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Deep-Fried Twinkies are a crowd favorite at the State Fair and they are a favorite at our house as well. Crispy fried on the outside and gooey on the inside. Sweet! You’ll be surprised to see how easy they are to make at home.

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Taylor Swift - 1989 Music Album Reviews

Today on Pitchfork, we are taking a critical look at the rise of Taylor Swift—from country underdog to pop superstar—with new reviews of her first five records.

If there’s one thing Taylor Swift wants you to know about her, it is that she once felt deeply uncool. Even as a superstar with best-selling albums, stadium tours, and high-profile friends, she said in 2014 that she had never felt “edgy, cool, or sexy.” Her first four albums hinge on that feeling, full of vivid, sprawling documents of failed romances that left her gasping for air, wondering how to be someone her lovers would miss. She was almost always the one who was in pain, the outsider, the underdog.


That changed with 1989. Its predecessor, Red, was the pinnacle of diaristic specificity, an album that blew up the tiny intimate details of her romances into public eulogies. The media surrounding that album critiqued Swift as clingy, boy-obsessed, and vindictive. 1989 is in part Swift’s response to the negative, often sexist, press she’d received. On the album, Swift loses her naïveté, dons a sense of unphased nonchalance, and learns to navigate a world that underappreciated her lyricism and shamed her for dating too many men. She has said that she would work in marketing if she didn’t work in music but, really, she has already been doing both simultaneously and spectacularly.

For those who might openly cry while listening to Red, the first listen of 1989 stings of indifference. The album, named after the year she was born, treats heartbreak as if observing a painting on a wall, rather than a feeling she desperately needs to articulate. Grandiose memories of 2 a.m. fights and dancing in refrigerator light are replaced with glossy odes to big cities and weekend flings. Where liner notes of previous albums offered hyper-specific hints about each song’s subject, these tell the story of a generic on-again off-again romance. At the time, Swift temporarily disavowed dating to instead celebrate the power of female friendship and flaunt her celebrity “girl squad” with extravagant 4th of July parties and a different guest appearance every night of her tour. Yet 1989 is the album that feels least like spending quality time with your best friends.

Still, there’s an allure to 1989’s escapism. Now the dramas of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet (Fearless’ “Love Story”) or 1945 Americana (Red’s “Starlight”) come with lower stakes; her new fantasy world allows for broken hearts to be stored away safely in a drawer. The polished, propulsive synth-pop of album highlight “Style” showcases it best, with lyrics that celebrate a lustful relationship between people whose most revealing traits are that they would look good together on a movie poster. Is it about a real experience, or is it fiction? “Blank Space” weaponizes Swift’s newfound romantic skepticism: In the accompanying music video, an aristocratic romance deteriorates catastrophically, poisoned by her jealousy and need to control her partner. On Speak Now’s “Dear John,” she’d lamented being added to a lover’s “long list of traitors who don’t understand.” Here, she proudly flaunts her own “long list of ex-lovers” who think she’s crazy, adding the sound of a clicking pen to heighten the gleeful melodrama. She looks at the camera almost as much as she does her lover, warning us that she knows what we think of her and she doesn’t care.

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Though Swift’s interest in pop was evident on songs like Red’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” and Speak Now’s “Better Than Revenge,” 1989 was the first time an entire Swift album could exist as party music without slow-burning heartache. These were still love songs, so Swift’s familiar themes peak through—dismissal of doubters, pleas to remember a romance favorably after it ends, and heavy use of one of her favorite words, “forever.” Still, the glitzy sound and ethos provided an entry point for new listeners and a chance for old ones to come up for air, to recognize that everything doesn’t always have to be so serious. It can be just as freeing to shrug in the face of heartache as it is to spell out exactly why and how you were hurt.

“New Romantics,” a surging, euphoric song from the deluxe version of the album that was released as a final single, does this particularly well. Swift’s voice is processed and couched in thrilling yelps and sighs, crunchy synth, and galloping drums. After a certain amount of pain, sometimes your best defense is to channel the burning energy of your big hopes and desires into a night of uninhibited hedonism.

On Speak Now’s “Mean,” Swift told a critic that one day she would be “living in a big ol’ city,” while he’d never be anything but a washed-up hater. On 1989’s opener “Welcome to New York,” she makes good on that promise. She was already famous when she wrote “Mean,” of course, but now she sounded like she was “big enough so you can’t hit me.” The big ol’ city was imaginary; but on 1989, Swift writes and inhabits a fully-realized fantasy of self-reliance, confidence, and ensuing pleasure. Her music was no longer just a diary entry. You can almost hear her winking on every track.


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