Guilty Pleasures, or, Why I Think Taylor Swift May Be A Genius

J-Swift writing another Birthday Poem to Stella.
J-Swift writing another Birthday Poem to Stella.

I’m in several minds about my music taste. I don’t know whether to call mine pretentious, ridiculous, or just really bad. Since I was about seventeen and became incredibly discerning about what I would listen to, I had considered myself a ‘music snob’ — of course, you’d run into people with the same taste in university, but I was the girl whose friends would scroll through my iTunes, not really knowing who ANY of the bands or artists were, and I could never tell whether it was to my or their shame (most likely the former). In general, most of the time my music taste was considered ‘weird’.

It’s got progressively weirder as time goes by. I still have an interest in the stuff I’ve listened to in the past few years (whilst discovering a few more along the way), but I started listening to musical soundtracks and also realised that the likes of Beyoncé Knowles, Lady Gaga, Shakira, and Justin Timberlake were bloody geniuses. Sceptical? Have you EVER listened to ‘What Goes Around… Comes Around’?

But none of this, NONE, can possibly excuse the weird/potentially embarrassing/just plain bad music that I admit that I… enjoy, or listen to more than once. Maybe it’s because I’ve realised that they’re potentially genius. Or maybe I’ve possibly lost it.

So, inspired by the lovely lady over at The Ridiculous Miss Mickum (a blog I thoroughly recommend), I’ve put together a list of guilty pleasures. Please, refrain from throwing the rotten bananas.

1. Katy Perry, ‘Wide Awake’: OK, for years I tried to avoid Ms. Perry. I admired (and still do) her dress sense, that would suffice, but I still begrudged her for ‘I Kissed A Girl’ becoming part of the Corrib Village playlist in first year, along with Kings of Leon’s ‘Sex On Fire’ and Rihanna’s ‘Disturbia’. But Christ, ‘Wide Awake’ is a tune and a half. So is ‘Firework’, despite such choice lyrics as: ‘Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?’

Actually, I’m going to listen to ‘Firework’ now. I still think ‘Sex On Fire’ is a terrible song though.

2. Taylor Swift, ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’: I’ve only come around to T-Swift recently, mainly because I had long thought, well, songs as ‘Love Story’ and ‘Teardrops on my Guitar’ were bloody awful. But thanks to Mickum’s endless playing of ‘Stay Stay Stay’ in my presence (‘I’d like to hang out with you for my whole lii–ii–ife’), my defences gradually wore down. She just works into your brain SOMEHOW. And this song especially, as I’ve been playing it repeatedly over the past 48 hours while I’m editing my essays.

I’ll be dedicating my PhD to Taylor at this rate.

3. Avril Lavigne, ‘I’m With You’: Those of you of a certain age, do you remember when Avril Lavigne used to be cool? Before the abominations that were ‘Girlfriend’ and ‘When You’re Gone’, before Chad Kroeger? (Before anyone asks, I didn’t really touch base with the second album.) Let us reminisce to a time when it was supposedly cool to wear a tie with your civvies…

4. Busted, ‘Year 3000’: I’m pretty sure I woke up one morning to find my father watching this on TV and singing along.

5. Beyoncé, ‘Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)’: It seems that a lot of people I know seem to genuinely hate Beyoncé, hence why she’s here. But I adore ‘Single Ladies’. That synth line! (For more goodness, see: ‘Halo’, ‘Crazy In Love’, ‘Deja Vu’, ‘Green Light’.)

Also, it’s impossible to hate the former frontwoman of Destiny’s frickin’ Child, right?

6. Rihanna, ‘Only Girl In The World’: The world and his mother has something to say about Rihanna. Mine are: a) I like this song, and b) ‘We found Dove in a soapless place’. There.

7. Oasis, ‘Live Forever’: ‘Maaaaaaybe I don’t really wanna knoooooooooow / How your garden grooooooooows / I just wanna flyyyyyyyyyyy’

I’m convinced that admitting that you like an Oasis song produces more ire than admitting that you like a Beyoncé song. True or false? You and I are gonna live forevaaaaaaaaa, anyway.

8. Abba, ‘Super Trouper’: Abba are supreme. Disagree with me at your peril. I’m genuinely serious. I have every single album they have ever produced in my iTunes, thanks to a good friend of mine, so that particular urge to listen to ‘Money Money Money’ or ‘The Winner Takes It All’ (possibly my favourite) is always addressed at quick speed.

It’s a shame Mamma Mia isn’t that great on a second viewing.

9. Paramore, ‘The Only Exception’: I too tried avoiding that little ginger and the other nondescript blokes in her band. It was futile in the end. And I do admit, this song is awfully cute.

10. Coldplay, ‘Viva La Vida’: Coldplay divides opinion like no other. They’re probably been called a watered down Radiohead god knows how many times (I’ve certainly lost count), but to hell with it, I like them anyway.

Honourable mentions: Lady Gaga and Shakira would be here, on a normal day. But let’s face it, I think we all know that the likes of ‘She Wolf’ and ‘Telephone’ are very much non-pareil in their sheer genius. RIGHT?

Thoughts? Rants? Deep dark confessions? I’m all ears. I won’t judge…


This Is Not Leaving Cert Weather.

Greetings from the bowels of early June. It is the third day of the Junior and Leaving Cert examinations (for those not from Ireland, the Junior Cert are the exams you take in the middle of your illustrious secondary school career, and the Leaving Cert exams are taken before you enter college, or uni as I will have to start calling it soon enough) and I am lamenting the dearth of exam weather. WHAT GIVES.

My sister is currently sitting her LC, and yesterday heralded the onslaught of English Paper Two. Now, I take an interest in what comes up on that exam every year, mainly because it’s my favourite out of the two. Those of a writerly bent (Méabh, for one) always went for Paper One, as it allowed you to write diary entries and write short stories. My imagination sadly does not work that fast (I always went for the newspaper articles and letters to magazines), so I always relished Paper Two, i.e. getting to write about Shakespeare and Brian Friel and Jennifer Johnston and Eavan Boland and Derek Mahon and Sylvia Plath. Incidentally, over the years, Paper Two is the most contentious paper in the Leaving Cert cycle, mainly because of its Prescribed Poetry section. Eight poets are on the course, only four show up on the day. You could work around this due to the fact that there is always An Irish Poet and A Female Poet on the paper, but people still get caught. Yesterday saw a repeat of the 2010 Boland Controversy in the news that Sylvia Plath, widely tipped to appear this year, er, didn’t.

Plath: a shit-eating grin if ever I knew one

Mind you, the folk in my old secondary school were pinning their hopes upon Ireland’s Greatest Living Poet (for winning the Nobel Prize, for writing ‘Mid-Term Break’ and ‘Digging’, for giving a poetry reading for charity at NUIG which was notable for the fact that I played with a massive fluffy white cat afterwards), Seamus Heaney. He didn’t show either. The bastard.

Heaney: he’s got a meme now, you know

I guess we all should have seen it coming. Considering the fact that Adrienne Rich shuffled off this mortal coil earlier this year — and guess who was this year’s Token Female Poet? However, I never tire of this annual guessing game. Thousands of people, including yours truly, glue themselves to and twitter just to find out which poets make it onto the paper, or whether people’s predictions come true (and judging by Eavan Boland’s continual absence, they tend not to sometimes). It just brings me back to 2008, and my own sitting of Paper Two. At first glance I was horrified by the Othello question, was stumped by the Comparative Study, and skipped Unseen Poetry (because hey, you’re supposed to do that LAST), but when I saw the most glorious question on Derek Mahon, almost plagiarised from the Mocks, I got an answer written in forty minutes. And besides, I got an A2 in the end. Happy endings do occur.

As of next week, I’m going to be in Stratford-upon-Avon for the annual Britgrad conference. I’m very excited to be going over there for the first time, as well as checking out the Shakespeare Institute too. But I’m sad that I won’t be there when my sister completes her final LC exam. She’s worked incredibly hard all year, and I’m proud of her.

On a final note, I leave you with this. It is ‘proper good’, as they say:

Is this a non-Cymbeline or Shakespeare related post?

(Most of my last posts have been related to it, or Shakespeare. I am quite predictable.)

In the last few days I’ve finally gotten my hands on the latest Mark Lanegan album, since it was released in February. This is actually a Big Deal, seeing as a) he’s prolific as hell but NOT when it comes to solo albums, so this is a first and b) the part of me who’s still a first year and who was completely obsessed with him (he came to Galway during the first two years of my degree, cue fangirl excitement) is very very happy.

At first listen, it’s a very good album. This week I’ve been incapable of moving past the ‘wtf?’ brilliance of ‘Ode to Sad Disco’, which combines two disparate loves of mine (Lanegan, obviously, and synth-pop). This really Shouldn’t Work On Principle, but it does.

And this is coming from the second last week, EVER, of undergraduate classes and lectures. I had my final English seminar class last week, and I’ll be completely finished with History come next Tuesday evening. This is insane.

But my first visit to Cute Overload in quite some time allowed me to come across this. He’s so TEENY!

Saturday playlist, 30/04/2011

Some few favourites from the past while. And no, it is not my fault The National have a new single out.

And Now For Something Completely Unrelated!

  • I finally got around to reading Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas this week. It is genuinely a treat to read aloud – there’s no other way to enjoy it more. The language is just sumptuous. I’m curious as to how it can be staged instead of performed on radio as Thomas originally intended it, but I suppose Google can provide some answers to that question later. Now, I have to finish reading The Good Soldier. And properly start Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. And Look Back In Anger AND We Need To Talk About Kevin. I’ll start them at some point, lads. Promise.
  • I’m going to buck trend and NOT talk about the Royal Wedding. Hah! It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just I’ve exhausted anything witty or relevant that I have to say about it…
  • Believe it or not, this is actually true. 
  • Oh yes. Glorious weather. It’s 99 season, yes?
  • I saw Moment by Deirdre Kinahan at the Town Hall Theatre last Thursday. What at first seemed to me a bog-standard kitchen sink / prodigal son story proved to be so much more – over the space of two hours this son’s arrival home and his younger sister’s reaction to it provides the ingredients for a night in which family secrets best left buried are exhumed and re-exhibited. At times witty, at times excruciating,  and Christ almighty tense as hell, I found myself fully invested.
  • And now – LOOK AT THE FEET!

    Seriously. LOOK at them.

The Friday playlist – 15/04/2011

A basic rundown of what’s been on the iPod this week. Some of them are slightly bizarre, I admit.


Edit: I’d watch that Portishead video if I were you. I remember watching that particular video for the first time a few days before my first year Christmas exams and needless to say, it blew me away. I haven’t watched it since until now, and I really recommend YouTubing it. It’s something special, as is this one.  Christ,  I’d blog all day about Beth Gibbons and Portishead if I could.