Taylor Swift

Photo Credit: Rachel Tyler | Daily Texan Staff

From sweet country singer based out of Nashville, Tennessee, to international pop diva, Taylor Swift’s transformation has given former Swifties much to talk about.

Last Friday, Swift released her sixth album, “Reputation.” As of Monday, the album has surpassed $1 million in sales. Despite Swift’s current success, many former die-hard fans find to it hard to say she has a good “reputation.” The content an artist produces is a main factor in establishing their relationship with their fanbase, and with Swift’s transformation may come a change in her fanbase.

Corporate communication senior Kayla Reed has listened to Taylor Swift since she was 12 years old, right after the release of the now-pop star’s self-titled album. Once a positive role model, Swift’s current persona leaves Reed disappointed.

“She was kind of the epitome of what I wanted to be as a ‘Texan Girl.’ Her songs were relatable,” Reed said. “I thought she was a real person.”

Reed said Swift’s early music connected with her as a young girl going through middle school because it spoke specifically to the troubles in her young heart.

“I was like ‘Why doesn’t this boy love me,’ ‘He just won’t give me attention,’ — she (Swift) gets it,” Reed said. “Her more recent music kinda sounds like she turned into everything that I hate about Hollywood, which is just whiny and over-produced pop nonsense.”

The loss of relatability is a factor of what killed Reed’s love for Swift. Reed said part of what she and others liked about the earlier Taylor Swift was her ability to make her fans believe she understood them. Swift’s recent music fails to convince Reed that she is trying to make that connection.

While some share Reed’s sentiments about Swift, William Paterson University music and entertainment professor David Philp said Swift’s transition to pop is a decision to experiment with sound, rather than simply selling out.

“From an artist’s perspective, she did it because she wanted to do it,” Philp said. “From a business perspective, she really created a plan.”

According to Philp, a lot of planning from both Swift and those around her was done to make this image shift happen. By having a good understanding of her target audience, Philp said Swift surrounded herself with the right people and played the right shows to successfully make the leap in genres.

“She had a built-in audience who really loved her, and she spent years cultivating these audiences and has created these super fans that she has the liberty to try something different,” Philp said. “That has been successful. She’s doing it, and she’s doing well.”

But not everyone followed Taylor to pop, corporate communications senior Tristen Refuse shares Reed’s sentiments. Refuse said he became a Swift fan after her “1989” album, but her latest works have left him sorely disappointed.

“I was a fan at that point, because she got a little edgier, but it still seemed authentic,” Refuse said. “For this latest album, she seems so fake.”

Refuse attributes his falling out with Swift on her selling out to the music industry. To Refuse, her sound is no longer her own, but one that seems forced or fake.

“It just seems cookie-cutter and very super produced,” Refuse said. “At this point she’s changed (her) image so many times that none of them seen authentic.”

Philp disagrees with this idea. He said Swift’s changing sound is an inevitable phenomenon that happens to all artists when they and their fans age and change. If you don’t like Swift now, Philp said to just wait a few years, because she’s most likely going to change again.

“It’s a function of people changing and getting older and they think of music differently,” Philp said. “People just change.”

Since 2008, the Zac Brown Band has dominated country music with its Southern style and powerful songs. Its music is some of the best in the genre, capturing even the attention of non-country fans. The band’s fourth studio album, Jekyll + Hyde,  which it released Tuesday, combines its signature country sound with influences from rock, pop and soul music to provide a new twist to distinguish it from the band’s previous records.

The first track “Beautiful Drug,” is scarier than it is impressive on first listen. The song isn’t just a nod to pop music, it’s an attempt at a top-40 hit. “Beautiful Drug” evokes memories of Taylor Swift’s country-to-pop transformation, when she transitioned to pop for larger audiences and revenue, abandoning country music and her roots. 

Although “Beautiful Drug” might suggest the Zac Brown Band is about to head down the same path as Swift, the rest of the songs on Jekyll + Hyde prove that the Zac Brown Band is not abandoning country music, but rather diversifying its sound.

The diverse nature of this record comes with ease for Brown and his cohorts. From the rock creed “Heavy Is the Head,” which features Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, to the jazzy “Mange Tree,” featuring singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, each song on the record has its own identity.

Other big names appear in the credits. Grammy-winning blues musician Keb’ Mo’ and former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters helped write “Remedy” and “Junkyard,” respectively. All of these influences contribute to the varied style of the entire album.

This variety never translated onto the recordings of its first three albums. Jekyll + Hyde merges the straightforward-country band from its past albums with the flexible-and-creative band from tours.

Although its sound is more diverse than ever, the Zac Brown Band hasn’t abandoned the country sound that made them famous. Its Southern style is still prominent on Jekyll + Hyde in songs such as the album’s lead single, “Homegrown,” and “I’ll Be Your Man (Song for a Daughter).”

 A few songs suffer from the new directions the band explored on the album. “Loving You Easy” sounds like Bruno Mars went country. “Tomorrow Never Comes” is awkward, but the album includes a better acoustic version of the song.

As songs, almost every individual track can stand on its own. When put together as an album, however, they don’t make much sense. Nothing ties each track to the next; the album is more of a collage of interesting songs than one joint work of art.

Jekyll + Hyde earns its name by displaying the Zac Brown Band’s varied style — one most people haven’t heard before. This album might not live up to the magnitude of the band’s previous pure-country releases;  its first album, The Foundation,  and 2013’s country record of the year Uncaged, are rooted firmly in Southern country music. Yet, hearing the band’s evolution on Jekyll + Hyde is an overall enjoyable listen.

Album: Jekyll + Hyde

Artist: Zac Brown Band

Tracks: 16

Rating: 7/10

Kelly Clarkson has outlasted most American Idols — probably because she was one of the first. 

Clarkson, the Texas-born winner of the first season of "American Idol," succeeded thanks to her knack for co-writing and performing empowering anthems. She’s become a genuine artist in the ever-changing world of pop, and her new record, Piece By Piece, sustains her stylistic consistency.    

Over the course of seven albums, Clarkson has homed in on which kind of artist she wants to be. She delivers her ballads with the conviction of a brand new artist trying to make it in music — a characteristic a lot of musicians lose after their first few records. Notable pop stars, such as Katy Perry and Carrie Underwood, have lost a lot of the emotion in their music, but Clarkson keeps her passion.

If there’s one artist Clarkson is competing with, it’s Taylor Swift. Clarkson proves she is capable of matching, sometimes besting, Swift in vocal strength. In terms of creativity, though, Swift has the lead. 

Clarkson mirrors Swift’s 1989 on several occasions. Even the cover resembles the Instagram-esque 1989 cover. Competition is fine, but taking inspiration directly from a competitor’s record isn’t the way to go.

Piece By Piece doesn’t waver much from Clarkson’s style of passionate pop ballads and over-powering anthems. There are no revolutionary takes on pop or R&B. 

However, Clarkson’s consistent style makes a lot of the songs on this record feel stale. 

The only song that is a bit out-of-the-norm for Clarkson is “Take You High,” which contains an exhilarating electronic hook. This out-of-the-norm behavior is worth the risk; the hook of this song makes it an enjoyable experiment.    

The lead single, “Heartbeat Song,” feels like Clarkson and her producers worked for months to produce one track that sounds like every single she has ever released. With its typical guitar chords and familiar pop chorus, “Heartbeat Song” was meant to be critic proof, but I’m here to burst your bubble. The biggest flaw in this track is that it feels robotic. 

The songs on this record feel motivating when listened to, but, upon reflection, they go from inspirational to inhuman.    

There are some great moments on this record. “Invincible,” which Sia wrote, is performed perfectly. It feels amazing in the moment but leaves a bad taste in your mouth afterward. 

Clarkson has recorded singles in which there are some minor vocal errors, and it’s those performances that stand out the most. 

When she’s singing about human flaws and how everyone has them in “Piece By Piece,” it’s ironic that she doesn’t let herself slip up. Clarkson obeys her sheet music to the T.    

“Nostalgic” and “Dance With Me” contain urgency, showing Clarkson still feels the need to prove her worth in pop. “Someone” shows off Clarkson’s ability to deliver songs with a maximum dramatic effect, reminding the listener this Texan is still one of pop’s most powerful and forceful voices. 

All of these tracks suffer from the same problem: There’s no real risk. The only hazardous tracks on the album are “Take You High” and a surprising cover of Tokio Hotel’s “Run Run Run.” The latter song would be a bust without John Legend’s help.    

There’s no doubt that Kelly Clarkson is a vocally talented and empowering singer, but the over-production of this album proves to be its downfall.


Album: Piece By Piece

Artist: Kelly Clarkson

Tracks: 13

Rating: 6/10

August was filled with strange and exciting album release announcements. From Aphex Twin’s weird blimp over London to Taylor Swift’s Yahoo live stream atop the Empire State Building, several artists have given music lovers something to look forward for the rest of the year. The Daily Texan made a list of some highly anticipated, end-of-the-year releases from around the musical spectrum. 

Karen O, Crush Songs 

After appearing on her own and receiving an Oscar nomination for her work on Spike Jonze’s “Her” soundtrack, the boisterous lead singer from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is releasing her first solo album. Aside from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen O also composed the soundtrack to “Where The Wild Things Are,” although the album is credited to Karen O And The Kids. A note about the album on the singer’s website says she crushed a lot when she was 27, and the tracks on Crush Songs are “the soundtrack to what was an ever continuing love crusade.” 

Sept. 9, Cult Records

Alt-J, This Is All Yours 

The three-piece alternative band from the UK achieved critical acclaim right away after winning the prestigious Mercury Music Prize for their debut album, An Awesome Wave. Mixing elements from folk and electronic music, alt-J makes music essentially perfect for trying to find your new identity after moving away to college. The first two singles released from This Is All Yours are “Every Other Freckle” and “Hunger Of The Pine,” which features a sample from Miley Cyrus’ 2013 song, “4x4.” 

Sept. 22, Infectious Music

Aphex Twin, Syro

On Aug. 16, a strange green blimp with Aphex Twin’s logo and “2014” written on the side was flying over the Oval Space in London. The logo also started appearing in New York City around the same time. A few days later, the British electronic musician announced a new album via Tor, a deep-web browser. Syro is the first release since 2001’s Drukqs. The track list for the album is mostly weird computer gibberish, and — in true Aphex Twin fashion — the cover artwork is kind of terrifying.

Sept. 23, Warp Records

Julian Casablancas + The Voidz, Tyranny 

The nasally lead singer from The Strokes releases the debut album from his newest side project, Julian Casablancas + The Voidz. Material from the new album appears in a promotional video on YouTube and in a weird video interview that looks like it was filmed on an old VHS camcorder. The band started touring together earlier in August and will play a show at Emo’s on Oct. 30. Tyranny is available for pre-order on the Cult Records website
for $3.87.

Sept. 23, Cult Records

Perfume Genius, Too Bright 

Put Your Back N 2 It, the 2012 release from Perfume Genius, is a smart, reflective look at the treatment of homosexuals, but it’s also so sad and fragile sounding that it’s hard to listen for too long. Mike Hadreas is back with a third album that already feels less wounded and more like a strong, aggressive declarative statement. The first single, “Queen,” is the loudest Hadreas has been yet and it comes with an incredible, chaotic music video.

Sept. 23, Matador Records

Taylor Swift, 1989 

In a fashion almost as cool as Beyonce’s surprise album drop last December, Taylor Swift debuted a new single and music video — and announced a release date for her newest album — on a Yahoo live stream earlier this month from the top of the Empire State Building. Already lauded as the perfect pop song by music critics, “Shake It Off” comes with a music video of Swift mostly looking crazy in front of professional dancers. Swift considers 1989 to be her official departure from the country genre into the pop genre. 

Oct. 27, Big
Machine Records

Taylor Swift could make Country Music Awards history tonight

The Country Music Awards are on Wednesday, and if the nominations are any indication of who will win big, country-star-turned-pop-princess Taylor Swift will reign.

The seven-time Grammy winner once again leads the pack with a whopping six CMA nominations. Kacey Musgraves also has six nominations and Miranda Lambert and her husband Blake Shelton have five each.

Not only did Swift receive nominations for the categories of female vocalist of the year and album of the year, but she also received a nomination for entertainer of the year, the night’s most coveted award.

As if that wasn’t a feat in itself, Swift is the only female to be nominated for entertainer of the year four times. Swift was nominated for entertainer of the year in 2009, 2011 and 2012. She won twice. 

This year, Swift is nominated with fellow musicians Blake Shelton, George Strait, Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean.

After winning her second entertainer of the year award in 2011, Swift joined Barbara Mandrell as the only other female artist in CMA history to win the award twice.

For anyone who listens to the radio, Swift's success and nominations do not come as a shock. In her career, she has been nominated for 21 CMA awards and has won seven. 

Swift’s unbelievable success is attributed to her millions of fans and Red, her newest album, which went multi-platinum. According to Forbes, each date of Swift's Red Tour sold out in minutes, helping her become the third highest earning celebrity on Forbes’ 2013 list of top earners under 30, raking in an estimated $55 million last year.

No one can rock bright red lipstick and high-waisted shorts like Swift can. At the age of 23, Swift has taken a lot of criticism for her relationship-driven pop songs. But, in some ways, her accolades speak for themselves. 

Mrs. Carter Show World Tour; Starring Beyonce - Barclays Center show added on December 22nd, tickets on sale Monday, August 12th.

Photo Credit: AP Exchange | Daily Texan Staff

The Video Music Awards hold a hallowed place in the minds of all pop culture fanatics. Unlike the tame Academy Awards and elegant Grammy's, the Video Music Awards are ripe with dramatic proclamations and memorable moments. Here are the Daily Texan's Top 10 Moments:


If she's not the queen of pop, she's certainly Video Music Awards royalty. Spears upped the ante for VMA performances when, just "like that," she draped a yellow snake around her shoulders


Just when we thought Beyoncé and Jay-Z couldn't be loved any more, they announced their pregnancy for us on national television. #BLUEIVY


No one remembers that Madonna kissed Christina Aguilera too in her performance of "Like a Virgin." Watch closely for the quick pan to Justin Timberlake looking like a kicked puppy.


When Taylor Swift won the VMA for "Best Music Video," millions of fans were outraged for Beyoncé's shafted "Single Ladies" performance. Kanye West interrupted Swift's acceptance speech to make sure she knew.


Gaga. In a dress. Made of meat.


Find Marshall Mathers, the Real Slim Shady, in this sea of his Eminem lookalikes. This image of dozens of Eminems may have terrified us as children, but it was certainly memorable.


This may be the third Britney Spears moment on this list, but this video is important because it signaled Britney's adulthood.


Being "Crazy in Love" with Beyoncé is easy after you watch her lower down from the ceiling in a harness and dance around in a weave that is to die for.


Michael Jackson will always be the King of Pop and his live fifteen minute mashup of "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Black or White," "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" is pop music at its finest.


Fiona Apple began her acceptance speech sweetly, but it derailed quickly. By the end of her spotlighted moment Apple had sworn at the planet as well as her millions of fans.

Taylor Swift performs at the Frank Erwin Center as part of her Red Tour on Saturday night. 

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

There were a few things I knew going into the Taylor Swift concert at the Frank Erwin Center last night. I knew I was going to be surrounded by mostly preteens, there was going to be glitter and a lot of red. I didn’t know, however, that I was supposed to paint my body red, wrap my self in Christmas lights or recreate my own version of outfits she wore on stage.

My neighbor was about a foot and a half shorter than me, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the transcendent experience that is a Swift production. It’s easy to picture the curly headed blonde teenager on a stool with her guitar, but her newly straight hair and blunt bangs seem to make a much more sleek and sexy Swift. The black and red wardrobe and sets also contributed to a more mature feel. And when her silhouette appeared and the first sounds echoed through the arena, we were all in agreement: we would never be the same after this concert.

She opened with “State of Grace” and followed with “Holy Ground,” so the audience was thoroughly energized for the two hours ahead. Swift took moments throughout the show to smile into the crowd and soak in her screaming fans. She was also fresh off the Billboard Music Awards where she took home eight trophies, including Artist of the Year, so that could’ve been partially responsible for the sparkle in her eye. Then there was the strange and very sexed up version of “You Belong With Me,” where Swift and her back up singers stood in a row performing 1960s girl group arm choreography.

The next stand out number was “22.” I fear Swift has created a generation of young girls who are very much looking forward to an age that is mostly tinged with financial worries and getting your first job. But, “I Knew You Were Trouble,” immediately followed by “All Too Well” was perhaps the best part of the night. The first during which Swift’s dress was torn off to reveal a little black number underneath. Swift got about as sexy as you’ll ever see her get. “All Too Well” was deeply dramatic. Chandeliers hung from the top of the stage and it reminded me of Lady Gaga at her piano singing “Speechless” during the Monster Ball in 2011. I’m pretty sure there was fire and blood involved in Gaga’s performance, though.

Swift took time between songs to share some of her feelings and give young fans advice on life and love. When she looked out into the crowd and said surely we must have all felt the same love and heartbreak that she writes so poetically about, the screams in reply were deafening. All I could think was that at 8 years old, I certainly didn’t know heartbreak.

She closed the night with “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” The knowledge that she gets to end every night with the revenge of singing her triple platinum break up song, thousands of fans echoing in her ears and heart-shaped confetti falling from the ceiling is enough to make any girl, boy, man or woman want to be Taylor Swift. 

See slideshow of Taylor Swift w/ Ed Sheeran here!

Carrie Underwood’s 2005 country anthem “Before He Cheats” not only brought new life to karaoke bars nationwide, but also gave female victims of cheating justification for taking a baseball bat to their former partners’ vehicles.

Female country artists have been singing about cheating since Patsy Cline redid the Hank Williams ballad “Your Cheatin’ Heart” in the early 1960s. Taylor Swift has essentially made millions by signing about her relationship woes.

Either the women of country have a strange tendency to attract wandering men, or they are among the only females with enough chutzpah to wail about it into a microphone.

Cheating, however, is not limited to the world of steel guitars and southern twang.

The Billboard Top 100 Songs for 2012 featured 11 songs about cheating, but none of the year’s cheating tracks came from empowered female country artists. Taylor Swift capitalized on “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” but 2012 left most of the songs about cheating to the realm of rap.

The Daily Texan limited our research on cheating in music to the top 100 singles of 2012. All statistical findings are based on that data.

Of the 16 rap songs that fall among the top 100, eight of them are about cheating. Those songs are all sung from the male perspective.

The men of 2012 rap music were big proponents of cheating. As 2 Chainz so eloquently states in his Top 100 song “No Lie,” the “Thug life” involves having “one wife, a mistress and a girlfriend.” 

Drake, the pretty boy of the rap industry, showed off a more sensitive side in his song “Take Care.” The song was a collaboration with Rihanna and charted at No. 23, but was also the only cheating-oriented rap song where the man was the victim. 

The other seven cheating-themed rap songs are all focused on the apparent glamour of cheating, as if it is a status symbol or a badge of honor that all of the boys of rap long to pin on their flat-billed baseball caps. 

Even outside of rap, the females of the music industry stayed relatively silent about their relationship exploits and experiences. 

When women do channel their cheating struggles into songs, they typically sing about being the victim of relationship dishonesty.

None of the cheating-related songs released in 2012 were sung by females, so our research was focused on the country music genre.

Underwood sings about teaching her ex-partner a lesson and getting retribution by vandalizing his car. Taylor Swift releases the heartache she experienced with one of her celebrity boyfriends who strayed in her song “Should’ve Said No.” Shania Twain questions her wandering partner in the song “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under.”

All of these cheated ladies come from the genre of country, which is a genre that typically harbors empowered female singers. The lifestyle of a stereotypical country star is starkly different from the lifestyle of the stereotypical rapper, which could also be a factor in the different approach to dishonesty.

Aside from the few female rappers such as Nicki Minaj and Ciara, rap is usually a male-dominated genre. This, combined with the infamous rapper lifestyle, makes it unlikely to find a rap song where the man is portrayed as the victim. 

Instead, the top-charting rap songs allude to a lifestyle of “thirsty women” and “stealing bitches.” They can be heard blaring through club speakers and providing a sound track to high school proms nationwide.

Meanwhile, there is a woman in a nameless, dimly lit bar drunkenly singing “Before He Cheats” for karaoke night.

Click the image below to check out Daily Texan Life and Art's full breakdown of what the Top 100 Songs say or don't say about cheating.

Taylor Swift performs on stage at the 55th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision)

Photo Credit: AP Exchange | Daily Texan Staff

A live recap of what happened at Sunday night's Grammys. Here is everything you missed, and some things you really didn't. 

10:30 LL Cool J "does a lil' rapping" with Chuck D, T. Morello, Travis Barker, and Z Trip to close out the Grammys with what appears to be a big light show with some drums and maybe some rapping? There is a D.J. and a guitarist, but they aren't really doing any work. LL Cool J's slow and boring finale to the Grammys seems fitting after a night of musical performances that are barely more memorable than whatever LL Cool J is known for. The producers of the Grammys mix in ads with LL Cool J's performance just to mix things up.

10:15 According to Adele, people who win Album of the Year go on to worldwide success. Album of the Year for 2012 goes to Mumford and Sons for "Babel" beating out The Black Keyes, Fun., Frank Ocean, and Jack White. The sound cuts out for Mumford and Sons' speech because of cursing and too many compliments being given to Adele. The British are Coming!

10:11 Frank Ocean is wearing a sweat band to perform "Forrest Gump" with projected legs running beneath him. No one knows what is going on, but whatever it is, it looks really dumb. People run in the background, Ocean wears a yellow blazer and is obviously not running.  The twitterverse though, seems to be into this confusing, slow as Rihanna performance. Frank Ocean waddles away while whistling. And *scene*.

10:08  Elton John's "Your Song" is performed by Juanes to introduce Frank Ocean to perform. 

9:57 Now that we've remembered all of the musicians and Sandy Hook, we move into Elton John. He is wearing blue glasses and no one is surprised. T. Bone Burnet, Mavis Staples, the entire band of Mumford and Sons, and Brittany Howard. 

9:53 There is now a slideshow of artists who have died in the past year, and whose muscial tastes vary across every type of music imaginable. What is Justin doing? That's what we really want to know. But really all of these people were very talented, and we are sad. 

9:48 After a break, we return with a classical song tribute, and then Ryan Seacrest. But all of this is really just to bring on Justin Timberlake again. Everyone is happy, except for Jack White who seems distracted. Timberlake tries to claim the 2013 Grammys are the "Best Grammys Ever." No one cheers.

9:41: THE OSCAR FOR Record of the Year goes to "Somebody that I Used to Know" by Gotye featuring Kimbra. Taylor Swift, who just lost, gives them a standing ovation. Gotye thanks Prince for inspiring him to make music "growing up." 

9:40 Prince, who those of us under 40 did not know was still around, arrives on the scene to announce Record of the Year

9:35: To no one's surprise, Hayes was only here to introduce now six time Grammy winner Carrie Underwood who looks like a silver prom queen. Her eyelashes touch her eyebrows, but boy does she have some vocal range. Her dress begins to project shiny florescent blue swirls, and the future has finally arrived. The swirls turn to sparkles and Underwood belts her dress into roses, pieces of gold, and what appear to be jellyfish. No one knows what she is singing because her dress is a butterfly.

9:33 Hunter Hayes, who looks like he tried to get his hair cut like Bieber and failed, joins us for a piano solo complete with early 2000 grunge band black eyeliner.  

9:26 Katy Perry looks like a teenage dream with her middle part. After making a cut at Bon Iver, Perry presents the award for Best New Artist to Fun. probably so we can all look at Lena Dunham again. Who knew that dancy pop songs could dominate so many categories! Power couple of the year goes to Dunham and her bf for winning Best Actress at the Golden Globes and Best New Artist respectively. 

9:20 The Lumineers yelling was more than worth it to get to JACK WHITE. White looks like he's been in the sun a little bit since his ACL Live appearance in October. He plays "Love Interruption." His duet partner tries to steal the show with her beauty and maple syrup voice. There are no dancers on this stage, only professional musicians. White transfers his skills to the guitar. He sings/headbangs "Freedom at 21." He is everything Rock and Roll can be. 

9:18 The Lumineers join us for a brief set. There is some yelling. I'm not sure what it's for, but I think it might be a hipster call.

9:11 BOB MARLEY. All the Marleys tributes dance and sing. Taylor Swift is shown dancing at least as much as the Marleys on stage. 

9:10 Rihanna is back again!? Ellen is dancing. Rihanna is at least a foot taller than Bruno Mars, but half as interesting. 

9:07 Bruno Mars has what seems like the most high-energy set of the night. He dances. His personality jumps past his dance moves and into the audience, and then all of a sudden STING is there. Adele, Neil Patrick Harris, Taylor Swift, Nicole Kidman are all shown lip synching (or really singing) along.

9:05 A tribute to Bob Marley begins with Bruno Mars

8:57 The award for Best Country Album goes to The Zach Brown Band for "Uncaged"

8:54 Kelly Clarkson comes to the stage still on her winning high and brings the vocal chords that made her an American Idol winner and a favorite belting song of every high school girl since "Miss Independent" was recorded. "You make me feel like a natural woman," Clarkson sings, and we all feel like one when she's on stage with her flowy locks. While she's on stage, she goes ahead with an award. 

8:50 Post commerical break, some b-list television star introduces the Black Keys to the stage. The full brass brand in the background complements the flashy lights in the background very well, but no one in this performance of "Lonely Boy" looks lonely. There seem to be 30 people on stage. 

8:40 Carley Rae Jepsen looks like a middle schooler with her straight across bangs. She and Ne-yo present the award for Best Rap Song Collaboration  to "No Church in the Wild" by Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Frank Ocean. Beyonce is shown hugging Jay-Z. 

8:36 Rihanna appears after being descibed as "one of the bigggest pop stars ever." She sings "Stay," and seems to really be suffering from the dress code as this is the opposite of any of Rihanna's very entertaining (though very risque) dance performances. We will grant her, however, that her voice is *almost* as good as Beyonce's. 

8:27 The award for Best Pop Vocal Album goes to "Stronger" by Kelly Clarkson. Lena Dunham is shown looking very upset, but Clarkson hugs everyone and is the first genuinely happy looking winner. Clarkson makes a very funny joke about stories that should be told "after alcohol." Clarkson gives shout-outs to everyone in the audience and wins my heart forever. 

8:23 "Girl on Fire" and "Daylight" are performed by Alicia Keys and Maroon Five. Alicia Keys makes everyone forget that Maroon Five still exists by appearing in a semi-transparent dress, playing drums, and singing "Girl on Fire" live. She looks almost as good as her voice sounds. We might call this drumsynching. Keys comes close to breaking the "no breast" dress code of this year's Grammys.

8:20 Dave Grohl and some girl from NCIS appear on stage to announce awards that have been on the internet since this morning, thanking the producers, and presenting Best Rock Performance. The Black Keys win for "Lonely Boy." They are both wearing leather jackets and hold their Grammy like a football. They shout out to Akron, Ohio.

8:18 Justin Timberlake appears in two commercials during the break and snags his own hashtag: #JTGrammys

8:11 The first ever Best Urban Contemporary Album goes to Frank Ocean over Chris Brown's "Fortune" and Miguel's "Kaleidoscope Dream." Ocean tries to make a joke to open his acceptance speech and literally no one laughs. 

8:05 Justin Timberlake takes the stage in a bow tie. The video portrayed on CBS turns to a grainy sepia black & white for Timberlake's performance of "Black and White." Timberlake sings live while following choreography. The screen switches back to color for Timberlake to switch to the new "Pusher Girl" premiered last week in New Orleans.  Watching Timberlake work is watching a master: his vocal range is impeccable, his dance moves perfect, and his back up horns enticing.  

8:03 Everyone's two favorite people, Beyonce and Ellen Degeneres, appear together to introduce Justin Timberlake to the public. Ellen gets Beyonce to laugh while she is trying to talk. Beyonce demands that everyone stand for Justin's return to the stage. 

7:53 Johnny Depp appears looking like he came from a 70's birthday party. He introduces Mumford and Sons who are all wearing black. They play "I Will Wait," and dozens of screeches are heard from the audience. The lighting is golden like the sunshine that their native England rarely recieves, and the 2013 Grammys continue to lack any sort of excitement.

7:50 Faith Hill and Tim McGraw present the award for Song of the Year. It is awarded to "We Are Young" by Fun. Lena Dunham, media darling, is sitting right next to the band and appears to be the only one in the whole audience wearing color. 

The band says "I don't know what I was thinking writing the chorus for this song...we are not very young." Taylor Swift is shown applauding above her head. Fun. thanks their families for letting them live at home while they have been young. For the first time, the wrap it up music plays louder and louder. 

7:43 Best Country Solo Performance goes to Carrie Underwood for "Blown Away." Her hair is perfectly waved, and she thanks Country Music, the Lord, and "all of her amazing people" for her award and even manages to add a "golly" to her performance. 

7:40 The Grammys finally find a voice worth listening to in the R&B singer Miguel, but they make a mistake pairing him with rapper Wiz Khalifa andthe act does little more than segway to Carrie Underwood's award.

7:32 John Meyer appears in a blue velet suit. Miranda Lambert and Dirks Bentley play a slow song with a tree in the background. The slow, melodious Grammys comtinue.  

7:30 The band Fun. plays and gets doused in water. It is not that important. They play "Carry On" and continue to be a good-time party band.

7:28 The grammy for Best Solo Performance goes to Adele for "Set Fire to the Rain," a song that most of us have already forgotten about. She managed to best Kelly Clarkson with "Stronger" and the world-wide summer hit "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae-Jepsen

7:22 After a lengthy opening monologue from LL Cool J in which zero fun was had and no good jokes were made, the Grammys continues down its no-offense, no fun path with Ed Sheeran singing "The A Team". The momentum and fun of Taylor's pop dies int his set.  

7:05 Princess of pop and country alike Taylor Swift takes the stage. She sings her catchy "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" in true mad hatter style. Spinning top hat, surrealist swirls, and all. Never has Tay-Swift looked quite so normal. 

7:00 The Black Keys kick off the 2013 Grammys with rousing fast start to the album of the year race. The band has already been awarded the award for rock album for "El Camino" and rock song for "Lonely Boy"

In Tuesday’s review of the new Taylor Swift album, Aleksander Chan asks, “Was there a better couplet in 2010 than ‘you made a rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter’ from the the single ‘Mine’?” I think, in fact, there was. I’d like to nominate this gem from Slough Feg’s song “Heavyworlder,” off of 2010’s album The Animal Spirits: “I wanted to breathe, the air is like lead/My love for this world is turning to dread.”

— Paul Hay, Classics graduate student from Youngstown, Ohio