Taylor Swift: Are We In The Clear Yet?

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Would that all new years started with fantastic beasts and stormy weather. They don’t, but thanks to Taylor Swift, 2016 did for us. The video for "Out of the Woods", complete with its fairy tale narrative, is my first favourite thing of 2016 and it proves that the indomitable Ms Swift is only getting better and better.

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David Bowie's Top 100 Books [Plus Some Links]

READList compiled by DavidBowie.com. 

I've seen this going around a lot, and it is one of the more interesting - and eclectic - reading lists. So I've stashed it here to mull over properly.

I've also cleaned it up a tiny bit to add publication dates and fix some small typos. Where the books are free online, I've added links to legal download sites.

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A Knee-Jerk Reaction to Prince's HITnRUN Phase One

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Prince’s latest album was released via Jay Z’s music streaming site Tidal, because Prince has changed his mind about the internet just being a fad that was about to die. Prince changes his mind often enough, so there are no surprises there. The fact that he’s once again let his latest producer on to share credit isn’t surprising either, given that Joshua Welton worked on last year’s double album Art Office Age/Plectrum Electrum. HitnRun is very different from last year’s offerings though, and sounds a whole lot more confused - at least, at the initial few times it’s heard. Clocking in at under 40 minutes, it’s a strange beast - not great, but with enough in it to stop me from saying it’s bad.

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The Music of Nashville: TV's Only Country Fantasy Epic

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It’s not secret that I love Nashville. Hell, it seems to me like the half the SF/F community does too: it’s a country epic fantasy.

What makes Nashville such a great show isn’t the fast paced storylines or the addictive, soap opera style cliffhangers, intense relationships or the glamorous cast with gorgeous clothes and fantastic hair, or even the music itself. What makes it great is that it is essentially about two complex, intriguing, ambitious women, their careers and their relationship with their art. 

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Good Songs, Good Covers.

Okay, I admit - there were some truly abysmal covers in that list. That Sugababes action… yeah, I have to make up for that. So this time, here are some really great covers of genuinely good songs. 

Lake Street Dive - "Faith"

George Michael’s biggest hit from his 1987 debut solo album Faith was the titular song, "Faith". With it’s Bo Diddley beat and George in the peak of his post-Wham bad boy image, "Faith" isn’t a song you’d ever forget. It also isn't a song you could do justice to easily - so why try to do it George’s way at all? 

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Covers: The Best of the Worst

Giorgio Moroder ft. Britney Spears - "Tom's Diner" (Craig Vanity / Dimitri Vegas / Martin Garrix Remix) (2015)

Recently, the editor of this website sent me a link to a strange thing - the Britney Spears cover version of Suzanne Vega’s "Tom’s Diner". It was so bad, it was good. Well, no - it wasn’t good but it was catchy. It sent me into a hopeless downward spiral of terrible covers that I hadn’t heard in years and so of course, I must now put you through the same pain.

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Weirdness Rodeo

image from Andreas FeiningerSay hi to our newest contributor - Becky Chambers! Becky's Extended Memory column involves her reviewing all those wonderful (we hope) classic PC games, and she's kicked off by returning to her very first game - Beyond Dark Castle.

New short stories are coming from William Curnow, Jennifer Moore, David W Pomerico, Marie Vibbert, Michal Wojcik, Olivia Wood and JY Yang.

Meanwhile, on the rest of the internet...

A study out of the University of Colorado reports on an interesting trend:

The study examined in detail the yearly top 30 Billboard songs from 1960 to 2013 – a total of 1,583 – and found a steep increase in `advertainment’ or the use of product placement, branding and name dropping among the most popular music in the nation.

[The study] found a total of 1,544 product references in the five decades of songs he analyzed with more than half occurring between 2000 and 2010. The study also showed a direct link between product placement and brand awareness. For example, after the 2002 Busta Rhymes hit single `Pass the Courvoisier,’ sales of the cognac jumped 10 to 20 percent that year. 

Movies have already 'sold out' to product placement, music doesn't seem to be far behind... how long until some far-sighted marketer starts flogging products through literature? 

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The Joy of the Soundtrack: Misfits, Nashville and American Horror Story

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I’m a big fan of television show soundtracks.

Not scores - I find those fairly boring, personally - but I love a well soundtracked TV show and find that it adds an excellent layer to the narrative. There are many, many TV shows with fantastic soundtracks - here are two that stand out in my TV-watching experience over the last few years. Well, and I may mention a third - although I don’t mind admitting that it is a bit of a sneaky indulgence that probably just deserves its own post.

Misfits

This British show started off with some of the best, most fun episodes I’d seen on TV in a while. The first series was just 6 episodes and that was the worst thing about it - that there just wasn’t enough of it. The show did go on for another few seasons, but let’s never, ever even mention 4 and 5, ‘kay?

So what happens when a group of delinquents in South London who are just starting community service for various crimes are hit by a freak electrical storm and gain strange powers? Do you really think they’ll become superheroes? They’re not ‘good’ people - they’re all here because they’ve done something wrong, so who is to say they’ll then use their powers for good? And, anyway, haven’t we had enough of using your powers for good? And I don’t mean in the super-villain sense, just in the "oh shit, but how can I use what I’ve got to fix my life" sense. You know, ordinary petty criminals with selfish desires - they’re just like you and me, really.

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