Skip to main content

Ads

loading...

Featured Post

Burn Movie Review

Sizzlingly Odd
In his debut feature, writer/director Mike Gan has created a small film that, if there's justice, will attain a cult-like status. "Burn" takes place in the course of one evening and entirely within the confines of a rural, out-of-the-way gas station shop.
It's the kind of place that loners might wander into for a hot cup of coffee at 3am. Obviously this is not a big budget film, but Gan squeezes an awful lot of goodness out of it. Maybe we should call it badness.

Ads

ads

Flipboard

Flipboard

Taylor Swift - Fearless 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.

When Taylor Swift moved to Nashville as a teenager with hopes of becoming a country star, she faced an uphill battle. “Basically, all the record companies went, ‘Ah, how cute. She’s just a little kid,’” Swift said in 2008. “They also said, ‘Give up your dreams. Go home and come back when you're 18.’” “I would feel like they were deleting me from their Blackberrys as I was telling them,” Scott Borchetta, president of her label Big Machine, told The New York Times of the Nashville industry’s reaction to signing Swift. She never wanted her age to be “the headline,” or a number that screamed to writers and producers that she was just a starry-eyed hobbyist making music in her bedroom.


On her self-titled debut, Swift established herself as a precocious storyteller who could write love songs vague and ageless enough that anyone might find herself in them, perhaps to prove to Nashville that a teen could do it. Her second album, Fearless, is a rebuke to that approach, with Swift bringing listeners straight to the dreaded football-game bleachers and mean-girl maze of high school. She took her teen self seriously and demanded others do the same, navigating the cloying innocence of a girl who simultaneously experiences relationships like a dog-eared Nicholas Sparks novel and also has the wisdom to know that not all kisses end in a rainstorm.

Fearless straddles the line between country and pop, clinging really only to Swift’s faint, faux-country accent which magically materialized at some point between her hometown of Wyomissing, Pennsylvania and Nashville, and a few bits of fiddle and banjo that flicker in and out of the record. “I write as life happens to me,” Swift told Rolling Stone in 2010 and on Fearless it’s clear she’s dead serious; a day before she had to turn the album in, she begged Borchetta to add the track “Forever & Always,” a break-up song inspired by the pop singer Joe Jonas. The songs are diaristic not just in their images of fairytale romance and frustrated heartbreak, but in how Swift writes her lyrics like mini-stories with wordy, narrative structures. On “Love Story,” she rips from the play I’d assume is burned into every average American high-schooler’s brain, Romeo and Juliet, for a tongue-twister of a chorus (“And I said, Romeo, take me somewhere we can be alone…”) She sounds almost breathless by its end. She likes to give a play-by-play, stacking minute summaries of a moment on top of each other like she’s story-boarding the perfect montage out of an indelible memory. “And I stare at the phone, he still hasn’t called/And then you feel so low/You can’t feel nothing at all,” she rattles off on “Forever & Always.”

Prior to and after Fearless, there was a conversation in the press about whether Swift could actually sing, especially as she was still considered an underdog in a genre where her peers were vocal powerhouses like Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert. On “Change,” the album’s blow-out finale, her voice loud and guttural in the mix, she proves the skeptics (or as she would say, haters) wrong. But Swift’s talky-delivery and conversational songwriting style—a mixture of personal intimacy and outright fantasy—sounds original and deliberate. With their dramatic arcs and plot twists, these songs often sound like Swift is quite literally speaking as she would to her subject, high off the adrenaline rush of a blindsiding breakup or meeting her new Prince Charming. “When I sit down and write a song, the only person that I'm thinking about in that room is the person that I'm writing the song about,” Swift told Marie Claire in 2009. “And what I want them to know and what I wish I could tell them to their face, but I'm going to say it in a song instead.”

She serves straight Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul with “Fifteen,” half guardian angel and half alarming guidance counselor to high school freshmen everywhere, reminding them there’s so much they don’t know yet, and name-checking her real-life best friend Abigail. At times, the extreme specificity can feel like a misstep, with the album suddenly taking on the dated air of a copy of Swift’s yearbook we’re somehow privy to. Such is the case with “Hey Stephen,” a twee, passed-in-class love note of a song that could be a brother to Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah.”

What’s remarkable here is Swift’s earnest sweetness. In the years following, she would become a master at biting songs about exes, from “Dear John” to “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” There’s little to none of that vengefully confessional sentiment on Fearless. The closest she gets is when she calls Jonas a “scared little boy,” on “Forever & Always,” but even that insult, so wholesome, is still understandably tepid for a young woman wading through the minefield that is her first series of serious relationships. The best songs come when her writing is wielded with knife-like precision, revealing feelings with each cut rather than glamorizing the teen tropes of hanging by the telephone or yearning for crushes.

It’s the fantasies that truly define Fearless; dancing in a storm in your “best dress,” a love that feels like a roller-coaster. While the teen pop stars of the early-aughts like Christina Aguilera or Britney Spears had their highly erotic, sensational hits written by Swedish pop masterminds, there was something novel about Swift being a teenager and writing about her reality in her own terms coming into that same mainstream space, redefining what “teen pop” could sound like in the process. But despite the fact that Swift was drawing from her real life on Fearless, the album speaks less to the actual reality of a teen girl than to a teen girl’s imaginative desires, desires which, for Swift, are remarkably pure.

In 2008, teen pop culture was bending to influences of chastity. Swift’s Disney peers like Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers helped popularize purity rings and one of the biggest YA series and its movie adaptation, Twilight, implicitly preached the virginal values of its Mormon creator. “Love Story,” which culminates in being told to pick out a “white dress” for a wedding, or “Fifteen,” which mourns the fact that her friend Abigail gave “everything she had to a boy,” hit hard with this same audience. Their clean, plucky country-lite production cut through the colorful pop of artists like Lady Gaga and Beyoncé on the radio. As much as Swift was hailed for her ownership over her own image and voice, what she was serving to teen girls was still squeaky clean and parent-approved.

loading...
On Fearless, Swift also cultivated an underdog, misunderstood voice with songs like “You Belong With Me” and “The Best Day” that would, surprisingly, continue to haunt her music well into adulthood. “They don't like what I stand for,” Swift said of her classmates in 2008. “They don't like somebody who stands for being sober, who stands for anything happy.” Even the clunky refrain of “You Belong With Me” (“She wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts/She’s cheer captain, and I’m on the bleachers”) became ripe for parody in later years, a testament to how meaningless any of those signifiers are now. Yet the simplicity of that refrain was the clearest window into Swift’s potential as a mainstream pop songwriter. The explicit modesty of these songs may be fixed in 2008, but the songs nonetheless stick with you; Swift’s great remake of “Love Story” in slick 1989-era production is proof of its timelessness.

Fearless remains not only Swift’s best-selling album, but her breakthrough into the pop charts, a world which would soon become her permanent home (or a permanent cage, depending on how you respond to her recent material). It was also the last time Swift was simply seen as an artist restless with promise and lived-in inspiration who was deemed a “savant” and a “prodigy” by critics before being saddled with the mark of a tabloid celebrity as well. No moment solidified this more than when Swift was called to the 2009 VMAs stage to accept the “Best Female Video” award for “You Belong With Me,” beating Beyoncé and prompting Kanye West to storm the stage and proclaim Beyoncé’s video better. “I like the lyrics about being a cheerleader and she’s in the bleachers!” West wrote later in an apology.

In Fearless, Swift captures and bottles a girlish sense of romantic excitement and suburban anguish that is all too fleeting, before real adulthood and the depths of the world’s cruelty actually hit her. For the rest of her career, she would uncork this nostalgia like champagne and pour it over her pop mega-hits. “This ain't Hollywood, this is a small town,” she sings, as if to remind herself that she’s still just the teen girl next door, a country singer with dreams of a bigger stage. In that all too brief moment, she was right.


View my Flipboard Magazine.

View the original article here

Comments

ads

loading...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Loading...

Popular posts from this blog

Game Of Thrones Season 8 - End Game With Sinhala Subtitles

Descendants 3 2019 Sinhala Subtitles

Synopsis The teenagers of Disney's most infamous villains return to the Isle of the Lost to recruit a new batch of villainous offspring to join them at Auradon Prep.

Spanakopita Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

These grilled cheese sandwiches give you all the flavors of the Greek spinach pie, spanakopita, without dealing with fussy layers of phyllo—perfect for an easy weeknight dinner. The creamy flavor-packed filling works well in more than just a sandwich: try it in a calzone or on top of a roasted cauliflower steak too.

John Wick Hex Preview

We played John Wick Hex with developer Mike Bithell at Gamescom 2019. Here's how he elevated a movie tie-in into a full John Wick sim
Should I Buy The John Wick Hex?
John Wick Hex is basically a top-down tactics game with the time system of Frozen Synapse or Superhot, but it’s maybe best to think of it as its own new genre: the John Wick sim.
From top to bottom this is meant to make you feel like Keanu’s iconic assassin, and the remarkable thing is that even with a floating camera and cel-shaded visuals it absolutely achieves it. WWJWD?

2020 Volkswagen Tiguan Review

LIKES
Spacious digsClassy, conservative designGood standard techLots of crash-avoidance gearDISLIKES Comical third rowSo-so fuel economyCan get expensive with optionsR-Line’s just a teaseBUYING TIP
Now that active safety gear is standard, the best Tiguan might be the cheapest: The 2020 VW Tiguan S.

Like Fan Page