Entertainment - Voice of America http://learningenglish.voanews.com/archive/learningenglish-home-arts-entertainment/latest/965/965.html Learn English as you read and listen to news and feature stories on music, pop culture, sports and the arts. Our stories are written at the intermediate and upper-beginner level and are read one-third slower than regular VOA English. Everything is free. http://www.voanews.com/Content/responsive/VOA/img/rssLogo.gif Entertainment - Voice of America http://learningenglish.voanews.com/archive/learningenglish-home-arts-entertainment/latest/965/965.html en 2016 - VOA 60 Fri, 09 Dec 2016 07:57:02 +0000 Pangea CMS – VOA Susan Watson: Still Singing After Decades in Musicals   Ask many actors and they will tell you it is hard to get work when you are just starting out and also as you get older. That has not been the case for American musical actress Susan Watson. In 1958, Watson was offered a part in the musical, “West Side Story,” in London. At that time, she was still a student at New York City’s Julliard School for musicians, dancers and actors. More than 50 years later, she was offered another part. Watson was to take an important role in a remake of the musical, “Follies,” at the Kennedy Center in Washington and the Marquis Theatre in New York City. In both cases, the offers came from musical theater legend Stephen Sondheim. He wrote the lyrics for “West Side Story” and the music and lyrics for “Follies.” “It felt so good being on stage nightly with fellow ‘senior citizens,’ Bernadette Peters, Linda Lavin and Elaine Paige,” Watson said of “Follies.” “Active, empowered senior women are a resource that I think Americans can be proud of.” As a teenager, Watson developed her dancing, singing and acting skills in her home town of Tulsa, Oklahoma. She traveled to study at New York’s Julliard School before Sondheim interrupted her studies with the offer of a part in “West Side Story.” The award-winning musical, based on William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” tells a story of the struggles of immigrants in New York City. Watson later had starring roles in such well-known musicals as “The Fantastics,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Carnival,” “Celebration” and “No, No, Nanette.” She has also appeared in many American television shows. Musical Theater Created in America Musical plays are an American invention. They tell stories through many art forms: spoken words, song, acting and dance. Music adds an important emotional element, making an interesting story even more powerful, Watson said. Now, musical theater is regularly shown in such countries as Australia, China, Israel, Japan, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and South Korea. American musicals have been popular for many years in Britain and Canada. The end of a performance, when the stars of a show come out to a “curtain call,” to accept cheers from the people watching, never gets old, Watson said. The Theatrical Slap that Hurt In live theater, actors know the unexpected will happen -- it is just a question of when. Watson remembers how her co-star in the musical, “Carnival,” the late Jerry Orbach, liked to give as realistic a performance as possible. There was one scene, Watson recalled, where Orbach was supposed to slap her. “I’m a small person, and he was slapping me a little too hard,” she said. Watson said she asked him to lighten up, but if he did, it was not nearly enough for Watson. “So in one performance, I hit him back hard,” Watson said. After that, Watson’s co-star let up on their nightly hitting scene. That was important for her. Actors in Broadway shows in New York City do eight performances a week. Watson’s Strong Voice a Surprise to Some Watson’s singing voice often surprised people. John Wilson, writing for The New York Times in 1976, said a Susan Watson performance produced “shock value.” It surprised people that a small woman had such a “big full-bodied voice,” Wilson wrote. At age 78, Watson now lives in California, but she is not finished performing. She just released a new album of musical theater and other American music called, “The Music Never Ends.” She is excited that six of the 14 songs on her new album were written by “empowered women,” including Nancy Ford and Gretchen Cryer. “I’m 78 years old and still having a lovely time in show business,” Watson said. Some people have the opinion that it is harder to get started in the entertainment business. But Watson said today’s computer technology makes it easier to tell people about new shows, recordings and movies. Performers, musicians, television networks and theaters can tell the world “about their creative efforts” by placing messages on the internet and social media, Watson said. She said her new musical recording, “The Music Never Ends”, is selling “very well” partly because people do not have to go to a store to buy it. They can buy it online, like almost any other product. I’m Bruce Alpert. And I’m Jill Robbins.   Bruce Alpert reported on this story for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and share your views on our Facebook Page. Have you ever thought about being an actor? How hard do you think it will be to succeed? ______________________________________________________ Words in This Story   role – n. part in a play legend - n. a famous or important person who is known for doing something extremely well lyrics - n. the words of a song stage - n. a raised platform in a theater, auditorium, etc., where the performers stand senior - adj. older people interrupt - v. to cause someone to stop doing what they had been doing curtain call - n. at the end of a show, when actors appear on stage to accept the cheers of the audience slap - v. to hit someone http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/after-50-years-in-musicals-susan-watson-still-singing-stephen-sondheim-barack-obama-bernadette-peters/3619174.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/after-50-years-in-musicals-susan-watson-still-singing-stephen-sondheim-barack-obama-bernadette-peters/3619174.html Thu, 08 Dec 2016 21:05:57 +0000 EntertainmentLevel TwoFeatured Storieshttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/after-50-years-in-musicals-susan-watson-still-singing-stephen-sondheim-barack-obama-bernadette-peters/3619174.html#relatedInfoContainer New Starbucks CEO to Take Over in 2017   This is What’s Trending Today. The coffee company Starbucks said its chief executive officer, Howard Schultz, plans to leave his position in April of 2017. He will reportedly work on a new Starbucks brand. Schultz, 63, is credited with greatly expanding the company and its brand worldwide. He began working with Starbucks in 1982 as the operations and marketing director. At the time, Starbucks had just four coffee shops. All were in Seattle, Washington. Today, the company has 24,000 stores in 70 countries. Starbucks opened its first store outside of the U.S. in 1996 in Tokyo, Japan. Since then, Starbucks stores have opened in China, Dubai, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico and many other places. Schultz was the company’s CEO from 1987 until 2000. He became the CEO again in 2008. Kevin Johnson will replace him. Johnson is currently the company’s chief operating officer and once worked with Microsoft. Schultz said that after he steps down, he will work to make a special Starbucks brand bigger. That brand is called Starbucks Reserve. It serves high-quality drinks. The coffee served in its cafes can be two times more expensive than regular Starbucks coffee. There are still very few Starbucks Reserve stores.  But, Starbucks reportedly plans to open many more of these cafes around the world in the near future. People reacted to the news of Schultz’s departure on social media. Some Twitter users had not heard of Starbucks Reserve stores before. One person wrote: “high-end coffee? Isn’t that what Starbucks is? If paying $3.16 for an iced medium coffee isn’t high-end, I don’t know what is.”  Another person wrote: “I’ll not purchase one $12 coffee in my lifetime.” Others on social media wondered if Schultz was considering running for president in 2020. He supported Democrat Hillary Clinton in the recent U.S. elections.  And that’s What’s Trending Today. I’m Dan Friedell.   Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor. What do you think of the Starbucks change? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. ________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   brand – n. a category of products that are all made by a particular company and all have a particular name chain –n. a group of businesses (such as stores, restaurants, or hotels) that have the same name and basic appearance and sell the same products or services high-end –adj. higher in price and of better quality than most others credit –v. to give honor or recognition to (someone or something) for doing something or for making something happen http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/starbucks-ceo/3621045.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/starbucks-ceo/3621045.html Fri, 02 Dec 2016 21:00:28 +0000 HomeEntertainmentWhat's Trending Today?Level Onehttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/starbucks-ceo/3621045.html#relatedInfoContainer Obamas Prepare for Their Final White House Christmas   This is What’s Trending Today… President Barack Obama and his family will celebrate their eighth and final Christmas in the White House next month. On Tuesday, White House staff and first lady Michelle Obama revealed this year’s holiday decorations. They include nearly 70,000 ornaments, 63 Christmas trees, 56 gingerbread houses, and two very large statues of the Obama family’s dogs, Sunny and Bo. An estimated 68,000 people will visit the White House during the holiday season. There is no cost to enter. But, the very first people to see this year’s decorations were military members and their families. Michelle Obama welcomed them to the White House Tuesday. The first lady said the gold ornaments on the official White House Christmas tree honor military heroes. The Christmas tree is almost six meters tall and stands in the Blue Room. This year’s theme is “The Gift of the Holidays.” Many of the decorations represent important gifts in America, including the “gift of a great education,” Michelle Obama said. In the White House Library, another Christmas tree is decorated with ornaments that honor girls. The word “Girls” is printed in a different language on each ornament. A program called Let Girls Learn has been a major effort of Michelle Obama’s. It aims to help girls and young women around the world get a quality education. Another “gift” is the gift of good health. A tree in the White House Green Room is hung with fruit grown in the White House Garden. Healthful eating and exercise have also been important issues during Obama’s eight years as first lady. Most of the ornaments and other decorations were reused, the White House said. Just 10 percent were new. More than 90 volunteers worked on the decorations. On Tuesday, the first lady thanked the volunteer decorators. “We can’t wait to start welcoming people into their White House this holiday season. To everyone who created these stunning displays…. I want to once again say thank you. You all did a phenomenal job of turning this house into a magical place.” And that’s What’s Trending Today. Ashley Thompson adapted this report from the Associated Press, with additional materials from WhiteHouse.gov. Caty Weaver was the editor.  ________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   staff - n. a group of people who work for an organization or business​ reveal - v. to show (something) plainly or clearly​ decorations  - n. ​things that are added to something else to make it more attractive ornaments  - n. ​small balls, figures, etc., that are hung on a Christmas tree for decoration​ gingerbread  - n. ​a cake or cookie made with molasses and ginger​ theme  - n. ​ the main subject that is being discussed or described in a piece of writing, a movie, etc.​ stunning - adj. very beautiful or pleasing​ phenomenal ​- adj. ​very good or great​   http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/obamas-prepare-for-final-white-house-christmas-decorations/3616456.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/obamas-prepare-for-final-white-house-christmas-decorations/3616456.html Tue, 29 Nov 2016 21:00:03 +0000 EntertainmentFeatured StoriesWhat's Trending Today?Level Onehttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/obamas-prepare-for-final-white-house-christmas-decorations/3616456.html#relatedInfoContainer Piano Player Redesigns His Favorite Instrument The parts of a traditional piano have changed very little for hundreds of years. The keys are black and white in color, just like when classical musical greats like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Sebastian Bach were alive.  But now an electronic, piano-like musical instrument replaces those keys with surfaces that react to touch. A start-up company called ROLI began selling the electronic keyboard in 2013. The keyboard is known as Seaboard. It does not have the same white and black keys as a piano. Instead it is made from soft, rubbery materials. Roland Lamb is the inventor of Seaboard and a jazz piano player. He says he invented Seaboard so he could create different kinds of sounds with the instrument. "I wanted to be able to express more from the keyboard and create the kinds of sounds and modulations that people could create on a bass or a guitar or a saxophone. And I was sitting at the piano and thinking why can’t I strike a note and then slide it and move it." The way a person touches the keys on a Seaboard affects the instrument’s sound. This new technology enables the player to create sounds that traditional pianos cannot make. Marco Parisi is a classical pianist. He likes Seaboard very much and says he is always learning something new he can do with it. "This is the most expressive instrument I ever played. And to be able to use my piano technique and make that expressive changed my world." Roland Lamb notes it would be harder for him to go back to playing a traditional piano. But Seaboard is not Lamb’s only interesting musical invention. His latest creation is called Blocks. It is a small, black box with a screen like a smartphone. When a person presses on the box in different places, Blocks produces different sounds. Pressing harder or softer changes the intensity of the musical notes. Lamb says the best thing about Blocks is that it is easy to use. Colored images on the screen represent different kinds of sounds. Blocks can record combinations of sounds. And people can buy and combine other devices to use with the small box. Lamb says he designed Blocks so that almost anyone can make top quality music. "Now I know the possibilities that one can access through new technologies and new sounds." Several world-famous music artists use Blocks. They include Grimes, Steve Aoki and RZA. RZA helped demonstrate how to use Blocks at a special event ROLI held in New York in November. The performer had high praise for the device. “Music is something that you feel," he said. “Whether you know how to make music or not, or play music traditionally, when you start playing with this, you will find your voice." I’m Pete Musto.   VOA’s Deborah Block reported on this story. Pete Musto adapted her report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor. We want to hear from you. Have you ever wanted to learn how to play an instrument? What kind of music would you make if you could? Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. ________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story piano – n. a large musical instrument with a keyboard that you play by pressing black and white keys and that produces sound when small hammers inside the piano hit steel wires jazz – n. a type of American music with lively rhythms and melodies that are often made up by musicians as they play modulation(s) – n. gradual movement from one system of musical tones based on a scale to another classical – adj. relating to music in a European tradition that includes opera and symphony and that is generally considered more serious than other kinds of music technique – n. the way that a person performs basic physical movements or skills screen – n. the usually flat part of a television or computer monitor that shows the images or text http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/piano-player-redesigns-piano/3611931.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/piano-player-redesigns-piano/3611931.html Mon, 28 Nov 2016 20:55:49 +0000 HomeEntertainmentAs It IsLevel Twohttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/piano-player-redesigns-piano/3611931.html#relatedInfoContainer Twitter Users Discuss 'Survival Guide to Thanksgiving'   This is What’s Trending Today. The American Thanksgiving holiday is on Thursday. Many people will gather with family members for a big meal. It is a time to celebrate family, friends and everything there is to be thankful for. The traditional Thanksgiving meal often involves cooking a large bird called a turkey, and many other foods such as stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. But some people do not look forward to spending a lot of time with their family. It can be stressful. Family members can start arguments with each other. Some people at the meal may have conflicting political beliefs. Conflict can even find its way into the kitchen, where all the cooking takes place. There is a saying called “too many cooks in the kitchen,” or “too many cooks spoil the broth.” This means that, sometimes, if many people are involved in a project, it does not turn out as well as it could have if only one person were in charge. That is why people are proposing Thanksgiving survival strategies using the hashtag #SurvivalGuideToThanksgiving (on Twitter.) Rick Irwin had an idea. “Say that you're letting the dog out and use it as an excuse to disappear for several hours.”  Tracy Brooks had a suggestion for limiting Thanksgiving dinner responsibilities. She wrote: “Be the last to arrive and the first to leave.”  Since there is so much food at the Thanksgiving meal, Christine Turner suggested forgetting about your diet and wearing loose clothing.  But, one fitness enthusiast said people do not have to give up on their diets during the big meal. They can prepare foods that have fewer calories. For example, they could bake some foods instead of frying them in oil. They could also mash cauliflower instead of potatoes. But other people are looking forward to the holiday. Sara Marie Brenner wondered why people need to "survive" Thanksgiving, at all. She wrote: “I enjoy the holiday.”  And that’s What’s Trending Today. I’m Dan Friedell. Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor. Do you have any suggestions for how to survive large family gatherings? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. _______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   stressful – adj. full of or causing stress : making you feel worried or anxious stuffing –n. a seasoned mixture often put inside a bird or other meat dish broth –n. liquid in which food (such as meat) has been cooked strategy – n. a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time enthusiast –n. a person who feels enthusiasm, excitement or great interest in a subject   http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/thanksgiving-survival-guide/3606112.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/thanksgiving-survival-guide/3606112.html Tue, 22 Nov 2016 21:00:16 +0000 EntertainmentFeatured StoriesWhat's Trending Today?Level Onehttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/thanksgiving-survival-guide/3606112.html#relatedInfoContainer Trump Wants Apology from Broadway's 'Hamilton' Cast   This is What’s Trending… American Vice President-elect Mike Pence saw the Broadway show “Hamilton” in New York City over the weekend. The play tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers. Hamilton was killed in 1804 in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr. The real story is surprising and dramatic. Also surprising and dramatic is the fact that the show “Hamilton” is a hip-hop musical.  Many of the people who play the historically white founding fathers are African-American or Latino. Its lead performer is openly gay.    Just after the show ended Friday night, actor Brandon Victor Dixon gave a speech on stage. Dixon plays Aaron Burr, America’s third vice president. The actor spoke directly to Pence, who will soon be America’s 45th vice president. He told Pence that the show’s diverse performers are worried about the country’s future. He also said he hoped the show had inspired Pence. “We, sir, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights,” Dixon said. “We truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us.” The vice president-elect exited the theater before Dixon finished his speech. Some people in the audience called “boo” as he left. Dixon urged them not to. The Associated Press reported that a show official told them Pence stood in the hall outside the theater and listened to the rest of Dixon’s speech. The speech did not please President-elect Donald Trump. Trump wrote on his Twitter page that “our wonder future VP Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton.” In another tweet, he said that the cast of Hamilton should apologize to Pence. Dixon responded to the president-elect on Twitter. He wrote, “Conversation is not harassment sir. And I appreciate Mike Pence for stopping to listen.” Trump tweeted again on Sunday about the issue. He wrote, “The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior.” Supporters of President-elect Trump also were not happy. They called for a boycott of “Hamilton.” The hashtag #BoycottHamilton became a trending topic on social media. Some people, however, believed that a boycott of one of Broadway’s most popular shows ever was not likely to happen. Mike Pence himself has said that he was not offended – or upset – by Dixon or the “Hamilton” cast. He told Fox News on Sunday that he attended the show with his daughter and some of her friends. He said he heard some of the booing in the crowd, as well as some cheers. Pence said he told his daughter, “That’s what freedom sounds like.” And that’s What’s Trending. I'm Ashley Thompson.   Ashley Thompson adapted this story from VOA News and the Associated Press materials. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.  ________________________________________________________________   Words in This Story   duel - n. a fight between two people that includes the use of weapons (such as guns or swords) and that usually happens while other people watch diverse - adj. made up of people or things that are different from each other inspire - v. to make (someone) want to do something : to give (someone) an idea about what to do or create alarmed - adj. ​feeling fearful or worried anxious - adj. ​afraid or nervous especially about what may happen : feeling anxiety harass - v. ​ afraid or nervous especially about what may happen : feeling anxiety offended - v. ​ to cause (a person or group) to feel hurt, angry, or upset by something said or done​ appreciate - v. ​to be grateful for (something) http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/trending-hamilton-cast-speaks-to-pence/3605869.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/trending-hamilton-cast-speaks-to-pence/3605869.html Mon, 21 Nov 2016 21:01:51 +0000 HomeEntertainmentLevel TwoWhat's Trending Today?http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/trending-hamilton-cast-speaks-to-pence/3605869.html#relatedInfoContainer Putting Namibia on the World Music Map A young singer wants people around the world to recognize Namibia as a source for good music. Shishani is a singer and musician. She was born in Windhoek, the capital of the desert country in southern Africa. But, she spent much of her youth living in Europe. She arrived in the Netherlands as a five-year-old and found herself surrounded by music, but not much of it was African music. “Growing up in Europe...there was no access to Namibian music. In 20 years, I only found one CD from Namibia, which was an ethnographic recording of the Bushmen people, the San people… jazz, r&b, funk, hip hop – that was the stuff that was accessible to me, growing up as a child in Europe. There were no African artists on MTV or TMF when I was watching TV…” Although she did not get to hear music from Africa, Shishani did become a music student.  She was interested in the many kinds of sounds she heard in Europe. That mixture of musical styles plays an important part in her band, called Shishani and the Namibian Tales. The musicians in her group come from many countries. A German plays the mbira, an instrument from Zimbabwe. A Hungarian plays the cello. And a man from Turkey plays the drums. Shishani and her musicians are even considering doing some songs with the San, people native to Namibia. “We’re going to do a collaboration with the San people in the Kalahari, with the idea of collaborating, creating new music and performances and hopefully touring together as well." Shishani said she thinks it is a good idea to combine modern sounds with those that have long been made by Namibia’s native people. Now she wants to bring this new style of music to people around the world. Shishani and her band have been traveling through Europe.  Shishani and the Namibian Tales also will be playing music later this year in Pakistan.  The group has a new album, Itaala. The musicians will be playing in the Netherlands in 2017.   I’m Dan Friedell. Bram Posthumus wrote this story for VOANews.com. Dan Friedell adapted his report for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor. Will you look for music by Shishani? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. _______________________________________________________________   Words in This Story collaboration – n. work done with another person in order to accomplish a task tour– v. to travel from place to place to perform, give speeches, etc. album – n. a long musical recording on a record, CD, etc., that usually includes a set of songs ethnographic – adj. something created through the study of human races and cultures tale – n. an exciting or dramatic story   http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/shishani-namibia-singer/3597359.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/shishani-namibia-singer/3597359.html Sat, 19 Nov 2016 20:58:40 +0000 HomeEntertainmentAs It IsLevel Onehttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/shishani-namibia-singer/3597359.html#relatedInfoContainer Kanye West Talks Politics   This is What’s Trending Today. Rapper Kanye West told the crowd at a concert in California Thursday that he did not vote in the presidential election. But he told them that if he had, he would have voted for Donald Trump. West reportedly continued to talk for 40 minutes about his reasons for preferring Trump. The crowd, expecting to hear songs instead of a political speech, booed him. Some even threw shoes.   The majority of voters in California preferred Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the presidential race. On Friday, people reacted on social media to the singer’s comments. “Kanye” became the most popular topic on Twitter. Many of the concert-goers posted live updates on Twitter of West’s unexpected speech. One person wrote that West told the crowd, “The internet is going to take this out of context.” By that, he means people may misunderstand his comments. Another Twitter user said he was surprised to hear West did not vote in the election. He thought the outspoken performer would have written in his own name on the ballot. West did not say Thursday whether he agreed with Trump’s political ideas. But he did talk about some of the things he believes are wrong with the country.​ He said he believes African Americans should “stop focusing on racism. This world is racist, OK? Stop being distracted …” West also said he thought the next four years would prepare him to run for president in 2020. Some social media users said they missed how Kanye West acted back in 2005. That year, during a fundraising event for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, West criticized President George W. Bush’s response to the storm. He said on live television, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”   And that’s What’s Trending Today. I’m Dan Friedell. Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor. What do you think about Kanye West’s comments? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. ________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   context – n. the words that are used with a certain word or phrase and that help to explain its meaning appreciate –v. to understand the worth or importance of (something or someone) interpret – v. to understand (something) in a specified way outspoken – adj. talking in a free and honest way about your opinions distract – adj. unable to think about or pay attention to something : unable to concentrate concert – n. a public performance of music http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/kanye-west-trump-/3603028.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/kanye-west-trump-/3603028.html Fri, 18 Nov 2016 20:57:10 +0000 HomeEntertainmentWhat's Trending Today?Level Onehttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/kanye-west-trump-/3603028.html#relatedInfoContainer Have You Seen the Mannequin Challenge? This is What’s Trending Today. A mannequin is a plastic model used in clothing stores. A storeowner puts clothing on the mannequin to show shoppers how the clothing looks on the human body. Unlike a human being that moves, the mannequins stay in one place. Starting in late October, videos with the hashtag #MannequinChallenge started coming out on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The videos show people freezing in place while the camera moves around them. In the background, you sometimes can hear a song called “Black Beatles” by the hip-hop group Rae Sremmurd. At first, high school students and college sports teams were doing the Mannequin Challenge. One story about the development of the video trend says a Twitter user posted the first Mannequin Challenge video on October 26. It showed some students at a high school in Florida.  Then it started to catch on. Hillary Clinton did a video on her airplane on November 8.  Just two days later, the NBA champion basketball team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, visited President Barack Obama at the White House. While the players were there, they made a Mannequin Challenge video with Michelle Obama. LeBron James was not perfect, however. He blinked his eyes when the camera passed by. He posed taking a selfie with Michelle Obama. Other sports teams have done videos, too. The Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League, or NFL, did a video that showed players talking to media members, along with other locker room scenes.  The challenge seems like fun for the participants and viewers. But not everyone is impressed by them. For example, the Spanish national soccer team posted a video after its game with England on Tuesday night. During the game, England scored a goal and did the Mannequin Challenge on the field as part of its celebration. Neither team succeeded in winning the game, which ended in a 2-2 tie. One sports newspaper from Spain said the video was better than the team’s performance on the field.  And that’s What’s Trending Today. I’m Jill Robbins. Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor. Have you seen some other good Mannequin Challenge videos? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. ______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story blink – v. to close and then open your eyes very quickly pose –v. to stand, sit or hold some position without moving, often as a model photograph or painting scene – n. a view or sight that looks like a picture participant – n. a person who is involved in an activity or event viewer – n. a person who sees or looks at something http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/mannequin-challenge/3598820.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/mannequin-challenge/3598820.html Wed, 16 Nov 2016 20:57:21 +0000 HomeEntertainmentLevel TwoWhat's Trending Today?http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/mannequin-challenge/3598820.html#relatedInfoContainer Bruce Springsteen’s Motorcycle Breaks Down This is What’s Trending Today: American singer Bruce Springsteen might need to write a new song after his motorcycle broke down in his home state of New Jersey. Springsteen is known for his songs that tell about life in New Jersey’s small towns. The Associated Press news agency says that Springsteen was riding his motorcycle last Friday in a large park near Wall Township when the bike stopped working. The singer then waited for help. Help came when three other motorcycle riders stopped on the road. The bikers did not know it was Springsteen when they decided to stop. Dan Barkalow is one of the bikers who stopped to help. “Bikers gotta stick together,” he said. Barkalow and his friends quickly recognized the famous singer. Barkalow said Springsteen was “a nice guy, real down to earth.” The group talked about music and motorcycles. They were not able to get Springsteen’s motorcycle running again, though. The bike’s battery had a problem. So Springsteen got on the back of one of the motorcycles and the four men rode to a local bar to wait for a ride. Another of the bikers, Ryan Bailey, said “it was nice to help out.” When the story appeared on Facebook, hundreds of people praised the group for stopping. “This is a fantastic story about humans being decent humans,” one wrote. But, some people said on social media that they would not have helped Springsteen because he campaigned for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the recent presidential election. But another Springsteen fan wrote: “I would have carried his bike for him all the way home … it’s never been about politics.” And that’s What’s Trending Today.   I’m Jill Robbins.   Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor. Would you have stopped to help Bruce Springsteen? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. _______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   down-to-earth – n. informal and easy to talk to fantastic – adj. extremely good decent – adj. polite, moral, and honest breakdown – n. a failure of a machine to function : an occurrence in which a machine (such as a car) stops working   http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/springsteen-breakdown/3595483.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/springsteen-breakdown/3595483.html Mon, 14 Nov 2016 20:53:28 +0000 HomeEntertainmentWhat's Trending Today?Level Onehttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/springsteen-breakdown/3595483.html#relatedInfoContainer