#MusicMonday: TSwift gets all sentimental with new album ‘Lover’

If you’ve followed TSwift as long as I have (I mean the first time I heard her music I myspace messaged her. She didn’t reply, fyi), you know that Taylor has quite the reputation musically. She uses her personal experiences and many failed relationships to write songs from the heart and that is why her music still resonates despite her transition to pop from country in 2013.

Back with her seventh studio album, Taylor bring us lover released Friday August 23, 2019. Unlike the dark aggressive themes and musicality of her previous work ReputationLover is a love letter to love in all its maddening, passionate, exciting, enchanting, horrific, tragic, wonderful glory.

It has sounds of pop rock, synth pop, and electopop.

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Song by Song Review

I Forgot That You ExistedA cheery farewell to the events that inspired Reputation set to a minimalist piano arrangement and finger snaps. Instantly catchy tune. Definitely made me want to hear the rest of the album.

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CRUEL SUMMER: A synth pop song co-written with St. Vincent about a summer romance where there is some element of desperation and pain.

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Lover: All instruments used in the making of this track were made before 1970 which helps give this track it’s timeless feel. A country style waltz track meets a romantic but haunting song about being in love with love.

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The Man: An up-tempo synth pop anthem about the double standard women face about their actions and their words. I have never related more to a song in my life by Taylor Swift or anyone. It’s my favorite song on this album hands down.

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The Archer: A dream pop mid-tempo song that focuses on Swift’s flaws and insecurities within a relationship.

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I Think He Knows: The up-tempo funk-inspired love song about all the things you admire about a potential love. The song even contains a reference to Nashville’s music row.

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Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince: With an anti-“You Belong With Me” feel and theme compared to works Bruce Springsteen and Lana Del Rey about disillusionment of US Politics. Swift has recently come out politically as a proud Democrat and a silent supporter of Hilary Clinton.

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Paper Rings:  Bubbly pop punk track about committing to a relationship, forgo any formalities and marry him with homemade paper rings.

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Cornelia Street: A piano-backed ballad about a relationship  that may not survive, named after “Cornelia Street” a street in Greenwich Village where Swift used to rent an apartment.

 

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Death by A Thousand Cuts: A break up song inspired by the Netflix movie Someone Great, which was inspired by Swift’s album 1989. 

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London Boy: An up close and personal look at Swift’s  three year relationship with Joe Alewyn.pablo (88).png

Soon You’ll Get Better (ft. The Dixie Chicks):  A heavy banjo country ballad where Swift discusses her mother’s battle with cancer. It shows how there are real problems and there is everything else, and cancer is a real problem.

False God:  Using heavy religious imagery, it discusses the force between two people in a relationship as all-powerful and greater than themselves.

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You Need To Calm Down: A track with an electropop musicality about how social media gives us too much courage to bully and attack others.

Swift wrote this celebrating the LGBTQ+ community but slightly slanders Christians in the undertones.

Afterglow: A dream pop song about self-sabotaging a relationship, overreacting about a misunderstanding.

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Me!: A catchy pop track and the lead single off this album about self-love and confidence featuring frontman of Panic! at the Disco, Brendon Urie.

 

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It’s Nice To Have a Friend: A dreamy ballad infused with steel drums about two friends who meet in school and eventually end up married.

Daylight: A song reminiscing the pain and struggle of past relationships making you doubt your ability to find true love until she meets someone  who brightens her life in a new way.

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Lover by Taylor Swift will leave nothing unsaid and will read like all the great romances have since the beginning of time: void of time and space love is the greatest mystery and necessity vital to all of us as human beings.

 

 

#MusicMonday: New Pop Music You Can’t Ignore November 2019 Edition

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Teeth by 5SOS: The first time I heard this come on when I was listening to Pandora, I recognized that it was 5sos but it didn’t sound like a 5sos song. Instantly, I was hooked. I kept it on repeat for a while, and again when it came on during my shuffle during another listening session.

With a brooding yet ominous sound similar to their other single ‘Easier’, Teeth follows the highs and lows of a relationship with a bass-heavy musicality. It was written by the band but produced by Ryan Tedder, and is featured on the Netflix Drama’s 3rd season soundtrack 13 Reasons Why.

If this is any indication of where the band is heading musically, I not only support it but I will tell everyone about it.

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I Hate LA: Hot Chelle Rae’s first single since 2014, it’s a contemporary alt-rock meets pop break-up song with a Hot Chelle Rae twist. Hurray for their return to music (personally, no other band’s music gives me purpose) and their unique lyrical storytelling. Unlike their previous music, it has a more mature sound in terms of songwriting and musicality.

I mean what other band has used “Zack Galifianakis” in a song so smoothly.

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Raising Hell by Ke$ha: An alternative electropop dance track about good people doing naughty things and having fun. It is the first single off the upcoming studio album High Road.

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Everything I Wanted: An electropop slow jam based on a dream Eilish had about killing herself and nobody cared. As a song and not knowing that the inspiration was based on that and her strong sibling relationship with brother Finneas, it is a genius hypnotic track by the 2 time AMA winner (as of last night). I personally liked the idea of how the person realizes how having everything they wanted is somewhat of a nightmare.

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Graveyard by Halsey: I actually saw her perform this on the CMA’s before I heard this on the radio but this single is hella deep and addicting. It’s an acoustic song that showcases a relationship where you love someone so much you follow them into their darkness. It can also be seen as a song about a toxic relationship.

#MusicMonday: Holding My Breath showcases McLaughlin’s breathless songwriting

McLaughlin is no stranger to taking anyone’s breath away. The first time I ever saw him open for Kelly Clarkson I was unfamiliar with his music or even who he was but was instantly drawn to his honest, heartfelt lyricism that he penned on his own and his expertise with a piano. He made playing the piano seem as cool as being a drummer or an electric guitar player.

He quickly got a lot of attention and even appeared in the Disney movie Enchanted as himself. He even dueted with pop songstress and Broadway legend Sara Baraielles.

Holding My Breath is McLaughlin’s fourth studio album and was released on September 24, 2013.

The album was made exclusively for the fans and created with the site Pledgemusic. It got #8 on the Billboard Top Christian albums chart and #141 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Song by Song Review

Above The Radio:  A piano rock track about slowing down and listening to the music of life

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Hallulejah: A fun jazzy like track about not losing your soul in the pursuit of material things

Doesn’t Mean Goodbye: A piano ballad about fighting through the rough patches of the love between you and that special someone.

Anybody Else: A piano pop song about seeing someone you used to be involved with and how it brings back all the memories

Oh, Jesus: A heartfelt promise to Jesus that no matter how black and blue life gets, he will thank God for Jesus.

Broken Hearted: A song about how even though a broken heart is painful, the sun will warm the cold desolate pieces of it’s brokenness and you will love again because you can’t love again until you’ve been  broken hearted.

Fire Away: A slow song about a stillness between you and another because of tensions between you

Oh!: A pop rock track about someone pulling away from a shot of love between the two of you

Imaginary Tea: A song McLaughlin wrote about a tender father-daughter relationship.

The Truth: A song with a mysterious jazzy blue feel about someone who spread lies and was found out

Throw It On The Fire: A song about a love that still embers but no longer burns bright enough to survive.

At Night: A final instrumental piano track

Holding My Breath is a effortless peek into this musician’s heart and all that keeps him breathing. Some of these items include: staying true to himself, his faith, his family, and love with the right person. McLaughlin’s independent project was crowd funded for good reason: he was meant to sing a breathless song.

#MusicMonday: William’s personal struggle with depression brings themes of the realities of adulthood with ‘After Laughter’

Paramore has been one of my favorite bands since high school. I would ride to school listening to “Misery Business,” and relating to everything on Riot! I also found it entirely bold and daring of Williams who was only 16 when the band got it’s start wore bright orange hair. Williams songwriting spoke to me as an angsty teenager who felt misunderstood, undermined, and never ever good enough, it helped me cope through all those feelings and become a writer myself, and later a teenage author at only 15.

Released on May 12, 2017 as follow-up to their 2013 self-titled album comes a huge change for the band both sonically and lyrically.

The album contains dark lyrics over fun and poppy melodies Williams has been very open about her struggles with depression: “It means that look on a person’s face when they laugh really hard and then there’s this moment when they come back to reality.”

Drummer Zac Farro rejoined the band in 2017. After Laughter debuted at number six on the US Billboard Hot 200.

Song by Song Review

Hard Times: A playful eighties vibe contrast hard hitting lyrics showcasing growing up and Williams’ personal struggle with depression.

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Rose-Colored Boy: A song about feeling pressure to look at the world with blind optimism when you actually feel very hopeless about the world and your part in it. There is so much social pressure to be “happy” that we can actually feel shame when we aren’t.

Told You So: With a central theme is built around the common phrase, “Hate to say I told you so” which is typically said in a condescending disapproving manner. A track about struggles faced when people watching your every move waiting for you to make a mistake.

Forgiveness: Throughout “Forgiveness” Hayley talks about forgiveness and redemption between her and the other band members and troublesome moments with her partner at the time.

Fake Happy: A song showcasing how much we as humans can hide underneath our smiles. Despite being bright and bubbly at our best, there are some moments that you can’t fake the happiness.

26: About not losing hope and staying a dreamer, the musicality is acoustic and very authentically transparent.

Pool: 80’s new wave synth pop musicality creates a cool but dark love song about the highs and lows of loving someone

Grudges: A song about Zac Farro’s return to the band in 2017 after he left in 2010.

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Caught in the Middle: Williams confronts the concept of getting older. Combined with a contrasting light and danceable beat, Paramore shares the harsh feeling of seeing the years piling up. This song can also be seen as a fight with depression. Sometimes, the simple act of moving forward in life is a tedious task.

No Friend: An outro track to “Idle Worship” containing spoken word poetry from Aaron Weiss from MeWithoutYou.

Tell Me How: The final track about being at a crossroads in life. It’s a slow moving laiden track showing optimism toward the band’s future.

Paramore shows us that whether you are looking at the world with ‘Brand New Eyes’ or allowing the ‘Riot!’ within to speak up boldly. ‘After Laughter’ showcases a brand new maturity toward the realities and struggles of being a thirty-something adult in today’s world. And I am enamored by all that the band puts out both sonically and lyrically.

 

#MusicMonday: Jonny Lang’s fourth album is a bluesy depiction of the ‘signs’ of the times

Called the best blues album of 2017 by AllMusic, Signs is Lang coming back from previous works that had a more gospel feel to his blues roots that got him a record deal at only 16.

Song by Song Review

Make It Move: A bluesy rock song about the mountains in your life and how you got to make it move and stop waiting around for things to happen.

Snakes: Bluesy rock and roll song reminiscent of “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley about snakes in the grass or the things in life that try to get you off course.

Last Man Standing: A fast-paced bluesy song about fighting through the hard times.

Signs: Soulful track about the signs of the times we are living in may be end times.

What We Are Made Of: A song about how the trials of life help show what you’re made of.

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Bitter Ends: A soulful song with a gospel feel questioning the various motives of humans; the why behind what we do.

Stronger Together: A cheerful gospel like track about how we’re made to love and be loved.

Into The Light: Another gospel like track about the struggle between good and evil.

Bring Me Back Home: A soft piano ballad about coming home to the person you love.

Wisdom: A slow song about the power of wisdom

Singing Songs: An acoustic finale to this album

#PoeticMuses: Your Heart Is The Sea by Nikita Gill

Naturally, I was floored when Thought Catalog reached out to me directly as someone they thought of to review Nikita Gill’s newest poetry collection. They sent me the book and from the second I opened it I had trouble putting it down. It was like slow waves that wash over you as you stand upon the ocean’s edge. Your toes sink into the sand as you step deeper and deeper into the water, wading into it until the bravest parts of you are under water and only your head is above.

The water gets rougher and you must fight against the current beneath you.

That is what this poetry book explores. The struggles we suffer within ourselves so the poetry book reads like you are taking a deep sea dive into the depths of your heart and soul.

It is complete and utter inked beauty and leaves you feeling at peace upon closing the back cover, much like a day spent upon the water does or sitting listening to the ocean waves crashing on a sandy beach. The salt air does wonders for the human heart, and this book is no exception to that notion. I recommend everyone read this much like I would recommend taking a cruise vacation or booking a weekend getaway to stay near the beach.

 

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WHY ARE WE ALL AFRAID TO BE? A poem about how the world makes you feel less than you are or small as person.

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I NAMED US GRIEF: a poem about wanting to be with someone or not being right for someone but you still wear black and mourn them as if a part of you has died.

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For additional poems from Nikita Gill’s poetry book Your Heart is the Sea, please follow the Smart Cookie on Instagram and Twitter.

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#MusicMonday: Kelly Clarkson gets back to her soulful sound with ‘Meaning of Life’

Kelly Clarkson is only 36 years young and she’s already had a Greatest Hits Album. The original American Idol winner is back to her signature soulful sound with her eighth studio album Meaning of Life.  It was released on October 27, 2017 and debuted on the US Billboard Hot 200 at #2.

Song by Song Review

A Minute (Intro): 

A broken down minute long r&b track about needing a minute to be yourself. Written and produced by The Monarch with writing input from Jim McCormick and Katie Pearlman, was primarily made for Clarkson, whose hectic family and work life have made it hard for her to take a minute break for herself.

Love So Soft: 

A soul-trap anthem, very different from Clarkson’s usual stuff, picks up where Duffy’s “Mercy” left off. With Clarkson’s usual attitude, it tells a love story about something palpable between two people, “if you break it, you buy it” type love. Written by hitmaker Priscilla Renea.

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Heat: A catchy soul-trap pop sound paints a track where you are begging someone for a hot as coals type of love, one that has you warm all over, smiling from ear to ear.

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Meaning of Life: the title track and the song that started the entire project. The vibe, soul and message of this song showcases Clarkson’s new direction musically. It is a track that has an r&b signature sound but about a love that brightens the colors around you & catches you completely brand new.

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Move You: A ballad with a drum-string combination about wanting to make such a lasting impact on someone you end up moving them.

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Whole Lotta Woman: A body positive and female empowerment song about being loud & proud of your shape, your curves, and confidence in your femininity.

My favorite song on the album because it has the signature sound of a Clarkson anthem but with a powerful progressive measure. March on, ladies. Own who you are.

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Medicine: Schultz and Harlœ co-wrote and produced the seventh track “Medicine” as a tribute to the ’90s and was inspired by Carey’s song “Emotions” (1991). It has an up-tempo pop musicality which sets the stage  for this track about a past lover who she has moved on from who did nothing for her.

Cruel: An r&b jazz pop fusion about a hard to love lover that you are commanding respect from.

Didn’t I: A pop soul track about a lover you gave the moon, sun, and stars to and her or she took you for granted.

Would You Call That Love: A track about how someone loves you but they love you with a complete dichotomy of what love is supposed to be.

I Don’t Think About You: The soul-infused power-ballad chronicles losing a prominent love in your life only to realize you’re better off without them.

Slow Dance: A slow tempo ballad about taking things slow in order to let the fire or heat between two people simmer.

Don’t You Pretend: A slow tempo song that begs a man to be honest about his true feelings, and quit pretending he doesn’t feel the same.

Go High: A song about staying kind in a world that tries to turn you wicked, sour, and miserable.

Overall, Meaning of Life doesn’t have one bad song. It is short but sweet, and shows depth, growth, and wisdom of Clarkson’s person and artistry.

 

 

#MusicMonday: Fight For My Soul by Jonny Lang is a Blues Music Masterpiece

Jonny Lang is no stranger to professional music. He got signed in 1997 at the young age of 16, but with a musical maturity and sound that made me and many others, take note. It is no surprise that his 2006 release Turn Around won a Grammy.  Seven years later comes a brand new rock n soul Lang signature with themes of heartache, bluesy emotional musicality, and love and loss.

Fight For My Soul was released on September 7, 2013.

Song by Song Review

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Blew Up (The House): A bluesy guitar heavy track [Lang’s signature style] paint a metaphorical picture of burning down the house or leaving the man you were yesterday.

Breaking In:  A song about temptation (metaphorically or literally) breaking in between you and the person you love, and how you will no longer stand for it.

We Are The Same: 

A song about how God’s love could free each of us to all live with no more disguise.

What You’re Looking For: 

A song about how what you are looking for most in life will eventually chase you down, and find you at the right time.

Not Right:

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A soulful song about being & staying blind to the needs of this world.

The Truth:

A song with guitar interludes that remind me of Carlos Santana with emotional lyrics about wanting to be with someone but you aren’t right for one another, and not wanting to face the truth of that at all.

River:

Jazzy blues musicality about the sanctity of the river and letting it wash away the shame and wrong away.

Fight For My Soul: 

A soft song about a young girl caught up in the wrong stuff and the fight for her soul.

All of a Sudden:

A song about the moment you fall in love with someone & your life is forever changed

Seasons:

A song about the various seasons of life as he reflects during Christmas Time.

I’ll Always Be:

A love song about being your loved one’s biggest fan.

 

 

 

 

 

#MusicMonday: Pink’s Beautiful Trauma is raw and vulnerable in all her signature colorful ways

P!nk is hands down one of my favorite pop artists and it isn’t because she has the most amazing voice or has songs with popping beats but because she’s 100% herself with everything she puts out musically, and usually it always has connotations of female empowerment and encouraging young women to break glass ceilings and if they happen to not fit inside the box society tries to put them in…oh fucking well.

Beautiful Trauma was released in October of 2017 which meant it was her first album in five years time. The album debuted at #1 during it’s release week before ranking at #30 on the Billboard Hot 200.

When I first listened to it, I wasn’t sure I was a fan of it. Yet, it took a good ten listens for me to realize the amazing artistry hidden within each song and I do hope my review highlights the greatness of Pink’s Beautiful Trauma.

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Song by Song Review

Beautiful Trauma: The title track opens the album with a track about how life’s trauma can turn to beauty over time, and musically describes a love relationship that bubbles and fizzes at just the right temperature to keep one sane.

Whatever You Want: This uplifting power ballad finds the singer fighting for a relationship that seems doomed.pablo (27)

What About Us: Anthem-like musicality made this a great first single off the album with lyrics speaking to the heart of love and trust whether that be between two people or within society as a whole.

But We Lost It: A piano ballad that discusses a relationship that charged with so much positivity (joy, happiness, and peace) but time wasn’t on their side. Almost like a spark between two people that flickers, dims, and dies.

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Barbies: My favorite song on the entire album because of it’s soft musicality mixed with lullaby-like elements. It perfectly expresses that adult moment when nostalgia seems to take over and all you want to do is go back to being a kid with naivete and innocence “playing barbies in your room.” Co-written by Julia Michaels.

Where We Go: Catchy pop rock musicality make this worth a few listens, with a lyrical tale about letting go of a relationship that is doomed for disaster.

For Now: A song about reminiscing an old flame and getting stuck on the highs without realizing the lows.pablo (29).png

Secrets: A song about a truth about life and all of us have secrets or private parts we don’t express to just anyone.

Better Life: A track discussing the highlight reel effect social media has on all of us.

I Am Here: A brand new ballad version of Just Like Fire, expressing realizing you are enough as is ,and you are here in this moment.

Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken:

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A political yet poetic ballad about 19th century women and incorporates the #MeToo movement.

You Get My Love: The final track on the album emotionally pleading and raw about the gift of her love.