On Monday, when Taylor Swift unveiled her new single in front of a select group of Swifties (and an untold number of viewers watching it on webstream), she did so with the casual confidence of someone with a large enough and devoted enough fan base to ensure it a No. 1 spot. And according to Billboard, “Shake It Off” very well may debut at the top of the Hot 100 next week, finally knocking Magic!’s strangely resilient “Rude” out of the place it’s held since mid-July. She’ll face some heavy competition when she gets there, though—much of it from female artists. Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea have basically owned the chart for the entire summer. Between the two of them they currently have five out of the top 10 songs in the country, including their team-up “Problem.”
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Taylor Swift dropped some big news yesterday—her forthcoming album 1989, inspired by the sounds of “late ’80s pop,” will debut on October 27. The singer also released the album’s first single and music video. EW writers Kyle Anderson (who knows a lot about music) and Marc Snetiker (who really, really likes music) debate the merits of Swift’s latest song—and whether it’s a hit or a miss.
MARC: Do you know what it feels like when Kermit the Frog dances? When he waves his hands in the air and lets his head wobble freely, as if little more than fabric and stitching is holding it together? That, perhaps, is how to best describe the dance I haven’t been able to stop doing—alone, in my office, with or without the lights on—since Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” dropped.
KYLE: I should begin by saying I don’t have any fundamental problem with Taylor Swift. She’s made a lot of songs that I like, and she’s made a lot of songs I don’t particularly care for. I’ve enjoyed work that she has done both in a pure country form (“The Best Day” is a tremendous acoustic story-song) and when she’s gone totally pop (“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” remains my jam). But I find “Shake It Off” pretty repulsive for a number of reasons. I’ll start with the one that has always driven me nuts about Taylor Swift: Her inexplicable persecution complex. Sure, her personal life gets written about in tabloids, and she’s had to put up with her share of paparazzi, but she isn’t affected any more than any other famous person, and she’s spun the prurient interest in her paramours into radio gold time and time again. The whole “Haters gonna hate” refrain rings so unbelievably false to me. READ FULL STORY
In a half press conference, half fan event hosted on a Yahoo! livestream this afternoon, Taylor Swift shared a new single, its video, and the news that she has a new album out Oct. 27. The song, “Shake It Off,” is an enthusiastic, uptempo composition with flourishes of retro soul thanks to a skronking horn arrangement and a dance-friendly energy that the video, directed by Mark Romanek, reflects with performances by dancers in styles ranging from ballet to twerking. In a surprise turn, Swift handles the song’s rap interlude herself.
The album will be called 1989, both for the year of Swift’s birth and the period of pop history that it draws most heavily from. Swift said that according to people she talked to in the course of investigating late ’80s pop, the era was “apparently a time of limitless potential.” She described 1989 as both “my very first documented, official pop album” and “my favorite album we ever made.”
1989 is available for pre-order from Swift’s website, which seems to be down at the moment thanks to an overwhelming amount of traffic. A deluxe version of the LP will feature several songs in their earliest demo form as voice memos saved to Swift’s phone, as well as reproductions from Polaroids she’s shot.
This week’s biggest new release is British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran’s x. Sheeran’s songwriting work for Taylor Swift and One Direction and acoustic pop style have earned him a fan base that’s heavy on younger listeners, but x (which is apparently meant to be pronounced “multiply”) deals with more mature themes, like the alienation that comes with fame and life on the road, as well as the ways sexual and chemical diversions can get away from you. People seem to be digging his new grown-up persona–our Melissa Maerz gave the album a B.
For this installment of the Breakdown we’ll take x apart and figure out what it’s made of. READ FULL STORY
Spotify listeners really, really like Avicii.
The EDM star leads Spotify’s first-ever Top 25 Artists Under 25 list, a ranking of the most influential young music-makers. The streaming service looked at No. 1 hits, volume and growth of streams and shares, and viral chart success from the last year to compile the results.
Avicii easily took the top spot — the 24-year-old Swedish DJ’s track “Wake Me Up” is the most-streamed song in Spotify history. He’s also the first artist under 25 to reach one billion streams on the site. READ FULL STORY
Taylor Swift may have painted the world red in last year’s “For Your Consideration” video for the Academy of Country Music Awards (ACMs) but this year, the singer and her Big Machine label boss Scott Borchetta opted for a sillier approach.
The tongue-in-cheek clip opens with Borchetta realizing that the only thing he has yet to check off on the “Taylor To-Do List” of world domination is create a for-your-consideration ACM video. Borchetta quickly calls Taylor but before he can get a word in, Swift puts him on hold to take care of more pressing matters like painting her nails and pampering her famous kitty-cat, Meredith.
Watch Taylor Swift’s ACM “For Your Consideration” video below:
Taylor Swift is fantastically popular, a cultural juggernaut whose ubiquity has never seemed to quench the populace’s thirst for more. But as plenty of fame-soaked cautionary tales have taught us, that level of exposure doesn’t always equal financial solvency.
Of course, Swift doesn’t have that problem. At all. According to a list just published by Billboard, Swift was the top-earning musician in 2013, raking in $39,699,575.60 (specific!) based on album sales, touring revenue, publishing fees, and royalties from airplay, digital streaming and downloads.
That does not include any money Swift might have collected from sponsorship deals, corporate gigs, or whatever back end she still may be earning from Valentine’s Day. Also, because Billboard uses a standard methodology for all artists across the board (assuming, for example, a 20 percent artists’ take on album sales), it’s easy to believe that Swift’s intake was even higher, as she most likely has a better royalty rate than your average country-pop megastar. Another thing to note? She gives a lot of it away. READ FULL STORY
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