Like many acts of political patronage, Taylor Swift's recent ascension to the office of New York City Global Welcome Ambassador was met with populist outcry. And it's true: Taylor's slice of New York life is about as large as a (second semester) NYU freshman's. She lives in Tribeca, hangs out in Soho, and occasionally ventures as deep into the East Village as Second Avenue. (In three months, she'll discover those flashing-light Indian places on First and 6th and decide to have her 19th birthday there.) But while Taylor's limited geographic range has left her incapable of writing a good song about New York, it also means that it's fairly easy to get a reasonable facsimile of her Manhattan life in one whole afternoon. Here's our walking tour of Taylor's New York City. You can do it an hour!
In a pop-culture game of word association, nine out ten times, if someone hears "auto-tune," they'll quickly think "T-Pain." That's what's so staggering about T-Pain's Tiny Desk Concert performance. (Also, it's staggering to hear "Throwing that ass for days/Booty going up" in the NPR office.) His voice is really great. His tone is especially affecting — slightly hoarse, with a real character to it. Maybe most charming is how coy and nervous T-Pain is about singing without Auto-Tune, seemingly surprising himself as much as anyone who watches. Seriously, watch it ASAP; it's as close as you're ever going to get to seeing a robot come to life and experience the immensity of mortality all at once.
It's Halloween on Friday, and despite the natural siren call for scary things, this FKA Twigs clip for "Video Girl" is the freakiest thing I've seen yet. Forget American Horror Story's scary clown, how about a prison execution? "Is she the girls from the video?" Ahhh.
"I cyber-stalk because I care," Taylor Swift tweeted Monday, with the hashtag #taylurking at the end. For the uninitiated, taylurking is a play on lurking, which means to spy on people online without them realizing; in Taylor's case, it meant she was pulling photos of fans posing with her new album at Target and then posting them to Twitter. If you are over the age of 25 and sort of creeped out by this behavior, don't worry; her fans loved this, as she knew they would, because Taylor Swift is really, really good at social media. She treats her fans like friends, speaks their language, plays their games — all while encouraging their documentation of her album purchase. It is social media marketing extended to the hyper teenage BFF extreme. And it's totally working.
Every week, members of the Vulture staff will highlight their favorite new songs. They might be loud, quiet, long, short, dance-y, rawkin', hip, square, rap, punk, jazz, some sort of jazz-punk-rap fusion — whatever works for the given person in that given week. Read our picks below and please tell us yours in the comments. (Also, read music critic Lindsay Zoladz's review of Taylor Swift's 1989.)
Billboard is reporting that acccording to industry forecasters, Taylor Swift's 1989 is on track to sell a million records. She'll be competing with 2014's top sellers: the Frozen soundtrack (3.2 million) and Beyoncé (787,000). Best of luck to all.
Are you mainlining 1989 today? I sure am. It is, as you are all more than aware, named for the year of Taylor’s birth, so let’s hop in my DeLorean GIF and zip on back to the week our little pop princess was born. Here’s the Billboard Top 40 from the week of December 13, 1989. Fair warning: It’s a lot less bubbly and youthful than the album, and somehow, much whiter.
Happy 1989 Week; Taylor's fifth album is finally out, and we're all getting our hands on it, making first and second and third judgments about favorite songs, least favorite songs, and whether or not she's singing "Starbucks lovers" on "Blank Space." (She's not, sadly.) But what do the critics think? Is this a "good" album? Is it her best? Her worst? Her most conservative (as our critic Lindsay Zoladz maintains)? Who and what does it sound like? What's the general consensus on 1989? The reviews are in:
To hold you over until The Pinkprint's new, delayed release date, here's "Only," featuring Chris Brown, Weezy, and Drake. In case you heard otherwise, Nicki starts off strong: "I never fucked Wayne, I never fucked Drake, all my life, man, fuck's sake." Noted. But, like, what if you did? "If I did, I'd menage with 'em / And let 'em eat my ass like a cupcake." Chris Brown: not invited.
After announcing a November 24 release date for her long-awaited album The Pinkprint, Nicki Minaj has delayed its release until December 15. Perhaps as a consolation prize, Minaj’s new single “Only,” featuring Chris Brown, Drake, and Lil Wayne, will come out tomorrow. Minaj released the new cover art on Instagram, which features Nicki in a bodysuit, Weezy in a business suit, and Drake dressed like the pope, even though his last appearance in a Nicki Minaj video featured some distinctly un-pope-like behavior:
It's Taylor Swift Day in New York City (and also everywhere else). As is standard practice any time Swift drops a new album, we've spent the mornings decoding the hidden messages in the liner notes of 1989 to figure out who (or what) each song is about this time. The big surprise: For the first time, Taylor's hidden clues are complete sentences, and taken in order, they tell one single story (mostly) about one single dude. As Taylor explains in the forward to the liner notes, "I've told you my stories for years now. Some have been about coming of age. Some have been about coming undone. This is a story about coming into your own. And as a result ... coming alive." What does that mean? Join us below to find out!
If the past decade in pop has often felt like a dark, twisted, apocalyptic rager, Taylor Swift has been its designated driver. Poised, dependable, and preternaturally self-possessed, Swift has fashioned herself the sober-eyed observer in the corner, meticulously and sort of mischievously cataloguing the sordid details that everyone else will be too shitfaced to remember in the morning. (“22,” Swift’s requisite but irresistible take on the Millennial Party Anthem, proved that her idea of a wild time was not swinging from a chandelier or dancing with molly but eating breakfast … at midnight.) Of course, Taylor Swift has been invited to this party for years now — arguably since her 2008 album Fearless, which yielded country-to-pop crossover hits like “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me” — but she is choosing with great fanfare to call her fifth full-length, 1989, her “very first documented, official pop album."
1. It's a Polaroid* picture for a reason.
The week before the first single from 1989 dropped, Swift fake-leaked a photo on her Instagram feed showing an '80s Polaroid camera and a couple of boxes of film. A few sites briefly guessed that she was going to call the album Polaroid, and given that she has posed with one of those cameras before, she appears to be an enthusiast when it comes to this weird, old method of picture-taking. It does seem to fit with her brand: Her songwriting is about minutely documenting her life story, and until about 2002 or so — not to mention in 1989 — Polaroid pictures were a kid's best way of doing that.
Taylor Swift's 1989 comes out today, and we already know at least one song on the album continues Swift's long tradition of writing songs about her ex-boyfriends. What can history tell us about the fate of the men unlucky enough to be mentioned on a Swift track? It's a mixed bag — the subjects of some of the nicest songs have faded into obscurity, while most of the men who've received her harshest barbs have stayed at the top of their fields. Take a look:
The OK Go boys are up to some high jinks again. This time, they are brought to you by Honda's UNI-CUB, which is like if a unicycle had a baby with a Segway, and the Honda "multi-copter camera" they used to shoot the thing. Also, though it's not specified, shouts to whichever Japanese umbrella company they got to make an in-kind donation. Oh, and there's a song in the background from the band.
Watch out, New York City: The Taylor Swift promo train has officially arrived in Grand Central, and for the next few months, she'll be everywhere (including this website!). But also at the New Your Tourism board, which has nominated her to the prestigious office of "Global Welcome Ambassador." She explains why: "I'm still learning, but I'm so enthusiastic about this city that when I love something, I'm very vocal about it ... It's affected my life in ways I'm not even aware of fully." Maybe it's the almost-too-easy tie-in with the NYC Tourism Board?
A new Drake song, “How Bout Now,” mysteriously leaked online earlier this week, and Drake responded by releasing the track himself this Sunday, along with two other new songs that may or may not be from his forthcoming album Views From the 6. "That wasn't an EP. Just 3 songs that I knew some hackers had. But enjoy! Back to this album,” Drizzy tweeted.
Following up on last week’s cover of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me,” Kelly Clarkson delivered a rousing, gospel-infused rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” at a concert in Buffalo on Saturday. “This is a church song," Clarkson said, by way of introduction. "This is a soulful song.”
Jack Bruce, the lead vocalist and bassist of the power trio Cream, died yesterday at his home in Suffolk of liver disease. Bruce's family announced his death on his official website, with his publicist confirming. They said, "The world of music will be a poorer place without him, but he lives on in his music and forever in our hearts." He was 71.