“Reputation”

Taylor Swift

“I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now/Why?/Oh, ‘cause she’s dead!” These lyrics, from Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do,” couldn’t be more accurate. Swift’s past personas are buried in the music video, and there’s no denying the powerful message she is sending us through these not-so-subtle lyrics and visuals. However, I am a die-hard fan of the “old” Taylor Swift, so it’s hard for me to get used to this darker and more provocative side. She is an extremely accomplished artist, evident in “Reputation” through haunting EDM beats and lyrical prowess. I think it’s just going to take me some time to accept that the old Taylor really is “dead.”

Recommended: “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”

Swift’s pop songs highlight her ability to write compelling lyrics. “Everyone swimming in a champagne sea/And there are no rules when you show up here/Bass beat rattling the chandelier/Feeling so Gatsby for that whole year,” Swift sings in “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” referencing her past success. The upbeat melody cleverly contrasts the stinging blows Swift delivers to Kanye West in this song.

“Pacific Daydream”

Weezer

Every song on Weezer’s 11th album, “Pacific Daydream,” made me want to jump in my car and take a road trip up the California coast. The songs were lighthearted and beachy (one song is even titled “Beach Boys”), with feel-good melodies, resonant guitar strums and wistful lyrics. Weezer definitely focused on the Indie Pop Rock aspect of their style; Rivers Cuomo, the band’s lead singer, guitarist and songwriter, used a computer program to arrange musical fragments into songs, apparent in the pop and EDM undertones. Unfortunately, most of the album tended to blur together due to similar tempo and tone; there are no new classics like “Beverly Hills” or “Island in The Sun” on the “Pacific Daydream” album.

Recommended: “Weekend Woman”

“Weekend Woman” intrigued me, with lyrics such as “We fell in love on a Sunday/By Monday morning I drifted away.” The chunky guitar beat intertwined well with the base strumming at the beginning of the song, and The nostalgic mood and look back at another era is captured nicely as a sigh methodically interrupts the upbeat rhythm.

“The Thrill of It All”

Sam Smith

After rising to fame in 2012, when he was featured on Disclosure’s track “Latch,” Sam Smith, the “Stay With Me” pop and soul singer, released his second studio album on Nov. 3. Much like his last album “In the Lonely Hour,” released in 2014, “The Thrill of It All” is filled with skillfully-sung songs about love and heartbreak and included plenty of piano melodies. The raw emotion and vulnerability is apparent in this collection of powerful ballads, but the singer remains mostly in his comfort zone with this album. He hits the high notes and nails the vibratos, but none of the songs push Smith to his artistic limit.

Recommended: “Our Last Song”

Smith’s last album, was inspired by love and heartbreak, and in his 2015 Grammy speech he famously thanked his ex-lover. “Our Last Song” is one last hurrah to this man. A dynamic chorus of “Oohs” draws the listener in, followed by fast-paced piano that effortlessly melds with Smith’s rich vocals. “When it was good, it was bittersweet, honey/You made me sad ‘til I loved the shade of blue” croons the singer.

“Beach House 3”

Ty Dolla $ign 

Full disclaimer: I am not a rap aficionado, nor do I regularly listen to R&B or hip hop music. “Beach House 3” is singer and rapper Ty Dolla $ign’s, or Tyrone William Griffin Jr.’s, third installment in the “Beach House” series. The album pushed me out of my musical comfort zone, with mixed results: a few songs stood out to me, such as “Message in the Bottle,” which included more thoughtful lyrics, but overall I found Griffin’s style to be too autotuned for my taste. The album features Wiz Khalifa, Future, Pharrell Williams, Lil Wayne, Tory Lanez and others, however, I was more impressed by Griffin’s solo performances than the collaborations.

Recommended: “Famous”

The first track “Famous” pleasantly surprised me; the guitar riff was catchy, immediately drawing me in and complementing the slow tempo of the song. The lyrics highlight Griffin’s view of others’ motivations for fame and fortune. Standout lines include, “They don’t wanna work all day, they wanna make it overnight/Just to look good in public until they spend their last dimes.”

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