Let’s get down to business, fellow fandomites.
Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy who does enjoy the craft of the Sparkly Dressed, we wouldn’t be honest if we didn’t confess that the scavenger hunt has gone a bit long. In plain English, the whole hunting for the clues via Easter eggs is getting annoying. Just tell us the name of the album already. The gimmick is getting old. As always, everything said will be my opinion only.
#1: Stop the “Easter egg” clues. The more gimmicks, the less likely the album gets taken seriously.
At this point, the chances are high it’s just called Lover. But the focus on the name is getting exhausting as everyone has their own theories, and some names come with other implications. Mental gymnastics is the rule of the day, specially with fans of numerology who keep adding everything to form dates and thirteens by way of mathematical backflips. Unfortunately Taylor is not innocent of the whole thing, as she herself has been known to add numbers around to find her beloved thirteen. Don’t get me wrong, when finding that number via pure coincidence, it’s nice. Like a wink. But a wink can easily become a nervous tick if you force it.
The bottom line lies not in the best possible gimmick to hide the album’s name, but in how good the content is. I really would prefer the hype would not just be about discovering Easter eggs, because that’s not what is going to endure over time. Let’s just have the name and be done with the whole Easter egg basket. We already know the aesthetic and colour theme. I really hope there’s more to the sound.
#2: The trouble with ME!
Have you ever notice that “Shake It Off” has horns? During the promo for 1989, The Agency briefly gained a horn section with trumpets, saxophone, etc. Once the 1989 Tour started, the horn section didn’t last long. Eventually, the horns were provided via a backing track. ME! also has horns. Part of the song is sang by the backup singers. This has been easy to spot as Taylor will only sing along to the parts that have her voice and pull the mike away from the second part of every lyric where the backup singers join in.
This means ME! even when played live, part of it will always have a backing track. She’s not lip singing. She’s just not the dominant voice. When this happens, Taylor usually likes to sing her part in a different pitch, typically during the bridge. Listen to “Out of the Woods” in concert during the bridge so you know what I mean. The problem is ME!’s bridge is half spoken. The other part is not much to speak about. Sorry, it might be one of the weakest bridges of hers.
Contrast this with a song like “New Year’s Day” which was mostly acoustic since its conception and it’s basically just Taylor and her piano. That might be one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard from Taylor lately and I really hope it’s not the last. Hopefully there’s some hidden jewel or two waiting on the rest of the album.
#3: She’s not the only artist in the world
This one is perhaps a bit of a leftover from the first issue. There’s a lot of music out there, and I’m probably also guilty of being a little too exclusive in what refers to Taylor. There are other artists clawing their way to get a little glimmer of the spotlight. A lot of them are songwriters in their own right.
Taylor has two GRAMMYs for Album of the Year. Now, I will have to save a specific rant on awards for another issue. Let’s just be clear that to have the slightest chance, you have to campaign with the voters. That is, to have a chance. Unfortunately even then, things might not go your way. For the underdogs that don’t have the resources, it becomes an even more uphill battle. The funny thing is that I often get music ideas from artists that have somehow crossed paths with the Sparkly Dressed.
Back in 2014, Red lost for Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards. Instead, Daft Punk won for Random Access Memories. I was rooting for Sara Bareilles’ masterpiece, The Blessed Unrest. You probably only know “Brave” from that album but the rest of those songs are worth more than your time. And yes, Sara did perform “Brave” with Taylor during the Red Tour. Sara has gone on to write the soundtrack for an entire musical, Waitress. She also has an amazing new album, Amidst the Chaos.
Another 5-degrees-of-separation or even less is Ingrid Michaelson. Back in 2014, she sang at the Billboard Women in Music event where Taylor received an award. Ingrid did a beautiful piano rendition of “Clean”. Ingrid Michaelson also has a plethora of material, with a new album Stranger Songs coming out June 28.
And yes, I do recommend the strange and alternative music of Billie Eilish. You can’t deny there’s talent there. Both her EP Don’t Smile At Me and her first debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go are currently playing on my headphones non-stop.
I don’t believe in loyalty in music. I believe in good music. So, if Taylor Swift puts out good music, I am listening. If someone else does, I definitely want to hear that as well. It’s really automatic. You should not swear undying loyalty to brands. Artists who hone their craft and bring out great music will have a following. Yes, fame will carry you and fans will pay attention when you put out new material, but you have to reward that with good material. Yes, I am still fan and I am waiting.