Three years ago I came to this blog to fret about the Grammys. It was late January in 2020 and I did not know that there would soon be more pressing matters than puzzling performance choices to worry about. By March 14th 2021, the date of the next Grammy Awards Ceremony, we had spent a full year wandering through the murky anxious haze of a global pandemic, and the partial solution of vaccines were only in their infant stages of being rolled out. But in a plot twist that seemed even less likely to my pre-pandemic self than an entire NBA playoffs taking place inside a Walt Disney World bubble— the Grammys had somehow fixed themselves?Continue reading “My 2023 Grammy Wishlist”
Tag: Taylor Swift
2022 Anticipation Index
January is traditionally the time for high hopes and grand plans and lofty ambitions. The time to be briefly convinced that all of the empty days unfurled before you hold nothing but promise, to most fully perceive the potential in this latest quirk of the Earth’s axial tilt. But the concept of anticipation hovers a little awkwardly around the edges of this particular New Year. It is, after all, somewhat complicated to feel true excitement for things that are question marks.Continue reading “2022 Anticipation Index”
Dear Santa: My 2021 Pop Culture Christmas Wish List
I’ve always been split on the concept of composing a wish list for Christmas.
On the one hand there’s no arguing against the ruthless efficiency of the practice; the guarantee against Christmas morning hopes being dashed through the snow. For the gift-giver, having a list to adhere to eliminates all kinds of stressful second guessing and streamlines the shopping process— in that sense, writing out a list of presents one yearns to receive could almost be viewed as an act of Christmas charity.
But something about the exercise has always struck me as vaguely mercenary, something that too starkly reveals the commercialized and capitalist bones of what is supposed to be a warmhearted exchange of goodwill. Sure, your expectations are met, but there is something lost in having set expectations at all, in reducing your loved ones to the role of glorified Amazon delivery worker.
As a child, I negotiated this paradox by rarely asking my parents for anything specific— trusting instead that my strong personal branding would guide them in the right direction, namely towards books and Barbies— but always helpfully itemizing things for Santa, who, I reasoned, had the added burden of a billion or so extra children to keep track of. I did always add the incredibly Canadian caveat that I would be happy with whatever Santa chose to bring me if, for any reason, he was unable to fulfill my wishes, which I hope my mother appreciated while committing her recidivist acts of mail fraud.Continue reading “Dear Santa: My 2021 Pop Culture Christmas Wish List”
Dust Off Your Highest Hopes: Revisiting RED (Taylor’s Version)
When Red was originally released in 2012, it represented a tale of two Taylors. A crossroads moment in her career in which there seemed to be two clearly divergent routes her music might take. There was the one that wound through Laurel Canyon, blazed by the likes of Joni Mitchell and Carole King, that would have seen her become the Poet Laureate of hyper-articulate girls who feel too much (glimpsed in songs like Treacherous, Holy Ground, or State of Grace); or the more straightforward path which ended in uncontested global domination (foreshadowed by all tracks produced by Max Martin).
If you’ve paid attention to music at all over the past decade, you know which option she chose, and though it was not the one endorsed by Robert Frost, eventually Taylor’s three album journey through pop megastardom looped all the way back around, and she was able to wander down the alternative songwriter path after all with last year’s releases of folklore and evermore. Perhaps a singular career like Taylor’s was never going to be plotted out in neat lines, perhaps it would always need to involve detours and scenic routes and doubling back from dead ends. That might be exactly why retracing every step with her now as she endeavors to reclaim control over her old music is so much fun.Continue reading “Dust Off Your Highest Hopes: Revisiting RED (Taylor’s Version)”
The Ten Best Pop Culture Moments of 2021 (A Midterm Report Card) 10-6
I’ll admit that I’m a little nervous about posting this one. Not because my summary of pop culture as it has unfolded in 2021 thus far promises to be shocking or even mildly controversial– I have zero fears that I’ll get cancelled over benignly declaring that Movies Are Good. No, my trepidation can be better traced back to what happened last year.
Less than 365 days ago, a much younger Ainsley– an Ainsley with considerably less trauma-induced wisdom but significantly better posture– attempted to write up the 2020 edition of this list. It wasn’t a terrible list. I stand by my exaltations when it comes to The Last Dance, and the fourth season of Insecure, and the albums released by Fiona Apple, Phoebe Bridgers, and Waxahatchee. Was it a blatant circumvention of the rules to include the 2019 film Little Women? Probably. Do I expect that many were baffled by my esteem for Sam Hunt’s Southside, an album that peaked at 5 on the Billboard 200 and barely made an impact with its true singles? It would be more baffling if they weren’t, to be honest. But overall, at the time I thought it was a valiant-enough, comprehensive-enough effort to account for what was great about a year that gave me very little to relish in.
Four days later, Taylor Swift released folklore.Continue reading “The Ten Best Pop Culture Moments of 2021 (A Midterm Report Card) 10-6”
March 2021 Review
If you are looking for a way to make time feel like it is passing exponentially faster, try committing to the idea that you will write recaps of what you did each month. Somehow all 28 days of February passed without me ever stopping to take stock of my consumption habits, and before I had reconciled myself to that, suddenly March was over as well. I’ll blame it on the homogeneity of pandemic life, where one day tends to blur into the next without the structure of our old way of life to differentiate between them.Continue reading “March 2021 Review”
10 Years of Speak Now: I Rank All 14 Songs From My Most Cherished Taylor Swift Album
Two anecdotes to attempt to explain the depths of my devotion to the music of Taylor Swift, which might also inadvertently reveal a mildly concerning emotional fragility:
- I have cried literal tears each of the three times I’ve seen Taylor Swift in concert. Not heaving, full-body sobs, or anything- I’m only half a lunatic. Picture instead an elderly Catholic grandmother attending an Easter Mass in Vatican City, as she catches her first glimpse of the Pope up on his balcony- the emotion welling up within her, catching her off guard and making her eyes shine. Basically that is me as a concert attendee.
- I have a recurring nightmare in which I somehow encounter Taylor Swift in the wild and am unable to express how much her music has meant to me for a range of dream-logic reasons: my mouth has been sewn shut, or there are wolves chasing me, or she has somewhere else to be. In my waking hours I have legitimately considered jotting down some notes on the subject to keep with me at all times, just in case. Though I suppose now it would be more efficient to just point her towards this blog.
So. There. Two completely normal, extremely chill things to admit to the Internet forever. But I could never pretend to be anything other than exuberantly enthusiastic and achingly sincere when it comes to the songs that have soundtracked my life for nearly fifteen years, the lyrics that have helped shape my worldview and the mad dreamer-genius behind it all.Continue reading “10 Years of Speak Now: I Rank All 14 Songs From My Most Cherished Taylor Swift Album”
Teardrops On My Tom Brady Jersey: A Taylor Swift Playlist For Breaking Up With The GOAT
On the list of ever-shifting, ever-growing global concerns right now, I get that Tom Brady choosing to leave the New England Patriots probably doesn’t rank in the top thousand. We are living in bizarre and often frightening times as COVID-19 has quietly upended the way we do almost everything, and most people will be grateful for the return to normalcy that a 2020 NFL season would herald at all, no matter what jersey The Greatest Quarterback Who Ever Lived might be wearing.
I understand all of that, on an intellectual level. Getting my dumb, frivolous heart on board is another story.Continue reading “Teardrops On My Tom Brady Jersey: A Taylor Swift Playlist For Breaking Up With The GOAT”