Saturday, January 18, 2020

A Hard Day's Night

Yesterday
Director: Danny Boyle
Cast: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Kate McKinnon, Ed Sheeran
Released: June 28, 2019


Yesterday is a movie with an interesting premise that asks the question, what if the entire population lived in a world where the Beatles never existed? And only one young man remembers them and their  timeless songs. This is what happens when a global blackout occurs (not sure why it would erase the memory of certain pop culture phenomenas  (the Beatles aren't the only thing that are forgotten by the human race)). The blackout is equated to something they were expecting for Y2K....I guess it just happened 18 years later! It only lasts for 12 seconds. Our main character, Jack Malik (Himesh Patel), a struggling musician, is hit by a bus while riding his bike during that time and I guess that explains why the memory loss of certain things didn't affect him. A lot of things in this movie don't make sense, but you're just supposed to go with it.

His first clue that something is amiss is when he's in his hospital bed and says, "Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I'm 64?" to Ellie (Lily James), who is his friend and manager (and also a school teacher). She laughs at the comment and asks, "Why 64?" But then when he plays "Yesterday" for his friends with a new guitar, they are all amazed by the song and tell him how great it is and they have never heard of it. He thinks they are playing a joke on him (like anyone would; you would have to live under the biggest rock in a hole forty feet beneath the earth to never heard of the Beatles!) They think he is referring to an obscure pop group!

When the "joke" keeps going on into the evening, he gets on his computer and Googles "The Beatles", but the site only comes up with a page for the insect beetle. When he types in "John Paul George Ringo" he gets a hit for Pope John Paul.  He checks his albums and all of his Beatles records are gone. He also checks to see if some of his other favorite groups still exist and finds out that Oasis has also disappeared from everyone's memory. Now I understand why he is "saving" the Beatles catalogue, but it would be a shame if "Wonderwall", "Champagne Supernova", and "Don't Look Back in Anger" were lost to the world. C'mon, those are some quintessential '90s songs! We also find out that Coca-Cola and cigarettes don't exist any longer (the latter might actually be a good thing!)

I have a question: do/did the members of the Beatles exist/existed in this world, but they just never formed the Beatles, or is this a world where John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison were never born into? This question will be answered later on.

Jack takes it upon himself to try to remember all the Beatles songs
(or at least the popular ones; but still, that's quite a lot!) and tries to remember the lyrics and the music. I think this would be super difficult! Even with an artist I'm familiar with and like, I don't know if I could remember all the lyrics to their songs. Perhaps just the super popular ones, but even then I wouldn't be sure. I can sing the lyrics to any song I know when it's playing, but when I just have to remember it on my own? Nope, can't do it. At least not the entire song.

I love the scene where his parents want to hear one of his "new" songs and he starts playing "Let It Be" (probably one of the best Beatles songs there is!) and he keeps getting interrupted by their neighbor or someone's phone. He keeps starting over after he gets interrupted and everyone keeps getting restless because he keeps repeating the same line. All the poor guys is trying to do is play the entire song without any interruptions, but he never gets to because he gets so fed up after the fourth of fifth interruption and tells them that they're the first people of Earth to hear this song and that it's like watching da Vinci paint the Mona Lisa right in front of them. They're all just staring at him, probably thinking he's super full of himself and he never gets to play it for them because they are interrupted once again when the neighbor's wife stops over.

Jack begins playing the songs at small festivals, but nobody seems to really care. He thinks the problem is him and he doesn't have the je ne sais quoi that the Beatles did, but then a guy from a recording company takes notice of him and Jack and Lily record a demo and the thing takes flight, at least at a local level. Jack is about to confess to Lily where the songs really came from, but he gets distracted when Ed Sheeran (played by Ed Sheeran) wants him to come to Moscow with him and be his opening act. I did laugh when he refers to himself as "the ginger geezer". And when Jack's dad tells him, "You look like Ed Sheeran!" But please tell me his ring tone isn't one of his own songs in real life because that's so...tacky. Also, I like about 90% of his music, but I really do not care for "Shape of You", which is the song he has as his ringtone in this movie.

Everyone loves Jack's opening act and we see a tall man in the back and right away I can tell he has heard the songs Jack is singing before because he has a look of recognition on his face. So this got very interesting; Jack is not the only person in the world who remembers the Beatles. Of course he sings "Back in the USSR" and Ed Sheeran tells him he really likes the song and he thought it was cool that he called it USSR even though it probably stopped being called that before he was born. Doing some Google research, I found out the song was released in 1968 and stopped being called that in 1991. You think a lot more of his younger fans (hell, any aged fan!) would be confused by the title of this song, but they seemed to be loving it.

Ed Sheeran challenges Jack to a "song writing competition" just for fun, just to see who can write the better "new" song in just a matter of minutes. The Ed Sheeran song is pretty good; it's very Ed Sheeran-y. And of course he should have won considering Jack cheated when he passes off "The Long and Winding Road" as his own and something he wrote in under fifteen minutes just that evening. It's pretty funny because Ed Sheeran is starting to question his status as a song writer and if he really is that good and he goes off, defeated. He tells Jack that he's Mozart and he (Ed) is Salieri. I had never heard of Salieri before and looked him up. He was a well established composer until Mozart came along and took over and (obviously) became the much more recognized name. So I guess there's a reason why I'm not familiar with the name Salieri. Maybe Jack should have picked one of the lesser known, lesser regarded songs to not make poor Ed Sheeran feel so bad! I was very amused by this scene and you can tell Ed Sheeran had a lot of fun with it.

Jack is brought to L.A. by Ed's manager, Debra (Kate McKinnon), who wants him to write more songs and make them both super rich. Her plan is to have Jack make "an astonishing era-defining double album that changes popular music forever". (He definitely has enough material to make a double album!) At his going-away party, Ellie confesses that she has always been in love with him (you knew it was coming!) and now things are complicated between them because he's about to leave for Los Angeles where his life is about to change drastically. His (well, The Beatles') five most popular songs are released online and they're getting colossal hits and everyone is raving about them. We don't know which songs were picked (I guess they didn't want to start a debate about which are the five greatest Beatles songs of all time because I'm sure it's different for everyone) but "Let It Be" was definitely one of them (I think most people would agree about that anyway) because you see a news clip of Jack's dad saying that he and his wife were the first ones to ever hear "Let it Be". (Even though it was only the first line four times!) If I had to choose my five favorite Beatles song, they would be "Let it Be", "Hey Jude", "All You Need is Love", "Oh La Di, Oh La Da" (why wasn't that song called "Life Goes On"? The TV show with Corky got it right!), and "Here Comes the Sun." Ask me tomorrow and my list might change, but I feel pretty good about those. "Imagine" would also be in this conversation, but I don't know if it counts as a Beatles song since it was just John Lennon. In fact, I actually prefer "Imagine" to all of those songs, except maybe "Let It Be".

While working on the album in Los Angeles, he feels he needs to go to Liverpool to find more inspiration because certain things aren't clicking for him. While there we see a woman following him and she appears to be another person who is aware of the Beatles. (Of course someone from Liverpool would have to remember them!) Lily comes to Liverpool and they almost sleep together, but Lily tells him she doesn't want a one night stand because that's what it would be since he's going back to L.A. the next day.

Back there, he meets with the head of the label (who's played by Lamorne Morris aka Winston Bishop from New Girl, a show I'm currently watching on Netflix). They're in a huge room with other people who work at the company who are all applauding Jack on his major talent and success. The next step is to put everything together "into one single, irresistible album." The album title suggestions from Jack are rejected - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band because it's too many words and too confusing; The White Album because it has diversity issues (even though Jack is of Indian descent); and Abbey Road because "it doesn't have a lot going for it". (Probably because it's just a picture of the street!) He wants Jack's album to speak for itself and wants to call it One Man Only, to tell the world that Jack didn't have any help in the process of creating this album. I had a little chuckle when he says, "No 'featuring Cardi B.' No 'featuring Bieber." Ugh, the Beatles in the same sentence with those two? Just, no. No, no, no. Can we please live in a world where those two never existed? I seriously doubt we would miss ever miss anything. I also had a chuckle when the back of  the album is revealed with a silhouette of Jack's head and it says "All songs, music and lyrics by Jack Malik. Only" and everyone is gasping and oohing and ahhing and clapping.

There's a very cringe-worthy scene where Jack is recording "Hey Jude" and Ed Sheeran is there and he thinks it would be better if the words were "Hey Dude" instead. (Heh, remember that show on Nickelodeon? That's what I think of when I hear "Hey Dude"). Debra also thinks this is a brilliant idea and tells him it's so much better and Jack is like, "Is it? Is it really?" No, it's totally awful!

At a press conference, the Russian man and the woman from Liverpool are there in the audience and one of them holds up a yellow submarine (which hasn't become a thing yet in this parallel universe) and the other one asks him who is his favorite - John, Paul, George, or Ringo? They want to talk to him privately and I'm thinking, Ooh! This is going to be interesting. They're either going to extort him for money or make him feel guilty and tell him to confess his big secret and reveal who is really behind all of these amazing songs that everyone loves. But, no. They thank him for giving the world the music of the Beatles. Then they all start dancing around in a circle singing "Yellow Submarine." The way they shot these two prior to this scene really made it seem like they were being ominous about the whole thing. The fact that they're thanking Jack and being super nice to him made me feel disappointed. I want some damn drama in my movies!

This next part may be considered spoiler-y; so take that as a warning!

One of them tells Jack they "did some digging" and hands him an address of someone he may want to talk to. Remember when I was wondering if the Beatles themselves as individual people existed in this world? Well, we get the answer to that question when Jack goes to the address given to him - a small house near the beach - and an elderly man wearing denim with long hair and round glasses answers the door and introduces himself as "John". At first I was like, That can't be John Lennon! He died nearly 40 years ago! And then I realized, if he was never in the Beatles, then he never got famous, thus never got assassinated. So in this world, he most likely would still be alive. He is played by Robert Carlyle aka Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin from the TV series Once Upon a Time. I know they style him the way they do so the audience knows it's John Lennon, but I did find it amusing that if he were still alive today, he'd be wearing the same glasses and have the same haircut. This version of John Lennon seems totally chill that a random stranger showed up on his doorstep and doesn't really question why he seems so in awe of him. John tells Jack that he is happy and gives him some advice including, "Tell the girl you love that you love her" and "Tell the truth to everywhere when you can." As you may have guessed, Jack will heed this advice. When he asks how old John is and hears his answer, he replies with, "Fantastic! You made it to 78!"and gives the befuddled man a hug.

At his first big concert at Wembley Stadium, Jack confesses his love to Ellie an tells the truth about the Beatles. Ellie is somewhere under the stage and there's a camera on her that puts her face on full display on a jumbo tron. Luckily she is beautiful and fresh-faced, but ooh, if that were me, I would be so pissed! I don't want a close up of my face on some big ass screen where everyone can stare at it! Just one of my many worst nightmares! Jack offers the Beatles songs for free and released all of them online which makes Debra furious.

So I predicted this movie would end with everything going back to normal; that the world would once again remember the Beatles, but being that John Lennon is alive in this world, I guess it would be cruel to take him away and the world (except for three people) still goes on without remembering a group called the Beatles ever existed, but at least they have their music to enjoy (for free!) thanks to Jack. We also find out that "Harry Potter" has also been erased from everyone's memory. I hope Jack remembers enough to write all seven books! I feel like trying to write one book from memory would be difficult enough, let alone seven.

So I guess in this universe, the movie Across the Universe doesn't exist either! I need to watch that and review it soon. I saw it when it first came out and liked it, but just never took the time to revisit it. I do have the soundtrack and shhh, don't tell anyone, but I actually like the movie's rendition of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" better than the Beatles'!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Murder Mystery

Knives Out
Director: Rian Johnson
Cast: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Christopher Plummer, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Katherine Langford
Released: November 27, 2019
Viewed in theaters: December 19, 2019


Since this movie has only been out for a month and I'm sure there are plenty of people who have yet to see it, I will review this movie without spoilers first, then I will have a separate portion for spoilers. Believe me, this is the kind of movie you want to see without being spoiled as it is a murder mystery and half the fun is trying to determine "whodunnit". I highly recommend that you watch it. I was thoroughly entertained throughout the film and you could tell the actors were having a lot of fun too.

You probably already know the basic plot: the patriarch of a wealthy family has been found dead the night of his 85th birthday when all of his family were there celebrating with him, so any of them could be suspects. It is up to the detective to figure out what happened.

Christopher Plummer plays Harlan Thrombey, the mystery writer who is found dead with his throat slashed. Daniel Craig plays Benoit Blanc, the detective hired by somebody in the family (we don't find out until the end) to figure out how he died. When he first spoke, it took me a few seconds for my brain to register he was talking in a Southern accent since I'm so acclimated to hearing him with a British accent that I just assumed he was speaking with one, but no, it's quite a thick Southern accent! I loved the moment when he is referred to as "CSI: KFC". Since Harlan's family was at his home the night before for his party and spent the night at his massive home, they are all considered suspects: The players include:

-Harlan's daughter, Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her husband, Richard (Don Johnson). She is a successful real estate agent mogul and her husband helps her run her company. Their son goes by Ransom (Chris Pratt), who left the party early.

-Harlan's son, Walt (Michael Shannon) his wife, Donna, and his teen son, Jacob. Walt is the CEO of his father's publishing company. His wife is mostly in the background and doesn't really have any lines and you kind of forget about her with all the other loud, colorful characters. Because of her invisibility, I did assume she might be the murderer...but I won't tell you if she is or isn't!

-Harlan's daughter-in-law, Joni (Toni Collette) and her daughter, Meg (Katherine Langford (she was the main character in 13 Reasons Why)). Joni was married to a son of Harlan's who died. She still stays in touch with her husband's side of the family, but more for the money than anything else.

-Harlan's mother. Yes! The mother of an eighty-five year old man was still alive. That seemed pretty absurd to me. Nobody knows how old she is. I never even considered her as the murderer...or was she? Dun, dun, dun! Again, I won't tell you if she is or isn'!

-Harlan's nurse, Marta (Ana de Armas) who has a good relationship with him. There is a running joke that nobody in the Thrombey family knows where she's from because we hear she's from different South American countries like Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil.

-Harlan's housekeeper, Fran.

When Blanc interviews each person, you hear them tell their version of the story, but then a flashback of the party is shown and you see what really happened. Most of them have tweaked their stories just a tad. We see quite a few people could have a reason to murder Harlan. We see Harlan tell Walt that he no longer wants him as CEO of his company, we see Harlan tell Joni that he knows she's been taking the money that's supposed to be for her daughter's school and he will no longer be giving her any more, and we see him tell Richard that he's aware that he's cheating on Linda and unless Richard tells her about it, he will.

So I just assumed we would get plenty of clues (and red herrings!) and by the end there would be enough information to determine who the murderer was. Imagine my surprise when it is revealed what happed in the middle of the movie. I knew there had to be a catch: either we weren't getting the true story or either there was more to the story than we were told. There's a very amusing speech from Blanc when he does figure out what actually happens and calls it "a donut hole within a donut hole". Not exactly sure where he was going with that, but it gave me a chuckle.

Okay, starting here I will begin my spoiler warning, so if you haven't seen the movie, you should stop reading right now! I repeat, spoilers start now. If you haven't seen this movie and do not want to be spoiled, then stop reading now! You have been warned! And you should really see this movie without being spoiled! Major spoilers ahoy!

So before I get to the spoiler of who murdered Harlan, there's another scene that might be considered slightly spoiler-y. (Hence the reason I have it after my spoiler warning!) The entire family plus Marta has gathered at the house to hear the will reading of their late father/grandfather. They're all excitedly speculation amongst themselves who will get what and how much each of them will get what. To their shock and anger, Harlan has left his fortune and publishing company to Marta. (I would be pretty upset too if I were them!) There's a funny moment when Linda snarls at Marta to get out of their house, then she turns to the lawyer (played by Frank Oz) and asks him, "This is still our home, right?" and he proceeds to tell them that the mansion now belongs to Marta. He left everything to his nurse.

While all this is going on, Ransom has a s**t-eating grin on his face. During the interrogations the previous day, everyone said he left the party early, storming out of his grandfather's office, after having a heated conversation with Harlan. Because he was gone during the time of Harlan's death, he was ruled out as a suspect and wasn't interviewed. We learn that Harlan had told him he was cut out of the will, but what the others didn't know is that he knew Marta was getting everything, so he was enjoying their looks of disbelief as the will was being read.

Ransom helps Marta get away and she ends up confessing everything to him because she feels she can trust him. (I mean, if you can't trust Captain America, then who can you trust, right?) In the flashback, we learn that Marta was the reason Hanson died; accidentally, of course. The two medications for him got knocked off the table and she accidentally administrated him a much larger dose of morphine than was intended when she meant to give him regular medication. She only meant to give a little dose of morphine. The camera lingers when we see Marta injecting Harlan with the needles so I figured this was the real reason of his death (even though we see him with his throat slashed!) Naturally, Marta is freaking out as she is (unsuccessfully) trying to search for the antidote in her bag. She tells him that she needs to give it to him within the next ten minutes or he will die, When she can't find him, she goes to call 9-1-1, but he stops her, telling her the ambulance won't make it in time since they are in the middle of nowhere and they won't reach him in time. He knows Marta will be blamed for his death and since he knows her mother is an illegal immigrant, he doesn't want anything to happen to her. Being the mystery writer he is, he comes up with an intricate plan (within a matter of minutes, mind you) where she should make a big deal of leaving and stating the time, then sneak back into the house (coming through a secret window) and put on his robe and come down for a snack so people will think he's still alive at the time. Since I've only seen this movie once, the details are a little fuzzy for me. I feel like you can probably catch a lot of little details with re-watches. He the proceeds to slit his own throat (at first, his death is considered a suicide...which I guess is technically true). Being that he left all of his possessions to Marta and was willing to take his own life, he obviously thought a lot of her.

We find out that Ransom learned about a slayer clause which means if the person who the inheritance of the deceased is intended to go to is found guilty of that person's death, then they will not receive anything (seems like a good idea to have that in place!) His plan is to make sure Marta doesn't get anything. He actually had switched the labels of the two medications and had taken the antidote from Marta's bag. So, when Marta gave Harlan what she thought was the wrong medication, it was actually the right stuff (because she was so used to the weight of the bottle of something like that, it just came second nature to her, but when she read the label, she freaked out). Ironically, Harlan was never in any danger of dying and slit his throat for nothing. That may have been the real twist to this whole thing!


I love the ending shot where see Marta on the upper deck of the house looking down below at the Thrombey family while sipping from Harlan's mug which reads, "My coffee, my house, my rules." It was a nice callback to when we first see that mug in one of the very first shots of the movie and it was   gave me a good laugh.


Monday, December 23, 2019

Skipping Christmas

Christmas With the Kranks
Director: Joe Roth
Cast: Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd, M. Emmet Walsh, Cheech Marin, Jake Busey, Erik Per Sullivan
Released: November 24, 2004



If ever a thing called Christmas shaming existed, this movie proves it's a thing. The premise of it is about a couple, Luther and Nora Krank (Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis), who plan to skip Christmas the year their daughter is in Peru in the Peace Corps. Instead of doing their usual holiday festivities, they decide to go on a Caribbean cruise instead. This will be the first time in 23 years their daughter won't be home for Christmas so they decide to do something different. Luther crunches some numbers and tells his wife that they spent $6,100 (!!) on Christmas last year and $63 of that was spent on ornament repairs. We also know that $600 was donated to the children's hospital and the church. First of all, how do you spend that much money? I assume most of it was for gifts, but what are they buying and how many people are they getting gifts for? Does Luther buy gifts for his entire office? Do they buy gifts for all the neighbors? They do mention an annual Christmas Eve party they have, so I imagine the food and wine and dessert may dig into their wallet, but surely not over a thousand dollars worth! Also, when they say ornament repair, do they just throw away the ones that are broken/don't work, and get new ones? I have never heard of anybody getting their ornaments repaired. I would love to see a spreadsheet of what they're spending for Christmas. Luther tells his wife that the cruises will only cost them three thousand dollars and she's delighted that they will save money.

So they make plans to go on a ten day luxury cruise in the Caribbean. Nothing wrong with that. Except all their neighbors, who are all extreme Christmas fanatics (I guess they don't let any Jews or Muslims in that neighborhood!), are so outraged that the Kranks have the gall to skip Christmas. The neighborhood, led by Vic Frohmeyer (Dan Aykroyd) who seems to be the unofficial head of the neighborhood committee, can't believe that the Kranks won't put up Christmas decorations, including a tree that the Boy Scouts are selling for $90 (seems kind of steep for something you only use for less than a month) and a huge plaster Frosty the Snowman decoration that's seven feet tall. Apparently everyone in the neighborhood has their own snowman that they are expected to put up every year. Where does everyone keep their Frosty decoration? (We find out the Kranks keep theirs in their basement). I would hate to live in this militant neighborhood where you're expected to follow all these asinine rules.

Evidently, it's such a big deal that they're skipping Christmas that it makes the front page of their local paper. The. Front. Page. This must be the smallest suburb of Chicago. There's a picture of their dark house only adorned with a wreath on the front door surrounded by their neighbors with all their Christmas lights lit and their Christmas decorations on full display. The photo of the Kranks they print is one where they're in their bathing suits (ill-fitting ones at that) when they're at a tanning salon at the mall. Nora bumps her head when some perv walks in on her and when her forehead starts bleeding she goes to the entrance, which is open to the public, and her priests happens to walk by and stares at her in her skimpy bikini. Luther later joins her in his Speedo and somebody must have taken a picture of them because it's in the paper the next day. Don't you need permission to print somebody's picture in their paper? When Luther shows Nora the paper, neither of them seemed outraged that somebody printed a photo of them in their bathing suits on the front page.

The whole thing with the neighbors vs. the Kranks is so exhausting. On the one hand, it's the Kranks' prerogative if they don't want to go all out and deck their house with boughs of holly or string up lights or put up their ridiculous Frosty statue. (By the way, every Frosty looks the same...same plaid scarf and hat and each one is holding a broom. If they were all different, I could kind of understand the appeal of them, but they're all the same). On the other hand, the neighbors are offering to put up Frosty. Hey, as long as they're offering, what's the harm? While Nora seems ready to give in all the time, Luther stands his ground and tells her not to let the neighbors pressure her into anything. There's also a scene where carolers start singing and they're crawling around on the floor, so nobody sees they're home. What is wrong with enjoying some carolers? But I guess Luther wanted a total boycott of Christmas, which again, is his prerogative. I guess what I'm saying is that maybe the Kranks and their neighbors could have come to a compromise. He doesn't even buy his secretary a gift which is pretty crummy and he almost didn't donate to the charitable causes, but Nora put her foot down on that. I'm surprised she didn't yell at him for not getting his own secretary a gift. There is a funny line where she (his secretary) tells him, "Wa-Mart called. They told me I had to buy my own cheap perfume since Santa isn't coming this year" after he asks her if there's any messages.

Luther even goes so far as to pull a Kevin McCallister and sprays his front walkway with the hose so that whenever anybody comes up to their front door, they'll go flying across their ice. He even sprays his neighbors' cat with the hose and we see it frozen a few scenes later (but we know it's alright because it blinks it's (terrible) CGI eyes and we see the cat later, back to its regular self, although that would have killed the animal).

The Kranks are supposed to leave at noon on Christmas Day for their cruise, but everything changes the day before when they get a call from Blair, their daughter, who tells them she's in Miami and she's coming home for Christmas with her Peruvian fiance, Enrique, and they'll be there by eight that evening. I'm not sure what time she calls, but I'm guessing it's either late morning or early afternoon. She asks her dad if it's snowing because Enrique has never had a white Christmas before and her dad replies, "No, but I sense a storm coming" which gave me a chuckle because Blair is going on about how she's so excited to show Enrique the lights, the decorations, the tree, and her parents' annual Christmas Eve party.

Instead of telling Blair that none of their decorations are up or they're not hosting a party because they're leaving for a cruise the next day, Nora tells her she's happy she'll be home and she's so excited to see her. If they want to cancel their cruise to spend Christmas with their daughter, that's fine, but why not tell her the truth? I know they think Blair is expecting all this stuff, but maybe she should have let her parents known sooner that she was coming home (as Luther will point out after the call ends) However, I am surprised that the Kranks didn't let their daughter know where they would be in case she needed to get in touch with them. But if that happened, then we wouldn't have the next few zany scenes where they're trying to get everything ready by that evening. This includes putting up Frosty, Nora buying a honey hickory ham and ingredients for a caramel cream pie which is Blair's favorite and her mother promising they'll be served at the party, and Luther having to find a Christmas tree.

When Nora goes to the grocery store to buy the honey hickory ham (Blair's favorite), there's only one left and both she and another lady are racing down the aisle for it. Nora ends up tripping over a shopping cart and knocks over a display of crackers and the other lady grabs the last ham. This ham is in a tin can and I don't know about you, but I'm a bit wary of meat in a tin can (tuna fish being the exception). At the checkout line, Nora sees a couple with a young boy who also have a ham. She begs them for it, then bribes them, telling them she will pay well above sticker price. They are not willing to budge, but when she tells them it's never too late to think of their child's future, we see her walking out of the grocery store with the ham in her hand. Makes me wonder how much she wrote a check for! I'm guessing a couple hundred dollars because she was really begging them for that ham. Well, whatever she paid for it, certainly wasn't worth it! She ends up dropping it and it rolls all the way into the street where a huge semi flattens it to smithereens (and nearly flattens Nora herself as she just barely manages to jump back). At one point, when the ham is rolling towards the street it goes under a car that stops and instead of running around the car, she stops to bend down and peer under the car to watch it continue rolling. If she hadn't taken the time to do that, she may actually have caught the ham. She ends up buying smoked trout instead, ick!

Luther goes to buy a Christmas tree and the only ones left are these small dead trees with no pine needles on them at all. They're selling them for $15 (again, pretty steep, especially for a dead tree), but they charge him $75 since supply is low. Plus, the guy is mad at him for not buying the $90 tree in the first place. He pays for the tree even though he know he can't use it (so why did he buy it?) and instead asks a neighbor who's going out of town for Christmas if he can borrow his tree. (Nobody seems to be mad at that guy for being out of town for Christmas!) The neighbor agrees as long as he doesn't break anything (spoiler alert: he breaks a lot of ornaments) and puts it back after he's done with it. Luther recruits Spike (Erik Per Sullivan aka Dewey from Malcolm in the Middle), who is Frohmeyer's son, to help him with the tree. We see them taking off ornaments, so I figure he's going to adorn the tree with their own ornaments. However, when they bring the tree over to his house, it still has some of the ornaments on it and when Nora sees it, she's confused by the ornaments on it that aren't even theirs. But hey, at least they have a fully grown tree and not some scraggly tree. While Luther and Spike were transporting the tree, the cops (Cheech Marin and Jake Busey) are called by one of the neighbors who think Luther is breaking and entering. He is arrested but is free to go once the misunderstanding is cleared up.

By the time Blair and Enrique arrive at the airport, her parents aren't ready for her (what a shock) so they send the two cops to get her and ask them to stall them until they're ready. Even though the neighbors are angry at the Kranks for wanting to skip Christmas, they agree to help them because of Blair.

The editing of the cops picking up Blair and Enrique drives me crazy. We see a quick shot of them putting their luggage in their car. Then see a quick shot of her parents and the neighbors decorating cookies at the Krank household. Then we see another quick shot of Spike on a Walkie, telling the cops to stall Blair and Enrique. And while this is going on, it jumps to another quick shot of something else. Super annoying. What is this? A Michael Bay film? They do stall pretending they see a robbery, but they actually do catch a guy trying to escape down a fire escape.

This movie is based on a book called Skipping Christmas by John Grisham of all people. Yes, the same guy who wrote A Time To Kill and The Pelican Brief and The Firm and all those other legal-themed dramas/thrillers. I'm not sure what the tone of the book is, but I'd be curious to read it. Nothing about it screams John Grisham to me. I guess he just wanted a break from all his serious books. Maybe I'll put it on my reading list for next Christmas. They changed the movie's title to Christmas with the Kranks because Surviving Christmas, the movie with Ben Affleck and James Gandolfini came out the same year and they didn't want to confuse the two of them. The new title doesn't really make any since the Kranks aren't actually celebrating Christmas...but, whatever.

Blair and Enrique attend the party and Blair is none the wiser that her parents (and neighbors!) got it all ready in one afternoon. Everything seems to be going great, except Luther still wants him and Nora to go on the cruise tomorrow because the tickets are non-refundable. Nora is appalled by this since their daughter and her fiance flew all the way from Peru to spend Christmas with them. Luther ends up giving the tickets to his elderly neighbors (the ones who own the cat they he froze), the husband (M. Emmet Smith) who he's been feuding with the most. He even offers to take care of their cat (I wouldn't let him take care of my cat!) It's really sad because their son hasn't been to visit them "in years" and while everyone is at the Kranks' Christmas Eve party, this couple are at their own home. I assume they were invited, but didn't go because the wife has cancer and they wanted to have their own quiet Christmas Eve dinner.

Oh, so in this world Santa Claus does exist. Because, why not? No reason, really, it's just a little subplot they throw in.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Airport Christmas

Unaccompanied Minors
Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Tyler James Williams, Wilmer Valderrama, Lewis Black, Paget Brewster, Rob Cordrry
Released: December 8, 2006


Much like Home Alone was a Christmas movie targeted towards me, a kid in the early '90s; Unaccompanied Minors was a Christmas movie targeted towards kids in the mid 2000s. Both have children wreaking havoc among adults, but while Home Alone is considered a classic Christmas movie, this one did not really stand up to the test of time and you never hear about it being a beloved Christmas movie. In fact, you wouldn't know this was a Christmas movie just by looking at the title (that's probably why they make the "o" in "Minors" look like a wreath). Now it could be beloved to the kids who grew up in the mid 2000s, but there is nothing about this movie that makes it join the ranks of the greatest Christmas movies of all time.

Unaccompanied Minors is about a group of young teens who meet when they are snowed in at an airport on Christmas Eve. We meet the four of them before the have met each other. There's Charlie (the only young person of the cast I was familiar with. He's played by Tyler James Williams, who is from Everybody Hates Chris) who lives on the east coast (I believe he says he's from Massachusetts). There's a weird scene where he's with his dad, about to meet Santa at the mall, but he ends up fainting because he apparently does this every year when he meets Santa. Keep in mind that Charlie is no younger than twelve. And then hid dad faints? WTF is going on here? We also meet rich girl, Grace, who lives in the "north"; rebellious androgynous Donna who lives in the "south" (her mom is played by Kristin Wiig in a blink and you'll miss it scene); and last but least, we meet Spencer and his bratty kid sister, Catherine, who live in the "West" (most likely Southern California). At first I thought Spencer was played by Jesse Eisenberg, but he would have been way too old to be in this. I listened to a podcast review of this movie and they kept referring to this character as "Jesse Eisenberg" which was hilarious.

We really only know Spencer and Catherine's backstory: they are flying to Pennsylvania to spend Christmas with their father. (I guess that family doesn't care about Christmas Eve if they're flying out on the 24th). They have to switch planes at the Hoover International Airport (not a real airport; I looked it up). According to whoever wrote the Wikipedia entry, it is located in D.C., but that can't be right because we see Catherine take out a NORAD map of where and when Santa will make his stops. Apparently this airport will be one of his stops (since when does Santa visit airports?) and judging from the map, it looks like the airport is located in Minnesota. It's a bit hard to tell because the words "Hoover Intl. Airport" stretches out from South Dakota and Minnesota and even touches the border of Iowa. Since this is an international airport, it would have to be in the biggest city in this area, Minneapolis. They don't really make it clear, but considering there is a huge snowstorm, Minnesota makes a lot of sense, plus we'll get another little clue why this is probably where the airport is located later on.

Spencer and Catherine meet a TSA agent named Zach (played by Wilmer Valderrma aka Fez) who is going to stay with them during the layover. The kid notice the airport isn't adorned for Christmas aside from some very minuscule decorations and he explains that his boss, Mr. Porter, isn't into Christmas decorations or Christmas in general.

Mr. Porter (Lewis Black) is in a great mood because it's his first Christmas off in fifteen years and he's planning to spend it in Hawaii, but when he's about to board the plane, the gate closes and the flight is cancelled due to snow. In fact, all the flights are cancelled and Zach takes Spencer and Catherine to the Unaccompanied Minors room where all the kids 17 and under who are traveling by themselves are being kept. Oh. My. God. This would be my worst nightmare; even as a kid, I would absolutely hate this. The room is full of screaming kids who are running around and throwing food. There are two frazzled flight attendants who are in charge of watching them, but they leave when they see Zach has arrived. I definitely don't blame them!

They want to keep the kid confined to this room so that means not letting them out even to use the restroom (even though there is a bathroom in the room, but it soon becomes inoperable because some dumb kid flushed his cell phone down the toilet due to a bet and it overflowed), but when Zach becomes pelted with snack and drinks, the door is no longer guarded and Spencer leaves the room followed closely by the other kids we met in the first scene, plus a fat kid, Beef (please tell me that's not his real name), who doesn't talk much and has an Aquaman action figure who seems to be his only friend.

All the kids go on their own little grown up adventure now that they are by themselves in the airport. Spencer decides to get a bite to eat and we see Mindy Kaling as the waitress. Seeing that Paul Feig directed some episodes of The Office, it doesn't surprise me to see cast members make cameos in this. Grace uses her High Flyer's Club card to enter a swanky part of the airport where she gets a massage and gets something to eat which includes fancy cheese and caviar. Okay, I don't care if you're rich or not, no kid would ever eat caviar. No human should  want to eat caviar. It is disgusting. Yes, I've had it before, and I don't understand the appeal. It was the first and last time I ever ate it. It's a little bit funny because after that scene it transitions back to Zach where he's sitting at the restaurant and orders nachos, an actual food an actual kid would actually eat. He tells Mindy Kaling that his mom never lets him eat nachos or drink soda, so he orders those. When she tells him her mom never let her eat mozzarella sticks, he orders those too.  When he gets the bill, he leaves her an IOU note on his napkin (the bill was for $75! How much stuff did he order?!) and that she should e-mail his dad for payment and provides a gmail.com address to reach him. What? Is his dad going to use Pay Pal to send the money? He also mentions that he left his mozzarella sticks for her. Why would anyone want his cold mozzarella sticks? Charlie plays with all the gadgets at The Sharper Image, which includes sticking a nose trimmer gadget in his nose and turning it on. Gawd, kids are disgusting! Donna steals one of the little cars they use to transport old ladies and people who can't get around at the airport. Beef goes into the emergency equipment room (which surprisingly is unlocked). One by one, the kids get caught by security and have to escape them before they are brought back to the room of doom. Donna, driving the go-kart, picks up Spencer and the other kids. I thought Grace had a clever, but ballsy way of escaping security: she joins a couple with their son and acts like she's part of their family and puts her arms around the young boy and tells him, "Hey, bro." Lucky for her, the parents of the boy just look at her and start speaking in German. They don't know what's going on.

So these five kids on a go-kart are driving through the crowded airport, probably no more than five mph, ten at tops and there's about five out of shape security officers who can't even reach them! They are eventually surrounded by more security officers, including the mean old grinch, Mr. Porter, and brought back to the room where all the other kids (including Catherine) have been sent to a lodge. He tells the other kids they won't be going there because of the blizzard. If that's the case, then how did all the other kids get there? Wasn't it snowing when the room was chaotic and full of screaming kids? There's really no good reason why the five remaining kids can't go to the lodge; Mr. Porter just wants to punish them for escaping the room. He tells them they will stay in this room (which is a disgusting mess) and that Zach will watch them.

They kids concoct a plan to escape once again because Spencer needs to get to the lodge because he promised his sister that Santa would know where she is and leave her the doll she wants for Christmas. Or something. They call B.J. Novak (the other Office alum), who works at the information center and tell him they have a message for Zach, who in turn, is paged to the information desk. While Zach is gone, the kids hide in the rafters and he comes running back after B.J. Novak tells him a group of kids had the message "Goodbye" for him. He thinks they have escaped and runs out, leaving the door unlocked so the kids can escape. They must have used Grace's cell phone to place the call.

Beef tells Spencer he'll get his sister a Christmas tree and runs off, leaving the remaining four. I'm pretty sure there's already a Christmas tree at the lodge. Doe this mean this kid is the Chunk of the group since he is now separated from the other kids who are having the adventure?

Charlie tells the others they need to go to the baggage claim area in the northeast part of the airport because that's where security is the most lax. He knows this because he flies out of this airport every week. EVERY. WEEK. HE FLIES OUT OF THIS AIRPORT EVERY WEEK. Oh my God, this poor child. His parents are divorced, so his mother must live far away from Massachusetts. Even Mr. Porter knows who he is and was very disappointed in him since he called Charlie his "model underage flyer." But, dear God, I can't imagine being twelve years old and having to fly every single week. I can understand holidays and summer vacation, but EVEY WEEK? How does school work for this kid? Does he fly out after school on Friday, stay with his mom for a weekend, then head back Sunday night? This is no way for a child to live! I want to know where his mom lives and why she lives so far away from her son that he has to FLY OUT EVERY WEEK to see her! As someone who doesn't like flying (because of all the hassle), this would be my worst nightmare.

The kids distract the three or so security officers blocking the door by letting out a dog in its kennel. Mr. Porter hears the commotion and the kids hide in the baggage claim area. Charlie hides inside a suitcase that he's somehow able to fit into even though it's already packed. He is also able to zip it closed from the inside to hide from Mr. Porter, but will not be able to open it back up for some reason. He sees the suitcase on the floor and puts it on the conveyor belt to send it to the unclaimed baggage area, sending Charlie on a grand adventure that should have killed him, or at the very least, left him brain dead. Also, I find it hard to believe the two security officers who pick up the suitcase don't find it suspiciously heavy. There's a 12-year-old boy in there for god's sake!

They all end up safe and sound in the unclaimed baggage area which is huge and has fifty years of unclaimed baggage. At the beginning of the movie, we saw a commercial for an unclaimed baggage sale at this airport. As the saleswoman put it, "If someone's lost it, you can buy it!" And that's exactly what the kids do: they start playing with all the toys and gadgets and take what they want. Spencer sees a really ugly doll that looks to be from the '50s with a hard plastic body and a frilly purple dress. He knows it will be the perfect thing for his sister; guess Catherine didn't have a specific doll in mind that she wanted. Charlie finds four Walkie Talkies (complete with batteries!) that, believe it or not, will come in handy later on in the film.

While the kids are playing with their toys, then later having a dance party to a jazz song (cuz 2000s kid love jazz!), they are spotted by Porter on the security guard and have to escape him and the other security guards once again. They head outside where they slide down a giant hill on a canoe. The lodge they need to get to is at the bottom. Zach is the only one who has caught up with them, so they take him with them because he knows too much about their plan. Or something. Porter and the other security guards follow suit and take down items to slide down the hill: a kayak, a tire, a grill, among others. I'm pretty sure this "hill" they're sledding down is actually a mountain because it goes on and on and on. It's pretty obvious they shot the kids and Wilmer Valderrama on the canoe in front of a green screen. Of course the kids arrive safely in front of the lodge while Porter and the other security guards either crash or fly into some deep dark abyss.

So I'm thinking, great, the kids have reached the lodge, the bad guys are all gone, and now Spencer can give his sister the Christmas she wants. So that must mean the movie is about to wrap up, right? Nope! Wrong! We haven't even reached the one hour mark yet and there's still thirty-five minutes left!

Spencer is able to give the doll to his sleeping sister who had had to endure her own hell at the place by having to hang out with the granddaughter of one of the flight attendants (played by Jessica Walter aka Lucille Bluth) who's only a few years older than her and treats her like a living doll. Porter comes back and takes them back to the airport where he tells them instead of being confined to the large room, they'll now each have their separate private rooms. He also tells him that he's bumped the four of them from their flights so the people who are waiting in the airport can go ahead of them since they haven't gotten in trouble. Uh, he does realize he only has four people he can let go early, right?

As you can imagine, this is when the Walkie-Talkies come in handy. They can each communicate with each other in their individual cells. Porter has their security footage on a TV, but I guess he doesn't seem to notice they're all talking to each other (it's not like they make a point to hide it from him). I guess he figures it's harmless as long as they can't leave. You think a tough-ass like him would want to keep the kids from communicating with each other.

Grace, the rich girl, tells the others she lives twenty minutes from the airport. If you remember, she was the one from the "North", so her being from Minnesota would make sense. I bet she's from Edina, that Cake Eater. (Shout out to The Mighty Ducks). She flew in from boarding school and thought it would be more fun to stay at an airport than hang out with her nanny in her McMansion while her parents were in Paris. Girl, are you crazy? I bet you have a ton of fun things to do in your huge house. Who would want to hang out in an airport?

The kids concoct another plan to escape their cells and it involves recording themselves on their Walkie-Talkies, switching the video over to the security camera, then leaving through the vent. Crawling through a vent in movies/TV shows is one of the biggest tropes there is as I bet nobody in real life could even fit through a vent! These vents are so wide and spacious that two of them can crawl next to each other at the same time! Of course the plan goes perfectly without a hitch. They end up in the room where Mr. Porter keeps all the Christmas decorations. (Question: why does he even have these if he hates decorating for Christmas?) Around this time Beef returns with a Christmas tree that he traded his Aquaman action figure for and Spener comes up with the brilliant idea of decorating the airport for Christmas so when everyone wakes up, they'll get a nice Christmas surprise..bet you didn't see that coming! I had to laugh when Donna replaces one of Mr. Porter's tiny Christmas tree stickers with a bigger one, but it really wasn't that much bigger.

Mr. Porter and the kids come to an understanding and we learn that he doesn't like Christmas because his wife left him five years ago. They really only decorate one main area of the airport, including the tree, where they lead everybody to on Christmas morning. It's a nice sentiment and all, but truth be told, if I were in that group of passengers, I would not be impressed by the Christmas display. It's just a bunch of cheap plastic doo-dads. The kids from the lodge also gather with them and Catherine is reunited with her brother. Mr Porter redeems himself by dressing up as Santa and surprising all the kid, including Catherine.

Mr. Porter tells the kids they'll be the first to leave when the weather has cleared and Spencer invites Grace to spend Christmas with him and his sister at their dad's house. Since they're both the older kids of the group, there's been a little spark between them. They also try to make Donna and Charlie into a thing, (she kisses Charlie at the end) since they're around the same age, but why do they need to couple up both pairs of kids? Also, shouldn't the kiss have happened between Spencer and Grace? They're the ones who have been serious quasi-flirting with each other this whole time.

So while all this is going on, the movie jumps to scene with the parents of Spencer and Catherine. We see their mom (played by Paget Brewster) fretting about her kids being snowed in. She can't reach them because they don't have a cell phone (her ex-husband convinced her not to let them get one because they're bad for the environment). She's staying with her sister (played by Teri Garr) who is scarily into Christmas. Her yard and house is chock full of Christmas decorations and, according to her, she still has six boxes of lights she needs to put up. (And it's Christmas Eve! What's the point of even putting them up?) Her house looks like one of those little shops that has nothing but Christmas memorabilia. She offers a cup of hot chocolate to her sister, who says she's already had three and that it's 80 degrees. There's a terrible joke where the sister thinks she has a defective M&M because it has a "W" on it. This is really terrible humor, even kids have to groan at that, right?

The kids' dad (played by Rob Corddry) receives a call from his ex-wife and tells her he'll pick them up. This guy is very into the environment and drives a small dinky car he calls a biomobile that only takes a certain "vegetarian" type of gasoline. Of course there's noway that car can make it from Pennsylvania to (possibly) Minnesota (damn...if that airport is located in Minneapolis, that's quite a long drive!) A mechanic helps him out and lets him borrow a Humvee to drive which scandalizes him and he hopes the guys from the Sierra Club don't see him driving that monstrosity. (Those are pretty obnoxious vehicles).  He reaches the airport on Christmas morning, just in time to surprise his kids.

While this isn't the worst Christmas movie out there (just turn on the Hallmark Chanel to find those; hell, even Netflix is churning out some Christmas crap), it's defintely not going to be considered a holiday classic anytime soon and there are better movies to watch during this time of the year!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Taylor-Made

I'm sharing my ranking of Taylor Swift's albums on this totally random day!  

Taylor Swift is one of my favorite artists, so I thought it would be fun to rank her seven albums from my least favorite to absolute favorite. I do not take in account who or what the song is about; I judge the song on its own merit and if I just like it. I do not own any of her albums with the bonus songs so none of those will be mentioned when taking my ranking into account. 

7. Speak Now, 2010 

I looked at a lot of other rankings of her albums and a lot of people had this ranked #1, if not at least #2 or #3. Hardly anybody had this ranked at the bottom of the list, but here I am placing it dead last.  This album does not speak to me, or, should I say, does not speak now to me, ba-ba-dum. I admit this is the TS album I've listened to the least; I have tried giving it several chances, to see if my opinion of it has changed (because this has happened with a couple of her other albums), but no, still feel (mostly) nothing for this one. I can listen to this album and one hour later, if you ask me to sing one of her songs (with a couple of exceptions), I could not tell you how they go. I just feel a lot of these songs are forgetful; they don't have that hook that she's so great at creating and get into your head. Even a song like "Look What You Made Me Do" (which is not one of my faves) can get into your head, but the songs on Speak Now? I'm just like, wait? How does that one go? The fast songs aren't that fun and the slow songs are too slow and long. This album has the most songs I dislike/don’t care for, thus why it’s ranked last. Many of her songs are way too long; clocking in at over five minutes. 

“Dear John” is nearly seven minutes long and people seem to love it, but I just find it endless and boring (Which is exactly how I feel about "Last Kiss", the other song on this album that clocks in at over six minutes...WHY?) Also, why is she wasting her time writing/singing a song about John Mayer who everyone knows is a douche. (He has a song called "Your Body is a Wonderland" for God's sake). I know what you're thinking: that I should like the song because I don't like John Mayer and this song is not a positive one, but honestly, this one is a skip for me. 

"Innocent" is about the Kanye West/MTV music video awards fiasco and you think it would be interesting, but yawn, the song is SO BORING. This might be my least favorite song of hers, truth be told. At least the music is interesting in "Dear John". She has a lot of boring songs on this album. 

"Better Than Revenge" is so obnoxious. I find it a bit hypocritical that in "Mean" (a song I do like) she's crying about a music critic being mean to her, but yet she's being quite mean and catty to the girl (actress Camilla Belle) who apparently "stole" whichever Jonas brother she used to date (I think she dated the one who's married to Sansa Stark now?) With lines like, "She's not a saint and she's not what you think, she's an actress. She's better known for the things she does on the mattress", this is not one of Taylor's finest hours. It's also super obnoxious the way she starts the song with, "Now go stand in the corner and think about what you did." In the words of herself, "Why you gotta be so mean?” 

“Back to December”, “Sparks Fly”, “Speak Now”, “The Story of Us”, and “Haunted” are ones I just don't care for and usually skip. I don't dislike them as much as the others I just mentioned, but I'm not invested in any of them and when/if they come on my iPod, I'm not singing along with them (probably cuz I don't know the words!) like I would with one of her songs that I do like. “Never Grow Up” has a sweet melodic harmony. It’s not my favorite, but I like it better than the songs I already mentioned. 

Believe it or not, there are actually songs I do like on this album! I really like the popular singles, "Mine" and "Mean". It's no wonder they became hit singles with their catchy hooks. "Do you remember, we were sitting there by the water? You put your arm around me for the first time. You made a rebel of a careless man's careful daughter. You are the best thing that's ever been mine" is one of the best stanzas she's written. 

I used to be on the fence about "Enchanted" and "Long Live". While I like them better than the string of songs I dislike, I never put them up there as my favorites. While working on this ranking, I've listened to them a lot more and I really like them. Especially "Long Live." It's like I was sleeping on that song and suddenly woke up and realized what an amazing song it is. It’s pretty epic and I understand why her fans love it so much. "Enchanted" has a dreamy quality to it and sounds like it could be theme song for a Disney Princess.



6. Taylor Swift, 2006



Her debut album is good. It's not great or groundbreaking, but it's good. She can only go up from here. And while her first four albums have some sort of country influence, this is definitely the most country out of all of them. You can hear the banjos, fiddles, and all those other yee-haw! instruments.


I divided all the songs into four tiers. The first tier, the top tier, include my stand out songs which are "Tim McGraw", "Teardrops On My Guitar", "Our Song", and "Mary's Song (Oh My My)". The first three were singles. "Our Song" is infectiously catchy and even though it was played on the radio a thousand times a day, I never seemed to get tired of it. 


"Mary's Song" is a bit of a sleeper as nobody ever seems to mention it. It's such a cute song, about the lifespan of a couple. The first line is, "She said, 'I was seven and you were nine. I looked at you like the stars that shined'." And the last line is, "I'll be 87, you'll be 89. I'll still look at you like the stars that shine." I mean, c'mon! How can you not love this song? And that banjo-fiddle thingy throughout? Don't get me started! This song deserves more love. I have no idea who Mary is, though. 

The second tier includes "Stay Beautiful" and "Should've Said No”, songs that I enjoy, but don’t quite love as much as the other four I mentioned. They're both catchy and can get stuck in your head.

The third tier includes “Picture to Burn” and “Cold As You.” "Picture to Burn" is a bit of a cousin to "Before He Cheats", but not as good. Sure, it has a great beat, but honestly, the line, "So go and tell your friends that I'm obsessive and crazy, that's fine. I'll tell mine you're gay" makes me cringe. It's like, oh, no, honey, no, no, no. I understand you were only fourteen or fifteen when you wrote this, but that did not age well. I must be as cold as the "you" in "Cold As You" because a lot of people seem to love it (as much as you can love a non-single from her first album), but it just leaves me, ahem, cold. 
The forth tier, the bottom tier, include the songs I aways forget about which are “The Outside”, “Tied Together With a Smile”, and “A Place in This World.” If you asked me to sing a line from any of those songs, I would just stare blankly at you. I at least recognize “Picture to Burn” and “Cold as You” when the come on, thus the only reason they’re not in this bottom tier. 

5. Fearless, 2008

While I have much respect for this album for giving me 
“Love Story”, “You Belong With Me”, and “Breathe”, which all belong in my list of favorite Taylor Swift songs of all time, I can't rank it any higher. 

Obviously “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me” were huge hits and were not only played on country radio stations, but also on pop stations. You still occasionally hear then on pop stations that play "old" music. Sometimes I forget just how good "Love Story" is. I feel like I listened to a lifetime of it, so I admit I will sometimes skip it, but the storytelling of this song is quite brilliant, not to mention its super catchy. I also love how it builds with anticipation when you get to the last part where "Romeo" proposes to "Juliet". (Uh, Taylor, did you ever READ the play or at least see the Bar Luhrmann movie?) Well, great song, nonetheless. I remember being at a piano bar with my family circa 2009 and of course somebody suggested "You Belong With Me" because it was the popular song at the moment and it got a lot of cheers. This song still puts a smile on my face when I hear it on the radio. It's just so cute and catchy. Has anyone ever noticed in the video that the boy she likes (who looks like the most vanilla white bread teen boy in all of existence) lives next door to Taylor, but yet there's a line in the song that goes, "I remember you driving to my house in the middle of the night." Wait, what? Guess they didn't take that lyric into account when they created the video! "Breathe" is an amazing beautiful song that is extremely underrated and doesn't get any credit or much love from what I've seen. She wrote it with Colbie Caillat who sings backup. That was my favorite Taylor song for quite awhile. It's so good, you guys! I just don't understand why people are so dismissive of it!
"Hey Stephen" is a fun, catchy song that seems criminally underrated. I think it's cute when she says, "All those other girls, well, they're beautiful, but would they write a song for you?" I love those Irish fiddles (or whatever they are - I'm horrible at trying to identify instruments!) on "Tell Me Why".

"Fearless", "Fifteen", and "White Horse" are good, butI can't quite put them up as my favorites even though a lot of people love these songs. When one sees the title of "Fearless", they might think it's an empowering song about an independent young woman, but no, it's just another song about not being afraid of falling in love or going on a date or something like that. :::rolls eyes::: I know a lot of teen girls love "Fifteen" because it "speaks" to them, but while I appreciate the message, it's just not for me. I see your "White Horse" and I raise you a "You're Not Sorry", which is the sad song I prefer more on this album. It has a little more oomph. 

There are a few songs I don't particularly care for. "The Best Day" is usually a skip for me. It's a bit too saccharine for me. It's a song she wrote to thank her parents for moving to Nashville so she could pursue her dream. It's a sweet sentiment, but I'm not her parents so I really don't care. Also, with all the money she has, I hope she's done more for them than just write them a treacly song! 

This one is going to make everybody mad because everybody seems to love this song: "Forever and Always." I'm sorry, I just don't like this song. People say it's really catchy, but I just find it frenetic and disjointed, also I don't think she sounds good at all on this. 


I really have no opinion on "The Way I Loved You" or "Change". They're just there. Apparently "Change" was used as an inspiring song for the 2008 Olympics and was used during daily clips. I do not remember this at all...probably because the song really isn't all that memorable. It's okay, but, eh. Honestly, I feel like "Long Live" would have been a better Olympic song than this one. It has more of an epic feeling. 

4. Red, 2012

This is a pretty good album, although it's a bit all over the place. There's country, there's pop, there's rock. There's a few songs I really love and a few I don't particular care for and all the rest, they're pretty good. I feel like this album being ranked squarely in the middle is the perfect place for it. I like more songs on this one than on Fearless (though to be fair, this one has 3 more songs), but I can't justify ranking it higher than her three recent albums (which, you may have noticed, haven't been ranked yet). 

Let's start with the songs I love:
-"All Too Well" - When I made my top 15 Taylor Swift songs, I ranked this as number one. I thought I was going into the deep cuts for this one (you know, because it was never made into a single), but turns out this is EVERYONE'S favorite TS song! Like, EVERYBODY'S. I guess I can't blame them: it IS a good song. It's almost like listening to a musical audiobook because you're sucked into this story about this doomed romance. She even uses the scarf as a literary device as we hear about it in the first stanza, then the last. Sidenote: I was surprised when I learned that this song was about Jake Gyllenhaal (quick! somebody do a fact check: did he have glasses as a kid and play on the T-ball team? At least we know he has a sister!) I remember when they dated for like a blink of an eye way back when, but I thought they "dated" as in, You're famous, I'm famous, let's hang out together in front of the paparazzi and get more famous. I had no idea she was so into him that she would write such a heartfelt song...they were only together for three months! Also, I always thought it was weird when they dated because he's nine years older than her! Especially when this was around Taylor was barely 21. Jake, don't make me not like you! But yeah, I had no idea she had those feeling for him. But then again, this is Taylor Swift we're talking about. 

-"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" - This is probably my favorite lead single (this or "Shake It Off"). It is a bop and a half. They never play this on the radio anymore which is a real shame. She is bringing her "Oooh-oooo-oooo-oooooh a-game on this one. Apparently this song is about Jake too, which is kinda funny because in "All Too Well" she's all forlorn and sad he messed up the special thing they had and in this song she's pretty much, "F**k you!" The little "phone conversation" in the middle is stupid, but you know what? I love it. 

-"22" - "Twenty-twooooooo, oooo-ooooh!" I love this song; its' so fun and infectious. I will say this song has one of the stupidest lines when one of the "cool kids" says, "Who's Taylor Swift, anyway? Ew." Bitch, please. PLEASE. The cool kids may not like your music, but they know who you are! Was this supposed to be ironic? While I appreciate her poking fun at herself, it does not make any sense! 

-"Starlight" - Yes, it's true. I love all the fun boppy songs (aside from "All Too Well") on this album. I love the old school vibe of it. Is it super cheesy when she sings, "Ooh, ooh, we could get married, have ten kids and teach then how to dreeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaMMMMMM!" I love the passion in her voice. Also, true story, for the longest time I thought she was saying "I'm a Barbie on the Boardwalk" instead of  "I met Bobby on the Boardwalk." 

Her one-two-three punch of "State of Grace", "Red", and "Treacherous" are a very solid start for the album and I think those songs are all very good. For the longest time after I acquired this album, it was bugging me because "State of Grace" reminded me of another song and I finally realized it reminded me of "Space Age Love Song" by A Flock of Seagulls. 

Here are the songs I don't care for:

-"I Almost Do" - There are a few songs that are still a lit bit of country and this one has some country stank on it. This song is pretty unmemorable and boring, so I usually skip it. Also, the lyrics are a little disturbing if you really look at it because its about trying not to contact an ex because she's still obviously into him and this just seems to send the wrong message to her more impressionable listeners who still might be mooning over an ex. I just get an icky feeling when I hear this: "I just wanna tell you it takes everything in me not to call you. And I wish I could run to you. And I hope you know that every time I don't, I almost do. AUGRH. Taylor, you are a strong, independent woman...grow a backbone and tell this guy to F off! Don't give this guy any satisfaction that you're still thinking about him!  I suppose it's probably cathartic to write a song when you still have feelings for someone. I did some research and found out this song is about Jake Gyllenhaal too, which I had feeling it was because she seemed unhealthily into him. I guess she wrote this before "WANEGBT". She should have just called this the Jake Album because I'm pretty sure 90% of the songs on here are about him! 

-"The Last Time" - she sings this with Gary Lightbody who I just recently decided to look up to see who he was and he is (or was, I don't even know if this band is still together) the lead singer of Snow Patrol. I guess I always figured he was some country singer even though this particular song doesn't have a country vibe to it. It's just a weird combination, why are these two singing together? "Oh, I really want to hear a collab between Taylor Swift and that guy from Snow Patrol," said nobody, ever. The song isn't really one of my favorites, so I skip.

-"Stay, Stay, Stay" - This song is so lame, lame, lame, I wish it would go away, way, way. There was a time for, like, five minutes, when I liked this song, but it’s not one of the album’s best. First of all, the music at the beginning sounds like a theme song for a children's show (it sounds like a plastic child's piano is being played) and they lyrics are just so juvenile with the annoying repeating words: "And I said, Stay, stay, stay. I've been lovin' you for quite some time, time, time. You think that its' funny when I'm mad, mad, mad." UGH. I'm rolling my eyes as I write this. Also, why does this dude think it's "funny" when she's "mad, mad, mad." Why the f**k would you want to be with someone who think it's funny when you're mad?? That would just irritate the s**t out of me...like this song does! This song seems like it would it have been a better fit for one of her first two albums; there's something very immature about it which doesn't fit with the rest of the album. "I threw my phone across the room at you" seems more like a teen girl thing to do. This song reminds me of the younger sister of "You Belong With Me" - the stupider, uglier, more annoying younger sister! 

Here are songs I also don't particular care for, but I won't skip them as often as the others I just mentioned. It just depends on my mood. They're okay, but they're not my favorites:

-"Sad Beautiful Tragic" - As you may have guessed, a song with the words "Sad" and "Tragic" in them is a bit of a downer. While I like the sitar or banjo (I seriously cannot identify any instrument!) that is prominent throughout, the song can either be a meditative experience that can put you in a trance  or super boring and slowly paced. 

"Everything Has Changed" - this is her first collaboration with Ed Sheeran. Everyone seems to go gaga over this song, but honestly, this sounds exactly like a song you would expect from those two. Sometimes I enjoy it, sometimes I skip it, sometimes it plays and I didn't even realize it was on. This is also how I feel about "The Lucky One" and "Holy Ground". They're both fine songs and have catchy hooks, but it just depends on my mood how I feel about them. 

"Begin Again" - When hearing the first stanza of this song, one might think this is about Taylor breaking up with a guy who didn't like certain qualities about her and now that she's single she can embrace those qualities because this is who she is and she likes them: "Took a deep breath in the mirror, he didn't like it when I wore high heels, but I do. Turn the lock and put my headphones on. He always said he didn't get this song, but I do." But no, this song isn't about embracing yourself or being single...it's about meeting someone new who accepts you after being in a bad relationship. :::rolls eyes::: This song is nice, but not overbearing or anything. It's something you would put on during brunch (I'm trying to think of the most milquetoast event for the most milquetoast Taylor Swift song). This is the song she ends the album and she usually ends with a strong song. While I don't hate this song, I definitely this it is the weakest of her ending album songs. “Long Live”, ”Clean", "New Year's Day, and "Daylight" are all much better.  I wouldn’t say "Our Song" is much better, but I do prefer it more. The only last song of an album it might be better than is "Change".

"I Knew You Were Trouble" - I think this is Taylor's most manufactured song and what I mean by that is that I can hear just about any current pop singer performing this song. I can hear Pink singing it. I can hear Kelly Clarkson singing it. I can hear Rihanna singing it. I can hear Miley Cyrus singing it. I can hear Katy Perry singing it. You get the idea. This song is somewhat catchy, so I understand why people like it, but I seriously hate it when she does those weird "Ahhhh! Ahhhh! Ahhhh!" whatever the f**k she's doing. It's just very distracting and not very pleasant to my ears. The dubstep is super prominent in this. There's just a lot going on.  This song is sometimes a skip for me, not gonna lie. However, I did find it super cute when she was performing this at the AMAs and her parents were singing along in the audience. 






3. reputation, 2017

This album being ranked at #3  is pretty good considering I did not like it the first few times I listened to it. In fact, had I ranked her albums right after this one came out, it probably would have been ranked lower than Red and Fearless. I think there are a few factors that made me not like it - for one thing, it followed what I believed was one of the best TS albums (slight spoiler there, but there's only two spots left and I haven't mentioned 1989 yet!), so I knew there was no way this album was going to live up to that one. Also, the first single is what I believed to be her worst single - EVER, "Look What You Made Me Do." Oh, dear God. I totally loathed that song. There was  just something really irritating about it, but yet it had a tendency of getting stuck in your head. "Ooh, look what you made me do, look what you made me do, look what you just made me do, ooh, look what you just made me do, look what you made me do." AUGH! STOP! There is nothing melodic or audibly pleasing about this song. The first time I listened to this album all the way through I skipped it because I had already heard it a million times on the radio, so I already knew I didn't like it! You may have noticed that I wrote I loathed it in the past tense. I don't hate this song anymore. Oh, sure, I still think it's terrible, but I can listen to it and enjoy it because I find it so damn funny. It just makes me laugh when I hear it. I'm also able to listen to it because it's never played on the radio anymore. At least not on any of the Top 40 stations I listen to. Has anyone else noticed that? They'll still play "Delicate" and other songs from her older albums, but it seems that the radio stations only played this song when it first came out, then stopped when they didn't have to play it anymore because nobody likes this song! While I understand why it was her first single, there were better songs to release as a first single. As I read somewhere, this song was more of a publicity stunt than anything else. I think it being released as the first single left me with a sour taste in my mouth because I really did not like it, which is rare because, honestly there's never been a Taylor Swift hit single I didn't like...until the summer of 2017. What a dark time for everyone! When I listened to reputation (yes, the "r" is supposed to be lower-cased :::rolls eyes:::), the first few times all the way through (sans "LWYMMD", of course), I only liked about four of the fifteen songs. The others, I was either meh about or just didn't like. It just seemed like she was trying way too hard to be "cool" as many of the songs you could hear being playing in the clubs. Also, several songs mention drinking alcohol and drinking. It's like, nobody cares that you can drink, Taylor. You've been of the legal drinking age for the past two albums! I didn't listen to this album for several months, then went back to it and listened to it a few more times and found that there were songs I really liked that I was lukewarm about before. There are still songs I don't care for, but this album was a big turnaround for me. It gets the award for most improved.

Here are the songs I originally liked (and still do!):
"Gorgeous" - I love the humorous undertone about Taylor having a crush on her now boyfriend. The line about her stumbling home to her cats kills me. I  watched her Netflix special (you know, nearly a year after it came out) and when she sang this song, multiple pictures of her cats popped up on the screen. That made me laugh. The triangle chime at the end of some of the lines is a nice touch and I like that funky '80s electro-pop whatever you want to call (call it what you want!) it is totally my jam. Oh, and Blake Lively's and Ryan Reynold's baby saying "Gorgeous!" at the beginning is super funny and cute.

"Getaway Car" - this has a very '80s vibe to it and sounds like something that could have been on 1989 (or could have been released in 1989!) SUPER duper catchy! When she sang this for her Netflix special, EVERYONE was getting into it and waving their arms and singing along; it's just that kind of song. When this song comes on my iPod, I have to turn it up and sing along. This MIGHT be my favorite song from this album, but there are still a couple more I really like, so it's a tough call. I loved this song when I first heard it and I think I love it even more now. You could say my love for it accelerated...like a (getaway) car, ha, ha, ha. 

"This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things" - Even though I could care less about her feud with Kim and Kanye and even though I could care less about Kim and Kanye, this song (which is about her feud with Kim and Kanye) is seriously catchy and infectious. Like, seriously, how can you not sing along when this song is on? How can you not? "This is why we can't have nice things, dar-lin'.....This is why we can't have nice things, hon-ey…..cuz you break them, I have to take them aw-ay-ay-ay...........didn't you think I wouldn't hear all the things you said about me-e-ee-e-e-e-e."  I've noticed this song being compared to "It's a Hard Knock Life" from Annie and I totally see (or hear) it. 

"New Year's Day" - a very lovely ballad that ends the album, so at least it ends on good note. It feels very different from the rest of the high energy songs that have pumping bass and slick production as a piano is the only instrument. This song is very simple compared to the others. This is definitely a song that can bring the feels if you're feeling a certain way (i.e. sad).

While not my favorites, I liked "Don't Blame Me", "King of My Heart" and "Dancing With Our Hands Tied" alright enough and I still like them well enough. "Don't Blame Me" has a very "take me to church" vibe (probably because of the background choir). It reminds me of something Christina Aguilera would sing. (In fact, not to diss Taylor or anything, this song probably would sound amazing if Christina HAD sung it). She really loves using a voice enhancer on this album because her voice has this computerized quality in "King of My Heart". I do love the drums on this song and the bridge is very catchy. 

I did not like "Delicate" and "Call It What You Want" (I know, I know) when I first heard the album, but now I consider them among my favorites. I did not like "Delicate" because of the autotune at the beginning (there's quite a few songs that use autotune on this album, thus another reason I wasn't a big fan of it at first) and I thought the way "Delicate" was said in that weird voice was just laughable, but I do really like the song now. I do think her music video for this song is her best one. I didn't like "Call It What You Want" because of its generic title and I thought it was boring, but one morning, I was listening to it and I was like, 'Damn! This song is really good!' The whole "My baby's fly like a jet stream, high about the whole scene, loves me like I'm brand new" stanza just gets into your head and never leaves. And that's okay with me cuz it's a cool groove. 

Songs I'm slowly coming around to:

"...Ready For It?" - This is the first song on the album and it starts off with these thumping beats like I'm in the club or something, and then she starts rapping and I'm like, Uh, no thanks. Although I do think the "And he can be my jailer, Burton to this Taylor" line is very clever.  Something that annoyed me about this whole album was Taylor's claim (in "LWYMMD") that "the old Taylor is dead." Uh, no she's not. She's very well quite alive and she shows up in this very song. When she sings the "In the middle of the night, in my dreams..." part, it sounds very similar to "Wildest Dreams" (and not just because she says "dreams" in both of them). Haha, for the longest time I thought she was saying "Let blood games begin" and I was super confused, thinking maybe "blood games" were similar to The Hunger Games? Which, I know, makes absolutely no sense. She's saying "Let THE games begin which makes more sense...she just punctuates "the" so it sounds like "blood" to my ears. I call this song "Dot, dot, dot, ready for it?" just to be obnoxious.

"I Did Something Bad" - I have a love/hate relationship with this song. I could listen to the chorus again and again on a loop. However...I don't really love anything else. I hate the weird vocal chanting thing. 


Songs I might skip:

“Dress” - I think for a song that could be either super cheesy or super sleazy, she does a good job of not making it either of those things. Even though I think it’s produced and written well, this is a song I usually skip because I feel so weird about listening to such an intimate song. It just feels like I’m intruding on a private moment. I can't imagine her sharing this song with her parents, let alone the world! Also, the “ah, ah, ahs” are a bit much. This song totally sounds like something that would be on a 50 Shades soundtrack. 

“End Game” has some catchy lines (The “big reputation” part, am I right?), but this feels like she’s trying to be too cool with not one, but two special guest rappers, Future (who I’m not familiar with, but I don’t really listen to rap, but he had to lose some street cred for rapping on a Taylor Swift album) and Ed Sheeran. You know, the famous ginger-haired rapper! But no hate here, he’s not too bad with the rapping. The part where Taylor sings "I swear I don't love the drama, it loves me" makes me roll my eyes. 


“…So It Goes” is okay, but it’s the song I alway forget about. Apparently she forgot about it to because she doesn't even sing it during the Netflix special where she sings all the songs on this album (plus a few of her past songs!), but not this one! They just play it over the end credits. I don't hate this song or anything, but it's the one where I'm like, "So how does "So It Goes" go again?" (That was a weird sentence!) There's a line in it that always cracks me up cuz it's really dumb. When she says, "You did a number on me, but honestly, who's counting?; I did a number on you, but honestly, who's counting?" which is all fine and well, but then she literally proceeds to count with "1, 2, 3.... Ugh, omg, what is that?




2. Lover, 2019

Her most recent album is so good with hardly a miss and I was really, really tempted to put it as my #1, but I'll explain why I put my #1 as my #1 when I get to it (which you should know what it is by now!) But this was definitely right behind it. I love pretty much every song on the album and even the songs that rank towards the bottom are still pretty good. There are only three songs I MIGHT skip; depending on my mood, but I'm happy to listen to the entire album either straight through or on shuffle. Two of them I skip because they're just not my favorites, although they are growing on me- "I Forgot That You Existed" and "It's Nice to Have a Friend." The former starts out this album so it was the very first song I heard when I first listened to Lover. I liked it well enough when I first heard it; it has a bit of a sassy attitude and kind of reminds me of something Mariah Carey would sing in the early '00s. Even the little laugh and the indifferent "so, yeah..." at the end reminds me of something MC would do in a song. However, after listening to the entire album, I came to the conclusion that this is the weakest song on the album. (Well, either this one or "ME!"). I don't know who the person she's referring to that she forgot existed (I've read many theories), but it has to be a fellow musician because of the "Would've been right there, front row, even if nobody came to your show" line. I just assumed it was about Calvin Harris, *shrug*. HOWEVER, if the point is she's telling this person that she forgot they existed, then why is she writing a song about it? She obviously didn't forget they existed if she went out of her way to write a song about how she forgot they existed. But I digress... As for "It's Nice to Have a Friend", it's a different sounding song with a choir in the background. I wasn't crazy about it the first few times I heard it, but I'm slowly coming around to it. Even my lowest ranked songs on this album are still pretty good. The only other song I sometimes might skip is "Soon You'll Get Better" and that's only because it's a sad song, not because I don't like it. It's about when her mom had cancer (hopefully it's still past tense) and it's probably the first time I cried listening to a Taylor Swift song. I like the inclusion of the Dixie Chicks because I am a big fan of theirs (if you're not familiar with their work, go listen to "Goodbye Earl" and "Not Ready To Make Nice"; so good!), but I like that they don't overshadow Taylor.

When I see people's rankings of the songs on the album (this would be nearly impossible for me to do!), I notice that her first two singles, "ME!" and "You Need to Calm Down" are generally towards the bottom. I don't know if this is due to song fatigue because those songs were everywhere by the time this album came out or if there are so many other great songs that they got pushed to the bottom. I can see a case for both. I like both songs; I think they're both fun, poppy, upbeat songs. Are they among my top favorites of this album? No. You know, when "ME!" first came out way back in April or May or whenever it was, I had no idea it was the first single to Taylor's new CD. I just figured there was a new Panic! At the Disco album coming out and it was a single from that. You know, like when she collaborated with Boys Like Girls (remember them? What was their big hit? :::Goes to look it up::: Ah, yes, "Love Drunk"; that was a banger!) and they did "Two Is Better Than One" and that was on their album, not hers. 

"False God" has a smooth jazz feel to it. It's a different sound for her, but I like it. I feel like this song is for her older audience. It has a sexy, grown up, mature vibe to it. And that saxophone! 

When I first saw that there was a song called "Cruel Summer" on this album, I knew it wouldn't be a cover of the Bananarama song, but I thought she might sample from it. She doesn't, although that would have been cool. This song sounds like a sister song to "Getaway Car"; very similar vibes. I love this song. I love the "ooooh-aaaahhh, cruuuueeeel summer" and when she shouts, "He looks up grinning like a devil" because it just comes out of nowhere (especially the first time you hear it; it certainly took me by surprise!)

I think "Lover" is her first truly great single from this album. It has the dreamy quality that makes you want to sway back and forth and sing along. I see this being the new song that will be played at weddings. Even though I hate the word "lover" in this context (because, seriously, who introduces their S.O. as their "lover"? NOBODY), there's really no other word that would work. She can't sing, "You're my, my, my, my significant other." Doesn't work. And she definitely can't sing, "You're my my, my boyfriend." Ick even worse!

"The Man" is her most clubby sounding song with the strong bass and that weird horn thing. It's a female empowering song where Taylor tells us that if she were a man, she'd be THE man. I like the end where they alter her voice to almost make it sound like she's waking up from a dream/fantasy of pondering how her life would be different if she were a man.

If there was any song that had the potential to take over "All Too Well" as my #1 favorite TS song, it would be "The Archer", (so yes, it's my favorite song on this album), which she didn't release as a single, but did leak it on YouTube a couple weeks before the album was released. It has that '80s dream pop vibe with the synthesizers and I love how it builds and builds. However, for now, this song will have to settle for my second favorite TS song of all time because I just can't see anything passing "All Too Well". Hmm, interesting that both songs are Taylor at her most vulnerable. 

I freaking love "I Think He Knows." Bless my soul, what a fun song!  It reminds me of something you would hear in a musical (I think because of the finger snapping sounds) and it also reminds me of something Prince would sing (I think because of her falsetto voice). When I first heard the "He got my heartbeat skippin' down Sixteenth Avenue" lyric, I just assumed she was referring to New York, but it's actually Nashville. In my defense, I am familiar with neither city. The drum beat after the bridge is SO good. Like, I have to pretend play the drums whenever that part comes on.

When I first heard "Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince" (great title), it reminded me of "Toy Soldiers" by Martika because of the children's chorus, although in the Taylor song it's cheerleader chants. I think it's clever how she uses cheerleading words (like, "Okay!" and "Go! Fight! Win!") throughout the song. I really want this to be a single because I think a music video for this would be really cool. 

"Paper Rings" reminds me of something that would play during the prom scene in 10 Things I Hate About You. Can't you see Letters To Cleo singing this circa 1999?  I'm not the only one who thinks this. I saw someone post this on Twitter and had to tell them I had the exact same thought. Apparently, searching for "Paper Rings" and "10 Things I Hate About You" on Twitter, many people have also came to the same conclusion. It's a very fun song; uh huh, that's right! 

I love "London Boy" (heh, and so do Ms. Swift!), another super fun song on the album. When I first heard the song, I assume the guy talking at the beginning was her boyfriend because it's a guy with a British accent and, you know, the song is about her boyfriend. But, no, it's actually Idris Elba. Do you think they were on the set of "Cats" and she recorded a conversation they had? Or, probably, less creepily, do you think she asked him to say something for her song? I'm sure she got his permission either way. This song is so darn catchy and I must sing it every time it comes on. I laugh every time she sings "I'm your queen like a Tennessee Stella McCartney on the Heath" because she's obviously name dropping. Now I know she and Stella have a fashion collaboration, but could the name dropping be any more obvious? 

I love the pan flute (probably the wrong instrument!) that's throughout "Cornelia Street", another great song. I love the plucky instrument that's played throughout "Death By A Thousand Cuts", which is quite upbeat for a breakup song. "I ask the traffic light if it will be alright, they say, "I don't know" is my favorite line. Apparently this song was inspired by the Netflix movie, Someone Great (when does Taylor Swift have time to Netflix and chill??), which I haven't seen. "Afterglow" is also another good song. 

She continues her string of amazing album ending songs (well, except for "Change" which is her weakest ending song...oh, and I guess "Begin Again" also wasn't my favorite ending song) with "Daylight". Between "Long Live", "Clean", "New Year's Day," and "Daylight," I don't know which is my favorite album ending song from her. (I mean, I think "Our Song" is super fun, but no way it's in this conversation!) But "Daylight" is definitely a contender. I like how there's an echo of her voice and it almost sounds like a ghost of her past self (ooh, that's deep!), especially with the lyric, "I once believed love would be burning red, but it's golden like daylight", obviously a nod to her song "Red" from the titular album.



1. 1989, 2014

You guys, this album is amazing. A. MAZE. ING. No wonder it won a Grammy for Album of the Year. First of all, it gave us so many great singles: "Shake it Off". "Blank Space". "Style". "Wildest Dreams". You still hear these songs all over the radio occasionally. Compare that to her singles from reputation where only "Delicate" is still played on a regular basis. Even "Bad Blood", the weakest song, is still pretty darn catchy. It was another big single, but you don't hear it as much anymore...at least as not as much as the others I mentioned. Really, this album is so good that all the tracks could have been singles.

This is her first full pop album. When she first ventured into pop with Red, I was all, "Wah-wah, she should stick with country" (even though I loved "We Are Never Getting Back Together" the most poppiest pop song, so yes, I am a hypocrite). How wrong I was! Transitioning to pop was the best thing she ever did. Of course, I do prefer pop music to country.

Not gonna lie; when I first listened to this album (I bought it off iTunes), I was sitting on my bed and the first words out of my mouth were, "What the f**k is this?" when hearing the opening to "Welcome to New York". It was just something different, so it just took me by surprise. Was I enamored with this album the first time I listened to it? No, but I did like it and I listened to it every single day for at least a year (probably more) and the more I listened to it, the more I loved it.

This might be a hot take, but "Welcome to New York" is my favorite opening to a TS album. When I went to NYC in 2004, they were playing the Frank Sinatra song ("Start spreading the news...") in the lobby of the hotel we were staying at in a loop. They need to play "Welcome to New York" at every hotel in NYC on a loop (cuz that wouldn't get irritating!) I'd be the one dancing and singing along, "It's the new soundtrack, I could dance to this beeee-eeee----eee-at....the lights are so bright, but they never blind meeee-eeee-eeeee--eee!" I always thought this song should be the theme song to The Carrie Diaries (remember that show? Probably not) even though that show was already cancelled by the time this album was released and it takes place in the '80s, but can't you see AnnaSophia Robb looking around in wide eyed wonder as she walks through the city during the credits while this song is blaring?



Speaking of the '80s, there's definitely an '80s throwback vibe to many of the songs and it's no wonder I love this album since I love '80s music. If Style had come out in 1984 instead of 2014, I could totally see it being used in a John Hughes movie in a scene with Molly Ringwald looking at herself in a mirror as she's getting ready for a date with the coolest boy in school.

Whenever I listened to "Blank Space" (which is tied with about ten other songs for my favorite song on 1989), I kept hearing her say, "Got a lot of Starbucks lovers" and I was all, sure, that totally makes sense! I was very intrigued by these Starbucks lovers, then decided that lyric probably wasn't right and looked it up and she's actually saying "Got a long list of ex-lover".  Ohhhh. But you know what, I still hear the Starbucks line whenever I listen to it, but I also hear the real line. It's like that portrait where sometimes you see an ugly old woman or you sometimes see a beautiful young woman depending on how you look at it. Love the sound effect of the pen clicking; this entire song is just pure pop perfection (I mean, let's be real: the entire ALBUM is pure pop perfection).

"Out of the Woods" could have become easily annoying with its repetitive chorus, but it works, at least for me. Please excuse the terrible pun, but I like the swiftness of it; there's a bit of an urgency to it. I just love the way she shouts, "GOOD!" at the end. The bridge is probably my favorite from the album....at least tied in first place with about eight other bridges. There's also a sense of urgency to "I Wish You Would"; another great song with a great bridge.

Her fans have pointed out that all her track five songs have been ballads where she's usually at her most vulnerable, but I don't think Taylor was privy to this until after 1989 because her track five song on this, "All You Had To Do Was Stay", is super poppy and doesn't really follow the track five formula. Don't get me wrong; I love the song, but "This Love" would have made more sense in this spot.

"Shake it Off" is probably the most overplayed Taylor Swift song of all time (is there any data  on this?), but I love it, especially now since they don't play it 50 times a day on the radio like they did back in 2014/15! It's just a really fun song and I like the big band influence with the horns. This song just makes you want to dance and you have to clap your hands during the clapping parts (much like you have to clap your hands whenever you watch the opening credits to Friends). A couple years ago, when my niece was two, this song came on, and she started shaking her little booty - she could't deny the power of this song making you want to dance; it was pretty cute! I also love the "You could've been getting down to. This. Sick. Beat" part. I think this is the song that Taylor is best known for.

I mentioned "Bad Blood" is the weakest song on the album, but I still kind of love it, cliche lyrics and all. It's about her stupid feud with Katy Perry, but they've made up, so does that mean this song is no longer relevant?

She gets a little breathy on "Wildest Dreams" ("in your wiiilllllllllldddddeeeessstt dreeeeaaammmssss, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh----ahhhhhhhhhh"), but I still love it (the song, not the weird breathy part!)

"How You Get the Girl" doesn't seem to be a favorite among many people, but I love it. It's just so darn catchy! I've seen criticism of it sounding like it belongs in a teeny bopper Disney channel movies and damn it, they'e right. It is a very bubblegum pop song. Perhaps I just loved the boppiness of it, that I never really dissected the lyrics and they are a tad problematic - the whole song is Taylor giving advice to some dude on how to win his girlfriend back. Shouldn't she be on the girl's side; I mean, maybe there's a reason why they broke up in the first place. But it's such a fun, upbeat, song and my favorite part is when she sings, "and yooooooo-oooooou knoooooooo-oooooooow (oooooh-oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh!) that I dooooooon't want yoooooouuuuu to go oh oh." Okay, that probably doesn't translate as well in text, but you know what part I'm talking about. I LOVE that part!

When I first started listening to this album, for about the first month or so, I would skip the last three songs (and I deeply regret this because I was wrong for doing so!) because I just didn't care for them. Now I listen to the entire album ("Bad Blood" is the only one I might skip). I love the last three songs on the album and one of them is one of my favorite TS songs of all time. I used to skip "This Love" because it was the slowest song on the album (thus the reason it would have been a great track five) and I just wanted this to be a fun, upbeat, poppy album to listen to and I guess I felt it disrupted its flow. Now I appreciate it more and love the dreamy, atmospheric mood of it with the synthesizers. It kind of reminds me of "Love You 'til the End of Time" - a deep cut Mariah Carey track from the early '90s.

I used to skip "I Know Places" because it was just such a different sound, not only from the album, but from Taylor herself, I guess it just took awhile for me to get used to it, but now I really dig it. It's pretty apparent that this song was brought to you by the letter "I"!

Why did I ever skip "Clean"? I really don't remember, because this song is amazing and when I did my TS song ranking (before reputation), it was ranked #5 and it would still be in my top ten. I know I said that I didn't know which album ending song was my favorite, but I lied. I do know. It's this one. I would recommend this song to someone who isn't familiar with TS songs other than her singles. I love the music, I love the lyrics, I love the bridge, I love the inclusion of Imogen Heap, I love the song! And, obviously, I love the entire album!

Thanks for taking your time to read this!