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How Evanescence’s Amy Lee Became A Voice For The Unheard

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By Erica Russell

When Evanescence first broke out in 2003, no one really knew what to make of them.

Despite rising on the Billboard Hot 100 and Top 40 charts and scoring five Grammy nominations (including two wins), Evanescence were imperfect outsiders who crashed into the mainstream when popular music just so happened to be at its most polished. The sound of their debut album, Fallen — a distinctive synthesis of sweeping orchestral drama; dark, gothic nu-metal; and big, pop-friendly hooks — was subversive and unexpected. And lead singer Amy Lee, with her commanding, celestial voice and faerie-goth aesthetic (complete with corsets and striped arm warmers) was like no other pop star at the time.

With their dynamic breakout “Bring Me to Life,” rage-fueled rock banger “Going Under,” and somber piano ballad “My Immortal,” hit songs that tackled topics from feeling numb and disconnected to coping with trauma, Lee became a symbol for the post-Y2K outcasts everywhere; the broken kids who couldn’t necessarily relate to many of the songs on the radio but felt seen and heard by the musician’s expressive, alternative style and angst-ridden, soul-baring lyrics.

“We’ve never tried to follow a trend. More the opposite, if anything,” Lee tells MTV News, citing artists such as Björk, Garbage, Veruca Salt, and Tori Amos as personal heroes. “The people who inspired me the most during my formative years were people who weren’t trying to be pretty; who weren’t always showing the perfect, polished version of themselves — it was people who put their heart, opinions, and scars front and center.”

Nearly two decades and four successful albums after the band’s debut, Evanescence’s authenticity still resonates today. “I think there’s something in our music that speaks to people around the world on a deep level,” the 38-year-old musician muses. “I just know that if I write from my heart, about the things I feel are real, I won’t be alone in those feelings. I don’t know the secret to our success, but I believe in touching on things that aren’t often talked about in popular music and questioning the deeper stuff. I want people to know that it’s OK to hurt.”

Having personally experienced the tragedy of loss (her younger sister, Bonnie, died at the age of three in 1987, and her brother Robby passed away in 2018, just 24 at the time), Lee is no stranger to life’s painful moments. She admits she feels a bond with “people who have experienced death, heartbreak, and big challenges in their lives,” and that her yearning to find human connection is what motivated her to start the band in the first place. “It’s funny,” she says, “because I’ve had people ask me, ‘Why is your music so depressing?’ And I’m like, ‘Have you really listened to it? It’s not!’ It’s full of hope.”

Since the release of their self-titled third studio album in 2011, Evanescence embarked on two world tours and countless festivals; experienced a number of lineup changes; dropped a collection of B-sides and rarities (2016’s Lost Whispers); and released an album of orchestral and electronic reworkings of previously released songs (2017’s Synthesis). During it all, Lee collaborated on a soundtrack (2014’s Aftermath), worked on an EP of song covers (2016’s Recover, Vol. 1), and released a children’s album (2016’s Dream Too Much). She also experienced a lot of “big moments” (including the birth of her first child) that forced her “to zoom out and see my life, myself, my time, and our world in a different way, and start asking questions and writing ideas.”

But as the music “started flowing out,” like most of the world, Evanescence (currently composed of Lee, bassist Tim McCord, drummer Will Hunt, and guitarists/backing vocalists Jen Majura and Troy McLawhorn) were plunged into quarantine just as they were preparing to roll out The Bitter Truth, their forthcoming full album of original music in nearly 10 years. Nevertheless, Lee’s “heart was on fire,” ready to share her new perspective with the world, and so instead of postponing the record the band decided it was time to make their comeback — and hopefully inspire their fans to give moving forward in the process.

“The world shifted. We were put into a completely unprecedented situation,” Lee explains. “It’s been so long since we’ve released a fully new album, and if there’s one thing that I want for myself and for the people that follow us, it’s to not give up, you know?” And so, in April, Evanescence released “Wasted on You,” an emotional rock ballad about feeling stuck in limbo, along with an intimate music video composed of footage each band member filmed on their iPhone while at their respective homes during isolation. The clip is nominated for Best Rock at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards, something which Lee says has inspired the group to work even harder.

As the band continues to unveil The Bitter Truth one track at a time, Evanescence’s latest single, “Use My Voice,” may be their most politically charged song to date. The track features collaboration from some of Lee’s rock peers, including Taylor Momsen and Lzzy Hale of Halestorm, as well as friends and family members, such as the musician’s sisters. Lee says the song, which captures the current socio-political zeitgeist of advocacy and activism, and was inspired by how she’s been “feeling about the state of our country,” has been a few years in the making.

“As we were recording it, I was listening back to my own words and started asking myself, ‘What can I do to use my voice? How can we use our platform for good and empower people?’ I believe that this is a very important, revolutionary time,” she shares. “Things are messed up. I’ve never been political publicly — I’ve kept that part of myself private because I see music as a place to get away from our differences and find unity. We need to be unified now more than ever, but I finally feel in my heart that if I’m going to be true to my word. It’s time to use my voice to help promote our future.”

A rollicking non-partisan protest song about the importance of standing up for what you believe in, “Use My Voice” serves as the official song for HeadCount’s 2020 voting-registration PSA, for which Lee is the spokesperson. The timely campaign — which promotes a user-friendly website on which people can learn about the government officials up for election, find their local polling stations, and register to vote in just minutes — is more critical than ever during an election year that will take place amid a global pandemic, as well as controversy surrounding voting by mail.

“I think there are a lot of unheard voices in our country right now, and they deserve to be heard — all of them,” Lee says. “I just want to encourage people to vote. I heard that nearly half of [voting age] Americans don’t vote. It’s a big number. We need to get out there and make a change, so more people can get their voices heard.”

“Use My Voice” is also significant for Lee on a more personal level, considering how fiercely she’s had to fight to use hers throughout her career. In 2005, the musician sued her band’s former manager for financial and sexual misconduct, and in 2014, she sued Wind-Up Records for more than $1 million in unpaid royalties. Many have tried to either silence or speak for Lee — from her label forcing a male vocalist on “Bring Me to Life,” to 50 Cent nearly interrupting her Best New Artist acceptance speech at the 2003 Grammys — and music industry-wide sexism has repeatedly marginalized her among her male rock peers.

But Lee is resilient. Her music undoubtedly paved the way for the edgy, nu-metal/pop embraced by artists such as Rina Sawayama, Grimes, and Poppy today, and stars like Halsey and Taylor Momsen count themselves as longtime admirers. Just as Lee inspired Evanescence fans to embrace their inner truths and speak up for themselves nearly 20 years ago, nothing can quiet her down.

“No matter who’s standing around you telling you that it’s not as important as somebody else’s voice, your voice does matter. You have to have a strong constitution to say, ‘This is my voice and you’re not gonna take it away from me.’ Sure, you can still respect other people and nod your head and say, ‘Cool, thanks for your opinion,’ while standing up for yourself. But we can’t be silenced. We just can’t.”

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Disney Plus Mulan Fails to Make an Impact

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Disney Plus’s most anticipated movie of the year was Live-Action Mulan, the infamous remake of the 1998 version of the Disney classic Mulan. With a budget of almost $200 million and alot of hard work involved, the film release’s expectations and excitement were at an all-time high. Disney’s marketing team left no stone unturned in promoting the film throughout the world as Mulan was one of the most influential female protagonists in a Disney movie. 

Mulan was known for her power and courage to take a step towards change and create a name for herself instead of becoming a burden for her family. She brought them honor but not through finding a compatible suitor, but through her bravery in fighting amongst the opposite gender when it was considered a taboo. 

But did the real Mulan walk in the footsteps of the animated one? Did it create an impact as strong as the classic version, which people love and adore even after 23 years? Sadly, no. The live-Action Mulan was nothing like the 1998 Mulan because it was not supposed to be that way. 

The old Chinese folklore inspired the Live-Action Mulan. The Balad of Mulan, which was different, more serious, and portrayed a much more feminist approach by eliminating any romantic or cartoonish elements or characters from the remake. 

The elimination of the character of Mushu came as a surprise for all the die-hard Mulan fans who were anticipating the voice-over of Eddie Murphy in a better-animated dragon who is by Mulan’s side, aiding in tough times. We did see a dragon, but it was a silent companion only coming in need. The remake also got rid of all the eventful songs which were hummed as we watched the animated version all the time.

Another setback was the mediocre release of Mulan during the Pandemic, which basically ruined the official March release. Mulan eventually made the screen on September 4 on Disney+ Premier Access, a pay-to-view for $30 across the US. In contrast, countries where Covid-19 was under control, saw a theater release like China. But that hardly made 50% of the total movie budget. Disney hoped to make some dollars in China by accurately depicting the Chinese culture and actors, but that didn’t happen either. 

Viewers with access to Disney+ also did not venture enough on the Premier Access service. What further disappointed the release was Mulan’s availability on multiple torrents and platforms for free in HD quality on its release. VPN users worldwide watched the movie for free without paying a whopping amount of $30 for a single film, while the whole service along with other streaming services cost ⅓ of the price. 

Live-Action Mulan was also under scrutiny for shooting in the Xinjiang, the region of China where Uighur Muslims were detained and imprisoned in concentration camps. This sparked outrage over the entire social media, where Muslims worldwide protested against the Chinese government’s actions. Disney+ did not state an official apology on their platform, nor did they acknowledge their wrongdoings, probably to stay clear of the Chinese government’s atrocity. 

Meanwhile, even within China, Mulan failed to impact the Chinese audience as they have a much better take and approach to recreating any Chinese epic or myths. Their cinema is far more advanced in portraying their culture with local actors and a local production house. As we all know, China has a strict censorship policy on international content, and they have an alternate of their own. It applies here as well. 

Lastly, the ill-natured tweet of the lead actress Liu Yifei, openly supporting the Hong Kong Police’s atrocities when China was implementing new security policies on Hong Kong, claiming it as a part of the Chinese government. The Hong Kong police came under fire for mistreating peaceful protestors and using harsh means to disperse the crowd. This tweet leads to #boycottmulan across the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand. 

Liu Yifei made no outright apology. 

Despite so much anticipation, live-action Mulan came under alot of controversy and failed to make a solid impression on the audience, despite holding a strong message for its feminist audience. Wrong timing and a few wrong decisions cost Disney millions of dollars and somewhat tarnished the reputation of their remake sagas. 

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5 Underrated Shows on Netflix USA You Must Watch Right Now!

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American Netflix is home to hundreds of TV shows across multiple genres. Still, it could be hard at times to find something binge-worthy on it. Now we all have that one friend that’s perfectly content with re-watching their favorite TV series, but the rest of us normies find it a tad boring. We’re on a never-ending hunt for the next big show hoping to inject some excitement into our otherwise mundane existence. However, with so much to choose from, it’s only natural that a few gems go unnoticed when scrolling through the recommendations. 

Don’t sweat it! After spending endless hours of research, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 underrated shows on Netflix USA that are definitely worth your time.

Can’t access US Netflix in your home country? There is an easy way around. Just download a Netflix VPN, connect to a US server, and start streaming. 

  1. 1994

Genre: Documentary

Season(s): 1 season; 5 episodes

Year of release: 2019

1994 is a modest 5-episode docu-series offering the perfect guilt-free, binge-watching experience. The show revolves around a promising presidential candidate in Mexico who stands to threaten the status quo. Seen as a threat by the powerful elite, he gets shot during one of his televised political rallies. If the events of the first episode seem unusual, then what follows is downright bizarre. 

Viewers are in store for surreal events backed by actual interviews and real-life footage that ups the ante with each passing episode. 1994 is a fascinating, informative, and rich account of one of the most turbulent times in Mexico. It not only gives viewers a glimpse of the past but also a story that follows a narrative very close to what we’re seeing in our present political climate.

  1. Rise of Empires: Ottoman

Genre: Drama

Season(s): 1 season; 6 episodes

Year of release: 2020

Following the wildly popular show Ertugrul—at least in the eastern part of the world—Rise of Empires: Ottoman features a historic mix of immaculate production value and dramatic re-enactment of the 1453 fall of Constantinople. A Turkish production, the show is entirely in English and revolves around the life of a young Ottoman Sultan named Mehmet. It shows how the 21-year old leader risks everything to conquer a city his father and so many others failed to take before him.

This point marked a crucial juncture in history: The fall of the Roman Empire and the transition of a local regional entity to that of a global superpower. While the show does have its set of drawbacks (such as the frequent History Channel-type flashbacks), the appeal of our protagonist is sure to have viewers in for a memorable ride. 

  1. Wild Wild Country

Genre: Documentary

Season(s): 1 season; 6 episodes

Year of release: 2018

The mere mention of Wild Wild Country in front of veteran Netflix viewers is sure to garner you some respect points. Based on a true story, Wild Wild Country tells the tale of an Indian cult that’s decided to relocate to Oregon. What ensues is a series of unusual events as the locals struggle to come to terms with the new inhabits and in particular, the eccentric leader of this cult: Bhagwan. This mini-series manages to capture and re-tell a significant—albeit unusual—event in American history and media and retell it in a way that’s sure to leave some viewers scratching their heads!

  1. Lenox Hill

Genre: Documentary

Season(s): 1 season; 9 episodes

Year of release: 2020

For those looking to embark on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, look no further than Lenox Hill. While we do recommend this docu-series especially if you’re a fan of Grey’s Anatomy or ER, Lenox Hill is not your average watch. It’s a far cry from what you’d call a feel-good series as it reveals the brutal reality associated with people diagnosed with really bad things.

Set in New York, the show follows the story of an ER physician, an OB-GYN, and two brain surgeons that are part of a small-time hospital competing with bigger establishments. It lifts the curtain from the otherwise romanticized emergency-ward that we’ve grown accustomed to and accurately depicts the struggles of both patients and doctors.

This highly emotional series might not sit well with everyone but if you want to watch a story about individuals that sacrifice everything to save others then this one’s for you.

  1. Borderline

Genre: Comedy

Season(s): 2 seasons; 12 episodes

Year of release: 2016

The Office is the most viewed show on Netflix according to Chicago Tribune which is a pity because its contract is set to expire on January 1, 2021. Enter Borderline, a British comedy series and ‘mockumentary’ of sorts that follows a similar pattern and humor as The Office. Set in the fictional Northend Airport instead of an office, viewers are quickly introduced to a slew of funny and ridiculous personalities.

The best part of the series is that it has its own version of Pam, Dwight, Jim, and a Michael type-boss. It also doesn’t try too hard to resemble its more popular counterpart and a few episodes are enough to make you wonder why more people aren’t watching it!

Agree with our list? Know of some underrated shows that need more love? Let us know in the comments section below!

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The Advantages of Online Casino Welcome Bonuses

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When it comes to online gambling, the industry is thriving in 2020. Although casinos are banned in many countries, people still find ways to enjoy their favorite games of chance. However, considering the level of competition on the market, it may be difficult for a beginner to find a good online platform and take advantage of all offers. In this article, you will learn the benefits of casinos’ welcome bonuses.

What Is a Sign-Up Bonus?

As we have already established, the industry is growing rapidly and companies are desperately looking for new ways to attract customers. A welcome bonus is often used by online casinos to get new leads and players in the future. However, the best casino bonuses can be easily used to the player’s advantage. Here are the main reasons you should not neglect this offer.

  1. It saves your money

Quite obvious, right? Well, this is the main reason why you should always use welcome bonuses in online gambling: it is always better to not risk your own money. It is especially true for beginners. Since they have no experience, it is fairly common for beginners to lose their initial investment and be done with gambling for good. However, if you use your welcome bonus as a way of getting the basics skills, the chances of success will rise significantly.

  1. It allows you to try several games

Another common issue beginners face is a lack of understanding of which types of games they want to try: slots, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, etc. If you use your sign-up bonus, you will be able to play several games and choose the ones you like better. Moreover, you can take advantage of a welcome bonus on several online gambling platforms. That way you will try out even more options.

  1. It will make future gambling more profitable

Besides beneficial sign-up bonuses, good online casinos usually have great loyalty programs. For instance, the company may double up to five first deposits on the platform. If you invest 100 USD, you will get 200 USD to your account. More money — more games — more chances of winning.

Although a welcome bonus is a great way of upping your gambling game, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Firstly, a good bonus does not equal a good platform. Before choosing a casino, make sure that the company is legal and trustworthy. Since there are many scams right now, it is essential if you want to save your money. Moreover, check the available deposit/withdrawal methods and their terms.

We hope that this article has shown the true power of online casinos’ welcome bonuses and how you can use them to your own advantage. Follow our tips while choosing a platform and enjoy the best gambling experience.

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