In VH New Music Fridays, the Life staff covers this week’s new music releases, from pop to country to alternative.
In case you missed it, Taylor Swift is rerecording all her albums produced under her old record label, Big Machine Records. Last night, she released “Taylor’s Version” of her Fearless album, which would be exciting regardless, since who doesn’t need an excuse to listen to classics like “You Belong With Me” and “Forever and Always”? What makes her new releases even more thrilling than the empowering choice to claim her discography back are new exclusives (“From the Vault”) and collabs with her choice of artists. If you are on T-Swift TikTok, then you will get what I mean when I say “watch out Joe Jonas”…
Taylor Swift, “Taylor’s Version”
“Mr. Perfectly Fine”
Swift got the internet screaming April 7 in anticipation of the “Fearless” release with her new/old single “Mr. Perfectly Fine.” This upbeat, country-pop song is the perfect breakup song. Fans are convinced that it was inspired by Joe Jonas, her 2008 boyfriend, who infamously broke up with Swift over the phone and gave us “Forever and Always.” Swift even acknowledged that the song took her back to her autobiographical days in a tweet with the song release. Thirteen years later, Jonas is married and has a child with Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner, and Swift is very much in love with long-term boyfriend Joe Alwyn. So it’s all in the past—even for Turner, who posted the song on her Instagram story with a comment good enough for Swift to repost.
“We Were Happy”
Compared to “Mr. Perfectly Fine,” this one gets us in our feels. Swift reminisces on an old love, sharing all the hopes, dreams and memories of a long-gone relationship. With the juxtaposition of lyrics like, “When it was good, baby, it was good,” and “I hate those voices telling me I’m not in love anymore; But they don’t give me choices and that’s what these tears are for,” be sure to leave this song for a lonely, gloomy day… maybe with some tissues.
“That’s When” (feat. Keith Urban)
Country singer and Nashville resident Keith Urban joins Swift on this new release. In an upbeat song addressed to Swift’s partner, the duo brushes up on their acting as they pose as a recently broken-up couple that clearly misses each other. This song is light, catchy and surprisingly positive considering it starts off with a breakup. Its lyrics more heavily emphasize reminiscing on endearing moments than hung-up emotions and will put a smile on your face.
This one surprised me the most out of the new releases. Swift wrote Fearless when she was very much classified as a country-pop singer. With that being said, “Don’t You” has modern-era elements of her more recent pop work but keeps the grounding country twang fitting for
“Fearless.” The slightly electro-pop background and echo at points did make me think that the song would fit perfectly in an early 2000s (or even 80-90s?) teenage rom-com where the camera pans over a couple at a dance hosted in a school gym. Innocent and sweet.
“Bye Bye Baby”
The album ends with this aptly-named tune. Even more appropriate is Swift’s reference to both a movie and rain within the first 30 seconds of the song (and then being dropped off at home, ah, teenage Taylor). This song is textbook “Fearless,” serving as a perfect closure to the title track of the album. With allusions to the storm-dancing in the first instantiation of the album, Swift sings that “the rain didn’t soak through [her] clothes” when she’s dropped off for the last time. It is truly the perfect goodbye song that stays in tune with the stylistic qualities of the rest of the album.
Not Taylor, but still noteworthy
“Shy Away,” Twenty One Pilots
“Shy Away” is a single that previews the band’s soon-to-be-released album, “Scaled and Icy.” Beginning with a modest, percussive rhythm, the song really comes into itself about halfway through, so it is definitely worth a full listen. “Shy Away” is the epitome of “head-bopping,” as it lives in a perfect in-between rhythm that isn’t startlingly upbeat or chaotic in a mainstream way, but also not so demure as to be inappropriate to play at a (post-COVID) party. The song’s chorus, “Don’t you shy away, manifest a ceiling when you shy away,” is catchy and lyrically sound, so no worries about mumbling through it when it comes on the radio.
“Otra Noche Sin Ti,” J. Balvin, Khalid
If you were hesitant to tune into “Otra Noche Sin Ti” because of the perhaps unexpected pairing—J. Balvin and Khalid—fear no longer. The track was released April 8 along with a gray-toned music video. As expected, the track begins with the laid-back vocals of J. Balvin in Spanish with Khalid’s background leading into the chorus. If your high school Spanish has failed you, we’ve done the heavy lifting. “Otra Noche Sin Ti” translates to “Another Night Without You,” an encompassing description of the song’s focus. Khalid’s feature comes midway through the track, starting with, “Been a while since I’ve seen your face, when you know it gets lonely in LA.” Most of the song is sung in clear, measured Spanish, but its overall relaxed character and understated rhythm support both the English and Spanish vocals.
“Kiss Me More,” Doja Cat ft. SZA
“Kiss Me More” was the premiere release from Doja Cat’s newest album, “Planet Her.” Along with the single came an aesthetically pleasing music video highlighted with bad gal energy. The tune begins rhythmically, and after a few seconds, Doja Cat’s airy tone serenades the listener. If her most popular release to date, “Say So,” embodies the namesake of her last album, “Hot Pink,” then “Kiss Me More” is a more muted, baby pink. Doja’s familiar flow frames the first third of the song, with unique and explicit lines accentuating the song’s themes of young love and pleasure. SZA’s melodic vocals grace the second half of the song, and the tune is highlighted by the pair’s chorus vocals, “Can you kiss me more? We’re so young, boy, we ain’t got nothing to lose.” And maybe Doja is onto something because you definitely won’t lose by giving this song (and its music video) a listen.