Taylor Swift releases “evermore” — a sequel to “folklore”
This past summer, Taylor Swift surprised us with “folklore,” an alternative album with themes of cottage-core, softness, and melancholiness. Each track was a mythical tale, full of both magic and tragedy. It was rainy-day-with-a-hot-cup-of-tea vibes, and became my new favorite TS album ever. Little did I know, she would be surprising us again less than a few months later with a sequel, or “sister album,” titled “evermore.“
“Evermore” is nearly identical to “folklore” — although something about it seems slightly lighter and happier, even though the desolation and sadness is still prevalent. Perhaps it’s because the record opens with lead single “willow” which is a cute song, accompanying an adorable video. This is my favorite track. Another thing I noticed is that while “folklore” was black-and-white, the cover art to “evermore” is colored.
“Champagne problems” tells the sad tale of a man who proposed to a woman who turned him down. “Gold rush” is about feeling inadequate to your love interest and all of their competing suitors. “No body no crime” is a haunting piece about cheating and MURDER! “Dorothea” could be about missing an old friend or an old love — reminds me of folklore’s “betty” with themes of high school loss. “Cowboy like me” represents restlessness and fear of commitment. “Long story short” parallels Taylor’s drama we’ve read about in the news — betrayal by friends, rebounding with the wrong guy, to eventually find the right one and see your enemies receive their bad karma before you have the chance to seek revenge. “Closure” is the fable of an old friend reaching out to make peace, in turn, the narrator declares that some things just can’t be fixed and that you must accept a lack of closure. As for “evermore,” the moral of the story is that nothing lasts forever — including pain.
I love the stripped-down piano, the acoustic instruments, and the soft, unaltered voice. I mentioned the tracks that stood out to me, but all of them are lovely. It seems that this album is certainly not as heavy as “folklore” (with the exception of “no body no crime” — yikes!) yet still ties together with the same sound. “Evermore” and “folklore” are twin sisters who enjoy sipping on earl grey, taking bicycle rides through the woods, and reminiscing about their high school years with wisdom — one sister wears colors of autumn while the other sister dresses in all black.
Miley Cyrus goes ROCK!
I was stoked when Miley Cyrus revealed she would be releasing a rock album! “Plastic Hearts” enters the world of rock & roll, heavily inspired by the 80s, keeping trace remnants of pop. Miley was thrusted into the pop machine at a young age but truly has a voice that was made to scream.
It’s a little hard to keep up with Miley — she releases “Bangerz,” an album full of party anthems, using every press release as an opportunity to tell the world how much she smokes and drinks. Then she releases country album “Younger Now” and tells us she’s gone sober and threw away all her pipes. Next, she comes out with EP “She Is Coming,” singing songs about being high on MDMA. And yet again, she’s saying in interviews that she’s sober now (although admitted to a recent slip-up due to quarantine stress.) The hip-hop “She Is Coming” EP was supposed to be a prelude to the full-length album “She Is Miley Cyrus” — but the project got scrapped. Perhaps it was her divorce, or return to abstinence, that provoked a new direction — nevertheless I think it was a good move!
“WTF Do I Know?” is my favorite track — self-awareness and self-acceptance at its best. “Plastic Hearts” is about being reckless, a numbness that causes you to hurt others just so you can feel something. “Gimme What I Want” is another great one — if you don’t give me what I want, then I’ll give it to myself! “High” has a distinct sound that relates back to 80s slow-rock. “Night Crawler” features Billy Idol and “Bad Karma” features Joan Jett. And “Heart of Glass” is a spectacular Blondie cover.
“Midnight Sky” leans more on the pop-side, but still fantastic. It’s an anthem for freedom and individuality. The neon video is completely self-directed by Miley herself. “Prisoner” features Dua Lipa, which I find to be an odd choice for a rock album, as she is strictly pop. The video features the two ladies “almost” kissing the entire time — total queer-baiting, which upsets me. Genuine affection is great, but teasing us like this is just plain disrespectful towards the LGBTQIA+ community! Miley even admitted herself in an interview that their antics were specifically done to get more views, to get more clicks, a cheap way of grabbing people’s attention. For a self-proclaimed gender-fluid pansexual, she can do better than that. Show us legitimate representation!
Overall, I enjoy this album. Miley took a risk by going rock, but with her level of fame and attention, I personally believe she could’ve gone a little riskier. My critiques — too much auto-tune, too much pop influence, and a disrespectful queer-baiting music video for “Prisoner.” However, none of these negative points can negate her wins: passionate expression, introspective lyrics, and brilliant creativity.
Britney Spears hooks up with Backstreet Boys
It’s a 90s dream come true! Britney Spears has collaborated with Backstreet Boys for a new song called “Matches.” It’s super fun, super sexy, super amazing! (Still waiting on that N*SYNC collab…)
This comes along with ANOTHER re-release of Britney’s “Glory” album. Originally from 2016, the album was first re-released just six months ago after fans demanded to hear the hidden gem “Mood Ring.”
The new “Glory” also includes a new song called Swimming in the Stars, which is incredibly dreamy. Also, three trippy remixes of “Mood Ring.”
When “Glory” first came out a few years ago, I was certain her music had gone downhill and burnt out. (The original album artwork was atrocious, before being replaced with the stunning desert scene.) But, I don’t know, something about the new music she’s blessed us with this year sounds different, it sounds better.
All her new tracks are five stars. But I’m reducing it by a half because I’m impatient for more. Enough with the re-releases, Britney! When can we get a brand new album?! Also, videos, we need new videos with lots of dancing. #FREEBRITNEY!
Armin Van Buuren’s “United State of Trance” — 2020 Edition!
Ain’t no pandemic stopping the annual release of Armin Van Buuren’s “United State of Trance.” You can take away our festivals and concerts, but you can’t take away our music!
Trance is my favorite form of EDM, characterized by a fast-paced tempo coupled with a melodic rhythm. It can be purely instrumental or have minimal, repetitious singing. Trance music is scientifically proven to calm down the brain and reduce stress hormones. Song themes are generally positive — focusing on love, connection, and living in the moment. You can also find some “sad” trance songs about yearning and heartbreak.
“United State of Trance 2020” contains 105 songs, including and intro and outro. There are two versions available — “mixed” which features short snippets of each song, or the full-length (I prefer full-length.) After the initial intro (about aliens and stuff), the record officially begins with “Yesterday” by Gareth Emery & NASH, featuring vocals by Linney. It stars with a slow, beautiful piano, as Linney sings and the song continues to pick up until it comes into full motion. “Walk away from yesterday.”
The album offers a wide variety of DJs, including the classic Above & Beyond (with vocals from the lovely Zoë Johnston of course!) In case you didn’t know, Above & Beyond is King of Trance (at least in my opinion!) Other amazing DJs include Allen Watts, ALPHA 9, Aly & Fila, Cosmic Gate, Craig Connelly, Elysian, Ferry Corsten, Gareth Emery, Giuseppe Ottaviani, Markus Schulz, Paul Van Dyk, ReOrder, Super8 & Tab, and so many more!!!
And obviously, it also has tracks from Armin Van Buuren himself: Need You Now (chill & super catchy), Let the Music Guide You (intense), Mask (deep & haunting), Hollow (smooth), All On Me (very sweet), This I Vow (starts out light as a feather before it gets super heavy), I Need You to Know (so much yearning & emotion), The Voice (chilling), In and out of Love (dark.) And non-vocals include Illusion, Tarzan, and Punisher, which are all indescribable!