The Mandalorian Season 2: What Really Matters

The narrative within The Mandalorian Season 1 was pretty straightforward. Mando’s character arc was to accept his newfound role as the caretaker for Baby Yoda (avoiding the actual name of The Child for spoilers).

In Season 2, however, the character arc isn’t as straightforward. It’s a lot more thematic. The theme for Season 2 is about Mando’s own identity and what it really means to be a Mandalorian.

Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert in all things related to the Star Wars universe. Season 2 of The Mandalorian brought in a lot of characters from Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels and other unexpected characters from the Star Wars films. What I want to focus on is how Mando’s beliefs in the ways of the Mandalore change throughout the season.

Spoilers for The Mandalorian ahead!

In Season 1, Episode 3 (The Sin), we are introduced to the people who rescued Mando as a child and raised him in their particular belief system. Mando’s family taught him to never remove his helmet in front of any living thing and that the Jedi were enemies of the Mandalorians.

In Season 2, Episode 3 (The Heiress), Mando finds out (from the titular Heiress, Bo-Katan) that he was essentially raised in a “cult” as a “Child of the Watch,” a group of zealots who follow what people who were actually from Mandalore would consider outdated beliefs. (The Children of the Watch would be the Star Wars equivalent of Puritans or Christian Crusaders.) Without going too deep into the expanded universe, all I’ll say is that Bo-Katan was originally from Mandalore and her plan is to restore Mandalorian society. She’s a lot more flexible about what rules Mandalorians should adhere to, as she frequently goes around with her helmet off. By the end of the episode, Mando also learns that in contrast to what he was taught, a Mandalorian was friends with a Jedi, as Bo-Katan was friends with Ahsoka Tano. In the following episode (“The Jedi”), Mando is willing to help Ahsoka out with her own agenda

In Season 2, Episode 6 (The Tragedy), Mando discovers that the armor he got from the episode “The Marshal” belongs to none other than Boba Fett. Initially, Mando questions whether or not Boba Fett is a legit Mandalorian. By the end of the episode, however, Mando allows Boba Fett to have his armor back as Boba’s father, Jango, was taken in by the Mandalorians as a foundling. On top of that, Boba and Fennec are willing to help Mando rescue the Child, who was sadly taken by Moff Gideon’s Darktroopers.

The biggest change in Mando’s character arc came in Season 2, Episode 7 “The Believer.” Mando’s former comrade turned “frenemy” Migs Mayfield questioned Mando’s beliefs constantly both in this episode and in the previous season. However, we quickly learn why Mayfield is so skeptical about belief systems in general. As it turns out, former Imperial sharpshooter Mayfield was essentially betrayed by his commanding officer, who left him and his troop to die in a scorched earth operation and didn’t even lose any sleep over the collateral damage.

It was in this episode that Mando is forced to show his face in order for a terminal to give him the code that will help him find Moff Gideon’s ship and, by extension, the Child. Kudos to Pedro Pascal for conveying Mando being so uncertain without his helmet. I also liked that Mando (and Cara who hated Mayfield at the start of the episode) allowed Mayfield to live at the end of the episode.

So what does it all mean?

Throughout The Mandalorian, Season 2, Mando had to figure out what was most important to him. I don’t think he completely abandoned the beliefs he grew up with, but he is learning (much like a lot of people this year) that there is a lot more to the ways of the Mandalore than what he knew growing up. Not everything is as black and white as it used to be, but what Mando held onto is knowing what was most important. That meant making sure he took care of The Child. Everything he did throughout this season was motivated by the desire to raise the Child in the best way possible and find the people who can help The Child learn how to hone his powers.

As amazing as the Season 2 finale was, especially given the fact that Mando finally took off his helmet in front of The Child, we don’t know where Mando’s character arc is gonna go from here. He fulfilled his mission of finding the right people to take care of The Child, but now he’s stuck with the Darksaber and the possibility of fighting Bo-Katan for the right to rule Mandalore. It’s also clear that his heart is broken at having to let The Child go.

My advice to Mando (and for Jon Faverau and Dave Filoni, if they ever read this) is that all you can do when you essentially lose your sense of purpose is to figure out what the next right thing to do is. I hope that in the next season of The Mandalorian, Mando can somehow get his Child back and ride off into the sunset with a Jedi tagging along. But that’s just me.

A Christmas Carol: A Memento Mori Story

A Christmas Carol is a perennial Christmas classic with countless adaptations. What many people overlook, however, is the core moral of the story. It’s not just “be nice to the poor on Christmas,” but a call to action for those who are privileged to examine their consciences and to do what they can to help others year-round because at some point, we’ll die and be judged on our actions as well as what we neglected to do.

In other words, A Christmas Carol is a “Memento Mori” story. If you don’t know what “memento mori” is, Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble goes more into it. According to her website:

Memento mori or “remember your death” is a phrase that has been long associated with the practice of remembering the unpredictable and inevitable end of one’s life. The spiritual practice of memento mori and the symbols and sayings associated with it were particularly popular in the medieval church. 

Fun fact: My family and I saw a production of A Christmas Carol in Houston’s Alley Theatre. They really played up the aspect of “Memento Mori” right at the start, with skeletons dressed in fancy clothes dancing around Ebenezer Scrooge’s bed, foreshadowing what’s to come.

All the ghosts that visit Ebenezer Scrooge compel him to examine his conscience, that is his past actions and how he neglects to help those in the present. Let’s dive into this story and see how.

Stave One: Facing Judgment & Punishment

with Jacob Marley

Even though Charles Dickens wasn’t Catholic and had some anti-Catholic sentiments, the imagery of Jacob Marley and the other ghosts calls to mind the souls of Purgatory, at least for me.

Quotes from Stave One to reflect on:

“Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed,” cried the phantom, “not to know, that ages of incessant labour by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!”

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went. Every one of them wore chains like Marley’s Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free. Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives. He had been quite familiar with one old ghost, in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw below, upon a door-step. The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Similar to the souls in Purgatory, the ghosts in A Christmas Carol can’t really do much to help others on earth aside from intercession. If this is Charles Dickens’s idea of Hell, however, it’s a very good one. All the ghosts are faced with the suffering of humanity and are unable to do anything about it. Sure hits different in 2020, doesn’t it?

Stave Two: The Examination of Conscience

with the Ghost of Christmas Past

Ebenezer Scrooge’s trip down memory lane with the Ghost of Christmas Past is a mix of nostalgia and bittersweet memories, heavy on the bitter. While Scrooge had fond memories of his school days, the memory of his neglectful father and a lack of friends within the boarding school instilled an unhealthy sense of self-preservation in him. However, seeing the memories of his past also prompted Scrooge to think about things he neglected to do in the present, like how he should’ve been kinder to the boy who was singing a carol out in the street or how he keeps his nephew, Fred, at arm’s length even though Fred is the only living memory of his beloved sister.

A similar incident happens when Scrooge is taken to his first job at Fezziwig’s. The Christmas party is lively with dancing and music and merriment. Pay attention to the exchange between the ghost and Scrooge in this memory:

“A small matter,” said the Ghost, “to make these silly folks so full of gratitude.”

“Small!” echoed Scrooge.

The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two apprentices, who were pouring out their hearts in praise of Fezziwig: and when he had done so, said,

“Why! Is it not? He has spent but a few pounds of your mortal money: three or four perhaps. Is that so much that he deserves this praise?”

“It isn’t that,” said Scrooge, heated by the remark, and speaking unconsciously like his former, not his latter, self. “It isn’t that, Spirit. He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count ’em up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.”

He felt the Spirit’s glance, and stopped.

“What is the matter?” asked the Ghost.

“Nothing particular,” said Scrooge.

“Something, I think?” the Ghost insisted.

“No,” said Scrooge, “No. I should like to be able to say a word or two to my clerk just now. That’s all.”

But while Scrooge is feeling pangs in his conscience, small instances of regret, he’s not completely ready to change because the wounds of his past still hurt, as evidence as he relives Belle breaking off their engagement.

Which brings us to our next ghost.

Stave Three: Inactions & Consequences

with the Ghost of Christmas Present

The version of this particular stave shown in A Muppet Christmas Carol is my particular favorite version because the Ghost of Christmas Present is a very heartwarming, joyful spirit. Michael Caine’s Scrooge actually forms a friendship with this ghost.

I also love that in this particular chapter, Scrooge sees how his miserly attitude and lack of compassion are regarded by others in his life, particularly Nephew Fred and the Cratchits.

Of course, there are some things that the Muppet version neglected to show. One particular segment was essentially a tract on Dickens’s part to advocate for a continuation of practices that helped the poor. Scrooge is shown how many people that he regarded as the “surplus population” still do their best to celebrate Christmas in spite of their poverty. My favorite rendition of this comes from this little known animated version:

Fun fact: GK Chesterton (Catholic writer and apologist) was a huge fan of Charles Dickens. In one edition of A Christmas Carol, he wrote an intro to the story that echoes the Ghost of Christmas Present’s call to action and asks the reader to examine themselves.

The answer to anyone who talks about the surplus population is to ask him whether he is the surplus population; or if he is not, how he knows he is not. 

GK Chesterton in his intro to the 1922 edition of A Christmas Carol

As joyful and merry as the Ghost of Christmas Present is, the serious tone he takes on towards the end of his journey with Scrooge is a very sobering moment, especially when Scrooge sees the embodiments of Ignorance and Want. (See the animated version above for a reference.) But Scrooge doesn’t have time to let things sink in because once the clock struck midnight, the next ghost appears.

Stave Four: Facing One’s Death & Legacy with the

Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. But for this it would have been difficult to detach its figure from the night, and separate it from the darkness by which it was surrounded.

He felt that it was tall and stately when it came beside him, and that its mysterious presence filled him with a solemn dread. He knew no more, for the Spirit neither spoke nor moved.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

This description of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come often calls to mind how death is seen, usually as the Grim Reaper. This Ghost may not appear with a scythe and it’s not a walking skeleton (not even its outstretched hand is skeletal), but in my opinion, the Ghost is definitely an archetype of Death.

The reason why I see the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come as representing Death is that when Scrooge explores the future, he sees how the people he’s familiar with (and even people he never really met but people that are affected by his actions) react to his death, namely that nobody really mourned him. Scrooge is in a major state of denial, but it’s because he’s afraid of facing his death. Most people don’t usually want to think about their death, let alone how people might react if and when that day comes.

When Scrooge finally does come face to face with his gravestone, everything finally hits him. The idea of dying alone and unloved and possibly facing an afterlife burdened by chains is all too much.

Michael Caine’s performance is the best version. His remorse feels the most authentic here. He realizes, now, coming face to face with his death, that he has to make the most of his life while he can. The future isn’t certain or guaranteed, but facing his inevitable death compels Scrooge to take action.

That’s essentially what Memento Mori is. Knowing one’s death and knowing that one will face judgment and end up in either Heaven, Purgatory, or Hell compels people to make the most of their lives while they can without going all YOLO.

Stave Five: Scrooge’s Conversion

It’s one thing to have an epiphany to change. It’s another to really take action and live out what one has learned.

When Scrooge returns from his magical mystery journey, he immediately starts making the most of his time by asking a boy on the street (possibly the same boy he turned away earlier) to go by the prize turkey in the poultry shop and return to his house, promising some serious coin for it. (A shilling would be the equivalent of 12 cents and half a crown is 30 cents, which was worth a lot back then.) Once the poultry man arrives, he tells the man to send the turkey to the Cratchits, but stresses him not to tell them who paid for the turkey.

After dressing up, Scrooge donates some money to a group of carolers and makes amends with the gentlemen who were at his office earlier, promising to donate an amount that astounds them with the promise of more donations in the future.

What really cements Scrooge’s conversion is when he makes amends with Fred and his wife. The next day, Scrooge tells Bob Cratchit that he intends to raise the latter’s salary and promises to help the Cratchits to the best of his ability.

But the way the book (and the Muppet version) finishes the story is my favorite part, evidence of Scrooge keeping what he has learned for as long as he lived:

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world… and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!

folklore and evermore: A Two for One Album Review

Show of hands: Who had “Taylor Swift releases two new albums” on their 2020 bingo card? Cuz I didn’t! I also apologize for not blogging about folklore even though this blog has reviewed her past albums. So before I get into a track by track review of evermore, here are my thoughts on folklore.

Folklore

I was listening to this album on loop throughout the summer. So many tracks made me happy. What I didn’t expect was how often the tracks also helped me during times of anxiety. Overall, this album is warm and comforting. I also highly recommend watching folklore: the long pond studio sessions on Disney Plus or listening to the versions that are on Spotify. There’s an air of intimacy, like you’re in your own personal Secret Session. Taylor said that folklore’s aesthetic is more spring or summer and I’m definitely getting the vibe.

  1. the 1: The album starts off strong with a sweet sounding track. I’m not sure if this track is based on Taylor’s personal experiences or not, but it’s definitely relatable. It’s dedicated to the one that got away and thankfully very fond and not vindictive. The long pond studio session version really plays up the nostalgia. I love the piano track! As far as aesthetic goes, I can imagine swimming around to this track. Fave lyric: “In my defense I have none for digging up the grave another time.”
  2. cardigan: A track that brings to mind late summer or cold summer nights, just as fall is coming in. This was her first and technically only single. I loved the music video for this song as it brought to mind the videos she made before reputation. It’s a lot more fantastical and captures so many fluctuating emotions. The long pond studio version is very similar to the original track, albeit a lot more intimate, recalling chamber music or a really good open mic night performance. Fave track: “When you are young they assume you know nothing.” (Really that whole bridge gets me!)
  3. the last great american dynasty: I feel like this song is a feminist anthem. Even though it tells the story of Rebecca Harkness and how Taylor Swift connected her own life to the previous owner of her house, the song reminded me of Supergirl and Buffy and other female superheroes who are regarded as mad or shameless and most definitely ruined everyone’s lives in the best way possible. I loved dancing around to this track. The long pond studio sessions version is an equally good bop! I keep thinking of Taylor’s 4th of July parties and imagine beach parties with this song in the background. Fave lyric: “I had a marvelous time ruining everything.”
  4. exile: This was the track that everyone wished was the second single and for some reason was nominated for a Grammy even though there isn’t any music video for it. I love the story this song tells. Many people point out some similarities between this song and “If This Was a Movie” (from the Fearless deluxe edition) or “The Last Time” (Red album). Personally, I love the long pond studio sessions version and I found myself singing the backing vocals. I’ve definitely felt this song, recalling past relationships. I also love how casually Taylor talks about her and Joe working on this song together, like it’s only natural that he plays piano and writes lyrics. Fave lyric: “Didn’t even hear me out/Never turned things around/I gave so many signs.”
  5. my tears ricochet: Most people agree that this song metaphorically describes Taylor’s fallout with Big Machine Records and Scott Borchetta and I can’t help but agree. I also loved how Taylor explains the story in the long pong studio sessions special, how she sees it applying to how a superhero’s worst enemy was once their best friend. For me, this song reminds me of Kara and Lena’s tumultuous friendship (*sheds Supercorp tears*) or how Clark and Lex went from best friends to enemies on Smallville. The long pond studio version doesn’t have the high notes, but I still love the sadness in her voice. My favorite lyric: “We gather stones, never knowing what they’ll mean. Some to throw, some to make a diamond ring.”
  6. mirrorball: This is one of my top tier fave tracks. At first, I wasn’t sure how much I could really relate to it, but the song got stuck in my head a lot. I found myself listening to it while I went to the beach. I feel like this track is relatable because of how often I have to act in a certain way around people. It’s not easy to socialize and fake nice when you don’t really feel it. The long pond studio version reminds me of a live band playing at prom. Fave line: “Hush. I know they say the end is near. But I’m still on my tallest tiptoes spinning in my highest heels love, shining just for you.”
  7. seven: I love how this song evokes childhood nostalgia. It does sound like someone playing on the swings, especially from how Taylor sings. There’s an underlying sadness that implies a childhood friend dealing with a broken home, but the escapism is very relatable and innocent. The long pond studio version sounds very similar, but I seriously love how the piano comes across. Overall, this track is wonderful. Fave lyric: “Sweet tea in the summer. Cross my heart won’t tell no other.”
  8. august: Another top tier fave that I played on loop for how often that song got stuck in my head. Jack Antonoff, I love you so much for helping make tracks that end up becoming my faves (as I’ll mention later). Even though the song talks about a summer fling, the aspect of unrequited love, wanting someone who doesn’t really love you back, is very relatable. I love how this song sounds in the long pond studio sessions as well. Definitely a beachy track. Fave lyric: “I can see us lost in a memory. August slipped away into a moment in time.”
  9. this is me trying: This is my anxiety anthem. I found myself listening to this whenever I was processing my emotions (which happened a lot this year). Taylor’s story behind this song was one I related to and a lot of people wonder if this tied back to when she implied having an eating disorder in the Miss Americana documentary. This track really hits home for those struggling with addiction or the “genius” and “gifted and talented” kids who have a hard time adjusting to adulthood. The long pond studio session version really emphasis the exhaustion. Fave lyric: “I just wanted you to know that this is me trying. At least I’m trying.”
  10. illicit affairs: It surprised me how sad this song makes me feel. This song deconstructs the relationship an “other woman” can have and how toxic and addicting the relationship can be. I felt all sad because losing your identity in a relationship is an experience I know all to well. The long pond studio session version really evokes the “sad rain” aesthetic from the lyric video. Fave lyric: The whole bridge of this song.
  11. invisible string: Upon first listen, this song was my fave, but I didn’t listen to it as much as I did the other songs. I love how personal this song is to Taylor, like she’s drawing a map of how her life has been and how life seemed to be leading her to Joe even without her knowing. The long pond studio version invokes the summer feeling of flying a kite in a park, especially with the guitar. Fave lyric: “Time, wonderous time. Giving me blues and then purple-pink skies.”
  12. mad woman: Two words best describe this song–”tranquil fury.” This song is essentially how anger can be bottled up without exploding. More than a few of my Swiftie friends online related to this song and I can definitely relate to it, too. I really love the piano of this track, too, and it really comes out in the long pond studio sessions version! Fave lyrics: “Every time you call me crazy, I get more crazy/What about that?/And when you say I seem angry, I get more angry”
  13. epiphany: This one was a track I didn’t listen to much, but I love the story behind it and I loved how it sounded in the long pond studio sessions. I love that Taylor and her family did research about her grandfather and connected that trauma to the unprecedented feelings all the front line workers feel in the pandemic. Fave lyrics: “You dream of some epiphany/Just a single glimpse of relief to make sense of what you’ve seen.”
  14. betty: Although august, mirrorball, and this is me trying are my top 3 faves, “betty” has a special place in my heart. It would probably be in my top 5 list for sure. For one thing, I missed “Country Taylor.” I love the harmonica and how it was performed at the ACM awards. (Note: I seriously missed the harmonica in the long pond studio session.) I love the story this song tells and how it reminds me of high school and all the stupid things teenagers do. Fave lyric: The chorus. It gets me every time and I seriously don’t know why.
  15. peace: Another anxiety anthem. I like that with this song, Taylor is making peace with the fact that her life is tumultuous but that the love she has with Joe is stable in the midst of it all. The long pond studio sessions version is such a wonderful rendition. I love the guitar and the constant synthesizer in this track. The lyric video is perfect, as the song does remind me of a soft, distant summer thunderstorm. Fave lyrics: The devil’s in the details, but you got a friend in me/Would it be enough if I could never give you peace?
  16. hoax: This song broke me. It’s not a track I listen to much because the original version is way too emotionally overwhelming for me. I usually only listen to this song when I’m majorly sad. The long pond studio session version is thankfully a lot less emotionally intense, but it’s still such a sad song and I did not want this to be the way that folklore ended. Thankfully…
  17. the lakes: If I were to make a top five fave song list, this would be on it. I loved this track so much and felt so thankful as soon as I heard it. This is the proper way to end this album, capturing the desire to escape. As someone who was obsessed with English lit and poetry, I knew exactly what Taylor was talking about. The long pond studio session version sounds especially intimate and beautiful. Fave lyric: “I want auroras and sad prose. I want to watch wisteria grow over my bare feet cuz I haven’t moved in years.”

Evermore

I know it’s been a few days, but I still can’t believe that Taylor kept making songs even after finishing folklore. I am not gonna entertain rumors that either Taylor has a third album waiting or that this could be her last “new music” album since she’s also re-recording everything she did pre-reputation. I just want to enjoy all the new songs.

Compared to folklore, this album has a lot more upbeat tracks, which I love. It’s overall a happier album than folklore, but it’s hard for me to decide which album I love more. They’re definitely sister albums.

  1. willow: Taylor picked the perfect track as the album opener and lead single. With instrumentals that call to mind “invisible string.” I love the music video, too, as I feel like it captured Taylor Swift’s musical journey, from romantic daydreams to childhood memories to her time “boxed in” as a country artist to her reputation era and returns to the cabin. Incidentally, kudos for making the romantic lead an Asian guy (specifically a Korean who does not look like a K-pop pretty boy). The “witchy” remix is a total bop, too, like mixing this track with “Ready for It” from the reputation album. Fave lyrics: “The more that you say, the less I know. Wherever you stray, I follow.”
  2. champagne problems: This track reminds everyone of the Red era, specifically “All Too Well” (probably because of the piano). It tells the story of a runaway bride and implies she might be mentally ill to some capacity. For me, I feel like this song connects to “Sad, Beautiful, Tragic.” In spite of how bittersweet the song is, I love the piano outro. It’s kinda funny, like Aaron Dessner is just showing off and improvising. Fave lyrics: The first chorus.
  3. gold rush: I loved this song as soon as the beat started playing. Once again, I have to thank Jack Antonoff for producing a track that bops! This song, personally, makes me of those celebrity crushes. One question tho: Is that Eagles tshirt for the football team or the band? I seriously need to know. Aside from that, I seriously love dancing around to this track. Fave lyrics: “What must it be like to grow up that beautiful…My mind turns your life into folklore.”
  4. tis the damn season: What if “august” had a winter holiday fling? You get this song! Some people think this also calls back to “illicit affairs,” except it recalls a happier time. It’s not something you’d typically sing as part of the holiday season, though I can see this being a track for a holiday movie that goes beyond the typical Hallmark movie format. The bridge of this song gets me right in the feels! Fave lyrics: “And the road not taken looks real good now and it always leads back to you and my hometown.”
  5. tolerate it: This is just my opinion, but the story of this song calls to mind a child who identifies as part of the LGBT spectrum and lives with a parent who only “tolerates” their sexuality and doesn’t fully support them emotionally. Other people think this is about Princess Diana and her tumultuous relationship with Prince Charles. There’s definitely a lot of different ways to interpret this song. Some of the lyrics really hit me in the feels, especially “Always taking up too much space or time/You assume I’m fine.” 
  6. no body, no crime: Anyone remember when Taylor Swift guest starred on an episode of CSI? This song reminds me of that time. She essentially wrote a murder ballad, or an episode of Riverdale. Some people, myself included, recall songs like “Before He Cheats” and “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia.” I seriously love the country backtrack, reminiscent of “Should’ve Said No.” There’s already a mashup that mixes this track with “I Did Something Bad.” The chorus was stuck in my head the whole weekend. In short, I am loving “dark country Taylor” and I want more!
  7. happiness: This track is very bittersweet and while a lot of my friends like it, I’m still stewing over how I feel about it. From what the lyric video is invoking, my best guess is that it’s sort of a sequel to “hoax.” I think for me, it calls to mind finding happiness in spite of how messed up this year has been. Fave lyrics: “There’ll be happiness after you, but there was happiness because of you. Both of these things can be true.”
  8. dorothea: The song evokes a lot of nostalgia. Some people think this song links back to “tis the damn season,” as if the latter track is in dorothea’s point of view. I can buy into that theory as being “probable” or plausible, but I’m not 100% certain. Also, for those who don’t know, Tupelo is in Mississippi. It’s where Elvis was born. I definitely like this song a lot. There’s definitely more to this story than the lyrics convey.
  9. coney island: A sad song that kinda reminds me of “Til Summer Comes Around.” I’m not 100% sure, but I think this song links back to “champagne problems” and “august.” The aesthetic, based on the lyric video, reminds me of late November, long after the amusement parks are closed. There are a lot of lyrics that recall previous albums, especially in the bridge. Fave lyrics: “We were like the mall before the internet. It was the one place to be.”
  10. ivy: I have to wonder what inspired this particular song. I’m personally getting “Irish lesbian affair” from the lyrics. The instrumentals recall “invisible string” with a lot of folksy feels, evoking the aesthetic of the end of the winter, when spring is around the corner. It’s a track that I like a lot. Fave lyric: “Your ivy grows and now I’m covered in you.”
  11. cowboy like me: Does this song link back to something from the past? Anyone else hearing the guitar chord progression from “Tim McGraw”? I seriously need a mashup of these two songs like now! It’s crazy how “Tim McGraw” can sound so innocent but this song is anything but. It calls to mind old west romances, telling a story of two con artists that end up falling in love with each other. (The only lyric that doesn’t feel old-time western is the whole airport bar thing.) Fave lyric: “You asked me to dance, but I said ‘Dancin is a dangerous game.'”
  12. long story short: As of now, this is my all time fave track. Even though Taylor covered the narrative of her falling from grace, rebounding in the worst way, and finding real love in the aftermath of it all before, I still love the beat of this song. I wanna dance around to it. I love how happy this feels. I love that she talks to her past self and reassures that everything will be okay. The entire chorus is my fave part, but my favorite lyrics are the ending, which sums up 2020 in a nutshell: “Long story short, it was a bad time/Long story short, I survived.”
  13. marjorie: I feel jealous that Taylor Swift knew so much about her grandparents. The lyric video feels like an actual music video, reminiscent of “The Best Day” with footage of her grandmother. It’s definitely sad knowing that Marjorie never got to see Taylor’s career take off, but she lived such an amazing, fascinating life. And yeah, Taylor looks just like her grandmother. Beauty seriously runs in the family. I also love that she included her grandmother’s vocals. Like, how did she do that?! Fave lyrics: “Never be so kind/You forget to be clever/Never be so clever/You forget to be kind” and “Never be so politе/You forget your power/Nevеr wield such power/You forget to be polite.”
  14. closure: This is the only track that I’m not sure I really like 100%. I get where Taylor is going with this one, but the drum machine and synthesizer really clashes with the piano and Taylor’s singing. It only works with the chorus. It almost sounds robotic.
  15. evermore: I was so worried that the album would end the same way folklore did. What starts out as a song that kinda reminds me of being depressed shifts gears fast when Bon Iver comes in. I feel like by the time the bridge comes in, it’s like recovering from the loss of hope, finding that sense of purpose again. This is a very wintery song. And I like that it’s the closing track for this album, at least for now. I really look forward to hearing the deluxe edition’s tracks. Fave lyrics: “When I was shipwrecked, I thought of you. In the cracks of light, I dreamed of you. It was real enough to get me through.”