Oh screw it

I have spent some time actively resisting trying to write this, but fuck it, I’m pissed and if I can’t complain on my own Goddamned blog I can’t complain anywhere.

I have only very recently and very reluctantly become a Taylor Swift fan. To this day I don’t know why the hell I downloaded folklore, it was a completely random decision, but for some reason I loved it, and then when Evermore dropped a few months later I bought that too, and then I found out that she was re-releasing her old albums basically just as a giant screw-you to her previous producer, and to hell with it, that’s punk as fuck, and so now I’ve got Taylor’s Versions of Red and Fearless on my hard drive too.

Also, to make it clear, I don’t stream. I still buy music. I’m not gonna stop. Just take that as a given and roll with it.

Anyway, she announced Midnights, and fuck it– I actually preordered the Goddamn thing, and do you see my mistake yet? Are you keyed into Taylor Swift’s shenanigans enough to know where the rest of this post is going? Because three fucking hours after this album I pre-ordered became available for download, before I had even woken up to listen to it, she released a new “3 AM” version of it with seven additional tracks.

There is no way to pay the $3 difference between the cost of Midnights and 3 AM to get the extra tracks. Since I pre-ordered two months ago, I can’t get a refund on the original version and download the new one. My only option is to pay $1.29 for each individual song, which means paying $21.02 for an album that I could get for $14.99 if I hadn’t pre-ordered the album.

This is a shitty, shitty thing to do to your fans, lady. You’re a multifuckingmillionaire and you’re trying to bilk my ass out of nine bucks. And I have nine bucks! Daddy can do this. All day, every day. No problem.

But you best believe I’m stealing those seven songs anyway.


2021 in music, sorta

I bought about an album a week this year, which is roughly on par with previous years, although this year my music purchases seem to have been focused on filling holes in my collection– I spent a lot of time listening to Outkast and REM and Black Crowes and Jane’s Addiction and Alice In Chains, and it turns out that I didn’t have everything they released. Prince had a new release and that got me to go back and pick up a few of his records that I didn’t have before. A lot of the new stuff (as in 2020-21 releases) was kind of experimental and a lot of it didn’t work out. But this article from Albumism, full of shiny new music mostly by artists I’ve never heard of, popped up on my radar today and that got me thinking about the new, or at least newer, music that I bought this year that made an impact, so I figured since I always write a ton of end-of-the-year pieces during the week between Christmas and New Year’s I may as well start with this. Other than one album I’m not going to be ranking anything, but here are six albums that I bought this year (mostly; we’ll get to the exception) and that I think are worth you checking out.

Mazbou Q, The Future Was. I actually encountered this guy through his TikTok feed, believe it or not, where he talks about the musical theory behind hiphop, and does so at great length and in incredible detail in a way that is incredibly interesting and illuminating, especially to someone like me who doesn’t have much technical knowledge about music and frequently struggles to talk about it in a way that is compelling. The guy’s smart as hell and his lyrics are complex and fascinating and I’m pretty sure I’m the only person I know who has heard of him, so let’s see if we can’t bring that number up a little bit.

Counting Crows, Butter Miracle Suite One. Technically an EP– this includes four new songs and four single edits of those four songs, but that didn’t stop me from keeping it on repeat for quite a while after it came on. Adam Duritz is one of my favorite singers, and while the Counting Crows aren’t nearly as big as they were in the nineties everything they release is directly up my alley.

Lil Nas X, Montero. A confession! I’m not actually that big of a fan of Old Town Road, the song that made sure that everybody on the Goddamned planet knew who Lil Nas X was, mostly because we all had our own guest spots on the remixes. That said, this album is fucking brilliant, and the fact that I still think it’s brilliant despite the fact that I can’t turn on the radio without hearing three songs from it is damned impressive. The guy’s got an incredible amount of talent, both as a musician and a visual artist (my jaw was hanging open for the entirety of my first couple of viewings of the music video for Call Me By My Name) and I hope he has a really, really long and prolific career.

Billie Eilish, Happier than Ever. This was probably my single most eagerly anticipated album of the year, as I was looking forward to Billie Eilish’s follow-up to When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? pretty much from the moment I first listened to it. I’m not sure this is quite the triumph that Asleep was (and I have utterly no idea at all what the relative sales were like) but it’s a damned impressive record. I also bought her brother Finneas’ debut, Optimist, and while I enjoyed it I think his skills are probably more on the production end of things. That sounds like an insult. It’s not. I had this whole metaphor here about playing tennis against LeBron James but I don’t think it quite makes sense so I’m just going to assume you know what I’m talking about and move on.

Taylor Fuckin’ Swift, Evermore. Yes okay technically this came out in December of 2020 but it’s close fucking enough, and I only bought this because I wanted to see if my enjoying Folklore was a fluke, and then I found out the reasons behind her re-releasing Fearless and Red and I ended up buying both of those on release date too, just out of, like, solidarity, and Jesus Christ have I turned into a fucking Swiftie?

Okay: Evermore and Folklore are both really good. I couldn’t tell you which one I like more because they tend to blur together in my head. And I found myself really enjoying Fearless’ re-release, but Red is kind of the perfect example of Why I’ve Never Really Liked Taylor Swift, because I wasn’t even remotely a fan of hers until this year and yet somehow I can tell you every dude she’s ever dated and that’s kinda fucked up. And I am absolutely on Team Conspiracy Theory about the ten-minute version of All Too Well, because no song written back when that was supposed to have been written would have had the words fuck the patriarchy in it. But fuck it; I’ve always been very clear that Taylor is phenomenally talented if for no other reason than that I have half of her catalog memorized without ever deliberately listening to the songs, and I like the idea that she’s re-releasing all of her old music so that she can screw over this asshole record executive dude, so I’m going to keep buying the re-releases even though I’m going to sigh a lot and roll my eyes while listening to some of the songs.

(I also, and this is related, bought Olivia Rodrigo’s debut Sour this year. I have nothing to say about it until Olivia Rodrigo is no longer a minor.)

(I have just discovered that Olivia Rodrigo is 18.)

(Someone needs to give this kid a hug and a therapist.)


Willow, lately I Feel EVERYTHING. I am not sure that Willow Smith really deserves to be a single-name person yet, but picking this album up was another one of those impulse, what-the-hell-it’s-$9 purchases this year, and I actually haven’t dug into her backlist but whatever the hell era of her music she’s in right now I want a lot more of it. lately I feel EVERYTHING is only 26 minutes long and all but one of the tracks don’t even make it to three minutes, which makes it even more ridiculous that I love it as much as I do. I said I wasn’t going to be doing any ranking, but this is still hands-down and far away the best new music I bought this year; the only thing close to it would have been Montero, which is also full of short-ass songs. If like me you’re an old person and you haven’t given Willow Smith a single thought since back in her Whip My Hair days, you owe it to yourself to check this out, especially if you’re an old 90s head like me. Her music weirdly blends together everything I love about rock and roll, alternative music and hiphop, and it’s just great.

Sunday odds and ends

DMX hit the scene in 1998, my senior year in college, a time when my musical tastes were probably as far away from hiphop as they’ve been in my life. I can’t pretend I’ve ever really been a fan, although X Gon’ Give It To Ya is an immortal banger, and the guy’s voice was something else. But it’s been amazing to see since he died just how many people have been coming out of the woodwork to tell stories about him just being a great person, or stories about running into a generous stranger that end with “… and then it turned out that guy was DMX.” I’m at the age where more and more people close to my age (he was only about 7 years older than me, which doesn’t feel like much) are passing on, and I can only hope that when I go there are more positive stories told about me than otherwise. Rest in power, man.

Speaking of rap music, and forgive me, because given DMX’s placement on this it’s going to feel like shade, but this dataset investigating the vocabularies of various rappers is really interesting. Especially so when you scroll down and look at when they sort everybody by the era they’re most associated with.

I bought Taylor Swift’s reissue of Fearless, mostly because her last two albums were so (sincerely) fucking good. I’ve talked a lot of shit about her music over the years– and most of it I still stand by, frankly– and buying the reissue was almost more of a political decision than it was a musical one, because I so very much adore the idea of her responding to someone else refusing to sell her the rights to her own music back by shrugging and using her songwriter rights to rerecord every single bit of it. At some point a switch in my head has flipped with her, though, and where I used to have all of her music inadvertently memorized and didn’t like it, now I have all her music inadvertently memorized and fuck it I’m listening to it on purpose because I’m grown and if I wanna be inconsistent I’m going to.

I still think she and Lil Nas X should write a song together, just to see if the entire world wakes up the next day with it memorized.

I go back to work in-person tomorrow, for the first time in, basically, thirteen months. I’m surprisingly sanguine about it– I was expecting to be climbing the walls today, and I’m really just not right now– but I still haven’t resolved some basic issues about what the next few days are going to look like that I’ve been mulling over for the entire break. I still don’t quite know how I’m going to handle my at-home kids; believe it or not, me being at home is easier for doing in-person and at-home at the same time than being at school will be and I don’t know how well all of that is going to work. I know I need to do some grading today one way or another, and I think for at least tomorrow I’m going to more or less give the at-home kids the day off; I’ll do a review assignment of some sort (everything this week is going to be review, since ILEARN starts a week from tomorrow, which is the real reason they’ve brought all the teachers back) while I sit down with the in-person kids and get them sorted out.

I’m going to take a shower– it’s past noon and I’ve had lunch, so I feel like it’s maybe time for that to happen– and then get that grading finished (hopefully somebody did something to catch their grades up this week, but I’m not holding my breath) and then we’ll see how things go.

In which I don’t know who I am any more

I bought this today:

And then, because I had bought that, I bought this:

And now I don’t know who I am any more. I shall diminish, and go into the West.

I will not be taking questions at this time.

Who am I and what is happening

Guys I’m listening to a Taylor Swift album on purpose right now and if there’s any clearer sign that 2020 is completely out of control I can’t imagine what in the world it could possibly be. That said, Folklore doesn’t sound like anything else she’s ever done. It’s adamantly not a pop album. I … think I like it, but that might be one of the signs of the apocalypse and I haven’t read Revelation in a while so let me hold off on that determination for a minute.

I said on Twitter earlier that this was like Taylor Swift wrote a Fiona Apple album, but even that doesn’t make sense because I didn’t really like Fiona Apple all that much until her quarantine album came out, and nothing in the world makes any sense any longer.

In other news, I am tired of thinking about my vision, which isn’t improving to the degree I want it to, which is juuuuuust starting to edge into alarming territory, and I have to continue vaguebooking about the thing I was vaguebooking about earlier this week for at least a little bit longer. Until next Tuesday, in fact.

“Vaguebooking” is one word, WordPress, and I’d appreciate it if you’d stop fixing it for me.

Also, have I always written ridiculously long sentences around here, or this is a new thing? I feel like it may not be new but it’s definitely getting worse, and I need to work on that.