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Ryan Adams' '1989' is out of style

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Ryan Adams' '1989' is out of style

Within hours of its release, the whole thing also took on a meta air when the acclaimed indie act Father John Misty, a.k.a. former Fleet Foxes drummer Joshua Tillman, released some covers of Adams' covers from 1989, including a sneering version of "Blank Space" sung in a spot-in imitation of Lou Reed.

Her Blank Space is pointed and witty, while its chorus hook pulls the rug from beneath our feet, joining the dots between artist and listener. The inverted gender roles leave the meaning of lyrics like "standing in your nice dress, staring at the sunset" open to interpretation: Who is exactly wearing the garment - his ex or Adams himself? Now it's up to you fans where you would like to start streaming the album, iTunes or Spotify or the much-loved YouTube channel of Adams. That he didn't - that he has become a survivor instead, the musical equivalent of a mid-list novelist, esteemed but at the mercy of the uncertainties inherent to his trade - had to do with his own demons and profligacy, musical and otherwise, but also with the contraction and fragmentation of the music business, post-Internet.

That pattern echoed another, considerably more high-profile release this week: Drake & Future's What a Time to Be Alive, which arrived Sunday night only on iTunes and Apple Music.

It has also launched her into the class of pop stars whose live performances are extravagant spectacles, shows with visual features that eclipse the music: lasers, lights, flash pots, fireworks, confetti, a gargantuan video screen and a long runway equipped with a platform that rose at least 20 feet above the floor and spun in every direction, delivering Swift and her accomplices to various quadrants of the arena.

That's one of the many questions that animates Ryan Adams's "1989", on which the crafty alt-country singer reimagines Swift's blockbuster pop album as a polished roots-rock disc.

Any plans for you and Taylor to perform "1989" together?

Album Review Ryan Adams 1989 Taylor Swift

If you like Ryan Adams, you'll like Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, Wilco, The Shakey Graves and Dawes. Consider, for instance, this Vox dissection of "Style", which drops into the middle of a normal pop progression a minor chord that gums up the works.

On Google, the women most associated with the term include Katherine Hepburn and Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox - both of whom blur the lines between femininity and masculinity.

Today, ironic covers of pop songs are ubiquitous across the Internet. On a practical level, of course, their separation is likely what inspired Adams to undertake this project, given that the guy suddenly had a lot of free time on his hands (and a gear-packed clubhouse in which to spend it).

When his album works, however, is when it finds an emotional tension of its own, between sadness and anger. Adams slows it down and completely misses the message in his cover.

Other songs such as "Shake It Off" and "Bad Blood" get a new-wave treatment reminiscent of The Smiths and "Born in The U.S.A" era Bruce Springsteen.

New albums released this month from Lana Del Rey, Disclosure, Prince, Duran Duran, Don Henley, Keith Richards, Leona Lewis, Tamar Braxton and more will all be eligible.

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