One of the biggest and most anticipated (and no. 1 hit smash) album of the year came out this week! Do I talk about it? Or do I shake it off like some hater?
Taylor Swift | 1989
Nah, I gotta at least talk about it, because if nothing else Taylor Swift is getting really, really good at singing and producing pop music. She’s committing 100% to becoming that singer and performer that we all kinda pictured her being when she broke on the scene as a country crossover act in 2006. The album itself has almost completely cut out all ties to country music, by hiring a crack pop-writing team headed by OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, this album has hit the nail on the head of tried and true fuzzy-eyed pop. It’s not “Hit Me Baby (One More Time)”, it’s not “Genie In A Bottle”, it’s not even her first foray into pop music (“I Knew You Were Trouble” took care of that baby step). Swift is beyond being a rookie at this point and we should all just get over the fact that she is releasing great, catchy, pop songs that we can all, at least, sort of enjoy. Barring another complete artistic change-over or a Britney-style meltdown, Swift is now only approaching her 25th birthday and will be doing this for a long, long time.
Run The Jewels | Run The Jewels 2
El-P is less dense more accessible, Killer Mike has room to express himself, and well, this one’s a fist clenching gem. Hitting like a stone to your temple this album is percussive, aggressive, and takes no prisoners. After being slightly overlooked last year when put up against the soft-Top 40 pandering of Drake and the mind-fuck that was Yeezus, Run The Jewels didn’t go back to the drawing board, they just did it better.
The Flaming Lips | With A Little Help From My Friends
Okay – pretend you didn’t just read the artist who released this and join me on a journey. In your minds-eye imagine a band that was taking up the task of covering the most iconic (and arguably best and most creative) album of all time: Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. You might imagine the half-hearted efforts made by those of the Easy Dub All-Stars or even maybe the London Symphony Orchestra doing a tribute album, conducted by Sir Paul McCartney. Now forget everything you know about music and involve Miley Cyrus in some way… yeah… alright, come back to me now. The Flaming Lips did a cover of Sgt. Peppers and they got Miley Cyrus to sing “Lucy in The Sky..” (stay with me here) it’s not half bad. By generally keeping to the same idea, arrangements, and feel of the original album, while adding some of their own classic trippiness to the experiment, The Flaming Lips actually did a decent song-for-song cover of this album. In short, I didn’t think it was possible, but I’m very impressed. Other contributors include Morgan Delt, Phantogram, Dr Dog, Pitchwafuzz, among many, many others – and oddly enough it still remains flowing and coherent throughout. Generally speaking this is a larger testament to the source material than it is to the artists who covered it, but regardless, it’s still very relieving that they didn’t totally fuck this up.
Oh yeah, the video is pretty NSFW