Review Corner: Ed Sheeran’s Divide (÷)

(Source: Asylum Records UK)

I’m on my way, driving at ninety down those country lanes…

Like a lot of other people, I got introduced to Ed Sheeran‘s music during his opening gig days on the Red Tour. He remains in my mind, a musical genius capable of putting his music center stage without little to no scenery. Back then his style was almost urban, and that’s never a bad thing. Beat and a rhythm comes so easily to him that for Divide, or to be specific the ÷ album, he’s already past the mastery of the craft and begin the innovation stage. Or perhaps both were always the same thing to him.

This is one of those albums you experience more than listen, where all melodies blend themselves together the first time and you don’t really want to interrupt by looking up song titles. It takes a second listen to forcibly abstract yourself from the audio and finally check out what was that amazing track you just heard. “Castle On The Hill” was a favourite before I even owned Ed’s third studio offering, a mix of nostalgia and longing in a coming of age story that is almost cinematic. I could recognize the pop and the club beats influencing Ed and he in turn influencing them back in “Shape of You”. I’m not much for dancing music but I can’t help but like it. He goes back to ballads easily, so “Perfect” is almost a surprise in the sense that it’s not an easy track musically and lyrically. A less musician would’ve been happy with less, but the more you hear the more you become impressed.

“Galway Girl” is another impressive feat that has Ed’s style as well as old time folk music, something out of a Celtic fairy tale. “Happier” and “What Do I Know?” are also impossible-to-skip favourites already. You might have heard of the story behind the tear-jerker “Supermarket Flowers” which is a beautiful tribute written from her mother’s point of view to her grandmother, but it’s still going to make you cry.

Highly recommended album to listen non-stop. Available now on iTunes.

I Don’t Wanna Live Forever: The music video drops. The hotel room is trashed.

We don’t endorse hotel room mayhem, Taylor Nation 😉

(Source: Universal Studios)
(Source: Universal Studios)

Chill, it’s a joke. I’ve made no secret that I don’t endorse the film Fifty Shades Darker, as you’ve probably already read. The song “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” by Zayn and Taylor Swift doesn’t really break any new (holy) ground musically. The music video, however – which no doubt was directly influenced by the atmosphere of the film – ended having its own momentum. I was curious what direction (seriously no pun intended) it was going to go.

Zayn plays himself – or a version of himself, arriving at a hotel that has obviously forgot to pay the bill to the electric power company. Fortunately he has the flashes of the paparazzi to guide his way in. By the time he gets into the elevator I half expected him to bring out his cellphone to light the way. And yes, I’m being half sarcastic and half funny because most of the video is in half darkness, but it’s not really a bad video.

Taylor coalesces out of the dark, dressed in lingerie but donning a coat which accomplishes two things that a vampy femme dreams of: she’s both classy and sexy. She hints at the lingerie but never quite takes the coat off all the way. Taylor plays both the seduced and the seductress, keeping an even playing field with Zayn’s brooding. Actually I breathed a sight of relief at that, as I kinda dreaded any power game that would emulate the movie. It’s not that I’m being a prude, it’s just that I’d rather Taylor not take the submissive nor the bitch role. There’s no extended story, it’s just two lovers and some light hotel room trashing. Let’s just go to the video, shall we?

Watch on YouTube

The video is also up for sale on iTunes.

Coming up next, on next year’s calendar:

(Sources: YouTube, Universal studios)

I Don’t Wanna Live Forever. I don’t wanna support this movie. An Editorial

(Source: @TaylorNation13)
(Source: @TaylorNation13)

The following post may be for mature audiences only, Taylor Nation.

Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy who could use a new calendar from the Taylor Swift store, we’re usually all in to support Taylor Swift’s music. However, in case I haven’t make it abundantly clear, I do tend to voice my opinion on the things I’d rather not endorse. The Sparkly Dressed has attached her name before to things like diet soda and cosmetics. She’s been known to write songs like “Today Was A Fairytale”,  “Sweeter Than Fiction” and “Safe in Sound” for movies of different genres. Yes, I know there’s more. These are just examples 🙂 And then, there’s Fifty Shades Darker.

For the record, I don’t have a problem with consenting adults engaging into BDSM roleplay or live the lifestyle out loud. Yes, that’s what Fifty Shades Darker is about. “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” which is the single by Zayn and Taylor, is in that movie’s soundtrack. Show of hands, how many people here expected I’d be explaining BDSM in a Taylor Swift blog? I assure you I’m as surprised as you are. At the same time, I don’t want to dance around the subject. So, here we go. Ahem. I got this. I think.

You probably know the idea of roleplay from dressing up at comic convention or playing video games in which you play as a character such as a wizard or knight. But BDSM (which stands for Bondage Domination Sado-Masochism) is when adults roleplay with the illusion of control. In other words, they pretend in the bedroom for the sake of fun (as in sex, but sometimes more than that) to a degree that one person gives up their freedom (temporarily and with safety measures and limits) to the other. Not the best explanation, but the important thing is this happens between consenting adults. There’s a reason I keep highlighting that word. The problem I have with 50 Shades Of Grey and the books and movies that followed it, is that consent is sometimes not given or the character who has the privilege of taking the domination role (Christian Grey) often abuses it. Abuse is not romantic. Any relationship, even one with a BDSM theme, requires trust and abuse is not part of that equation.

From the outside looking in, it just looks like a movie with some erotic sex, but it’s problematic. So, sound the alarm? Well, you’d be too late. It’s hard to find something that is not problematic. The soda industry and the cosmetics industry have been known to take decisions that were not always health-conscious. I know it sounds like I’m trying to be apologetic of Taylor’s choices. I am not. I am saying that even if Taylor’s name is attached to the PR machine for this movie through its soundtrack, you can choose to watch something else.

I didn’t start drinking Diet Coke when the soda promoted Taylor Swift’s 1989 Tour, yet I went to a concert. I am not subscribing to Apple Music because of Taylor’s ads and I can enjoy the ads. I didn’t see One Man just because “Sweeter than Fiction” was in the soundtrack. I did however went to see Valentine’s Day because Taylor was in it. I did love her performance, but I wouldn’t recommend that movie. The music industry is another facet of entertainment, so movies and music are often sold together. You can’t really turn off your mind as a fan when it comes to the media. So, rather than making an exception because it’s Taylor Swift, remember than following your favorite artist doesn’t mean you need to consume every products that are associated to her brand. Instead, I would advise you use the same criteria to choose something regardless of who endorses it.

That also means you could just get the song and forget about the movie, while we’re at it. I know most people will go with that one and I could just lead off with that and leave out everything else. I just tend to go further than most people and overanalyze everything (bet you haven’t noticed that).

In other words, use your mind. Form your own opinion. Right or wrong, it’s yours to make.

Next up, I get blocked by Taylor Nation. Or perhaps they’ll let me go with a warning again. 😉

Coming up next, on next year’s calendar:

The 50th CMA Awards: Taylor Swift presents Garth Brooks with Entertainer of the Year!

A little advance warning would be nice, Taylor Nation.

(Photo: Erika Goldring/Filmmagic)
(Photo: Erika Goldring/Filmmagic)

I was watching the 50th Annual CMA Awards last night on a whim. It was a great show. The performers were going back to the old country classics. Even Beyonce’s appearance, accompanied by the Dixie Chicks, was a decent country performance. Hall of famers and past winners were singing their old hits and every now and then we’d see a clip from the CMA Awards from past years. I enjoyed the comedy chemistry of Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood. Little Big Town performed their new single “Better Man”, and I thought that was as close as we’d get to have Taylor for this giant anniversary.

Sometime halfway into the show, we heard it. Taylor Swift was going to be presenting Entertainer of the Year. Flashbacks were now a very real thing. Was Taylor’s appearance unconfirmed until the last minute? Is that why it wasn’t possible to announce it with the promos? Regardless, we did get the very same Forever and Always Fearless One presenting the Entertainer of the Year award to Garth Brooks. Wish you would’ve seen it. Short and sweet, but she was warmly received.

Watch on YouTube

It was an all out tribute to classic Country while still honouring Country’s current best. I’m glad the Enchantress got to participate, even in a small but bright moment. Check out Maren Morris singing “My Church” if you can, she really seemed like the rising star last night. She won New Artist of the Year. Also, congratulations to Eric Church for winning Album of the Year for Mr. Misunderstood.

Coming up next, on next year’s calendar:

(Sources: 50th Annual CMA Awards)

News Update: Little Big Town’s Better Man mystery songwriter revealed. It’s Deadpool.

Boo, Taylor Nation.

(Source: Taylor Swift via Instagram)
(Source: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy wishing y’all had a happy and safe Halloween. The former Princess in Red actually wore a different red costume for the festivities. Obtained via the man himself, actor Ryan Reynolds, the Sparkly Dressed became the Merc With A Mouth. That’s Deadpool for all you non-geeky people that somehow ended up here.

That’s not the only mystery that was cleared up today. Little Big Town released the video for their latest single “Better Man” and with it, the identity of the songwriter. Previously to this reveal, the only hint had been, “a young girl in Nashville who wrote it by herself”. According to Rolling Stone magazine, “both parties were rewarded with the biggest day of radio adds in the band’s history – before anyone knew the track was written by Swift.”

That’s a compliment for the band AND the song since it stood on its own upon release without using Taylor’s pop-star-power. Says a lot of the amazing vocals and arrangements used and the raw quality of the Enchantress’ songwriting prowess. However, as much as I enjoy knowing the Blonde With The Sparkly 1989 Microphone can still write a country song, I want to issue a small reminder. Or actually… A little big one. The song might be great, but its execution and consequence success are all the work of the members of Little Big Town, Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook, and Phillip Sweet. It’s their personalities, their performance and their vocal talent that brings about excellence. Yes, the song has to be good to be able to become a hit, but it doesn’t go anywhere without the singers. LBT had to make this song their own in order to shine and they deserve the credit. It’s their hit and nobody can take it away from them.

Watch on YouTube

Coming up next, on next year’s calendar:

(Sources: Taylor Swift’s Instagram, Rolling Stone)