Our arts editor and EIC go head-to-head once more
In honour of the 63rd Grammys, the Fulcrum’s arts editor Aly Murphy and editor-in-chief Charley Dutil go head to head reflecting on some of the nominees.
“cardigan” by Taylor Swift
So, full disclosure, I have not listened to anything from Taylor Swift since “Shake It Off”. And, “cardigan” is pretty different from that song, and I give props to Swift for trying to re-invent her image, but I just can’t shake off the mental image of her dancing in leather black pants and singing pop tunes.
The song itself — it’s not for me, but to each their own. When I listen to this, I hear country lyrics superimposed over an instrumental track that tries to give the song a rustic indie feel.
I can see how it would resonate with listeners in their early 20s. But for me, it’s just boring and unrelatable.
I really, really love “cardigan.” It’s the track off folklore I keep coming back to; the bridge alone rouses my spirits in ways no other song really can. I think the Long Pond Studios version is a little stronger than the original version (because, as is the case with most of folklore, I feel that Swift shot herself in the foot with too much post-production on her vocals), but “cardigan”’s lyrics are some of Swift’s strongest.
She’s a storyteller, and a good one. To quote my EIC, I am indeed “a listener in my early 20s,” and the song definitely does resonate with me.
(I also bought two of the $65 cardigans Swift released in honour of this song, but we won’t talk about that).
“Dynamite” by BTS
So when I first heard about BTS, I was told they were like the Korean Beatles. Now here’s the thing: the Beatles are the greatest band of all time because they innovated and wrote songs like “A Day in the Life,” “Tomorrow Never Knows,” and “Helter Skelter” to name a few — BTS is no Beatles.
What “Dynamite” sounds like to me is early 2010s recycled bubble gum pop — there is nothing original about this song. It was manufactured to play on top 40 radio: I don’t understand what’s so good about it. The backing track sounds like it was rejected by the Weeknd — it’s so generic. BTS sounds exactly like hundreds of other acts before them.
It blows my mind that people listen to this.
Seconded. I don’t get the appeal. We’ve done this before.
“Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion
Not for me.
I’m reminded fondly of the first few weeks of quarantine. This song still gets stuck in my head pretty often, but it’s not, like, good.
But I miss those few first weeks of COVID TikTok. It’s crazy to think it’s been a year.
“Kyoto” by Phoebe Bridgers
For some reason, this song reminds me of the Tragically Hip’s “In View” from the band’s World Container album. Looking into it a little bit more, Bridgers’ vocal harmonies and the instrumentation on “Kyoto” are pretty much the same as “In View”’s, but slower. The picture she paints and her emotions are also very similar to the picture painted by Gord Downie on another Hip song,“Escape is at Hand for the Travelling Man.”
In its own right, “Kyoto” is a good song – I enjoyed it. Bridgers’ songwriting is on a different level; her lyrics are witty, they paint a clear picture, they’re blunt without being simple and on “Kyoto,” all of these elements mix perfectly.
I listened to “Kyoto” multiple times, and every time I was amazed by the amount of different artists that influence not only the lyrics but also the music itself. It’s honestly, in my opinion, a power-pop masterpiece, and i’m very genuinely surprised it didn’t win a Grammy.
It’s taken a while for Phoebe Bridgers to grow on me.
But man, has she ever.
What I love about Phoebe Bridgers is her habit of re-recording her own music with different vibes and ambiences. My favourite version of “Kyoto” is the super-sad “Copycat Killer” version, but the standard, rock version is great, too. Phoebe Bridgers just keeps getting better, and I had high hopes for both this song and Punisher on Sunday.
Colors by Black Pumas
“Colors” by Black Pumas is, in my opinion, the best song on this list. I rarely give fives, but this is a five. Black Pumas were nominated for the record of the year Grammy, and despite their odds being the worst out of all the nominees I still put $10 on it — the music is that good.
What I like about “Colors” (and their discography as a whole) is how different it is from anything else. They have managed to blend folk, blues, southern rock and funk music into one genre.
As for the song “Colors,” I listened to it a lot in autumn and it helped me enjoy the beauty of all the fall colours. It was honestly perfect. This song has such a chill vibe; the different guitars and keyboards compliment Eric Burton’s voice perfectly, and it gives me chills every time.
The vibes are SIMPLY immaculate. The guitar riff, the vocal production, the rhythm track – everything.
I only give it a four because it’ll take a while for this to be something I reach for in my typical music rotation — I tend to prefer quieter, moodier music than this. But the quality of this track can’t be disputed — honestly, it thought Grammy-deserving. I think this song combines and defies genres in a really unique and interesting way, and there’s not enough of that in the industry these days.