All Hail Halsey: New Baby, New Beats

Ashley Frangipane, otherwise known as global superstar Halsey, has been quite busy lately. They dropped their third full-length LP Manic in January of last year. 2020 also brought us collaborations between Halsey and Kelsea Ballerini (the other girl), Juice WRLD (Life’s a Mess; R.I.P.), and Marshmello (Be Kind).

As if this wasn’t already a bountiful Halsey harvest, she also released her first collection of poetry, I Would Leave Me If I Could, in November.

Now, Halsey has welcomed their first child with boyfriend Alev Aydin, named Ender Ridley Aydin. Emergent motherhood must bolster creativity in some way, because shortly after giving birth, Halsey also surprised us with news of the release date for their new album, due out on August 27th, titled If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power. Just from the title alone, we can probably anticipate fare we’ve come to expect (and adore) from Halsey: angst tinged with tenderness, stories of survival, and declarations of love steeped in her own mythos.

Just from the title alone, we can probably anticipate fare we’ve come to expect (and adore) from Halsey: angst tinged with tenderness, stories of survival, and declarations of love steeped in her own mythos.

How are we supposed to handle all of this? I know 2020 gave a lot of us more time to create, but I don’t know if I can emotionally process new bodies of work by Billie Eilish, Lana Del Rey, Lorde, and now Halsey all in one year. This isn’t even mentioning Red (Taylor’s Version) due out in the fall, which is sure to make mincemeat of our hearts. If only I could get someone to fall in love with me and break my heart before then, so I could really appreciate the album the way it was meant to be appreciated.

I guess I’ll have to find a way to cope. It looks like Adele and Rihanna are hell-bent on making us wait for new material, and at this point I can only say thank God, because that would really be too much.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please follow, like, comment, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at thevoraciousbibliophile@yahoo.com or catch me on Twitter @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

My Promotion: From AGM to GM

Anyone who knows me or has read my About Me page on the blog knows that I am a bookseller. Well, for the past three years, I’ve been the Assistant General Manager at a chain bookstore.

A couple of months ago, my then-General Manager got an opportunity outside our company that offered more money and also had a tuition assistance program, so naturally she took it. My record as a manager is impeccable. My sales numbers are good, I finish projects ahead of schedule, and (not to brag but) I’m a whiz at analyzing sales reports and identifying trends. My customer service skills are so next-level that some people become irate if I’m not available to help them. I’m the bossest of Boss Monsters. Also, my degree is in marketing so I feel like I have a pretty in-depth understanding of how to sell things.

My customer service skills are so next level that some people become irate if I’m not available to help them. I’m the bossest of Boss Monsters.

I made my pitch for the job immediately. I updated my resume, emailed higher-ups, made a play for the position, etc. Then I waited. And I waited some more. And then I had to wait even longer. And then I had to work 50+ hour weeks doing a quarterly overstock scan. And then I had to prep for a store inventory as the person in charge of it (for the first time). And then I waited some more.

This past Monday, June 28th, was our scheduled inventory day. I arrived at my store at 4:30 AM and made sure everything was ready. For those of you unfamiliar with the retail scene, periodically (usually once per fiscal year) the company you work for will schedule an inventory. On the day of your inventory, a group of people (the number will depend upon the size of your store) will come and scan through each individual item in your store. Some stores that are small enough may have their inventory(ies) performed by in-house associates.

The details of what happens during this process and after this process (auditing counts, preparing post-inventory paperwork, etc.) is irrelevant to my story here, so I’ll move on. By this point I have spoken to my direct supervisor more than six times about the promotion I was gunning for. I was ready to be the General Manager. I knew what I was doing and I was doing great at it. I was like Liam Neeson in Taken kicking loads of Albanian sex-trafficker butt without breaking a sweat.

I was like Liam Neeson in Taken kicking loads of Albanian sex-trafficker butt without breaking a sweat.

So, around hour twelve on the 28th, I finally get to sit down with Lola*. Lola and I talk about how things have been going, how I’ve been able to keep operations running (relatively) smoothly considering the volatility of the labor and sales markets. I tell her I’m ready. And she tells me the job is mine. I am now officially a General Manager. Plus, I got a nice pay raise as well. I am so thrilled that all of my hard work has been validated. Power tastes really sweet.

Anyway, that’s the news I’ve been waiting to share.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please follow, like, comment, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at thevoraciousbibliophile@yahoo.com or catch me on Twitter @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

*Not her real name

No One Told Me

I am not emotionally prepared for a new Sally Rooney novel, and shame on everyone who knew and didn’t tell me this was coming.

Beautiful World, Where Are You is set to release on September 7th, and I really don’t know what to do with myself.

My backlog of books I want to read immediately keeps growing, and you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be acquiring this little gem the day it comes out.

For me, Sally Rooney is to literary fiction as Greta Gerwig is to cinema. Lots of pining and complex emotions, with the occasional outburst that’s inserted as much for the plot as for the audience’s (be they biblio- or cinephiles) much-needed catharsis.

For me, Sally Rooney is to literary fiction as Greta Gerwig is to cinema.

I guess I can tell you right now that Normal People did me some kind of way. So much so, in fact, that I immediately bought Conversations with Friends and then proceeded to (A) not pick it up and (B) lose track of its placement. It looks like I’m going to have to find it now because I’ll need the pre-game training to be able to withstand the main event.

All of Sally Rooney’s books are now available wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please follow, like, comment, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at thevoraciousbibliophile@yahoo.com or catch me on Twitter @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

“Devils Roll the Dice, Angels Roll Their Eyes”: Reacting to *That* Vanity Fair Article

In case you didn’t already know, I’m a diehard Taylor Swift stan. Or Swiftie, if you will. She is the author of every emotion I’ve ever had, and I will most definitely fight someone over her. When Taylor released folklore, I bought all eight of the deluxe albums with different covers. #NoRegrets

Bonus: Which of Taylor Swift’s 8 Folklore Covers Are You? by Zoe Haylock for Vulture

If you’ve not followed the controversy surrounding BMLG (Big Machine Label Group)’s ownership of the masters for Taylor Swift’s first six albums (Taylor Swift through reputation), it is quite the scandal. Pre-fame Taylor didn’t realize that her catalog would become such a valuable commodity. For those of you who don’t know, a master is an artist’s first recording of a song or record and it’s from this master that all other copies are manufactured. Whoever owns the master(s) therefore owns all versions of the music, both physical and digital.

Taylor Swift first signed her contract with Big Machine Records in 2005. It stipulated that in exchange for a cash advance, BMR would own the rights to Swift’s first six albums. Taylor Swift (2006), Fearless (2008), Speak Now (2010), Red (2012), 1989 (2014), and Reputation (2017) and their accompanying master recordings (as well as the album artwork) were property of BMR under the original contract.

When Swift’s contract with BMR expired in November of 2018, she signed a new contract with Republic Records, whose parent company is Universal Music Group (UMG). It turns out that some lyrics from “Look What You Made Me Do” became prophetic: “But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time”; this time around, Taylor would retain ownership of her masters with each new recording, starting with Lover (2019).

“You play stupid games, you win stupid prizes.

Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince

Big Machine Records was acquired by Scooter Braun through his company Ithaca Holdings in 2019. The paltry sum: a reported $300,000,000. With Braun’s acquisition, he now legally owned the masters to Swift’s first six albums.

Taylor took to tumblr. to decry the deal. For her, it was a worst-case scenario. She’d been trying to buy the rights to her work back for years, but Scott Borchetta, founder and CEO of Big Machine Records, would only let her do so if she signed a new contract, one with terms that to her were unconscionable. Note: You can read Taylor’s reaction on her tumblr.

And when you can’t sleep at night / You hear my stolen lullabies

my tears ricochet

Here’s why I believe Taylor: if her claims were actually counterfactual, Braun would have cause for a major defamation suit. He would hold all the cards. Instead, we have puff pieces (which really read like nothing more than information subsidies from Braun’s own PR team) like the one in Vanity Fair with the classic good old boy exoneration and exaltation, i.e. “All these other people love me and have nothing but nice things to say about me, so this can’t possibly be true.” How many times have we borne witness to this exact scenario, wherein a woman’s word and work are dismissed to uphold a man’s ego based on nothing more than a shoddy bootstraps narrative and a goofy smile? If she’s a liar, show the receipts. No? That’s all the proof I need.

How many times have we borne witness to this exact scenario, wherein a woman’s word and work are dismissed to uphold a man’s ego based on nothing more than a shoddy bootstraps narrative and a goofy smile? If she’s a liar, show the receipts.

This really is a tale as old as time and it speaks to one of the biggest assertions of artistry; namely, that what you create should not only belong to you, but that it is in fact inseparable from the rest of your being. Taylor’s detractors can all take a seat. With her re-recordings of her first six albums, fans can now enjoy Taylor’s back catalog without helping men like Braun and Borchetta to profit off her work. Looks like Taylor got the last laugh.

These are the albums you can purchase which Taylor owns the rights to. Red (Taylor’s Version) is forthcoming, as are the re-recorded versions of Taylor Swift, Speak Now, 1989, and reputation.

As always, thank you for your unwavering support of this blog and my work. I love you all. I think it’s appropriate to close here with a lyric from evermore:

Your nemeses will defeat themselves / Before you get the chance to swing

— long story short

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please follow, like, comment, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at thevoraciousbibliophile@yahoo.com or catch me on Twitter @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Red (Taylor’s Version)

“Loving him is like driving a new Maserati down a dead-end street.” — Red

Yes, I know this is supposed to be a blog about books. But it’s also about whatever I want to talk about. And if we’re getting technical, our Reverend Mother Taylor Alison Swift has contributed at least as much (if not more) to American song craft as Bob Dylan, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016 by the Swedish Academy. I rest my case.

I am LIVING for this era of Taylor Swift. In 2020, she brought us not one but two full-length studio albums (folklore and evermore). With folklore, Taylor made history, becoming the first woman in the history of the Grammy Awards to take home THREE Album of the Year Awards, for Fearless, 1989, and now folklore. (Note: I’m not linking to the original versions of Fearless and 1989 because Taylor has asked her fans not to support the versions of her music released under the Big Machine Label Group. For more about how to make those pesky older versions disappear, please check out this awesome article in Variety.

“This path is reckless.” — Treacherous

And yesterday, Taylor announced that the next album she’ll be releasing will be a re-recording of 2012’s iconic Red, which brought us masterpieces like “Red”, “All Too Well”, and “I Knew You Were Trouble” (which in hindsight sounds like the strongest hint about the upcoming 1989-era on the entire record). The large and fiercely devoted community of Swifties is blowing up social media with theories, speculations, and forensic analyses about Taylor’s Easter eggs, which if you follow the trails, led to Red (Taylor’s Version) the WHOLE TIME!

The large and fiercely devoted community of Swifties is blowing up social media with theories, speculations, and forensic analyses about Taylor’s Easter eggs, which if you follow the trails, led to Red (Taylor’s Version) the WHOLE TIME!

“And the saddest fear comes creeping in. That you never loved me or her, or anyone, or anything…” — I Knew You Were Trouble

The fact that she made the announcement on Scooter Braun’s birthday makes the whole thing glimmer with the iridescence of her haters’ tears, imbuing the whole affair with a sense of righteous indignation and utter pettiness that I aspire to. Drag him, Taylor! November 19th cannot get here fast enough.

The fact that she made the announcement on Scooter Braun’s birthday makes the whole thing glimmer with the iridescence of her haters’ tears, imbuing the whole affair with a sense of righteous indignation and utter pettiness that I aspire to.

“Loving him was red.” — Red

What are you most excited to hear in Red (Taylor’s Version)? Personally, I am dying to hear the re-recorded version of “All Too Well”, but the fact that the album will feature all 30 of the originally-intended tracks is almost too much for my heart to stand.

In the meantime, I would not be a bit surprised if Taylor drops another album with all-new material in the interim before Red (Taylor’s Version) releases in November. She’s set a whole new standard when it comes to providing one’s fans with fresh material. It’s getting to the point where I’m going to have to make “New Taylor Swift Music and Merchandise” a line item in my monthly budget. Oh well. She can take my money. She already has my heart.

You can preorder Red (Taylor’s Version) here.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please follow, like, comment, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at thevoraciousbibliophile@yahoo.com or catch me on Twitter @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.