Review: New addition to ‘Divergent’ series sparks interest


“Insurgent” was released to theaters on March 20. It is an action packed film with heart-breaking romance and drama scenes, thus appealing to both romance and action movie lovers.

After the final events of “Divergent,” members of the Dauntless faction, including Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James), move to faction Amity. There is extreme rivalry within the five factions. Throughout the film, the main characters have to go through certain situations, such as hopping on trains and fighting with one another for survival. Each faction has different rules, laws and beliefs, which relates to the whole plot of the story.

The main antagonist, Jeanine, goes on a hunt for Tris. She believes Tris is what society has been looking for, Divergent. The film continues with Tris and Four traveling to find the rest of the Dauntless pack.

Shailene Woodley is a sweet hearted and smart actress, which is why she is perfect for this part. She plays a girl who trades her life for the people living in Dauntless. Four, (Theo James) has an intelligent and strong mindset, which is why his part fits him.

The director (Robert Schwentke), is also responsible for directing “Divergent,” “R.I.P.D,” and “RED”. “Insurgent’s” plot is not realistic. In the real world, fighting without an army, or owning the machines that are displayed in the movie, couldn’t happen.

Viewers will definitely get emotionally attached to the characters throughout the film, especially during the scene where Four confesses his love for Tris, which lead to other events.

The soundtrack only adds to the movie. It adds a suspenseful effect to the scenes that make viewers anxious, which correlates perfectly with “Insurgent.” From the restless action scenes to the calm, romantic parts, Insurgent is a must- see movie as the second film from the Divergent trilogy and ending on a cliffhanger.

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Review: Kendrick Lamar’s album ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ flies past expectations


d71a94b751b18e4bf7622a05680014c5bb7acb75Over the past couple of years, Kendrick Lamar’s popularity has steadily increased. From being named one of the top upcoming rappers of 2011 by XXL magazine, Lamar is now releasing what could become the best album of 2015 in “To Pimp a Butterfly.”

The album consists of funk beats, and R&B, while including spoken word portions at the beginning and end of some songs. Compared to his previous album “Good Kid, M.A.A.D city,” Lamar does not play it safe, as he focuses more on his lyrics and the meaning of them, rather than how catchy his songs are.

The opening song “Wesley’s Theory,” has funk-style beat that would lead people to believe that this is an upbeat song. However, the song, along with the entire album, conveys the theme of African American oppression in modern society.

Two of the best and most popular songs on the album are “King Kunta” and “The Blacker The Berry.” Even though they sound completely different with “King Kunta” having a more fun, funk beat, and “The Blacker The Berry,” having an R&B beat, they are still able to convey the same message of racial self-hatred.

Another one of the album’s best songs is “i,” the first single released of the album. “i” is one of the only songs Lamar has ever written that has a positive meaning behind it. His other songs have positive messages, but tackle dark or negative subject matter. The song is saying that even though the world may be a bad place, people can still learn to love themselves to find happiness.

However, the song’s counterpart “u” is the complete opposite. The song begins with Kendrick momentarily screaming behind a jazz beat. The song consists of Lamar speaking of how he looks at himself as a total failure and responsible for events such as his sister’s early pregnancy, as well as not being able to help save his friends from the dangers of Compton, which is where he grew up. This shows listeners that everyone has problems and everyone has bad self views no matter how famous or wealthy they are.

Throughout the album, there are moments in songs where Lamar is reading a poem and speaking directly to someone. It is revealed that he is speaking to Tupac Shakur, one of his main inspirations in music. The final song, “Mortal Man,” consists of a conversation between Tupac and Lamar about African-American culture and the future of rap music

To the casual listener, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” is an album with some catchy tunes and some new style songs that Lamar has never tackled before. However, Lamar’s underlying themes and messages about African-American culture make “To Pimp a Butterfly” his best album yet.

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Sophomore will move to Connecticut to pursue music interests

BY LARA FINANPersonality Profile Lara Finan

Because of her passion for music, band and chorus, sophomore Ana Vaamonde has had the opportunity to participate in All State Chorus and will be leaving Cypress Bay to attend a private boarding school in Connecticut next year.

“Music makes me happy,” Vaamonde said. “When I’m singing and playing an instrument, I feel I am in complete control because I can do what I want with it.”

Vaamonde said she has always loved music ever since she was little.

“I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember,” she said. “It’s something that brings me up if I’m ever feeling down.”

Vaamonde has participated in All State Chorus this year, an honors choir made up of high school students from all over Florida.

These students must pass both a music theory and sight-reading exam in which they have to sing notes and take a written test in order to be accepted to the program. The students who are chosen then compete in a singing performance.

“All State Chorus was an amazing experience that I will never forget,” she said. “All of the hours we put in rehearsing truly paid off.”

Vaamonde sang with an all girl choir from a variety of schools for the performance.

“We were all one voice coming together to sing beautiful music and the feeling of being up on the stage was indescribable,” she said.

She said she was greatly impacted when her choir performed at the All State competition.

“I became very emotional at the end of the performance because the pay off is so great when you work so hard for something,” Vaamonde said.

In addition to singing and playing the tuba in the school band, Vaamonde has been playing the guitar since sixth grade. Her father taught her the basics of it.

“My dad has played guitar for the longest time, and he was the one who inspired me to start playing,” she said.

Her father Federico Vaamonde said he used to love teaching Ana how to play when she was a child.

“It was very exciting for me to show my daughter a skill that I’ve loved and cherished for a long time,” he said.

Apart from her family, Vaamonde finds inspiration in famous singers.

“Lea Michelle from ‘Glee’ is an amazing vocalist, and I want to be able to sing like her one day,” she said.

Vaamonde said she has decided to attend Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Conn., for the musical opportunities.

“Ms. Porter’s will give me many more opportunities since it is an all-girl high school,” Vaamonde said. “ I can just be myself and not worry about the pressure with boys.”

She also said that by going to this school she would be able to be part of the chorus and play a sport. She feels she misses out on certain activities at the Bay because of her music.

“I’m nervous to make this transition, but I know it will be a great experience being in a new place,” she said. “Even though I am going to miss everyone here, I’m very excited to move to Connecticut and continue my music career.”

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Review: Two years in the making leads to creative debut album


Twenty-year-old Hugo Leclercq, also known as Madeon, is a professional at two things. The first is creating music that makes even the most apathetic person want to dance, and the second is causing a prolonged sense of anticipation in fans by taking two years to perfect and synthesize his debut album “Adventure.”

Prior to this album release, Madeon captured the hearts of electronic music lovers around the world via music streaming websites like Soundcloud and Beatport. Mixing songs such as “The City” and creating renditions to famous tracks like Deadmau5’s “Raise Your Weapon,” Madeon quickly skyrocketed to fame. Then, after countless performances at festivals like Coachella and Ultra, the decision to finally create an album was made.

Cleverly intertwined with dreamy vocals and thoughtful lyrics, the tracks on “Adventure” are unique and refreshingly simple, delving into the imagination of Madeon himself. The album begins with “Isometric,” which is basically three minutes and eighteen seconds of pure electronic dance music. Although there are no lyrics, the distinct and catchy beat is enough to set the bar of expectations high for the remainder of the album.

Indie-pop is embraced in the tracks to follow the introduction of the album, featuring a slew of alternative artists. In “La Lune (ft. Bastille),” emotional lyrics are put to a slow and ethereal rhythm that perfectly contrasts “Pay No Mind (ft. Passion Pit),” a cheerfully upbeat track that is all about embracing individuality and not letting what others have to say get to you.

Mark Foster from indie band Foster the People makes an appearance on song “Nonsense.” Surrounded by a soulful, slow tune, Foster sings about the consuming idea of loving someone, which is something that many people can relate to.

The finale of the album is poignantly marked by the song “Home,” which, shockingly and unusually, features Madeon’s own vocals. This came as a surprise since Madeon is a producer of music and not exactly a “singer.” Nonetheless, the track is beautiful and one of the best on the album, embodying the difficulties of trying not to give up on what you love. “Home” feels personal and touches the soul, perfectly ending the album.

While many artists these days are all about making music that will sell to the masses, Madeon is one of the few that have deviated from the norm and followed what is properly called passion. This album is not only one of the greatest releases of this year, but will go down in history as a classic. Completely flawless and peppered with songs that will never get old, “Adventure” is a marker for unique and creative music in the electronic dance music world.

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Q&A: Author Nicholas Sparks, actors discuss making of ‘The Longest Ride’

longest_rideBest-selling author Nicholas Sparks can now say that he has hit double digits in the number of his novels that have reached the big screen. Movie No. 10, “The Longest Ride,” hit theaters on April 10 and follows the developing romance between art student Sophia (Britt Robertson) and professional bull rider Luke (Scott Eastwood). When the couple rescues an old man Ira (Alan Alda) from a burning car, the film begins to tell not one but two intertwining stories. As Ira shares with Sophia his past love letters, the parallel between the two love stories becomes clear as Sophia learns the role of sacrifice in love. The Circuit’s Online Managing Editor Jennifer Schonberger participated in a round table interview about “The Longest Ride” with Nicholas Sparks, Britt Robertson and Scott Eastwood in Davie on March 30.

What are you most excited for audiences to see in the film?

Britt: How the two love stories connect. Because both love stories are like two separate movies, when I was watching the other story it was so moving. I love all of the different relationships between characters, so I think the experience of the film alone will be really exciting for the audience.

Britt and Scott, were you two involved with the filming of Ira and Ruth in any way?

 Britt: Barely. There were times when I came on set and saw a few things, but very few, so it was a nice surprise.

In the book, the two stories don’t cross paths until the end. As a producer on this film, how was it making that change?

Nicholas: In a novel, you can hold that tension longer because you can be really in the mind of the character. You can’t do that so easily in film. Had you not brought old Ira in right away, then why are we telling two different stories? This way, you know why the third story comes into play between Sophia and old Ira. But the same question remains in the novel. Why are we telling these two stories and how is it all going to come together in the end? A novel can be long, but screenplays are very specific: 120 pages. So you have to work within the constructs of each medium.

Where was your inspiration for this story? Many of your stories have a Catholic influence, but as far as the Judaism in this one, was there something that inspired you?

Nicholas: I wanted to write two stories because I had never done it before. Then all sorts of decisions get made. One of them is to make Ira and Ruth Jewish. I hadn’t done it before, and I always try to do new things. Ira was really inspired by a guy named Leo. My grandmother was a good Irish Catholic lady who got divorced after 25 years. She couldn’t get married again, but she met Leo, a very nice Jewish man. They were together for 28 years and Leo was a part of my life. So Ira is Leo.

the-longest-ride-DF-17649_17599r_rgbBritt and Scott, there was a great chemistry on screen. Did you spend time beforehand getting to know each other? 

Scott: That’s just the Nicholas Sparks fairy dust.

Britt: Probably two weeks before we started shooting, we were just in North Carolina rehearsing. We had a lot of time to not be the characters and just be Britt and Scott and I think it helped learning from one another and feeling comfortable with each other.

Britt and Scott, what was your favorite scene to film, and Nicholas, for you to see brought to life?

Scott: I really liked bull riding. I was a fan of the PBR [Professional Bull Riders] long before I got the opportunity to do this, so I thought it was pretty cool. I became really passionate about getting it right.

Britt: My favorite was just the horseback riding, because I wasn’t thinking about subtext or anything other than just not falling off. So I was just enjoying the activity and trying to keep up with that guy [Scott].

Nicholas: I really liked watching Mark Garner, the production designer, bring everything to life. Whether it was being blown away by the sets or like you saw in the film, the old 1940s setting. It’s fun to watch the movie magic happen.

How was the research for the novel?

Nicholas: There was a lot. Rodeo and bull riding I had to do because in the novel, Luke’s father was in rodeo. Then I had to do cattle ranching in North Carolina, modern art, Black Mountain College. I had to make sure dates were right, when collections were started and that artists were there in the years in which I said they were there. In the novel, Ira was a navigator and I realized I didn’t know anything about how a navigator trained in World War II. I also had to get accurate what Jewish life in the South in the 1930s was like.

Britt, your character Sophia was strong and straightforward. Did you take experiences from your life or is that how you normally are with people?

Britt: When I approach a character, I always have to relate to her in some way. I need to feel comfortable making certain choices in the moment because that’s where the beauty lies in acting, finding things that you didn’t expect to be there. I’m not Sophia, but there are definitely things that I use such as my passion for acting that I could use to create her passion for art and creativity. But I guess being straightforward is sort of my nature.

Nicholas: I could answer. Yeah, it’s a lot like Sophia, how she is in real life.

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Review: Annual Youth Fair should be attended by all


The Miami-Dade County Youth Fair & Exposition, also known as The Youth Fair, is an adrenaline-filled event that should be visited by many. This event, which occurs annually, lasted this year from March 12 to April 5 and was held in Tamiami Park, located in North Miami near Florida International University (FIU).

Having been ranked the largest fair in Florida, with over 589,000 guests who attended, The Youth Fair was definitely worth the visit, especially because of the ticket prices, which were free for children under 5 and adults over 65. For everyone else, the tickets ranged from $8 to $12 for admission and $18 to $35 for rides. The Youth Fair not only had over 90 rides, but also had livestock, live concerts, blockbuster shows and even a European style circus.

The upside about the rides held at The Youth Fair was that there was something for everyone. There were rides for people who were extremely adventurous and loved the feeling of their stomachs dropping, and there were rides for people who liked to take things slow and steady. An Express Pass was also offered, which only cost an additional $15.

Some of these rides included Pharaoh’s Fury, which is the large pirate ship that swings back and forth and the Polar Express, which has seats similar to that of a roller coaster’s, but instead moves backwards at an insanely fast speed.

Adults and children could equally enjoy the fair because of its capacity to fulfill the needs of everyone, to the point where no one should ever get bored.

For adults, there were multitudes of jewelry and other accessory stands, and even places to sit down in the shade and relax. If none of these fit a person’s preferences, then there were concerts, shows and agricultural competitions.

Regarding children, there were two sections in the fair both called Kiddie Land. In these areas, children could play classic carnival games such as the ring toss and balloon darts where they won prizes ranging from pieces of candy to oversized teddy bears. There were also simulator rides and a mini Ferris wheel, called the Century Wheel, and was the only one in the entire fair.

Because The Youth Fair isn’t just an ordinary fair, of course it would have outrageous fair foods. Not only did it have the usual cotton candy and pizza, but it also had miniature restaurant stands from places like Jalapeño’s Mexican Grill and Alessi’s Colossal Onions, with reasonable prices that went as low as $5 per meal.

The Youth Fair was a successful event and should be attended by anyone willing to have a great time. Since this is an annual event, there is always time to attend next year.

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Review: Fleetwood Mac is back


Two years ago, Stevie Nicks told “Rolling Stone” that the chances of original band member Christine McVie returning to Fleetwood Mac were slim to none. But after its sold-out March 31 performance at the American Airlines Arena, it’s obvious that the band is back together and stronger than ever. This was the group’s second Florida concert within a span of three months, with another sold-out concert on Dec. 19 at the BB&T Center.

After almost 50 years of producing hugely successful albums and holding down the reputation of being both one of rock’s favorite bands and its biggest soap opera, the band’s soldout tour was a testimony to its longevity. The fact that the band still sounds like no time has passed at all, or maybe evenbetter than ever, ensured its three-hour, jaw-dropping show was definitely one to remember.

Much like during the band’s first Florida show of the “On With The Show Tour,” much was made of the fact that Christine McVie’s 15 year hiatus was finally over, with the majority of the show dedicated to this remarkable feat.

“She’s back!” Stevie Nicks noted at the beginning of the concert as the crowd roared. It was a feeling of euphoria that continued throughout the concert as the 26-song set drove on into the night, packed with hits, fan favorites, and even the occasional forgotten rarity, like “Caroline” and “Albatross.”

Indeed, it’s well worth noting that to go along with their timeless music, the members of Fleetwood Mac also seemed to have a timeless appearance. McVie, 71, looked at least 20 years younger, and her rich vocals showed no sign of diminishment. Nicks, 66, retained her trademark style, her top hat, her long dresses, and a mystic fairy tale sensibility, spinning in circles whenever the occasion called.

Lindsey Buckingham, 65, showed the energy of someone half his age, captivating the crowd as he jumped across the stage several times during multiple songs, proving yet again that he’s one of the nimblest guitarists the group has ever seen. And of course, the timekeeper himself, Mic Fleetwood, was sitting center stage, somewhat quiet until his breathless 10 minute drum solo, yelling to the crowd all the while.

As for the songs themselves, the most well-known numbers elicited the most enthusiastic responses, and rightfully so. The opening number, “The Chain” was greeted with an uproar of excitement, as were more familiar songs like “Second Hand News,” “Rhiannon,” “Say You Love Me,” and of course, the automatically, universally recognizable “Go Your Own Way.” Although the set-list didn’t vary between the two South Florida shows, the songs still had the same timeless effect the second time around.

It’s quite remarkable that even now the group’s voices and harmonies are as vibrant as they were back in the beginning. It’s also somewhat of a relief. Being one of the most legendary rock groups of all time, no one wants to see the day that Fleetwood Mac comes to an end for good.

While many older bands needs a bounty of support players to effectively play their classical melodies, the Mac brings along a sparse support team, only consisting of two extra musicians on guitar or keyboard, and three subtle back up singers that only made appearances during select songs.

It’s obvious that those who refer to Fleetwood Mac as the “soft rock” band are way off the mark. This group rocks hard, with an undying drive to perform that rivals any of its contemporaries. As Mic Fleetwood said as the group exited the stage, “the Mac is most definitely back!”

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Music festivals attract fans of different genres


From Tortuga to Sunfest to Ultra, different music festivals attract different music lovers.

Junior Alex Rodriguez attended a music festival in the Dominican Republic in late December called Electric Paradise. The festival offered famous performers from the house music genre such as Otto Knows, Steve Aoki, Martin Garrix and Blaster Jaxx.

“They performed all of my favorite songs and seemed to be trying to perform the best they possibly could for such a large crowd,” Rodriguez said.

English teacher Barbara Ehrlich attended Woodstock in 1970 and said the atmosphere was very different compared to today’s festivals.

“At today’s festivals everyone seems so unhappy and unappreciative of the music,” Mrs. Ehrlich said, “At Woodstock, it was very serene and everyone was happy to be there. It’s crazy how now there have been numerous incidents of insane violence, like the incident that occurred at Ultra where the security guard was injured over crazy people trying to get in. No one enjoys music like they should anymore.”

Typically, Electronic Dance Music (EDM) festivals make use of lights being flashed in different patterns during DJ performances.

“The ambiance created by the lights and music made it a night to never forget,” Rodriguez said. “All of the colors and awesome patterns made the music so much more intense and the experience so incredible.”

Tortuga is a country music-based festival occurring this year on April 11-12 at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park. The festival will include the top country singers from all over the United States.

“I am very excited to attend this festival, and the talent that will be there is going to be amazing and some of my favorite bands, like Zach Brown Band, are going, ” senior Cale Berger said. “I have heard such good things about it and I can’t wait to attend and really get a feel of this awesome festival.”

Admissions prices vary. Ultra Music Festival in Miami, which just took place in March, costs $500 for general admission three-day tickets and $800 for VIP stage for three days, while Tortuga costs $165 for a two-day pass.“I paid $500 for the three day pass to Ultra and it was worth every dollar I spent,” junior Vince Emanuele said. “Aside from the great atmosphere, the people in the crowd and staff were so much nicer than I could have ever expected.”

Sophomore Olivia Barada attended Chili Cook Off in January. She enjoyed the atmosphere and all of the country bands that it offered.

“At Chili Cook Off, there were not only my favorite bands but there were a ton of stands with really good food,” Barada said. “It also offered bunch of places where I bought t-shirts and other souvenirs to help me remember such an amazing day.”

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Storify: Ultra fun at Ultra Music Festival

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Chorus receives high ratings at MPA

BY ZOE BIRGER Screen shot 2015-03-17 at 2.18.06 PM

Chorus attended Music Performance Assessments (MPA) at Monarch High School and Cypress’ four choirs received superior ratings. They will be attending Florida Choral States competition in April at American Heritage High School.

Junior Katherine Miller said she loved watching all the schools perform and had a good time.

“Cypress Bay sang first before everyone else which was really cool,” Miller said. “We got to watch all the other performances and it was really fun.”

The Bay performed the songs “Poor Man Lazarus” by Jester Hairson and “Dance on my Heart” by Allen Koepke.

“I think there are so many talented people in Cypress’ choir and we all sounded really amazing together,” Miller said. “We deserved the scores we got.”

At competitions, students must go through three different activities. First they warm up, then perform on stage, and then they must sight read, which is where the students read music they’ve never seen before and they have to use skills from class in order to perform the music.

“It’s not just performing songs, it is showing people that you’ve learned how to read music, so it’s a neat experience,” chorus adviser Brad Franks said.

At the States competition in April at American Heritage, around 60 choirs from around South Florida will be attending.

“There can be multiple choirs from just one school,” Mr. Franks said. “There are four choirs just from Cypress that will be attending. I’m extremely excited to go to our states competition.”


Print Friendly

Read the full story