Florida Man Sues Madonna: Should Concerts Start on Time?

"Ticketholders [have] to work and go to school the next day."

A Florida man is suing Madonna because she changed the start time of her show at the Fillmore Miami Beach from 8:30 to 10:30.

"Ticketholders [have] to work and go to school the next day, which prevent[s] them from attending a concert that would end at around 1:00 a.m.," the suit stated.

Nate Hollander's ticket did cost $1,024.95, so maybe he can't be blamed for expecting some special treatment. He also claims that he's unable to sell the tickets because the time change has caused the tickets to "[suffer] an extreme loss of value," making reselling "impossible."

For her part, Madonna is famous for being late. At a recent Las Vegas show, fans were told to arrive at 9:30, but she didn't show up until midnight. Because of the delay and the audience's subsequent outrage, over 500 refunds were issued.

Madonna - Material Girl (Official Music Video)

Apparently, Madonna doesn't see a problem with her lateness. During a recent show in Las Vegas, she announced, "There's something that you all need to understand. And that is that a queen is never late."

Who's in the right here? How many Nate Hollanders have arrived at work tired the next morning because some pop star they paid $1,024.95 to see decided not to honor the not-so-sacred tradition of concert timeliness? Should stars like Madonna be expected to be on time? Is their time somehow fundamentally more important than the audience's? Is that part of the power imbalance that makes a star a star?

Of course, the phenomenon of concerts that start extremely late isn't a new one, nor is it reserved for queens like Madonna. Concerts start late for a lot of reasons—and unsurprisingly, one of the main ones has to do with revenue. The longer people wait around for a show to start, the more likely they are to buy drinks and food, and the more they drink, the more likely they are to shell out cash at the merch table.

Naturally, technical and logistical issues can also play a role. Musicians typically have an extremely short amount of time to go from one show to the next, and innumerable things can go wrong with the setup.

According to Lauryn Hill, another famously late performer, her delayed start times are purposeful. "Me being late to shows isn't because I don't respect my fans or their time, but the contrary, It can be argued that I care too much, and insist on things being right," she said. "I like to switch my show up regularly, change arrangements, add new songs, etc. This often leads to long sound checks, which leads to doors opening late, which leads to the show getting a late start. This element of perfectionism is about wanting the audience to experience the very best and most authentic musical experience they can from what I do."

Lauryn Hill- Killing Me Softly

While stars with cult followings like Lauryn Hill and Madonna are often forgiven easily for their lateness, do-it-yourself shows that start late often get a bad rep when they take hours to get the ball rolling. On the other hand, indie artists and venues are the ones who face the worst fallout from technical and transportational mishaps, and don't always have the cash to ensure that everything is running smoothly. Sound engineering is one of the most underappreciated and difficult jobs in the music industry—anyone who's ever run a sound table knows that sound equipment can be unbelievably temperamental—and so maybe we shouldn't be so quick to get angry when the sound check takes a while.

On the other hand, nobody wants to have to loiter around at their friend's EP release show for six hours, especially when there's no reason for such extreme lateness. But in some ways, when you've been waiting that long, finally seeing an artist come out and smash their set is just that much more rewarding.

Regardless, it seems that Madonna has met her diva match in one Nate Hollander, who's certainly rocking back and forth in some dark room right now, whispering, "See you in court."


Songs About Loss for Día de los Muertos

These songs transcend lifetimes.

Día de los Muertos is about remembering the dead, celebrating their lives, and acknowledging the pain of losing loved ones.

It's a sacred day in Mexico and parts of South America, and it's very much not Halloween.

For Day of the Dead, we've compiled a selection of traditional and contemporary Mexican folk songs meant to honor the holiday, as well as everyone who has made the passage over to the other side.

You might know the last one, "Remember Me," from the film Coco, but Day of the Dead has inspired countless traditional songs, poems, and brilliant works of art. Ultimately, attendees at typical Day of the Dead celebrations will often play the kind of music that their departed loved ones enjoyed, so if you're looking to honor departed loved ones on this day, you might just want to spin their favorite tunes. That said, the Mexican folk music tradition is rich in tradition and sublime in sound, and some of these songs are too gorgeous not to share.

Remember, though, if you're not part of the culture that celebrates this holiday, be careful if, when, and how you decide to partake in this day. Make sure you're not appropriating these cultures, avoid wearing costumes, do some research on the holiday and its meaning and sacredness, and support Mexican artists and causes.

1. La Llorona

This folk song's origins are wrapped in obscurity, but it is known that the song originated a long time ago in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. In 1941, the composer Andres Henestrosa popularized the song. There are numerous modern versions, with everyone from Chavela Vargas to Lila Jones lending their voices and finger-picking skills to the track.

The tune's lyrics are said to come from the original legend of La Llorona, the ghostly "Weeping Woman" of Mexican and South American folklore. Some of the verses were probably written during the Mexican Revolution, and today, it's frequently used to scare children into going to bed. Since it tells the story of a ghost (or a woman who won't allow her lover to leave her, depending on the interpretation), it's a natural fit for Día de los Muertos.

La llorona , Chavela Vargas

2. La Bruja

Just as La Llorona tells the story of a wicked, ghostly woman, so does La Bruja, which translates loosely to "The Witch." According to legend, La Bruja is a kind of witch that sucks blood like a vampire. Lyrically, like La Llorona, it's also been interpreted as being about a woman who goes out on the hunt for a man, though there are many legends about what its lyrics might be trying to say. Most of the song is from the perspective of someone getting stolen by a witch. Some believe it references the old folk story that witches would dance with candles on their heads, making it look like the candles were floating; others believe it has more ominous implications, but it's really up to the listener.

The song is often used as a children's rhyme, but it's also been gorgeously covered by many artists.

Vincente Chavarria | La Bruja | AEA Sessions

3. Calaveritas — Ana Tijoux, Celso Piña

This song was released by Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux to honor the dead, specifically those lost during the Pinochet dictatorship. The title, "Calaveritas," means "little skulls," and it's full of loving messages for those whose lives were lost. Recorded with Mexican musician Celso Piña, it's a blend of traditional, folk, and experimental sounds with a powerful message. "We all carry within us / one who died before us / who appears when night falls and the sun goes out," read some of the lyrics. It also includes a quote from a revolutionary named Pierre Dubois who opposed Pinochet during his regime: "It is not enough to say that justice takes time but it arrives. Justice that is not exercised when appropriate is already unfair."

Ana Tijoux - Calaveritas

4. Amor Eterno

This song was written in 1984 by Mexican singer Juan Gabriel and quickly became the most popular song for funerals in his native country. It's a rich, sad, and nostalgic piece, one that pays tribute to loves of old while acknowledging the pain of loss in the present. It's been covered magnificently by countless artists, but Silvana Estrada's version is incredibly moving in its delicacy and compassion.

Juan Gabriel - Amor Eterno (En Vivo [Desde el Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes])

This well-known song has a way of reappearing in times of need. After the shooting in El Paso, Texas this summer, the song became a staple at funerals and memorial services. "How I wish that you still lived that your precious eyes had never closed so that I could see them eternal love unforgettable," go the lyrics, which ensure that there's never a dry eye when this song is played.

5. Remember Me, Coco

This movie beautifully portrayed Día de los Muertos and was tied together by the gorgeous ballad "Remember Me." In the film, the song is capable of crossing the boundary between life and death, forming an everlasting bond that keeps memories alive and inspires new generations to continue old legacies. It perfectly captures the message of Día de los Muertos: Even after our loved ones say goodbye, they're kept alive by memories and in song, and that's something to celebrate.

Carlos Rivera - Recuérdame (De "Coco"/Versión de Carlos Rivera/Official Video)

Benjamin Bratt - Remember Me (Official Video From "Coco") [Ernesto de la Cruz]


Pitchfork's Top 200 Songs of the 2010s Actually Gave Me Hope

Kendrick Lamar tops Pitchfork's pleasantly surprising list of the top 200 songs of the 2010s.

I dipped into Pitchfork's list of the top songs of the 2010s tentatively, not knowing what to expect.

Considering the sheer amount of music released in the past decade, there's simply no way one could ever hope to listen to it all, let alone compare it. Also, music rankings are inherently subjective, entirely reliant on the opinions of those curating the list and their respective definitions of what makes "great" art.

Don't get me wrong—the Pitchfork list has issues. First off, it essentially consists of popular American music. You won't find too many deep cuts here, nor many country, K-pop, classical, or non-English-language tracks. If you're someone who "dislikes pop," you might as well leave. Also, some of the blurbs are very odd. "Hotline Bling" is described as a "human centipede of modern music," which is a unique metaphor—I'll give them that—and apparently Lorde "[dissects] love like it's a frog in science class." Justin Bieber's "Sorry" is somehow painted as a track that asks for redemption in an era of #BlackLivesMatter protests. A lot of the writing is beautiful, though, and we get phrases like, "Pop songs, trends, and life itself are a constant cycle of death and rebirth" (in reference to Ariel Pink) to balance out the other stuff.

In terms of the song choices, I like and respect Grimes, but I'm not sure "Oblivion" deserves its number two slot. There are countless glaring omissions, with innovators like Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Donald Glover, and Sufjan Stevens notably absent (though Gaga and Stevens appeared on Pitchfork's equally solid best albums of the 2010s list). Also, "The Louvre" is objectively not the best song on Melodrama.

Even so, scrolling through the list made me remember that a lot of fantastic music has been released this decade, and a lot of creative visionaries have come out of the woodwork, selectively utilizing new technologies to create ambitious works of art. Plus, in contrast to the vast majority of best-songs-of-all-time lists, a lot of these songs are by women and people of color. Yes, there's still inequality in the music industry, but music has never been more diverse, both sonically and demographically.

The list is evidence that the concept of listening to one genre or disliking music just because it's pop has been steadily dying over the past decade. In today's world, pop hits like Carly Rae Jepsen's "Run Away With Me" and Robyn's "Dancing On My Own" exist comfortably next to indie powerhouse ballads like Mitski's "Your Best American Girl" and ANOHNI's "Drone Bomb Me," and rap and ambient and metal all appear on the same playlists. The kind of pretentiousness that discredited pop music in the past is largely disappearing, and in its own respect, pop is getting more daring, more willing to experiment and pull from other genres.

Carly Rae Jepsen - Run Away With Me

Mitski - Your Best American Girl (Official Video)

You could analyze the list forever on this kind of macroscopic level, but music is never only collective or political; it always has a microscopic, personal dimension. Personally, as I scrolled through the list from the bottom to the top, I began to feel something that I don't usually feel while on the Internet. The list was strangely heartwarming. It brought back good memories. Many of the songs on it are extremely special to me, intertwined with specific places, people, and emotions.

For example, Sampha's breathtaking ballad "No One Knows Me (Like the Piano)" took me right back to a time I got lost on a bus in Queens and ended up listening to that song as a woman delivered a sermon from the seat across me while rain poured down around us. The Kanye selections are particularly wrenching; "Runaway" is eternally powerful, "Ultralight Beam" sparks several memories immediately—driving over a bridge under a purple sunset, or another time, astronomically high in the woods, blasting the song from speakers and clinging to every note. "Queen" by Perfume Genius made my jaw drop the first time I heard it. Listening to "Mary" by Big Thief is always a religious experience. SZA, Tyler the Creator, the National, Vampire Weekend, Chance the Rapper—they've all held special places in my heart and life over the years. They're as real and significant to me as any friend, and I doubt I'm alone in that.

Perfume Genius - 'Queen' (Official Video)

Reading through the list made me remember that while the world may be incredibly chaotic and painful to exist in, there's so much good music to soundtrack our journey through this brief and absurd life. The 2010's gave us revolutionary opuses like Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. and "Pa'lante" by Hurray for the Riff Raff. It gave us Frank Ocean's mystical, effervescent Blond, which I must give thanks for roughly once per week. It gave us Katy Perry's early exquisite pop and Courtney Barnett's dry ramblings and the soft electricity of Yaeji, whose "Drink I'm Sippin On" soundtracked so many of my night walks around the city.

Hurray For The Riff Raff - Pa'lante (Official Video)

It gave us ample drama and good stories, too—there was the gleeful spite of "thank u, next," and the thrill of watching Cardi B rise with "Bodak Yellow," Miley's chaotic metamorphosis and Solange's ascendance. The 2010s took David Bowie and Lil Peep. It gave us unforgettable images, Bon Iver and his mythological cabin and FKA Twigs' surrealist masterpiece "Cellophane," images that connected to us on personal levels and bind us together across space and time.

FKA twigs - Cellophane

I think that the best kind of music is taps into something much bigger than us, like a collective unconscious, something that extends way beyond the reach of one person. In order to make it, and to make any kind of art that can reach others on a profound level, you have to let go of the limitations of your singular self. That's what so many of these songs do—they tell individual stories, but they also channel something greater, and bring us together on a higher plane.

In many ways, I suspect that the 2020s will be even more full of change and tumult than the 2010s were. But I have complete faith that, when 2029 rolls around, there will be another Pitchfork list of songs that tap into the deepest emotions and most powerful connections we have. And maybe sometimes, the songs that help us personally are what give us the strength to engage with the world on a larger scale and speak truth to power. Maybe our greatest songs are the ones that, like Kendrick Lamar's "Alright," give us the strength to go on.

Kendrick Lamar - Alright


Artist, Author, and Comedian Anna Akana Is Now a Bonafide Musician

The internet star talks debut album, new single, and her transition into the music scene.

Anna Akana is no stranger to fame.

Her comedy vlogs have made her an internet sensation with 2.6 million subscribers to her channel and many of her videos raking in millions of views. She crafts relatable, personable comedy, and now she hopes her music will have the same accessibility. As Akana gears up to release her debut album, Casualty, the 30-year-old creative sat down with Popdust to talk more about her transition to music and her new single "Let Me Go."

From comedy to music. how has that transition been for you, both personally and professionally? Any lessons you've had to learn along the way?

It's been an incredibly fun transition. I've been doing comedy music for over a decade, so most of my focus has been lyrical (no one cares if you're off pitch when you're delivering a punch line). So the confidence and presence that stand up has given me, plus having been an actor for so long, I feel very comfortable on stage in the emotion of a song. I've definitely had to learn about the business side of music more—the inner workings of what this industry's structure is and how it differentiates from the fields I've been in for so long. But I've found the whole journey to be incredibly creative and fun.

Anna Akana - Let Me Go (Official Music Video)

What can we expect from your debut record? What was the creative process like?

There are 13 tracks and accompanying music videos that hone in on the message of overcoming. This album was experimental and cathartic and touches on various aspects of myself in new ways. It's dark indie pop with a very intimate feel. The creative process was suspiciously easy, but I feel like when an artist approaches a new platform you have so much energy ready to go.

What made you decide to combine spoken word and singing? What appeals to you about spoken word?

I'm an avid fan and writer of poetry. I haven't shared a ton of it online, just two animated versions ("toothbrush" and "palindrome"). But I feel like spoken word is just the right delivery for some songs, and it decides where it belongs. Most of the ones that turn out that way are written in a stream of consciousness flurry that come tumbling out, and I feel they're the most raw that way. Spoken word is an amazing avenue for story, for emotion, and to communicate powerful pain.

Anna Akana - Not My Proudest Moment (Official Music Video)

What do you want fans to take away from your music?

I hope that fans feel less alone in some aspect of their struggles.

Any tour plans? Do you ever plan to return to comedy?

I'm currently headlining Mercury Lounge on Dec 6 in NYC. Would love to do a national tour but the plan is to hit spot dates for now to hone in the show. No plans to return to comedy but ask me in ten years!

Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, and Lana Del Rey just dropped their new video for "Don't Call Me Angel," and how you feel about it will differ depending on what kind of fan you are.

So, in order to avoid incurring the wrath of one of these pop queens or her battalion of fans (and to draw attention to the inherently subjective nature of music reviews, but that's another can of worms), we've tailored our review to adapt to the perspectives of each type of listener.

Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey - Don’t Call Me Angel (Charlie’s Angels)

1. For Ariana Grande Fans

Ariana fans—today is our day. If this was American Horror Story: Coven, then Ariana would undeniably be the Supreme of this video. From beginning to end, Ariana soars above the rest; like a sun, she illuminates everything around her, and the rest of us are lucky to exist in her stratosphere.

Dressed in ravishing white and glowing with all the magnetism of a heavenly being, she sets the scene for the song and guides it towards its electric chorus. Her silky voice sounds as flawless as ever, and it's not hard to see why she's one of the most successful pop stars of her generation. Between her peerless vocals, her radiant appearance, and her enchanting presence, she has the camera wrapped around her little finger from the first moment she appears.

Ariana has been through so much and has come through her pain without a hint of bitterness or vitriol. She's the embodiment of resilience, and her strength and beauty is an inspiration to us all. Here, she does a victory lap, confident in what is sure to be a very long legacy.

2. For Miley Cyrus Fans

Miley Cyrus is clearly the strongest and most forceful presence in this video. Finally, it seems that she has found a balance between the chaos of her Wrecking Ball era and the cloistered calm of Younger Now. Here, she's older, wiser, and tougher than ever before. Having shattered the binary restrictions of her Hannah Montana days, now, she's not playing any role except for herself. She's owning all her contradictions, running her own life, and inviting us to follow suit. When she spits out, "I make my money and I write the checks / so say my name with a little respect," it's chill-inducing, and these lines are even more powerful considering that they come in the wake of her separation from Liam Hemsworth (who she may or may not have been calling out).

By challenging gender norms and refusing to comply with any normative aspects of sexuality, and by unapologetically owning her dominance and power, Miley is at the forefront of the modern feminist revolution. While the other two artists remain trapped by old-fashioned ideals of female subservience, Cyrus literally ties these concepts to a chair and beats them bloody.

3. For Lana Del Rey Fans

Lana Del Rey is criminally under-featured in this video, but when she's finally allowed to emerge from the shadows, it becomes clear that she's been in power all along. When her verse kicks in, a song that had previously been a shimmery and forgettable pop tune shifts to a dreamlike and sultry blend of psychedelia and trap, and Lana's whispery drawl eclipses the others' howls and shouts. Here, she's alternatively a devilish seductress illuminated by flames and a leather-clad, knife-wielding powerhouse, manning the computers and sending waves of helicopters out with the click of a button. This might as well be a metaphor for the kind of power she has in pop culture: All of her actions float outwards like soundwaves, spawning millions of copycats and creating indelible impacts on new generations of musicians.

Lana has never felt the need to put on the kind of antics on which Cyrus and Grande have built their careers. Keeping her private life shrouded in mystery, she bides her time and saves her wisdom and energy for her music. Quietly, Lana has carved a space for an entirely new kind of female pop star, and each artist (and the video's overall aesthetic) is indebted to her world-building talents. She has always refused to comply with any preconceived notion of what it should mean to be a woman or a writer, destroying stereotypes and embodying a wild kind of individualism and sexuality that puts her in a class of her own.

4. For Fans of All Of Them

Why do we always feel the need to pit women against each other? Lana Del Rey, Miley Cyrus, and Ariana Grande are some of the most talented pop artists alive today, and we should celebrate the fact that they're all working alongside each other, not compare them. The video is a triumphant celebration of three icons, confident in their strength, completely owning their sexualities, and eviscerating all the forces that hold them back. Together, they destroy their enemies in their own unique ways, embodying different facets of womanhood and power but ultimately each playing an integral role in a gorgeous and cinematic work of art.

Seeing all these artists come together is a blessing in and of itself. Imagine how the set must have felt with all of them in it—with all the force of their creative visions, strength, and magnetism conspiring together to create an explosion of sonic and visual magic.

5. For Social Justice Warriors

Charlie's Angels is a franchise predicated on female sexualization and the glamorization of violence. This video's overt white feminist ethos is completely based on a patriarchal concept of power, and it's ultimately damaging to feminism.

When will we start listening to women's real voices, and stop glorifying white women's ascension to violent, patriarchal positions of power? Feminism must be intersectional, not based on the actions of conventionally attractive white women; and it cannot continue to glamorize phallic symbols of authority like guns and knives. Instead, we must create a new reality that addresses the intersectional nature of third wave feminism, or at least stop praising videos that glorify female sexualization and spectacular violence.

This video is not about female solidarity, as each woman appears in a different frame, and they only come together at the end—whereas Charlie's Angels is, at its best, about the bonds between women, not their fraught relationship with men. (At its worst, it's an archaic and problematic show that has always profited off the subjugation of young women).

Ultimately, the video pales in comparison to Destiny's Child's Charlie's Angels promo song. Also, Ariana Grande's chorus completely copies Rihanna's "B*tch Better Have My Money" (just listen to 1:29)—and at the end, Elizabeth Banks appears and literally calls them angel, driving home the video's hypocrisy, as all these women have just spent the entire video asking not to be called angels. Canceled.

Destiny's Child - Independent Women, Pt. 1 (Official Video)

6. For Men's Rights Activists

This video shows what will happen if feminism is allowed to progress the way it's going. The Miley Cyrus scene is an example of blatant violence against men, justified by the existence of feminism, and this trash is exactly why Trump needs to win in 2020.

Sure, all three of them are smoking hot, but they don't show nearly enough skin. They're also wh*res who should put more clothes on. Also, these women seem not to want to be called angels, but they're dressed like angels, so obviously they do want to be called angels. Why won't women ever say what they mean? The female species is so confusing, and not only because none of them will sleep with me even though I'm a really, really nice guy.

7. For People Who Don't Care

The Amazon Rainforest is BURNING, there's a global water crisis that's doomed to worsen before the planet dies in 2050, and genocides are going unchecked in China and North Korea. Get off Twitter.


Taylor Swift Soars in “Lover’s” Exploration of Complex Love

Swift finds her state of grace on Lover's more personal, sincere, and quiet tracks.

When people think of Taylor Swift, they think of break-up anthems, heart-shattering love songs, and her ability to write and produce earworm singles.

Over the past six years, from 1989 to Reputation to Lover, the brash production of her pop-perfection has overshadowed Swift's more subtle talents. But on Lover, long-time listeners can forge a connection to the woman they've grown up with, as Swift turns to quiet reflections to grapple with loss and the trials of love.

Admittedly, throughout the first half of the album, Swift feels removed, regurgitating the same spew she's offered fans for the past six years. The songs give little insight into her life (besides the intimate title track, "Lover"). At the very least, Lover's opening song, "I Forgot That You Existed," immediately pivots away from the resentment of Reputation and moves towards acceptance: "It isn't love / It isn't hate / It's just indifference." Frankly, the tedious lyricism is disappointing.

It feels like the further you delve into the album, the further you are from being connected to Swift. "Miss Americana and The Heartbreak Prince" is the most reductive track. It's a retreat back to adolescence, but the song sounds even less mature than her work as a teenager, as it's missing the vibrant and visceral emotion of her earlier work. Upon second listen, it's apparent that she's alluding to her past reluctance to address politics, but for the average listener, it fails to achieve its intent. (And anyway, it's a cop-out for her to merely allude to her political silence rather than fully explain her rationale).

Thankfully, Swift is able to make the necessary heel turn to a more personal and quiet style midway through the album. Of course, there are still interjections of certified pop-pandering hits, like "You Need to Calm Down" and "ME!," but you're better off skipping those. The album's midsection, from "Cornelia Street" to "False God," is almost heavenly. The tracks expose another side of Swift: sweet, mature, introspective, and at her most sincere since Red. For once, she shows a few signs of genuine growing pains.

"Soon You'll Get Better" is her most personal track on the album. Swift always does her best work in the midst of heartbreak, and "Soon You'll Get Better" twists hearts into knots, as Swift softly sings about the stress of having a sick loved one. The track is about her mother, Andrea, who was diagnosed with cancer back in 2015 and went into remission before the cancer recently recurred. The lyrics leave the star emotionally exposed: "And I hate to make this all about me / But who am I supposed to talk to? / What am I supposed to do? / If there's no you."

From introspections like "Desperate people find faith / so now I pray to Jesus, too," Swift moves to "False God's" declaration that "the altar is my hips." The transition is almost seamless, exploring how different relationships evolve, sometimes with beauty and sometimes with heart-rending tragedy. "False God's" slow-burn beat and her captivating delivery are soul-stirring.

If "Soon You'll Get Better" shatters your stone cold, glass heart, then "It's Nice to Have a Friend" succeeds in gluing the shards back together. The evocative imagery tells a story of strangers becoming friends, friends becoming lovers, and lovers becoming partners. The echoing vocals hover around the chorus, encompassing the listener; it's cinematic.

On her seventh studio album, Swift sheds her old skin of pettiness and resentment. Altogether, the album matures from "I Forgot You Existed's" indifference to "Daylight's" focus on love and sun rises, as she quietly concludes, "You are what you love." For the first time since Red, Swift mixes genres and plays to her voice's strengths to say exactly what she has to say. She could have written this album back on her bedroom floor, all alone, and we'd believe it. Lover may have its ups and downs, but its midsection proves why Swift doesn't need to retreat back to country music—those brief but poignant songs create moments when the album is glorious.

Listen to the epic album here: