Photo: Robert E. Klein/Invision/AP

I’ll never forgive myself for letting the media (mostly just Kanye West’s opinion) warp my view of the entire Kanye-Taylor Swift saga, one that started with the infamous VMA kerfuffle in 2009 and was a founding catalyst for what became Taylor’s era. Looking back, I was a hopeless, closeted teenage boy hoping to tether myself to the loudest heterosexual opinion, and what do we say about heterosexual teenage boy opinions, class?

*Class, in unison*

Correct!

So it’s funny, now, that a recent TikTok I made proclaiming that is her best album is now…


2020 was majorly fucked up in so many ways. Seemingly constant throughout this hellish year was quality music output, though, be it from established megastars or new offspring of the streaming era. Top 10 lists can be so annoying; what REALLY goes into making a top 10 list? Do publications go through a long voting process among staff? Does an editor say ‘fuck it’ and just gut-picks the rankings? When does quality trump commercial success, and how does cultural impact or innovation factor into a list like this? Am I gay?

The short answer: it’s a crapshoot, and while everyone…


Photo credit: Glen Luchford

I am open to the forthcoming Shawn Mendes documentary changing my mind upon watching, but I don’t think it will deter me from a core belief of mine: Shawn Mendes is a pop singer, not a pop star.

What he is

  • charismatic/a heartthrob (to some…)
  • in a relationship with another young pop singer (no, Camila is not a star either)
  • signed to a subsidiary (Island Records) of Universal Music Group, an enormous label that can promote the shit out of him

What he is not

  • iconic in any way
  • unique
  • a trendsetter (via fashion, his music/sound, his politics or personality)


Photo credit: Dave Meyers

is here. We got a surprise album release announcement in October, the title track and lead single last Friday, and now the full-ass album.

Let’s not beat around the bush; it doesn’t feel exceptionally novel or envelope-pushing, but this is a great album. I’m drawing plenty of parallels to both and , but I’m also getting some of her pre- ballad-y moments, too. is perhaps her most muted record yet; it speaks for itself, and it’s her biggest departure from mainstream pop. While it’s easy to just label it a sex album and call…


Photo credit: Niko Tavernise/Fox Searchlight

I know I’m late to the party. Like, a decade late.

But last night, after work, I transitioned from my desk to my bed and put the Natalie Portman psychological thriller on my laptop and got involved

I think that ‘getting involved’ is an understated way to describe my viewing experience. Rather, it was more like Natalie Portman’s black swan shot out from my laptop, grabbed me by the back of my neck, and stretched my eyelids open, forcing me to absorb every ounce of delightfully monstrous material.

Either way, as a 20-something navigating my career and life…


Photo credit: Getty / Rich Fury

I was very excited to get into the Blackpink Netflix documentary from the moment they announced it was coming out. My arrival at K-pop as a genre, as something to stan, as something to be fascinated by, only came about a year ago thanks to the rise of BTS. Of course, I quickly defected to locate a girl group to obsess over, and Blackpink’s stadium-size, maximalist anthems won me over immediately.

Fascination is one way to describe the way I watched and interpreted the documentary last night.

It was illuminating to peek into photos and footage…


Photo credit: Tom Aspaul

On Tom Aspaul’s debut record, , we are transported to the absolute nadir of his life: most of the songs are about not believing in his own songwriting abilities, the death of a friend and the misery of a breakup. And yet, if you don’t really listen to the words (like I do the first 10 times I listen to anything), you are easily swept off your feet by the disco-drenched production and sky-high choruses.

The intro track and ‘Close to Me,’ Aspaul says, is about being at an industry party and hating everything about it and feeling…


Photo credit: YouTube

A very popular video on TikTok right now is a laughably dark mash-up of sorts; a supercut of infomercial-style clips depicting the dangers of bookshelves, and the potential for them to fall on toddlers hanging on them, is given a dramatic overhaul with the addition of the song ‘Sofia’ by bedroom pop sensation Clairo.

See the video for yourself, posted by TikTok user @wetwetsock.

It’s quite literally a video of doll-children clamoring on dresser drawers and shelves, causing them to topple over, while Clairo sing-pleads, “I think we can do it if we tried, if only to say, you’re…


Photo credit: Alice Millar

When we’re chatting over Instagram DMs, prior to our actual interview, L.A.-based pop star Vinícius assigns me homework. I am to watch the Madonna documentary , explore Mariah Carey’s entire discography (including the live EP) and watch Lady Gaga’s early-career ‘Gagavision’ YouTube series, of which there are over 40 clips.

If there’s one thing he knows in this life, it’s pop music. …


Photo credit: Columbia Records

It’s officially not summer anymore (AKA fall), which means I am immediately panicking and clutching my summer playlists and albums to my neck. What better way to pay tribute to a mostly wretched summer 2020 than by ranking the tracks on HAIM’s latest album,

A record sonically dripping in summer, has the range to explore the underbelly of life, like Danielle’s boyfriend’s cancer diagnosis, Este’s Type I diabetes and the untimely death of Alana’s close friend. …

Karl Ortegon

PR account coordinator and writer for SwimSwam News. On the side of all of that, pop culture sponge & entertainment writer. NYC.

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