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Ever since I came to Vietnam to teach, there was one thing that piqued my interest which was to understand why Korean pop music was so popular in this country. Despite having already been introduced to the South Korean musical giants such as BTS and Blackpink, they still felt incredibly disposable after a few listens. However, there was one solo artist that grabbed my attention among the others. That artist goes by the name of Taeyeon.
Laurie Anderson’s Big Science is an album that is obsessed with time. Its progression, its regression and its stalling. It fixates on the mundanity of modern life, suffusing it with a sense of dread about what is to come and a sense of anguish that we haven’t traversed too far from our origins. It’s an album that exists in the past, present and future and doesn’t enjoy being in any of those three places at once. Anderson’s simple exclamation of “this is the time, and this is the record of the time” becomes less prosaic and more ‘mosaic’ in its multiple layers. This is the record of the time, it’s the record of all times, but that doesn’t mean it enjoys being there.
Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story’ is the best teenage romance song ever written. Nothing will ever capture the grand delusions of young love better than giving the most famous romantic tragedy of all time a happy ending; a love so real it can resurrect Romeo and Juliet. The effect is only heightened by how earnestly 18-year-old Swift seems to believe it. ‘Love Story’ sweeps you up in its whirlwind momentum and soaring choruses, and it’s all built on an impossible fantasy.
Paul McCartney’s solo career is an unwieldy beast. Spanning half a century, the quality of the ex-Beatle’s music varies wildly across and within albums (or even within individual songs). No albums exemplify Paul’s work outside of the Beatles better than McCartney and McCartney II. Both released at the beginning of a decade and at the end of his time in a chart-conquering band, Paul’s first two solo efforts are bizarre little artefacts that seem to deliberately ignore the fact that he was once in the biggest group in the world. Rough, experimental and a tad unfinished, they’re certainly no Abbey Road, but they are fascinating insights into the artistic process of one of the greatest living songwriters. In hindsight, they’ve also proven surprisingly influential in the world of lo-fi music. I was naturally excited and intrigued then, when Paul announced his return to the series with McCartney III, a new album “Made in Rockdown”, as he has playfully dubbed his COVID-19 isolation.
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