Earworm: "State of Grace" by Taylor Swift

Saturday, April 13, 2019
Before I get into this song and how it got stuck in my head, I feel like I should provide the history on my feelings about Taylor Swift. I missed the entire first two years of her career when she released and was promoting her first album. Missed "Tim McGraw", "Picture to Burn", probably heard "Our Song" and "Teardrops on My Guitar", but at that point in time I was actively rebelling against country music because it was all my mom would play and I was sick of it. Then, "Love Story" dropped, and I made the connection that the teardrops girl also did this song. And I started to become a fan, but not a fanatic because that is a whole other thing I could write about. As her success grew with the releases of Fearless, Speak NowRed, and 1989, you could see her songwriting start to evolve from straight up country, to country pop, to straight up pop. And the progression was natural. Then reputation dropped.

I do not like that album. At all. It felt that, because of all the negative press attention she had received in the couple of years before that for being mean and a snake, she was going to play right into that, even if it's not an attitude she can front naturally. So, that album did not sound like her at all.
But there was one song that was a musical shift for her, but still sounded like something she would write. That song is the opening track of Red, "State of Grace". This isn't a country song, it's not super poppy. This is a stadium anthem. It's an epic. It's not a song she makes all the time, so when I first played this album in full, it was a surprise. Normally, her bigger anthemic songs like "Change" on Fearless and "Long Live" on Speak Now typically close out her albums. By picking "State of Grace" as the opening track, it feels like a mission statement. Of course, as you make your way through the album, you realize that that song is an outlier, with the remaining tracks much more in her wheelhouse, but more mature and a couple more pop songs than her previous albums.

So, now that she's got the bad girl attitude out of her system, maybe she can rediscover herself, and the kinds of songs that worked for her in the past, without moving backwards. But until then, there's this underrated gem to tide me over.

I Will Be Watching The Final Season of Game of Thrones, Without Watching The First Seven

Wednesday, April 10, 2019
So, Game of Thrones is beginning its final season, and it is a show that I was never able to get into. I tried to, I watched the pilot episode, but it just didn't grab me. And I was fine not watching such a watercooler show, because of just how well known the show became, I was able to pick up references and understand that it was a reference to Thrones, and know the scene that it came from just because of how viral every big event got.
But, this is probably the last big show people will watch together, and I'm sad that that part of our culture is ending. Game of Thrones is part of a class of show where everyone just talked about how good it was and shared their theories, and just fanned out. I think of it as part of a class consisting of Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and The Walking Dead (when it was good). Those were all shows that a lot of people watched, but I didn't watch them. I've watched episodes of Mad Men here and there on cable. When I though about getting into The Walking Dead, critical reception, among critics and fans, was already starting to turn negative, so I didn't even bother starting that one. And I never felt like I was missing out because I was watching other television shows I enjoyed. But then it was announced that Breaking Bad was ending. Breaking Bad was a show that I had always heard about, but for some reason never started. So when the final season was starting to air, and people wouldn't even share their theories about what they thought would happen and just wanted to watch the next episode because they had to see what happened next, I knew that I had to catch up. So I binged the whole series before the finale aired, and I do not regret that decision, because had it been spoiled for me, I most likely never would have started it.
But, Game of Thrones is a whole different beast. Because of how many watercooler moments that show produced, I pretty much know a lot of what's happened. With Breaking Bad, because it had a much smaller audience, and the show really didn't have that much of a Twitter fanbase, I pretty much avoided spoilers, save for a few iconic lines. So, if I had decided to binge the whole series, it would have felt like I had seen the episodes already. And if I need help understanding something, I'm pretty sure there are about a thousand recap videos on YouTube for those who needed a refresher course for the final season that I could watch, or ask my sister about because she's a Throne-y.
Also, I just am not in the headspace to binge an hour-long drama, as the last two shows I've binged were half-hour comedies, and I am starting a third.
So, here's to the last show that everybody watched. Sorry I wasn't there for the journey, but I can't wait for the destination.
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