Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Sports Guy, Taylor Swift, and A New Song
Some weeks ago, I was reading ESPN's "The Sports Guy," Bill Simmons, that hilariously insightful commentator on all things sports. He is especially good to read on New England/Boston sports (though I hate Boston) and his intimate fan's perspective is equal parts frank and loyal. Anyway, he took a break from sports to tell us about his 4oth birthday party trip to Las Vegas. In between funny takes on blackjack and casino etiquette, the fantasy football draft with his buddies punctuated by porn and drunkenness (two things I strongly discourage) he mentioned Kings of Leon's song, "Use Somebody." He said that they played it so many times that he'd physically injure the Kings for composing it. At that time, I hadn't heard it. For the sake of science, I just listened to it. My reaction is: I like it. Or, I should say, I like the balance of it--most of it--and the part I dislike is the pacing of the background instruments. The thing artists like to do in a certain popular style is play the instruments at one pace, and sing over the top of them at a slower pace. For example, we can name Coldplay, and their inspiration, U2. Since I revile Coldplay, the thing that saves this song is the singer. He carries a beautiful, soulful voice into his work. If I had to name the one thing that determined 'good' music from 'bad' music for me, it'd be vocal ability. Some lead singers aren't terribly talented, but they have unique voices. The is not to what I am referring. What I mean is a person talented or trained enough to be skilled at music outside their preference. A little soul solves everything.
I hate to admit it, but Taylor Swift is winning me over. Based on her weak voice, (ironic, given what I just said) and teen audience, I figured we wouldn't hear much from her. But her songwriting is fantastic. I have noticed that it's one or two lines that grab you, and this song won't let you remain uninterested. You said the way my blue eyes shine/Put those Georgia stars to shame that night/I said that's a lie. Or, that gorgeous pre-chorus from "Love Story" with its grabby line: And my daddy said, "Stay away from Juliet!" sucks you in. If you hate Taylor Swift, buckle up, because you'll never be rid of her.

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