I thought I was going to hate the entire album, but Taylor Swift took me by surprise.
The first two released tracks from her seventh studio album, “ME!” (featuring Brendon Urie) and “You Need To Calm Down,” I was not a fan of. She overloaded with the bubblegum pop in both and I’ve always felt that she is better than that.
When the track “Lover” was released, I knew a piece of the old, acoustic-loving Taylor Swift was still in there. This is just a personal preference, but my favorite Swift is the one that is stripped down and vulnerable in her lyrics. In several of the album’s 18 songs, Swift gives us just that.
“Lover” is also the first of Swift’s albums that she outright owns, given her former label, Big Machine Records, sold them all off to record executive Scooter Braun. If you saw the news headlines last month, you know that didn’t end well. Thankfully, Swift has plans to re-record her entire discography.
But, for everyone out there who is hesitant to give Swift’s new album a chance, I am going to suggest you listen to one song. “Soon You’ll Get Better,” which features the Dixie Chicks, will have you running for the closest box of tissues to wipe the tears streaming down your face.
New Music Friday also blessed us with two new tracks from Lana Del Rey, from her upcoming album “Norman F*****g Rockwell!.” I swear, Del Rey was sent to this generation in a time warp from the 1950’s. The singer breathes class and sophistication, all while luring you in with her seductiveness.
This week had a lot of musical hits, met with some surprising misses.
Here we go.
“Lover” an album by Taylor Swift
- After the first listen of this album, I didn’t like most of the songs. But, by the second listen I was into Swift’s style. “I Forgot That You Existed” is the perfect way to start off an album pretty much dedicated to the love for her English actor boyfriend Joe Alwyn. She finally moved on from the painful ex and is ready for love, which she has clearly found. It’s a little bubblegum pop for my taste, but I don’t hate it. “The Man” is my favorite song off the album, with it’s low maintenance pop style and examples of how much more successful Swift would be if she “was a man.” With it’s soft-rock pop tempo, and lyrics that tell the world she doesn’t need a diamond to marry Alwyn, the track I consider most adorable is “Paper Rings.” Tracks I consider too childish for a 30-year-old superstar are “I Think He Knows” and “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince.” I get reminiscing on your youth, but these were overdone. “Cornelia Street” is soft, sweet and paints a vivid picture of how her current love story unfolded. “London Boy” is unique to her voice, genuine with the lyrics, and I can’t help but fancy it. The track’s emotional ballad,”Soon You’ll Get Better” is for Swift’s mother, who has spent years battling cancer. For every person who couldn’t survive without their parents, this song hits you right in the gut. “False God” is a beautiful play on words set in an ’80s synthetic pop tone. The album’s ending track “Daylight” was a good way to go out, with her sights set only on the light ahead for her.
“ICONOLOGY” an EP by Missy Elliott
- I am very disappointed with the queen of 2000’s hip-hop’s newest EP release. Where’s the funk? Where’s the fun? Where’s the Missy Elliot that makes me stop what I’m doing and dance? The EP is filled with a lot of repeated words and lyrics and beats so similar I forget which song is which. The first song I gave a full listen to was “DripDemeanor” featuring Sum1, as the mix of Missy’s verses, a slow, dope beat, and the feature’s vocals worked well together. “Why I Still Love You,” which comes with an a capella version, showed off vocals that I never knew Missy Elliot had.
“Teeth” by 5 Seconds of Summer
- This is my favorite song this week. I have grown very fond of this Australian boy band in the last year, as they’ve shifted away from the soft pop and gone to the dark side. With its deep tempo and sharp vocals, it’s a song about a lover with a bad side. Luke Hemming’s lead vocals are sexy and flawless. The lows of this song are captivating and the highs have me turning my headphone volume to maximum so I can fully enjoy the experience as I try to dance. I wouldn’t even consider them a boy band anymore. They’re a soft rock band.
“Norman F*****g Rockwell!” the anticipated album from Lana Del Rey
- Lana, Lana, LANA! You are captivating, mesmerizing, and I don’t want you to ever change. “F**k it I love you” is smooth, sultry, gorgeous, and the New York native’s vocals are just as enticing, if not more, than ever before. Her use of color and description in her lyrics paints a vivid picture once you close your eyes and listen, paying tribute to the famous author, painter, and illustrator the album is named after. Clear vocals accompanied by the strumming of a guitar and the distant sounds of a symphony, “The greatest” is a ballad that is most emotional. LA is on fire, she states, and “Kanye West is blond and gone.” Get the queen back to New York, where she belongs. Did I mention she dropped a nine-minute music video to complement both tracks?
“I Don’t Think I Can Do This Again” by Mura Masa & Clairo
- The start of the track is very typical for Clairo, light strumming and drumming with soft vocals and her bedroom pop style. The first minute of the song starts off sweet, but it quickly picks up, thanks to producer Mura Masa. The curation of the song itself is just like the feeling of going back and forth about missing your ex, down then up then back down again. While Clairo might not think she “can do this again” with her ex, I hope she can do this again with her music.
“Feels Like Home” by Bea Miller & Jessie Reyez
- This was a unique vocal collaboration, with 20-year-old Miller’s affinity for pop music and 28-year-old Reyez’s comfort for hip-hop. Whoever came up with this idea, I applaud you. Each artist is so unique, but the production of this song meshes those differences in such a sound way. “Feels Like Home” is the perfect mix of hip-hop and pop, with flawless vocals by both.
“Keep It Gold” by Surfaces
- The Texas-based duo, comprised of Forrest Frank and Colin Padalecki, spews out positivity with their soft R&B/soul style. In “Keep It Gold,” the vibe is upbeat, the vocals are unblemished, and a positive message is being sent out to the world at a time when we need it most. Surface wants you to know it’s a “new dawn, new day” and you “don’t need no money to spread a little honey.”
“2AM” by Gavin Turek
- Turek, the 32-year-old singer-songwriter, dancer, actor from L.A., is this week’s greatest find. Her voice oozes out soul and I don’t think she knows how to give off anything other than a cool vibe. She uses her lyrics to paint a picture of a late night out, and then she ends it at 2 a.m., when the night is done and the high heels are off.
“Health Food” by Berhana
- Another great friend, Atlanta-based Berhana (Amain Berhane) is an Ethiopian-American singer-songwriter who has blues running through his blood. He’s a genre-breaker, with a knack not just for blues, but for R&B, pop, soul, and rapping. “Health Food” is fun, groovy and unique. With the amount of enjoyment I felt just listening to it, I can’t imagine how much of a good time Berhana and his producers had making it. He brings it back with a touch of the ’80s, but does a superb job at keeping a modern glaze over it.