taylor swift

2014: My Year In Lists (Part Two)

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Music! It’s that stuff that pours into your earholes from out of your radio (hahaha, remember RADIOS) digital music computer doodad… that contraption you’ve got clipped to your fashionable, like, satchel thing… whatever… you know what I’m talking about. Or maybe all your music is in a cloud somewhere. Music chip implanted in your brain? I don’t understand how anything works.

Look, we’re going to talk about the music that I experienced in 2014. And we’ll be doing so via a bunch of mini-lists, because the thought of combining everything into a big Top 10 or Top 20 list makes me very, very tired. And I’m tired enough already, you guys.  My iVinyl songtunes app won’t synch up with my sonic Bluetooth cochlear graft!!! I can’t even!!! That’s a thing kids say, right? RIGHT??? I’M GOING TO HASHTAG EVERYTHING JUST TO BE SURE.

To the lists…

5 Absolutely Perfect Pop Songs from 2014

“Team” by Lorde – This song is like getting drunk on a weird Thursday at 2am with a bunch of really cool people that you’ve only known for a couple of weeks, so they’re still exciting. “Team” manages to whip up almost a mystical feel, but super-modern; I imagine this is the kind of thing that Stevie Nix would turn out if she was currently 17 and into synthesizers.

“Pompeii” by Bastille – If I had to sum of this song in a single word, that word would be, “Triumphant.” Listening to “Pompeii” makes me want to triumph over something. I don’t know WHAT, specifically, I would like to triumph over, but still… this song makes me long for a non-specific triumph, where I’d thrust my clenched fists into the air right at the “but when you close your eeeyees” part. I feel like that would be really satisfying.

“All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor – If you could use a wizard’s spell to turn a wad of strawberry Hubba Bubba into a song, this is what you would get. Now, I will grant you that the marrying of a sort of old timey-ish voice with modern pop isn’t a new idea.. nor is this the best ever example of that trend (Amy Winehouse would be the queen of that particular retro castle). However, “All About That Bass” is fun as shit, so whatever. Plus, when you see the song title written out, it’s mildly entertaining to pretend she’s talking about her love for a certain kind of fish.

“Fancy” by Iggy Azalea & Charli XCX – There’s some kind of iffy racial stuff with this song… she’s essentially doing “black voice,” which is not cool… but, you know, the video was a whole, awesome Clueless homage. So… we’re going to say it’s okay to like this song…? Because it JAMS? Look, I’m not sure where I’m supposed to stand on Iggy Azalea, so I have to listen to my heart. My heart is telling me that this song makes my pants want to get up and dance. So there’s that.

“Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift – When Taylor Swift is president in like 2045, we’ll look back at the release of “Shake It Off” as the moment when everyone in America suddenly realized… hey… Taylor Swift is actually pretty great. Those first stirrings of goodwill will snowball until, eventually, we the people decide that it would probably be in all of our best interests if she just ran everything for a while. I feel like her Vice President will be her cat.

3 Terrible Songs from 2014

“Fireball” by Pitbull – I do not get why Pitbull is popular. He looks like a Miami dad, and he exclusively puts out songs that sound like they were specifically designed to be shitty ringtones.  And yet he’s super famous, and I work in a deli. The world, once again, fails to make sense. Anyway, I would rather be killed by an actual fireball, Backdraft-style, than ever hear this song again.

“Animals” by Maroon 5 – Everything about Adam Levine is gross… I imagine that he always smells like American Spirits, some kind of hair wax, and cheap lube… but this song, which is LITERALLY about hunting and killing women, is really just too much. Listening to “Animals” makes me want to apologize to everybody on behalf of my gender.

“Battleships” by Daughtry – The whole song is an extended, tortured metaphor about how a relationship is like two battleships fighting. That sounds stupid enough on its own, but then there’s the part in the song’s chorus when he goes “boom BOOM boom… boom BOOM boom.” HE’S BEING THE CANNONS ON THE BATTLESHIP. Sometimes, the onamonapias work in your favor, and sometimes they’re the hill upon which you die. Ugh, I can’t believe I phone-voted for you when you were on American Idol, Chris Daughtry. How the… not mighty, exactly… how the mediocre have fallen.

1 Song from 2014 That Sounds Like Time Travel

“Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars & Mark Ronson – You could tell me this was a track that was accidentally cut from Prince’s “Dirty Mind” album due to a grievous production error, and I’d totally believe it. By the way,  I do an excellent car dance to this song that really impresses the other drivers and lets them know I’m a cool guy who is very hip to the popular musics of today. My car dance has shoulder wiggles AND head bobs. It’s pretty awesome. This song is more awesome, though.

2 Songs from 2014 That I Hated At First, Then Totally Loved

“The Man” by Aloe Blacc – I hated it because it was in every MLB promo for every baseball game that existed in 2014, and that kind of repetition is just brutal. But then baseball season ended, and I heard it context-free on the radio, and it made think… you know what… maybe this song is about how I’M the man, I’m the man, I’m the man. So I love it now. Because I’m THE MAN.

“Chandelier by Sia” – This is song is gorgeous and inspires within in me soaring emotions, and… for some reason, I hated it the first time I heard it. Some things are just too beautiful to be appreciated at first glance. Anyway, “Chandelier” makes me want to survive some kind of huge ordeal, then describe the experience via the medium of interpretive dance.

3 Artists/Bands That I Rediscovered in 2014

Carole King – That lady sure could beat the shit out of a piano. Listen to “Tapestry,” if you’re okay with taking the time to glue your heart back together afterwards.

Crooked Fingers -They’re kind of the postscript to the band Archers of Loaf, who weren’t even a really huge deal back when they had some hipster, record store cache. So this is the small band that came from a slightly larger small band. And man… they’re just weird and great and like the soundtrack to my life, if I were a little bit cooler. Listen to this song, then go listen to the entire album that it’s from.

Paul Simon – That I ever forgot about Paul Simon is shameful. Thankfully, the movie Obvious Child came along and reminded me of what a bad, Paul Simon-shunning person I had become. Mandatory Paul Simon listenings should be written into The Constitution. I’ll have to get a petition going that calls for said change; something that I can present to President Swift at a Town Hall meeting or some such.

16 Bands from 2014 That I Totally Made Up

Condescending Turtles

The Beefpants Trio

El Boring Boringson & The Dulls

Mama Jokes

Crucified Judas

Elbowsnatch

Virginia Hummelsmith & The Best Band That Could Be Assembled Via Craigslist

Goodbye Horses (a Q Lazzarus cover band)

Dads in Garages

The Dirtbag Dandies

Professor Emanuel’s Sweet & Sour Lemon Drops (sorry, that’s a brand of lozenge that I invented)

Cud Punch

Prolapsed Soul

2Scary4School

Wet Jeans

and, of course…

Ed Sheeren (but not the one you’re thinking of)

Girl Drink Drunk

Girl Drink Drunk is a regular column that features your host, an adult male who prefers bourbon and beer, exploring the sugary, sweet world of “girly drinks” for your edification and entertainment. He promises not to barf on you. Enjoy.

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Here are two things that happened to me this week:

-I bought, then (mostly) consumed two bottles of wine from Arbor Mist’s “Desserts” collection, not because I enjoy such beverages, but because I have made it my business to write about sugar-blasted pseudo-booze on the internet. I assume you’re aware of this by now, unless you are a first time visitor to ZFS; if that IS the case, welcome, please remove your shoes (new carpet), and note that we prosecute shoplifters to the fullest extent of the law.

and…

-I listened to Taylor Swift’s new song “Shake It Off” for the first time. Then I listened to it again. Then several more times. Then an additional thousand times after that, because it is the catchiest song that has ever been written. It makes “The Name Game” look like Side A of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music.

Now, I want to talk about the second item first, because I guarantee you that… at the very invocation of Taylor Swift’s name, at LEAST half of you made a who-farted face and said, “this guy’s got worse taste in music than MY MOM.” And then you chuckled smugly to yourself as you fired up an e-cig and an old Guided By Voices album. My response to all of that is this: Take a step back from the front lines of the Pop Culture Snark War, and calm down. I get that Swift isn’t everybody’s thing, and I also get that it is fun to throw enormous amounts of shade at people that are very rich and very famous (and even more so when they happen to also be very earnest, as Swift tends to be). That being said… I don’t know… I feel like the internet-curated ill-will towards Swift is a little misguided. There are better targets out there, and more deserving ones, at that.

Which is not to say that I am Taylor Swift super fan, either. I am 34 years old, and also a dude. At this stage of the game, being WAY into young pop starlets is a little… unseemly. It happens, I guess, but it’s really not a good look on my people (early-30’s big, fat party guys). That being said, I am not immune to the charms of a well-crafted, radio-friendly song, which are things that Swift cranks out fairly efficiently. If nothing else, Swift and her musical overlords know how to capture and manipulate that intangible force known as “catchy-ness,” and said necromancy leads to otherwise reasonable people (such as myself) listening to individual Taylor Swift jams over and over again until Spotify sends us an email to inform us that our accounts have CLEARLY been hacked by a group of 7th graders.

The other reason that people dislike Taylor Swift is that she is a bit of a serial monogamist, and that, post-breakup, she writes songs about her exes. This is a stupid reason to hate a 24 year old person. You know what you’re SUPPOSED to do when you’re in your early 20’s? Try on a bunch of guys (or girls) and figure out just what the hell you like in a significant other. You’re SUPPOSED to take chances. You’re SUPPOSED to not settle too early. That is what being in your early 20’s is all about. And the fact that she writes songs about the guys that she dates… well, hell, she has to write about something, and dating and whatnot is a whole lot more relatable than, say, the hidden inconveniences of private plane ownership, or how one can spend $10,000 on hats and not feel even a little guilty inside. Writing about her exes is nothing more than a solid business strategy. But… some people feel that dating a bunch of guys and then singing about it is, somehow, Swift being a bad role model. Putting aside the fact that we, as a culture, should really, really, REALLY stop turning to our nation’s celebrities for moral authority and life-lessons we can point to when we try to parent our children (because, I mean, C’MON), Swift, by and large, is a FINE role model. She is basically just living the life of a normal, early-20’s person… albeit on a grander scale… and, if I had a child (which I don’t), I would be fine with hypothetical him or her hypothetically following her lead. It beats hypothetical him or her taking after Miley Cyrus and rolling on Molly while dry-humping an older gentleman at the VMAs. Which, AGAIN, I don’t care what Cyrus does. She can attempt to popularize the mythical Tijuana Donkey Show here in America, if that’s her heartsong. I’m just saying I’d rather my fake daughter have a few boyfriends, as opposed to smoking so much Salvia that her life turns into a round-the-clock Burning Man.

ANYWAY, I bring all of this up about Taylor Swift because, if you’ll remember several hundred words back, I mentioned that I had bought and consumed some Arbor Mist “Desserts” wine. While, at the time, I thought I was merely drinking some extremely sweet starter hooch, it was only after listening to the aforementioned “Shake It Off” on repeat that I realized I was actually drinking Taylor Swift herself. Or at least it is like drinking one of her songs. Let me explain…

The Girl Drink(s):

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If you’re not familiar with Arbor Mist wine, it is basically liquified Skittles that will get you moderately buzzed. You can usually buy it in gas stations, which should fill in any unanswered questions you have about Arbor Mist. The “Desserts” branch of the Arbor Mist family tree make its predecessors look like strong, black coffee. Tying themselves to specific dessert items… Strawberry Shortcake and Caramel Apples, respectively… have opened the door for the makers of said wine to just go absolutely fucking nuts with the sugar. IT’S A DESSERT! You’re basically drinking a pie! DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT!!! How much sugar, exactly, is in Arbor Mist “Desserts” wine? So much that I immediately forgot the amount after looking it up, as it scared the shit out of my kidneys. That’s how much.

So, like I said, the flavors are Strawberry Shortcake and Caramel Apple, but that doesn’t really matter. You could call them Formula x17-A and Formula X17-B and the people that drink this kind of stuff are going to drink them, regardless. Yes, there are some differences… the Strawberry Shortcake one kind of tastes fruity, and weirdly also a little like a cream-based frosting smeared on a sponge cake. It’s unsettling, and not just because drinking it makes you feel like you’re going blind. Drinks shouldn’t taste like carbs. I’ve always said that, and literally no one in the girl drink industry agrees with me. The Caramel Apple variety is a little better; it basically tastes like candy corn, with the faintest touch of cider on the back end. It is slightly less sweet than the Strawberry Shortcake one, which is a lot like saying that a Mako shark will devour you slight slower than a Great White.

At the end of the day, the Arbor Mist family, in general, and the Arbor Mist “Desserts” wines, specifically, are just kind of whatever, at least as far as the actual product itself goes. Where they ARE interesting is within the concept of Taylor Swift, and how drinking a bottle of Arbor Mist “Desserts” is basically like drinking one of her songs. Here’s what I mean… Taylor Swift came into the spotlight as a teenager who sang sweetly pleasant country songs about Tim McGraw and teardrops on her guitar. That Taylor Swift is dead, or at least it is almost in the grave. The current Taylor Swift is a woman, who is living her womanly life out loud, but who still has to keep up a little bit of that sweetness in order to maintain a fan base that didn’t necessarily grow up with her. She has to appeal to BOTH sides of her fans… those that were there at the beginning of her career and are now, like her, grown ups, and those that are the same age as she was when she started, because she unquestionably still makes music that appeals to teenagers. In essence, she has to put out wine for the adults, and sweets for the kids. And since she only has a three minute song to in which to do that, she has to combine the two into one sugary product that will make you tipsy.

Arbor Mist “Desserts” are Taylor Swift, and Taylor Swift is Arbor Mist “Desserts.” One foot in the bar, one foot in the candy shop. Or, to put it another way, Taylor Swift is a specific kind of 24 year old lady, and if that specific kind of 24 year old American lady were a beverage, that beverage would be Arbor Mist “Desserts” wine. Sure, the haters are going to hate, hate, hate, but shake it off. It’s okay to like Taylor Swift, because Taylor Swift is an okay person and an okay beverage. In whatever form she chooses, Taylor Swift is okay.