TIME Opinion

Taylor Swift Proves She’s the Musical Equivalent to a Pumpkin Spice Latte

"Shake It Off" is basic. And that's okay.

It didn’t seem possible, but Taylor Swift is getting even more Vanilla Coke. Last night, T-Swift disavowed her country roots and announced she was putting out an all-pop album, beginning with the single “Shake It Off.”

In some ways, “Shake It Off” is classic Taylor. Her whole persona is that of an awkward high school nerd (“she’s cheer captain and I’m on the bleachers“) who happened to make it big by crying on her guitar. Never mind that she’s beautiful and one of six women in the entire world that can pull off red lipstick.

Every girl can relate to Taylor: she falls in love—hard; she gets her heart broken; she has a sleepover with her girlfriends and regains confidence; she becomes strong and independent; she falls in love again. Rinse and repeat. In short, “We’re happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time.

“Shake It Off” was pulled out of the empowerment part of that cycle: this time the tune shakes off all the haters’ insults. But the song also attempts to make her even more mainstream. She’s not even a little bit country: she’s the dictionary definition of pop star. What can we expect from a new T-Swift album? Think the sonic version of drinking a pumpkin spice latte in Uggs while watching Sex and the City.

We saw this coming two years ago with “22.” In fact, loving Taylor Swift and the song “22” is a large portion of BuzzFeed’s “How Basic Are You?” quiz, as is Diet Coke—for which Swift is the spokesperson! (For the uninitiated, someone who is basic is cliché, conformist and predictable without any sense of irony. Here’s a great explainer.) But Red tenuously held on to some folksy roots. That and her adorable awkwardness kept her from being Katy Perry.

Now Swift is pulling an anti-Miley Cyrus. Sure, they are both re-appropriating twerking in a way that some of their critics have said is racist. But Cyrus shakes her (less than curvy) booty to try to be rebellious. In “Shake It Off” Swift looks like she contemplates doing the same for a second and then laughs. That’s not her. She’s never going to sing about doing Molly or straddle anything naked. And she’s not going to differentiate herself with country music either. Instead she’s naming her album 1989, in honor of the year she was born because nostalgia is pretty basic too.

She called the album a “rebirth” in the livestream announcing its release date (October 27, in case you were wondering), but the only thing new about it so far is that this single sounds like it could have just as easily come from Ariana Grande or any other Nickelodeon star. During the Q&A portion of the livestream Swift said, “All of what I decide to do on albums is based on what I think you will like.” And since her fans are tweens, they like basic things.

It’s not particularly interesting. But it’s catchy. And, oh, will it sell.

There’s a reason Ariana Grande is topping the charts right now. Sure, being unique can be profitable: Miley Cyrus totally changes her image and has a hit with Bangerz; Beyoncé drops a surprise album and breaks the Internet. But it’s also a risk: the common reaction to Lorde’s refreshing candidness has been “she’ll grow out of it”; and even though Kanye West’s Yeezus, an album that dared fans to like something strange and completely different from his earlier work, was critically acclaimed, it didn’t sell all that well (by Kanye standards).

Pumpkin Spice Lattes, on the other hand, will always sell. And that’s okay because pumpkin flavored things are delicious, and I’ve already listened to “Shake It Off” a dozen times.

 

TIME Music

Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’ and 7 Other Songs About Haters

Plenty more of today's pop stars have a thing or two to say about their haters

“The haters gonna hate, hate, hate. / Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake / Shake it off,” Taylor Swift croons in her new single, “Shake It Off.” Swift dismisses her haters by embracing everything that makes her unlikeable: her awkward dance moves, her squeaky clean persona and her angst-y lyrics about her breakups.

T-Swift joins a long line of artists to directly address their critics in songs. Here are 7 other songs about brushing off the haters.

“In Da Club” — 50 Cent

“And if they hate then let them hate and watch the money pile up”

“Bring Me Down” — Kanye West

“There’d always be somebody that shoot down any dream. / There’ll always be haters, that’s the way it is. / Hater n****s marry hater b*****s and have hater kids. / But they’re gonna have to take my life ‘fore they take my drive / ’cause when I was barely living, that’s what kept me alive”

“We Can’t Stop” — Miley Cyrus

“Remember only God can judge ya / Forget the haters ’cause somebody loves ya”

“Flawless” — Beyoncé

“My Daddy taught me how to love my haters”

“Dirt Off You Shoulder” — Jay Z

“All the rappers be hating, off the track that I’m making. / But all the hustlers they love it just to see one of us make it”

“Piece of Me” — Britney Spears

“I’m Miss bad media karma. / Another day another drama. / Guess I can’t see the harm / In working and being a mama. / And with a kid on my arm. / I’m still an exceptional earner. / And you want a piece of me”

“Haterz Everywhere” — B.o.B.

“Haterz everywhere we go”

 

TIME movies

John Slattery and T.I. Join Ant-Man

John Slattery and T.I.
John Slattery, left, and T.I. Getty Images (2)

The Paul Rudd flick makes some interesting casting additions

Marvel’s upcoming Ant-Man, starring Paul Rudd, has gathered together a motley crew for its cast. Mad Men’s John Slattery, Archer’s Judy Greer, Boardwalk Empire’s Bobby Cannavale and rapper T.I. have all joined the project, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In the movie, which began production this week in San Francisco, Dr. Pym, played by Michael Douglass mentor’s Rudd’s Ant-Man. The hero will shrink his size while increasing his strength to battle bad guy Yellowjacket, played by Corey Stoll (House of Cards). Evangeline Lily will play Pym’s daughter.

The concept may sound absurd, but Marvel Studios has proved it can pull off superhero comedies, with this summer’s highly successful Guardians of the Galaxy. It looks like the studio is aiming for more serendipity with Ant-Man. Rudd (Knocked Up, Role Models) is known for his comic timing, and Marvel selected comedy veteran Peyton Reed (Bring It On, Yes Man) to replace original director Edgar Wright on the project.

The film is set to release on July 17, 2015, the same summer as The Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1), Captain America 3 (May 6) and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (July 28).

TIME animals

A Family in Alabama Just Caught an Alligator That Is Over 1,000 Pounds

Alabama Alligator
A monster alligator weighing 1011.5 pounds measuring 15-feet long is pictured in Thomaston, Ala. Sharon Steinmann—AP

That's a big gator

A family killed a 1,011.5-pound alligator in Alabama over the weekend—the biggest captured in the state’s history. At 15-feet-long, the gator broke the scale the first time biologists tried to weigh it at Roland Cooper State Park near Camden, Alabama.

The alligator caught by the Stokes and Jenkins families in Alabama may be the largest ever killed by humans. The Safari Club International says a 14-foot, 8-inch, 880-pound gator killed in Texas in 2007 currently holds the world record, but it is unclear what criteria they used to make that declaration, according to AL.com.

[AL.com]

TIME Television

Fox Kills Tina Fey’s New Pilot

2014 NBC Upfront Presentation
Actress/writer Tina Fay attends the 2014 NBC Upfront Presentation at The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on May 12, 2014 in New York City. Slaven Vlasic—Getty Images

Because the world is a cruel and unfair place

Tina Fey’s latest pilot is officially no more. Fox will not move forward with Cabot College, a comedy about an all-female school that begins accepting male students, according to Vulture.

Fey—of SNL, Mean Girls and 30 Rock fame—was set to produce the show with 30 Rock showrunner Robert Carlock. The cast included comedians Margaret Cho and Asif Ali, and the script was penned by Matt Hubbard—another 30 Rock alum.

But do not despair, 30 Rock fans. Fey and Carlock have a mid-season order from NBC for a show called The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, starring The Office‘s Ellie Kemper.

[Vulture]

TIME Iceland

Threat Level of Iceland Volcano Raised

Lava Lady Captures Spectacular Eyjafjallajokull Eruption
Eyjafjallajokull erupts, producing a cloud of vapor on May 10, 2010 in Iceland. Barcroft Media/Getty Images

Iceland raises Bardarbunga volcano threat level alert to orange

Correction appended, Aug. 19

In 2010, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland erupted, costing airlines billions of dollars in canceled flights. Now, another volcano in the country may be ready to do the same.

The Bardarbunga volcano’s eruption threat level was raised to orange Monday, the second-highest level. When the Eyjafjallajokull erupted four years ago, the ash cloud that resulted disrupted European airspace for six days, canceling 100,000 flights, affecting 10 million travelers and costing the airlines almost $2 billion, according to Bloomberg News. Though ash may not necessarily cloud the sky, its chemicals can damage aircraft engines.

The threat level went up after an earthquake hit the area where the volcano is located on Monday, the strongest the Bardarbunga region has experienced since 1996. Another eruption would likely lead to either flooding or an emission of gas, the Icelandic Met Office said in a statement.

“Presently there are no signs of eruption, but it cannot be excluded that the current activity will result in an explosive subglacial eruption, leading to an outburst flood and ash emission,” the Met Office said.

Correction: The original version of this story misidentified the Bardarbunga volcano.

TIME apps

Tom Hanks’ Typewriter App Is No. 1 in the App Store

Apps are like a box of chocolates—people are gobbling them up

Tom Hanks can add “created most popular iPad app” to his long list of accomplishments. The Oscar-winning actor’s Hanx Writer app, which gives the illusion of typing on a manual typewriter, sat at number one on iTunes’ app store for the iPad as of Monday evening.

Hanx Writer, which was launched on Aug. 14, mimics the look and feel of old typewriters on a touchscreen, complete with the ding noise at the end of a line. Unlike real typewriters, however, this version has a handy delete key. The app is free, though users can purchase different colors, texts and styles.

On the app’s welcome screen, Hanks explains how he became a collector of typewriters: “I write without caring about typeovers, XXXX’d out words, goofy syntax, & bad spelling because the feel & sound of a typewriter is satisfying in ways that couldn’t be matched — Until now!” Hanks has written in the New York Times before about his nostalgia for the writing device. He even professed his love of typewriters on Twitter:

See TIME’s review of Hanx Writer here.

TIME College football

Oklahoma University Suspends Running Back Over Misdemeanor Charge

Oklahoma Mixon Football
Oklahoma freshman running back Joe Mixon leaves Cleveland County Courthouse in Norman, Okla., after being arraigned on misdemeanor assault charges Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. Jay Chilton—AP

Freshman Joe Mixon allegedly punched a woman in the face

The Oklahoma University football program has suspended running back Joe Mixon for the entire season after he pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge, the team announced on Twitter Monday. “He will be excluded from all team activities, including being removed from the team roster,” the statement read.

The freshman was charged on Friday with misdemeanor assault for allegedly punching a woman in the face. Mixon, a top recruit, could receive up to a year in prison if convicted.

A fellow Oklahoma student, 20-year-old Amelia Rae, told police that Mixon knocked her unconscious and broke four bones in her face, according to the incident report. Mixon’s lawyer maintains he was protecting himself from “a very intoxicated and troubled young woman,” according to ESPN.

The school said that under appropriate conditions, Mixon will be able to continue as a student, and could still be eligible for financial aid.

TIME Books

The Real-Life Alex From Orange Is the New Black Is Writing a Memoir

Laura Prepon orange is the new black season 3
Jill Greenberg—Netflix

Piper Kerman's former lover will share stories from her life in drug-trafficking and her time in prison

Fans of the Netflix show Orange Is the New Black can read Piper Kerman’s best-selling memoir of the same name to find out the real-life story of Kerman’s time in prison. And soon, they’ll be able to hear the same story from another perspective—that of Cleary Wolters, Piper’s lover, who inspired the character of Alex Vause on the show.

The real-life inspiration for Vause, played by Laura Prepon on the comedy drama, has signed a deal with HarperCollins’ HarperOne to publish Out of Orange in May of 2015. Wolters, who went to jail for participating in a drug trafficking and money laundering scheme, will address her complex relationship with Kerman, her crimes leading up to her imprisonment and her experience inside prison in the book.

“Alex [the character] and Piper have inspired me to tell my whole story — an unbelievable saga that takes place all over the world: Africa, Europe, Asia, and the U.S. both in prison and out,” Wolters said in a statement. “I think people may be surprised at what happened to me after I turned myself in — and where my life is now.”

TIME beauty

Why Taylor Swift Looks So Perfect Post-Workout

Celebrity Sightings In New York City - July 22, 2014
Singer Taylor Swift is seen outside her "GYM"on July 22, 2014 in New York City. Raymond Hall—GC Images

Seth Meyers: "I picture you in the locker room taking up a lot of space."

Last night, T-Swift tried to explain to Seth Meyers how she looks so darn good after she exercises.

The Late Night host presented the pop star with several paparazzi pictures of her exiting her gym (like the one on the right) in which Swift’s hair looks perfectly coiffed, her clothes immaculately pressed, her iconic red lipstick on her lips.

“I picture you in the locker room taking up a lot of space,” Meyers joked.

“I like to bring a change of clothes,” Swift said defensively. “I bring a hairbrush with me.”

Swift is clearly doing a bit more than running a brush through her hair. Having a body guard to help carry your things probably helps: most people are still a little flushed after leaving the gym, juggling purse, gym bag and water bottle. But even compared to other celebrities post-workout, she looks curiously flawless. Who can wear such high heels after a run? T-Swift can, that’s who.

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