Connect with us

Blogs

“Magdoktor ka nga!”: How intellectual discrimination and stereotypes belittle our career endeavors

If the real world out there was so unkind to the aspiring dreamers and unconventional jobs, why have we been enduring this for so long rather than changing it? 

Published

on

Artwork by Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro/TomasinoWeb

Where do we squeeze in ourselves, if our field interests don’t coincide with the expectations stitched by others without sacrificing too much of our own desires? 

We are told to choose our careers wisely, one that would make us rich, one that would take our families abroad, one that would leave us with no worry in life, for the real world isn’t forgiving. While they aren’t entirely wrong, they’re indirect projections of inhibited and decayed dreams in the guise of constructive criticism or elderly advice we have to stick to out of respect, mainly for a country that pulls the utang na loob card with any chance it gets. 

Your relative whose face would twist haughtily once you mentioned your art course is the same relative who questioned your commission prices, demanding it should be free because they are family. Your nosy tita who grills you over pursuing that medical-related field. Your inconsiderate friend that smart-shamed your outspokenness. 

These microaggressions have formed hierarchies that have elongated from high school to college, and work. Rooted in irony, the educational system’s formed categorizations that were meant to align us with our career aspirations instead placed us on the peripheries of feeling reluctant and incapable to pursue our goals. It is adverse to hear students and our friends downplay their career interests and capabilities while enduring the stereotypes co-opted by fallacious and backward mindsets.

If the real world out there was so unkind to the aspiring dreamers and unconventional jobs, why have we been enduring this for so long rather than changing it? 

Free will is not entirely free in fields

Artwork by Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro/TomasinoWeb

Free will is a partial myth in pursuing these fields. In line with our careers, they’re here to signify that we have much more liberty in choosing what we want to become as we get older. 

We conjured a hopeful image of finally breaking free from the grasp of our families that pressured us, only for it to be convoluted as a concrete source for them to devise our career path, with the help of labels. 

But this hindrance to act on our own volition also abrupts from internal conflicts such as assessing the stereotypes each field had, testing the waters of how competitive each field was, and undermining our own capabilities so we won’t plummet in false hope. 

Trained to toughen up in the real world by our families and ourselves, will our free will and self-determination still remain the same once we’re immersed in these fields for longevity? 

The unsaid burdens in STEM and ABM 

What could go wrong with entering the primary fields championed by Filipino families? Akin to being the favorite, high-achieving, doctors to CEOs, STEM and ABM’s ugly truths are rarely revisited amidst its high demands. 

But there are multilayered ramifications of pursuing the sciences that are diluted by unfaltering admiration with no action, such as the “suffering for science”. However, these problems are overlooked due to the assumption that the sciences are the safe getaway. 

Default assumptions that all STEM and ABM students are smart, good in math, and have guaranteed success not only add to the counterproductive compulsion but also raise the expectations for the next set of students. On the flip side, it’s not exactly a world run by girl bosses. Gender inequalities, anxiety, and generational pressure in these fields fade into the background because of the belief that their perks outweigh the perils anyway. There’s this infamous STEM gap that tends to sustain a male-dominated culture that marginalizes women and minorities

Does Filipino culture love us, or love the idea of us becoming rich doctors or businessmen? The pandemic made us to come to our senses that medical workers and businessmen embraced many dreadful events. Tons of businesses closed and hospitals were overflowing with patients. It was time to actually reach a helping hand and understand with empathy. Simply fantasizing and patronizing hasn’t and will not feed the crippling state of our fellow overworked and underpaid workers in these fields. 

Just because science and business students seem like they have the ideal blueprint of a stable life, we should not invalidate the pressures and difficulties they too, struggle with. When we pause and resort to thought-terminating clichés, we remove any room for them to engage in critical and thoughtful discourse just because they are only illustrated to be robotic, unfeeling, but perfect beings that have to operate, secure the bag, or do the math. 

Liberal arts & humanities deserve an apology 

People are comforted to see that culture and expression are still alive, believing that these are the sole responsibilities of humanities and art students to make society look like it has a historic purpose, while everyone else runs stocks and builds the machines. Their entrance exams scores are low, an indirect translation to say that it is a piece of cake to get in. It’s backhanded praise, but aren’t we all used to it? 

“Many universities, [are] in a rush to become “world-class” by emphasizing the hard sciences and other easy to quantify disciplines, have let the soft sciences languish,” sociologist Philip Altbach wrote. To compensate for the fact that you’re entering a field stereotyped to produce rebels, you had to at least come out as a wealthy lawyer or a judge. 

Photo courtesy of Ben Toalson

If social sciences students were stereotyped into rowdy insurgencies, then art students are often boxed into loners or weirdos. “The starving artist trope has been passed down for generations, and it does nothing but disempowers, artists, trying to promote their work,” Celinne de Costa voiced the perceived subordinate role of artists for generations. It says a lot when Filipino families would rather have their child carry a syringe rather than a paintbrush. 

To discredit the arts and humanities as fields that require no skill is a blow to its practitioners. These fields are not of complete sophistication as what academia aesthetics romanticize them to be. We’ve always automatically categorized them as non-essentials or regarded them as average people that just knew how to write, speak in public, draw, or perform. But it was their imaginative and interpretive efforts, that kept our morality and humanity in check these godforsaken days. 

“You don’t want to end up like them” 

Often viewed over the parameters, vocational courses are always at the receiving end of garnering mixed reactions and judgment for not selecting an academic strand. Despite being stereotyped for pursuing a non-academic field due to laziness, confusion, or financial instability, versatility and flexibility are actually their biggest strengths. 

Photo courtesy of The NYU Dispatch

“Do vocational programs enroll a disproportionate share of low-income, minority students? This stereotype is only partially true. This concentration of poor students in vocational courses is a serious concern that deserves attention,” Harry Silberman pointed out the inferiority structures in the field. 

Additionally, the student-athlete stereotype (i.e. those who do not take classes seriously) is a misconception that they have no care in the world asides from sports. The cocky, dumb, jock trope should be reevaluated for those who pursue sports are as serious and disciplined as general students. 

Despite their critical roles, society has led us to believe that their placement in the hierarchy assured us that we could safely call ourselves spectacular as long as we did not cascade downward the mundane outskirts of this classist, career pyramid

These stereotypes disempower individuals to completely embrace their athletic, culinary, agricultural, or technical endeavors because of how “basic” and “unskilled” they’re presumed to be, pitting them at the bottommost edge of society. Always tossed to the latter, the system has exploited their skills as their dexterities in overworking have sunk them to minimum wage. But it was all thanks to their nimble work behind the scenes, that we have only applauded and patronized them as unsung heroes for taking up the risk without actually performing concrete action to better the exploitative system. 

Extinguish the molds, not the fire  

Aside from the pressure permeated by our certain relatives, we’ve instilled a gruesome, competitive atmosphere ourselves that wasn’t even healthy dialogue anymore. Freedom walls delineated catfights of Engineering and AB students going at each other’s throats of who had it the hardest, who was more exhausted, or who deserved more. 

But at the end of the day, we’re all barking at the wrong tree, masking the true identity of the system and outdated mindsets that should be held accountable. With this, we felt the constant need to defend ourselves, our fields, which had tendencies to coddle our ego. 

It is time to come to terms that neither the easiest nor the hardest field exists. As near to a cliché as I could make it, I’d love to raise the banner and call on equality for all fields. But if calling for equal recognition and treatment only meant short-term and performative solutions such as normalizing unwholesome resilience and sensationalizing hardships rather than acknowledging that this is a systemic problem of our culture, we’ll all succumb to this never-ending cycle.

To the family and friends that constantly entrenched us into a whirlpool of doubttricked us into believing mediocrity will always be our best friend if we refused to be the person they construed us to be, please let us succeed in our way. 

And as a pat on the back for ourselves, it is time to ignite our uninhibited passionsnot to impress nor repay someone, but for the inner child who has never given up on us, patiently waiting for us to rekindle our true ambitions. 

Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro
Blogs Editor, Blogs Writer | + posts

Comments

Blogs

Let your unfiltered feelings flow with ‘The Purple Project’

Delve into their introspective project that fosters safe spaces for emotional health by dropping meaningful messages, joining collaborations, and copping cute apparel.  

Published

on

Photo courtesy of Hiatus Manila

For an eventful world that doesn’t seem to pause, we can’t help but sometimes want calmness to descend. In this pandemic, we tend to dilute our feelings to the side, churning down the thoughts and emotions of what we truly want to convey. 

Gazes, playlists, love languages, quality time, you name it. The mundane and spontaneous are enough to affirm us that it is okay to simply feel and take a deep breath. Akin to the color purple, consisting of different variations and tones, it tells us that our feelings can radiate in dreamy lilacs or to darker shades of solitude, making us completely valid and capable of feeling. And this is the culture of care Hiatus Manila’s The Purple Project devotes itself to. 

The Purple Project aims to echo unsaid feelings, value self-care, and reach out to those in need by evoking meaningful connections. Delve into their introspective project that fosters safe spaces for emotional health by dropping meaningful messages, joining collaborations, and copping cute apparel by referring to the mechanics: 

  1. They will be using a Google Form where the audience can drop their purple thoughts (which should be done anonymously) and they will be sharing them weekly.  
  2. They will also be posting short videos of tips and advice on how to take better care of themselves in collaboration with other artists/influencers. 
  3. Most importantly, the proceeds from this project will be allotted in establishing a foundation to provide materials/needs to target communities/partners.

In their previous projects, #HiatusCares and #ThePurpleProject, participants were encouraged to take part and post film photos that they wanted to share, especially what they miss and what they felt (e.g. missing friends and face-to-face classes). 

Photo courtesy of Hiatus Manila

But that’s not it! Get your chance to cop the “Mean It” shirts and hoodies, which contain words shared by those who participated in The Purple Thoughts drop box. Proceeds of this project will be used for donations to chosen charity.

You can also visit their Instagram: @hiatus.mnl for more updates. 

Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro
Blogs Editor, Blogs Writer | + posts

Comments

Continue Reading

Blogs

#PpopRising: 6 P-Pop groups worth listening to

As a response to the prevalent phenomenon of K-pop, there has been a fueled interest in the renaissance of sensational P-pop groups. But which of them are worth listening to?

Published

on

Artwork by Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro/TomasinoWeb

Let’s get local! From the legendary APO Hiking Society to the best-selling Philippine female group of all time, SexBomb Girls, we are no strangers when it comes to local music groups. Why? It’s because we love singing, particularly songs that touch our pathos. Truth be told, our country could even become synonymous with karaoke. And it wouldn’t be long, let alone shocking, if there comes a time a Filipino will be born with a silver mic. 

But nowadays, the Korean music industry continues to dominate our domestic airwaves. Just looking on Twitter, it’s a no-brainer that many K-pop fans are also Filipinos. So as a response to this prevalent phenomenon, there has been a fueled interest in the renaissance of sensational P-pop groups. But which of them are worth listening to?

To give you an idea about our emerging P-pop acts, here are six groups that are uncontrollably rising in the local scene.

1. BGYO

Photo courtesy of Instagram/bgyo_ph

Following the classic adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” it’s also the same for BGYO. Trained under Filipino and Korean mentors for two years to become idols, it was a long time coming for members Gelo, Akira, JL, Mikki, and Nate. Pronounced as “B-G-Y-O,” the all-male quintet’s arrival to the local music scene seems like an advent.

Obviously, expectations are high and the pressure is real, but they didn’t disappoint. Less than a year since their debut, BGYO proves that they’re unstoppable. 

Albeit rookies, they successfully tapped the international arena after dropping their debut album, The Light, last October. After charting in several countries, it is safe to say that they are on track with their goal to deliver empowerment and inspiration. My favorite from the album is ‘When I’m With You,’ as it reminds me of a laid-back One Direction song. 

That’s why it also seems fitting that BGYO’s fandom is called ACEs. Like the playing card, they are becoming a symbol of high quality and excellence. Not only do they offer an infusion of pop and electro-dance in their songs, but this five-member boy group also has a high sense of youthful fashion that I bet many influencers could learn a thing or two thereof.

No wonder it’s easier to pronounce their name as bagyo — a fitting mistake that makes sense because they’re poised to be the baddest storm of them all. 

2. BINI

Photo courtesy of Instagram/bini_ph

Being the sister group of BGYO in Star Hunt Academy, the irresistible girl group BINI first appeared in public with their captivating rendition of Ryan Cayabyab’s nostalgic novelty song,Da Coconut Nut.’ And of course, there’s no doubt that their fanbase, called Bloom, would grow upon watching their first-ever music video. But frankly, it’s not a walk in the park for members Aiah, Colet, Maloi, Gwen, Stacey, Mikha, Jhoanna, and Sheena.

Together with BGYO, BINI has been working hard over the past two years. So for them, coming on stage together is more than a dream come true. Eventually, they debuted with a rather familiar song, ‘Born to Win,’ which gives me an early 2010s electro-pop vibe. But don’t let that stop you from listening to them. 

Indeed, I stand corrected upon listening to BINI’s debut album with the same name. ‘Born to Win’ contains bops, from the funky ‘Golden Arrow,’ to the euphoric ‘Kapit Lang’—all of which you can tune in all day long, all year long. With their charming voices and flawless dance moves, they are definitely worthy of numerous praises. 

Similar to their brother group, Born to Win is a testament to BINI’s future aspirations of global fame. In fact, the sibling groups recently had their first online concert, ‘One Dream,’ last Nov. 6 and 7. And perhaps, there are more concerts to come for the girls of BINI.

3. ALAMAT

Photo courtesy of Twitter/Official_ALAMAT

Want to stan a group that is extremely proud to represent their Filipino roots? Say no more.

Multilingual group ALAMAT loves to experiment with their singles. Starting their journey with debut single, ‘kbye,’ the eight-member act absolutely understood the assignment. Combining several Filipino languages in a catchy breakup song is like virtually visiting the different regions of the country.

ALAMAT comprises of Taneo, Mo, Tomas, R-ji, Valfer, Alas, Gami, and Jao. Each one of them is a representation of our deep and immemorial Filipino culture. The group’s distinctive sense of style, which is derived from traditional Filipino influences, has been their brand.

Daring to be unique and legendary, ALAMAT will pull off anything up their sleeve, even if that means getting out of their comfort zone. And that is visually evident in the music video for their single, ‘kasmala,’ which is a hot take on discrimination towards Filipinos.

Moving to their latest single, ALAMAT’s sentimental take on the 2011 Chavacano hit ‘Porque,’ originally sung by Maldita, is also a feast for the ears. A trip down memory lane, these extraordinary boys mix lo-fi together with traditional Filipino instruments in a way to declare to the world how versatile they are. Might as well add it on your study playlist!

4. LITZ

Photo courtesy of Twitter/official_litz

There’s a new girl (group) in town, and they’re ready to shine!

Within a few days after releasing their pre-debut single, ‘Natataranta,’ LITZ already accumulated more than 250,000 views and 25,000 likes on its music video. A JaDine fan would know that LITZ’s single is actually a cover of James Reid’s song in the 2014 teen romcom film Diary ng Panget. But what, or rather, who prepared them to be ready?

It was no other than celebrated choreographer Teacher Georcelle, the founder of the dance company G-Force and who was also the one who coined the group’s name. If you’re unfamiliar with her, she’s basically the mastermind behind the iconic choreography of Sarah Geronimo’s ‘Tala,’ the 2015 record-breaking hit that became a dance craze after resurfacing on TikTok.

With that kind of expertise, members Ashtine, Heart, Fatima, Bianca, and Yumi definitely learned from the best. And needless to say, it manifested in their praiseworthy performance of ‘Natataranta.’

Unfortunately, if you’re asking when they are going to release their official debut single, there’s no specific date yet. On a positive note, you can always check out LITZ’s social media accounts

5. 4TH IMPACT

Photo courtesy of Twitter/4thImpactMusic

Perhaps the most mature act on the list, one should not brush off a group like 4th Impact. Being in the global music scene for six strong years, the all-female quartet deserves more appreciation from Gen-Z.

Although the group was formed at the suggestion of their aunt nearly two decades ago, it was only in 2015 when sisters Almira, Irene, Mylene, and Celina reached the spotlight after competing in X Factor UK where they finished fifth place. Currently, the most streamed video in the history of the British show, 4th Impact’s audition video covering Jessie J’s ‘Bang Bang’ has already over 180 million views.

Soon afterward, their performances were highly anticipated worldwide during the X Factor Live Tour. Over the next four years, the girls’ calendar was jam-packed with live tours and shows all over the world. And in 2020, 4th Impact released their first original song, ‘K(no)w More.’ Accompanied by their powerful vocals, their latest single screams attagirl—an encouragement to get out of that toxic relationship. 

Today, the four sisters focus more on their online engagement with their fans, particularly on TikTok and KUMU, where they won the Celebrity of the Year for the 2020 KUMU Special Awards. With that, I’m confident to say that their future will further slay, so get ready for it!

6. SB19

Photo courtesy of Twitter/SB19Official

Saving the best for the last, if you’re still reading this article and you haven’t listened yet to SB19, you’re missing out big time. A year before all of us were forced to stay home, SB19 got their deserving big break in 2019 after netizens crazed over the group’s synchronized dancing in their second single ‘Go Up.’

But before emerging in the scene, SB19 admitted that they almost decided to disband and give up their dreams. Sadly, this is the heartbreaking reality in the Philippine music industry, where musicians and artists alike have to cling to big names in order to survive the dog-eat-dog world of entertainment. 

Since then, members Josh, Pablo, Stell, Ken and Justin continuously spread their influence with titles that shows their versatility and multiple talents in songwriting, singing, and dancing. And these characteristics are still greatly displayed in their extended play, ‘Pagsibol.’ With tracks like ‘What?,’ ‘Bazinga,’ and ‘Mapa,’ we all know that they have yet to reach their peak.

Even though they’re last on this list, they’re certainly the first in many things. Just this May, the group was nominated for the Billboard Music Awards’ Top Social Artist along with huge international names like Ariana Grande and Seventeen. Fast forward to October, the group was also nominated for the Best Southeast Asia Act at the 2021 MTV Europe Music Awards.

Among all contemporary P-pop groups, SB19 is currently the most streamed artist on Spotify. Personally, I believe it’s destiny, not luck, that the boys landed on newspapers and on the minds of the Filipino youth. And it’s becoming a reality that they are now paving the way for future generations of P-pop groups.

Majority of these local acts debuted amid the pandemic. Albeit unfortunate, it’s in our hands, as listeners and patrons of good music, to introduce their songs beyond the local scene. 

Supporting our local music is the first step in appreciating our very own acts. P-pop groups, from BINI to ALAMAT to SB19, have so much to offer and all of them are just waiting for us to hear them. And it’s still a challenge that some people continue to call them baduy.

This isn’t trying to overshadow K-pop and show spite towards South Korean idols. Rather, this is #PpopRising, and quoting the wise words of SB19: “Yeah we gonna go up.”

Kurt Alec Mira
Blogs Writer | + posts
READ  The age of online youth publications

Comments

Continue Reading

Blogs

‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ is a memoir of the heartbreak woes we kept like an oath

‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ serves as Swift’s letter to her younger self, presenting a person who has grown, matured, and overcome the tribulations that shaped her fears and stripped off her self-agency.

Published

on

Photo courtesy of Taylor Swift’s official Instagram

Circa 2014, Taylor Swift announced her partnership with ice-cream brand Selecta Cornetto to promote the Asian leg of her Red tour. Along with the limited edition black forest and raspberry ice cream wrapped in the album’s logo, fans were given the chance to win a pair of tour tickets, signed merch, or even perform as an opening act. 

It was, of course, any Swiftie’s dream to see her in the flesh. While I was not blessed with the natural gift of performing, I did have a knack for devouring anything sweet. Long story short, the majority of my allowance during eighth grade was spent on frequent trips to 7-11 to buy a 20-peso ice cream cone. I cannot vividly recall how many lids I collected and how much sugar I consumed, but sadly, it was not enough to nab a concert ticket or merch. Needless to say, Red was the Taylor Swift album that had me in a chokehold. 

Heeding to the plea of her beloved fans, Miss Americana Taylor Swift dropped Red (Taylor’s Version) on Friday, Nov. 12. The 30-track album marks the second rerecording of her masters following an ownership dispute with her previous label in 2019. Since its release, Swift’s version broke two Spotify records in one day. Its perfect score from Rolling Stone also makes Red (Taylor’s Version) the first Swift album and the 21st album of this century to receive such accolade. 

For an album that influenced my impulsive buys (which I hold no shame for), it’s more than gratifying to see and hear it come alive again after nine years—but this time, with a hint of freedom. 

Recreating the autumn of 2012

If there were words to describe the fall of 2012, it would be a grande nonfat caramel latte with two shots of Jake Gyllenhaal, a drizzle of London heartbreak, and a red scarf on the side. But as a good friend of mine said, “There are no words to describe Red, only tears.” 

Most of the tracks on the old version capitalized on acoustic and electric guitars, percussion, strings, mandolins, harmonicas, and acoustic drums—a signature Swift sound that we’ve all audibly missed. Red (2012) was already laced with excruciating pain and rage, but the crisp instrumentals, additional reverb, and ethereal harmonies, and background vocals in Red (Taylor’s Version) made those emotions more poignant. 

‘State of Grace (Taylor’s Version),’ ‘Red (Taylor’s Version),’ and ‘22 (Taylor’s Version)’ has more amplified acoustics and punchier bass, while ‘Girl At Home (Taylor’s Version)’ gets its own Mia Thermopolis makeover thanks to Elvira Anderfjärd’s pop and electronic touch. Contrastingly, some instrumentals are also toned down in a few songs. In ‘All Too Well (Taylor’s Version),’ the electric guitar between verses is softer, somehow mellowing a rather heart-rending track. 

Besides the emotional realism depicted in each song, Red (2012) was noteworthy for pioneering Swift’s collaborations with other artists in her succeeding albums. 

Even after almost a decade, the sweet and gentle timbre of Ed Sheeran and Swift’s vocals persevered. ‘Everything Has Changed (Taylor’s Version)’ gives us a more mature sound about what seemingly feels like a Flipped love story. Rather than our exes or TOTGAs, it leaves us to reminisce about the times we’ve shared with the Juli Baker or Bryce Loski of our lives.

As dreamy as Sheeran’s feature may be, her collaboration with Gary Lightbody in ‘The Last Time (Taylor’s Version)’ is gut-wrenching enough to deserve its own 10-minute version or short film. This prelude to folklore’s ‘exile’ cuts deeper with its soft yet melancholic verse between two lovers at a breaking point in their relationship. The tension between the dialogue of Swift and Lightbody accentuates the uncertainty and fragility one feels when placed in the same spot. 

Sheeran and Lightbody definitely understood the assignment of how a rerecording should be done. But if there was anyone who outsold the previous version, it was Swift herself. 

In all 30 tracks, Swift delves into her psyche to convey the burning sensation of a “twin flame bruise” or how saying hello risked another goodbye. With every sigh she exclaims and breath she holds between verses, the intensity of the emotions augments, giving us an agonizing taste of what that blow to the chest felt like 10 years ago.

Swift’s vocals in this rerecording are evidently more resonant and have more power, almost abandoning the strain and grit of her country era. Despite being strikingly similar to the previous version, the changes in her vocal tone and inflection help give the rerecording its own character. And so, Red (Taylor’s Version) serves as Swift’s letter to her younger self, presenting a person who has grown, matured, and overcome the tribulations that shaped her fears and stripped off her self-agency.

Sincerely, Taylor from the future

As on Fearless (Taylor’s Version), Swift sought the help of pop masterminds Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff in the production of this album’s vault tracks. Joining the team was Swedish producer Elvira Anderfjärd, who once worked on a remix of ‘Love Story (Taylor’s Version).’ The difference in their music style clearly showed, as songs either fitted the epithet of Red or of other Swift albums. 

The OG Swifties would know by heart that ‘Better Man’ and ‘Babe’ didn’t make the cut in 2012, and were instead given to Little Big Town and Sugarland, respectively. Thanks to Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun’s treachery, we finally got to hear Swift’s rendition of these two tracks. 

Dessner pays homage to Swift’s country roots, utilizing a variety of acoustic and folk instruments in ‘Better Man (Taylor’s Version)’ and ‘I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version).’ With its indie-folk genre, ‘Nothing New (Taylor’s Version)’ could pass as either a folklore track or a record of Phoebe Bridgers herself. Meanwhile, ‘Run (Taylor’s Version)’ revisits Sheeran’s mellow sound in + (Plus) and Divide—one which I’ve personally longed for. 

Antonoff keeps it classic with pop, percussive guitars in ‘Babe (Taylor’s Version)’ and ‘Forever Winter (Taylor’s Version).’ With the coveted ‘All Too Well (10 Minute Version),’ the Bleachers lead singer whips a 1989 ‘Clean’-esque production with a dash of folklore and Lorde’s Solar Power

2010s pop and Barbie aesthetic fills ‘Message in a Bottle (Taylor’s Version)’ as Swift goes experimental. Anderfjärd’s work on the track ties well more with 1989’s core, and as something that frankly deserves a Carly Rae Jepsen feature. 

While the vault tracks each had a unique color, the context of Swift’s lyrics was still grounded on the tear-inducing nuances of young love encapsulated in Red. 

Swift belts out the sorrows and regrets of a love that’s gone to waste in ‘Better Man (Taylor’s Version)’ and ‘Forever Winter (Taylor’s Version).’ She then reels in the reality of an inevitable heartbreak in ‘The Very First Night (Taylor’s Version)’ and ‘Babe (Taylor’s Version).’

But of all the vault tracks, ‘Nothing New (Taylor’s Version)’ was the most universal—that is, it spoke not only to those who have been victimized by Cupid but also to those who struggled with the growing pains of adulthood. 

At the end of the first verse, Swift asks, “Lord, what will become of me / Once I’ve lost my novelty?” The soul-crushing “How did I go from growing up to breaking down?” snowballs into a slough of despond as the chorus reaches its climax: “How can a person know everything / At 18, but nothing at 22?”

As children, we were forged to be dreamers who envisioned ourselves accomplishing great things, or so we thought. Transitioning to adulthood is wading through raging floodwaters of tears, anxieties, and endless dilemmas. It’s perhaps the most vulnerable and volatile phase of living—one day you’re a free butterfly, but the next day your wings either get cut or you simply get tired of flying. 

Some of us easily get back on our feet, but the rest endure cycles of lethargy. As Swift puts it in the chorus, you stare at the ceiling with what seems like your nth bottle of liquid courage and wonder if people would still value you as a non-entity just as much as a dreamer. 

Swift’s lyricism in the vault tracks proves that her poetry can translate as an anthem of heartbreak woes for the broken or existential fears and mundane realities for the non-romantics. 

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

Every second of ‘All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)’ was a hard punch to the solar plexus, but we knew there was always more to the story we screamed like an anthem of unity. The 10-minute version strips further to its core and gives us the most visceral pain of an unrequited turned toxic love affair—an experience that we’ve both yearned and dreaded. 

Swift’s unabridged retelling in the track and short film recalls a short-lived autumn romance that was taken for granted. Through her metaphoric lyricism and the female gaze, the audience and listeners are privy to her innermost thoughts and emotional turmoil of being suffocated for “three months in the grave.”

The first line immediately paints their love story as a disaster waiting to happen. “I walked through the door with you, the air was cold” is an antithesis to love supposedly being a warm feeling. Swift then uses the scarf she left as the focal point in their story, which is later conveyed in the film as the bitter aftertaste of overfamiliarity in relationships. 

 

Screengrab from YouTube/Taylor Swift

The exposition of the tragedy continues as Swift highlights the hypocrisy of her former flame’s “F*ck the patriarchy” keychain and his disrespectful behavior towards her. In an age where feminism is celebrated, there are a good few who establish genuine support for the equality of the sexes. Yet, there is also a handful who use feminist values as a facade to mask their impertinence and misogyny. These performative feminists march around with women empowerment on their chest for the sake of being seen as politically correct. They only show up when it’s convenient for them or when silence will put them in a bad light. This performativity merely touches on the superficial issues and instead exacerbates the root causes. 

Red flags are waving left and right, yet the couple still finds themselves back in each other’s arms. “Cause there we are again in the middle of the night / We’re dancing ’round the kitchen in the refrigerator light,” Swift recalls. Initially, this line seems to describe a sentimental memory that will make you go ‘aww.’ However, the film clarifies the context by juxtaposing the actors with contrasting hues to show the rift that had already torn open despite their countless reconciliations. The girl is illuminated by the golden hue from the window, signifying how she was still enamored of him; whereas the guy stands against the background of cold blue light, reflecting the emptiness he felt. 

Screengrab from YouTube/Taylor Swift

Building on the climax, Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well is quoted in the third verse. In contrast to how Swift used it in ‘Lover,’ the idiom is given a different meaning in the track. “They say all’s well that ends well, but I’m in a new Hell” strongly denotes that cutting ties with one another was not as easy as letting bygones be bygones. Swift makes this more prominent with Pablo Neruda’s “Love is so short, forgetting is so long” in the short film.

Ultimately, Swift reveals that the collapse of their relationship was rooted in the unequal dynamic of their relationship primarily driven by their age difference. “You said if we had been closer in age maybe it would have been fine,” she writes in the third verse. Their stark age gap is cleverly reinforced in the film through the casting of Stranger Things’ Sadie Sink and Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien. Since we were so used to seeing Sink as a child in the TV show, putting her in one frame with a fully grown man was undeniably unsettlinga concern that the public merely shrugged off 10 years ago.

It’s no secret that some men (and women) prefer to date those in their early 20s because of their relative immaturity. At first, Swift’s ex places her under the false pretense that she gets the upper hand. But as their story unfolds, it was evident that he was the only one on the pedestal, the only one in control. Deviating from the original chorus, she cathartically exclaims, “You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath” to recount how the one-sided secrecy of their love affair was a catalyst to their fallout. The infamous kitchen fight scene in the film further manifests the precariousness of this unequal dynamic with her ex’s blatant gaslighting and belittling remarks.

Screengrab from YouTube/Taylor Swift

Women who are intentionally victimized by these types of men are consigned to the ingénue, which Swift mentions in one of her vault tracks. The ingénue is more often than not restricted to her essence of being a young, idealist, innocent, and naive woman (In Filipino culture, this could be embodied by Maria Clara). Swift alludes to this aspect of cultural misogyny through the line, “The idea you had of me, who was she? / A never-needy, ever-lovely jewel whose shine reflects on you,” implying that her former lover only saw her for her fawn-eyed innocence and as an accessory that made him revel in his conceitedness. He further adds insult to injury by seemingly charming her father, but couldn’t be bothered to show up on her 21st birthdayan occasion that was supposed to be memorable. 

The denouement of ‘All Too Well’ evokes the aftermath of the storm. Swift denotes that, indeed, old habits die hard: “And I was never good at telling jokes, but the punch line goes / “I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age.”” In the next line, “From when your Brooklyn broke my skin and bones / I’m a soldier who’s returning half her weight,” she alludes to the skin and bones lyric she penned in ‘Treacherous (Taylor’s Version)’ to describe the essence of a human being. So, this is simply her way of letting us grasp how detrimental the relationship was for her well-being to the point that it shattered her core. She closes the chapter by remembering how it feels to be alive even after being buried six feet underground by something that was never real.

Screengrab from YouTube/Taylor Swift

As great as other Swift tracks may be, I would go as far as to say that ‘All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)’ is her magnum opus. It seems like a deja entendu because it is. Not only does it give us more context of their soul-piercing romance, but also broadens our understanding of human behavior by emphasizing the importance of basic human decency and doing the bare minimum. More importantly, it reminds us to never settle for less. We enter relationships not to find someone to complete us, but instead to find someone who will complement us. So that even when the ship sinks, the pain would leave you whole, not hollow. And for that, we have Taylor to partly thank. 

Reclaiming what has always been ours

“Red is about to be mine again, but it has always been ours,” Swift wrote in a tweet on the day Red (Taylor’s Version) was released. In an interview with Seth Myers, she happily expressed that anything with “(Taylor’s Version)” next to it is finally hers. And rightfully so. 

The success of Swift’s versions surpassing that of the previous is not only a reflection of her loyal fanbase, it’s poetic justice. With all the numbers and figures Swift’s rerecordings (including Fearless (Taylor’s Version)) have achieved, the pop hitmaker is well on her way to regain back what she has lost at the hands of greedy businessmen but at an even greater scale. 

From its production, writing, to its visualization, Red (Taylor’s Version) stands the test of time. Preeminently, it is a testament of Swift’s courage and determination as an artist and as a woman in the music industry, and we’re more than excited about the path she’s about to take next. It’s Taylor’s world, and we’re just living in it. 

I’m personally betting on 1989 (Taylor’s Version), but who knows? For now, wrap that red scarf around your neck and stream Red (Taylor’s Version)

+ posts

Comments

Continue Reading

Trending