Album

This past August, indie pop artist Lana Del Rey wowed fans once again with her sixth studio album, which is cover-labeled as “NFR!” Being my favorite artist, I had high expectations for this album, and it met all of them. Playing with soft melodies and eloquent storytelling, Lana explores the struggles of love, self-examination and even politics while still maintaining her famous California/West Coast imagery. From her cover of Sublime’s “Doin’ Time” to one of her newest singles, “The Greatest,” Lana’s new album offers tracks for every mood.

Not only has it been well received by fans, but this release has received two well-deserved 2020 Grammy nominations in the most prestigious categories: Album of the Year and Song of the Year (for the title track). I highly recommend this relaxed record for the chilly weather.

— Melissa Mendoza

West Valley High School, 12th grade

Film

With a Rotten Tomatoes Certified Fresh score of 95 and six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, “Little Women” from director Greta Gerwig does not disappoint. I have not read the book yet, so I was not an expert on the storyline before watching the movie. But this made the movie all the more compelling to me.

The plot details the creative lives of four sisters from the March family (Saorise Ronan as Jo, Emma Watson as Meg, Florence Pugh as Amy and Eliza Scanlen as Beth). Laura Dern portrays Mary March, Meryl Streep is Aunt March and Timothée Chalamet is “Laurie” Laurence (the love interest of more than one March sister). The movie invites the audience to follow along through the ups and downs of coming of age, whether that means a first love, the pursuit of one’s hobbies or losing someone special. “Little Women” truly has it all.

I appreciated the cinematic detail of the numerous flashbacks, especially as an audience member who didn’t have previous knowledge of the characters. The scene when Jo is faced with her publisher’s ultimatum — an event drawn from Louisa May Alcott’s life — adds depth and historical context. I highly recommend this movie to people of all ages; it is one for the books.

— Anna Ergeson

Selah High School, 12th grade