Lindsay Smith

2 POSTS 0 COMMENTS

TRACK REVIEWS: ‘Reputation’ – Taylor Swift

Album art courtesy of Big Machine Records.

At midnight on Nov. 3, Taylor Swift dropped the 4th single from her new album “Reputation.” The new music is like nothing she’s ever done before. This once queen of country is now rapping and tackling edgy topics in her lyrics. Is this a good thing? Swifties and other music lovers’ reaction to the first single says absolutely.

Her first single from “Reputation,” “Look What You Made Me Do” was released on Aug. 24, 2017. The lyrics point directly to Swift’s long time feud with Kanye West. With lines such as “I’ve got a list of names and yours is in red underlined,” it’s clear that she’s done playing nice with West. One Twitter user, @allysonkate even tweeted, “narrator: she didn’t shake it off” in reference to Swift’s hit song from her “1989” album. Musically, the song captures the listener with eerie tunes that build as the lyrics intensify her desire for revenge. Lyrically, the song left much to be desired. The chorus is simply a repetition of the song title, and frankly, it gets tiring singing “Look What You Made Me Do” after the 2nd chorus. When the music video was released, it broke the YouTube record for number of views in one day. The end of the video is quite the scene. All of Swift’s former selves and her current self are all arguing, spewing things at each other that the media has spewed at her over the years. The message is clear: Swift is not taking anything from anyone anymore.

In her 2nd single, “Ready For It,” Swift takes a huge risk with her career and tries her hand at rapping. There are two problems with this. First, she’s not good at rapping. Second, she’s rapping hardcore about a relationship. Swift’s love songs are downright legendary and can make anybody know what it feels like to be in love or heartbroken, but not this one. In fact, the NFL has used it in several of it’s Monday Night Football commercials. When was the last time a love song was used to hype up a football game? The answer is never. This song, while lyrically tells the story of two people forming a relationship, is not a song that will make you feel anything. Instead, the song is more fun and light, a change from Swift’s more serious love songs. The “Ready For It” music video was released not long after the song. Swift is a little risqué in the video, wearing a bodysuit that makes her appear to have no clothes on. While she is in fact clothed, there’s not too much of a difference between the appearance of nudity, and actual nudity.

The 3rd single “Gorgeous” is by far the catchiest song from the new album so far. The electronic tune will get stuck in your head and have you dancing in your room with the door shut. “Gorgeous” is also a love song, but while musically pleasing, is a lyrical disaster. In the song “Enchanted,” from the album “Speak Now,” Swift writes “I’m wonderstruck blushing all the way home,” perfectly capturing the feeling of being in love. In “Gorgeous” she writes “I can’t say anything to your face, cause look at your face.” This is not the emotional, deeply relatable lyrics that Swift is famous for.

“Call It What You Want,” the 4th and possibly final single from the new album, was released at midnight on Nov. 3. This song is very reminiscent of Swift’s hit from the “1989” album “Wildest Dreams.” Both songs create a dreamlike soundscape with majestic electro-pop instrumentation. “Call It What You Want” supplied the lyrical genius that Swift is famous for. With lines like “I recall late November, holding my breath, slowly I said ‘You don’t have to save me’,” anyone can feel like the story she tells is their own.

As a whole, the 4 new singles reflect that Swift is welcoming in a new era. An era that involves new styles and risks fans did not see coming. The full album will be released on Nov. 10, and I anticipate that it will be shocking and record breaking, as have all her other albums.

Turtles All The Way Down Review

John Green has returned to the literary spotlight five years following the release of his blockbuster title “The Fault in Our Stars.” His highly anticipated new novel, “Turtles All The Way Down,” was released Oct. 10, and it packs a punch.

In the book, a millionaire accused of fraud flees from his home in order to escape incarceration. The police have a hundred thousand dollar reward for anyone with information regarding his whereabouts. The man has left behind his two sons and an interesting pet you won’t soon forget. Hearing of the reward, two high school girls, Aza Holmes and Daisy Ramirez, decide to take on the case.

Picture Courtesy of Lindsay Smith

“Turtles All The Way Down” is a raw portrayal of the realities of living with OCD. The main character and narrator, Aza, battles the urge to partake in the behaviors that her thoughts demand of her. Readers have a front row seat to her inner thoughts, watching her wrestle with them as a drug addict wrestles the desire to get high. Throughout the novel, Aza sees a therapist who offers insightful advice and coping strategies to help her live a normal life. In one session, her therapist says, “One of the challenges with pain-physical or psychic- is that we can really only approach it through metaphor. It can’t be represented the way a table or a body can.” The rest of the novel, Green tries to give his audiences a story that gives voice to the psychic pain that those who struggle with mental health deal with every day. You will not be able to read the story of Aza Holmes without walking away with a broadened perspective of mental illness and humanity as a whole.

Other key characters from the book include Aza’s quirky best friend Daisy, who spends a lot of her time writing Star Wars fanfic. Also, is it even a John Green novel if there’s not a romantic interest? The millionaire’s oldest son, Davis Pickett, and Aza were childhood friends. When the two old friends reconnect, new feelings arise.  

Green explores fascinating existential questions, such as: Who exactly are we as people? Are we our thoughts? If not, then what are we? As with his previous works, Green has filled “Turtles All the Way Down” with facts you never knew you wanted to know, and eloquent explanations for feelings that are hard to explain. His prose continues to astound readers everywhere. Less than ten days after being released, the book has been named a #1 New York Times Best Seller.

Green’s new novel has well earned a 4.5 out of 5-star rating. The storyline and character development flow so naturally that you feel part of it. The vernacular is impeccable. “Turtles All The Way Down” offers readers a chance to see the struggles of OCD and develop compassion for people who fight the battle for sanity daily.

Picture Courtesy of Lindsay Smith

In order to promote his new novel, John Green is currently touring around the U.S. with his brother Hank Green. Hank is known for his collaboration with John on the YouTube channels Vlogbrothers and CrashCourse, as well as co-founding VidCon. The show consists of the brothers answering audience questions, singing, and science lessons, creating an atmosphere that is identical to that of their YouTube channels. The community that sprung up around these two brothers, referred to as NerdFighteria, has been one of the biggest supporters of “Turtles All The Way Down.” In fact, in the tour program, John writes, “This didn’t happen because my books are good, or because our videos are. It happened because people chose to care about our work, to invest their time and love into this community.” His modesty and truth only add to his genius.

I anticipate “Turtles All The Way Down” will go on to become a young adult classic and blockbuster, as did John’s other works, “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Looking for Alaska,” and “Paper Towns.”