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  • Tara Sonin 6:00 pm on 2019/09/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , music, , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    A Book for Every Song on Lover, Taylor Swift’s New Album 


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    TS7 is finally here! If you’re like me or any of the millions of Swifties out there, the arrival of this next era is just as exciting as a brand-new bookshelf full of reads you get to experience for the first time. After listening to the album on repeat all weekend, I decided to celebrate Lover with a book roundup inspired by each of the songs (since it’s the only thing I’ll be listening to for the foreseeable future, don’t @ me.).

    1. “I Forgot That You Existed” (Best Friends Forever, by Jennifer Weiner)

    You heard it from Taylor first: indifference is the new vengeance. This solid album-opener is upbeat and poppy, a nice contrast with the lyrics about the (final?) end of a broken relationship, friendship (or feud), when you actually forget that the person you once had so much ire for still lives. She transitions from “Your name on my lips, tongue-tied/Free rent, living in my mind” to “ forgot that you existed/and I thought that it would kill me, but it didn’t” with ease. But of course, insisting that you forget someone existed while singing about them.introduces interesting tension, and would into any relationship. It reminded me of Jennifer Weiner’s Best Friends Forever, about what happens when a former friend shows up on your doorstep in a crisis, insisting you’re the only one who can help them out of a tight spot (when you’d rather do anything but).

    2. Cruel Summer” (Do You Want to Start a Scandal, by Tessa Dare)

    Lyrically and sonically, this is one of my favorites on the entire album (it’s so good it should have been a single!) It’s got an Out of the Woods meets Getaway Car vibe in terms of the melody. Wistful, a bit haunting, but also a total bop. “So cut the headlights, summer’s a knife/I’m always waiting for you just to cut to the bone” describes a low point in Swift’s life (Summer 2016, ugh), juxtaposed with the high of discovering new love. There are so many books I could have picked for this, but “I don’t want to keep secrets just to keep you” reminded me of the Regency romance trope where the heroine has a secret, or finds herself in a situation where her reputation is at stake, but is still tempted by a handsome rogue who might lead her into temptation and true love. (Sound a bit familiar?) Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare feels like the perfect accompaniment to this song about a woman who must prove her innocence in the face of a sullied reputation or be forced to marry a man she doesn’t think she could ever love.

    3.Lover” (Roomies, by Christina Lauren)

    The title track (and the one I’ve been singing in the shower for days) is a swoony daydream of a couple in complete harmony, as Swift spins wedding vow-like lyrics such as “With every guitar string scar on my hand/I take this magnetic force of a man to be my…lover/My heart’s been borrowed and yours has been blue/all’s well that end’s well to end up with you/swear to be overdramatic and true/to my…lover.” But Swift is all about balance in her songs, so imagery of keeping up the Christmas lights in “our place” is juxtaposed with suspicion that “everyone who sees you wants you.” This track reminded me of Roomies by Christina Lauren, with its musician main character and the trope of having to share a space while inevitably falling in love.

    4. The Man” (The Whisper Network, by Chandler Baker)

    The double-standards between men and women have been explored in songs and novels since both art forms existed. Swift has already confronted the media’s perception of her as a victim, as a girl who goes on too many dates but can’t make them stay, etc. But in “The Man”, she more directly confronts how different she’d be treated if she were the opposite gender. How could I not think of the new thriller The Whisper Network, about a group of women who come forward about their male boss’ behavior of harassment in the workplace. Instead of continuing to suffer in silence, they tell the truth, resulting in an explosive conflict and an ending I sort of saw coming, but was very glad I was right.

    5. “The Archer” (Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen)

    Another slower, lyric-driven track on the album with gut-punching truths about love, friendship, and holding on to the one who has your heart. “The Archer” is associated with being a Sagittarius (which Swift is), but also her dynamic with the world. “Who could ever leave me, darling?/But who could stay?” is self-aware in a new way for Swift, as is “I never grew up, it’s getting so old” or “I see right through me.” This is one of my favorite tracks on the album, as Swift confronts her cultivated image as both archer and prey of fame and of love. Listening to the rising energy of the track as it builds to a anti-fairy-tale crescendo plus Swift’s lyrics made me think of Pride and Prejudice: Elizabeth Bennet is forced to acknowledge how her own prejudices have made it difficult for others to love her, but that she is deserving of an imperfect love. (And how could “All of my enemies started out friends” not remind you of awful Mr. Wickham?)

    6. “I Think he Knows” (The Duke and I, by Julia Quinn)

    After a slower song, this heats things up a bit, describing the early sizzle of a relationship before it even starts. For an entire album that sings the praises of a man, I liked the moment in the pre-chorus where she says “He’s so obsessed with me, and boy, I understand.” Own your worth, girl! The bridge was my favorite part of this song (as it often is with Swift; girl knows how to bridge) as it played with tempo and rhyme. “Lyrical smile, indigo eyes, hand on my thigh/We can follow the sparks, I’ll drive.” Swift explores the tension of the moment between seeing someone and initiating contact—songs like these always sting with a bit of danger, too, because the man knows she wants him but neither of them say anything in public about it. She’s whispering in the dark, which gives me serious secret romance vibes. The Duke and I by Julia Quinn is about Simon, who is planning to propose to his BFF’s sister even though he doesn’t actually love her. It’s an arrangement that suits them both, but before they both know it, Daphne is giving Simon serious “I Think he Knows” vibes.

    7. Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince” (The Cheerleaders, by Kara Thomas)

    If you don’t get the oft-spoken metaphor “politics is like high-school”, this song takes the metaphor to the next level. Subtly political but 100% heartbreaking, Swift re-imagines the political sphere (and her role in it) as a high school romance, moving from “American glory, faded before me”, painting the democratic 2016 election loss as a ripped-up prom dress (from Miss Americana, who assumed she would win.) Oozing drama and storytelling the way only Swift can, I love the moody elements of the brokenhearted girl contrasted with the new riff on a cheerleading chant (Go Fight Win!). This song is about mourning loss and then finding the strength to say “I know we’re going to win”, but it’s haunting melody and lyrics led me to pick a Cheerleader-inspired thriller. The Cheerleaders is about a string of cheerleaders murdered in a small town five years ago…and just when everyone thinks it’s time to move on, one girl becomes the center of a mystery that never truly died.

    8. Paper Rings” (The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan)

    I’m on my fourth listen of the album and this might be my favorite track on it (though that changes minute by minute, with an album as dynamic as this—and just to further accentuate this, by the time of posting this piece my new favorite might be I Think he Knows?). It’s a totally retro, 60’s style song, a totally new sound for Swift, and one that fits perfectly with her new aesthetic. (Makes me wonder why this wasn’t one of the singles released before the record.) It is a gold-mine for Swiftian lyricism, with so many gems I can’t possibly call them all out, and it moves so fast (like a good read) that you both want to cascade over them and pause to hear each line at least 5x before it passes you by. It’s an unabashed love song, relishing in the joy of knowing you’re with the one you love so much that “I like shiny things, but I’d marry you with paper rings”. The line that stuck out the most was “I hate accidents except when we went from friends to this”, which made me think of when Bex Porter goes to Oxford and, completely by accident, falls in love with the heir to the throne.

    9. Cornelia Street” (Passion on Park Avenue, by Lauren Layne)

    “Cornelia Street” is sort of the antithesis to I Think He knows. It’s about remembering the early days of a new relationship (“We were a fresh page on the desk/filling in the blanks as we go”) and being more than willing to give up all the good that comes with fresh starts in order to settle into something real. It aches with melancholy, because any time we give something up should be a little sad—but it brims with hope and Swift’s trademarked optimism about love. “I hope I never lose you, hope it never ends/I’d never walk Cornelia Street again/ That’s the kinda heartbreak time could never mend.” I had to pick an NYC-set story for this, like Lauren Layne’s Passion on Park Avenue. The city is another character in the romance between a successful jewelry-business owner and the son of the woman her mother used to work for.

    10.Death By a Thousand Cuts” (Please Don’t Go Before I Get Better, by Madisen Kuhn)

    Inspired by the Netflix movie Something Great, this is one of the few sad songs on the record, about a girl going through a breakup who can’t help but linger in happier memories. (For the record: “I dress to kill my time” is genius, as are so many of these lyrics.) Only Swift is so good at pairing such devastating messaging with a pop beat you can’t help but want to sing. This song was the hardest one to pick a book for (especially because it’s already inspired by a movie) so I decided to go with a poetry collection! Please Don’t Go Before I Get Better is all about the aches and sun rays of growing up, told in a staggeringly relatable voice that will make you want to curl up on the couch and cry your eyes out.

    11. London Boy” (Red, White and Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston)

    This is 100% about Joe Alwyn, but also…Taylor dated at least two Brits that we know of before him, so this song is about what we already knew (“the rumors are true”): she has a penchant for London Boys. Essentially a road map of her favorite places in the city, this indulgent ditty trades “Tennessee Whiskey” for “A gray sky, a rainy cab ride” and of course, her man by her side. Red, White, and Royal Blue is the perfect pic for this song, about two boys who fall in love (after a rough start where they were almost enemies) amidst those gray, rainy skies…but one of them happens to be the son of an American President, and the other, the current Prince of England.

    12.Soon You’ll Get Better (feat. Dixie Chicks)” (Swamplandia!, by Karen Russell)

    Of all the songs on the album, this one gave me the most vintage Swift vibes. There’s no denying that she is an astonishingly talented songwriter, especially when you listen to what is essentially her greatest fear laid bare, on the track with just a bit of guitar and the Dixie Chicks harmonizing in the background. Here, the story shines: Swift’s mother has been sick for a number of years, and while they’ve mostly kept the details of that battle private, this is the most vulnerable moment of love for her mother on an album mostly about finding true love. “Holy orange bottles, each night I pray to you/Desperate people find faith, so now I pray to Jesus, too.” A friend of mine recently lost their mother just after getting married, and it made me marvel at how life often delivers us highs and lows to grapple with simultaneously. While all of this was going on—Kanye and Kim, Joe and London, another world tour, another album—in the background, Swift has been terrified of losing her mother. This song made me think of Swamplandia!, a novel about a young girl living in a gator-wrestling theme park where her mother used to be the main event until she passed away. Now, in the wake of her death, she and her siblings must grapple with her legacy as a competing business rises up to swallow the success she built on the swamp.

    13.False God” (City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert)

    Is that a saxophone in the background of a Taylor Swift song? This slow, jazzy number is all about love and desire—and how we come back to it even when the world around us (and sometimes we, ourselves) put it in jeopardy. “And I can’t talk to you when you’re like this/Staring out the window like I’m not your favorite town/I’m New York City” and other lyrics referencing New York seem to be the grounding force in an otherwise tumultuous relationship. Multiple times on this record Swift has alluded to rough patches in her current happiness, but connection is always the solution to fixing it. She seems to say that if you treat your relationship like it’s your religion, you can get through anything. This is one of the sexier songs on the album, but it’s also got serious NYC vibes, so I’m picking City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert: a novel all about relishing romance in the glitzy 1940’s New York Theater scene, but also how desire can either set us on the road to ruin, or redemption.

    14.You Need to Calm Down” (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid)

    This song has done what Swift does best: inspire conversation and a bit of controversy. Acknowledging that it was past time for her to be an outspoken ally for the LGBTQIAP+ community, YNTCD tackles the various ways communities are pitted against one another (especially on the internet.) The first verse examines her personal haters (“Say it in the street, that’s a knock-out/But you say it in a Tweet, that’s a cop-out), the second calls out homophobes (“Shade never made anybody less gay”), and the third examines how her relationships with her female contemporaries have often been antagonistic, something she herself has been responsible perpetuating in the past with songs like “Bad Blood” and “Better Than Revenge” (“We all know now, we all got crowns/you need to calm down.”) The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is about a famous actress who hid the great female love of her life behind multiple male partners and uses her platform to tell the truth (all while hiding one last devastating secret). While Taylor herself has not come out as part of the LGBTQ community, she has come out as an ally, and this book made me think about the issues of privacy, platform, allyship, and identity that the song also confronts. If there’s more to the story of Swift’s relationship to the LGBTQIAP+ community, she’s going to share it on her own terms.

    15.Afterglow” (Queenie, by Candice Carty-Williams)

    This song ranks high on my favorites from the album, and it’s a rare genre from Swift: the apology song. The other famous one is Speak Now’s “Back to December”. In this mid-tempo song with slamming drums and a breathy falsetto, Swift yearns for the partner she pushed away to meet her in the moments after the fight ends. “It’s all me, in my head/I’m the one who burned us down/ but it’s not what I meant,” she insists. There’s still hope here though, as opposed to earlier songs on the record that signal the doom of a friendship or a breakup after-the-fact. Queenie, by Candice Carty-Williams, is a novel about a girl coming to terms with her role in a failed relationship, a career she can’t seem to succeed in, and friends she unknowingly betrays. “Why’d I have to break what I love so much?” is a question asked in this song’s chorus, and one Queenie must answer in order to find real, lasting happiness.

    16. ME! (feat. Brendon Urie)” (Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan)

    This self-love anthem is bubblegum sweet and full of earworms, the “Shake it Off of the TS7 Era. It makes me think of lightning fast beach reads that you can’t put down and that feel so good to read but also have a deeper meaning to them. Just because it’s not the most lyrically advanced of her songs doesn’t mean this bop doesn’t deserve to be celebrated— it reminded me of how romances constantly get a bad rep (lol, see what I did there?) about being somehow lesser than other genres. But I love that Taylor doesn’t care about what other people think and is 100% focused on being her authentic self— just like the heroine of Crazy Rich Asians, Rachel Chu. When confronted with the wealth and expectations of her boyfriend Nick’s family (who don’t think she’s good enough for him), she insists it’s her individuality that makes her the perfect partner for him.

    17. It’s Nice to Have a Friend” (This Love Story Will Self-Destruct, by Leslie Cohen)

    This track might be my second favorite? It’s so different (Ukulele? Trombone? Is that what I’m hearing?) and such a contrast to the beginning of the album, the opener closes the door on a once meaningful friendship. It’s also a deceiving song, in that I’m still not 100% sure what it’s about (on third listen.) I think though, Swift is exploring the importance of friendship in all its forms: in childhood (“School bell rings, walk me home”) to adolescence “Something gave you the nerve/to touch my hand”) to romantic love (“Church bells ring, carry me home/rice on the ground looks like snow”). Ultimately, she may be saying that the most important thing about a romantic partner is that they make you feel like you have a friend—when you’re young, the thing that matters most is feeling seen by other people. If your lover is also your best friend, then you know they always have your back. A love story that takes place over two characters’ twenties, This Love Story Will Self-Destruct is about the missteps, betrayals, beautiful moments and connection that forms between two people over a decade.

    18.Daylight” (Evvie Drake Starts Over, by Linda Holmes)

    “My love was as cruel as the cities I lived in.” What a way to begin this album closer. Swift’s last tracks have a tradition of being the ones that are most emblematic of her current state of mind, but they also have developed certain themes over time. Renewal, starting over, self-reflection, and hope are all subjects Daylight sheds a little light on. She acknowledges past failings (“I wounded the good and trusted the wicked”) and what she wants for the future (“I once believed love would be [burning red]/but it’s golden”). A book that feels like daylight on your skin is what’s needed for this song, and I think Evvie Drake Starts Over is the perfect pick: a story about a woman still grieving the loss of her husband but who finds herself moving on with a former major league baseball player. Both of them have pasts they are healing from, but together, they find hope for the future. “I’ve been sleeping so long in a twenty-year dark night/and now I see daylight.”

    And, unlike (I think?) any other song in her catalogue, she speaks in the end, not sings, in a direct appeal to her audience. Her very last words are “You are what you love.” Well, I love Taylor Swift. I love a good song lyric to sink my teeth into, or to sing. I love love. And I love a good story, whether it comes from a song or a book, and when you’re done with the album, I hope you find some here. Leave a comment below with which books you’d pick for your fave Taylor songs!

    The post A Book for Every Song on <i>Lover</i>, Taylor Swift’s New Album appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Tara Sonin 6:00 pm on 2019/09/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , music, , , , , , , , , , , , , , this love story will self-destruct   

    A Book for Every Song on Lover, Taylor Swift’s New Album 


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    TS7 is finally here! If you’re like me or any of the millions of Swifties out there, the arrival of this next era is just as exciting as a brand-new bookshelf full of reads you get to experience for the first time. After listening to the album on repeat all weekend, I decided to celebrate Lover with a book roundup inspired by each of the songs (since it’s the only thing I’ll be listening to for the foreseeable future, don’t @ me.).

    1. “I Forgot That You Existed” (Best Friends Forever, by Jennifer Weiner)

    You heard it from Taylor first: indifference is the new vengeance. This solid album-opener is upbeat and poppy, a nice contrast with the lyrics about the (final?) end of a broken relationship, friendship (or feud), when you actually forget that the person you once had so much ire for still lives. She transitions from “Your name on my lips, tongue-tied/Free rent, living in my mind” to “ forgot that you existed/and I thought that it would kill me, but it didn’t” with ease. But of course, insisting that you forget someone existed while singing about them.introduces interesting tension, and would into any relationship. It reminded me of Jennifer Weiner’s Best Friends Forever, about what happens when a former friend shows up on your doorstep in a crisis, insisting you’re the only one who can help them out of a tight spot (when you’d rather do anything but).

    2. Cruel Summer” (Do You Want to Start a Scandal, by Tessa Dare)

    Lyrically and sonically, this is one of my favorites on the entire album (it’s so good it should have been a single!) It’s got an Out of the Woods meets Getaway Car vibe in terms of the melody. Wistful, a bit haunting, but also a total bop. “So cut the headlights, summer’s a knife/I’m always waiting for you just to cut to the bone” describes a low point in Swift’s life (Summer 2016, ugh), juxtaposed with the high of discovering new love. There are so many books I could have picked for this, but “I don’t want to keep secrets just to keep you” reminded me of the Regency romance trope where the heroine has a secret, or finds herself in a situation where her reputation is at stake, but is still tempted by a handsome rogue who might lead her into temptation and true love. (Sound a bit familiar?) Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare feels like the perfect accompaniment to this song about a woman who must prove her innocence in the face of a sullied reputation or be forced to marry a man she doesn’t think she could ever love.

    3.Lover” (Roomies, by Christina Lauren)

    The title track (and the one I’ve been singing in the shower for days) is a swoony daydream of a couple in complete harmony, as Swift spins wedding vow-like lyrics such as “With every guitar string scar on my hand/I take this magnetic force of a man to be my…lover/My heart’s been borrowed and yours has been blue/all’s well that end’s well to end up with you/swear to be overdramatic and true/to my…lover.” But Swift is all about balance in her songs, so imagery of keeping up the Christmas lights in “our place” is juxtaposed with suspicion that “everyone who sees you wants you.” This track reminded me of Roomies by Christina Lauren, with its musician main character and the trope of having to share a space while inevitably falling in love.

    4. The Man” (The Whisper Network, by Chandler Baker)

    The double-standards between men and women have been explored in songs and novels since both art forms existed. Swift has already confronted the media’s perception of her as a victim, as a girl who goes on too many dates but can’t make them stay, etc. But in “The Man”, she more directly confronts how different she’d be treated if she were the opposite gender. How could I not think of the new thriller The Whisper Network, about a group of women who come forward about their male boss’ behavior of harassment in the workplace. Instead of continuing to suffer in silence, they tell the truth, resulting in an explosive conflict and an ending I sort of saw coming, but was very glad I was right.

    5. “The Archer” (Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen)

    Another slower, lyric-driven track on the album with gut-punching truths about love, friendship, and holding on to the one who has your heart. “The Archer” is associated with being a Sagittarius (which Swift is), but also her dynamic with the world. “Who could ever leave me, darling?/But who could stay?” is self-aware in a new way for Swift, as is “I never grew up, it’s getting so old” or “I see right through me.” This is one of my favorite tracks on the album, as Swift confronts her cultivated image as both archer and prey of fame and of love. Listening to the rising energy of the track as it builds to a anti-fairy-tale crescendo plus Swift’s lyrics made me think of Pride and Prejudice: Elizabeth Bennet is forced to acknowledge how her own prejudices have made it difficult for others to love her, but that she is deserving of an imperfect love. (And how could “All of my enemies started out friends” not remind you of awful Mr. Wickham?)

    6. “I Think he Knows” (The Duke and I, by Julia Quinn)

    After a slower song, this heats things up a bit, describing the early sizzle of a relationship before it even starts. For an entire album that sings the praises of a man, I liked the moment in the pre-chorus where she says “He’s so obsessed with me, and boy, I understand.” Own your worth, girl! The bridge was my favorite part of this song (as it often is with Swift; girl knows how to bridge) as it played with tempo and rhyme. “Lyrical smile, indigo eyes, hand on my thigh/We can follow the sparks, I’ll drive.” Swift explores the tension of the moment between seeing someone and initiating contact—songs like these always sting with a bit of danger, too, because the man knows she wants him but neither of them say anything in public about it. She’s whispering in the dark, which gives me serious secret romance vibes. The Duke and I by Julia Quinn is about Simon, who is planning to propose to his BFF’s sister even though he doesn’t actually love her. It’s an arrangement that suits them both, but before they both know it, Daphne is giving Simon serious “I Think he Knows” vibes.

    7. Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince” (The Cheerleaders, by Kara Thomas)

    If you don’t get the oft-spoken metaphor “politics is like high-school”, this song takes the metaphor to the next level. Subtly political but 100% heartbreaking, Swift re-imagines the political sphere (and her role in it) as a high school romance, moving from “American glory, faded before me”, painting the democratic 2016 election loss as a ripped-up prom dress (from Miss Americana, who assumed she would win.) Oozing drama and storytelling the way only Swift can, I love the moody elements of the brokenhearted girl contrasted with the new riff on a cheerleading chant (Go Fight Win!). This song is about mourning loss and then finding the strength to say “I know we’re going to win”, but it’s haunting melody and lyrics led me to pick a Cheerleader-inspired thriller. The Cheerleaders is about a string of cheerleaders murdered in a small town five years ago…and just when everyone thinks it’s time to move on, one girl becomes the center of a mystery that never truly died.

    8. Paper Rings” (The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan)

    I’m on my fourth listen of the album and this might be my favorite track on it (though that changes minute by minute, with an album as dynamic as this—and just to further accentuate this, by the time of posting this piece my new favorite might be I Think he Knows?). It’s a totally retro, 60’s style song, a totally new sound for Swift, and one that fits perfectly with her new aesthetic. (Makes me wonder why this wasn’t one of the singles released before the record.) It is a gold-mine for Swiftian lyricism, with so many gems I can’t possibly call them all out, and it moves so fast (like a good read) that you both want to cascade over them and pause to hear each line at least 5x before it passes you by. It’s an unabashed love song, relishing in the joy of knowing you’re with the one you love so much that “I like shiny things, but I’d marry you with paper rings”. The line that stuck out the most was “I hate accidents except when we went from friends to this”, which made me think of when Bex Porter goes to Oxford and, completely by accident, falls in love with the heir to the throne.

    9. Cornelia Street” (Passion on Park Avenue, by Lauren Layne)

    “Cornelia Street” is sort of the antithesis to I Think He knows. It’s about remembering the early days of a new relationship (“We were a fresh page on the desk/filling in the blanks as we go”) and being more than willing to give up all the good that comes with fresh starts in order to settle into something real. It aches with melancholy, because any time we give something up should be a little sad—but it brims with hope and Swift’s trademarked optimism about love. “I hope I never lose you, hope it never ends/I’d never walk Cornelia Street again/ That’s the kinda heartbreak time could never mend.” I had to pick an NYC-set story for this, like Lauren Layne’s Passion on Park Avenue. The city is another character in the romance between a successful jewelry-business owner and the son of the woman her mother used to work for.

    10.Death By a Thousand Cuts” (Please Don’t Go Before I Get Better, by Madisen Kuhn)

    Inspired by the Netflix movie Something Great, this is one of the few sad songs on the record, about a girl going through a breakup who can’t help but linger in happier memories. (For the record: “I dress to kill my time” is genius, as are so many of these lyrics.) Only Swift is so good at pairing such devastating messaging with a pop beat you can’t help but want to sing. This song was the hardest one to pick a book for (especially because it’s already inspired by a movie) so I decided to go with a poetry collection! Please Don’t Go Before I Get Better is all about the aches and sun rays of growing up, told in a staggeringly relatable voice that will make you want to curl up on the couch and cry your eyes out.

    11. London Boy” (Red, White and Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston)

    This is 100% about Joe Alwyn, but also…Taylor dated at least two Brits that we know of before him, so this song is about what we already knew (“the rumors are true”): she has a penchant for London Boys. Essentially a road map of her favorite places in the city, this indulgent ditty trades “Tennessee Whiskey” for “A gray sky, a rainy cab ride” and of course, her man by her side. Red, White, and Royal Blue is the perfect pic for this song, about two boys who fall in love (after a rough start where they were almost enemies) amidst those gray, rainy skies…but one of them happens to be the son of an American President, and the other, the current Prince of England.

    12.Soon You’ll Get Better (feat. Dixie Chicks)” (Swamplandia!, by Karen Russell)

    Of all the songs on the album, this one gave me the most vintage Swift vibes. There’s no denying that she is an astonishingly talented songwriter, especially when you listen to what is essentially her greatest fear laid bare, on the track with just a bit of guitar and the Dixie Chicks harmonizing in the background. Here, the story shines: Swift’s mother has been sick for a number of years, and while they’ve mostly kept the details of that battle private, this is the most vulnerable moment of love for her mother on an album mostly about finding true love. “Holy orange bottles, each night I pray to you/Desperate people find faith, so now I pray to Jesus, too.” A friend of mine recently lost their mother just after getting married, and it made me marvel at how life often delivers us highs and lows to grapple with simultaneously. While all of this was going on—Kanye and Kim, Joe and London, another world tour, another album—in the background, Swift has been terrified of losing her mother. This song made me think of Swamplandia!, a novel about a young girl living in a gator-wrestling theme park where her mother used to be the main event until she passed away. Now, in the wake of her death, she and her siblings must grapple with her legacy as a competing business rises up to swallow the success she built on the swamp.

    13.False God” (City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert)

    Is that a saxophone in the background of a Taylor Swift song? This slow, jazzy number is all about love and desire—and how we come back to it even when the world around us (and sometimes we, ourselves) put it in jeopardy. “And I can’t talk to you when you’re like this/Staring out the window like I’m not your favorite town/I’m New York City” and other lyrics referencing New York seem to be the grounding force in an otherwise tumultuous relationship. Multiple times on this record Swift has alluded to rough patches in her current happiness, but connection is always the solution to fixing it. She seems to say that if you treat your relationship like it’s your religion, you can get through anything. This is one of the sexier songs on the album, but it’s also got serious NYC vibes, so I’m picking City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert: a novel all about relishing romance in the glitzy 1940’s New York Theater scene, but also how desire can either set us on the road to ruin, or redemption.

    14.You Need to Calm Down” (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid)

    This song has done what Swift does best: inspire conversation and a bit of controversy. Acknowledging that it was past time for her to be an outspoken ally for the LGBTQIAP+ community, YNTCD tackles the various ways communities are pitted against one another (especially on the internet.) The first verse examines her personal haters (“Say it in the street, that’s a knock-out/But you say it in a Tweet, that’s a cop-out), the second calls out homophobes (“Shade never made anybody less gay”), and the third examines how her relationships with her female contemporaries have often been antagonistic, something she herself has been responsible perpetuating in the past with songs like “Bad Blood” and “Better Than Revenge” (“We all know now, we all got crowns/you need to calm down.”) The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is about a famous actress who hid the great female love of her life behind multiple male partners and uses her platform to tell the truth (all while hiding one last devastating secret). While Taylor herself has not come out as part of the LGBTQ community, she has come out as an ally, and this book made me think about the issues of privacy, platform, allyship, and identity that the song also confronts. If there’s more to the story of Swift’s relationship to the LGBTQIAP+ community, she’s going to share it on her own terms.

    15.Afterglow” (Queenie, by Candice Carty-Williams)

    This song ranks high on my favorites from the album, and it’s a rare genre from Swift: the apology song. The other famous one is Speak Now’s “Back to December”. In this mid-tempo song with slamming drums and a breathy falsetto, Swift yearns for the partner she pushed away to meet her in the moments after the fight ends. “It’s all me, in my head/I’m the one who burned us down/ but it’s not what I meant,” she insists. There’s still hope here though, as opposed to earlier songs on the record that signal the doom of a friendship or a breakup after-the-fact. Queenie, by Candice Carty-Williams, is a novel about a girl coming to terms with her role in a failed relationship, a career she can’t seem to succeed in, and friends she unknowingly betrays. “Why’d I have to break what I love so much?” is a question asked in this song’s chorus, and one Queenie must answer in order to find real, lasting happiness.

    16. ME! (feat. Brendon Urie)” (Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan)

    This self-love anthem is bubblegum sweet and full of earworms, the “Shake it Off of the TS7 Era. It makes me think of lightning fast beach reads that you can’t put down and that feel so good to read but also have a deeper meaning to them. Just because it’s not the most lyrically advanced of her songs doesn’t mean this bop doesn’t deserve to be celebrated— it reminded me of how romances constantly get a bad rep (lol, see what I did there?) about being somehow lesser than other genres. But I love that Taylor doesn’t care about what other people think and is 100% focused on being her authentic self— just like the heroine of Crazy Rich Asians, Rachel Chu. When confronted with the wealth and expectations of her boyfriend Nick’s family (who don’t think she’s good enough for him), she insists it’s her individuality that makes her the perfect partner for him.

    17. It’s Nice to Have a Friend” (This Love Story Will Self-Destruct, by Leslie Cohen)

    This track might be my second favorite? It’s so different (Ukulele? Trombone? Is that what I’m hearing?) and such a contrast to the beginning of the album, the opener closes the door on a once meaningful friendship. It’s also a deceiving song, in that I’m still not 100% sure what it’s about (on third listen.) I think though, Swift is exploring the importance of friendship in all its forms: in childhood (“School bell rings, walk me home”) to adolescence “Something gave you the nerve/to touch my hand”) to romantic love (“Church bells ring, carry me home/rice on the ground looks like snow”). Ultimately, she may be saying that the most important thing about a romantic partner is that they make you feel like you have a friend—when you’re young, the thing that matters most is feeling seen by other people. If your lover is also your best friend, then you know they always have your back. A love story that takes place over two characters’ twenties, This Love Story Will Self-Destruct is about the missteps, betrayals, beautiful moments and connection that forms between two people over a decade.

    18.Daylight” (Evvie Drake Starts Over, by Linda Holmes)

    “My love was as cruel as the cities I lived in.” What a way to begin this album closer. Swift’s last tracks have a tradition of being the ones that are most emblematic of her current state of mind, but they also have developed certain themes over time. Renewal, starting over, self-reflection, and hope are all subjects Daylight sheds a little light on. She acknowledges past failings (“I wounded the good and trusted the wicked”) and what she wants for the future (“I once believed love would be [burning red]/but it’s golden”). A book that feels like daylight on your skin is what’s needed for this song, and I think Evvie Drake Starts Over is the perfect pick: a story about a woman still grieving the loss of her husband but who finds herself moving on with a former major league baseball player. Both of them have pasts they are healing from, but together, they find hope for the future. “I’ve been sleeping so long in a twenty-year dark night/and now I see daylight.”

    And, unlike (I think?) any other song in her catalogue, she speaks in the end, not sings, in a direct appeal to her audience. Her very last words are “You are what you love.” Well, I love Taylor Swift. I love a good song lyric to sink my teeth into, or to sing. I love love. And I love a good story, whether it comes from a song or a book, and when you’re done with the album, I hope you find some here. Leave a comment below with which books you’d pick for your fave Taylor songs!

    The post A Book for Every Song on <i>Lover</i>, Taylor Swift’s New Album appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Dave K. 4:00 pm on 2019/04/23 Permalink
    Tags: , , music, , spring fever,   

    15 New Vinyl Releases to Spin This Spring 


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    After what felt like an endless winter, spring is finally here! At last, we can put our coats and hoodies away, open our windows, and get some sun on our skin. And since your windows are open, why not put a new record from the Vinyl Store on your turntable and crank up the volume? We’ve got a lot of spring arrivals this year, including new albums from Sara Bareilles, Khalid, the National, and Vampire Weekend, along with new film and Broadway soundtracks and a best of R.E.M. collection. Read on for more, and keep checking in with the Vinyl Store to see what we’re adding to our collection.

    Free Spirit, by Khalid
    Khalid makes quintessential spring music; sunny, chill, and full of good vibes. Free Spirit is his follow-up to debut album American Teen and 2018 EP Sunplay, and his baritenor voice remains just as impressive. His brand of R&B is refreshing, veering neither into celebrity swagger or rainy day melancholia. Even songs that aren’t explicitly positive—“Talk” being a great example—carry an earnest optimism. “Better” and the album’s title track “Free Spirit” are two of the best songs here, and the whole album is perfect for welcoming warm weather.

    Amidst the Chaos, by Sara Bareilles
    When Sara Bareilles isn’t contributing music to Broadway, she’s making great albums of her own. Her latest effort, Amidst the Chaos, is inspired by the 2016 presidential election and cultural developments that followed. “Armor” is a response to #metoo and the confirmation of Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh, and “A Safe Place to Land” is about family separations along the U.S.-Mexico border, and features a duet with John Legend. It’s not all sad, though; “No Such Thing” and “If I Can’t Have You” were both written for Barack Obama.

    Dumbo 2019 Soundtrack
    The remake of classic Disney film Dumbo means a redo of the soundtrack as well. That work was trusted to legendary film composer Danny Elfman, whose goal was to give the film a very distinct musical identity. In some cases—as with the film’s main theme—this means simpler compositions than one might expect from Elfman, driven by his belief that Dumbo is a simple story. Elfman’s intuition results in a dynamic soundtrack that is in turns playful and sinister; the differences between the playful woodwinds and timpani in “Meet the Family” and the tense strings in “Holt in Action” are startling.

    Begin Again, by Norah Jones
    Begin Again is album number seven for the multi-talented Norah Jones, and it might be the most fun one yet. Jones told Rolling Stone that her intentions for this album were “quick and fun and easy and low-pressure,” so she kept her songwriting process spontaneous and didn’t spend more than three days on any of the seven tracks here, including recording time. Consequently, these songs are looser than her previous albums, and frankly it’s something she should do often. The title track is ultra-catchy and driven by a simple piano melody, and the guitar in “A Song With No Name” is downright relaxing, despite its somewhat chilling lyrics.

    Stages Live (CD/DVD), by Josh Groban
    Originally recorded for PBS in late 2015, Stages Live features Josh Groban doing what he does best: singing hits from the Broadway stage. Josh’s voice is in particularly good form on “Bring Him Home,” “Over the Rainbow,” and our personal favorite, “Pure Imagination.” While this album is missing a couple of songs from the studio album Stages, it does come with a DVD of the entire live performance, featuring duets with Kelly Clarkson (“All I Ask of You,”) and Audra McDonald (“If I Loved You”). Through it all, Groban’s unparalleled diction and range allow him to connect emotionally with every song.

    In Time: The Best of R.E.M., by R.E.M.
    Originally released in 2003, this collection starts with R.E.M.’s 1988 album Green and ends at their 2001 album Reveal. Alongside obvious favorites like “Losing My Religion,” “Everybody Hurts,” “Stand,” and “Man on the Moon” are less-appreciated songs like “All the Right Friends” (from the Vanilla Sky soundtrack) and “E-Bow the Letter.” In Time offers a solid overview of R.E.M.’s impressive legacy as a band and demonstrates why they were one of alt rock’s breakthrough bands. Their sound, built on jangly guitars and Michael Stipe’s folk-music voice, holds up beautifully.

    Father of the Bride, by Vampire Weekend
    Singer and lead guitarist Ezra Koenig said he was aiming for a springtime vibe with this album, and he wasn’t kidding. “Harmony Hall” has a real Grateful Dead-Meets-Paul Simon feel to it, and fans of Cornershop will love “Unbearably White,” whose title might be a cheeky reference to the most common criticism of the band. But “Sunflower” is the clear standout, opening with a guitar riff that will get stuck in your head for weeks, and featuring a bubbly tempo that compliments the equally bubbly lyrics. Play this one with the windows open.

    We Get By, by Mavis Staples
    Mavis Staples has been performing rhythm and blues, with a heavy emphasis on blues, since the late 1960s, so it comes as no surprise that she’s really good at it. Her upcoming album We Get By was produced by Ben Harper (who also wrote the songs), and will hit shelves around her 80th birthday. For someone who jokes about being over the hill, Staples sings with more gusto and conviction than most younger blues singers, and keeps the music stripped down to the essentials. “Change,” the album’s lead single, is both powerful and simple, with a roadhouse guitar lick and catchy backup singers underscoring Staples’ own smooth, gutsy vocals.

    12 Little Spells, by Esperanza Spalding
    Jazz savant and Harvard professor Esperanza Spalding’s newest album furthers her reputation as a furnace of ambition; each song is meant to correspond with a part of the human body, and they all have their own videos. But don’t worry, this record more than holds up on its own. Jazz is often used as background music these days, but Spalding’s freewheeling, intellectually stimulating compositions require the listener’s full attention. To borrow a phrase from Paste Magazine, this is not “dinner jazz.” What it is, however, is really good, especially the tracks “Thang,” “Until the Next Full,” and “The Longing Deep Down.”

    Aladdin Soundtrack
    Disney’s remake of its 1994 classic Aladdin doesn’t just have an updated soundtrack, it has two completely new songs. Alan Menken and the songwriting duo Pasek & Paul (of La La Land fame) wrote a new duet for Aladdin and Jasmine, and a solo for Jasmine titled “Speechless.” They’ve also updated “Arabian Nights” and “Friend Like Me,” which has been altered to suit Will Smith’s comedic style. They’ve certainly got big shoes to fill—the original soundtrack is beloved for good reason—but the new voices of Aladdin and Jasmine (Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott, respectively) are incredible, and Smith is as effortlessly charming as ever.

    I Am Easy To Find, by the National
    I Am Easy to Find is the National’s eighth studio album, and their most ambitious in two ways, Not only is it their longest effort to date, it’s a companion piece to a short film that will be released alongside the record. It’s also another impressive take on college rock by a band that has basically mastered it; the somber lyrics and interesting composition make these songs more fun and spring-appropriate than one might expect. They’ve also picked some mega-talented female guest vocalists, including longtime David Bowie collaborator Gail Dorsey and Lisa Hannigan, who supplies Blue Diamond’s voice on Steven Universe.

    Living Mirage, by The Head and The Heart
    Seattle-based folk band The Head and The Heart are set to release Living Mirage this May, and without cofounder Josiah Johnson. In his absence, the band has spiced up their tried-and-true folk sensibility with flourishes of pop; the album’s lead single, “Missed Connection,” adds piano and even synth to the mix. If this song reminds you of the Killers, or even Toto, you aren’t the only one. The album’s title track, on the other hand, holds tighter to the band’s traditional folk sound, albeit with peppier and more prominent drums. The band has said that this album is about change and rebirth, making it perfect for spring.

    California Son, by Morrissey
    Morrissey takes on hits and obscurities from the 1960s and ’70s on his upcoming covers album California Son. His version of Roy Orbison’s “It’s Over” has already been praised by Orbison’s son, which makes sense given Morrissey’s vocal style and rockabilly roots. Other tracks on this unique album include Bob Dylan’s “Only a Pawn in Their Game,” protest singer Phil Ochs’ “Days of Decisions,” and in a real treat for rock music obsessives, Jobriath’s “Morning Starship.” It’s not just Morrissey on this record, either; guest vocalists include Petra Haden, Sameer Gadhia, and Billie Joe Armstrong, among others.

    40, by Stray Cats
    Rockabilly revivalists the Stray Cats haven’t released a new album in over two decades, but after a handful of shows celebrating the band’s 40th anniversary, they jumped back in the studio and recorded twelve new songs, all originals. The album’s first single, “Cat Fight (Over A Dog Like Me),” is as playful and bouncy as their classic material, complete with a full-blast Setzer guitar solo to remind us how good rockabilly can be. Even more impressive is the band’s chemistry; after all those years apart, they sound like they never stopped touring together. When you listen to this record, so will your neighbors.

    Come From Away Soundtrack
    Newfoundland isn’t often the setting of musicals, but Come From Away isn’t most musicals. It tells the strange and compelling story of what happened when 9/11 led to the forced landing of thirty-eight international aircraft in Gander, a small town whose population was doubled by the sudden influx of displaced passengers. The soundtrack is more infectious and fun than the subject matter would suggest; the Irish flourishes in “Blankets and Bedding” are a welcome surprise, and “Me and the Sky” will make any listener consider becoming a pilot. “Something’s Missing” is the soundtrack’s tearjerker, in which the passengers and airline staff confront the aftermath of 9/11.

    The post 15 New Vinyl Releases to Spin This Spring appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Brian Boone 2:00 pm on 2019/02/07 Permalink
    Tags: , , imaginary music, , juliet naked, music, , , , show crash, the crying of lot 49, the ground beneath her feet,   

    Fictional Musicians From Novels That We Wish Were Real 


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    You can’t read music. Okay, maybe you can read music, in the sense that you can look at sheet music or a score and your use your brain to translate that into what the song would sound like if played on instruments. But you can’t read music—as in, you can’t write about a band and fully express to the reader exactly what that band’s sound is like. It’s like that famous quote, attributed to everyone from Steve Martin to Elvis Costello—writing about music is like dancing about architecture.

    But still, dozens of novelists have peppered their prose with rock bands and singers, musicians who figure prominently in the plot and whose music is described either in passing or in great detail. These musicians are fictional, and so is their music, so it’s up to the theater (or radio) of the mind to imagine what those bands happen to sound like. Some seem so fantastic (or compelling in some way) that we wish they’d jump off the page and rock us until our heads explode.

    The Paranoids, from The Crying of Lot 49
    Like most Thomas Pynchon novels, The Crying of Lot 49 is often baffling and inscrutable, but not so much the parts that are explicitly about rock music. Those bits are among the most wacky things Pynchon ever did, approaching Weird Al levels of straightforward, easy-to-digest parody. Central to this is the Paranoids, a band matched only by Oasis in its Beatles-ness. Like the Fab Four, they get heavy into drugs and play songs everybody digs. (Unlike the Beatles, they’re American…but speak in English accents anyway.) However, it’s another band in the novel, Sick Dick and the Volkswagens, responsible for the greatest unheard Beatles rip-off of all time: “I Want to Kiss Your Feet,” an obvious send-up of “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

    Tucker Crowe, from Juliet, Naked
    Nick Hornby writes about music so well, particularly in High Fidelity, and Juliet, Naked, which is really a novel about the pathological ownership fans take over the art they love. The impact of the story would actually be diminished if we could hear the songs recorded by reclusive, brilliant singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe, either his classic album, Juliet, or the sparse demos, Juliet, Naked. The novel tells the tale of Duncan, a Crowe superfan who gets awfully miffed when the object of his obsession strikes up a friendship with Annie, his girlfriend…who wrote the only online review of Juliet, Naked that isn’t full of fawning praise. Is Tucker Crowe as good as Duncan thinks? Or is he as adequate as Annie claims?

    VTO, from The Ground Beneath Her Feet
    It’s unfortunate that Salman Rushdie is most widely known for The Satanic Verses, a novel that led to a fatwa on his head, because he’s one of our most gifted, idiosyncratic, and varied, contemporary writers. His writing is so surreal at times that it becomes insightfully real, exemplified by The Ground Beneath Her Feet. It’s the story of a rock band, but not a real rock band, and one that also inserts a great deal of fevered mythology (it’s based on the myths of Orpheus and Eurydice). Indian group VTO is the Beatles of this alternate universe of Rushdie’s creation, the most famous and most successful band in the world, probably because their frontman is the unbelievably powerful Ormus, whose style combines nods to real-life stars like John Lennon, Elvis Presley, and Freddie Mercury.

    Vitaly Chernobyl and the Meltdowns, from Snow Crash
    In his 1992 cyberpunk classic, author Neal Stephenson envisions a world where society, governments, and currencies have collapsed and corporations have taken control in the subsequent power vacuum. The declining importance of borders creates a pleasing blurring of musical forms, such as the “Ukrainian nuclear fuzz-grunge” perpetuated by a spiky-haired L.A. punk who calls himself Vitaly Chernobyl. That would suggest that songs like “My Heart is a Smoking Hole in the Ground” might sound like a chaotic combination of Nirvana, Daft Punk, and John Coltrane.

    Löded Diper, from Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
    A recurring presence in Jeff Kinney’s monstrously popular Diary of Wimpy Kid series, Löded Diper is the garage band fronted by Rodrick Hefley, odious, obnoxious older brother of wimpy diarist Greg. Diary of a Wimpy Kid has been going since the 2000s, long after the kind of aggro, head-banging, Quiet Riot-esque hard rock that is the provenance of Löded Diper fell out of favor, but it serves to show just how off-putting Rodrick can be. What’s more “big brothery” than a big brother’s terrible, guitar-ruining heavy metal band waking up the neighbors? Besides, Löded Diper know what it takes to rock: merciless noise, black T-shirts, scowls, a van, and, of course umlauts.

     

    What fictional band do you wish were real?

    The post Fictional Musicians From Novels That We Wish Were Real appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Dave K. 8:00 pm on 2018/11/12 Permalink
    Tags: , , music, ,   

    10 Albums to Pick Up During Barnes & Noble’s Vinyl Weekend 


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    Vinyl Weekend is coming to Barnes & Noble! November 16–18, there will be tons of deals on vinyl and vinyl accessories at many Barnes & Noble locations (check with your local store), as well as dozens of new, exclusive albums for sale in store and online. Below is just a sampling of what we’ll have in the Vinyl Store, including albums from Cher, Josh Groban, Elle King, and Mumford & Sons, as well as classic film soundtracks. So mark it on your calendar and get your holiday shopping done early at Barnes & Noble!

    Bridges, by Josh Groban              
    Groban wrote Bridges right after spending a year on Broadway, as Pierre in Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. Groban was clearly energized by his time onstage, and it helped to inspire a lovely, uplifting record. Along with songs like “Symphony,” “River,” and “Won’t Look Back,” Groban duets with Sarah McLachlan on “Run” and Andrea Bocelli on “We Will Meet Once Again.” He also delivers marvelous performances of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “S’il suffisait d’aimer,” a song originally written for Celine Dion.

    Love, by Michael Bublé
    Love, romantic and otherwise, is the cornerstone of the holiday season, and Bublé has devoted an entire album to songs about it. On this album, a perfect gift pick this holiday season, his song selections include Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose,” and two songs from the 1937 musical Babes in Arms: “My Funny Valentine” and “Where or When.”Bublé has two writing credits of his own on this album: “Forever Now,” and “Love You Anymore,” a song he cowrote with singer and YouTube star Charlie Puth.

    Dancing Queen, by Cher
    Following her appearance in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Cher has recorded an album of ABBA covers. Not only did Dancing Queen provide her highest debut sales week in the U.S., it also debuted at number one on the US Top Album Sales chart, a career first for the artist. What surprised us about this album is how long it took to happen; Cher and ABBA were made for each other, and Cher’s husky contralto voice breathes new life into songs like “SOS,” “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight),” “Fernando,” and of course the title track. Definitely pick this one up for the holidays—it’s perfect for parties.

    Delta, by Mumford & Sons              
    Marcus Mumford’s always been ambitious, but he had big plans for what he wanted Delta to accomplish. Recorded as a freewheeling, collaborative effort with as many as one hundred other musicians (not all of whom appear on the record), Delta draws on the core band’s shared exhaustion with touring and aims to be more introspective and reflective, but also has more musical elements (namely electronica and rap) than previous Mumford albums. There’s a lot going on with this record, and it’s a balancing act that the group handles with aplomb. Their lead single from this record, “Guiding Light,” is proof of that.

    Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert           
    Earlier this year NBC produced a live telecast of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar, and now the Vinyl Store has that cast’s complete performance. While the musical is a classic, many haven’t heard much of it beyond hit song “Superstar,” and may be surprised by how funky these songs really are. “Heaven on Their Minds” has an explosive power, and that goes double for “Damned for All Time/Blood Money.” On the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, the show’s most tender ballad, “I Don’t Know to Love Him,” is sung beautifully by Sara Bareilles.

    Carousel Original Soundtrack             
    Once hailed by Time Magazine as the best musical of the 20th century, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel is indeed a classic, and we’re proud to offer it on vinyl. Even if you’re not a musical theater fanatic, you’re probably familiar with “If I Loved You,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over,” but the whole soundtrack is well worth your time. Hammerstein himself said that Carousel was the best show he ever wrote, and it’s easy to see why. The lush orchestration and clever lyrics throughout Carousel are timeless.

    Shake the Spirit, by Elle King                               
    Elle King’s second album is more musically curious than her debut, which makes sense; once she established it, it was only natural before an artist as talented as King would step outside her comfort zone . With her loud, soulful voice as a unifying element, King blends a soulful hard rock sound with 1960s spy movie balladry and old-school girl group swagger, and it all works. “Shame” and “Naturally Pretty Girls” occupy the rougher end of the spectrum, and “Good Thing Gone” calms things down a bit with a slower tempo and more vocal harmonies. Regardless of style, King never loses the smoky allure that makes her music so satisfying to listen to.

    Harry Potter Original Soundtracks by John Williams: The Sorcerer’s Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, and The Prisoner of Azkaban   
    The first three films in the Harry Potter film franchise—The Sorcerer’s Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, and The Prisoner of Azkaban—were scored by acclaimed film composer John Williams, and now the original soundtracks of all three are on sale in our Vinyl Store! Williams’ work is already known for its versatility, and these soundtracks gave him (and the London Symphony Orchestra) a lot of room to swing between whimsy, discovery, gloom, and tension. And, as expected, his character pieces are immediately recognizable.

    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Original Soundtrack 
    While John Williams composed the first three Harry Potter film soundtracks, schedule conflicts prevented him from continuing the work. The reins for the fourth film in the Harry Potter series were passed to Scottish composer Patrick Doyle, a regular collaborator with Kenneth Branagh who proved himself very capable of stepping into Williams’ shoes. He and the London Symphony Orchestra contributed new major themes to the franchise, including the chilling, intense “Voldemort” and the surprisingly moving “Death of Cedric,” which has become an emotional touchstone for Potterheads.

    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Original Soundtrack 
    The Harry Potter film series switched directors again for the fifth installment, as composer Nicholas Hooper stepped in, recording this soundtrack at the legendary Abbey Road Studio in London. Hooper’s contributions to the Harry Potter soundscape include specific themes representing Dolores Umbridge and the possession of Harry’s mind by Lord Voldemort, as well as the use of a Japanese Taiko drum to liven up the percussion. Hooper’s decision to emulate John Williams’ work as little as possible makes this film score a unique, and excellent, part of the Potterverse, and one well worth picking up on vinyl.

    The post 10 Albums to Pick Up During Barnes & Noble’s Vinyl Weekend appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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