Showing posts with label music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music. Show all posts

Friday, October 13, 2023

The Eras Tour

I've only been a Swiftie for a good six or seven years. I always kinda question my stance in the fandom, given that I'm not afraid to speak out against things that I disagree with and haven't been following her career since the beginning (which I guess earns some the 'real stan' badge or something on social media). But the depth of my admiration for her springing out is not something that I'm genuinely aware of until I pretty much become the resident Swiftie in close circles. With the 1989 re-recording on the way, and much of the publicity this year for the Eras Tour, Speak Now re-release, and the hubbub with the NFL, has been giving me overexposure vibes via 2015 right before she got cancelled. Going into this, and being a big lover of concert films in general, I was very much giving neutral energy just to keep my expectations at bay and mostly expecting to have a nice day out from my hellfire workplace. And, what in turn ended up happening was feeling like not only was I back seeing the concert in person earlier this summer but just completely absorbing everything that was happening on stage as if for the first time.

A journey of her albums from one to the next, takes us through as promised, seventeen years of unflinching inventive, vulnerable, and catchy entries into country, pop, and indie-folk history. With some of her past concerts ranging from getting a gold star for trying (Fearless), and hardcore 'someone edited this on shrooms' (1989) to the solid production of finding light and love in the world's white noise  (Reputation), director Sam Wrench simultaneously lets us settle in for the night as if we're in the stadium seeing it in person and also drop kicks us into the imagination that is Taylor Swift. By taking the concert running time from 3 1/2 hours to 2 hours and 48 minutes (with 30 minutes of "trailers"), unfortunately someone's favorite song is gonna get cut. But with those cuts still encompasses a concert movie where every song is treated like it's only mini-production complete with costume changes and succinct set details you might never be able to pick out unless you memorize the whole concert - dancers taking golf clubs to the famous Blank Space car and smashing it to pieces or performing in the glass cages during Look What You Made Me Do, the tracks on the stage while witches cast a spell in Willow - and a performer at the highest of all her heights thus far. Wonderful cinematography and smooth editing makes it possible to accompany Taylor and her co. on stage, that is a real lavish visual treat that neither leaves you with whiplash or deprived of getting the full scope of the production design.

Though the running time is bound to have casual viewers running away - there is no behind the scenes documentary footage or intermissions - the pacing of over-the-top hits to softer vulnerable tracks offers a nice balance between the heartracing highs and slow-sway lows. At the center of the concert is a performer who invites you into her radio-ready Grammy winning life-spanning diary with an expressive presence that wields both an nostalgic appreciation for her longest-running hits and a mature artist on top of the world. Rather than showcasing a presence that feels implicity only 'on' for the cameras, she makes you feel as if she's performing just for you whether you're in the nosebleeds and first row at a massive stadium, or row five in the a movie theater. It's a real fantastical feat. Even though I've seen the concert in person and streamed it on social media, and knew what to expect, there was so much that I felt like I was just absorbing, and other times I'm pretty sure I just Winnie The Pooh-esque ascended to another plane of existence - it might've been wanting to go anywhere my Lover goes, having a marvelous time ruining everything with the last great American dynasty, or committing revenge with only a chair and some hardcore Chicago vibes like my life depends on it. By the end, it's tough to trace back exactly when a smile that breaks out on your face or the awe you've just witnessed. Maybe it's been there the whole 3 hours. Regardless, like everything Taylor touches, this is a joyful and heartfelt spectacle that proves why she's a mastermind and we're all so lucky to live in a world where we can take it all in and go along for the ride.

Rating: ★★★★

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Evermore (2020) is a fitting sister album for folklore

During the summer of the 2020 apocalypse, nothing surprised Swifties more than when Taylor Swift dropped a surprise album. folklore received some of the best reviews of the year and her career so far – inspiring fans and critics about the type of art that can spring out of such a crushing pandemic. And then fast forward half a year later, and Swift with Aaron Dressner dropped an early holiday bombshell with a sister album called evermore.

If folklore showed Taylor Swift in all of her folksy might, evermore takes a twist for a mix of old-fashioned whimsy and witchiness-inspired country. Evermore doesn’t quite pick up where folklore left off – it’s not copying or continuing stories from her previous album but parallels can be drawn between tracks if you want to dig deeper - and us Swifties have been trained to dig deep. This time around her music takes more of an upswing than a haunting melancholy with tales about Hollywood stars coming home for the holidays (tis the damn season), a small town crime between friends (no body, no crime), and bandits falling in love (cowboy like me). She also uses a similar storytelling technique with heftier imagery sprinkled throughout the chorus and verses, and packing in the bridges with everything she’s got.

To describe the two albums together, I’d say folklore feels like a foggy winter morn. It’s an album of reflection and reminiscing about rage, euphoria, young love, and trying to find stability in the middle of jagged relationships and crazy times. It maintains a 1970s feel in a lot of ways like Joni Mitchell and Carole King, where her cadence blends in with the beat and one-of-a-kind melodies. Evermore, on the other hand, captures melancholy in the summer as it fades into fall, describing stories in the present moment rather than looking back with as much woe or angst. At first, it doesn't feel like a country album, but over time, it will become more obvious just how much it can be considered a more mature sibling to Red. Evermore might still maintain a running theme of unrequited love or broken relationships, but the rhythm allows the lyrics to mold to the beat or act as poetry over the music. The two together are a dynamo duo - it's only a question of which on you prefer.

Though the two share a lot of similarities, the biggest difference for me is how it's taken me longer for evermore to resonate. When folklore dropped, I was instantly emotional about several songs on the initial and subsequent listens. Even though my top 5 rankings are much the same, I don’t skip any tracks and even my least favorites have grown on me. It's a perfect album. That type of progress is a  struggle with evermore. The themes of yearning for a loved one, the fundamental differences between two people that divides them, finding closure, etc. with self-recriminating insight starts to feel repetitive no matter how many poetic ways Taylor expresses herself. Half of the album become definite re-listens, while I don't seek out other songs or might skip halfway through them.

Swift and Dressner manages to produce a sound that is light on the ears as well as in-depth storytelling that makes you reconsider all of the different angles, and will certainly define the holiday era of the pandemic. And that's perhaps the hiccup evermore runs into - Taylor's so ahead of her own curve it becomes a sphere, where a lot of the tracks hit a comfortably catchy groove but don't land as surprisingly or as uniquely as folklore. In true companionship fashion, plenty of songs fit alongside each other but you'll left wondering how the runner-up compares to the original. While it's harmless to want more of a great thing, it doesn't mean it will be great itself.

Have you listened to evermore? What did you think?

My thoughts on the individual songs with a ranking of faves is below.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

folklore (2020) offers an enchanting escape from the dumpster fire that is 2020

folklore album review
When it comes to Taylor Swift, her most devoted Swifties always expect something to pop up around the corner. Known as the queen of meticulously dropping hints of what’s to come, she always manages to keep fans on the edge of their seat. With her seventh album Lover dropping less than a year ago, and a massive pandemic sweeping the world, very few could’ve expected to hear new music after a cancelled summer tour. The next era of her music felt like an eternity away, but only Swift could drop her eighth studio record out of nowhere and blast more of our expectations out of the water. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Miss Americana (2020) Shines A Light On the Swift Narrative

Miss Americana (2020) documentary review netflix
Everyone has an opinion on Taylor Swift. Millions of fans around the world have grown up with her music and followed her through the highs and lows. Outside of her loyal Swiftie community, the world over either loathes, ignores or maintains a bitter impression about Swift. Netflix's latest documentary Miss Americana (2020) strives to challenge what both fans and haters alike believe about the beloved yet divisive celebrity.

In 2016, after the massive success of her fifth studio album 1989, Swift reached a new height of media overexposure and a public feud with Kanye West and his wife Kim Kardashian. When #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty trended worldwide for 24 hours, Swift was effectively canceled. The musician thought the world wanted her to disappear, and so she did – for a year. The question on so many fans’ minds will center on where Swift went during that time she disappeared, and this is where the documentary steps in.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Lover (2019) Marks A New Beginning After A Winding Storm

Taylor Swift Lover Review
Very few artists in the music industry are known for their literal reputation. From a rising country star to a pop sensation, Taylor Swift became recognized for the drama – the men she was dating (or even seen with), feuds, the lack of using her voice in politics, and everything in between. Considering the number of records she’s broken and set, the awards she’s won, the genuine giving personality she’s known to have with her fans, her life in the public became more known than the music she was making.

Nothing could stop the apocalyptic summer of 2016, where her personal and professional life came to a head. Squeezed into a damn-if-she-did-damned-if-she-doesn’t corner, Swift reverbed the drama into her sixth album Reputation. A boisterous declaration against the black and white headlines, which spun opinions into facts and made no room for redemption, Swift simultaneously played into the persona of the witch getting burned as well as the torchbearer. Trying to regain some semblance of her career spiraling out of control, Reputation served all the rumors surrounding her image at that point up on snake-laden platter.

Despite fans recognizing that the Old Taylor was never literally dead, transitions between eras can sometimes lose fans along the way. Having become a bonafide Swiftie through Reputation, it’s hard to not be biased about its production and tone. A mix of angry and boisterous anthems, and vulnerable mellow confessions, it’s impossible to skip a track no matter how many times I’ve listened to it. But while watching the Reputation concert on Netflix the night before Lover released, I wondered if Taylor could handle losing the ‘swamp witch’ impression (as Taylor put it) and step into the daylight.

A long and winding career whirlwind, such as the one that Taylor endured, is not something most public figures – in film, music, or politics – emerge unscathed.

Except Taylor Swift.

And, this is where Lover comes in.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Hugh Jackman World Tour Was The Greatest Show

When I saw tickets for Hugh Jackman's world tour go on sale last December, I didn't know anything except that I had to be there. I didn't know how I was going to go to the arena where the show was  held, what the arena's layout was, if I bought tickets that had a decent view, or if I'd have money to get a hotel for the night. #mydreamsarebiggerthanmybankaccount I definitely didn't know that six months later, I'd save up enough to attend, but also be as sick as one can possibly get without going to the hospital the day of. As sure as I was the day I bought the tickets, I knew I had to be there.

With a relentless fever, drippy nose, burning lungs, and not being able to move without sweating through my clothes, I WAS LIVING at this concert. Both literally and figuratively. I'm still not 100% well as I'm writing this, but at least I'm not Patient Zero right now.

From Broadway and movies to his own triumphs and personal interests, Jackman's show is a showstopping combination of who he is as an actor on stage and in film as well as a kid who had a big dream to entertain. Just as the world tour is called, it's all about The Man, The Music, The Show. And whatta man whatta man whatta man he is, I mean music, I mean show, it was.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Stars I Love: Taylor Swift

If you had told me a year ago, let alone five years ago, that I'd be doing a whole post on Taylor Swift I wouldn't believe you. It's not that I was a certified hater. Her music was the inadvertent soundtrack of my adolescence, but bopping along in the car to her latest hits wasn't nearly enough to make me a bonafide Swiftie.

Other than being aware of her music growing up, one of the first memories I have was attending a sold-out showing to Valentine's Day. The theater was filled with lots of couples on dates, but it was also filled with teenagers my age. While I was convinced at the time it was the star-studded cast that might've attracted young adults to the movie, or the fact that it was a holiday, I look back and think now that it was all about Taylor. For a few reasons: that theater has never been that packed since (excluding superhero movies), and every time Taylor showed up on-screen, those different groups of girls were in full-fangirl mode - not just when her characters' boyfriend (Taylor Lautner) was on-screen but also when she had a few small individual moments of her own.  I was in the middle of Taylor's influence and didn't even quite realize it.

And, that's how the next several years of my life went: Taylor could be heard in every retail store, on the drives to and from school, seen on award shows and in movies or tv shows, but I didn't become hardcore about it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Katy's Fauxchella with TickPick

Summer has officially arrived! 'Tis the season to go to music festivals! With the sun shining and blue skies above, it's an awesome time to jam to our favorite bands or new performers. Perhaps one of the most famous music festivals is Coachella. It's notorious for it's appearances by celebrities as regular music fans like us. Though this year's concert has already passed, there's always next year to think about not only what the concert will have in store, but also my dream concert. Gina at TickPick teamed up with me on a collaboration of my dream music Faux-chella festival.

Tickpick's designers customized this awesome poster with my imagined headliners. My music tastes vary all over the place from swing and the 1940s to classic rock. Having attended an amazing concert by Florence and the Machine last month, she was certainly at the top of my list. A solid rock vibe are taking over my playlists these days.

These are the bands I picked: Alabama Shakes, Elle King, BØRNS, Florence and the Machine, The Lumineers, Fitz and The Tantrums. I've included each band and my favorite tracks that would be awesome to hear.

Alabama Shakes - Don't Wanna Fight

Lead singer Brittany Howard's sound and her band first blew me away as apart of the Silver Lining's Playbook soundtrack back in 2012. Their style and especially her vocals are ridiculously soulful. Don't Wanna Fight is just one of several tracks of of their most recent album Sound and Color that I love listening to over and over again. Check them out - don't fight me on this. They're awesome.

Elle King - Ex's and Ohs

King's Ex's and Oh's has become a big radio hit as well as her other song America's Sweetheart. What can I say? Her voice just freaking kills it. Though Alabama Shakes' ruminations about relationships and life are a bit more soulful but nevertheless honest, I love how King is bringing back exciting, bad-ass (female) anthems to rock again.

Borns - Electric Love

I don't really remember how or when I first came across Borns, but it's been one of my favorite discoveries as of recently. This band isn't like the first two on this list, which might add some spunk to a concert of my dreams. Like King, Borns has a very cool eighties-esque sound and one of the coolest songs around right now.

Florence and the Machine - Ship to Wreck

This selection was a bit of a cheat since I just saw her live and can't get over her concerts. Her ability to perform is like mixing Janis Joplin and Queen - she is that good. Smaller stages really do her a disservice because at full voice and barefooted, Florence can't be tamed. She runs around the stage and unleashes an amazing energy. She gives an unbelievable concert, so she would no doubt be a good addition to my dream Fauxchella.

The Lumineers - Ophelia

Similar to Alabama Shakes, The Lumineers caught some big air play with their hit song from Silver Linings Playbook called Ho Hey. It's no doubt a great song and very catchy. Some of their more recent songs like Ophelia are great follow-ups to the shout-along feel that initially made them such a big hit.

Fitz and the Tantrums - The Walker

Fitz and the Tantrums is just such a groovy band. I love how they sound very rockish but also have a pop vibe to them. As the lyrics goes, The Walker just makes me want to break out and dance. One of their other best songs is definitely the totally groovy Moneygrabber. The music video has a very old-fashioned sixties feel while also remaining hip and modern rock. Basically, I would give them (and every artist on this list) all of money to see them in person!

A big thanks to TickPick for reaching out to me for this project. It was a lot of fun and definitely got me letting loose to some awesome beats for the summer. If you're going to pick up tickets, check out TickPick's official website information about concerts and the NFL.

What about you guys - who would you love to rock out to?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

♫ Florence and the Machine Concert ♫

Florence and the Machine Concert Orlando 2016
Music isn't my go-to topic to geek about here. Mostly because it's a little bit more personal than movies or books. I can't express how a song can make an impact on me physically and emotionally. A little less than the mental commitment it takes to engage my imagination towards books but more as a song can wash away stress, make me blissfully on top of the world, and transport me to another place.

After attending a concert by Florence and the Machine recently, there was just no stopping me from gabbing about it everywhere. 'Cause it was AMAZING.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

10 Favorite Songs From The Walking Dead

One of the things I love most about The Walking Dead is the music. Originally composed scores by Bear McCreary, and songs by musicians like Sharon Von Etten, compliment some of the most gruesome scenes.  With intensity and pure suspense, his scores let us know when dangerous enemies are ready to attack, anti-heroes are holding onto their sanity, and the group is facing adversities ahead.

Sometimes it's difficult to listen to the songs on their own and not think of some of the more painful instances we lost a beloved character or an obstacle changed the course for the group's survival. The music itself is a character of the show, and I thought it was time to highlight ten of my favorite songs from The Walking Dead. (Spoilers ahead)