see just how many people are affected by this issue in just the Clarke community.
“In the moment is where we want change,” King states. He suggests to the people who are in fear of coming forward to, first, remove yourself from the situation. However, King insists that you must do something about it in order to create change. “If you know something is happening but you are afraid to say anything, call someone you trust. Call campus security. Call the police. Do whatever you feel is necessary.” Dionisio also wants to remind students that even if you are unsure, there will be consequences to those perpetrators.
Dionisio and King also would like to let the Clarke community know about the upcoming “Denim Day” on April 26. Students are encouraged to wear denim to show support and solidarity for those who are survivors of sexual violence.
Clarke students are encouraged to also use the support systems on and off campus. Both the counseling center and campus ministry are not required to report cases of sexual violence, however, resident advisors, student employees, and faculty members are mandatory reporters. The Riverview Center is also a great source for students who want to talk with people who share the same experiences or discuss policies of sexual misconduct. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, the number for the 24-Hour Sexual Assault Hotline is 888-557-0310.
Not only grade schools, but also colleges and universities are at risk every day for violence. We have to find a solution. The House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday to help find and implement new ways to keep children and teachers safe at school. This act is called STOP School Violence Act of 2018 and will authorize $500 million over 10 years for grants to improve training and coordination between schools and local law enforcement. It will also help identify signs of potential violence before they occur.
A modern history of mass school shootings is a website that details some of the most recent shootings that have taken place in our schools. It is a scary fact that we have to worry about the public’s safety in institutions such as schools. Jenna Merrick, an 11th grader at Maquoketa schools says, “I feel safe at school depending on who I see.” She also stated, “Maquoketa Schools have phones to call up to the office and a camera to identify people entering the school.”
Fisher Bisinger, a senior at Midland Community Schools, stated, “I feel safe at school, but I do carry guns with me to protect our livestock and myself.” He also stated, “The school doors are locked at 8:00 am and visitors have to go through the office to enter the school.” He continued, saying, “We have a code that is put out over the intercom and if we hear it we are to leave school and go to the Calkin’s Barn to meet back up.” He wasn’t too sure about this plan, especially if there was more than one assailant.
This was a sample of how some area high schoolers felt about the safety of our schools.
Next, I wanted to hear from a Clarke student and see how she felt about safety on campus. Cassidy Derus stated, “I feel safer at Clarke than I did at the last school that I attended in Chicago, where there was no security.” She also stated “There was a person shot in the alley behind my apartment.” When asked what would help with security at Clarke she mentioned security cameras and locks for the interior of the classroom doors.
What is the solution for this violence to end? Gun control? Good luck fighting the NRA on that issue. I think we are heading in the right direction with the STOP School Violence Act of 2018 and it will have to be a multi-faceted approach to be successful. Education and implementation of safety measures will be the key to safer schools for everyone. It’s not all about the guns! We have to take a look at the people that have the guns. Parents, the government, and teachers have to know the signs to look for and alert the proper authorities if they suspect a potential problem.
At Clarke University, students now have the option to attend Pet Therapy two times a week, which can help reduce stress and anxiety.
In previous semesters, Pet Therapy met once a week on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Due to popular demand, Pet Therapy now meets twice a week on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., giving students more options to attend.
“Pet Therapy is now two days instead of one by popular demand by Clarke students” the student organizer of Pet Therapy, Laura, explained. “We put a vote on the university’s Twitter asking which day of the week students would prefer for another pet therapy slot, and the majority answered Tuesday. So, now it’s Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which is convenient for students who might be busier on one of those days, but still want to see a dog that week.”
In further conversation, Laura stated, “Pets just make me feel calm and loved, and it’s so rewarding to love them back. They’re always a nice de-stressor because all they expect from you is pats and treats.”
“It makes me feel at home” Alex, a Clarke student explained. “Pets are a part of most people’s lives and helps many of us feel better overall. When I go to Pet Therapy, I can forget about all of my school work for the time being. I get to enjoy good company and the pets help reduce my stress levels.”
Laura explained her motivations for organizing Pet Therapy. “I understand how important it is for students to have a break throughout their week. Schoolwork and jobs and life can be insane, and I know how refreshing it is to look forward to an event that doesn’t involve high stress or responsibility.”
Multiple students explained that they can get more homework accomplished later by attending Pet Therapy after a day of classes.
“It gives our brains a rest after long hours of lectures in our classes. We get to de-stress while petting these pets and all of our worries temporarily go away” explained Kelsey, another Clarke student.
Many students agreed that being able to pet a dog in the middle of the day is a de-stressor and positive experience.
“The Pet Therapy program was something I had loved about Clarke since freshman year. I would make an effort every week to try and see the dog that was coming” Laura said. “Taking time, even if it’s just passing by on the way to your dorm room, to pet a happy dog is just so calming. Pet therapy can even be the highlight of someone’s day.”
“I’m glad Pet Therapy is now offered on Tuesdays. I always had a class from 3 to 4:15 on Wednesdays and never got the option to attend. Now I can attend on Tuesdays when I don’t have a late class” Alex explained.
As a consensus, students at Pet Therapy on Tuesday agreed that Pet Therapy was a way to break up their long day of classes and the homework that had to be done that night.
By: Kelli Peterson
*Pictures curtsey of Kelli Peterson and Clarke University
For some, that might involve massive guitars, pounding percussion, and vocalists that hit astronomically high notes. Others may be picturing a traditional ensemble, draped in the velvety colors of the symphonic orchestra. You might even prefer the artist’s focus on songwriting instead of musical skill!
My idea of the perfect band comes in the form of Chicago. Not only is their individual musicianship excellent, but their collective knowledge and application of jazz sets them apart from other rock groups from the 60s-80s. They found a way to seamlessly blend the intricate harmonic devices of that genre with an accessible approach to songwriting and lyricism.
While Chicago 17 maintains that essential integrity, this album doesn’t always stay consistent in terms of re-imagining the 80s pop formula. Some songs fare better than others, but the overall vibe seems much more manufactured and produced than their earlier jazz-rock works (such as Chicago V).
The opening song of this album is a wonderful example of this supposition. “Stay The Night” sits in this strange middle ground for me. The guitars, synths, and drums hit harder than a brick wall, but the rather odd delivery of the lackluster lyrics brings the whole track down a couples of notches. There’s just not enough depth to this song to keep me engaged, and that tarnished the initial impression I got from the excellent instrumental track.
However, the album gets progressively better after the opening.
Take for example, one of my favorites off of the album, “We Can Stop The Hurtin'”. It directly proceeds “Stay The Night”, and immediately lifted my hopes for Chicago’s seventeenth collection. It opens with an arpeggiated synth bass, a funky clean guitar, and a bare drum beat. Robert Lamm starts his verse by describing the rather desolate condition of society, but transitions into the harmonically-dense chorus by admitting that “If we found a way to reconcile, we could stop the hurtin’ for a while”. I’d recommend that you give this track a listen!
I couldn’t really complete this review without mentioning the two hit ballads off of this album: “Hard Habit to Break” and “You’re The Inspiration”. These are some of my favorite songs of all time, and I’d like to share why these stand out to me.
“Hard Habit to Break” is one of the most intricate power ballads I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. In terms of the song’s composition, I find that Steve Kipner keeps the song interesting by changing the keys many times, as well as emphasizing his wonderful lyrical contributions. Of course, this song wouldn’t have been as successful and as poignant without the fantastic vocal performances provided by Peter Cetera and Bill Champlin! The unique timbre of both of these performers only supplement the excellence of their vocal abilities.
Performed at the Venetian Theatre in Las Vegas.
The song “You’re The Inspiration” follows a similar standard in performance. However, this song serves as a wonderful vehicle for showcasing Cetera’s vocal ability and his skills as songwriting (with a little bit of help from producer David Foster). I don’t believe I can properly explain to you all how great this song is, so here’s a link to a live performance of the song:
Peter Cetera performs this song, independent of Chicago, for the DVD Peter Cetera with Special Guest Amy Grant.
Overall, I think that this album deserves a listen, but keep in mind that the songwriting and 80s aesthetic can sometimes feel both underwhelming and overwhelming. The high points on this album are glorious, but the low points seem to bring you down as well.
Here’s the album on Spotify:
Chicago 17 came out on May 14, 1984 to massive sales (1). It became the group’s best selling album of all time, and cemented the aging group’s musical influence for years to come. The singles from this album include “Stay the Night”, “Hard Habit to Break”, “You’re The Inspiration”, and “Along Comes A Woman”.