On Repeat, Midsummer: A Playlist

Initially, it was my intention to create a playlist to share with readers of this blog via Apple Music. Either I’m not tech-savvy enough to figure out how to do this or it’s not possible. My vanity leads me to believe the latter. I really like the playlist though, so I’m going to share it the old-fashioned way: I’m sending each and every one of you a scrap of parchment arriving via carrier pigeon. Ha! Just kidding. Enjoy!

#1: the lakes (original version) by Taylor Swift

#2: Waiting by Alice Boman

#3: Bleecker Street by Simon & Garfunkel

#4: Faith of the Heart by Rod Stewart

#5: Venice Bitch by Lana Del Rey

#6: Hallelujah by k.d. lang

#7: Should Have Known Better by Sufjan Stevens

#8: Hometown Glory by Adele

#9: Passionfruit by Drake

#10: Speechless by Lady Gaga

#11: Twinkle Song by Miley Cyrus

#12: Gooey by Glass Animals

#13: A Change of Heart by The 1975

#14: Good Days by SZA

#15: Face Like Thunder by The Japanese House

#16: Still Learning by Halsey

#17: Grand Piano by Nicki Minaj

#18: Chandelier (Piano Version) by Sia

#19: The Riddle by Five for Fighting

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.

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.

Album Review: ELIO and Friends: The Remixes by ELIO

When a zennial chooses as their moniker the name of one of your favorite characters in modern literature (and cinema), you just know you’re bound to like them.

Enter ELIO, a.k.a. Charlotte Lee. According to an interview she did with Jess Grant for We Are: The Guard, The 1975’s eponymous debut album was life-changing for her, and you can totally hear that influence in her sound. It’s EDM-infused atmospheric pop: contemplative, nostalgic, and anxiety-riddled. And how could it not be all of those things at once? To be young in a world on fire, looking to the Internet (because sometimes it’s the only place) for clarity and community, and knowing with an airtight certainty that you won’t live to be old (because of climate change), sometimes you just have to groove to your own beat.

It’s [her sound] EDM-infused atmospheric pop: contemplative, nostalgic, and anxiety-riddled. And how could it not be all of those things at once?

The first time I listened to “Jackie Onassis”, one of the tracks remixed on this EP, I was transfixed. Like the icons she emulates, ELIO’s style is effortless and unpretentious, which makes it all the more alluring.

We can go to dinner in Paris / And we’ll be trends in fashion like Jackie Onassis / I’ll keep taking antidepressants / And we can drive away from this adolescence

Jackie Onassis by ELIO

My take: If you don’t seat-dance your way through traffic or make a complete fool of yourself in your living room crumping and twerking and bopping while listening to this EP, there’s something wrong with you. I hate to be so frank, but facts are facts.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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.

Album Review: One Foot In Front Of The Other by Griff

I’m always looking for the next thing that’s going to break me open. I use art as emotional catharsis. I never know what the medium is going to be—the truth just has a way of finding me and it never comes unprepared.

I’m always looking for the next thing that’s going to break me open.

That said, One Foot In Front Of The Other is the perfect mixtape for Sad Girl Summer and I am here for it. Bring on The Purge (of feelings, that is). There’s a desperation in Griff’s voice. An overflowing melancholy colors every lyric on every track. But there’s also hope—buckets of it. And resilience. And it overpowers everything else.

It’s somewhat of a disservice to Griff (real name Sarah Griffiths) to compare her to her forebears or contemporaries, but nevertheless her sound is familiar in an endearing, ear-tickling way. There’s some 1989 and reputation-era Taylor Swift here. Some Lorde, though more Melodrama than Pure Heroine. A dollop of Billie Eilish and a sprinkling of Lana Del Rey. Halsey hangs at the edge of the frame of tracks like “Earl Grey Tea”. Some of the production on the last track sounds like Bleachers.

I’ve tried to pray / I’ve bruised my knees / I’ve tried to bring you back to me

Black Hole by Griff

All in all, it’s just a really great time to be an angsty songstress. She brings to mind a couple of noteworthy contemporaries; namely, FLETCHER and ELIO, but also Olivia Rodrigo without all the rage. Her alchemy, though, is all her own.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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.

Album Review: JORDI (Deluxe) by Maroon 5

What is it about Maroon 5’s sound that is so deliciously irresistible? I mean, if we’re being honest, their oeuvre is little more than rock-inflected sugary pop bops one after the other. That’s not meant to be an insult, but it also doesn’t explain the love I have for the band. Am I basic or are they actually really good?

Am I basic or are they actually really good?

Available in Dolby Atmos on Apple Music, the band’s newest offering has received mixed to negative reviews from critics, but if you’re asking me (and why else would you be here?), JORDI is much better than Red Pill Blues, which was released in 2017 and was largely forgettable, apart from a couple of tracks.

Is JORDI going to win any Grammy Awards? Probably not. Do I care? Not in the slightest. When they dropped the second single from the album, “Nobody’s Love”, on July 24, 2020, I kept it on repeat for my next dozen showers. It’s a freaking bop.

Everything you’ve been through / Say what you got to lose

Can’t Leave You Alone (feat. Juice WRLD)

Featuring appearances by Megan Thee Stallion, blackbear, Stevie Nicks, Bantu, H.E.R., and others, JORDI is just a sheer pleasure to listen to.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

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.

From the Archives: Quotes Graphics Part 3

I have a lot of these, but this will probably be the last batch I’ll share for a while. I have a lot of reading to catch up on because my day job has been incredibly time-consuming recently. Let me know what you think!

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.

Graphics © 2020 by Fred Slusher. All rights reserved.

From the Archives: Quotes Graphics Part 2

As promised, here are more of the quotes graphics I made last year.

Listen, I know I’m not going to win any awards for graphic designing but these were so much to make. Stay tuned for part three!

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.

Graphics © 2020 by Fred Slusher. All rights reserved.

From the Archives: Quotes Graphics

There was a time last year when I became obsessed with making quotes graphics like a bored suburban Pinterest Princess.

I’m not going to lie, I’m probably going to do it again sometime in the future. It was a good way for me to have a creative outlet that wasn’t writing and that didn’t require me to practice delayed gratification, which is not something people with ADHD are good at.

This time in my life also coincided with Taylor Swift’s surprise release of folklore, and let’s just say I was *really* in my feelings. As we all probably were.

This time in my life also coincided with Taylor Swift’s surprise release of folklore, and let’s just say I was *really* in my feelings. As we all probably were.

This is probably going to be a three-part series because I have a lot of graphics to share. I hope you enjoy them!

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.

Graphics © 2020 by Fred Slusher. All rights reserved.

“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.