Today’s/Tomorrow’s Top 40: January, 2023…Lewis Capaldi, Taylor Swift, Sza, Dan Penn, Yo La Tengo, Florence and the Machine

In today’s post I am going to be featuring three songs that are currently charting around the world and three songs that are hot off of the presses and may turn into the chart-topping songs of tomorrow. So, let’s get started with three of the hottest songs in the world.


Pointless: Lewis Capaldi

Lewis Capaldi

Lewis Capaldi is a Scottish-born singer who burst onto the world music scene in 2019 with the monster hit song “Someone You Loved”. This song helped Capaldi win the Brit Award for Best New Artist, as well as having the song nominated for Song of the Year in England as well as in the U.S. Lewis Capaldi has a new album coming out in the spring time and is presently pre-releasing singles in advance of his album coming out. The first single is a song called “Pointless”, and let me tell you, it is the first song of 2023 to be mentioned as a potential Song of the Year candidate for this year. It is a four-tissue tear-jerker of a song about a mother’s love for her son. Capaldi insists that the song is not biographical but one has to wonder. The video for this song plays like a home video from my own life. So many of the moments that he alludes to and captures on film are exactly right based upon my own recollections of being loved by my own mom. In a morbid sort of way, I predict that, from this point onward, “Pointless” will become the song played at funerals for mothers. If you are a mother of a son or sons, or if you are a son with a loving mother, this song was written expressly for you. As you read these words, “Pointless” by Lewis Capaldi is on the BBC Radio 1 charts. ***Lyrics video is here.

Anti-Hero: Taylor Swift

The “real” Taylor Swift learning to live with the “celebrity image” that she portrays when on brand, as seen in her Anti-Hero video.

Taylor Swift’s latest album, Midnights, dropped just prior to the Christmas shopping season. In press releases that accompanied the release of this new album, Taylor Swift said that each song on the album reflected some part of her life in which there were problems, fears, questions or concerns that kept her awake at night. The album has been well-received by fans and critics alike, with the song “Anti-Hero” being the one most are pointing to as being the best track. In literature or the movies, an anti-hero is a character caught somewhere in the netherworld between heroes and villains. An anti-hero often seems to possess the desire to act in a villainous manner, but in the end behaves in a good way. For Taylor Swift, this song is about the nature of living a life under the weight of being a celebrity. Swift claims that her life is actually different from her image, but that it is difficult to just be herself when her every move is scrutinized to such a tremendous extent that she can barely breathe. I have stated in previous posts that I harbour not a single ounce of envy for those living in the glare of the spotlights. It may seem glamorous on the surface, but as someone who values privacy and freedom of movement and calmness, having my every utterance analyzed would be almost unbearable. “Anti-Hero” is Taylor Swift’s musical declaration that she finds being the living embodiment of her own brand is growing wearisome and that she longs to live a normal life. As you read these words, “Anti Hero” has been a song in the U.S. and remains in the Top Ten of many charts around the world. ***Lyrics version is here.

Sza: Kill Bill


Sza (pronounced SIZ-a) is a female Hip Hop singer. She has had much success over the past few years but really has a hit on her hands with the song “Kill Bill”. This song was inspired by the Quentin Tarantino movies Kill Bill and Kill Bill Vol. 2 that starred Uma Thurman as a revenge-seeking woman who is determined to bring her ex-lover to justice no matter who stands in her way. As is customary from Tarantino, both Kill Bill movies were very violent. That sentiment that equates violence to Art is at play in Sza’s song. In her song, “Kill Bill”, Sza is a spurned lover who seeks to kill the girlfriend of her ex-boyfriend because her love for him is just too strong to ignore. Sza is being praised by fans and critics for creating a song that displays such honest emotions. Have a listen to this song for yourself and see if you agree that killing in the name of love is a praise-worthy accomplishment. As you read these words, “Kill Bill” by Sza is the song on Billboard, Spotify and KEXP-FM charts, as well as a Top Ten song on most charts around the world. ***Lyrics version is here.


Living On Mercy by Dan Penn

In a recent post *(which you can read here) I wrote about Dan Penn and the important role he played as a songwriter at the Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama during the 1960s and 70s and how he had contributed to the launch of the genre of music called blue-eyed soul. What I didn’t really do is give the man his due as a performer in his own right. I wish to correct that oversight here and now. Dan Penn has written some of the most important and recognizable songs in the history of modern music and has written for everyone from Aretha Franklin to Wilson Pickett on to Janis Joplin, Percy Sledge, Hank Williams Sr., Sam and Dave, Ronnie Milsap, Faron Young, Albert King, Nick Lowe and many more. But, as much as Dan Penn is respected as a songwriter for hire, he is equally respected for producing excellent albums of his own. Just as the pandemic was getting underway in 2020, Penn released an album called Living On Mercy, which contained a series of restrained Soul-influenced songs that tap into the wisdom of a man who has seen and done much in his eighty years on this planet. The lyrics track can be listened to here.

This Stupid World by Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo

In a previous post *(which you can read here) I wrote about Yo La Tengo being one of the most adored and respected alternative bands in the world. They have been quietly going about their musical business for over two decades now. The band consists of a trio of performers: singer/guitarist Ira Kaplan, keyboardist Georgia Hubley and a rotating series of bass players, the most current being James McNew. I have always considered their sound to be a coffeehouse/indie vibe. Their lyrics are often lyrically evocative and filled with gorgeous sensory imagery. If you like your music on the quiet and literate side, then you will like Yo La Tengo. This Stupid World is their 17th album. The first single off of the album is a song sung by Georgia Hubley called “Aselestine”. ***Unfortunately, there isn’t a lyrics version yet.

Dance Fever by Florence and the Machine

Florence and the Machine

In a recent post *(that you can read here) I wrote about listening to the radio as I drove across the top of Toronto at nearly two in the morning. The first song I heard once the dial found radio station CFNY-FM was “Stereo” by The Watchmen. The very next song was “Free” by Florence and the Machine. For those unaware, the “Florence” in Florence and the Machine is a female singer from England named Florence Welch. About a decade ago, she was the winner of one of Simon Cowell’s on-air television talent shows and because of that was awarded a recording contract. She has released a string of hits in the years that have followed. My favourite moment of hers was when she acted as fill-in headliner at the Glastonbury Music Festival for the Foo Fighters one year when Dave Grohl had broken his leg. The first song she sang in her set was “Times Like These”, which is a Foo Fighters song. Dave Grohl and the band returned the following year as headliners. Grohl opened his set with a story about watching Florence and the Machine singing his song. It is a funny NSFW story, but it is well worth watching to get a sense of how respected Florence Welch is in music circles. *(You can watch the Dave Grohl/Florence Welch video here. You can watch Florence’s original performance here). In any case, Florence and the Machine released a new album called Dance Fever right at the end of 2022. “Free” is the second single released from it. The song is about how Florence dealt with the anxiety that was associated with the Covid pandemic and how music helped her retain her sense of inner balance. It is a peppy, uplifting song co-written by Jack Antonoff, who co-wrote the songs on Taylor Swift’s last few albums as well. You can listen to “Free” right here. ***The lyrics version is here.

***As always, all original content contained within this post remains the sole property of the author. No portion of this post shall be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the written consent of the author. ©2023

Tomorrow’s Top 40: The Best of Today’s Newest Releases featuring The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Blondie, Tegan and Sara, Carly Rae Jepsen, Meghan Trainor, Vance Joy and, oh yes, Taylor Swift!

In this issue of Tomorrow’s Top 40 we will take quick looks at new releases by The Rolling Stones, Madonna and Blondie…all just in time for the Holiday season. We will also take a closer look at new releases by some modern day artists such as Tegan and Sara, Carly Rae Jepson, Meghan Trainor, Vance Joy and, oh yes, some unknown, unassuming artist named Taylor Swift.

Home For The Holidays:

When I was a much younger man, the start of the Christmas buying season was always a good one in that there always seemed to be an explosion of good books, movies and music that suddenly appeared on store shelves. Buying “Collector’s Editions” or “Commemorative reissues” or simply, “Greatest Hits” CDs was always synonymous with Christmas for me. However, today, with streaming services monopolizing content delivery, the Christmas shopping season feels like it has a slightly different aura about it. But, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some blockbuster packages waiting for us to buy them. Here are just a few of the heavyweight artists who have assembled some of their best work for us to buy, just in time for the Holidays.

The Rolling Stones: Live at the El Mocambo, 1977.

This double CD/album actually came out at the beginning of the summer but is being heavily promoted again as Christmas draws near. If you know The Rolling Stones history at all then you will be aware of that time they disguised themselves as The Cockroaches and played two surprise shows at Toronto’s El Mocambo night club in 1977. It was not easy to pull off such a show but they did so by promoting the two-date set as an April Wine gig with The Cockroaches opening for them. However, truth be told, the planning for the recording of a live Bluesy album and a hot, sweaty, intimate setting had been in the works for a while. The Rolling Stones: Live at the El Mocambo, 1977 captures the best of the performances over the course of those two shows. For any true Stones fan, this collection is a must-have. Here is a sample of those concerts…”Rip This Joint” can be listened to here.

Madonna: Finally Enough Love: 50 Number One Hits.

Imagine having a career that saw you have not one, not two but fifty hit songs! Wow! That is one impressive musical resume. But, then again, Madonna isn’t one of the top selling musical acts in history without reason. Her discography travels from her heyday in the 1980s, all the way into the 2000s and includes every song that made it to on the music charts, regardless of which chart it was (the Top 40 chart, the Dance Charts, the Electronic Dance Charts, the Movie Soundtrack charts, the Adult Contemporary charts and so on). Madonna is a very talented singer and performer but she is even a better business person. This collection remains faithful enough to the original way her songs were recorded so that casual fans will love what they find here. But, there are also songs that fall into niche categories such as extended dance versions of her hits that will please those of you who dig that sort of groove. In short, there will be something here for everyone who considers Madonna to be their G.O.A.T. From this album, here is Vogue. You can listen to it here.

Blondie: Against the Odds: 1974-1982.

The band, Blondie, don’t always get the credit they deserve for having their musical fingers so clearly on the pulse of the time as the 1970s rolled into the 80s. They were one of the biggest bands to transition from the start of the Disco craze, to Punk Rock as it began and then, to Hip Hop and Reggae, as both of those genres of music began to take off in popularity. They were part of it all and this new album, Blondie: Against the Odds: 1974-1982 chronicles those times in great detail. This is an album for true collectors because it is filled with rare outtakes, alternate recordings, secret live performances, remixes and extended plays and other such nuggets that have been kept hidden in the musical vault for over forty years now. For the casual fan searching for the recording of “Heart of Glass” that they loved as a younger version of themselves, they might find this album to be frustrating. However, for those true devotees of the band, the album will be like finding treasure. So go explore and have a blast but beware, this is not a typical “Greatest Hits” album. Here is the version of “Heart of Glass” as found on this album.

Modern Day New Releases

Just like those musical titans listed above, there are many modern day acts who have released new material just in time for the holidays. Here is a rundown of just a few.

Tegan and Sara: Crybaby.

Crybaby is the tenth album from Calgary-born twins, Tegan and Sara Quin. They burst onto the music scene a few years ago with their hit, “Closer”. Since then, the sisters have used their fame to support various LGBTQ causes, as well as other female-oriented acts. Like many musical acts, the COVID pandemic affected their career and limited their ability to travel and perform. However, they used this time to good effect by familiarizing themselves with the latest technological developments and by writing lots of new material. The combination of the two have taken shape in the form of a new album called Crybaby. There are lots of radio-friendly tracks here such as “Whatever That Was”, which you can listen to here. Enjoy.

Carly Rae Jepsen: The Loneliest Time.

There is a very strong tendency among casual fans to label Carly Rae Jepsen as being a one-hit wonder. But, what a one-hit wonder! She is known around the world as the Canadian girl who sings, “Call Me Maybe”. That one song ended up selling over 20 million copies and placed her in a position where she could afford to be choosy about what her next steps would be. So, instead of rushing back out with a new album that may or may not contain songs of the quality of “Call Me Maybe”, Jepsen decided to step away from the world of Pop music and, instead, took her vocal talents to Broadway, where she starred in several productions of major plays such as Cinderella and Grease. That time on stage allowed Jepsen to take a bit of a break from the media frenzy that enveloped her and gave her the time to refocus on her music and the writing and crafting of new material that spoke to her own heart. The result of this time away from the spotlight is a new album called The Loneliest Time. The first single from this album is the title track and it features the magnificent Rufus Wainwright. You can check out the awesome video for this song here.

Meghan Trainor: Takin’ It Back.

A few years ago, Meghan Trainor burst onto the music scene with a big hit song entitled, “All About the Bass” which wasn’t necessarily about musical notes, if ya know what I mean?! In the time since then, she has had a fair degree of success with songs such as “Lips Are Movin’”, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” and “No”. She won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist and has released music in the Pop, Doo Wop, Dance and Hip Hop categories. Now, Meghan Trainor is back with a new album for the holidays entitled, Takin’ It Back. Like Lizzo, Meghan Trainor is becoming known for promoting body positivity in her music and, as a result, she supports many causes that promote this issue for young girls and women. Her latest single is called “Bad For Me” ft. Teddy Swims. It is about dealing with toxic relationships. You can listen to this song here.

Vance Joy: In Our Own Sweet Time.

Vance Joy is the stage name of Australian singer James Keogh. For the past decade, Vance Joy has been releasing hit album after hit album and enjoyed much success with a string of hits starting with “Riptide” and extending onward through “Georgia”, “Mess is Mine”, “Fire and the Flood”, “Lay It On Me”, “We’re Going Home” and his latest single, “Missing Piece” from his third album, In Our Own Sweet Time. Both of Vance Joy’s first two studio albums reached on the charts. His current album sits at as you read these words. Vance Joy is known more as an Alternative artist but I think most people who like Pop music will be very much at home with his sound and his on stage persona. The song, “Missing Piece” is about being separated from the one you love (as many of us were during the pandemic). This song has already been used on the TV show, Grey’s Anatomy. It won the award for Best Music Video in Australia and is the most-played song in Australia so far in 2022. It is a really sweet song that you can listen to here.

Taylor Swift: Midnights.

Taylor Swift has a new album out and apparently it is a bit of a big deal.

Like Madonna, Taylor Swift is a woman who knows how to write a clever Pop song but, more importantly, she knows how to build and market her brand. She is arguably the most powerful female performer in the world so when she starts dropping hints on social media that a new song/new look/new relationship is brewing, her army of fans go wild. The release of Midnights was a significant social media event when it dropped this past Friday. The premise of the album is that each song represents a moment in her life when she lay awake in bed at midnight pondering the state of the world with regard to things going on in her life. Taylor Swift is clever enough to make it seem as though the things she is dwelling upon are universal in nature and, as such, what she feels is important, you should feel that way, too. Her fans, known as Swifties, are an economic and political force. So, when Taylor Swift ruminates on “feeling fat”, social media trending topics immediately focus on body image issues. When Taylor Swift speaks out about political issues, her fans respond in kind, such as registering in record numbers to vote in the upcoming US midterm elections. Midnights sold over a million copies the first weekend it was released. All of the tracks on the album have been downloaded and dissected ad nauseum online so I will spare you my track-by-track analysis. Her first official release from the album is a song called “Bejewelled” which is a take on the Cinderella story but, according to the Swifties, refers to many other songs and videos that she has made throughout her career. For me, I will simply give the lady her due. “Bejewelled” is a pure Pop song which contains a message about self-esteem and empowerment that I am sure will resonate with young girls. Taylor Swift is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the power and influence she wields. That can clearly be seen in how Midnights has debuted at on the charts and has blown every other new release out of the musical water, in terms of sales and media attention. “Bejeweled” may be the first song released from the album but, I guarantee you, it won’t be the last. You can listen to the song, “Bejeweled” here.

***The cover photo comes from the website of a music school called C & S Music. The link to their website can be found here.

***As always, all original content contained within this post remains the sole property of the author. No portion of this post shall be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2022

Today’s Top 40: a Closer Look at the Stories Behind Today’s Top Songs…Song Position #2: The Last Goodbye by Odesza ft. Bettye Lavette.

The songs listed in this post were found using the Top 40 charts of the following music organizations: CHUM-FM, CFNY-FM, KEXP-FM, Billboard Magazine, Spotify and BBC Radio 1. All six songs listed below occupied position on their respective music lists from this past week. So, let’s take a quick look at the first five songs and then, a bit of a longer look at the song in today’s spotlight: “The Last Goodbye” by Odesza ft. Bettye Lavette.

Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush (Spotify)

What is happening with this song is arguably the story in music today. Kate Bush has been my favourite female singer since I first saw her video for the song “Wuthering Heights” back in my university days in the early 1980s. In her day, she produced songs that were very literate, artistic and she sang them with the most unique and amazing of voices. Kate Bush was always someone who believed strongly in the integrity of her artistic vision, and as such, unlike many other musicians, she guarded her work carefully. For example, her songs were never licensed for use in commercials nor were they ever used in movie soundtracks. So, it was with great excitement for many when it was announced that Bush had reached an agreement with the producers of the Netflix TV series “Stranger Things” to use her song “Running Up That Hill” in one of their episodes. Kate Bush has stated that she believes in the artistic vision of the show and is giving it her seal of approval by lending them her iconic song. The episode featuring her song aired recently, and suddenly a whole new generation of viewers listened to her words and heard that voice for the first time, and collectively demanded to know who she was. As a result, “Running Up That Hill” has gone back to the top of the charts after an absence of almost forty years!!! Those social media savvy teens are now combing through her back catalogue which means that there is a strong possibility that other Kate Bush songs are about to be resurrected, too. Just this past weekend on Twitter, Lynda Carter (the original Wonder Woman) tweeted: To all you kids who are just discovering Kate Bush and “Running Up That Hill” because of Stranger Things, just wait until you hear “Wuthering Heights”.

It appears that a Summer of Kate awaits us all. ***For those who may wish to read posts written previously about “Wuthering Heights” and “Running Up That Hill”, click here and here.

Wait For U by Future ft. Drake and Tems (Billboard Magazine)

Future has been enjoying a very successful start to his 2022 year. He is the silky smooth, jazzy rapper who has now had several songs from his latest album hit the charts. This song, “Wait For U”, was profiled a few weeks ago when we were looking at songs that were listed in Chart position #39. Now it is all the way up to . Drake lends his magic touch to this song, as does a singer called Tems. So, as was stated before, if you like your Hip Hop all sexy and smooth as honey, then “Wait For U” by Future ft. Drake and Tems is for you.

Message in a Bottle by Taylor Swift (CHUM-FM)

Taylor Swift’s latest chart entry is called “Message in a Bottle”. It is an original song written by her and is not a cover of the Police classic of the same name from way back in the 1970s. Dr. Swift, as she can now call herself since she received her Honourary Doctorate in Fine Arts from NYU, originally wrote “Message in a Bottle” back in 2014 on her album “Red”. However, because of a contract dispute with her former manager in which he won a court case against her for control of her music catalogue, Swift has been re-recording and re-releasing songs from her past, making slight alterations to them and dubbing them as “Taylor’s version”, which allows her to retain a new form of copyright control. So, “Message in a Bottle (Taylor’s version)” is simply the latest in an on-going series of re-releases of songs from her past. If you liked the album “Red” when it was first released eight years ago, then chances are you will like this slightly updated, dance-oriented version of the original song, too.

It’s Alright by Mother Mother (CFNY-FM)

Mother Mother are an Indie/Alternative Pop-Rock band from British Columbia. They are fronted by a brother and sister named Ryan and Molly Guldemond. They have seven albums to their credit now. Mother Mother have been rising slowly but surely through the ranks of successful bands from Canada and have become regulars on the festival circuit, having played at Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and many other famous music festivals. The song “It’s Alright” was written in response to the gradual increase in the openness and willingness shown by society to discuss mental illness these days. The song uses a two-part play format in which Ryan sings of the feelings he is experiencing and the trouble they are causing him while Molly sings in reply about acceptance and empathy. All in all, a tiny perfect Pop nugget with a big, big heart.

Late Night Talking by Harry Styles (BBC Radio 1)

As profiled last week, Harry Styles is on top of the musical world. “Late Night Talking” is the latest song to come off of his new album, “Harry’s House”. It has been streamed via social media over twenty million times already! This peppy, dance-oriented tune is said to have been inspired by his new girlfriend, actress Olivia Wilde. If you are a fan of Harry Styles, then I am confident that you will be a fan of “Late Night Talking”, too.

The Last Goodbye by Odesza ft. Bettye Lavette (KEXP-FM)

Our featured song this week is an amazing collaboration between the Techno band, Odesza and one of the most respected Blues and Soul singers of the 1960s and 70s, Bettye Lavette. For the past decade, Odesza have been regarded as one of the top Electronic Dance Music acts anywhere in the world. Odesza are composed of two men, Harrison Mills (“The Catacomb KId”) and Clayton Knight (“Beaches Beaches”). They broke onto the music scene with a song called “Say My Name” ft. Zyra. Odesza are known for combining cutting edge DJ music production with excellent female-inspired vocal tracks. So, it was not that great a surprise when it was announced that they intended to sample the biggest hit of Bettye Lavette’s career, “Let Me Down Easy”, for a new mash-up called “The Last Goodbye”.

Bettye Lavette is someone who defines persistence and determination. Lavette was discovered when she was a teenager back in the 1960s and recorded several albums with Motown and with James Brown, but for one reason or another, Lavette never managed to rise to the top of the music scene like people like Aretha Franklin and Etta James managed to do. But, she never gave up. She kept touring and kept releasing albums, and then, when the world prepared to welcome Barack Obama as the first black President of the United States, success finally came to Bettye Lavette. She released an album of feminist classics called, “I Have My Own Hell To Raise” which included covers from such female stalwarts as Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann, Sinead O’ Connor, Lucinda Williams, Joan Armatrading and Dolly Parton. That album rose on the charts, and as a result, Lavette came to the attention of the Obamas, who invited her to sing at the presidential inauguration. With the world watching, Bettye Lavette stole the show and has not stopped since.

In the video for the song, “The Last Goodbye”, Odesza sample liberally from Lavette’s biggest pre-Obama hit, “Let Me Down Easy”, which was recorded when she was just nineteen years old. In the video, a teenage Lavette appears on screen, as Odesza plays live in front. The soulful power of Lavette’s young voice is amazing! It makes me wonder what might have been if her time in the spotlight had happened to her when she was a young adult instead of a senior citizen, which is who she is today. “The Last Goodbye” is a tremendous collaboration between one of the best singers of her generation and one of the best techno bands of this generation. It is pure magic. Enjoy.

The link to the official website for Odesza can be found here.

The link to the official website for Bettye Lavette can be found here.

***As always, reminder that all original content found in this post is the sole property of the author. No part of this post may be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2022

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #200: Bad Blood by Taylor Swift (KTOM)

This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song and going until I reach Song . When you see the song title listed as something like: Song (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #200: Bad Blood by Taylor Swift.

300 songs down. 200 more to go! Thanks to all of you for accompanying me this far on this little musical journey of ours. Today we come to song #200. As always, every 25th song goes to one of my girls and today, we have a song that Sophie ranks as on her personal Top Ten list….”Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift.

“Bad Blood” is a song that comes from an album called “1989”. When Sophie was just starting to make that transformation out of early childhood and into her pre-teen years, one of the things that she was given was a small cd-player. It had belonged to the family but, with the digitization of so many songs, we were using it less and less so, Sophie was given it and was allowed to keep it in her room for her own personal use. As you can imagine, having some semblance of control over how you live your life is an important first step toward adulthood. For Sophie, one of her first steps taken was through music and, specifically, through a little white cd player and some of her own cds; one of which was “1989” by Taylor Swift.

As she is for so many young girls, Taylor Swift became a bit of a role model for Sophie. In our home, we listened to “1989” in its’ entirety many times through the walls of Sophie’s bedroom. We all recognize the lyrics and musical structure of songs like “Welcome to New York”, “Blank Space”, “Style”, “Shake It Off” and “Wildest Dreams”. Included in that chart-topping album that helped cement Swift’s transition from Country star into a Pop Princess, was “Bad Blood”. “1989” which, btw, stands for the year Taylor Swift was born, has sold over ten million copies worldwide. It won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in the year it was released, 2014.

Specifically, “Bad Blood” was written about the disappointment Swift felt towards someone she once deemed to have been a close friend. In general, Taylor Swift has become known as someone who mines her personal life for inspiration when it comes to her songs. She is often praised for allowing herself to be so publicly vulnerable. While she has many break-up songs under her belt, “Bad Blood” was different because it was aimed at another female. Taylor Swift has never come forward and identified who the subject is on “Bad Blood” but many people suspect that it is fellow singing star, Katy Perry. For a while in the mid-2010s, Swift and Perry carried on a very public “feud” which resulted in both releasing songs that hint at ill-will directed toward the other. Supporters of Taylor Swift point to “Bad Blood” as being a sign that they, too, should feel unafraid to stand up for themselves when others let them down. I am not sure if Sophie likes “Bad Blood” for this reason or if she simply feels Swift is being bold and she likes to feel she would react with the same confidence given the circumstances.

When I asked Sophie why she liked the song, she simply replied that she likes how it sounds. Fair enough. I would like to hope that she can see through some of the manufactured emotions that accompany new releases sometimes. Studio romances. Bad breakups. Friendship betrayals. These are part of real-life, at times, and they are also part of how the music business plays its’ games, too. I am hopeful that Sophie is becoming a bit more of a critical consumer when it comes to her entertainment choices. But, having said that, I want her to enjoy how songs sound, too. Music is meant to be listened to and danced to and enjoyed. So, if “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift is simply a good sounding song in Sophie’s mind then, I am ok with that. Not that what I think about it matters because, as we all know, having the power to make your own choices in life is one of the best parts about growing up. And, as much as I have mixed emotions about it, Sophie is definitely growing up. She enjoys Taylor Swift songs and I hope that you do, too. So, without further delay, here is “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Taylor Swift, can be found here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #225: Love Story by Taylor Swift (KTOM)

This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song and going until I reach Song . When you see the song title listed as something like: Song (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #225: Love Story by Taylor Swift.

***Every 25th song in this countdown goes to one of my girls and so, today, we have Song on Leah’s personal Top Ten list, “Love Story” by Taylor Swift.

Whenever it is time for a song chosen by Leah or Sophie, I always conduct a short interview with them about why they chose the song they did and what is so special about it to them. With “Love Story”, Leah had lots to say. As has been the case with many of the girl’s selections, Leah’s first reason for finding “Love Story” so memorable dates back to a shared memory of singing the song with friends.

In this case, we were very lucky to have the girls spend their pre-school years in the care of the world’s finest daycare lady, Jackie Currie. *(Jackie writes an award-winning blog called, “Happy Hooligans” about her daycare experiences, philosophies and much more). Anyway, many of our daughter’s first milestone moments happened while at Jackie’s. She was always very good to share the events of the day with us, in person or via email so, Keri and I started looking forward to pick-up time so we could see how our children had grown that day and what wonderful things they had been up to. One of those pick-up time conversations revealed that the girls had learned a new song that Jackie had played on CD or the radio. That song was “Love Story” by Taylor Swift. In Leah’s memory, she recalls singing the song with the other daycare children and how grown up they all felt to be singing a “real” song from the radio, as opposed to a “Kid’s” song based on nursery rhymes.

When Taylor Swift released “Love Story”, it was from her second album, “Fearless”. She was considered a Country singer at this stage of her career. But, ever the clever business woman, Taylor Swift already had a career path planned out in her head and, as such, she wasn’t about to release a series of Country songs and find herself pigeon-holed in a limited category known as Country. She wanted to broaden her appeal and specifically planned on crossing over genres and becoming more of a Pop star. So, although “Love Story” won awards as a Country Song, it was always intended to test the waters in the world of Pop and, consequently, it can be pointed to as the moment the Taylor Swift brand started growing into the international juggernaut it is today.

“Love Story” is based on a real event from Swift’s life. We all know of many teen romances that were frowned upon by parents, to which the teens involved responded with incredulity stating that the parents “just didn’t get it!”. Teen love is felt as real love and the emotions run very high when it all starts and again, in the reverse direction, when it all ends. Taylor Swift wrote about her teen romance as if it were Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. The one exception was that Swift gave her characters a happy ending, as opposed to Shakespeare’s suicide pact. Leah is a teen who hopes to find love one day and I am sure she wonders how Keri and I will react when the day comes that she brings that certain someone home for us to meet. So, in that regard, I think that Leah’s “teen female” reaction to Swift’s storytelling meshes well and, when extrapolated out across the teen girl universe, shows how well Swift’s narrative was able to connect with the lives and ambitions of girls around the world. Taylor Swift is nothing, if not, superbly clever when it comes to knowing her audience and how to connect with them.

And Leah, of course, being Leah, loves books and has studied the real “Romeo and Juliet” in school. She has strong opinions about the story, as well as, the modern movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes (She doesn’t like it)….although that movie is another movie that has an outstanding soundtrack! Anyway, I digress again. One of the additional appeals to this song for Leah is that it is a song that tells a story. Like her old man, Leah likes story-songs, too. “Love Story” by Taylor Swift contains a complete story arc that describes how she and her beau met, what the reaction was by her parents and, in the end, how it all turned out. As mentioned earlier, the fact that Swift gave her listeners a happy ending helps to make “Love Story” a lot easier for young girls to digest. One doesn’t become a Pop Princess by feeding her fans epic tragedy, does one?

When “Love Story” was first released, it won multiple awards and sold tens of millions of copies, making it one of the most successful singles of all-time, at the time. However, a funny thing happened to Taylor Swift on the way to fame and fortune. It was a business-related event that, initially, didn’t involve her but which, in the end, proved that Taylor Swift is nobody’s fool and is much tougher and more shrewd than most people thought. The event in question was that the company that owned the copyright on all of her early albums was sold to a man named Scooter Braun who, at one time, was Swift’s manager. A legal battle erupted as Swift sought to gain control over her music…..which included the song, “Love Story”. Swift fought hard but, eventually, lost her case. But, she is nothing, if not clever, as I have mentioned. So, instead of giving up the fight, she fought back by re-recording all of her early albums….changing one small thing here, another small thing there about each song thus, making them “new” versions, of which she owns the exclusive rights. Then, she went one step further and advised her fans that, from now on, she wanted them to only download/purchase versions of her early songs that contained the label, “Taylor’s version” thus, feezing her old manager out of the market, leaving him with a collection of songs that no one was going to buy anymore; effectively, making his collection worthless. So, Scooter Braun may have won the court battle but, it appears that Taylor Swift may end up winning the war. To have a female role model stand up to men in the industry and to not back down sends a terrific message forward toward all young women growing up. I know Leah well enough to know that Swift’s moxie resonates with her and that it endears “Love Story” to her all the more.

So, to all of you who, as teens, fell in love and felt tragically misunderstood by the adults in your life at the time, “Love Story” by Taylor Swift is for you. Thank you, Leah, for giving us another inspired song choice. Without further delay, here is one of today’s most successful and influential musical artists, Taylor Swift and the song that really brought her into the public eye, “Love Story”. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “Love Story” by Taylor Swift, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Taylor Swift, can be found here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #276: All Too Well by Taylor Swift (KTOM)

This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song and going until I reach Song . When you see the song title listed as something like: Song (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #276: All Too Well by Taylor Swift.

We tend to live ordinary lives. If we are lucky, the occasional, extraordinary moment comes along; searing itself into our hearts and becoming a treasured memory that we carry with us forever and ever. One of the things that separates an ordinary memory from one that becomes part of the tapestry of our lives is the visceral nature of our remembrance. We wear the sweater of a deceased loved one because it has retained their scent. Sometimes, you hear a song that was playing the first time you held and kissed your beloved and, immediately, you are brought back to that romantic, life-altering moment when your two hearts became one. The memories that count tend to survive fully-formed and multi-dimensionally. They retain the essence of the actual event and, as such, are more valuable that Gold.

Obviously, our memories are not always happy ones. The emotive nature of those events that change are lives can cause us to carry pain and sadness in our hearts, as easily as we carry Joy and Love. Personal loss can be devastating and dis-orienting and, just like falling in love, the sensory nature of the down times remains every bit as vivid and sharp in recall. Perhaps no one in recent memory is as adept at capturing the fine details involved in loss as is singer, Taylor Swift.

As I type these words, Taylor Swift is the biggest selling and, arguably, the most influential female singer in music today. She has sold over 50 million albums worldwide and has YouTube views approaching almost one billion for her career, which has not yet reached the half-way point, I imagine. Her hit songs include, “Love Story”, “You Belong With Me”, “Mean”, “I Knew You Were Trouble”, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”, “22”, “Bad Blood”, “Blank Slate”, “Welcome To New York”, “Stlye” and many more. Swift is a clever business women and has had much success marketing herself to her fans, of which there are legions. She has used her PR savvy, at times, for public causes. For example, in the past US Election, Swift urged her fans to get out and vote. Immediately after posting that letter on Instagram, voter registration in people aged 30 and under soared.

Taylor Swift started out as a Country singer and then, with regularity, has reinvented her persona and has become a Pop singer and now, she is wearing plaid shirts and singing Folk-inspired tunes on her latest album. But, what Taylor Swift is best known for is her penchant for writing break-up songs. Many of her best-known songs involve some sort of reaction from her to a relationship that she was involved in that ended up not working out. Of all of the songs of this nature that she has released, the one most critics and fans agree is her best is a song called, “All Too Well”.

This song was the result of a short-term relationship Swift had with actor Jake Gyllenhaal. What helps to separate this song from the ranks of her other break-up songs is the degree of wistfulness and intimate detail she includes in the song. Like all special memories, Swift has infused “All Too Well” with glimpses of small moments such as looking at childhood photos as a way to get to know someone better, dancing to the glow coming from a refrigerator light and, most famously, the fact that Mr. Gyllenhaal, apparently, kept a scarf of hers as a memento of the relationship because it had traces of her perfume on it. Since the release of “All Too Well” in 2014, that missing scarf has become an iconic symbol for her fans and is often seen as part of the ensembles that diehard fans wear to her concerts.

Whether or not you are buying everything Taylor Swift is selling, the fact remains that our most important memories tend to come complete with scents and sounds and textures attached to them. “All Too Well” is a song that captures this aspect of our lives better than most songs out there and, as such, has been hailed as one of the best songs, if not, the best song, by one of the most popular singers alive today. Taylor Swift may be the “Queen of the Break-up Song” but, if I were to make a wish for her that I sincerely hoped would come true in the near future, it would be that she trades in her heartbreak pen and replaces it with one filled with lyrics about finding her true love. When that day comes, I imagine she will write entire operas in response. And when that happens, I will happily listen to her words and remember how I felt when my wife, Keri and I were having all of our “first this and first that” moments that formed the foundation of our love-filled life that we so enjoy. Memories come in all forms but, the best ones smell good and feel nice and warm and, when all is said and done, are better than treasure.

Here is “All Too Well” by Taylor Swift from her “Red” album. This video is from when she debuted the song at The Grammy Awards. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “All Too Well” by Taylor Swift, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Taylor Swift, can be found here.

***PS: Since the creation of this post, Taylor Swift has come out with a re-worked version of this song and the story that it tells. The new, longer version of the official video for “All Too Well” can be found here.

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