Taylor Swift: Rewriting (and re-recording) her narrative  

By Iris Archer

Acclaimed musician and songwriter Taylor Swift announced on June 18, 2021, that she would re-record her fourth studio album Red, including 10 never-released songs in addition to the 20 original tracks. She releases the album Friday, Nov. 12. 

Swift, 31, is one of the most influential female artists of the twenty-first century. She continues to reinvent herself and her music to this day. 

On a personal note, Taylor Swift is my favorite musical artist, and Red is an album that I loved as a kid. I sang my heart out to “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” at the age of 12, as if I’d been hurt in a relationship myself. I also remember dying of laughter to “I Knew You Were Trouble” goat remixes with my mom in our living room. 

 And a few years ago, my mom and I actually performed “Red” together at my guitar recital. That was a real full-circle moment. Obviously, there’s a lot of sentiment attached to this album for me, so I’m super excited for Red (Taylor’s Version)

A lot of excitement surrounds Red (Taylor’s Version) for “Swifties” and the general public alike. First, it includes 10 never-released songs that Swift wrote during the time of the original release of Red. One of these songs, “Nothing New”, features breakout indie artist Phoebe Bridgers, and another, “Run”, features original Red contributor and singer-songwriter, Ed Sheeran.  

Second, one of the most iconic and heartbreaking songs from the original album (“All Too Well”) gets transformed into a 10 minute (yes, you heard me right) extended version on Red (Taylor’s Version). And if that wasn’t enough, a short film starring Stranger Thing’s Sadie Sink and Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien accompanies the 10-minute masterpiece. The actors share the same age difference as Swift and actor Jake Gyllenhaal, about whom the song is written.  

Third, the album is known for its fall aesthetic, so its release in the midst of the season must be no coincidence. 

This isn’t Swift’s first dabble in re-recording her albums. On Feb. 11, Swift announced she would re-record her second studio album, releasing it as Fearless (Taylor’s Version). This being one of her most iconic albums, the project was well received by both fans and musicians worldwide. The new record included the 20 originals as well as six never-released songs deemed “from the vault”. Fans were delighted by Swift’s mature vocals as well as her ability to bring old feelings and emotions to life; Swift wrote the original Fearless album at 18. Fearless (Taylor’s Version) was released on April 9. 

After the re-release of Fearless, fans wondered which of Swift’s albums she re-recorded next. After weeks of fan theories and speculation, Taylor announced the release of Red (Taylor’s Version) on June 18, 2021. Red (Taylor’s Version) had an initial release date of Nov. 19, but the anticipation was so extreme that Swift moved the release up a week to this Friday. 

Before discussing how important this re-recording is, we first must deluge in a Taylor Swift career retrospective; what brought her to re-record her previous work? 

Taylor Swift began her career as a country singer, attracting listeners with a heart of gold and words that resonated with all ages. Her early music touched on motifs such as first love, first heartbreak, and the importance of family. Songs like “Teardrops on My Guitar” and “Our Song” catapulted her into the spotlight at 16. Following the success of her eponymous debut album, Swift released Fearless, her first true country-pop album, in 2008. It included some of her biggest hits to date, like “Love Story”, “White Horse”, and “You Belong with Me”.

Following the success of Fearless, Taylor shocked the world with Speak Now in 2010, an album furthering her pop leanings, with heartfelt tracks like “Mine”, “Dear John”, and “Enchanted”.  

Whereas Speak Now was still reminiscent of her earlier work, enter Red. Swift fully embraced pop-star status on this totally innovative album featuring some of Swift’s most popular songs, including the title track, “Red”, and radio hits like “22”, “I Knew You Were Trouble”, and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. The album also included beautiful melodies (listen to “All Too Well”) with lyrics to match. 

In 2014 Swift released 1989, which may be Swift’s best album lyrically, melodically, and conceptually (and it’s my personal favorite). 1989 continued Taylor’s work rewriting the rules of pop, with smash hits like “Welcome to New York”, “Blank Space”, and “Shake it Off”, among several others.  

After the extremely successful release of 1989 and its equally successful stadium tour, the media began alleging “snake” behavior by Swift following a leaked audio clip of her apparently giving consent to Kanye West to use her name in his song, “Famous”. The two have had a rocky relationship since West’s infamous “I’mma let you finish, but…” in the middle of Taylor’s acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Music Awards. But in 2016, when “Famous” was released, Taylor denied ever approving of having her name in Kanye’s lyrics. Six months after the release, West’s wife Kim Kardashian tweeted out a video, later revealed to be edited, of Taylor on a phone call with the couple approving of Kanye’s vulgar lyrics about her in his song.  

After a year of hiding from the media, Swift turned the harmful words into the smash hit reputation, with visuals and lyrics referencing snakes and betrayal. She used the negativity that once brought her down to build herself up again.  

This edgy era received mixed reviews from the media as well, and even from loyal “Swifties”— her fanbase—which motivated Taylor to write a better and more cohesive record that she could be proud of, and soon she revealed Lover to the world. As the title implies, Lover explores themes of love, commitment and loyalty and honors Swift’s boyfriend of over 3 years at the time of the album’s release, actor, Joe Alwyn.  

Less than a year after the release of Lover, the COVID-19 pandemic struck Taylor Swift with inspiration. In mid-July, Swift shocked the world by surprise-releasing her eighth studio album, folklore, a hauntingly beautiful work of fictional stories about heartbreak, loss and self-reflection. Swift then dropped evermore, a self-proclaimed sister record to folklore, less than six months later, expanding on the themes from the previous album. These albums were a shift of pace for Swift and caused her to regain some of the Swifties who have not listened to her music since her release of reputation, as well as garner a new fanbase comprising indie/alternative listeners. Swift gained respect from the music industry for not only releasing folklore and evermore in such a close timeframe and during a global pandemic, but also for completely shifting genres once again while still keeping her same fanbase despite doing so. folklore was so successful that it won Album of the Year at the 2020 Grammys. 

You might be wondering: what’s the big deal with these rerecordings? Many might believe it is a quick cash-grab, but the choice to re-record means so much more than profit; it symbolizes ownership and taking back what is rightfully yours. In 2019, Republic Records sold her master tapes to Scooter Braun, a popular music producer, without her consent. Taylor does not legally own any of her music or have any licensing rights despite writing and singing practically everything that she has ever released. 

Thus, re-recording her music is a way for Swift to regain control over what is rightfully hers.  This sends a message not only to fans but to everyone in the music industry to fight for what is right and claim what is yours. This message comes across clearly in “Change (Taylor’s Version)”, from Fearless (Taylor’s Version), which is an anthem to standing up against those who bring you down. 

“Because these things will change / Can you feel it now? / These walls that they put up to hold us back will fall down / It's a revolution, the time will come / For us to finally win”. 

It is also a way for Taylor to prove her strength and her willingness to stand up against adversity. I am beyond excited for this record, first for the nostalgia and second for the amazing symbolism and deeper meaning behind Swift’s time-consuming and monumental career choice.    

So grab your favorite scarf and a box of tissues and get ready to settle down for the almost two-and-a-half-hour masterpiece that is Red (Taylor’s Version) on this Friday, Nov. 12. Can you feel my excitement?  

And– even if you’re not a “Swiftie”, I hope you have a musician or a band that makes you smile and brings you undeniable joy and comfort. Listen to that artist today. Take a walk and breathe in the fall air, which is feeling more like a pre-winter chill. 

Iris  

(Iris Archer is a feature contributor for The Intrepid and is also a Taylor Swift superfan.)

I’m Gonna Leave You Anyway…

Photo courtesy of FX.com

By: M.K. Killen

Season four of FXX’s “You’re The Worst” kicked off Sept. 6, 2017, 10 months after the season three finale which dropped two consecutive bombshells on fans.  The first three seasons of the anti-romantic romantic comedy follow the budding relationship of two unlucky-in-love and all around terrible people Jimmy and Gretchen.

The seemingly self-aware narrative deals with the sordid lives of millennials in Los Angeles, who often serve as their own antagonists.

Covering themes like monogamy, domestic abuse, PTSD, clinical depression and the mystery of the human condition, the show makes use of the dark comedy popularized on the network by “Louie” and “Fargo.”  Though “You’re The Worst” is arguably more tame, it still contains scenes that cross the line from black comedy into just plain morose and bizarre.

Continue reading “I’m Gonna Leave You Anyway…”

Students share Netflix favorites as new seasons added

[Image retrieved from whatsonnetflix.com]

By Dalton Lord

It’s a new season, but it’s not just a different sight outdoors. New shows are premiering on television, and new seasons of veteran shows are as well. It’s also the time when Netflix brings new series and seasons to its lineup.

Seeing as how not everyone can watch prime-time shows at night, students log on to Netflix and binge a show whenever they’re available. The students at St. Bonaventure University shared what they like to watch on Netflix.

Continue reading “Students share Netflix favorites as new seasons added”

Adele says “Hello” with first new song in three years

By Liam McGurl

On Friday, Adele said “Hello” to another No. 1 spot on iTunes with her tear-jerking new single.

While the 27-year-old singer isn’t set to release her newest album, 25, until Nov. 20, fans got a sneak peek of the album with the single “Hello,” and its accompanying music video of epic proportions.

The sepia-filtered video, directed by Xavier Dolan, opens with a frazzled Adele trying to find cell service, as she stands in the middle of a forest windstorm.  After closing her flip phone, Adele makes her way into an old country home, where the windows are coated in dust and the furniture shrouded in dirty sheets.  

Continue reading “Adele says “Hello” with first new song in three years”

Grammys 2015: Highlights, winners and best moments

By Liam McGurl

[Image courtesy of cartoondollemporium.com]

The 57th annual Grammy Awards were a night full of glamour, performances and surprises — like Sam Smith tying Beyoncé with six nominations. As expected, LL Cool J opened the show wearing his signature beret for his fourth consecutive year.

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[Image courtesy of zap2it.com]

The early 70s rock band AC/DC opened the show performing their hit “Highway to Hell.”  From the get-go, it was clear that the night would be entertaining for everyone, young and old.

The night was full of similarly shocking performances, as Madonna performed a matador and bull themed rendition of “Living for Love.”  This performance was definitely the most controversial of the night as it featured an entourage of men dressed in bull horns and face masks alongside choir singers performing in gospel fashion.

Aside from Madonna’s sexually-charged performance, the night was full of fairly solemn acoustics – much different than the over-the-top nature of many past Grammy’s.

One of the most emotional solo performances of the night was Beyoncé’s soulful rendition of Thomas A. Dorsey’s gospel tune “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.”  Dressed in all white, surrounded by a choir of men in white tuxedos, Beyoncé effortlessly belted out the tune, earning her a standing ovation.  While Beyoncé’s singing brought tears to viewers’ eyes, winning “Best R&B Performance” for her Jay-Z collaboration “Drunk in Love” almost brought a few tears to her eyes.

Beyonce performs "Take My Hand" at the 57th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles

[Image courtesy of hellogiggles.com]

Katy Perry’s rendition of “By the Grace of God” was equally touching.  After listening to an introduction from President Barack Obama, followed by a speech from a survivor of domestic abuse, Perry delivered an emotional performance.  Full of smoke, shadow art and serious messages, Perry was the star of what might be the most memorable performance of the night.

Among these powerful performances were Ariana Grande’s production of “Just a Little Bit of Your Heart,” Kanye West’s surprisingly somber, and rap-lacking, performance of “Only One” and Sia’s slightly more upbeat theatrical production of “Chandelier” featuring actress and comedian Kristen Wigg as a Sia doppelganger.

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[Image courtesy of ew.com]

Maybe it was all of these emotional vocals, but even Pharrell’s “Happy” didn’t seem too happy. Regardless, whether or not Pharrell’s popular tune didn’t sound quite as cheerful, it’s a safe bet that he was after walking away with the Grammy for “Best Pop Solo Performance.”

While some may like the usual theatrical nature of the annual Grammy’s celebration, many appreciated this year’s focus on simplistic sets and tremendous vocals.  When it comes to these vocals, there is nothing better than a power-duet. Luckily, these were not in short supply this year.

Sam Smith and Mary J. Blige teamed up for an epic “Stay With Me” collaboration.  Even though the performance was met with an outstanding number of bravos, it’s a safe bet that the highlight of Smith’s night was walking away with four Grammy’s, including “Best New Artist,” “Best Pop Vocal Album,” “Song of the Year” and the coveted “Record of The Year” award.  One could say that Smith ran the Grammy’s— but that’s not much of a surprise to anyone.

While they might not have snagged any awards, Hozier and Annie Lennox joined forces for a mash up of Hozier’s “Take Me To Church” and Lennox’s “I Put a Spell on You.”  Hozier’s soulful voice could have jerked a few tears while Lennox’s power ballad provided a successful comeback for this 80s performer.

Lennox wasn’t the only shocking comeback of the night, though.  Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga took to the stage to perform their hit Cheek To Cheek, which helped them to win the award for “Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.”  It was nice to see Gaga on stage since she has been out of the public eye for the past few months.

Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani collaborated on an electrifying performance of “My Heart Is Open.”  Much like Lennox and Gaga, Stefani was a pleasant surprise as her career had been in limbo for a few years.

For the ladies, Ed Sheeran and John Mayer’s “Thinking out Loud” collaboration was a crowd pleaser.  For the older folks, Sheeran and the Electric Light Orchestra’s rendition of “Mr. Blue Sky” was a highlight.

Overall, there were not many surprises, with the exception of not so well-known vocalist Beck snagging “Album of the Year” and Paramore’s Hailey Williams taking home the award for “Best Rock Song.”

As for the expected winners, the Clean Bandit and Jess Glyne collaboration “Rather Be” took home the Grammy for “Best Dance Recording,” A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera’s group effort “Say Something” took home the award for “Best Pop Duo/ Group Performance,” and Miranda Lambert received the Grammy for “Best Country Album.”

Sunday night brought about lots of laughs, tears and great performances — but we’re still wondering if Sam Smith struggled to carry all of those trophies on his way out.

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Probably not.

The Heart Wants What It Wants

By Amber Williams

Selena Gomez released her new video “The Heart Wants What It Wants” last Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014. What’s not surprising about the video is that it is about Justin Bieber and the vulnerable state she is now in after their most recent falling out. Gomez and Bieber’s on-and-off relationship has been happening for about four years, and there’s no question that it is time for Gomez to let go of what they had in the past.

The video starts with a dramatic monologue confessing how their relationship does have ups and downs that are uncontrollable. “But then you make me feel crazy because you make me feel like it’s my fault. I was in pain,” cries the heartbroken singer. The signs are there through the lyrics. Gomez knows that Bieber messes with her head and that there are times where she wants to leave, but her feelings for him are overbearing. As she tried to justify this “relationship,” it is clear that she doesn’t plan to let go of the Biebs anytime soon. There are too many good memories, and bad, for her to say goodbye. But, sometimes, goodbye can be what is best.

One noticeable aspect of the video is the filter and the shots of the scenes. The black and white is no coincidence, as they are comparing to the Jelena pictures on Gomez’s Instagram. For example, the club scenes and cuddle sessions have been posted a few times on both accounts. Therefore, it will be assume that this video is a way for Gomez to reach out to Bieber to show him either the good memories he’ll miss with her; or to show him that he has shatter her into pieces.

To watch the video, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ij_0p_6qTssb and be the judge on what do you think will happen next with these love birds.

The Flash Speeds to Success

By Nate Discavage, @DiscavageSavage

You can add one more superhero TV show to your fall lineup.  The Flash opened to rave reviews last Tuesday night on the CW.  This was the first time that the Flash appeared in live action since the 1990s TV show was prematurely cancelled to the dismay of superhero fans everywhere.

For some of the most diehard DC Comics fans, this is not the first time we have been introduced to Grant Gustin’s (Glee, 90210) portrayal of the Scarlet Speedster.  We first met the hero in the CW’s other superhero TV series Arrow.

After an unexplainable storage robbery in Arrow, Barry Allen from Central City arrives to try and help the investigation.  He is shrouded in mystery until the audience learns that Allen has been tracking down unexplainable crimes across the country in an attempt to solve his mother’s mysterious murder.  He returns to Central City and is struck by lightning after a new particle accelerator malfunctions.  Allen is in a coma at the end of Arrow’s second season.

The Flash opens with Allen’s mother’s murder. A young Allen is awoken to the sound of rumbling downstairs.  He rushes down to see his mother surrounded by red and yellow lights.  His father rushes down to help before the light shifts slightly, and Barry opens his eyes to find himself ten blocks from his house.

Fourteen years later, Allen has become a scientific genius and joins the forensics division of the police force so he can secretly try to discover who or what killed his mother.  After proving himself to the police, he is called on numerous occasions to assist the police department.

Shortly after the episode begins, we are shown the same scene from Arrow where Allen is struck by lightning and goes into a coma.  This time, however, we get to see when he wakes up.  Nine months have passed since the explosion, and Allen has been studied by a group of scientists.  His cells have been altered and his entire body now moves at a much faster rate enabling him to run at super speeds.

After Allen discovers his newfound powers, he decides to use them for good.  He travels to Starling City where he meets with Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell)—the Green Arrow.  Queen instructs him to do what he thinks is right, so he can help save the people in Central City.

Allen soon finds out that he is not the only one who was given super powers by the explosion.  Another man’s intentions are not as keen as Allen’s as he uses his powers for his own personal gain.  Even after the villain is defeated, Allen and the scientists learn that the entire city has been exposed to the fallout from the explosion, and anybody could have new powers.

The biggest moment for comic book readers has to come at the end.  Without giving up too many details, director David Nutter (The X-Files, ER, Game of Thrones) dropped an Easter egg that could span as large as the Crisis on Infinite Earths.  To read more on that, check out (spoiler alert!): http://www.denofgeek.us/books-comics/the-flash/239939/what-the-flash-ending-means-for-dc-superhero-tv-and-movies.

The show’s series premiere was the most viewed pilot episode in CW history with 4.5 million viewers.  It was the most viewed episode of any CW show since Vampire Diaries in 2009.  After such a big debut, could this new spinoff surpass the original, Arrow, in popularity?  Only time will tell as DC continues to build upon their success on the small screen.