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September 03, 2013 - Image 32

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-09-03

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4D - Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaiiy.com

4D - Tuesday, September 3, 2013 he Mcia al mciadiyo

Unsurprising Swift

Ushering in the era of
Justin Timberlake

'Red' can't add
anything newto
pop repetoire
DailyArts Writer
OCT. 23, 2012 - Your early
twenties are tough. You're asked
to deal with taxing trials and
such as strug- ***4
gling to match
your bedazzled Taylor Swift
guitar to your
sequined mini Red
dress, or try- Big Machine
ing to compose
dozens of love
songs to the same four guitar
chords. You're forced to wrangle
with real-world issues like selling
bajillions ofrecords and dating and
breaking up with Jake Gyllenhaal
(and never ever, ever getting back
together). Sometimes, famous rap-
pers call you out and humiliate you
on live television.
So Taylor Swiftmaynotbe deal-
ing with hampering toils of life -
comingup with rent or job hunting
in this economy like the rest of us
- but where amore and being a
mega-star is concerned, she has
been through the ringer.
Red,her fourth LP, comes on the
heels of Swift's highly document-
ed summer at the Kennedy com-
pound in Hyannis, Mass. her sassy
breakup single "We Are Never
Ever Getting Back Together" and
the hipster-tastic accompanying
video. America's favorite lanky
blonde country bubblegum pop
star is growing up. She's now on
boyfriend number 321, who is not
only a Kennedy, but is also still in
high school. How's that for matu-
To be fair, Red, in many ways,
is a step forward. Swift is trying,
perhaps for the first time, to sin-
cerely and completely depart from
her CMA, G-rated, big-haired pop-


Now imma finish.

star-by-the-numbers persona. The
physical changes are all there: the
Instagram album cover, the matte
red lipstick, the striped shirts with
Musically, it's there too: The
songs on Red are a little longer, a
little darker, a little richer lyrically.
But the funny thing about depar-
tures is they require absolute and
genuine commitment. A little red
lipstick and a duet with Ed Sheer-
an isn't quite enough to catapult
Swiftintothe musicalelite,butlike
with the rest of her music, it's fun
as hell listening to the attempt.
But still, it's definitely saying
something that Swift is one of the
last major pop stars standing who
has the guts to produce actual hit
songs that are (for the most part)
predicated on guitars, bass and
drums - a setup which is quickly
marching into archaic territory.
"State of Grace" capitalizes on
some heavy arena-rock drums and
reverb-laden riffs. "Sad Beautiful
Tragic" is pure college-radio lite
rock along the lines of '90s staples
the Cranberries and Mazzy Star. "I
Knew You Were Trouble" is per-
haps the cutest use of dubstep in
modern pop (don't question it).
For a star with some of the best
pop instincts in the biz, unfortu-
nately Swift's duds stand out pret-
ty starkly. "The Last Time" is over
five minutes long, and limps along

lethargically with a mopey orches-
tra telling you the appropriate sad
emoji to resemble while listening.
Presumably, the song is supposed
to be a serious ballad-slash-duet
with a serious male singer (Gary
Lightbody of Snow Patrol) who
awkwardly dominates the song.
And as for the country in her
music ... there is no more country
in her music. There is absolutely
no reason, ever, for anyone to clas-
sify T-Swift in the country cat-
egory anymore. She has officially
crossed the thin glittered line into
non-country territory. A lone banjo
in the title track a country record
does not make.
You have to hand it to her: At this
point, Swift certainly isn't lack-
ing in the experience department.
Girl has loved, girl has lost and girl
has written a crapload of hit songs
about it. But come on now - this
is her fourth album spinning the
same tired wheel. We get it. Break-
ups are hard, relationships can be
tangly (especially when it's pour-
ing rain) and it's good to be pissed
off sometimes.
These components work for
Taylor Swift; they are her bread
and butter, the very foundation
upon which her fans worship her.
And honestly, would you really
change your formula if your album
was projected to sell a million cop-
ies in its first week?

Ready or not, world -
Justin Timberlake
lust released another
album, to
the collec- c
tive wails and
"thank you"
's of a whole
generation of
pop lovers. I'm
sureyouheard ELLIOT
"Mirrors," ALPERN
the single that
sounds like a
Billboard mainstay beforethe song
even ends - or at least "Suit & Tie"
(which Barney from "How I Met
Your Mother" would be prudent to
choose as his theme song). Regard-
less, unless you've been stuck in a
sinkhole for the past few months
(or an'N Sync-hole, for those stuck
in the past few decades), I'm sure
you're aware that we'll all be hear-
ing about Justin Timberlake non-.
stop'til Taylor Swift drops another
best-seller. Unless...
"Spoiler alert.20/20Vol2comes
out in nov. (10 songs now..... 10
songs later = 20 vision)" - perhaps
not the most lucid album-release
announcement in recent memory,
but Questlove nonetheless offered
the above response to a New York
Times article Saturday, and it has
since been confirmed. Which
means, well, if we're lucky, we
probably won't stop talking about
JT until Blue Ivy finally finishes
that debut we've been expecting.
I respect Justin Timberlake
more than anything else. The guy
is a consistent pop hit-maker, one
who managed to claw his way
out of the wreckage of 'N Sync's
eventual demise to become one of
biggest names in contemporary
music. And even in a vacuum, the
man still managed to cop a feel
from Janet Jackson on live tele-
vision, in front of the largest TV
audience there is - and that was

before he decided to bring Sexy
So no, though I've been in a bit
of a bashing mood lately, I'll do no
such thing to the guy - rather, Im
actually keenly interested. How
is Justin from'N Sync now such a
revered, jack-of-all-trades celeb-
The super-fans among you
might be screaming "The Mickey
Mouse Club" - but if so, please
stop, I'm sure you're disturbing
your neighbors. And you're only
partly right anyway. Justin did
co-star on "The Mickey Mouse
Club" with Britney Spears, Chris-
tina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling and
eventual bandmate JC Chasez
(which of these things is not like
the others, right?). Without any
"Club," Justin would've never
been recruited (along with JC) by
legendary boy-band manager Lou
Pearlman. The rest, as they say, is
Even some of the more casual
Justin fans know the story, the
eye-popping Disney show lineup
and rise to fame. But there's also
a lot of Justin that doesn't neces-
sarily reach the public eye, or that
we've just sort of forgotten about
along the way (and yes, this did
involve researching Justin Tim-
berlake at the library for an hour;
I don't need your judgment).
For instance, I have to admit
that JT seems like a cool dude;
what with his recent induction
into "SNL" 's five-timers club as
one of the better "SNL" hosts of
the decade. The guy made "Dick
in a Box." Even I would go hang
out with the superstar if invited
- it seems like it would be a blast.
Except that, well, I don't know
how much of that image to trust.
I like to hope that, maybe with
maturation, this isn't the same
guy who wrote and performed the
McDonald's anthem "I'm Lovin'
It," and later claimed, "I love what

McDonald's is doingwiththe new
'I'm Lovin' It' campaign ... We
share the same crowd - people
who like to have fun." Clearly, he
doesn't eat at fast-food chains;
I've never seen anything close to
"fun" at a McDonald's. But from
Disney, to boy band, to McDon-
ald's, who's to say that the public
gets an accurate, un-modified
view of the star? How do we know
we're notgettingsold?
But even the details of his
personal life sound so perfectly
vulnerable and simultaneous-
ly cool. Satisfying the obvious
first requirement for being an
"awesome celebrity" (giving to
charity), Timberlake donates
to children's hospitals, wildlife
foundations, arts foundations -
you name it. And yet, he owns a
stake in the Memphis Grizzlies
basketball team, showing us that
he both has a healthy interest in
sports and supports the town he
grew up in.
Damn. It's hard to find fault
with the man. Even his (pur-
ported) dating record reads like
a list of Esquire's sexiest women:
Britney Spears, Cameron Diaz,
Scarlett Johansson and finally
Jessica Biel. And in his spare
time he even once accompanied
U.S. Marine Kelsey De Santis to
the United States Marine Corps
birthday ball, just for the sake of
asking him. That is a classy move,
my friends.
So I guess the guy is perfect.
Yes, he's ruthless in his pursuit of
fame, but which successful stars
aren't? Realistically, the only flaw
with JT's record is his low number
of solo releases - just three as of
The 20/20 Experience. And we all
know that's bound to change.
In summary ... prepare yourself
for the Era of Timberlake.
- Originally published on
March 19, 2013

A$AP Rocky and DJ Dillon Francis discuss
mtvU Woodie Awards, legacies and swag


Daily Arts Writer
MARCH 15, 2013 - Apparently,
a dungeon exists somewhere in
MTV's studios, somewhere that
still plays music. Known as mtvU,
the television network targets
college students and broadcasts a
variety of programs about things
that we care about, like activism
(obviously) and cool robot music.
All jokes aside, mtvU panders
more convincingly than most
other corporate shills. It spon-
sors Fulbright Scholars and has
a number of opportunities that
involve college students. But the
opportunities aren't exclusively
for service, though, and the mtvU
Woodie Awards exemplify just
Billed as an award show for

"the best in indie, underground
and everything in between," the
mtvU Woodie Awards allow col-
lege students (like you and me!)
to make the decisions, and most
of the nominees are acts that don't
get much love from the main-
stream shows.
Recently, The Michigan Daily
took part in a Woodie Awards
conference call with DJ Dillon
Francis and rapper A$AP Rocky,
in which both artists talked about
their craft, their rising popularity
and what the awards nominations
mean to them.
Francis was first known for his
forays into moombahton, a Latin-
infused brand of electronic music.
Soon after, he signed to Diplo's
Mad Decent label and has seen
his notoriety grow since being
anointed an "artist to watch" by

MTV's electronic music show,
Clubland. Nominated for "Break-
ing Woodie" (Best New Artist,
for you squares out there), Fran-
cis considers a Woodie win as an
achievement, but only a tempo-
rary one.
"If I win it, I think it will be
really cool ... but, for me, I'm just
going to keep doing what I'm
doing and keep making music that
I really love, and that's it," he said.
While many of Francis's
dreams have already come true,
like working with DJ Calvin Har-
ris, he won't let such success go
to his head. From a hardworking
family in Los Angeles, Francis
often describes his unyielding
work ethic and seems serious
about sitting atop the throne of
EDM (electronic dance music)
one day. He's "aiming for 10,000

hours (of work)" by next year, and
with his debut album on the way,
Francis could be a big name for
years to come.
Back for the second year in a
row, Harlem's A$AP Rocky took a
step forward this year. Last year,
A$AP performed and earned
a nomination for "Breaking
Woodie," but this year, he's up for
"Woodie of the Year" as the odds-
on favorite.
A$AP's flavor of New York rap
contains a shot of Houston siz-
zurp, and the hype surrounding
him has been growing ever since
he signed a 3-million dollar con-
tract with Sony in late 201. Like
Francis, success means more to
A$AP than any award.
"Coming up to me and telling
me that you enjoyed my music
when (you're) a total stranger is


.tter than winning a Grammy to age; we need to get back and bring
e." back the hippie power.... We (are)
Randomly peppering the con- all one people;we needtogethigh
.rsation with "swag" and "they and enjoy life together the way we
all me flocka," the slow-talking did back in the '70s, and that's the
$AP described the legacy he legacy I'm gonna leave behind.
ants to leave, and it's one for the Swagswag."
ds. For all of his praise of the hip-
pies, A$AP displays tremendous
business savvy as well. When
A$AP Rock asked what he's bought with his
money so far, he yelled "not a
wants to bring damn thing," emphasizing that
the money is an investment in his
back hippie career. He considers himself "the
future" and, with his meteoric
power. rise to fame, it seems like he might
be right.
A$AP wouldn't mind some
hardware on his mantle, though.
"Legacy? I'm teaching the He declined to make a prediction
uth ... through all my songs and on the voting, but said, "I hope I
y energy. ... It's a new day and win. That's it."


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