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Why you really keep mishearing that Taylor Swift lyric

Posted by Popjustice on Nov 25 2014 at about 13:50


There’s an interesting piece on about ‘Blank Space’, the Taylor Swift song that recently broke a chart record but would have broken at least one other record (‘MOST AMAZING SINGLE EVER RELEASED’) if it had been ‘Style’.

Anyway, the interesting piece concerns something we all know exists but rarely acknowledge in public: the fact that in ‘Blank Space’ the line “long list of ex-lovers” sounds so much like “lonely Starbucks lovers” that many people think Taylor’s actually singing about a coffee emporium-based romance scenario.

According to our notes from the album playback we, too, made that mistake when we first heard the song. In fact a portion cut from our 1,989 word album review (in order to get it down to 1,989 words) says this:

Lady Gaga declared that ‘ARTPOP’ would provide what she described as a ‘reverse Warholian expedition’, but with considerably less fanfare Taylor offers a few expeditions of her own: a reverse Sondheimian expedition with ‘Out Of The Woods’, a reverse Orwellian expedition with privacy banger ‘I Know Places’, and an espresso-fuelled Shakespearean expedition with ‘Blank Space’, in which the ‘star-crossed lovers’ you so often find in pop lyrics somehow end up in Starbucks.

It is just as well we chopped that bit out because as well as being a terrible piece of writing it was also wrong about the Starbucks bit.

So why does everyone hear the line incorrectly when, once you know what she’s singing, it’s totally obvious what she’s been a-warbling all along?

Well, the interesting piece goes into all sorts of things. According to a linguist quoted in the article, misheard lyrics are mostly about what you think you’re going to hear. The interesting piece explains that part of your understanding comes from what you’re actually hearing, and the rest comes from “our minds — from our expectations, in other words”.

What the interesting piece doesn’t explain is why anyone would actually expect to hear ‘Starbucks lovers’ in a Taylor Swift song. ‘Starbucks lovers’ is not, as they say on the internet, ‘a thing’.

But ‘star crossed lovers’ is a thing. It’s a thing from a Shakespeare romp called Romeo & Juliet, which was a love story, which inspired a love song, which was called ‘Love Story’, which was by Taylor Swift.

If you are listening to a Taylor Swift song you are subconsciously expecting something to do with Romeo & Juliet.


Some words of advice for Only The Young

Posted by Popjustice on Nov 24 2014 at about 14:57


Hello Only The Young.

There’s a picture of you at the top of this letter in case you’ve forgotten what you look like.

We were sad to see you go out of The X Factor on Saturday night. It’s unusual for your sort of act to do very well when it comes to the live finals so you did a good job to get to this stage, but it’s also a shame you ended up getting the boot as a result of a weird format quirk without getting to sing. If you’d been singing against ‘Stevi’ in a normal Sunday night boot-off debacle, you’d probably still be in the show.

But let’s not dwell on what’s happened. Instead, let’s look ahead to what comes next.

You will almost certainly find yourselves bound by X Factor contractual nonsense, meaning you can’t release anything for a while. You probably want to just get on with everything. But actually, it’s fine. There’s no rush. People won’t forget about you. Well, they might. They might not think about you on a daily basis. But it won’t take much to remind them when the time’s right. And sometimes it’s good to let the dust settle.

The next few months are critical, and they’re not about what you do. They’re about what you don’t do.

Don’t do anything rash, don’t do anything shit. The best popstars achieve what they achieve by saying no to nearly everything. By all means, turn on a few Christmas lights if you want to. That is allowed. But don’t say yes to much else. Don’t become known as the sort of band who’ll turn up to anything. Ask yourself what Jake Quickenden would do. Then do the opposite.

Think of yourselves as a Wall’s Viennetta. Imagine that you are amazing, which shouldn’t be hard because you are, indeed, amazing. And imagine that you are in the freezer. You will still be amazing when you’re taken out of the freezer in six or eight months. You’ll probably last a year, if you want to stay in the freezer that long. The point is that everyone will go bloody berserk when you come out of that freezer. They’ll want you so much that they won’t even want to let you defrost for a while like it suggests on the box. But what if you’re taken out of the freezer and shown around to loads of people, carted around the country to rubbish local radio roadshows and dodgy product launches before your big first single’s ready? You will melt and became rubbish. You can try and get back in the freezer but you’ll just be a frozen brown puddle. Who’s going to want to eat a shit Viennetta a year from now? Nobody. The Viennetta will be in the bin.

This is a picture of a Wall’s Viennetta.


Screengrab this picture or save it to your ‘camera rolls’. Remember the Viennetta.

Obviously, you need to get a record deal. (The Viennetta principle is important here, too. Decent labels don’t like melted and refrozen Viennettas.) Syco will get first refusal, and maybe you know already whether they’re going to be interested. They’d do a good job on you if they wanted you, but if they don’t then that’s not the end of the world. If your contract says you have to stick with Sony, RCA are probably a good bet.

You are brilliant, but because of the sort of act you are, it would be easy for you to seem crap. During the X Factor live shows it seemed like a few poor decisions were made regarding song choices and staging. They were choices that unfairly pigeonholed you as a really naff band before you’d even had a chance to prove that you weren’t.

Obviously, you’re not very cool. Not in an ‘oh let’s go and eat some street food in Deptford while pretending to like PC Music more than we actually do’ sort of way. That’s fine – you might not hear this from anyone in the media, or anyone working at record labels, but the secret is that most teenagers aren’t that cool either. (Here’s another really big secret that most people at labels won’t tell you – most teenagers DON’T EVEN LIVE IN LONDON!) But not being cool doesn’t mean you’re uncool. It just means you exist. People who exist is a good demographic. Continue reading ‘Some words of advice for Only The Young’ »

Rihannawatch: Threat Level Critical

Posted by Popjustice on Nov 24 2014 at about 13:00


This morning we have taken the step of shifting the Rihanna Single Threat Level to Critical status.

Please remain calm and read the following words.

An explanation of the Rihanna Single Threat Level system

As you well know, nosiness experts MI5 have in place a system of threat levels based on potential problems vis-a-vis the whole national security thing.

It’s split into five stages. We’ve basically copied those off the MI5 website and changed ‘an attack’ to ‘a Rihanna single’.

Low: A Rihanna single is unlikely
Moderate: A Rihanna single is possible, but not likely
Substantial: A Rihanna single is a strong possibility
Severe: A Rihanna single is highly likely
Critical: A Rihanna single is expected imminently

When we moved into Q4 almost two months ago, the Rihanna Single Threat Level (RSTL) moved from Substantial to Severe. As the days and weeks have ticked by, that threat has intensified.

As you can see, by moving the Rihanna Single threat level to Critical, we are acknowledging that a new Rihanna single could appear at any minute – and for this reason we suggest all readers remain on high alert. Actually is ‘high alert’ a different classification system to the threat level one? And where do RED ALERT and DEFCON 1 fit in? You get the idea, anyway.

Our intelligence

MI5 base their threat levels on “the assessment of a range of factors” including current intelligence, recent events and what’s known about intentions and capabilities. Our intelligence is bloody rubbish to be honest but the recent events and known intentions and capabilities provide COMPELLING EVIDENCE.

  • Someone we know said they’d heard the single would appear on November 24.
  • Another person we know said they’d heard it would be November 25.
  • The latest Rihanna has ever debuted a new single during Q4 is October 27, meaning that her new arrival is now a month overdue. If this was a baby they would have induced it a fortnight ago.
  • Obviously we all know she has been recording music, and Rihanna has confirmed that an album exists. David Guetta, Ne-Yo and DJ Mustard are among those who’ve recorded with her. Furthermore Calvin Harris recently announced that his submissions won’t appear on the album, suggesting that a tracklisting has been finalised.
  • Anyway we’re not here to talk about the album, all we want is a single.
  • Recent reports suggest something’s coming soon.
  • It’s not Q4 without Rihanna.
  • She’s not going to want to release it too close to Christmas because everyone loses all sense of reality from December 16 onwards.

There are loads more bits and bobs floating around but you don’t need this spelling out. Unless something goes horribly wrong or something annoying has happened, Rihanna could release a single at any moment.  Continue reading ‘Rihannawatch: Threat Level Critical’ »