Song of the Week breaks down and talks about the song we just can’t get out of our head each week. Find these songs and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist. For our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, Taylor Swift continues to reclaim her narrative with a surprise release.
“Nothing lasts forever, but this is getting good now” isn’t just a line from Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” — it’s also a fairly accurate summary of Swift’s treatment of her catalogue. Her gradual re-recording of previous albums in an effort to own her masters is a shrewd business move, to be sure, and has also prompted periodic bouts of nostalgia with each release. With “Wildest Dreams,” we’ve taken a quick dip back into the 1989 era, and sources were unable to confirm if Harry Styles is sleeping with one eye open or not.
Since the Red re-release was recently confirmed and will be dropping November 19th, the “Wildest Dreams” release may have been an earlier surprise than even Swift expected. (“Wildest Dreams” initially appeared on Swift’s 2014 1989 album.) Somehow, the narrative now involves TikTok: this week, one of the top trends on the short-form video app has been a slow-motion zoom on a subject, set to Swift’s original “Wildest Dreams.”
It’s no surprise that Swift, who recently joined TikTok herself, saw the trend. “If you guys want to use my version for the slow dream trend, here she is!” she wrote in a TikTok video as an announcement.
Overall, as with many of the other re-recorded tracks, there aren’t many differences in “Taylor’s Version” of the song. She’s taken great care to capture the sound of the original, right down to a riff in the second chorus, and this is by design — the point of Taylor’s Versions, after all, is to provide a listening alternative to the tracks for which she no longer owns the masters.
The clearest difference is in the fact that Swift’s vocals have undoubtedly improved over the course of her career. She’s always been a remarkably gifted writer, and it seems that the recent woodland excursions of folklore and evermore allowed her to truly unlock her best vocal spaces as well. The cool breezes, hot coffees, and crunchy leaves of the Red era are right around the corner — but for now, lose yourself in the updated dreamscape of this 1989 gem.
— Mary Siroky
half•alive – “Make of It”
half•alive have no problem being vulnerable — in fact, it’s their greatest asset. Their new song “Make of It” finds vocalist Josh Taylor soaring over pounding drums and washes of synths, spelling out his personal struggles and fighting back with motivation and courage. half•alive’s ability to create moving, almost theatrical indie pop is what made their debut album Now, Not Yet so enticing, and on “Make of It,” they’ve doubled down even more.
As Taylor lays bare and the quick song comes to a close, the words continue to ring true: “My past is what I make of it.” It’s a bold statement told to himself, reminding both him and the listener that the past doesn’t define us — it just gives us more room to grow. — Paolo Ragusa
Moon Kissed – “Strange Satisfaction”
Ready for cuffing season? Moon Kissed sure are on their latest single. Over glossy synths and a kicking synth drum, the New York-based trio daydream about the thrill that comes with giving into the type of masochistic crush that’s sure to ruin your life…and you’re totally fine with it.
“You look so good in baby blue/ I wanna rip it off of you/ But will you let me get that close?/ Someone gave me a megaphone/ You took it out my hands and sung/ So I’ll sing the harmonies in the background, quiet,” Khaya Cohen croons on the opening verse, expertly pinpointing that feeling that comes when you’re more than happy to cede control in exchange for the candy-coated sugar coma of an all-consuming love. — Glenn Rowley
Kina – “Trying Not To Cry ft. Cavetown”
Italian producer Kina has teamed up with UK singer-songwriter Cavetown for a low-fi track with a very relatable theme: aren’t we all just trying not to cry right now? The track is vibey and slight, just over two and a half minutes, and feels like the hazy moments right before sleep. “I’ve been trying not to cry in the grocery store,” they admit on the chorus, which feels like one of those lines that comes from a personal experience that somehow becomes relatable for everyone who has lived through a global pandemic. — M.S.
Parcels – “Somethinggreater”
There is a delightful tenderness at the start of “Somethinggreater,” with delicate piano hits and a decidedly organic crescendo. But when the chorus hits, that tenderness turns quickly into something powerful, energized, and riddled with anguish. Parcels haven’t ditched the Nile Rogers-influenced strut that made their previous material so irresistible, but on “Somethinggreater,” they’re adding more character and more freedom to their sound.
Complete with electric guitar attacks, a string section arranged by Arcade Fire’s Owen Pallett, and a raucous bass line (as usual), “Somethinggreater” advances upon Parcel’s previous work to create, well, something greater. — P.R.
KAINA – “Casita”
Born to Guatemalan and Venezuelan parents, KAINA has a gift for capturing the feeling of growing up between different worlds — and singing in a way that surpasses any borders. On “Casita,” she sings a thoughtful, yearning lament for the house in which she grew up. Whether literal or metaphorical, the track captures the aching feeling of yearning for home. While not unique to first-generation kids in the United States, this is the specific experience KAINA is singing about — where she transcends, though, is in her ability to conjure the image, and the feeling, of home, regardless of lived experience.
Between her clear vocals and instrumentals that incorporate more nostalgic and traditional sounds, it’s a lovely and lasting track that successfully solidifies something that can often feel so temporary and ephemeral. — M.S.
Sarah and the Sundays – “VICES”
Austin, Texas, is a breeding ground for hip indie rock groups, and Sarah and the Sundays is one to keep an eye on. Their latest release is a bop with a steady groove weaving through the feelings of loss, growth, and change. One of the gifts of poppier indie music is that such themes can be explored in an upbeat way, and “VICES” is a prime example of that: there has been so much sadness over the past year, but what has been almost overwhelming for so many is the feeling of the mundane. This song was born of that place — but just because the inspiration was a feeling of boredom doesn’t mean the song has to be boring. — M.S.
Top Songs Playlist:
Check out and subscribe to our Spotify Top Songs playlist.