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The Gardiner Brothers and Queen Bey proving that music can unite us all.
In early February 2024, Beyoncé rocked the music world by releasing a surprise new album of country tunes. The album, Renaissance: Act II, includes a song called "Texas Hold 'Em," which shot up the country charts—with a few bumps along the way—and landed Queen Bey at the No.1 spot.
As the first Black female artist to have a song hit No. 1 on Billboard's country music charts, Beyoncé once again proved her popularity, versatility and ability to break barriers without missing a beat. In one fell swoop, she got people who had zero interest in country music to give it a second look, forced country music fans to broaden their own ideas about what country music looks like and prompted conversations about bending and blending musical genres and styles.
And she inspired the Gardiner Brothers to add yet another element to the mix—Irish stepdance.
In a TikTok that's been viewed over 17 million times, the Gardiner Brothers don cowboy hats while they step in time to "Texas Hold 'Em," much to the delight of viewers everywhere.
Beyoncé 🤝 Irish dancing #beyonce #countrymusic
Michael and Matthew Gardiner are professional Irish-American stepdancers and choreographers who have gained international fame with their award-winning performances. They've also built a following of millions on social media with videos like this one, where they dance to popular songs, usually in an outdoor environment.
The melding of Irish dance with country music sung by a Black American female artist may seem unlikely, but it could be viewed merely as country music coming back to its roots. After all, country music has its roots in the ballad tradition of the Irish, English and Scottish settlers in the Appalachian region of the U.S. And despite modern country music's struggle to break free from "music for white people" stereotypes, it has roots in African-American traditions as well. For instance, the banjo, which has long been used in bluegrass and country music, was created by enslaved Africans and their descendents during the colonial era, according to The Smithsonian.
People are loving the blending of genres and culture that the TikTok exemplifies.
"Never thought I’d see Irish step dancing while Beyoncé sings country," wrote on commenter. "My life is complete. ♥️"
"So happy Beyoncé dropped this song and exposed my timeline to diversified talent 👏🏽👏🏽," wrote another.
"Beyoncé brought the world together with this song 😭," offered another person.
"Ayeeee Irish Dancing has entered the BeyHive chatroom… WELCOME!! 🔥🔥🔥" exclaimed another.
"I don’t think I can explain how many of my interests are intersecting here," wrote one commenter, reflecting what several others shared as well.
The Beyoncé/Gardiner Brothers combo and the reactions to it are a good reminder that none of us fit into one box of interest or identity. We're all an eclectic mix of tastes and styles, so we can almost always find a way to connect with others over something we enjoy. What better way to be reminded of that fact than through an unexpected mashup that blends the magic of music with the delight of dance? Truly, the arts are a powerful uniting force we should utilize more often.
And for an extra bit of fun, the Gardiner Brothers also shared their bloopers from filming the video. Turns out stepping in the rain isn't as easy as they make it look.
Beyoncé Bloopers #texasholdem #gardinerbrothers
He might have to change his name to Kevin Beycon.
When Beyoncé dropped two songs from her upcoming album of country tunes, Renaissance: Act II, she may not have expected to make history, but that's exactly what happened. Her first single from the album, "Texas Hold 'Em," shot to the No.1 spot on the Billboard country music charts, making her the first Black female artist to hit that top spot. The catchy tune also topped the Billboard Hot 100 the last week in February 2024, a week after it debuted at No. 2.
Presumbaly, Queen Bey didn't expect her song to become an Irish stepdance hit, though that's also exactly what happened. And surely she didn't expect it to be sung by Kevin Bacon to a bunch of farm animals, yet that also has happened.
Perhaps we should all have expected that, though. There's a precedent here, after all.
Back in the summer of 2022, Kevin Bacon surprised the world by singing and playing a cover of Beyoncé's "Heated" on his guitar while being surrounded by goats on his farm. At that time, many people had not yet discovered that the "Footloose" actor and his wife of 35 years, Kyra Sedgwick, have been living their best life on their Connecticut farm, singing and dancing together with their goats, pigs, alpacas and miniature horses. Now their little videos together regularly become viral delights.
Witness the joy of Kevin Bacon—or King Beycon, if you will—as he strums the mandolin and sings "Texas Hold 'Em" with a little backup from his wife and pigs.
Seriously, whenever you need a break from the challenges of life, head on over to Kevin Bacon's Instagram. It's the quickest way to put a smile on your face, practically guaranteed, and there's frequently some kind of fun surprise. (Like, who knew Kevin Bacon played the mandolin?!)
Unsurprisingly, people are loving it.
"I love how much fun you too have. Loving life," wrote one commenter.
"A couple of goats singing a goat's song on a farm full of goats," wrote another.
"Kevin Bacon and his wife Kyra live on their farm, mind their business and spread joy. Occasional acting. 11/10," shared another.
"I just want the kind of joy Kevin and Kyra have, for real," wrote another. Don't we all?
Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick have long been seen as #couplegoals by those who follow them. After all, most marriages don't last 35 years, much less those that have been forged in the fires of fame. The two met and married as actors in Hollywood, but have managed to avoid the relationship pitfalls many of their colleagues have fallen into. If their videos are any indication, they are genuinely happy together in a way that all couples strive for, which is inspiring to see.
Perhaps the key is music and farm animals and living far away from the glitz and glam. Or maybe as Sedgwick has said, they just got lucky. Whatever the secret of their sweet relationship, we are here for it.
"My flabbers have been gasted."
If you ever cook with fresh garlic, you know what a challenge it can be to remove the cloves from the skin cleanly, especially if you're starting with a full head.
There are various methods people use to peel garlic, with varying levels of success. Doing it by hand works, but will leave you with garlic-smelling fingertips for the better part of a day. Whacking the head on the counter helps separate the cloves from each other, but doesn't help much with removing the skin.
Some people swear by vigorously shaking the skinned cloves around in a covered bowl or jarred lid, which can be surprisingly effective. Some smash the clove with the flat side of a knife to loosen it and then pull it off. Others utilize a rubber roller to de-skin the cloves.
But none of these methods come close to the satisfaction of watching someone perfectly peeling an entire head of garlic with a pair of tongs.
A video shared by the TikTok channel Learn Green shows what appears to be a woman's hands holding a large head of garlic in one hand and small metal tongs in the other, and within 30 seconds, the skin is separated from the cloves without any damage to the garlic, and it's a thing of beauty.
Garlic Master 💚 #good #garlic
Garlic master, indeed. People in the comments clarified that the tongs appear to be fish bone tweezers, which are a bit like ice tongs, but sturdier. And the reactions to the video were pure internet gold:
"The way I want to go on the ultimate garlic peeling spree now, for absolutely no reason."
"It takes me 2-3 business days to peel fresh garlic."
"My flabbers have been gasted."
"I am telling you I haven't done a damn thing right in my entire life."
"No thx, I'd rather cut each one individually, struggle, throwing half of it away away in the process and getting angry at myself by the end of it."
Several people lamented that they've never known they had this wonder tool at their disposal.
"Are you telling me that I've had a garlic peeler in my drawer all these years and didn't even know what to do with it until just now?"
"I have that set of tong things. I didn't know it was for garlic."
"You finally throw away that 'useless' thing in the kitchen drawer you had for years the day before you find out what it was for."
Others sung the praises of "TikTok University."
"I believe after so many of hours of TikTok we get college credits."
"At the very least a masters degree in life skills."
"I have learned more on TikTok than school."
"I don't know what other people's feeds are like but I'm learning something every 6 minutes."
And in case you're wondering, this person is not the only garlic master with the tongs. There are other videos showing the same thing, and they are all just as mesmerizing.
Garlic peeling! #satisfying #decompression #garlic #peeling #lifehack #tool
Seriously, this is what social media should be used for—succinctly sharing useful, helpful skills that actually add to our quality of life.
(Helpful tip for getting the most out of TikTok: Don't scroll past garlic peeling videos if you want your feed to teach you valuable hacks like this. Game that algorithm in your favor.)
16-year-old Jor'el Bolden is 6'5" and 380 lbs.
Any adult responsible for raising a teen will tell you that not only do teens eat a lot and sleep nearly as much as they did as infants, they also grow quickly. Sometimes it feels like their growth spurts are literally happening overnight. You go to sleep with a squeaky voiced teenager that's still shorter than you only to wake up to what appears to be a fully grown man wearing your child's clothes.
It's no wonder that parents can have a hard time keeping up with the ever changing clothes and shoe sizes that come with a growing teen. But Tamika Neal's son has surpassed what would be considered the average height and weight of a 16-year-old, which means he's also outgrown sizes carried in the stores.
According to Cincinnati Children's Hospital, boys aged 16 are typically between 5-foot-3 and 6-foot, weighing between 104 to 180 pounds. Jor'el Bolden is a towering 6-foot-5 and 380 pounds with a size 23 shoe.
Except, Bolden's mom couldn't find a size 23 shoe for her son to wear. Out of options, the mother son duo turned to the local news station in Missouri where they live, KCTV 5 to explain the inability to find shoes that fit him. It didn't take long for the story to pick up steam and soon enough it caught the attention of someone that knows all too well how hard it is to find extra large shoes.
Shaquille O'neal, retired NBA player who stands at 7-foot-1, weighs 324 pounds and wears a size 22 shoe, came to the rescue. Entertainment Tonight got in contact with Bolden's mother and informed her that Shaq wanted to speak to them. According to KCTV 5, the duo FaceTimed the NBA legend who informed them that they should be expecting something in the mail from him.
Shaq sent along three boxes full of clothes and 20 pairs of shoes for the teen, some of them were from Shaq's own closet. Neal told the news station, “It’s better than Christmas morning, Santa didn’t send this, Shaq did."
Neal explained to USA TODAY that Bolden has always had above average sized feet since birth. Due to his size, Neal had to forgo the cute soft baby shoes that usually come with baby outfits and resort to socks only. The only shoes Neal could find before Shaq's gift was on eBay and were a size too small causing Bolden's feet to hurt when he walked.
Since the mom was having such a hard time finding her son shoes, she had originally started a GoFundMe page to pay for custom shoes to be made, it has currently raised just over $12,000. After she went on the news, donations poured in, which Neal says will be used to go towards larger shoes when the time comes. Since Bolden is only 16, he will likely have another growth spurt which will require an even larger shoe size, but for now she's thankful he can now walk without discomfort thanks to the NBA star.
"“Thank you for taking the time and the money that you have earned to give to me when I needed it,” Bolden tells KCTV 5, “Thank you for all of the things that will come from it and that already have.”
This isn't the first time Shaq has helped out a teen struggling to find shoes. March 2023, Eric Kilburn Jr. and his mom were struggling to find the 6-foot-10, high school freshman a pair of size 23 shoes as well when the NBA star reached out to gift him with new shoes. Maybe instead of the tooth fairy, Shaq is becoming the shoe fairy to some very lucky, very tall teenagers.
Is she being too harsh?
A mother who’s a criminal defense attorney is going viral on TikTok for a hard stance she has taken on her children going to sleepovers. For Erin Bailey of South Carolina, the answer is a big no. The reason? There are too many variables that could make her children vulnerable to sexual assault.
Bailey has a practice in Georgetown and is ranked among the Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyers in South Carolina by the National Trial Lawyers.
"I don’t allow my children to go to sleepovers. I’m a criminal attorney and here’s why,” she opens the video. “First and primary is the S.A. [sexual assault] risk. While you may feel like you know the parents who are hosting the sleepover really well, and you know and love and trust them, that's exactly who's committing S.A.”
She adds that people who commit sexual assault are often those we trust the most. “S.A. against children is not committed by strangers in Target. It is not committed by random people on the street. It is committed by people we know,” Bailey said.
Four girls having a sleepover.
“You may know the parents, but you don't know necessarily the neighbors, the grandparents, the aunts and uncles, the older siblings, the friends of the older siblings," she continued.
She concludes with: "There's just too many variables, not to mention pew pews (guns) in the house, so it's just a no for us, no sleepovers."
When it comes to child sexual assault statistics, Bailey knows what she is talking about. Research shows that more than 90% of abusers are people children know, love and trust. Thirty to 40% of victims are abused by a family member.
Fifty percent of child sexual assault victims are abused by someone outside of the family whom they know and trust.
Her post received a lot of support in the comments from parents who share the same fears. "Attorney here too—no sleepovers, electric scooters, trampolines, or hoverboards," Buckeye wrote. "I was upset with my mom at first when she said no to sleepovers until something happened to a girl at a sleepover by the other girl's father," Hanips added.
However, some people thought Bailey was being a bit too cautious.
Four girls having a sleepover.
https://www.pexels.com/photo/girls-lying-on-bed-smiling-8790303/via Krampus Production/Pexels
"So do you just never let them go over to any friend's house? Because every single one of those things can happen without a sleepover," DallasDiscGolf wrote. "I’m glad I was allowed to enjoy my childhood. Sleepovers were a blast!" KevinJones2151 wrote.
"You sound like a blast as a parent. I'm sure you kids will have an amazing childhood," Leah added.
Bailey’s video clearly struck a nerve with the public because it has received over 3 million views on TikTok. But after all the feedback, she hasn’t changed her position.
“Childhood sexual abuse is a trauma that permanently alters the course of a child’s life,” she told Upworthy. “It is more common than most people think and most cases are never reported to the authorities. Further, most people who are abusers were abused themselves as a child. As a prosecutor and defense attorney, I have seen these cases up close and personal. Sleepovers are a small sacrifice to lower the risk for children.”
Talk about expectation vs. reality.
Anne Hathaway might have played fashion-oblivious Andrea Sachs in “Devil Wears Prada,” but nowadays, in real life (or at least on the red carpet) she’s more on the level of Miranda Priestley—turning heads at every event with showstopping looks.
However, no matter how high her status as a fashion icon rises, the “Princess Diaries” actress still holds onto her humility.
Case and point: she has no problem sharing what it’s really like to wear certain designer dresses. Spoiler alert: it’s not quite as effortless as the fashionistas make it look.
In a carousel posted to her Instagram, Hathway first showed a photo of herself next to Donatalle Versace, while posing in a bright red, very structured latex dress, designed of course by Versace for Milan’s Fashion Week. The two have been muses for each other for a while now.
And while the first picture shows exactly what you might expect from fashion week—fierceness, poise, 130% glam—the next video shows…well, a different side.
“I just want to respect…the integrity of the corset…” Hathaway says while in the most uncomfortable half-sitting-half-lying down position imaginable.
Then, cue giggles as she struggles to get up.
“Help her, she can’t move!” Versace exclaims through laughter.
“I’m fine, I’m fine, it’s for Donatella,” Hathaway quips. Earlier she had assured “Vogue” editor-in-chief Anna Wintour that even though she couldn’t turn in the dress she could breathe easily. The joke continued in Hathaway’s caption, which read:
Press the right arrow on the post below and give yourself a good laugh.
I mean, does this not feel like something straight out of “I Love Lucy?”
We see so many ultra glam celebrity images online, and while a part of us knows deep down that there’s way more than meets the eye, it’s nice to have reminders like this that really show how life is never picture perfect all the time. Even for celebrities. So let this be a permission to laugh at our own imperfections, and to let loose from time to time.
And if you need inspiration for how to do that, try watching this clip of Hathaway dancing to “Anaconda”: