Category Archives: Music/Concerts

The top bass players of recent history

By: Domingo Basso

Okay, well, since the electric bass is like the coolest instrument ever (very factual statement) I’m sure you’re wondering just who exactly are some of the best bass players in the world? Well allow me to show you what my research has led me to conclude. And before I continue, I’ll make the disclaimer that there is no truly factual best bass player(s) in the world, so this is, of course, based on my opinion.

My list of the top bass players will also align with that of one done by ‘Rolling Stone’ in a poll, so I highly recommend that article if you want to learn more. Anyways, enough with the introductions, here are some of the top bass players: 

8: Victor Wooten- 

Victor Wooten is a famous bass player who’s most known for his amazing jazz bass playing, great knowledge in music theory as a whole, and most of all his fantastic improvising skills.

7: Cliff Burton- 

Cliff Burton, who’s known for his role as the bassist of the band Metallica, was a great influence for bassists in the future with his frequent use of pedals creating a more distorted and aggressive sound. He also would play his bass in a way that allowed it to be a more prominent sound in the band, even being mistaken for a lead guitar at times. 

6: Jaco Pastorius –

Now, while the name Jaco Pastorious isn’t all that well known, the bass playing community highly respects this man for his sheer mastery over the instrument, having him be a very sought after musician to work with. This allowed him to work with the likes of: Weather Report, Joni Mitchell, Ian Hunter, Herbie Hancock and many others.

5: John Paul Jones- 

John Paul Jones, known for his involvement as the bassist of the band Led Zeppelin, was a master at using the bass with his interesting percussive and rhythmic style inspiring many bassists around the world.

4: Les Claypool-

Les Claypool is known for being a bit of a weirdo and you can kind of tell that after listening to some of his music. His most famous music act was being the lead singer and bassist of Primus. Doing bass lines that are already very difficult to master, he pairs that up with also being the lead vocalist for the band, earning him a spot on this list. Funny enough, after Cliff Burton’s death, Metallica was in search of a new bassist and Les tried out for it but was eventually denied the role.

3: Geddy Lee- 

Geddy Lee, known most for his role in the band Rush, is very talented at playing the bass. But, he also plays the keyboard for the band, as well as being the lead vocalist, so he earns a spot on this list for his sheer variety and key role in his band.

2: Paul Mcartney-

While Paul Mcartney (known for his role as the bassist of the band The Beatles) isn’t the most skilled bass player out there, he still manages to earn a spot on this list because of the amount of influence that he has over bassists around the world to this day. This arguably makes him one of the most famous bassists of all time.

1:  Flea-

Finally, on the number one spot of my list is Flea, known for his role as the bassist in the band Red Hot Chili Peppers. I put him on the #1 spot because he’s a very well renowned slap bassist and really helped boost the popularity of the bass guitar (also I’m super biased, but that’s like, whatever).

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Review: SZA’s new album ‘SOS’

By: Alexa Ramirez

SZA’s 5 year hiatus has finally come to an end, and her new album ‘SOS’ has broken the internet, reaching the No. 1 spot on Billboard 200. This album contains 23 tracks, is filled with several collaborations, and is a definite sign of expansion in this upcoming musician’s artistic style.

Image of SZA taken from: max94one.com

Solana Rowe (SZA) is a 33-year-old R&B singer from Missouri. She began making music in the early 2010’s, and released her debut album, ‘CTRL’, in June of 2017. This album gave her a great deal of her fame, but is filled with nearly all contemporary R&B, which is what got her the reputation she has in the music world as an R&B singer.

She has also gained huge followings through social media, and experienced success with TikTok, where many of her songs, such “Good Days”, “Broken Clocks”, “Drew Barrymore” and many more are used by fans making videos.

She also made an appearance in the movie ‘Black Panther’, in the song “All the Stars” which she collaborated on with Kendrick Lamar.

She has also been featured on Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, and performed in the Good Vibes Festival, Panorama NYC, AFROPUNK FEST Paris and many others.

Though she is relatively new to the music scene, she is definitely making a large name for herself and her music is only on its come up now.

While she has stayed relevant through social media, she hasn’t been releasing much music since her debut album in 2017. Since then, she has added a deluxe version of her first album ‘CTRL’ and has released three songs. “I Hate U”, “Good Days” and “Shirt” were all songs she released between albums which kept her relevant online. But really, this new album has been a big deal in her career since she has been off the grid musically for a long time, and many people didn’t know when, or if, she would be releasing music again. There were even rumors that she retired, or is retiring from music altogether.

When speaking on how releasing music has negatively affected her she said, “I’m making the best album of my life for this next album and I know that, because it’s going to be my last album.” ‘SOS’ was the last album she had been referring to, setting the standards high and the audience eagerly waiting on its release.

This album is a very unique one musically, and artistically, considering her previous label as an R&B only artist; she has definitely expanded on that and added a variety of rap and pop songs to this album.

The songs “Kill Bill”, “Conceited”, and “Seek & Destroy” all explored an upbeat pop side to her, which is a fun one to see because her music is usually very beautiful in more sad or quiet ways, while these were more bold and bouncy.

I also was so excited about her expansion on her rap side with the songs “Low”, “Smoking on my Ex Pack”, and “SOS” which were fun and very singable. She doesn’t get enough credit for her plays on words which were shown off in those songs, and many others on this album.

I thought expanding on her skills, and also keeping some R&B songs that she’s known and loved for, like “I Hate U” and “Blind” was genius because it caters to many different needs fans might have had for this album.

Side by side of the album cover and its inspiration from Daily Mail

Another interesting detail about the album is its cover; in the cover photo, SZA is sitting on the edge of a diving board over an ocean as seen in a similar photo of the late Princess Diana, who was photographed sitting on the edge of the diving board on Mohamed Al Fayed’s Jonikal yacht. The photo was taken in 1997, before her death. When asked about the resemblance between the two photos, SZA said, “I just loved how isolated she felt, and that was what I wanted to convey the most”. This unique attention to detail in every aspect of her album is something key to understanding the type of artist that SZA really is.

I rate it a full 5/5 because the songs were all so good and special, and music aside, it spoke volumes about her as an artist and as a person and I’m excited to see where her musical journey will take her in the future.

Top 5 most influential rappers of 2022

By: Dylan Moore      

Drake with Swedish rapper Yung Lean.
Image taken from: https://twitter.com/dailyloud/status/
1491381807887302656?s=46&t=wd4RdV165XC4JXOAxW1WtA

2022 was a phenomenal year for the genre of rap. Long awaited albums dropped, new artists exploded on the scene, while long standing titans of the industry proved once again why they have staying power with amazing features and singles. For clarifications sake, this album will be based off of music these artists released in 2022, along with the impact of artists they have co-signed (if they own a record label).

5. 21 Savage

An artist who has very rapidly climbed the food chain since his 2015 debut, he grew exponentially in 2022. Known for being the best feature artist in the genre, 21 started the year by hopping on a remix of King Von’s popular song “Don’t Play That”.

Following a few less successful verses on remixes, he had a verse on Pharell Williams “Cash In Cash Out” along with Tyler, The Creator.

Later into the year, he managed to secure a spot on DJ Khaled’s star studded album ‘God Did’ with a feature on “Way Past Luck”.

Towards the very end of the year, he dropped a collaboration album with Drake, the undisputed biggest artist in the industry. While he only rapped about 30% of the total lyrics on ‘Her Loss’, the album absolutely blew up. Following the smash hit that was “Knife Talk”, the biggest and best couldn’t deny 21 his chance for the collab album with Drake, and we can no longer deny his place among some of the best in the game. 

4. Gunna 

In and out of the industry, it has been a whirlwind of a year for Gunna. The year started with ‘DS4EVER’ on January 7, which easily became the 6th most streamed album of the year (and 4th most streamed new release) when it was all said and done. With a loaded deluxe album and massive successful single in “Pushin P”, you would think he would take that momentum and roll with it, but sadly not.

After another quite successful single in “Banking On Me”, Gunna had quite a rough rest of 2022. He was arrested along with Young Thug for racketeering charges, a very serious case ensued for the rest of the year. This case kept Gunna in the spotlight, and his plea deal and subsequent release in December 2022 has kept him a big deal throughout the year. It’s safe to say that Gunna’s brand has grown in 2022, although certainly not in the way he wanted it to. 

3. Future 

Future had a phenomenal 2022 to say the least. Following a slow start (for his standards) with a few unsuccessful features, he dropped the phenomenal ‘I NEVER LIKED YOU’ in late April. The album was a massive success, ending the year as the 3rd most streamed 2022 rap album.

After that success, he also had a great feature on DJ Khaled’s ‘God Did’, and ended the year with a smash hit in “Superhero” off of Metro Boomin’s ‘HEROES & VILLAINS’, one of his 5 features on the late year success that was that album. 

2. Kendrick Lamar

When it comes to most influential artists, Kendrick Lamar and the #1 artist on this list has been battling it out for our entire generation. This year Kendrick re-kindled the debate with his long-awaited album ‘Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers”’ His first album in 5 years was an obvious success, and while not as critically-acclaimed as some other albums on his phenomenal discography, you can’t argue with the success it had. 

Along with going triple platinum, the second-most streamed album of the year had a top 5 single, won an AMA, BET, and People’s Choice award, along with being up for 2 Grammys. This along with another smash hit single “The Heart Part 5”, released just before the album, made 2022 a big comeback for Kendrick. 

  1. Drake

Unfortunately, for everyone else on this list, Drake exists.

Not only did the Canadian have the most streams of any rapper, he had 3 top 10 most streamed albums, and continued to shatter streaming and billboard records previously held by some of the greatest artists of all time. It’s not much of a debate for who the most successful artist of our generation is, and it also isn’t a debate for who the most influential artist of the year was. Drake takes the top spot with ease, 

Winter band concert

By: Gabe Kleiber

The school band concerts were Thursday December, 15th. As a member of one of our bands, I thought I should give my thoughts on how we did, as well as get some other perspectives.

One trombonist had this to say, “The tuning was bad. Could have played louder and more confidently. I thought we kept the tempo and stuck together well. I thought the orchestra did ok, but the tuning and tone could have been better. Jazz band was my favorite.”

I think he had great points about the volume and jazz band. I don’t play an orchestra instrument so I’m not qualified to speak on that, but I do think Jazz band was my favorite. “Birdland” especially was very good, and the trumpet solos on that song by Cyrus were excellent. I think they captured the laid back, carefree mood they were going for quite well. They had plenty of volume, played their parts well, and every single solo was impressive and executed near perfectly. The band teacher, Mr. Matuzak, wasn’t so sure if they were ready for some of the songs. But many others and I think they turned out great.

Others and I thought that my band, the Scots band, had some trouble with volume. Given most of the members are less experienced and younger, it makes sense. I think we had a bit of trouble with keeping pace on “Falcon Fanfare,” but other than that everyone played well. Some of our songs, like “Marche Diabolique,” were the best we’ve ever played. Given the skills and practice our band put in, the outcome was about as good as you could hope for.

Overall, all the bands did well. Everyone spent a lot of time preparing for the concert, and there were some great performances of great songs that night. This makes me very optimistic about the spring concerts, because I know our school has the talent to pull it off.

Review of The Garden’s recent Minneapolis concert

By: Ann McMullen

On November 19th, art-punk band The Garden performed at Minneapolis’ First Avenue. As they’re probably my favorite group that is actively releasing music, and First Ave is easily my favorite music venue in the Twin Cities, I had to go.

The Garden consists of twin brothers Wyatt and Fletcher Shears, who have been making music as The Garden since 2011. Based in Orange County, the duo’s music is quite experimental, using very abstract elements from punk and other alternative genres. They really have no two songs that sound alike. The twins also have a mild obsession with jesters, and a fan base I’ve heard countless internet horror stories about…all things that would make for an interesting show, in one way or another!

Their Fall 2022 U.S. tour was to promote their newest album: ‘Horse***t on Route 66’. Because of this, I feared they would focus too much on their new songs and neglect the old ones, but thankfully, the setlist contained a great mixture of their latest releases and older fan favorites.

To my surprise, the new songs were some of my favorite to see live. I was impressed by how much of the crowd could already sing them word for word. And, to my knowledge, no one threw up or injured themselves or did something else crazy in the pit, which I was a bit worried about because it’s something I’ve heard has happened at tons of Garden shows.

The concert was everything I expected. Both twins had intricate makeup and outfits to match the theme of the new album. They kept the entire set exciting with a great live sound and phenomenal stage presence. Even the opener, Machine Girl, was great. I was relatively unfamiliar with them before the concert, but their performance was wonderful, so I have since checked more of their music out.

Seeing The Garden was definitely worth the small price I paid for a ticket. I enjoy (no pun intended) their music even more after this show, and can’t wait to see the twins perform live again.

Ticketmaster and Taylor Swift

By: Abisola Dosunmu

On Tuesday, November 15, the Eras Tour tickets went on sale through Ticketmaster and the demand has skyrocketed since the first day. Over 2 million tickets were sold, and over 3.5 million people registered as Verified Fans. Because of that, the Ticketmaster website was flooded with traffic, and users experienced constant crashes, technical difficulties, and having to wait hours on the site, just for a chance to get a ticket. There were also a lot of bot attacks and fans who didn’t have invite codes on the website. 

“I attempted to get presale by signing up for ‘verified fan,’ but I got waitlisted, and they cancelled general sale, so I was unable to get tickets. However, there are also many people who did get the presale code, but still didn’t get tickets, which I think is really unfortunate. I think it’s weird that so many codes were sent out that tickets were sold out before some people with presale could get tickets, because that shouldn’t have been possible. Obviously Ticketmaster is at fault and not Taylor and her team, though,” Erin Moore, “Swiftie”, stated.

Eventually, Ticketmaster had to cancel their public sale of tickets, due to the complaints and other external difficulties. They issued an apology that Friday night, apologizing to Taylor Swift and the fans that had a less than enjoyable experience buying tickets on their site. They offered more information on what happened. 

So what caused it? 

Well, I went to the link they added in their tweet explaining what happened—and the gist is Taylor Swift is so awesome she caused her own problem. The demand for her tickets was so high she broke records. And in turn, their website. Never before had a verified fan ticket sale attracted so much attention and traffic. Over 2 million tickets were sold on Ticketmaster for Taylor Swift—in a single day. That’s the most tickets sold for an artist ever. 

Also, Ticketmaster made users log in to get the tickets and enter a code to complete the purchase of tickets, just to limit the amount of bots that were on their site. Because of that, huge amounts of traffic from verified fans, unverified fans, and bots, hit the site, which meant Ticketmaster had to slow down queues to keep them from crashing. As a result, many fans ended up not getting their tickets.

As annoying as it is to have to wait long periods of time to end up not getting what you’re waiting for anyways, it’s impossible for everyone to have gotten their tickets to the show. The people (and bots) on Ticketmaster hoping to get tickets would have led Taylor to perform over two hundred stadium shows—She’d be performing every single night for the next 2.5 years. That’s impossible. So, playing the devil’s advocate here, from what I’ve learned, even though Ticketmaster could have done something to make the process of buying tickets easier, something like this was bound to happen anyway, given how popular Taylor Swift is.

Taylor responded to this in her Instagram story, and it’s pretty long, so I’ll just include a picture of it here.

So what happens now? 

As of Sunday, December 4th, some Swiftie lawyers (called Vigilante Legal—a reference to one of Taylor’s songs, named “vigilante sh*t”) have banded together to file suit against Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster is also promised further scrutiny from the government. I am unsure what further consequences will befall Ticketmaster and what effects will come from all of this, but there are a lot of people now paying attention to the ticket selling giant, and I doubt Ticketmaster will be allowed to mess up like this again. 

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[when she totally consented to me taking a quote from her]

Washington, D.C. — Capital of the country and hardcore music

By: Ann McMullen

Image taken from: Image taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grixlGSNS6U

The nation’s capital is, understandably, most well known for politics. However, the District of Columbia also birthed multiple genres of music. In fact, if you’re into any subgenres of punk, your favorite bands probably wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the thriving early hardcore scene in D.C.

Although the first punk rock band is generally considered to be Death, who emerged from Detroit in the early 1970s, a major punk explosion took place in D.C. in the late 70s to mid 80s.

Here are some D.C. hardcore punk bands and the impact they’ve had, in chronological order of when they were active.

Bad Brains were pioneers of the scene, forming back in 1977. Being one of first punk bands in the D.C. area, their shows were often seen as “too intense” by the public eye, resulting in many local clubs banning them from playing. This caused the band to relocate to New York, where they released their first studio album — with the hit track given the straightforward title of “Banned in D.C.” The band has played a number of reunion shows over the past couple decades, and frontman H.R. has released a good amount of solo reggae music as well. Bad Brains further established that punk is by no means an exclusively white genre, kicked off hardcore scenes in both Washington and New York, and could easily be considered the face of the D.C. scene.

Minor Threat was arguably the most well known and iconic band in the scene. If you wouldn’t consider Bad Brains the face of D.C. Hardcore… you’d probably give that title to Minor Threat. This early 80s band was fronted by Ian MacKaye, previously the bassist of the short lived Teen Idles. MacKaye created his own label, Dischord Records, which would eventually own almost every band in the city, but Minor Threat was one of the first bands signed to it. While a lot of their songs consisted of the typical anger towards society, they also coined the term “straight edge” by a song of the same title — used to describe a lifestyle free of drugs, alcohol, and anything of the sort. This was truly groundbreaking, as most other rock adjacent bands prior to them were all about “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.” The straight edge culture created by Minor Threat remained very prominent in future music in D.C., and created a movement that spread to musicians and fans all over the world.

Rites of Spring isn’t a name as well known as Minor Threat or Bad Brains, but they had just as big of an influence. The band put out a single album in 1985, and later released a six song demo tape under Dischord. Despite the small amount of content they put out, the legacy of Rites of Spring is absolutely incredible. The insane number of bands they went on to inspire is all thanks to the label that was placed upon them due to their intense, personal lyrics and emotionally intense live shows: emotional hardcore. This would be shortened to emocore, and then simply emo. The emo label would go on to be used on some of the most well known bands of future decades, and, similar to straight edge, create a worldwide subculture.

The Hated were technically from Annapolis, MD, but are still considered a part of the D.C. scene due to their close proximity. Their work is often overlooked considering they were first active at the same time as the iconic Rites of Spring, but The Hated are believed by a good group of people to be the true beginners of emocore. They are having a reunion show in Los Angeles next spring, which is something relatively uncommon among bands of this scene, and era, and will hopefully bring more attention to this truly underrated band.

Moss Icon emerged from the same Annapolis scene as The Hated in late 1986, but had somewhat of a different approach. Their songs almost have a spoken word aspect to them, and the lyrics can be read as stories or poems — which makes sense, as vocalist Jon Vance is rumored to be a descendant of Edgar Allen Poe. Lyrics aside, the most prominent sounds in Moss Icon’s music are the intricate basslines. Their longest term bassist was Monica DiGialleonardo, and having a female in a band like this was pretty groundbreaking, at the time. Although they may not objectively be the best band to come out of the capital, Moss Icon is easily my favorite.

Embrace was short lived, but highly influential nonetheless. Like Minor Threat, Embrace was fronted by Ian MacKaye. They only released one self titled album in 1987, but also contributed greatly to the emocore phenomenon as their live shows were just as intense as those of Rites of Spring. In fact, Thrasher Magazine referred to Embrace as the creators of emocore in a 1987 issue, and MacKaye (and most other musicians at the time) were… not fond of the label. Embrace tends to be overlooked because of MacKaye’s more well known bands like Minor Threat, but they are my personal favorite project of his.

Fire Party was a racially diverse, all female band. Unfortunately, they were significantly lesser known than their male counterparts, but released a great couple of albums and played a number of live shows in D.C. and far beyond. Although members of the group have since moved onto other endeavors like writing and art, they remain very open about their experiences in music. Fire Party was successful despite being faced with various challenges as women in the scene, and established that the genre was a safe space for people of any gender.

Scream peaked around the same time as Fire Party, and actually toured Europe with them. Although their music was just as important as that of every other band in the scene, what really stood out about Scream was a certain member of their lineup. Later into their career, the band hosted auditions for a drummer – who would end up to be none other than Dave Grohl of future Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame. Grohl credits Scream, the Dischord label, and the D.C. scene as a whole, as his starting point in the music industry. Essentially, without Scream, one of the greatest music icons of this generation would not be who or where he is today.

Fugazi is considered a supergroup, with a highly accomplished lineup including Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat and Embrace and Guy Picciotto of Rites of Spring. Forming in the late 80s, Fugazi released their debut album in 1989, and carried hardcore music into the 90s and beyond, while also adding more experimental aspects into their later work. They remain one of the most well known bands from this scene, and their 1988 single “Waiting Room” helped to make hardcore more mainstream.

As you can see, the D.C. hardcore punk scene most definitely peaked in the 80s, but the same type of music is still being made there today. Dischord continues to sign new bands, and a few groups that have been around since the initial explosion still make music to this day.

Although the musical history of the city is greatly overshadowed by politics, there are still places of musical importance available to visit. Smash Records, in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, has existed since the peak of the D.C. hardcore explosion, and is still open to this day, making it a fun place to pick up authentic memorabilia. Museum exhibits related to local music also come and go, and the city is still home to great, iconic small music venues.

There’s really something for everybody in D.C. hardcore, even if you’re not a fan of the style of music. For those interested in the history of music, I greatly recommend a visit to the capital, or simply looking further into the musical significance of this location.

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An analysis of “Sign of the Times”

By: McKenzie Welch

Image taken from: https://soundcloud.com/emelynejacksonmonroe/
sign-of-the-times-harry-styles-cover

“Sign of the Times”, a song belonging to Harry Styles, has been a long-standing favorite song of mine since I first heard it in the eighth grade, and I’ve listened to it continuously since that moment.

One of my favorite things about “Sign of the Times” is the lyricism that it harbors. The song tells a story, and, whilst the song is fun and easy to sing along to, it has a sadder tone that is often overlooked even though it is seemingly apparent.

Harry Styles has stated himself that the meaning of the lyrics is nothing if not a topic brimming with despair. The song illustrates the feelings that follow the death of a mother not long after childbirth. Trendell states, “… ‘Sign of the Times’ deals with a young mother being told she has five minutes left to live”.

Whilst belting out the lyrics alone in your car or at a concert along with many others, it’s easy to misconstrue the true meaning of the words, but, by taking a deeper look into them, you can see that the message of the song is fairly discernible. This is my perspective on the song and what the lyrics mean.

For example, in the first stanza of the song, Harry sings:

Welcome to the final show
Hope you’re wearing your best clothes
You can’t bribe the door on your way to the sky
You look pretty good down here
But you ain’t really good

These lyrics can be interpreted as a final goodbye. The use of the words “final show” is a reference to the last minutes of the mother’s life before she heads up to the door in the sky, of which she cannot bribe to let her come back down to earth and live longer. This part of the first stanza essentially means that whilst this woman wants to live longer, her time has run out, and it’s turning into a bittersweet goodbye.

The entirety of the fourth stanza is a reference to the idea of people having a better life in the after life than the one they were experiencing on earth. It reads:

Just stop your crying
Have the time of your life
Breaking through the atmosphere
And things are pretty good from here
Remember everything will be alright
We can meet again somewhere
Somewhere far away from here

By singing “breaking through the atmosphere”, Styles is conveying the idea that the woman is leaving this current life and making her way into the afterlife, where they will then meet again. Styles also sings, “remember everything will be alright” as though to comfort the woman by telling her it’s alright to move on, and that everyone left on earth will be able to move on eventually and live their lives in happiness.

The chorus of “Sign of the Times” is very clearly referring to the struggle of not wanting to die yet. Harry Styles sings:

We never learn, we been here before
Why are we always stuck and running from
The bullets?
The bullets
We never learn, we been here before
Why are we always stuck and running from
The bullets?
The bullets

By using “we never learn”, Styles is referring to the fact that it’s always hard to let go of someone no matter how many times one has to experience it. Also, he references the fact that people are always running from death, as the bullets are a metaphor for death. Styles is saying that people are perpetually stuck in a position where they are running away from death, most likely because they are afraid of it, but often accepting that it is your time, such as the mother after her childbirth, the death itself is more peaceful.

The lyrics are much more than just a song to sing as loudly as you can when you’re feeling upset. Instead, they have a deep story behind them, and some of the meanings of the lyrics can be applicable to other areas of life.

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“Midnights Mayhem with Me”: Everything you need to know about Taylor Swift’s new album

By: Erin Moore

On October 21, 2022 at midnight sharp, Taylor Swift, global pop sensation, released her twelfth, if you’re including her rerecords, studio album. 

Since its release, it has obliterated records both regarding streaming platforms and sales of physical copies, and it has ignited much excitement regarding a potential tour of the six albums she’s released since her previous tour for “Reputation.” 

In this article, I will give an overview, my opinions on the album, and related news since the release of the album in that order. 

Prior to the release of the album, Taylor Swift posted videos on TikTok titled “Midnights Mayhem with Me,”  announcing the titles of the thirteen tracks to be on her upcoming album. The videos received a cumulative 79.3 million views. After this, she posted additional Instagram Reels providing the inspiration for three of the songs in the album, which achieved 54.2 million views. 

Roughly a week from its drop, billboards in various major cities released various lyrics from the upcoming album. Additionally, she released clips on Spotify announcing different things that kept her up at night, leading to the subject of the songs (self-loathing, fantasizing about revenge, wondering what might’ve been, falling in love, and falling apart). As an avid fan of Taylor and her music, I saved these lyrics and subjects and predicted which songs they were referring to, very clear proof that these methods were very successful at building up excitement for the album’s release.

‘Midnights’ contains thirteen songs, totaling at forty-four minutes. The longest being “Snow on the Beach (ft. Lana Del Ray)” with a length of four minutes and sixteen seconds and the shortest being “Vigilante Sh*t” with two minutes and forty-four seconds. Thus, it is the shortest of any album she’s put out as of yet. 

The songs in the album will be titled as follows:

  1. Lavender Haze
  2. Maroon
  3. Anti-Hero
  4. Snow on the Beach (ft. Lana Del Ray)
  5. You’re on Your Own, Kid
  6. Midnight Rain
  7. Question…?
  8. Vigilante Sh*t
  9. Bejeweled
  10. Labyrinth
  11. Karma
  12. Sweet Nothing
  13. Mastermind

Prior to the album, yet after hearing the track titles, I guessed my ranking of the album, my top five being “Vigilante Sh*t,” “Karma,” “You’re on Your Own, Kid,” “Mastermind,” and “Question…?” 

‘Midnights,’ as mentioned previously, came out on October 21st at midnight and I absolutely love everything about the album. Every lyric is beautiful, the overall sound is amazing, and the album itself is very cohesive: it fits the theme of “thirteen sleepless nights” across her life, just as it was described to the public prior to its release.

Additionally, if you know her music and albums well enough, you can tell which musical “era” each song was written in. For example, “Karma” and “Vigilante Sh*t” were 100% written around the same time she wrote ‘Reputation.’ 

However, this album was nothing like what I predicted. Many people were predicting it would be a rock album, but it was electro-pop. I thought “Mastermind” would be similar to the two previously mentioned ‘Reputation’-esque songs, but it was more similar to something you’d hear on ‘1989’ or as a ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ vault track. 

I will discuss individual reviews for each song in the album (from my least favorite at the time of writing this article to my favorite at the time of writing this article).

Thirteenth on my ranking, and second in track order, is “Maroon.” I thought it would be significantly more melancholy and sad than it was (specifically with the general sound of the song), however the song was more floaty and upbeat(ish) than I thought it would be. However, when predicting, I felt like it would be a meh song based on its title, and it was amazing. While it was my lowest, I don’t have a single critique for it. 

“Midnight Rain,” twelfth on my ranking, and sixth in order of the album, was a shock for how it began, but again, a happy surprise. The concept of the song (“he was sunshine I was midnight rain”) was not what I expected it to be, yet I’m very happy this was the song we received. I really enjoy the floaty, breathy, higher way certain lyrics are said. 

Eleventh on my ranking, and twelfth in track order, was “Sweet Nothing.” This song, unlike the majority of the album, was similar to my prediction. It was good, but as I prefer upbeat songs over slower, sadder, more melancholy ones, I ranked it lower than most of the songs on this album even though it was a very good one.

Tenth was track ten on the album; the song “Labyrinth.” While I absolutely adore both the production and lyricism in this song, it doesn’t compare to that of which the higher ranked songs have. This song, as well as any of the other ones on the album could move up or down at any point. However, it currently isn’t one of my absolute favorites from this album.

The first track of the album, “Lavender Haze,” is ranked ninth for me. This is because the music behind it is great, but in my opinion, several other songs on the album are better lyrically and show more depth than this song. However, as she described it in one of her Instagram Reels, it accomplishes her feelings about fans and other members of society trying to get more information about her relationship with her current boyfriend from the past five years, Joe Alwyn. For example “I’ve been under scrutiny, you handle it beautifully,” shows how he’s helped her ignore and overcome the media’s portrayal of her and also has overcome what the media has said about him in relation to her. 

The second music video she released, eighth in my ranking, ninth track on the album, and the basis for a major dance trend is “Bejeweled.” My understanding is that this song is about her transition back into pop music from her past few albums (‘folklore’ and ‘evermore’) which were essentially the opposite of previous genres she’d done. 

Seventh in my ranking is “Snow On The Beach (ft-ish Lana Del Ray).” This song has been the most major switch from a lower ranking to a significantly higher one thus far as it started out being last for me. I originally had it lower because it didn’t feel like a collaboration and I didn’t have an understanding of the song, nor did I find anything to relate to. However, after listening to it more I really appreciate both the well-crafted lyrics and the music that truly feels like snow on a beach. 

In sixth place was “Question…?”  I love the main idea of it and while this may not be her intent with the song, to me it feels like it’s about someone who found someone they truly loved and enjoyed being with, but it didn’t work out and that person found someone new, so the first person found someone new too, and that new person feels like they’re second best to the original partner. Hopefully, that sentence made sense. 

Track five and, coincidentally, fifth place for my ranking, is “You’re On Your Own, Kid.” Taylor is known for having very emotional track fives, and up until the bridge, it didn’t feel like it was up to that usual level of raw emotion (especially with “Anti-Hero” as a potential alternative). However, the bridge completely changed my mind. Another thing I’ve seen pointed out by fellow fans is that it feels like a rundown of all of Taylor’s various albums over the years, which makes the bridge that much better. 

Fourth in my ranking is “Anti-Hero,” the first music video she released and the most streamed of the album thus far. Again, I feel like her description of it in her short Instagram Reel series was very accurate: it goes very deep into her insecurities and (as has been made clear by its amount of streams) is relatable to many people. The music video is also excellent at portraying those insecurities and all of the feelings she mentioned within the song.  

The song I ranked in third place is “Karma.” I love so many aspects of this song that I can’t even put into words. I think my favorite part of the song is probably “Karma’s a relaxing thought. Aren’t you envious that for you it’s not?” I think this is a hilarious way of showing how whoever of the many possibilities (Kanye West, Scooter Braun, any of the exes that treated her badly, everyone who turned on her in the mid 2010s) this song is about, they will receive their karma and it will hit hard. I also love that it’s called “Karma” as that was what was suspected to be the title of her sixth studio album.

Second for me is “Mastermind.” I love how sweet it feels, how hard she worked to be with someone she knew she’d work well with. I also love how it’s proven to be very relatable as it has sparked a trend of people explaining some unusual things they did to date someone. I also love the end in which she reveals that the person this song is about knew she did everything that she did to date him and he was completely fine with it. 

One of my favorite songs ever and my number one ranked song on the new album is “Vigilante Sh*t.” I absolutely love every single part of this song and am of the belief that there are absolutely no flaws to this song. Some of my favorite lyrics are “don’t get sad, get even,” “lately I’ve been dressing for revenge,” and the entire echoey part in the middle of the song prior to its continuation. It’s everything I hoped the song would be and more. 

However, as you may know if you have prior knowledge of this album’s release, Taylor Swift didn’t only release these songs. Three hours following its initial release, she added seven more songs to what she called ‘Midnights (3am Edition).’ This had the initial thirteen songs followed by the seven additional ones: “The Great War,” “Bigger Than The Whole Sky,” “Paris,” “High Infidelity,” “Glitch,” “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve,” and “Dear Reader.”

The new version of the album had the same cover, but was now an hour and nine minutes instead of the initial forty-four. Since I’m going with the assumption that the thirteen individual reviews were already very tedious to read through, I will simply say that my favorite of the additional tracks was “Bigger Than The Whole Sky” and my least favorite was “Glitch.” Overall, I mostly preferred the initial tracks, but again, I don’t have any major criticisms for any of the songs on the normal edition or the 3am edition. 

In addition to this, Taylor Swift also had three additional songs on the Target exclusive lavender vinyls and CDs; “Hits Different,” “You’re On Your Own, Kid (Strings Remix),” and “Sweet Nothing (Piano Remix).” I absolutely love “Hits Different” and if I were to add that into my album ranking, it would likely be somewhere in the top five. 

I also decided it would be fun to ask my friends for their opinions because of the ones that didn’t listen to it of their own volition, the majority succumbed to peer pressure and listened to it eventually. Yay! Jo Knorr says, “I’m not a massive Taylor Swift fan, but I really enjoyed this album, ‘Karma,’ ‘Vigilante Sh*t,’ ‘You’re On Your Own, Kid,’ ‘Sweet Nothing,’ and ‘Anti-Hero’ immediately went on my playlist.”

Brogan Frey, another friend of mine who chose to listen to the album without my forcing her to do so, said, “I wasn’t a huge fan before—I wasn’t a die-hard fan, but I enjoyed her pop music—but I loved every song on this album and I’m still listening to them weeks later, and they’re all on my playlist.” 

Additionally, Ava Bird said, “Personally, I don’t really like most of Taylor’s recent albums, but ‘Midnights’ is different. It’s beautiful. The music is amazing, the lyrics are thought-provoking, the whole entire thing is sort of like an emotional rollercoaster. I love it.” 

Additionally to being loved by people I know, this album was loved nationwide and broke many records. It was the first album to take all top ten songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the first time in history that the top ten had no men on it. It also passed Madonna’s record of thirty-eight top ten songs of any woman in history, achieving forty. 

It broke records both for most first-day streams and most second-day streams. It also was the third-largest streaming week for any album and the largest of any female artist. 

According to Billboard, it received 1.578 million forms of the album sold in the United States over the course of the first week, which, according to Entertainment Weekly, “It is the biggest week for any album since Adele’s ’25’ notched 3.482 million in its first week in 2015.” 

In addition to those, it also received the most vinyl sales since Harry Styles’ ‘Harry’s House.’

With this album on all streaming platforms also came many new options for purchase: various editions of vinyls and CDs as well as several different merch lines. 

Each vinyl/album has five editions: moonstone blue, jade green, blood moon, mahogany, and lavender. Moonstone blue is the original standard edition and jade green, blood moon, and mahogany are similar musically, they simply have different pictures within the vinyl and on its cover. The lavender, however, as I mentioned earlier, has three bonus tracks. These vinyls also come in CD form with the exact same differences as with the vinyls. 

So far, Taylor Swift has had three merch lines released. The “Lyric Collection,” “The Midnights Album Shop,” and the “A Color I’ve Searched For Collection.” Of the three, I personally found the items from the “Lyric Collection” to be the most stylish and aesthetically pleasing. In fact, this is the collection I chose to order merchandise for. The main “Midnights” shop has various items such as tools to make the four vinyls into a clock, a “Bejeweled” bracelet with colors for each of her albums released thus far, and a “Midnights” water bottle. the “Lyric Collection” had, as you can likely assume from the title, various types of clothes (shirts, crewnecks, hoodies, and a mug) inspired by or including various lyrics from songs on her album.

On October 24th, Taylor Swift went on “The Tonight Show” to discuss her album. In the interview, she also mentioned she would be going on tour, but would not yet disclose when she would do so or officially announce dates. She also went on to discuss the recording process and how each song she wrote was made. 

So, back to the tour topic. 

On November 1st, she announced “Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour” along with her US tour dates. She will have thirty-three appearances throughout the country, stopping in Minneapolis at US Bank Stadium on June 24th. Tickets will be available to the general public on November 18th, at 10am local venue time. Signups for pre-sale are open until November 9th at 11:59pm ET and if you are selected, ticket sales will be on November 15th. 

With her, on the tour, will be nine different openers including Paramore, beabadoobee, Phoebe Bridgers, girl in red, MUNA, HAIM, GAYLE, Gracie Abrams, and Owenn. Specifically for the Minneapolis date, her openers will be girl in red and Owenn. 

Another detail of the tour is that it is sponsored by Capital One. Thus, if you have a Capital One card, you will also get early access to tickets (only four hours after those with pre-sale). She also partnered with Capital One for a commercial in which her various eras appeared throughout to show different things you can do with a Capital One card. 

TL;DR: “Midnights” is an amazing album and you will love it, so you should definitely go listen to it if you’re considering doing so. 

For more information, visit taylorswift.com, streaming services to listen to her album, any of her social media accounts, and also streaming services so you can listen to her album. 

Zach Bryan and his newest album ‘American Heartbreak’

By: Mia David

Zach Bryan, a young veteran passionate about country and folk music, has been rising in the music industry. Bryan was born in Oklahoma and was recently discharged from the U.S. Navy. He started producing music in 2019; he has produced three albums and multiple singles and EPs.

Bryan’s most recent album, ‘American Heartbreak’ came out in May 2022. It quickly became popular and has been in the top 20 on Billboard music’s best albums since its release. The album consists of 36 tracks and has a total time of 2 hours.

Bryan explored the idea of storytelling with this new album. While listening, the songs connect to each other and tell stories of falling in and out of love and meeting new people.

When the album was released, Bryan wrote, “I’d like to always be a story-teller and to do that I figured I’d have to fit into many shoes.”

Throughout the past year, Bryan has continued to produce more and more music. After ‘American Heartbreak’ he released an EP called ‘Summertime Blues’ and recently announced the release of yet another EP.

Bryan has been on tour, and he recently played at Surly Brewing Company here in Minnesota, and the concert was completely sold out.

Bryan has been on the rise and continues to gain popularity. However, he remains humble and continues to make music he enjoys. In an interview with the New York Times, he says, “I’m too writing driven to be a big star… I’m not meant for it.” However, Bryan seems to be proving that he can be both.

Bryan’s passion for writing music is refreshing to many, and his old country feel captures the attention of everyone, even those who claim to be anti-country music.

People enjoy Bryan’s music not just because of his talent but because of how relatable he is and how much he loves what he does.

Bryan describes his attitude towards music and life the most accurately. In an Instagram post, he writes, “My only ambitions in this life are to never bend to the thoughtless routines of this world, to always move slow enough to watch the sunrise, and to accept every single person for who they are, exactly where they stand, regardless if they can return the favor.”

You can listen to Zach Bryan’s music on all streaming platforms.