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Music

Pandas are some of the silliest creatures on Earth.

At first glance, giant pandas can be intimidating. Their large size and sharp teeth and claws might evoke the kind of instinctual fear any bear would.

You definitely don't want to mess with their babies, make them feel threatened or assume they're as cuddly as they look, as they actually can be dangerous. But compared to other bears, giant pandas are pretty chill. This is especially true for pandas in captivity, who aren't just generally docile but downright doofy.

Watching a panda play is like watching a toddler that doesn't quite have their bearings yet. They tumble and stumble and get themselves into conundrums and appear to be having a grand old time doing it, which is what makes the song "Death by Panda" so perfect.


The song, shared by Some Guy Named Robb (Robb McCormick), paints pandas to be terrifying, vicious creatures in a fun, parodying kind of way. Check out these lyrics:

Pandas will melt your face

Turn your bones to paste

Destroy the human race

It's on their 'things to do' list

With a driving beat and intense electric guitar, "Death by Panda" makes a hilarious soundtrack for videos of pandas…well, being pandas. Just watching them walk around is entertaining, but give them some outdoor equipment to play on and OMG the delight

Watch:

The song can be found on Spotify, where you can listen to it in its entirety. And the panda behavior in the video prompted a wave of funny comments highlighting how absurd these creatures really are.

"Kung fu panda makes so much sense now🤣"

"There’s a reason they’ve been on the endangered species list."

"Never before realized that I have the agility of a panda."

"Panda: the drunken uncle of the bear species."

"Pretty sure all Pandas are part Chris Farley."

"Look... they're here for a good time....not a long time unless we bubble wrap their entire habitat and give em little helmets.😂❤️"

"I totally get why Jack Black was Kung Fu Panda."

"The instinctive ability to fall & roll in a controlled way, is their funny survival tactic.😆"

"Based on my lack of balance and clumsiness, I may have been a panda in a past life...."

People can be so funny.

But seriously, how do these guys survive in the wild?

In case you're actually wondering about that, pandas used to be on the endangered species list, but have been downgraded to "vulnerable" status. The World Wildlife Fund celebrate giant pandas as living proof of conservation efforts working, as the number of pandas in the wild has grown with protections in place for them and their habitat.

Panda habitats are among the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, so protecting them helps not only the giant panda but also other threatened and endangered species such as golden snub-nosed monkeys, takins, red pandas and snow leopards.

Climate change, tourism, overharvesting of bamboo and other threats pose challenges giant pandas' future. But we can take inspiration from the fact that conservation has worked for these majestically goofy creatures and keep those efforts going.

Pop Culture

Irish kids' rap song 'The Spark' is the empowering summer anthem we didn't know we needed

There's no mistaking where these tweens are from when you hear them rap.


"The Spark" video has had 350 million views across social media in its first month.

What do you get when you combine an infectious beat, an empowering message and a bunch of energetic tweens with delightfully thick Irish accents?

You get "The Spark," this summer's bangin' anthem that people around the world can't stop playing.

The young rappers from Cork and Lisdoonvarna—cities on opposite coasts of Ireland—came together to create this absolute banger for Cruinniú na nÓg, a national day of celebrating youth creativity in Ireland, which takes place on June 15.

The song and video were released as part of the Rhyme Island youth rap initiative created for the event, with kids ages 9 to 12 participating. It almost immediately began to spread on social media, with people raving over how catchy and fun it is. (People have been clamoring for a month for the song to be released on streaming, and we're thrilled to share that as of June 14, you can officially find "The Spark" on Spotify.)

Watch:

The comments on on TikTok pretty much sum it up:

"I'm about to be screaming I SEARCHED FOR MY SPARK AND I FOUND IT all summer."

"AI SHERCHED FOR ME ShPARK AN A FEUND EHT!!!!"

"If the clubs aren't playing this song this summer then I'm leavinggggg."

"This has no right to go this hard."

"The Cork accent has found its calling."

Even the Duracell battery account weighed in with "This is the kind of energy we live for."

Many people shared that they love that the kids look like kids and not little adults. And with lyrics like this, how can you not walk away with a little extra spring in your step?

I searched for my spark and I found it

Everybody in the crowd start bouncin!

If we see a dream you know we’re gonna chase it

So get over any fear you have just face it!

You can do it like we do it, don't doubt it

Any obstacle we find a way around it

If you're proud of who you are and what you do, shout it!

The kids worked with local producer GMCBeats and The Kabin Studio, a music and creativity-focused nonprofit in Knocknaheeny, a suburb of Cork, to create the song.

“The response has been amazing,” said Garry McCarthy (GMCBeats), the creative director of the Kabin Studio and co-producer of “The Spark.” The kids’ energy and positivity have inspired people worldwide. It’s been all over TikTok especially. It’s bonkers, we’ve never seen something like this!”

Dancers on TikTok have been coming up with dances to go along with it, so here's one to try if you get the urge to get up and dance with the kids:

@stasii777

pov: youre running away from those irish kids DC: us!!!! #fyp #sparksong #irishkids #viral #dance @Stephanie

The Kabin Studio shared the hope that the song's popularity will result in more people supporting young artists:

"'The Spark' is more than just a tune; it’s a celebration of creativity, resilience, and the unbreakable spirit of youth. As it continues to inspire listeners worldwide, The Kabin Studio hopes to channel its success into furthering their mission of supporting young artists locally and in direct provision."

Pop Culture

The Bee Gees 1973 'unplugged' medley of Beatles songs is blissful harmony

The '70s legends were inspired by the greatest band of the '60s.

The Bee gees playing a medley of Beatles hits in 1973.


By 1973, the Bee Gees’ career had hit a low. After a series of hits in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including "To Love Somebody," "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," and "I Started a Joke," the band was in a rut.

Their latest album, “Life in a Tin Can,” and single “Saw a New Morning" sold poorly, and the band’s popularity declined.

On April 6, 1973, the Gibb brothers (Barry, Robin and Maurice) appeared on “The Midnight Special,” a late-night TV show that aired on Saturday mornings at 1 a.m. after “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.” Given the lukewarm reception to their recent releases, the Bee Gees decided to change things up and play a medley of hits from their idols, The Beatles, who had broken up 3 years before.

The performance, which featured 5 of the Fab Four’s early hits, including “If I Fell,” “I Need You,” “I'll Be Back,” “This Boy,” and “She Loves You,” was a stripped-down, acoustic performance that highlighted the Bee Gees' trademark harmonies.


“When you got brothers singing, it’s like an instrument that no one else can buy. You can’t go buy that sound in a shop. You can’t sing like The Bee Gees because when you got family members singing together, it’s unique,” Noel Galagher, who sang with his brother Liam in Oasis, said according to Far Out.

Beatles Medley - Bee Gees | The Midnight Special

A year later, the Bee Gees performed in small clubs, and it looked like their career had hit a dead end. Then, at the urging of their management, the band began to move in a new direction, incorporating soul, rhythm and blues, and a new, underground musical style called disco into their repertoire. Barry also adopted a falsetto singing style popularized by Black singers such as Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye.

This unlikely change for the folksy vocal group catapulted them into the stratosphere and they became the white-satin-clad kings of disco.

In the late ‘70s, the band had massive hits, including songs featured on the 40-million-selling “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack: “Stayin’ Alive,” How Deep is Your Love,” More Than a Woman,” Jive Talkin’,” and “Night Fever.”

In 1978, the band made a significant misstep, starring in a musical based on The Beatles' music called “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” produced by Robert Stigwood, the man behind “Saturday Night Fever” and “Grease.” The film was a colossal bomb, although the soundtrack sold well.

Beatle George Harrison thought the Bee Gees film was about what happens when you become successful and greedy.

"I just feel sorry for Robert Stigwood, the Bee Gees, and Pete Frampton for doing it because they had established themselves in their own right as decent artists,” Harrison said. "And suddenly… it's like the classic thing of greed. The more you make the more you want to make, until you become so greedy that ultimately you put a foot wrong."

Even though the Bee Gees’ Beatle-themed musical was a flop, former Beatle John Lennon remained a fan of the group. He sang their praises after the public’s growing distaste of disco resulted in a significant backlash.

"Try to tell the kids in the seventies who were screaming to the Bee Gees that their music was just the Beatles redone,” he told Playboy magazine in 1980. “There is nothing wrong with the Bee Gees. They do a damn good job. There was nothing else going on then."

The Bee Gees historic career ended when Marice passed away in 2003 at 53. Robin would follow in 2009 at 62. Barry is the final surviving member of the band.

Pop Culture

A-ha's stripped-down, slowed-down performance of 'Take On Me' is a must-see

The slower tempo and simple instrumentation creates a sadder, more haunting version of the 80s monster hit.

A-ha performing live for MTV Unplugged Summer Solstice

According to NPR—and the ABBA blaring from my young adult daughter's headphones—we're in the midst of an 80s music revival. As a Gen Xer who came of age in the 80s, I think most of that decade should stay locked in a time capsule, but there are a few songs that have managed to remain timeless despite the synthesizers and bad hair.

A-ha's "Take On Me" is one of them. Despite its consummately-80s sound, the song with the famous sketch animated video is still enjoyable (if not a little earwormy—good luck once it gets stuck in your head).

But a lesser-known 2017 arrangement of the song is actually, miraculusly, even better. A-ha performed "Take On Me" for an MTV Unplugged Summer Solstice album, and it's significantly different than the original. The Norwegian band filmed the performance live on the island of Giske, dropping the electric piano as well as the tempo for a stripped-down version that has become a fan favorite. As of this writing, the video has 97 million views on YouTube.


"Take On Me" is one of 17 songs in the unplugged performance, but naturally the most popular.

“We’ve talked about this idea for so many years," guitarist Paul Waaktaar-Savoy said. "And in many of our concerts we’ve also played some acoustic songs. But if you consider that we don’t use much technology at all when we write the songs, the idea of an entirely acoustic show makes total sense. Playing all these songs now in their acoustic versions is like returning to their origins.”

Watch and see how the slower tempo and simple instrumentation creates a sadder, more haunting version of their biggest hit.

"The fact he’s still got such a good voice after decades is incredible," wrote one fan.

This is music at its purest form. No light show, distortion pedals, autotune and massive audiences. Spotless," wrote another.

"By far the best version of this song that I have ever heard. It totally transforms the song when performed like this," shared another.

Another commenter made a poignant observation:

"The original version is like a soundtrack for a man living in the fast-paced life in the 80's all cool and hip. This one is like when the same man grows old and saying farewell to the fun memories of his youth."

And another summed up what most people feel seeing this:

"One version makes you dance and the other version makes you cry."


This article originally appeared on 9.26.23