My week in popular (…or not so popular) culture 16 November 2014

I have been contemplating to create “my week in popular culture” series for a long time, but never have been brave enough to start until now. I hope I can be consistent in writing blog posts for this section. To start, I am going to let you know how this works. For a week, I am going to look into at least one song (or a music album) and a film (or a particular TV show). If you know who I am, you will be pretty sure that I am not going to completely detach a music or a film from either politics or social backgrounds. So, be prepared for me to throw some of that in the reviews that I am going to write.

This week, I am going to look into a song from the hugely popular Taylor Swift, largely because I haven’t heard the whole album. So far, though, I am very intrigued to hear all of her songs from 1989.

I am going to review Blank space. I won’t only be talking about the music and lyrics, but also the most talked about music video. By the time I am writing this, the video has been seen for about 23 million times.The concept of the music video itself is quite Ariana Grande-esque to me. It is a humorous and dreamy music video. I am also pretty sure it was shot in a castle.

I have never been a fan of Taylor Swift, but this album has somehow amazed me since it is really different from her previous albums. She has changed her genre quite a lot, for this album especially. I didn’t hear the country music influence anymore. She has taking a lot of risk and it paid off. While industry experts predicted 1989 to sell 650k copies in the first week, while it actually sold 1.287 million albums (Facebook, 2014).

Here’s the excerpt of the “Blank Space” lyrics:

So it’s gonna be forever
Or it’s gonna go down in flames
You can tell me when it’s over
If the high was worth the pain
Got a long list of ex-lovers
They’ll tell you I’m insane
‘Cause you know I love the players
And you love the game

Her lyrics are poetic and as you can probably see from the lyrics and the music video, the song addresses how Taylor is portrayed in the media. She has been seen as a needy girl that keeps losing her boyfriend. For the ones who have seen her previous work, this is definitely something different and empowering for her. She chooses to embrace the bad things that have been said about her and turn it into a masterpiece. Being a popular culture enthusiast, I have been wary of calling every female artist feminist, but I am sure Taylor is. She is also one of my favorite type of feminists: the feminine feminist. When addressing an interviewer question about the rumor that she did not write her own songs, she replied:

“And we all know it’s a feminist issue. My friend Ed [Sheeran], no one questions whether he writes everything. In the beginning, I liked to think that we were all on the same playing field. And then it became pretty obvious to me that when you have people sort of questioning the validity of a female songwriter, or making it seem like it’s somehow unacceptable to write songs about your real emotions—that it somehow makes you irrational and overemotional—seeing that over the years changed my view. It’s a little discouraging that females have to work so much harder to prove that they do their own things.” (Dickey, 2014).

This year, she takes more control of her work. Before the release of 1989, she pulled all of her music from Spotify. The criticism has been very harsh on them. Spotify is believed to pay their artists in a low rate. Moreover, I heard that her record is telling her to ‘drop’ something from her new album, but she chooses to go ahead with what it was. In her interview with the TIME magazine (thanks to @lasbonitaschicas), Swift says “my label and management were the ones saying “Are you sure, are you positive? This is risky.” And I was the one who had to come back every time and say, “No, this is what we’re doing.”” (Dickey, 2014). And… just look at the result of what she’s doing!

The Best of Me

For the film, I am going to review The Best of Me. It is one of the films that are based on Nicholas Sparks’ novels. It is one of the most anticipated films this year when it comes to a romantic drama. However, sadly I have to say that it is a disappointing adaption (3/5). Why, you ask?

The Ups: The actor (James Marsden as Dawson) and actress (Michelle Monaghan as Amanda) who plays the older version of the main characters, have better acting skills compared to the ones who play the younger version. A very persuasive female character (Amanda). The place where they took the pictures, I believe, are actually quite close to what has been described in the novel itself.

The Let Downs: Bad editing. The stark difference of the acting skills of the younger version and the older version of the main characters ruin the flow of the story line. When the young Dawson and Amanda are on the screen, the film is becoming overly cheesy and packed with cliches. Secondly, the difference of appearance is quite outstanding as well. This probably makes some of us wonder whether it is actually the same people they are portraying. The ending is also quite predictable for the people who have been following Nicholas Sparks’ work, whether it is the Notebook, A Walk to Remember, The Lucky One or Dear John.

Source: Taylor Swift’s Facebook Page
Dickey, J. (2014). “Taylor Swift on 1989, Spotify, Her Next Tour and Female Role Models”. TIME. [online]. Available from: http://time.com/3578249/taylor-swift-interview/

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