Wildest Dreams Music Video

Last night, Taylor Swift released the music video for her latest single, “Wildest Dreams.”  The video shows Swift as a ’40s movie star, filming a movie; she falls in love with her character’s love interest and then realizes it was all a “dream” because they were just acting.  I especially though the cinematography was beautifully done.

There was one moment where she’s sitting in front of a lion, and I just kept wondering if she actually did that…I mean, if were me, I’d be praying it wouldn’t eat me.  I’m somewhat skeptically if the animals were actually there though because this music video was directed by Joseph Kahn, the guy who did her previous two videos (“Blank Space” and “Bad Blood”), and both those videos had such well-done effects.  In particular, I remember there’s a scene in “Blank Space” where Swift takes a golf club and destroys her love interest’s car, and I thought she literally was destroying the car because the effects looked so real.  I actually started wondering what they would do if she messed up the take and they had to shoot the scene again: would they buy another car?  But then I realized that it was all CGI.  So if that looked pretty realistic, they could’ve just plopped the lions, zebras, and giraffes into the background.

While I enjoyed the video and think it’s worth the watch (see video above), I don’t think it matches or surpasses the epicness that was “Bad Blood” (like anything could).  However, according to the music video, all of her proceeds from this video will be donated to the African Parks Foundation of America to help with wild animal conservation.

Taylor Swift Brings Back “Smelly Cat” (!!!)

I woke up early this morning and for some reason had the urge to check Twitter.  It was as if the gods were telling me something amazing had happened.  And I saw that Taylor Swift had brought out Lisa Kudrow (as Phoebe Buffay) on her latest show of the 1989 World Tour to play “Smelly Cat.”

I don’t know how long this clip will last on Youtube (they’re bound to pull it down), but Taylor Swift introduces Kudrow as a “singer [who] has only performed in coffee houses before…this is Phoebe Buffay.”  Phoebe finally made it!

They then proceeded to recreate this scene from Friends:

Now, I’m happy to report, “smelly cat” is a top trending topic on Twitter and Facebook.  It’s crazy to think after like twenty years, people still remember Phoebe and her songs.

If you want to see more clips/read more about it, click here.

UPDATE:

I found a clip of the whole performance:

Ed Sheeran’s Photograph

One of the things that continually impresses me about Ed Sheeran is his phenomenal vocal range.  I remember when I first saw him live, he was crooning some song and his voice started going up to a high pitch.  And it kept going.  And going.  I sat there kind of stunned that a grown man could emit such a sound that high with such ease and not sound ridiculous.

Which brings me to his latest single, “Photograph.”  In the song, he starts off in his soothing, raspy lower register.  Then he reaches the chorus and his voice just shoots up there, and it immediately gives me shivers.  Sometimes, I hear songs where guys will sing up in a high falsetto and I just sit thinking, “really?”  because they either can’t sing that high or it isn’t necessary for the song.  I remember reading a review of an album where a person wrote that just because a singer (a male one, in particular) could sing in a high register does not mean they should.  I agree with this because I think music should be performed to tell a story and transcend an emotion, not to show off.  Like, if you can sing in a high register, that’s incredible and impressive, but use it when it’s necessary.  In the case of “Photograph,” Sheeran singing that high adds to the delicateness of the song and emits a rawness.  It pulls at your heartstrings and makes you feel what he is feeling.

If, for example, Sheeran sang the chorus in a lower register, it would probably sound good (I mean, it’s Ed Sheeran), but it would not have that fragile air to it.  Let’s consider Sheeran’s other song from x, “Don’t.”  In this chorus, Sheeran sings it in his lower register and it adds to the aggressive anger of the song.  Imagine him singing that chorus in his falsetto, it would be…well…bizarre.  Just because he can sing that high, does not mean he does it all the time…he knows how to effectively use his falsetto.

Harry Potter Plot Hole?

I love Harry Potter.  I’ve been a fan from the beginning, particularly because I think the way J.K. Rowling so fluidly crafted the series is unbelievably great.  I mean, remember in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (HP5) when they were emptying out Grimmauld Place and they found a locket that couldn’t be opened, and it turned out to be the horcrux they needed to find in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (HP7).  I mean, she had to plan out the entire seven novels before writing them.

But then I started thinking about how in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (HP6) where Harry tried to get in the Room of Requirement to spy on Malfoy, but he couldn’t because he didn’t know exactly what the room would change into for Malfoy.  Like, in the end of HP5, Malfoy and the Inquisitorial Squad could get into the the D.A. meeting room because Marietta Edgecombe told Umbridge about the meetings and how to get in.

So, why, in HP5 can Dobby the house elf get into the D.A. Room of Requirement when he doesn’t know about the D.A. meetings?  Remember, he got in to put up Christmas decorations for Harry, but Harry never told him what they were using the Room of Requirement for.

Just a brainwave I had, and I wanted to put it out there…

Librarians Always Save the Day

I read this article a week or so ago that claimed it could “ruin” Harry Potter for anyone who read it.  Naturally I read it, becoming horrified by it’s content.  It claimed that the wizarding world of Harry Potter didn’t actually exist within the story, but that Harry was basically mentally unstable and actually, want for better word, a troublemaker (if you’ll recall in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the Dursleys used this excuse to explain to Uncle Vernon’s sister Marge where Harry went to school).
Now, I’m not a child psychologist and I’m not sure the person who wrote it is one either, but they claimed that something horrific happened in young Harry’s life so that he invented a world where he was the hero.  So, in this case, the Dursleys were actually Harry’s parents, Dudley was Harry’s brother, and Hogwarts was the mental hospital Harry went for treatment.  Basically the whole story was invented by the sick Harry to make him feel better and feel like a hero even though he was a problem child.

Kind of like telling a kid there’s no Santa Claus, right?

I was somewhat annoyed by it because it sort of made sense.  I mean, I wasn’t going to let that one article ruin my love for these books, but I could see their argument.  But then I went to my local library and had a chat with the Children’s Librarian (the same librarian, if you recall a while back, who helped me understand why Harry Potter is classified as a children’s book when it runs such adult themes (read here)).  I explained to her the article and asked for her thoughts.  She mulled it over and finally said, “It’s an interesting argument, except the narrator is written in a third person limited style.  Their argument would make sense if they were writing in the first person, but the narrator would have to be pretty biased.”

Which makes even more sense.  Basically, if Harry were indeed insane, the narrator would have to feed into that delusion.  But there is no arguable way the narrator does this, since the narrator often tells the reader in the series things Harry himself does not even know.  For instance, let’s look at those scenes in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone for my British readers) at the beginning where Harry is a baby and asleep when he first arrives at 4 Privet Drive.  There is a lot that happens between Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Hagrid that Harry can’t comprehend because he is a baby.  Or at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when Frank Bryce is killed by Voldemort (or, actually, I think Wormtail kills him at Voldemort’s orders): the narrator is providing us with Frank Bryce’s thoughts and feelings and details of his death, something Harry could not know.  The narrator is not written in a way, according to the librarian (and which I agree), that could be justified as being unreliable or biased.  Yes it knows Harry’s thoughts, feelings, and opinions, but it’s not enough to say that Harry and the narrator are the same person.

So, therefore, Hogwarts does exist…in one form or another.

 

 

Lips Are Movin’

So I was thinking about Meghan Trainor’s song “Lips Are Movin'” and I naturally had the hook of “I know you’re lyin’, ’cause you’re lips are movin'” stuck in my head.  I hadn’t really actually thought what she was saying, just that it was a catchy phrase.  Then I realized she’s literally telling the person that if they’re lips are moving (i.e. whenever they are talking) they’re just lying.  Like, they never speak the truth and they never say anything honest.

I know that’s kind of an obvious revelation, but it just randomly dawned on me while I was driving somewhere and realized the song, as upbeat as it sounds, is a lot harsher and angrier than I originally thought.  I like it a little more now.

Early 2016 Grammy Predictions

I was out biking this morning as usual, listening to my biking playlist on shuffle.  Rachel Platten’s song “Fight Song” came on, and I started to think about how great that song is.  It just has such passion and a ring of freedom, and I wondered if it would be nominated for any Grammys the coming year.  I know the Grammys are months away, but the entry period is ending in September, so I was thinking about which songs/artists will get nominations in December.  While reflecting on all that, there are some definite contenders that seem sure to get nominated.

I’m not sure if Rachel Platten will get any nominations.  I know she deserves it and I’d be a proud fan to see her there, but the only categories I think she could qualify for are Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance (all for “Fight Song”).  My gut is telling me she won’t get nominated (I’m not really sure why, I just have a feeling), but my head thinks that she deserves at least a nod for Song of the Year as the song is so well written musically and lyrically.  Plus it has a great, timeless message (like last year’s nominee “Shake it Off,” which deserved those Grammys…).  But, there were so many great songs this year by other, more-known artists, and while I think fame shouldn’t be a judging factor, I sometimes feel these awards shows are slightly biased and political.  Then again, none of the music blogs I saw (except mine) thought Meghan Trainor had a chance for either of her Grammy nominations last year for “All About That Bass,” and a lot of people were shocked.  So, you never know.

Anyway, I wanted to kind of make note of which artists I think are most likely to get nominated so far.  Again, it’s early and probably too soon to call, but it’s fun for me:

Taylor Swift:  With out a doubt, Taylor Swift will be nominated for several awards, especially Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album for 1989.  In all sincerity, 1989 is by far one of the best albums put out in a decade and is so cohesively and thematically well done it should be no surprise that it will get nominations.  I also feel Swift has a chance again this year to pick up a nomination for Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance, though I’m not quite sure which song.  I totally thought “Blank Space” could be nominated for Record of the Year, but with the recent success of “Bad Blood (feat. Kendrick Lamar),” I think that could be nominated.  I also think she could get her first nomination for Best Music Video, again either for “Blank Space” or “Bad Blood.”  I think she has a better shot at it being for “Bad Blood” since it has such a strong theme of feminism; “Blank Space,” I believe is Swift’s most viewed music video on Youtube/Vevo, so that may be nominated over “Bad Blood.”  Similarly, “Bad Blood” could be nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance (or Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, depending on how they categorize it…I mean, it’s a pop song, but Kendrick Lamar does have a fair amount of rapping and I’m not sure of the official rule).  Anyway, I’m not sure about the song/video categories, but I’m almost certain that 1989 will get those two album nominations.  If not, then I’m boycotting the Grammys because it seriously deserves it.

Meghan Trainor: While Meghan Trainor was a surprise at last year’s Grammys, I think she quite honestly deserves a Best New Artist nomination.  She couldn’t qualify last year because her “significant work” (aka Title) was not released during the period.  Since Trainor has really incorporated a lot of different twists into her music and defined pop music in a new way, she definitely deserves some sort of nomination.  I also think she could get nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album for Title because her vocal work is incredible on that album.  There is the possibility she could get nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for her duet with John Legend “Like I’m Gonna Lose You.”  I doubt “Lips Are Movin,'” her follow up hit to “All About That Bass” will get any nominations despite it being a great song, but there is always the possibility it could get a Best Pop Solo Performance, Song of the Year, and/or Record of the Year nomination.

Mark Ronson:  Who can forget “Uptown Funk.”  Literally, every radio station in my area played it non-stop for like four months.  So, I think “Uptown Funk” with Bruno Mars could get nominated for Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

Wiz Khalifa: “See You Again” was such a huge anthem this year that it definitely deserves nods in Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and possibly Best Pop Duo/Group Performance (or Best Rap/Sung Collaboration…again, I’m not sure how they define that).  It also could be nominated for Best Song Written for a Visual Media because I believe it was written for Furious 7.

Kendrick LamarTo Pimp a Butterfly was another huge album this past year, and I think Kendrick Lamar will be nominated for Best Rap Album, and quite possibly Album of the Year again.

The Weeknd:  Undoubtedly the Weeknd had an incredible year with the release of his massive hits “Earned It,” “Can’t Feel My Face,” and “The Hills,” as well has album Beauty Behind the Madness.  His works definitely makes him a contender for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album (or whatever genre they categorize his album) for Beauty Behind the Madness, and possibly Song and Record of the Year for either “Can’t Feel My Face” or “The Hills.”  I personally think he’ll get the nomination for “Can’t Feel My Face” for Record of the Year and has a good shot at winning it.  I also think he could perhaps get a nod (and maybe win) Best New Artist, but I don’t know if he qualifies.  Best New Artist is one of those categories that I’m not sure how the Grammys defines the qualifications.  It’s supposed to be an artist who releases a breakthrough album that establishes the artist during the Grammy period, like the Weeknd seemed to do, although he did have a big debut with his first album Kiss Land.    However, Ed Sheehan released “The A Team” and was nominated for Song of the Year a couples years ago and then the following year after that nomination he was nominated for Best New Artist, even though the prior year would have been the year he “established” himself.  There have been other instances like that were it doesn’t quite add up.  But, I definitely think the Weeknd should fit that category.

 

Anyway, those are the thoughts that I had while biking this morning, and I just wanted to put them out there…if I have anymore brainwaves, I’ll add to the list.  Again, take this all with a grain of salt because I’m getting way ahead of myself and you never really know who will get nominated.  Although, I’d like to point out that I predicted all the nominees last year for Record of the Year (and I was pretty spot on with the others, but Record of the Year was the only category I guessed them all right).

Taylor Swift’s Fifth Single from 1989?

Taylor Swift’s latest album 1989 has launched four top ten hits, three of which went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100.  I was looking at the release history of her singles from this album, and they almost literally were released three months apart.  Since “Bad Blood” was released in May and it is now August, I think there is a very strong possibility the fifth single could be released.  Very soon.

But which song will Swift and her team choose?

I saw someone ask her (I think on Tumblr) what would be the next single, and she replied saying she didn’t know (which I suspect is a slight lie…Ms. Swift has a strong record of being ten steps ahead of everyone and having things planned out in great detail).  I read a lot of speculation from various blogs and Swift-fan Tumblr pages that “New Romantics,” a bonus song from the deluxe version of 1989, will be or should be the next single.  I think the speculation comes from the fact that it’s the only bonus song that is in the setlist of the 1989 World Tour; the others she has performed, but not at every show like “New Romantics.”  Why would she make a song that is not part of the standard version of 1989 (she performs all thirteen songs plus a couple of her past hits during the show) part of the setlist if it was not to be a single.  And she has made bonus songs singles previously (let us remember “Ours” from the deluxe version of Speak Now).

chart

Chart performances on the Billboard Hot 100 for the bonus songs from 1989

Personally, I wouldn’t choose “New Romantics” as the next single.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the song, it has a great beat, message, and it’s great to dance around to with your hands in the air (something I have in fact done).  The first reason is that when they released the bonus tracks as promotional singles a could months ago, “New Romantics” didn’t do the best.  Now, I don’t have the sales figures or anything, I just have the reported chart performances, so I’m using that to estimate that “Wonderland” sold/tested better than “New Romantics” (see above chart).  Also, keep in mind that Swift has had promotional singles, like “Speak Now,” “State of Grace,” and “Out of the Woods,” chart significantly higher on the Billboard Hot 100 based solely on digital downloads (eight, thirteen, and eighteen, respectively).

Early chart performance probably doesn’t matter because Taylor Swift could take her worst song (as if that exists) and make it a top ten hit easy.  The other reason why I wouldn’t choose “New Romantics” is because, to me, it feels like a summer anthem, what with the drum beat and big chorus.  If they released it now as we head out of summer, it wouldn’t have a long shelf life.  Sure, it would get spins during the dog days of August and early September, but as the leaves start to change, we’re no longer dancing on the beach but settling down for autumn.
My suggestion: “Wildest Dreams.”  It’s the perfect fit for where she’s at with the promotion of the album.  Tempo-wise, it changes it up from her past upbeat singles and it slows it down for the summer-ending/autumn-coming season.  Plus, it’s radio friendly with a pretty darn catchy and beautiful chorus.  On top of all that, it was the only non-single/non-promotional-single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, landing at number seventy-six during the release week of 1989.  In fact, I remember it was a worldwide trending topic during 1989‘s release week.  This all boils down to the fact that while it is a big fan favorite, it has spilled over into non-Swifties (for the purpose of this post, I’m defining a non-Swiftie as someone who would listen to her music, but are only really familiar with her hits from radio.  Like, they’re not hardcore fans for various reasons).  With another mind-blowing music video, “Wildest Dreams” could easily be her fourth number one single from 1989 (fifth overall).

There really isn’t anyway to know what will be the fifth single (if there is to be one) until Swift tells us.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear “Out of the Woods” on the radio pretty soon or “New Romantics.” My hope, though, is that in a couple weeks we’ll see “Wildest Dreams” sitting on top of the Billboard 100.  That would be pretty cool.