Taylor Swift “1989”

Taylor Swift is a multi-platinum artist known for pushing the envelope, defying the odds, and breaking records. She has won over fifty awards including seven Grammys. Her flourishing career started at the age of sixteen when she released “Tim McGraw.” Since then she has released over thirty more singles. The first four albums in her discography have been country albums, but her most recent album “1989,” is a pop album. “1989” includes 13 tracks, plus an additional six tracks on the deluxe Target Edition including three uncut, original recordings of “I Know Places,” “I Wish You Would,” and “Blank Space.”

“1989” is an album written by a girl who has watcher dreams come true. It is about a young woman who finally knows exactly who she is and what she wants out of life. Gone are the lyrics of an innocent, naïve, and slightly confused young girl. In the first track, Taylor Swift sings “Welcome to New York” to the young dreamers who remind her of the days when she dreamed of “living in a big ol’ city.” She encourages them to keep their heads up when success seems impossible. The rest of the album goes on to show that the rose-colored glasses of her youth have been taken off and been replaced by the clear glassed of a jaded adult.

Unlike her past albums, this album does not live under the fairytale views of a a hopeless romantic. In songs like “Blank Space,” “Style,” and “Wildest Dreams,” she does not sing of the perfect lover, but of the one who got away, because though they worked so well together, they were bad for each other.

Six of the tracks, including “Out of the Woods,” tell tales of how love could be beautiful and simple, but instead the jaded lovers get so caught up in running away from trouble and toward perfection, that their love slowly slips out of their hands until it cannot be reached again.

Hope is not completely lost for the hopelessly romantic “Swifties” though, because Swift does briefly sing of the potential of finding true love in her tracks “How You Get the Girl” and “You Are in Love.” In these tracks, Miss Swift reminds listeners that even as a jaded adult, a part of her still believes that true love is attainable for the fortunate few who are willing to hold on to it and patiently fight to keep it.

Finally, she has the songs “Bad Blood,” “Clean,” “Shake It Off,” and New Romantics.” These are her “whatever, I don’t care” tracks. These songs are written to the haters and people who did her wrong. She’s telling them to say what they will and do whatever, but she will let slide off her back and keep doing what she does. Love her or hate her, but at the end of each day, one thing is true of Taylor Swift—she is honest and relatable. Hates hate because they claim all of her songs are the same, and that might be true, but for her it is not a bad thing. The topics of her songs are always similar, because she writes what she knows. As successful as she is, she is still only 24, and like most other people her age, she really only knows love, heartbreak, and haters. She has not experienced much and that is why “1989” which is just a more seasoned version of her other albums, will inevitably be the first platinum album of 2014. It is also why she has such a large a loyal fan following. Girls and boys alike lover knowing that such a famous star has felt the same things they have felt. Taylor Swift is a star they feel has grown up alongside them and “1989” shows that she still as real and down-to-earth as ever.

After Taylor Swift announced that she was releasing a pop album, I was prepared to be disappointed. It was not because I thought it would be bad; I knew it would not be bad. Taylor Swift and the people she works with are far too talented to come out with a bad album. I was nervous because to me, Taylor Swift was made for the country music she had been singing all along; not because country fits her particularly, but because she made country music her own. I was worried that turning to pop would turn her into a sold out copy of what everyone else was doing. I could not have been more wrong though. As she did with her first four albums, Taylor Swift has taken her chosen genre and made it her own.

Road Between

Most people know Lucy Hale for her starring role as Aria Montgomery in the hit ABC Family drama “Pretty Little Liars,” but many people don’t realize that music is Hale’s first love. When Hale was only twelve years old, she competed on the American Idol spinoff, American Juniors, and won. When she was fifteen years old, she moved from her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee to Las Angeles, California to pursue her music career. When things didn’t fall into place right away for her music, she pursued an acting career, but never strayed far from music. In nearly every role she has ever played, even her role as Aria Montgomery, she has sung a song or two. Now, after a long time coming, the time has finally arrived for her to release her very first album, “Road Between.” “Road Between” is a country album written with a theme inspired by love—love from a girlfriend, love from family, and love from self.

I personally thought she did such a fantastic job singing the pop songs on her movie, “A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song” that like many others, I was skeptical when I learned that Lucy Hale had come out with a country album. However, because I grew up on country music, I chose to listen to Hale’s album despite my doubts. Upon listening to her album, I was grateful that I did. With powerful vocals, catchy beats, and relatable lyrics, Hale’s album is sure to become an album that present and future fans will remember for many years to come.

With her songs “From the Backseat,” “Road Between,” and “Feels Like Home,” Hale shows the importance of remembering your roots. “From the Backseat” reminisces about family memories, first dates, and prom nights, while “Road Between” and “Feels Like Home” talk about how it’s important to remember home and the lessons you’ve learned through the years.

Her songs “Nervous Girls” and “My Little Black Wedding Dress” show that even though she’s a famous actress and singer, Lucy Hale struggles with insecurities every now again just like any other girl. “Nervous Girls” is very similar to the song “This One’s for the Girls” by Martina McBride and “Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful” by Kellie Pickler. It’s a song that depicts situations in which women face things like eating disorders and divorce. Toward the end of the song, Hale becomes as open and honest as anyone by singing “I’m that girl who’s just like you.” Later on in the album, Hale sings the song “My Little Black Wedding Dress” which is the anthem of any girl who feels like she’s “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” and “forever alone.” It’s my personal go to song when I’m feeling down and out while all my 20-something year old friends, friends who are my age, are off getting engaged, getting married, and having babies.

Now, what would a country album with strong female vocals be without depressing love songs and sassy break up songs? The answer would be, “Not a country album.” Considering the fact that Hale is a talented enough actress to make anyone cry, it should come as no surprise that she can make you cry with her lyrics as well. Therefore, should you ever feel like cuddling up in your bed with a bowl of ice cream and majorly depressing love songs, “Red Dress” with Joe Nichols and “Just Another Song” can and should be your go to songs from the album. Should you feel sassy and or angry about a guy who treated you wrong, then you should listen to “Goodbye Gone,” “That’s What I Call Crazy,” “Runaway Circus,” or “Those 3 Words.” Hale’s powerful vocals and fiery attitude in these songs could be compared to the same type of songs sung by artists like Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, and Taylor Swift.

Finally, the album has incredibly sweet and totally relatable love songs like “You Sound Good to Me,” “Kiss Me,” “Lie a Little Better,” “Love Tonight,” and “Loved.” I personally recommend you listen to “Lie a Little Better,” which is a song about a girl who is crushing on a guy, and she doesn’t want him to know, but the words just slip out, so she feels idiotic and tries to take it all back. You should also listen to “Loved,” a very sweet and loving song about a girl telling her boyfriend that he doesn’t have to do anything special or fancy, as long as he loves her, tells her she’s beautiful, and reminds her that she means the world to him.

Ultimately, “Road Between” is a fantastic album, written with grace and talent for an artist who truly pours her heart and soul into every word she sings. It is an album that anyone could relate to in at least one way or another, and even when being as objective as possible, I cannot think of one reason as to why you should not go out and buy this album right this very moment.

Beauty From Ashes

The beautiful thing about grace is that it takes horribly ugly pieces of trash

And turns them into wonderfully beautiful pieces of art.

 

My horribly ugly piece of trash can be seen in the yearbook of when I was seventeen. I suffered from deep depression and major anxiety attacks. Those attacks eventually became an almost daily occurrence and the depression became so bad that I grew desperate. I thought that if I inflicted physical pain upon myself, then the spiritual pain I was suffering from wouldn’t heart so much. Instead of usually the normal means of hurting myself, such as cutting or under/over-eating, I decided to leave “invisible” scars on my skin. I used so called “safety” pins and pricked my fingers with them. I dug them so deeply into my fingers that blood gushed out of my fingers. Then I would press down on the skin around the wound and squeeze the blood out.

My wonderfully beautiful piece of art can be seen in today’s yearbook. I was sitting in a blood mobile, ready to give blood for a little girl with leukemia. The nurse came into the little cubicle room I was sitting in and told me she would be pricking my finger in order to count my red blood cells. Because of my past, a little part of me freaked out upon hearing that, but I breathed evenly and allowed her to prick my finger. The feeling left by needle was familiar, the site of blood gushing from the wound was also familiar, and so was the pressure from her finger pushing on the skin around the hole. However, the strange sensation I felt upon finishing the procedure was not familiar. I realized that God really does bring beauty from ashes. A method that I had used for harm, God used two years later for life. He took a horrible image of hatred in my mind and transformed it into a beautiful work of art. He took a horribly ugly piece of trash and turned it into a wonderfully beautiful piece of art.