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By Kate Brayden

The Academic have turned more than their fair share of heads in 2018.

The Westmeath indie rockers have toured with some massive names, released their debut album Tales From The Backseat to critical acclaim, and have played some of their biggest gigs to date.

We had a chat with Craig Fitzgerald, lead vocalist and guitar player from the band, to ask him about their fanbase, plans for 2019 and exactly how they capture that infectious energy on stage.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The four-piece band have an undeniably dedicated fanbase, clearly responding to lyrics lamenting youth and everything else that comes along with it.

The group is comprised of Fitzgerald, Matthew Murtagh on guitar, Stephen Murtagh playing bass and Dean Gavin on the drumkit, and they are all in their early twenties.

Tales From The Backseat is a hugely impressive debut, and features some of the catchiest songs around right now.

Choosing tracks for the anticipated first album appears to have been a careful affair, the boys recorded most of it in North Hollywood with music veteran Tim Pagnotta.

It's no surprise that the musical offering flew to the top of the charts on home soil.

The boys make music with big pop choruses and indie lyrics, and if you're hearing their songs for the first time, you'll know every word by the time the track concludes.

The lead vocalist and his bandmates have a clear talent for writing music which garner a youthful audience, but does he feel the fans will grow alongside the group?

"I definitely think so. In the first album, there were songs from when we were young, so it made sense. The songs seemed to resonate with younger people. We would like to mature our sound, and that would hopefully intertwine with the fans getting older." 

They've clearly figured out how to find comfort on stage, effortlessly show-casing their extensive touring experience.

Craig describes the special ability of their fans to relate their own adolescence with that of the boys' through his lyrics;

"When we go on tour, we do a lot of meeting the fans, we like to go to the merch table and we like to hear what they thought and we get to say hello," he says.

"A lot of the time what amazes me is that the songs are just stories that were specific to me as a teenager, but it’s amazing how someone can adapt the story to something that they’re going through."

From tales of fake ID's on nights out, to the turbulent relationships and friendships which parallel adolescence, The Academic paint a relatable picture of the unique energy of that time in a person's life.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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It's immediately obvious when you see the band play live that they value their fans' enjoyment of music, and nerves are a thing of the past.

The band met while still in school, and began gigging once they secured their drummer Dean.

Roughly five years later, the lads are essentially pros at what they do, but touring outside of Ireland can be a game-changer for any group or musician.

"When we started and we were playing shows, you begin shy and just want to make sure that you get up and play well," the 24-year-old cites about their initial shows.

"We’ve been given so many great opportunities to go on long tours, like month long tours in the States and Europe and the UK, and I think particularly when you support so many bands over the last couple of years we’ve become so comfortable as musicians together," he added.

"Even more so than when we were just in a shed playing together. I definitely think you lose that scared feeling that you had, because you just have to get up in front of people and play."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The band have learned some valuable lessons on the road, from song-writing to making friends in high musical places, to general tips on how to command a stage. They keep one important thing in mind in particular;

"That’s one thing I think we’ve learned in the past year, is that if we’re not afraid, people won’t be afraid, and they’ll have a good time with us. When we toured with The Kooks, we just kind of watched them and loved how they were just having fun on stage and it wasn’t too serious."

"One thing that I always try to do when I go on stage, is to break down the wall and say let’s not be afraid to make a fool of ourselves."

"The whole thing is crazy, like the fact that people are staring at you playing music. They drop their barrier when they see you having fun."

Confirmed; we stared, we dropped our barrier, we had fun. Then we bought the t-shirt…

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The lads give a lot of time to their fans, and are both aware and respectful of how powerful a fan's love of music can be;

"We appreciate everyone for all their weird and wacky stuff. Music makes them feel a certain way and we appreciate that no matter what it is or whatever song it was that made them attached to us."

Despite their youthful tracklist, high-energy set and the fact that they've only released their debut album this year, the lads have been penning tunes since they were in their mid-teens.

Craig reminisces on the tricks and tips of the trade which his years of the music industry has taught him;

"I’ve been writings since the age of about 15/16, and a lot of those songs are actually on the first album.I think in the beginning, so it’s five years now of song-writing experience, there’s a naivety and you’re not afraid to do anything. Then you start picking up tricks," he muses.

"The one thing I have learned now that we’ve been a band for so long, is that I always want the music to be catchy. One thing I’ve learned is that if it’s catchy, don’t be afraid of it."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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For a band who are considered new to mainstream audiences, they have a level of maturity worth noting, especially when it comes to songwriting;

"That’s what people want to come and see, they want to sing along. You shouldn’t lose your innocence about song-writing, you can still think of crazy things and put them in," the vocalist says.

"The beauty is in the imagination, use it, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. It’s very important."

When we asked Craig where he would be if The Academic was never formed, his answer remains musical, unsurprisingly.

"Maybe I would have finished college. I went to BIMM, so I would probably work in a musician’s field. Probably in the studio, that was nearly just as strong as songwriting for me. I enjoyed playing with bands too much, so I made that decision." Thank God he did, for our sakes at least.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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After catching their big break after releasing Different from their first EP, radio stations took notice, and it all took off from there. The rest was indie-pop history, but do the lads ever disagree with each other?

You know us, we live for some drama…

"We’re not on the same page all the time (laughs). We usually are in sync when we know a song is good. If a song is obviously screaming out ‘Hey, I’m a good song’, we’re all on board. If there’s a more moody song or more emotional song, that’s when you can have arguments."

"We’ve always written songs together and made sure that everyone’s happy. We’d never really go ahead with a song if one member wasn’t fully happy." Creating absolute bangers and remaining diplomatic? Fair play boys.

We also wanted to know if there's a band out there that Craig would join, you know, if The Academic didn't exist of course. Which would be tragic.

"That’s a really good question, I’ve never been asked that before. We have a band on tour with us as support called Inhaler."

"The reason I enjoyed that band is that it’s so nice watching them because they’re like us four years ago. I’d love to step back to where they are now, getting support slots, heading out and being brand new again. That would be fun. Or else Fleetwood Mac would be great."

If you're wondering what 2019 will bring for the boys, it's some exciting new shows and a return to the studio to nail down some of the material written on the road.

The band will be making a big return to Iveagh Gardens in July, one year on from their concert at the famous outdoor venue, with some brand new (as yet unrecorded) music.

"What I would say we’re really excited about at the moment, is that we haven’t had any studio time in about a year. We’ve been writing songs on the road but we haven’t gotten to play them at all."

In terms of their landmark moments, their most recent gigs remain their favourites;

"I’d have to say, I think we’re all pretty blown away by the weekend we’ve just had. Two Vicar Street gigs and a headliner in Limerick, it was three in a row and every night was brilliant. It got better every time. We’re all still on a high."

The Academic have made some incredible memories in 2018, but they're just getting started.

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Is anyone else personally offended by the idea of sleeping on the ground during festival season, worried about the state of your tents and the noise of drunken gangs of lads all night?

Well, if you're feeling the diva vibe like we are, you'll be delighted with these Airbnb gems we've found.

After camping at Electric Picnic last year with intensely bad back issues, never again will I twist my spine in such a way. Only a bed will do for my demands.

The properties are near enough to the festivals that you can stroll on in any time of the day or night, but far enough away to get some peace, quiet and good sleep. We're sold, honestly.

Image credit: Flickr/Tim Callaghan

Our top music and arts festivals are fast approaching this summer, and hosts on Airbnb are expanding accommodations options beyond camping fields…Thank the Lord.

Putting a roof over your head this festival season has never been so easy. From Waterford, Westmeath, Bundoran's surf town in Donegal, Stradbally or Meath, Airbnb has a host for everyone.

Check out these fabulous homes near the key Irish music festivals; whether it's floating pods, stunning homes or earth houses; round off your summer season with style.

21 – 23 June: Kilrush, Co. Westmeath

Image: Kilrush Marina glamping pods

These adorable floating glamping pods would be ideal to stay in, as they're moored in the sheltered waters of Kilrush Marina along with the boats.

Each pod in this Clare hideaway has an outdoor seating area, a double and single bed, a kitchen and use of Marina Centre facilities like showers, laundry, Wi-Fi, toilets and free parking.

Kilrush town centre is also in close proximity, so you're not too far away from all the fun.

21- 23 June: Bundoran, Co. Donegal (Sea Sessions)

Image: Bundoran home in County Donegal 

Bundoran is the ultimate Irish seaside town, and a massively popular surfing area with some of the best waves on the east coast.

Staying on the beach at Sea Sessions can be a tricky one with all that Atlantic wind, trust us. This cool and comfortable coastal home is located in a quiet suburb, but is walking distance away from the town and river.

The house can fit over seven guests, with three bedrooms and an open plan kitchen. The true seaside feel with views of Tullaghan would be a great option, rather than getting blown away in your tent.

19-21 July: Blessington, Co. Wicklow

Image: Blessington house in County Wicklow

Ballymore Eustace is a stunning town in Wicklow, and who wouldn't want such a comfortable home to stay in for a weekend of music, losing your friends in crowds and getting covered in mud?

This modern, comfy house is located on the outskirts of the town, and is the ideal place for exploring the county as well as the festival. It's also near the direct route to Dublin, the 65.

The Angler's Rest can house seven guests easily, with three bedrooms and seven beds. Zero tents: Zero problems.

16-18 August: Killyon Manor, Co. Westmeath

The Cottage in Co. Westmeath

This hidden little gem is located in the picturesque town of Killucan, and the place is just a one minute walk from shops and local pubs, and 15 minutes drive from Mullingar town.

It can house four guests, and has two bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms. The private garden would be perfect for festival pre-drinks, and the rooms are all warm, sparkling clean and spacious.

2-4 August: Curraghmore Estate, Co. Waterford

Image: Riverside apartment, Waterford city

Why stay in a tent that's about five seconds from blowing away with a light breeze when you can have a whole apartment?

This airy, spacious apartment on the Waterford river is seriously impressive. Situated in the centre of the city, it's in a great location for all the key tourist sites and shopping areas.

The balcony has some unreal views of the river and boats, and the space itself has a king/twin bedroom and a comfy sofa bed.

Imagine, you have a kitchen, dishwasher, and a shower? For a festival? WOW.

30 August – 1 September: Stradbally, Co. Laois

Image: Earth House in Stradbally

Anyone who has camped at Electric Picnic and lived to tell the tale will tell you that it's a little too close to nature. This earth house allows you to feel relaxed while having a truly eco experience.

Located on two acres of rural bliss near Ballintubbert and Stradbally, it's equipped with underfloor heating, a green roof, Mexican clay tilted floor, three double bedrooms and a beautiful vaulted ceiling.

We're blown away by the round earth house, with the windows running across the south side of the house to provide passive solar heating. A masonry stove will also keep you warm.

The home has two double bedrooms, and the beautiful garden yurt also can also fit two double beds inside, so the place can house a big group of music lovers. Enjoy your back not being sore this year.

camping ozzy osbourne GIF by History UK

Feature image: Flickr/Stanislav Halcin

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McFly’s Danny Jones has revealed the band’s upcoming reunion has been put on hold. 

And yes, we're devo.

We've loved the band back since they burst onto the screen in the early Noughties with their spiky hair and baggy jeans.

The band hasn't released an album since 2010 and Danny thinks that the music world is different now.

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The Voice Kids judge said, ''If you go too hard for too long, you burn out.''

He continued, ''You need a bit of change to come back because you don’t want to burn out and not enjoy it. I’m not saying we did, but I feel we could have.''

In January Danny’s bandmate, Dougie Poynter said that the lads were heading back to the studio to record some new music.

But they haven't so far and Danny says it's also because the industry is not like it was in their heyday.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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He said, ''We used to do HMV signings. Now you go to Apple, Spotify.''

He continued, ''What I don’t want is to sound like you’re trying to cover your own band. You’ve got to move on.''

Ouch.

Well sure look, they might come together again in a few years.

Until then, it's back to their old stuff on repeat – It's All About You anyone?

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Who doesn't love a pack of Tayto?

The iconic Irish crisp brand has reached an impressive milestone of 65 years on the market.

And to celebrate, they're launching National Tayto Day on June 14, 2019  – but that's not all.

To mark the exciting occasion, Copper Face Jacks will close its doors between 7-10pm and host an exclusive party for Mr. Tayto and his fans!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The party will be the hottest ticket in town with a jam-packed line up of Irish music talent to enjoy.

Tickets cost €10 plus booking fee and all of the ticket sale proceeds will be donated to Dublin Simon Community.

Want to know who is in the line-up?

Radio D legend Marty Whelan, will be on hand to MC the event and play some tunes.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Then we have Soulé –  the leading force in a new wave of emerging Irish music. The Dublin based electronic pop artist is here to make her mark with her bass-heavy sound and soft – soulful vocals.

As well as that, there will be Chasing Abbey – the hip-hop collective at the forefront of Ireland's urban pop scene.

Walking on Cars will also be taking to the intimate Coppers stage to mark Tayto's big birthday. 

So what are you waiting for?

Grab your tickets here and we'll see you there. 

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Lewis Capaldi has announced a huge Irish gig for next year. The Someone You Loved singer is set to play 3Arena next March.

The singer confirmed that he will play the Dublin venue on March 8, 2020.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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He recently supported Picture This during their five-night stint at the 3Arena so there’s no doubt fans will be thrilled to see him return to the stage.

Tickets cost €37.35 including booking fees.

They go on sale on Friday, April 26 at 9 am so don’t forget to set your alarms!

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Westlife's comeback is getting bigger and better with the best news drooping – when we can get our hands on their new album.

The group took to social media to make the announcement.

They posted a snap of the cover and captioned it, ''So happy to announce that our new album ’Spectrum’ is coming on 6th September!"

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Band member Shane Filan added in his post, ''We've been working so hard behind the scenes and can't wait for you to hear this."

It will include hits like Better Man and Hello My Love.

Eager fan? You can pre-order your copy.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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If you failed to secure a ticket to their Croke Park shows, fear not as a second show will be screened live in cinemas across Ireland.

They will finish their final show of the UK and Ireland leg of their Twenty Tour with a bang on Saturday, July 6, with live screenings nationwide.

The Twenty Tour is Westlife’s fastest selling tour of all time, with  400,000 tickets snapped up in 48 hours.

As well as that, their new singles Hello My Love and Better Man have shot straight to the top of the iTunes charts.

Welcome back boys, we're so excited for the album.

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It's almost that time of the year again.

Ok, so it's massively cheesy but you'd be lying if you said that you didn't look forward to a night where the whole country joins together to cheer our little island on as they compete in a parade of ridiculousness. 

Now RTE has unveiled the tune to which we will be pinning our hopes to as it represents Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest 2019.

It's titled 22, was penned by Janieck, Marcia “Misha” Sondeijker and Roulsen and will be sang by Sarah McTernan. 

Sarah is delighted to be taking to the stage for Ireland.

She said, ''It’s like an early birthday present! My 25th birthday is next Monday and if you’d told me last year that I’d be chosen to represent my country at Eurovision, performing the song for the first time on Dancing with the Stars this Sunday, and then flying to Tel Aviv on my birthday to record a postcard, I would have told you – you were crazy!”

She continued, ''My Mom, Nana, family and friends are super excited for me – they’re shocked and very proud. I can’t wait to teach my biggest fan – my 2 ½ year old daughter Mia- all the lyrics to “22”!”

The song will be played on radio for the first time at 9am on Friday morning on The Ryan Tubridy Show on RTÉ Radio 1.

She will aso be interviewed on The Nicky Byrne Show with Jenny Greene on 2FM at 12:30pm on Friday, and by Ray D’Arcy on RTÉ Radio 1 at 3pm.

If that wasn't enough, Dancing with the Stars is having a special Eurovision Song Contest themed programme this Sunday and Sarah will be performing the song live for the first time, to give us all an idea of what it will be like at the real thing in Tel Aviv.

The Eurovision Semi Final in Tel Aviv takes place on Thursday May 16, with the grand final taking place on Saturday May 18.

We are seriously excited – come on Ireland. 

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Westlife fans, we have good news.

The Irish band are reportedly set to hit out TV screens wit a fly-on-the-way documentary and we are BUZZING. 

The group, who have had 14 UK No1 singles, will be followed by cameras on their 33-date European tour, which kicks off in Belfast this May. 

We LOVE a bitta behind-the-scenes goss. 

And the tell-all show has now found itself in the middle of a bidding war between Netflix and Sky. 

Kian Egan said, ''We’ve had crews on us since the first day because we knew straight away – we’ve got to capture it even if it’s just for ourselves.''

He continued, ''I think it’s just a case of figuring out whether it’s going to be a Netflix or a Sky thing.''

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Fellow bandmate Shane Filan added, ''We’ll document it in some way because it’s important for us and our kids and for the fans to realise how it all came back together. I think that it is going to be magic.”

The documentary will also feature footage form the end of Westlife the first ime around, in 2012. 

Shane said, ''No one’s ever seen that. It’s just us.”

We'll be tuning in, that's for sure. 

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It's official: the Jonas Brothers are BACK with their single Sucker, and it's 2008 again. We're sporting frizzy hair, kissing their posters on our walls goodnight and blaring Burnin' Up on repeat.

Their six-year-long hiatus really did break our hearts, but all is now rejuvenated. Joe, Kevin and Nick have reunited and it's clear by their new video that they're taken men. They've put rings on it, so to speak.

The partners of all three brothers feature in the track's new vid; Priyanka Chopra, Sophie Turner and Danielle Jonas, all looking flawless as they parade around a fancy mansion while their men serenade them.. 

The three brothers sing the lyrics to Sucker while gazing at their respective lovers, and it's intense; “I’m a sucker for all the subliminal things no one knows about you."

It's a quirky video filled with glamour and colour, and PDA of course. Priyanka and Nick literally can't keep their hands away from each other, and they're eye-f*cking WAY too much for us to feel comfortable.

Priyanka shared the video to her Instagram with the caption; “

"#SuckerVideo OUT NOW. This is the first time we’ve worked together but not for a moment did it feel like work. Such a fun family affair…#JonasBrothers and the #JSisters cheering each other on! Proud of you husband.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Priyanka Chopra Jonas (@priyankachopra) on

The brothers teased their reunion in a Carpool Karaoke slot for The Late Late Show with James Corden, with their last album being released back in June of 2013.

The video looked like a lot of fun to film, with Sophie Turner sipping wine while soaking in a bathtub, gazing on as Joe looks at her with awe. We want that look too, we have to admit.

The costumes are pretty extravagant, and Nick made sure to brag about his new wifey on his Twitter account;

Needless to say, the internet has typically produced some hilarious memes as a result of the boujée video;

 "Me on my way to find a significant other after watching the Sucker video," one Twitter user wrote. We have to concur.

There was a special enjoyment of Nick Jonas in a bubble bath;

The 2000s references were piping hot, especially featuring Disney Channel alumni. Looks like we weren't the only ones obsessed with Camp Rock then…

 "Me tweeting how much “sucker” by Jonas Brothers slaps," another wrote. So they're fans then?

The memes of Sophie Turner licking her lips of course have done the rounds, and it's pretty gas.

The song is already racing up the iTunes charts, and the video is getting the attention it deserves. We're so glad the brothers are returning to fix 2019, we needed some serious nostalgia and the lads have delivered.

*Seeps into bubble bath holding a glass of champagne*

Feature image: Instagram/@jonasbrothers 

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YAS.

The 'due to phenomenal demand' Gods have answered: Mumford and Sons have added a SECOND Malahide Castle tour date.

Marcus Mumford and his fellow brethren have curated an extra day in the capital with another show booked for Saturday 15 June, the day after their original slot.

The amazing line-up will see supports slots from on-the-rise singer Dermot Kennedy, Wild Youth and AURORA.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Norwegian pop sensation AURORA is slowly breaking into the market, and Wild Youth are Ireland's latest pop band to get their start.

Tickets for the second leg of the Gentleman of the Road spectacular tour are priced €69.75 including booking fees.

Head on over to Ticketmaster to grab them, you 100 percent don't want to miss this unreal summer concert, trust us.

Feature image: Instagram/@mumfordandsons

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Selena Gomez has spent the night in the studio, making her fans' dreams come true by confirming her big return to music.

Her last bout of music was a verse in Taki Taki, but only a minor feature. The fans want full-length tunes on an ALBUM, God damn.

The singer decided to update her fans about her artistic projects, and it looks like she's officially back;

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on

"This week, next week and every week," she captioned the Instagram video.

After dropping her new collaboration with J Balvin, Benny Blanco, and Tainy called I Can't Get Enough, Selena shared a video of herself and her girlfriend looks hard at work.

Unforch, the video doesn't include any audio, so we have zero clue what exactly she's recording. We wonder if the caption is a hint about the song itself?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on

The fans are freaking out, which is hardly surprising. Her fanbase remains large, even though Ariana Grande overtook her last week as the most followed woman on Instagram.

According to E! News, Selena's been putting in long hours in the studio, so let's hope she's working on a whole album;

"Selena has been in the studio working hard. She's putting in long hours and spending all day working on new material. On Tuesday and Wednesday, she was in the studio for eight hours without a break."

GIVE US THE BANGERS.

Feature image; Instagram/@selenagomez

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Two more women have come forward to accuse R&B singer R Kelly of sexual misconduct, dating back to when they were 15 and 16 years old.

The latest allegations are the newest in a string of claims against the singer going back three decades, spanning child pornography to sexual, emotional and physical abuse and holding women captive in a sex cult.

The duo spoke out against the notorious artist at a press conference with infamous women's rights lawyer Gloria Allred yesterday.

Both women allege that the sexual misconduct happened in 1995 after they attended an R Kelly and LL Cool J concert in Baltimore, Maryland.

One of the ladies said she was just 16 years old and living in the city when her and a 15-year-old friend, the other alleged victim, attended the concert.

They went to an after-party at a nightclub, and Kelly pointed to the two girls and asked his staff to put them onstage. They were also offered drugs and alcohol at the party, they claim.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The woman said Kelly asked the two girls to meet him in his hotel suite, and that he entered the room wearing jeans and a white t-shirt, with his penis “out and over the top of his pants”.

Apparently, Kelly asked both girls to dance and he ended up lying on the bed with them, telling them they could be in his next music video.

Next, the singer began touching the young woman's breast and genitals, and asked the pair to engage in a threesome. Her friend said no and went to the bathroom.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The woman said Kelly requested oral sex from her, which she did, and then he had sexual intercourse with her.

She had been under the influence of alcohol and marijuana that had been given to her at the after-party, and alleges she “did not have the capacity to consent”.

In Maryland, the age of consent is 16. The two women never saw R Kelly again.

Despite the huge range of allegations against the singer, his lawyer Steve Greenberg denied all accusations against Kelly, saying he has never knowingly had sexual relations with underage women.

Feature image: @dramaclubpod/Instagram

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