If you have browsed my website, or if you know me personally, you would know how important music is for me. In the past few days, I have also been thinking about how much of an effect it has on the developer community as well. Not only do most of us listen to music while working, but some are also playing instruments, singing or producing it. There is a popular joke around that states programmers convert coffee into code. I think music should also be included. Be sure that your favourite application has been built with many songs in the background used as a catalyst. I sometimes discuss the topic with fellow developers and Taylor usually comes up as a beloved artist. At the end of the year, I plan to show the statistics about my favourites in a blog post. To provide a little sneak peek, this year, according to Apple Music, I have listened to 1,369 (!) different artists. Taylor Swift comes first with a total of 122 hours.
brief history and announcement of re-recordings
I have been a Swiftie (a Taylor Swift fan) since 2014. This is when she switched to pop music. Her first pop album, “1989”, which has been my favourite ever since, was co-produced by Max Martin. Max is the most prominent producer of our times and is responsible for many of the No. 1 songs released in the last two decades. Two years before “1989”, Taylor released “Red”. While still categorised as a country album, it hinted at the possible move towards a different genre. "I Knew You Were Trouble" was the first song by the artist that caught my attention. However, as I was not a fan yet, I never gave “Red” the chance it deserved.
In 2019, Taylor Swift announced plans to re-record her first six albums. I thought this would be a great way for her to improve the songs with better quality recordings and better vocals. It is also a great way for newer fans to rediscover her early work. Taylor also decided to include additional songs which were left out from the original releases. Finally, as Apple added Dolby Atmos support in Apple Music, the new music is now mastered in this format, further enhancing the listening experience. In April 2021, the first re-recording, “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)", was released. While I did not have any expectations, it is currently my most listened album this year.
RED (TAYLOR'S VERSION)
The second re-recording, "Red (Taylor’s Version)", was released two weeks ago — on November 12. As I was captivated by "Fearless (Taylor’s Version)" and as "Red" is more on the pop side, I was much more excited about it. Needless to say, I love it! I have listened to the original only once — in June when the new one was announced. I have seen many Swifties comparing the originals to the Taylor's versions and arguing which are better. I think that, for them, nostalgia might be causing bias towards the originals. Personally, the new recordings are at least as good as the originals. Most are definitely better.
The album also broke the record for the biggest female album debut on Spotify globally with 90.6M streams. The albums “folklore”, “evermore”, “Lover” and “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” occupy positions 2, 4, 8, and 9, respectively. As of today, 5 out of the 10 biggest female album debuts on Spotify are by Taylor Swift.
Adele’s “30” comes sixth with 60.7M streams. Her global success is because of the enormous media partnerships and coverage she gets. Her latest album has been promoted for months. An exclusive concert and an interview with Oprah Winfrey were also broadcasted around the world to boost the record's sales. A few days ago, it became apparent that not listening to Adele’s music can get you suspended from your job. An Australian broadcaster has paid $1M to get the rights to air the interview. The deal includes the privilege of having a short interview with the singer. As the reporter, sent by the broadcaster, has admitted he had not listened to the then still unreleased album, Adele has stormed out and cancelled the interview. The rights were withdrawn, incurring a $1M loss. As having a highly media-dependent image, I can see why Adele has felt threatened by the reporter’s admission. I have always felt that Adele's music is highly unimaginative. It sounds like the same piano ballad is recorded and released over and over again. Unlike the reporter, I did listen to "30" and did not hear any artistic growth or a desire to experiment with styles. Apart from the lack of innovativeness, her latest interviews have been very cringy. I am not sure what is the message she tries to send across. Nevertheless, I am very happy that, even with all media support, "30" did not manage to perform better than Taylor’s “evermore” and “folklore” surprise releases. Neither got any promotion or radio deals, unlike Adele's.
all too well (10-minute version)
“All Too Well” never received a “single treatment”, meaning it has not been heavily promoted. There was no music video either. Even so, it became a fan-favourite and is considered a classic in Taylor’s music catalogue. The song was originally meant to be 10 minutes but has been cut down. Now, with the re-release, the 10-minute version was finally out. What is more, a short film, based on the song, was written & directed by Taylor. The 10-minute version was also performed live at Saturday Night Live (SNL).
To be honest, I have never understood the love for the song. Again, this must have been because I never invested myself in “Red” in the past. It is now among my favourite songs on the album. I can also totally get the love for it! Like most of Taylor’s songs, it has been written based on a life event. It focuses on a failed relationship. Because of the great writing, the song is personal enough so to be able to connect with the artist, but also abstract enough so that everyone can recognise in the lyrics a similar situation they might have been in.
When it comes to me, I am proud that the song fails to upset me! As funny as it might sound, I used to be very fragile, especially regarding relationships. Little things could crack me up. I have come a long way in the past few years and have learnt to leave when feeling unwanted. I am glad that I can listen to the song without feeling any negative sentiments. While for some listeners it might be a way to cope with a breakup, for me it is a reminder of the progress I have made.
“All Too Well” became Swift’s 8th No. 1 in the USA (Billboard). The 10-minute version is also the longest ever song to win No. 1. These are great achievements in the streaming era, especially with a 9-year-old project.
For those unaware, Starbucks has a seasonal promotion every winter. The Red cups alongside the chain’s holiday beverages have been a tradition since 1997. It is exciting for the regular customers, as the design of the cups is different every year. Furthermore, the beverages are available for a limited time only. The Toffee Nut Latte is probably my favourite one. I became Starbucks regular back in autumn 2014, so I remember myself drinking the holiday offerings in the first few months. Every year, the red season brings me back memories from high school and all the time I have spent at Starbucks since then.
This year, the timing of the Starbuck’s red season and the release of Taylor’s “Red (Taylor’s Version)” aligned perfectly. As a combination, they gave fans and coffee-lovers more to be excited about!
celebrating red ("Taylor's version")
Finally, as music plays an important role in fans’ lives, release events are honoured with activities and creative outbursts. Some organise big listening parties, while others make bakery inspired by the theme of the album. I occasionally catch myself thinking about what photos to take in a way that is artistically motivated by the album that I have been listening to. This is not to try to replicate an idea, but rather a way of recognising the impact the music has on one's life at that particular time.
When a new album is released, I usually browse Instagram and other social networks to discover how others were inspired by the release and what are the ways they express their excitement in. This is also a perfect way to get to know others that you share common interests with! To create the article cover photo, I have selected a few images I like. I have also met some Swifties in the process. Enjoy!
Going back to University for an in-person graduation
On July 28, a year after I graduated from the University of Sheffield as a software engineer, I went back to celebrate my achievement in-person. I met many of the students I used to go to university with and also collected my Mappin Medal award.
August 29, 2022
Taylor Swift announces "Midnights"
At the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards, Taylor Swift announced her tenth studio album — Midnights — is to be released on October 21. At the ceremony, she was awarded three awards, including "Video of the Year" for "All Too Well" (Taylor's Version).
August 20, 2022
The road to Couchbase
In July 2022, I moved to Manchester, UK, to join Couchbase as a Software Engineer. I was thrilled to end up in the front-end team which would allow me to gain professional experience in a field I have shown continuous interest since a child.
June 17, 2022
Future Starts Now
My 13th annual summer playlist is now available for streaming on Apple Music, Spotify, and Apple Music. The project contains 66 songs from 84 artists across 10 music genres.