TIME Music

Review: 1989 Marks a Paradigm Swift

2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival - Night 1 - Show
Denise Truscello—WireImage/Getty Images

On her new album, Taylor Swift goes full-throttle pop

“Took our broken hearts and put them in a drawer,” Taylor Swift sings on “Welcome to New York,” the opening track on her fifth and sharpest album, 1989. Coming from Swift, a superstar who built a global empire penning hits about matters of the heart, this sounds like a threat–stowing her sorrow away after it brought so much success seems borderline irresponsible.

But Swift has gambled before and won. After writing every song solo on her blockbuster 2010 country-crossover album, Speak Now, she teamed up with a varied roster of top-shelf tunesmiths for 2012’s sprawling, genre-spanning opus, Red. That album went quadruple platinum, earned rapt critical acclaim and four Grammy nods and made her an icon.

On 1989, out Oct. 27, she sounds like one. Leaner and keener than those on Red, her new songs fizz and crackle with electricity and self-aware wit. Driven by synths and drums in lieu of guitars, all trace of country abandoned, 1989 holds together sonically as a tribute to the electro-pop that dominated radio 25 years ago. Swift executive-produced the album alongside Swedish hit machine Max Martin, who lends pop shellack to her nimble lyrics. Winding choruses have been whittled down to their stickiest essence.

Thematically, too, Swift breaks with the past, skirting victimhood and takedowns of maddening exes, critics and romantic competitors. Instead, there’s a newfound levity. Not only is Swift in on the joke; she also relishes it. The bouncy “Blank Space” hyperbolizes her portrayal in the media as an overly attached man-eater who dates for songwriting material: “Got a long list of ex-lovers, they’ll tell you I’m insane/ But I’ve got a blank space,” she coos before, incredibly, a clicking sound like that of a pen, “and I’ll write your name.” The skronky, horn-driven lead single “Shake It Off” communicates a cheerful disinterest in being critiqued, and a panicked, operatic vocal sample of Swift singing the word “Stay!” gives the swerving “All You Had to Do Was Stay” an oddball kick. The angriest song here is “Bad Blood,” a chanting call to arms over a dispute with a frenemy, and even it feels tongue-in-cheek.

Instead of pain, the songs about romance vibrate with fluttering lust or wistful nostalgia. The winking disco anthem “Style” packs a nasty ’70s groove, while strings and a lush refrain lend “Wildest Dreams” a cinematic grandeur: “He’s so tall, and handsome as hell,” she exhales. Surging drums and a jagged bassline, courtesy of fun. rocker Jack Antonoff, mitigate the longing of “I Wish You Would.” Even the atmospheric electro-ballad “This Love” is more hopeful than anguished, enlivened by a catchy chorus and Swift’s breathless delivery.

Though Swift is skilled with melody, her deadliest weapon is a superhuman knack for tight, evocative images–a skill she employs sparingly here. On the tense “Out of the Woods,” she ruefully recounts deciding “to move the furniture so we could dance,” while the feathery “Clean,” a collaboration with English composer Imogen Heap, sees her comparing a relationship to “a wine-stained dress I can’t wear anymore.” But the most potent statements are sonic, like “I Know Places,” a thrillingly paranoid cut with a drum-and-bass-like intensity. It’s the album’s darkest moment, until the chorus fills the song with light.

As long as Swift writes autobiographically, her romantic affairs will be the subject of speculation, but it’s the expertly crafted sound of 1989 that marks her most impressive sleight of hand yet–shifting the focus away from her past and onto her music, which is as smart and confident as it’s ever been. Who are these songs about? When they sound this good, who cares?

TIME movies

See Hobbit Characters Romp in ‘The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made’

How do Hobbit characters get to Middle-earth? They fly Air New Zealand, of course

Air New Zealand would like to welcome you to Middle-earth with what it very justly calls: The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made.

A new flight-safety video from Air New Zealand — the “official airline of Middle-earth,” as the company puts it — heralds the upcoming release of the latest Hobbit movie with an elfin stewardess, an orc in an oxygen masks, and Elijah Wood, Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor as airline passengers.

In the four-minute video, two Hobbit superfans board an Air New Zealand flight and are flabbergasted to find that Wood, a.k.a. Frodo, is seated across the aisle. The surprise continues as an elfin stewardess opens the safety video in Middle-earth — that is, New Zealand.

The clip is a romp through the Tolkien universe: a giant helps Jackson put on his oxygen mask; a wizard astride an eagle explains the crash position; an elf presents a tiny life jacket for children or hobbits. And Wood, safely in the Shire, concludes the clip with warm wishes: “May your path always be guided by the light of the stars and may the future bestow upon you all the happiness and adventure our Middle Earth has to offer.”

The video is a follow-up the airline’s 2012 Middle Earth-themed video, An Unexpected Briefing. That golden-hued clip, in which the plane is full of well-armed but chummy Tolkien characters, has almost 12 million views on YouTube.

The third and last film in the Hobbit trilogy, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, opens in December.

Read next: Get Ready for Halloween With IKEA’s Spot-On Parody of The Shining

TIME movies

Marvel Releases Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer Early After Leak

"Dammit, Hydra"

Update: Wednesday, 9:30 p.m. ET

Marvel Entertainment released its new Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer almost a week ahead of schedule Wednesday, hours after a bootleg version leaked onto the Internet, sending social media aflutter.

Marvel played it cool the whole time, at first tweeting with mock ire at the leaked trailer:

The trailer was originally scheduled for release during Agents of Shield next Tuesday, the Verge reports. But with the secret already out, Marvel decided to just give folks what they wanted.

The official film will hit theaters in May 2015.

[The Verge]

TIME celebrities

Beyoncé and Jay Z Renew Vows Amid Divorce Rumors

Beyonce and Jay-Z perform during the "On The Run Tour: Beyonce And Jay-Z" at the Stade de France on Sept. 12, 2014 in Paris.
Beyonce and Jay-Z perform during the "On The Run Tour: Beyonce And Jay-Z" at the Stade de France on Sept. 12, 2014 in Paris. Myrna Suarez—Getty Images

Rejoice, Beyhive!

Superstar couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z have renewed their vows, despite rumors that the two were on the road to Splitsville.

During the Carters’ summer-long “On The Run” tour, the Beyhive was on edge, People reports. Worries about an imminent divorce gained momentum following the infamous elevator incident earlier this year, in which Beyoncé’s sister Solange appeared to attack Jay-Z in TMZ-leaked security footage.

Yet now the two seem happy in the wake of the tour, gallivanting throughout Europe with baby Blue Ivy in tow. The entertainers and proud parents may also be looking to make a home across the pond—they’ve reportedly been house hunting in Paris.

[People]

TIME movies

Watch the Trailer for The Gambler with Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg plays a gambler in major trouble in the remake of the 1974 film

Mark Wahlberg has played a porn star, a fisherman and a Boston cop. With The Gambler, he adds gambling addict to the list. Directed by Rupert Wyatt, best known for 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Gambler offers a modern remake of the 1974 film of the same name, which starred James Caan. The original script was based on the experiences of screenwriter James Toback, and though the remake includes a new script by William Monahan, the narrative appears mostly unchanged. Wahlberg plays Jim Bennett, an English professor whose addiction has him pinned beneath the weight of his massive debt.

The expletive-laden Red Band trailer includes Jessica Lange as Bennett’s mother, Brie Larson as his girlfriend, and John Goodman as a loan shark. Martin Scorsese was originally attached to the project, with rumors of muse Leonardo DiCaprio starring, but Wyatt and Wahlberg picked it up when Scorsese left the project in 2012.

Though Wahlberg dropped 60 pounds for the role, he insists that his biggest challenge was playing a convincing professor, as the actor dropped out of high school and only recently completed his diploma online. “Being believable as a teacher was one of my greatest challenges and most rewarding,” he told USA Today. Of the role he played 40 years ago, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination, Caan said, “It’s not easy to make people care about a guy who steals from his mother to pay gambling debts.” Sounds like a welcome challenge for Wahlberg, and big shoes to fill at that. We’ll see whether Wahlberg manages to breathe new life into the character when the movie hits theaters on Dec. 19.

TIME celebrities

Sofia Vergara on Taking Risks as an Actor: “It’s Not Like We’re Doing Brain Surgery”

Sofia Vergara
Follow The Script Campaign/AbbVie

...And other advice from the Modern Family star

Most know Sofia Vergara for her role as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on the long-running hit ABC comedy Modern Family. But many don’t know that Vergara, the highest-paid actress on TV, is also a survivor of thyroid cancer. Diagnosed at 28, Vergara had her thyroid removed, developed hypothyroidism and has been on medication ever since. Vergara is now a spokesperson for the Follow the Script campaign, which aims to raise awareness about hypothyroidism.

TIME sat down with Vergara to talk about surviving cancer, that controversial Emmys skit and how actresses can lean in.

TIME: You were criticized this year for your Emmys skit in which you were placed on a pedestal. Were you surprised by that?

Sofia Vergara: Yes, I was. Obviously it was a joke. It was something that was staged. It wasn’t like I was tricked into it. So we were laughing about how some people have to bully others for no reason.

I’ve read that the character of Gloria is based on you. How similar are you two?

I play her the way I see my mother and my aunt behave as Latin women. And now the writers know more about the Latin culture than when I started doing the show, and they know me better, too. So at this point, I pretty much follow the script.

But before you would improvise more?

Well, not improvise. I would talk to them and tell them, “We wouldn’t do this.” One time we were at a party with Colombians, and the Colombians were dressed like Mexicans. So I went to the writers and was like, “Colombians don’t dress like that.” Little things like that, but now they’re really good about it.

Latina women are underrepresented in Hollywood. Do you feel like it’s gotten better since you started your career?

Yes. There’s more scripts now. But it takes time. I cannot blame the writers because when you’re a writer, you write about what you know. So you cannot tell an American writer to just write about some other culture and think it will be as natural as writing about an American person.

Do you hope to see more Latin writers working for TV shows?

I think that would be ideal, because there are plenty of Latin actors out there. We just need a little bit more material.

So what do you look for in a movie or show?

I started acting so late in my life, I’m still just trying figure out what I do right. I realized when I started doing auditions that I was good for comedy. Growing up I always tried to make my friends laugh, but I didn’t know I was going to be able to make a living out of it. But then I got really good feedback when I was doing comedy, so that’s what I do.

Gloria is very protective of Manny, her son. Do you have a similar relationship with your son?

Yes, of course. I’m a Latin mother, so it’s like we never let go of our kids. My son is almost done with college now, and I’m already like, “So you’re coming back home, right?”

Obviously one of the hardest parts of getting diagnosed with thyroid cancer and then hypothyroidism is talking to your family about it. How did you discuss it with your son?

It was scary, because I was only 28 years old. When they tell you you have cancer, you don’t know that much about it and think you’re going to die immediately. That’s why it’s important to educate yourself. When I told him, I tried to not panic him, because it’s your kid and you don’t want him to have a horrible time dealing with it. I tried to make it as light as I could.

What have you had to change about your lifestyle since you had your thyroid removed?

I take a hormone pill every day. The only way to know exactly what amount of hormone I have to take is by doing a blood test, so I’m very religious about that.

You are the most well-paid actress on TV. Do you have any tips for young women or actresses about negotiating for what they want?

You really don’t have anything to lose if you are in the entertainment business, because it’s not like we’re doing brain surgery where you can actually kill someone. The worst thing that will happen is nobody goes to your movie. So I try to take risks and have fun with it.

 

TIME movies

Here’s the Trailer for That Drumline Sequel You’ve Been Waiting For Since 2002

And yes, Nick Cannon is in it

Twelve long years later, they’re making a sequel to Drumline, and it’s called —what else? — Drumline: A New Beat. After two teasers, we finally have an official full-length trailer.

In the sequel, a Brooklyn girl named Danielle disobeys her parents in order to attend Atlanta A&T and pursue her dream of becoming the first female section leader of the once-great drumline. There will be romance. There will be rivalries. There will be Nick Cannon returning in some sort of mentor capacity. (Sadly, Zoe Saldana was presumably too busy to do the same.)

 

 

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