“Empress Stah“, and am surprised, as always, that for someone who enjoys as much profane music as I do, that Merrill Beth Nisker leaves me cold more often than not.
That was the overall mood in the arena both nights, which felt like the coronation of a pop star and her graduation into superstardom. Of course, this is a fairly unsophisticated, derivative approach to music. How would these songs fare without the feverish synth production of pop juggernauts Max Martin and Shellback and Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff? Yeah! Hang the DJ!!!!
If you’re like Us, you’ve been listening to Ryan Adams’ version of Taylor Swift’s 1989 on repeat since it came out just before midnight on Sunday, September 20.
What exactly Adams is ultimately trying to achieve with 1989 remains unclear and whilst his reinvention, by its very nature, will garner significant attention the real victor is Swift, or more specifically 1989. Why? “Taylor was like, “Are you going to put this out?” Unfortunately, the machine wound up eating his tape four songs in, destroying those performances forever.
“Let me record 1989 like it was Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska“, Adams recently told Rolling Stone magazine, describing his too-good-to-be-true version as an alternate universe to the one inhabited by the highest-selling album of a year ago.
Precedence: Adams has proven especially adept at making seemingly incongruous material his own. “He responded with music that is both personal and generous”.
Even Swift herself makes this argument. “They’re all completely giving”.
Perhaps the least surprising thing a popular musician can do in 2015 is to interrupt the flow of her own work with a left-field cover song. We wrote together once and it was unbelievable. The only difference is that while Adams danced around the mainstream, Swift was catapulted towards it.
Similarly, in Adams’ hands the second best track on the record, “Style“, doesn’t hold the excitement of Swift’s James Dean picking her up at midnight. Adams has repeatedly defended Swift’s songwriting ability in the press. Who have listened to male friends repeat their own jokes back to them, as though they had hit on something amusing utterly by accident. To recap: Father John Misty covered Ryan Adams covering Taylor Swift in the style of Lou Reed.
One of the songs Adams enhances is the album’s first, “Welcome to New York“.
As McKinney points out, the New Yorker reviewed Adams’s version of “1989,” but not Swift’s. It’s been almost three decades since art rockers Sonic Youth briefly refashioned itself as a Madonna tribute band, and even longer since those slaphappy nights on the college-bar touring circuit when the Replacements would pull out forbidden gems by KISS and Aerosmith. Elsewhere, exotic guitar flourishes and peppery percussion – even castanets – lend additional street-operatic drama to the shared escape of “I Know Places“. “My only plans are to finish watching all of The Walking Dead I missed when I was on tour and then I’ve got the rest of the year off”. “It’s just noise.” Her 16-year-old realisation is that being alternative is not the same as being genuine or being good. This irritated people, because the changes were said to be “gender appropriate”, and ruined the more innocent feel Swift lent to the song.
But Swift is still chained to a certain public perception. But you don’t have to like her brand to understand that she is an extremely talented songwriter.