Stasis Is the Membrane That Keeps the Yeasts Together

If it’s not funny enough already that the protagonists of Yeast Nation are literally single-celled yeasts, or that our musical is set three billion years ago on the floor of the ocean, or that these yeasts have emotion, community, history, and power struggles, or that the two central plot lines of our show parallel Antigone and Macbeth

If all that isn’t enough… There’s yet another very funny element that will probably pass right by most of our audience. What may be the craziest aspect of this epic, twisted fable is that all the weirdest details of our story are biologically accurate.

Several times during the story, we witness a yeast die by “popping open” (or being popped open) and having their “jellies” spill out. We found out the process of cell death is called apoptosis. We’ve also learned that single-celled organisms don’t die naturally; they just keep splitting and making new cells. But they can die by being “eaten” by other cells. Which happens in our show.

On the website LiveScience, I found this: “Researchers at Rockefeller University have discovered that some cells rip themselves apart bit-by-bit in order to attract certain specialized proteins in phagocytes that will gobble them up and carry them away.”

Late in Act I of Yeast Nation, in an attempt to drive a wedge between the King and his son Jan-the-Second-Oldest, the King’s counselor Jan-the-Wise, and the King’s daughter Jan-the-Sly make a (disingenuous) plea for conservatism:

Stasis is the membrane
That keeps the yeasts together,
Through all kinds of weather,
In storm as well as calm.
With harmony our bedrock,
And brotherhood our basis,
Stasis is our membrane!
Stasis is our balm!

Weird lyric, no? 

Well, keep in mind these are yeasts singing this. For these single-celled creatures, stasis is the inhibition of cell growth and reproduction. And for these particular yeasts in our story, more yeasts mean less food, so no increase in population is important. (Like Urinetown, this is another story about resources!) It’s not just important; it’s a matter of life and death. A static population is their protection; or if you were a yeast speaking metaphorically, you might say it’s their membrane, since the membrane is a cell’s outer layer of protection, which keeps all their “jellies” from spilling out (that’s their form of death).

As one guy on Quora put it, “As to how death looks like for unicellular organisms, really, we don’t know. The best measure we have is whether they are able to maintain their membrane integrity. It takes an active effort to keep water from leaking into the cell, so when they can’t do that anymore, they ‘blow up’ and die.”

So yes, literally, the membrane “keeps the yeasts together,” and here it’s also a yeasty metaphor for the protection of zero population growth, which helps the food not run out, so the community can stay together. “Harmony” is literally their bedrock, because when the yeasts all sing that line, they sing it in harmony; in fact, they sing in harmony throughout the show. And actual brotherhood is literally their “basis” since they are all children of Jan-the-Elder.

Earlier in the show the King, Jan-the-Elder, complains, “Once my rules were adhered to without question. Now we must butcher our own kind to maintain my beloved stasis. I only want things to stay more or less the same for all eternity! Is that too much to ask?!” He sounds like American conservatives longing for a return to the 1950s.

What I love about Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann’s writing is that the crazy dialogue and lyrics really do come from the point of view of yeasts. The metaphors are metaphors yeasts would use. You can just picture “Stasis Is the Membrane That Keeps the Yeasts Together” embroidered on a yeast sampler hanging over a yeast mantelpiece.

And sure, that’s what writers are supposed to do, write in the character’s voice, right? But did I mention these characters are all single-celled yeasts? It’s a good thing Kotis and Hollmann are as crazy as they are, or this would be a much less interesting, less engaging piece of theatre. Their fierce protection of their story’s interior logic makes this ancient, microscopic world both real and somehow weirdly familiar to us.

After all, parents and children are still parents and children, even if they’re microscopic yeasts. Okay, that’s not really true at all. But it’s true in our story.

Back in the song, Jan-the-Famished is already in some yeastly trouble herself, so of course she joins in Sly’s creepy yeast patriotism, singing:

Stasis is a feeling,
A powerful sensation,
That all things in creation
Know deep down to the core.
When life gets too uncertain,
Without a firm oasis,
Stasis gives the sense that
We’ll live forever more!

Which is literally true, since single-celled organisms don’t die naturally. Then Sly and Famished sing the chorus together, and it starts to remind me of a funhouse mirror of “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” in Cabaret. Then Jan-the-Wise joins in on the propaganda/philosophy/patriotism:

We’re a simple life form,
A fragile bag of jelly.
Without salt in our belly
We simply cease to be.
So let’s obey the strictures,
And listen to our betters.
Fretters are repugnant
To those who rule the sea!

In other words, do what you’re told and shut up. It’s what every oppressed minority throughout history has been told. We know better, the authorities tell them.

Later in the show, two of our yeast heroes bond together and create the first multi-celled organism. The LiveScience website says, “The first transition from simple, single-celled organisms to cooperating groups of cells is believed to have occurred a little over 2 billion years ago. This multicellular arrangement was a step toward more complex organisms, like us, who possess different types of cells for different functions, such as red blood cells capable of carrying oxygen around our bodies.”

Who knew this crazy musical-tragedy-political-thriller-satire is also a stealth biology lesson? I can’t really say I’m surprised. I’m sure there are plenty more delicious, fucked-up surprises awaiting us. We start blocking next week! So much fun ahead…

Long Live the Musical!
from The Bad Boy of Musical Theatre


Anne-Marie Takes Us Back In Time On Latest Single ‘2002’, Co-Written By Ed Sheeran!

Anne-Marie is taking us back to the pop glory days of the early 2000’s!

Following the launch of her worldwide smash “FRIENDS” alongside Marshmello, the English talent is prepping the release of her long-awaited debut album called Speak Your Mind, which is finally set to see the light of day on April 27 through Major Toms / Asylum Records.

The set features previous singles “Ciao Adios,” “Heavy,” “Then,” “Alarm” and the freshly released “2002” – a track Anne-Marie co-wrote with long-time friend and champion Ed Sheeran, which recalls memories of a childhood sweetheart.

It’s got everything: References to 2000’s hit songs like Jay-Z‘s “99 Problems,” Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me,” ‘N Sync‘s “Bye Bye Bye” and Britney Spears‘ “Baby One More Time.” Infectious, guitar-driven electro-pop fusion production! Vocals that sound like a lost pop classic! The catchiest chorus you’ve ever heard! “Oops I got 99 problems singing bye, bye, bye/ Hold up, if you wanna go and take a ride with me/ Better hit me, baby, one more time,” Anne sings. “Paint a picture for you and me/ Of the days when we were young/ Singing at the top of both our lungs.”

It’s lovely, instantaneous and propulsive, and exactly the shot of adrenaline Anne needed to bring more attention to her debut. I’m ready!

Anne-Marie’s latest “2002” is also available on Apple Music and Spotify now!

from Jon ALi’s Blog

The Chainsmokers Showcase Softer Side With Drew Love On New Single, ‘Somebody’!

The Chainsmokers have been steadily revealing cuts from their upcoming mystery project single by single. So far, we’ve heard the aggressive “Sick Boy,” the dark “You Owe Me” and the self-deprecating “Everybody Hates Me.” The tracks have been varying levels of, well, interesting… I guess.

This week, the EDM duo – Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart – are back at it again with their next taste: “Somebody” featuring Drew Love of R&B duo THEY. – a deeper and more emotional cut which sees their recent boisterous bassline taking the backseat to a Drew and Andrew‘s delicate and light vocals.

In the town full of fancy cars and crowded bars and supermodels/ Looks exactly the way it did inside my head when I dreamed about it/ All the things I could live without/ I need it now ’cause they’re all around me/ Only thing that I can’t afford is to lose myself/ Tryna be somebody, somebody.”

Somebody” abounds in soft pads and chilly atmospherics, showcasing a more reserved side of the boys when compared to its predecessors. It also brings to mind their previous hits like “Paris” and “All We Know.” This is The Chainsmokers I prefer.

The Chainsmokers’ latest “Somebody” feat. Drew Love is also on Apple Music and Spotify now!

from Jon ALi’s Blog

Liam Payne Teams Up With J Balvin On Solid New Single, ‘Familiar’

Liam Payne is still out here trying y’all! Can you believe?

At this point, Liam‘s made four attempts at solo super stardom with the release of his Rita Ora duet “For You” for Fifty Shades Freed, “Bedroom Floor,” “Get Low” with Zedd and the still painful to my ears, “Strip That Down,” which, unsurprisingly, is his most successful to date (mostly due to the fact that it was the first one out the gate).

Welp, Liam‘s not giving up just yet, he’s still gunning for the bonafide smash. This week, the former One Direction crooner releases his brand new single “Familiar” with J Balvin. The pop throb finds Liam and and Balvin trading infectious verses across a Latin-tinged, summer-ready production.

Can we get famili-famili-famili-familiar? (familiar)/ I’m feelin’ I’m feelin’ I’m feelin’ I’m feelin’ ya (familiar)/ What’s on your mind for later tonight?/ Let me be the one to fill it up,” Liam seductively chants on the chorus.

The song seems a bit like a move to capitalize on the whole Latin-pop movement that’s so very hot right now, but it’s solid enough nonetheless. What do we think?

Liam Payne & J Balvin’s “Familiar” is also available on Apple Music and Spotify now!

from Jon ALi’s Blog

Ariana Grande Makes Her Triumphant, Shimmery Return With ‘No Tears Left to Cry’!

The time has finally come for some new Ariana Grande!

After months away from the spotlight, the Dangerous Woman songstress makes her highly anticipated return with “No Tears Left To Cry” – her first release of fresh material since the Manchester terrorist attack at her Dangerous Woman Tour last year; a tragedy which left 22 dead.

The dreamy track, which sees her reuniting with pop master crafters Savan Kotecha, Ilya and Max Martin, plays magnificently like the sonic evolution of My Everything‘s “One Last Time” and Dangerous Woman standout “Touch It,” as the tiny songstress coos up against waves upon waves of warm synthesizers and tripping dance beats. “Right now I’m in a state of mind/ I wanna be in like all the time/ Ain’t got no tears left to cry/ So I’m pickin’ it up, I’m pickin’ up (oh yeah)/ I’m lovin’, I’m livin’, I’m pickin’ it up,” Ariana cries out on the soaring, shimmery chorus. “Oh I just want you to come with me/ We’re on another mentality/ Ain’t got no tears left to cry/ So I’m pickin’ it up, I’m pickin’ up (oh yeah)/ I’m lovin’, I’m livin’, I’m pickin’ it up.”

No Tears Left To Cry” doesn’t necessarily feel like a direct response to the tragic bombing at her Manchester concert, but some of the lyrics (“We’re way too fly to partake in all this hate“) and the title alone do seem to allude to the incident in a very powerful, and classy way. It’s a love letter wrapped in sonic excellence.

Ariana Grande’s new single “No Tears Left To Cry” is also available on Apple Music and Spotify!

from Jon ALi’s Blog

Kylie Minogue ‘Stop Me from Falling’ feat. Gente De Zona

Blame it on Justin Bieber, Beyoncé, Little Mix, Demi Lovato, the list goes on…

But it appears our very own Kylie Minogue has decided to jump on yet another current music trend: Latin crossovers. Yupp! Following the release of her country-inspired Golden, Kylie has decided to join forces with Cuban duo Gente De Zona on an official remix to her latest single “Stop Me From Falling“!

The new version of “Stop Me From Falling” isn’t so much a remix as much as it is an invitation for Gente De Zona to just join in on the fun, as they assist on the second verse — plus some Spanglish ad-libs are thrown in by the Mighty Aphrodite, too. “Si quererte no es prohibido/ Yo quiero mi vida contigo!

Although Kylie and Gente De Zona are a pretty random pairing on paper, the combo doesn’t sound all that bad in song. Overall, this feels like a fun experiment for Kylie to step outside her usual shtick and I’m really not that mad at it – Watch the music video below!

Kylie Minogue’s “Stop Me from Falling” feat. Gente De Zona is avail on Apple Music and Spotify!

from Jon ALi’s Blog

Billie Eilish & Khalid Join Forces On New Brooding Single, ‘Lovely’!

And now it’s time for a very “Lovely” surprise!

2017 was undeniably a big year for both Billie Eilish and Khalid. The Grammy-nominated Khalid has absolutely killed every feature he has been a guest on while still thriving off the success of his breakout debut American Teen. Billie on the other hand has been pegged as the “One To Watch” for some time now and managed to certify that successfully with the release of her debut EP, dont smile at me.

Now the two, neither of whom can legally drink alcohol, have teamed up on a brand new song called “Lovely,” and well, it’s exactly that. The track is a brooding piano-led ballad about finding something better: “Isn’t it lovely, all alone/ Heart made of glass, my mind of stone/ Tear me to pieces, skin and bone/ Hello, welcome home,” they croon over cinematic strings and chilling atmospherics.

Billie told Zane Lowe that the song title is actually sarcastic (no surprise there): “We called it that because the song is sorta like really frickin’ depressing, so then it’s like, ‘Oh, how lovely!’ Just taking everything horrible and [being like], ‘You know what? This is so great! I’m so happy being miserable,’ you know?”

Billie also that the song didn’t come from any sort of arranged songwriting session, but just from them chillin’ together: “It wasn’t like, ‘Let’s go in the studio.’ […] It was like, ‘Hey, come over. Like, let’s hang out.’ So he just came over, we just hung out. Me and my brother hung out with Khalid in our house. I don’t know, it was like… literally, this is us hanging out as friends, and then we ended up writing a song.”

A satisfying collaboration I never saw coming, but am so glad is here – WIN!

Billie Eilish & Khalid’s new single “Lovely” is also available on Apple Music and Spotify!

from Jon ALi’s Blog