Archive for the ‘Rising Stars’ Category

It’s been a while since I did a post in my Rising Stars series, but this is one for the history books. Thanks to Kaitlin Branch and this post, I came across the wonderful, talented, beautiful, and brilliant Lindsey Sterling.

To say I went from zero to obsessed in six seconds is an understatement.

Lindsey takes music to a whole new level. Yes, she plays the violin, but it’s fun. It’s upbeat. It isn’t classical music. It’s hip-hop and dubstep. It’s something beautifully different. Her videos are gorgeous, she’s a wonderful dancer (yes, she dances while she plays), and she’s a nerd to boot.

There’s literally no reason not to love her.

Here’s my favorite song. Yes, yes it has zombies. But I promise I like the music more than the video. (But the video is pretty flipping sweet too.)

Doesn’t that just make you want to get up and dance!?

These are original songs by Lindsey, and most of the time she plays a large part in putting together the videos too. She gets people to help her – makeup artists and directors – but she’s very hands on. Sometimes she’s even the one that edits the videos. She did this one:

I wish I had found her sooner, as she’s got a massive following and her videos hit well into the millions. And for good reason, as they’re all well done and appeal to a lot of different types of people. Plus she’s got nearly fifty of them online – including behind the scenes vids and tutorials. She’s one cool chica.

I never find a new artist and then go download their CD. I’m actually pretty picky about what I put on my iPod, and I tend to listen to the same songs I’ve listened to for years. But I bought her CD immediately. She’s just that good. And her music is perfect for writing – no words, but fun and upbeat.

I’ll leave you with a final video before I beg you to watch the rest of them and then subscribe to her YouTube channel. You won’t be sorry.

YouTube Channel
Tour Information

Have you heard of Lindsey before? If so, what’s your favorite song? If you’re just discovering her, what do you think!?

In this series, I like to tell you about an artist or group that has caught my attention. They’re not mainstream, but they have the potential to become pretty well-known given their extraordinary level of talent. I blogged about Karmin before they hit it big, and now they’re signed with L.A. Reid and have had smash hits on the radio.

I don’t have a particularly good ear for music that is well crafted or inventive. I just know what I like. I can’t promise that any of these artists will ever make it off YouTube, but I can say that I think they should. This is just my way of spreading the word about how amazing they are.

You guys seemed pretty impressed when I posted about George Watsky, the famed “Pale Kid Raps Fast” artist. Well, I’ve got another one for you. This is a web series called Epic Rap Battles of History. They take two fictional or historical figures and pit them against each other in a rap battle. Viewers get to decide who wins and who will be featured in the next one.

The guys who put this together (their internet personas are Nice Peter and EpicLLOYD) have a slew of talented people they can call on to dress up as these famous figures. They often play the parts themselves, but when a different person is better suited, they hand the reins over with no problems. (It just so happens that George Watsky has appeared in their videos twice, as well!)

It sounds silly and farfetched (and it IS), but these are well constructed raps that are intelligently written. They take facts and phrases from these people’s lives, give the characters larger than life personalities, and pit them against each other. Not to mention all the videos are hilarious.

(It’s come to my attention that I have, uh, a very specific sense of humor. These videos are completely ridiculous and a little rude, to put it lightly. The actors swear and make fun of the people they’re playing, just FYI.)

One of the best examples to see how they incorporate language and facts about these people into a rap can be seen in this video Shakespeare versus Dr. Seuss.

Crazy, right!? Some of them are a little more farfetched than others (Genghis Khan versus the Easter Bunny, anyone?), but they’re all so well written that you can’t help but just sit at your computer and laugh.

Another favorite one of mine is Barack Obama versus Mitt Romney, which is hilarious no matter which candidate you supported.

The thing I really enjoy about ERB is that they had a random idea and went with it. They didn’t let fear or money hold them back. In fact, their first rap battle was funded on just $50. They have more money now, but the principles are still the same. They do it because they love it, and that shows.

It’s a strange comparison, I know, but I draw inspiration from these guys. Their talent and passion is obvious and that has translated into their success. (And I mean SUCCESS – most of their videos have 30+ million views.) I can only hope that one day my passion will do the same for me.

You can check out season 1 and season 2, as well as behind-the-scenes for season 1 and season 2.





So, tell me honestly – what do you guys think? Am I just really weird, or do you find these as funny as I do?

It’s been a few months since I added to this particular series, but the wait has been worth it. If you’ve been following this blog at all in the last few weeks, you’ll have learned all about my Starkid obsession. I promised I’d go about a week without talking about them, and I’ve held up my end of the bargain. Now it’s no holds barred.

Sort of.

See, I’m not exactly talking about Starkid this time around. I’m talking about something else: The World’s Worst Musical. It’s actually a web-series created by Molly Scanlon, Marty Scanlon, and Corey Lubowich. (Corey has been working with Starkid for a while, mostly as a set and costume designer, but also as other things. He wears a lot of hats.)

The premise of this 10-episode web series is this:

World’s Worst Musical is an original musical webseries that follows one writer struggling through his terrible ideas to write an amazing musical. As his ideas come to life he reaches the same conclusion again and again… this is the worst!

The idea is kind of cool, but the execution is even better. I’m always wary of webseries because I’m afraid I’ll waste my time watching something filmed on a cell phone and acted out by twelve year olds with no thespian bones in their body.

Not to worry! These videos are in “glorious HD” and are full of really funny and wondrous moments, all brought to you by people who can act, but can also dance and sing as well.

Here’s the first episode, in case you’re interested:

Some of the episodes are a little hit or miss for me. That’s not to say that they aren’t good and weren’t put together with love and attention, but I just didn’t connect with all of them. Hey, it happens.

But, here’s the redeeming episode. Episode 2 is by far the best (in my opinion of course). Every other day I have to watch it again because it’s just so good. And it helps that one of the newest Starkids, Jeff Blim, knocked this role out of the park just as well as he did playing Sweet Tooth in Holy Musical B@tman!.

I really do need to download this song.

If you want to watch the rest of the videos, simply go here. Half of them are out and more are coming soon! I can’t wait to see the rest of them, as I’m sure there are some more gems in store. I’m particularly fond of episode 4, because I wish I had a singing driving instructor when I was trying to get my license (especially if he was Dylan Saunders in disguise!).

But, honestly, coolest thing about this is the fact that these people are just regular Joe Schmoes. They’re pretty popular on the web, but they don’t have international stardom or anything. They’re normal people. They’re artists who make art simply because they want to. They even had a Kickstarter campaign to help them raise money in order to film. They’re connected with their audience, who in turn is incredibly loyal to them.

Hey, doesn’t that sound like something that we as writers get told to do all the time? This is just one more example of how it works. (And if you’ve never heard of Kickstarter before, Google it! It might just become your new best friend.)

Check them out all across the internet, if you’re interested:





I’ve sort of let this particular series fall by the wayside, but it’s time I brought another great person to your attention! Now, before we really get into it, I just have to warn you that this probably won’t be for everyone. Give him a chance, though, and let me know what you think of him!

George Watsky is a brilliant, brilliant guy. There’s two distinct sides of him: the spoken word poet and the rapper/musician. I like them both just about equally, but I can understand how some people lean to one side or the other.

George is a 20-something recent Emerson graduate from San Francisco, California. He’s a 2006 Brave New Voices National Poetry Slam champion and has released several albums, some of them even for free! He’s peaked at #7 on the iTunes hip-hop charts and has even been on the Ellen Show…twice!

Here’s a nice little timeline of how I got to know him.

(Language warning! Nothing too horribly bad, but you’re going to want to send the kids out!)

First, I found him via this interesting little video, (apparently, formerly) titled “Pale Kid Raps Fast”:

Then I watched some of his spoken word videos. Here are two of my favorites:

V is for Virgin

S is for Lisp

He’s also got a few music videos out. This one is probably my favorite:

“Man of Constant Sorrow” featuring Dylan Saunders (which makes my Starkid-heart skip a beat!)

So, why do I like Mr. Watsky so much? For one, he’s incredibly intelligent. His word play is fantastic, and he has a real talent for make you think while you listen to his poems/songs. I also always have a soft spot for someone who has self-deprecating humor such as he does. He’s a real person and has no problem admitting to his obvious dorkiness. He’s great at interacting with fans, and he’s not in it for the money. You can’t help but like someone who wants to create art simply for the sake of creating.

Here are the various places where you can find him:





If you’re weird and a nerd like I am, here is the Rap Genius link to all of his songs. You can look up his lyrics and learn the meanings.

What do you guys think of him? Which side do you like better, the poet or the rapper? Which videos are your favorites?

All of my Rising Stars so far have been musicians, and I’ve decided to spread the love just a little bit more. My next Star is an artist – an incredible artist, actually. I’m completely in awe of him and his projects. He’s one of those types of people that thinks in a way that is so different from the rest of us.

His name is Phil Hansen. The selection below is from his website, and gives you and insight into what kind of person he is and how he goes about completing his work.

I’m interested in trying to understand whole individuals and whole ideas through the fragments of perceptual memory, the sound bites, and the semiotic tokens collected by society and recollected by the individual. It’s the product of these carefully selected elements that multiplies out to a greater whole, and it’s in that product that I look for a more holistic understanding.

My present approach evolved out of what seemed at the time to be an artistic cul-de-sac: damage to the nerves in my forearm from the single-minded pursuit of pointillism. Forced to think of other ways to create art, I began pushing myself to experiment with new mediums: my torso, a tricycle, X-rays, dandelions, the Bible, key phrases out of audience stories, and so on. The selection of the medium became integral to the art, as much a part of the story and
the holistic experience as the selected fragments themselves.

In bringing my work to the public I look to create a public dialog with art, frequently inviting the audience to contribute in some way, nearly always breaking apart the artistic process in order to make it connect to a more immediate reality through video that shows manipulation of the medium from fragments into a unified whole. It’s far from a didactic endeavor: I draw inspiration from my collaborators’ experiences as much as they discover art through my work.

(If you’re unsure of what Pointillism is, a famous visual reference would be Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.)

Phil is a great artist – his works are incredibly realistic and there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that he’s talented. But apart from that, my favorite thing about him is his method. He doesn’t go about creating his art in the usual way, and that is what makes him extraordinary.

As we should with all art, I’ll just let it speak for itself.


Here’s a compilation of one of his projects.


An example of how much thinking and meaning goes into each project.

Here’s a controversial one, but one that shouldn’t be ignored.

Please do me a favor and check out his website, at least. He has a ton more videos up and you can even purchase some of his works in poster-form if you’re so inclined. At the very least I’m sure you’ll be entertained, but I also hope you learn something: that there is power in art (and, yes, that includes writing), that it never hurts to think outside the box, and that getting messy is sometimes the best way to get something done.


There are a lot of talented people in this world, you just have to know where to find them. I’ve already told you about the dangers of YouTube and how it holds a destructive power for me. There is so much talent on that website alone, that I’m surprised it doesn’t crash the servers on a regular basis.

Ironically, that’s not where I found this next artist. My mom called me into the living room one night, while she was watching TV and eating dinner. (Don’t judge. And I didn’t leave her high and dry – I was studiously writing!)

“Wait!” she said, before I made it all the way over to her. I stopped. “Don’t look at the TV.”

“Okay,” I said, slapping my hand over my eyes. “What?”

“Listen. What do you hear?”

What I heard, though I didn’t know it at the time, was Jackie Evancho. It sounded like she was singing opera. It was definitely in another language. Her voice was rich, deep, and practiced. The voice of an older woman with years of experience, I thought.


Jackie Evancho is eleven years old. ELEVEN. This kid can sing. And I’m not talking about belting out runs like Christina Aguilera, which would be talent enough. No, this girl is a “classical crossover” artist, whatever the heck that means. To me, it means that she sounds far older than her years. People train their entire lives and they don’t have HALF the talent that Jackie has.

Isn’t that just incredible? This type of music isn’t usually my cup of tea, but Jackie’s voice in otherworldly. Here’s another great one:

She also appeared on America’s Got Talent, which may be where you recognize her name from. There are videos on YT of her time on there.

One more thing that I love about her – almost as much as her voice – is the wisdom and age in her eyes. She doesn’t act like a child, for better or worse. She’s calm, respectful, and very thoughtful for a little girl. I worry that she might be growing up too fast because of her talent, but I think it has more to do with just being an old soul.

I’m not one for cheesy lines and sappy moments, but can I just say that we’re incredibly lucky to share the earth with her. I can? Good. I’m not taking it back.

Some links: