It’s not the same because it’s better: Taylor Swift, “Love Story” (Taylor’s Version) - The re-records are coming, THE RE-RECORDS ARE COMING! Taylor Swift has given fans the gift of a re-recorded version of her song “Love Story” from what will be a full re-recorded version of her album Fearless and frankly, I cannot think of a better thing to give myself this Valentine’s Day than dancing around my apartment to this one song on an endless loop as my dog cowers in fear from my singing. As far as the actual song itself goes, anyone who says it sounds the same as the original did not do the important research of playing both songs simultaneously, then playing them separately, and then playing them a few more times while matching pitch with Taylor to track any changes in vocal progression. I have done this hard and thankless work and found that the 2021 version of the song utilizes Swift’s newfound ability to pull up her singing voice from the lower part of her throat, which creates a better sound, as opposed to her original method of singing, which sat higher in her throat and went into her nose when she pushed too hard for a trill on a note. The 2021 version is also just a hair slowed down, probably to accommodate Swift’s love for dragging out notes unnecessarily for dramatic effect. These subtle changes are incredibly pleasant and take an old song that was good and elevate it to a refreshed song that is slightly better. —Shannon Melero
Ya: Brandi Carlile, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” (John Denver cover) - John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is one of the greatest songs in American music history—not just country—and that is a hill I am willing to die on. It is so expertly composed, almost every cover strikes with the severity of the original. (Listen to Yōko Honna’s Japanese-language version of the song, recorded for the 1995 anime film Whisper of the Heart, right now if you haven’t already.) Brandi Carlile’s take on the classic, covered for the forthcoming The Silence Of The Lambs sequel Clarice, gives the song a new, somber arrangement. West Virginia has never sounded so ghastly. It’s great.—Maria Sherman
I love this damn band so much!: Remember Sports, “Pinky Ring” - Whoa, baby! The weather’s bad but it’s warm inside this song—the plucky indiepop-punk of one of Philly’s phinest, Remember Sports (previously, Sports), only gets better with time. If “Pinky Ring,” is any indication of their forthcoming third LP, Like A Stone, out in April, the band has got something to work through—and they’re doing it loudly, with gaudy jewelry in tow. Singer Carmen Perry has never devastated a hook I didn’t immediately want to crawl inside of... Or dance around. Whatever. I love it. —MS
Apple MacBook Air Laptop
The M1 chip delivers 3.5x faster performance than the previous generation all while using way less power. Get up to 18 hours of battery life.
!!!!!!!!!!: AZIYA, “Babooshka” (Kate Bush cover) - I found AZIYA’s insanely good 30-second cover of Kate Bush’s “Babooshka” in perhaps the most 2021 way—a dear friend included it in her life-affirming newsletter (I promise that is not an oxymoron, check it out)—and was immediately mindblown. My kingdom for a full-length version. Who is she? I need more. —MS
Fun!: Hannah Jadagu, “Think Too Much” - I welcome a trend of a little more conversational, a little less confessional cheery pop! Hannah Jadagu, Sub Pop Records’ 18-year-old signee (Yes! So cool! Also, I’m the crypt keeper!), has a debut track, “Think Too Much,” that’s an immediate charmer—dreamy melodies emboldened by a neurotic interiority—and maybe the greatest song about fearing turning 23 since Blink-182's “What’s My Age Again?”
As for the video: if you were once cute and carefree and moved from your conservative state to attend NYU, this video might will you a saccharine sickness. At least everyone is still hitting up the same thrift stores we did, you know? —MS
Yep!: Syd, “Missing Out” - Syd was missed. The Odd Future affiliate’s first new song in forever is a lovely ambient R&B ballad, buoyed by Syd’s self-composed delivery that rendered poignant by its sheer matter-of-factness. She’s a master at this kind of mood. —Rich Juzwiak
No, but good for her: Rebecca Black, “Friday (Remix)” featuring Dorian Electra, Big Freedia, and 3Oh!3 - Ten years after the 2011 viral hit “Friday” made Rebecca Black a household name, she’s returned for a remix, and the result is... well, not for everyone, and definitely not for me. If your first thought is “this sounds like a fucking 100 Gecs” song, that’s because it was produced by 100 Gecs’ Dylan Brady, which means that Black’s voice was autotuned to nightcore hell and back (or heaven, depending on your taste). That’s fine, but I guess I kind of wanted to hear Black’s actual voice now that she’s 23 and hot.
Dorian Electra was fine and Big Freedia’s bit was fun, but it wasn’t enough to redeem the track or the oddly jammed in 3Oh!3 cameo. I get that the video gave homage to the memes and cultural phenomenons that reigned when “Friday” first came out, but... I don’t know. My conclusion is that if you like 100 Gecs, you’ll probably like this remix. If you don’t, then you can just do what I did which is admire Rebecca Black’s killer hair and incredible outfit and see whether her other new music is any better. (I just checked, and it is). —Ashley Reese
Eh: Ariana Grande, “34+35 Remix” featuring Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion - I hate to say it, because I love all three of these women, but... this music video managed to be incredibly pretty and incredibly boring at the same time. Like, the lingerie is beautiful, the makeup is on point, and there are some great interior shots. But otherwise, it was a little low-energy aside from Megan’s twerking (which, as always, is a sight to behold). The whole time I was watching, I wondered, are they just phoning it in and vibing? If that’s the intent of the director, then they certainly succeeded. Otherwise, along with the fact that this track is cute but nothing to really call home about? Again, eh. —AR
Yessir: Dry Cleaning, “Strong Feelings” - I’ve only recently found out about Dry Cleaning, a fantastic South London post-punk band that utilizes spoken word without sounding corny. While their new track “Strong Feelings” didn’t immediately hit me as strongly (sorry) as their last single “Scratchcard Landyard”—or “Viking Hair” or “Magic of Meghan,” two songs that converted me to this band in the first place—it’s still worth a listen. The lyrics largely come across as nonsense stream of consciousness, but something about hearing vocalist Florence Shaw say, “My only ambition in life is to grip the roots of your hair/You just want to be liked” hit. I don’t know, can’t explain it, but I like it. —AR