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Taylor Swift’s New Music Video Brings Clues, Controversy

Taylor Swift has been conspicuously absent from the spotlight—her social media accounts, scrubbed of all the photos of her with her “squad” they used to contain, are now only used for promotion; she hasn’t done press to talk about her latest album; the singer didn’t even appear in person to accept her female artist of the year trophy at the iHeartRadio Music Awards Sunday night. She did, however, appear in a video message in which she introduced the new video for her latest single, “Delicate,“ and the Washington Post notes that the video itself could explain her absence. The song seems to acknowledge her bad reputation of late and focus on her relationship with a guy who doesn’t seem to care; in the video, he gives her a note that allows her to become briefly invisible and, thus, act like her real self while no one can see her.

“And seeing that Swift was coincidentally photographed a couple of days ago with [boyfriend Joe] Alwyn, a rare sighting of the couple, it seems like she really wanted to drive this idea home: She may be gone from the spotlight, but she’s doing better than she ever was,“ writes Emily Yahr. But People notes that the “Delicate” video has its fair share of naysayers, with critics accusing it of copying a Spike Jonze-directed fragrance ad and/or Sia’s music videos. Others were quick to defend Swift; Lena Dunham, for example, called the video “an amazing video- a pure artistic statement about constant scrutiny and the complexity of navigating public life. I’m so proud of her.“ Vulture notes that the dancing “invisible” Swift does in the video appears to be purposely cringe-worthy; Swift, it seems, wants the world to know she “now welcomes your disgust.“

Tim McGraw Collapses on Stage

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Country music star Tim McGraw collapsed on stage during a performance in Ireland. Rolling Stone magazine reports McGraw fell to his knees then sat down while performing Sunday night in Dublin. McGraw’s wife, singer Faith Hill, can be seen in a video on a fan’s Instagram page saying, “He’s been super dehydrated. I apologize, but I made the decision that he cannot come back out on stage.“ A representative for McGraw issued a statement saying McGraw was attended to by local medical staff on-site and will be fine, the AP reports. McGraw, who was performing as part of the Country to Country festival in the UK, had performed Friday night in London and Saturday night in Glasgow. The duo is scheduled to begin their 29-city Soul2Soul tour in the US on May 31 in Richmond, Va.

Judge Sides With Swift Over ‘Unoriginal’ Lyrics

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Taylor Swift counted another courtroom win Tuesday, though the reason revolved around lyrics deemed by a judge to be “unoriginal” and “uncreative.“ Songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler sued Swift for copyright infringement last year, arguing that Swift’s 2014 hit “Shake It Off” borrowed heavily from their 2001 song “Playas Gon’ Play,“ performed by girl group 3LW, per the Washington Post. That song goes, “Playas, they gonna play, and haters, they gonna hate,“ while “Shake It Off” goes, “Players gonna play, play, play, play, play, and haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate,“ reports Variety. In a rather amusing verdict, federal court Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald dismissed the case, declaring that the lyrics were too commonplace to warrant protection. Swift’s legal team made a similar argument, pointing to songs before 2001 with the same theme.

Explaining that “American popular culture was heavily steeped in the concepts of players, haters, and player haters” by the time “Playas Gon’ Play” was written, Fitzgerald said “the concept of actors acting in accordance with their essential nature is not at all creative; it is banal.“ He concluded “the lyrics at issue ... are too brief, unoriginal, and uncreative to warrant protection under the Copyright Act.“ The case remains open for amendment in case some other similarities between the songs are uncovered. But a lawyer says Hall and Butler will instead appeal the ruling on the basis that Fitzgerald made the “embarrassing” mistake of interpreting the originality of the lyrics himself, rather than seeking the opinion of a music expert, per the BBC.

Review: Timberlake is a man lost in the woods on new album

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Justin Timberlake, “Man of the Woods” (RCA Records)

Dare I say it — but Justin Timberlake, you have failed us.

The superstar singer produced epic solo albums with 2002′s “Justified,” 2006′s “FutureSex/LoveSounds” and 2013′s “The 20/20 Experience.” And though he tripped over his own disco ball on the second part of “20/20,” released seven months after the original, he rebounded with “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” — a song that can still put you in a good mood.

Unfortunately, though, Timberlake not only missteps on “Man of the Woods,” he crashes and burns. He’s a singer lost in the woods.

While some of the 16 songs are enjoyable, some feel like leftover efforts from “FutureSex” or “20/20,” including “Midnight Summer Jam” and “Breeze Off the Pond.” It’s almost like he rushed an album to sell around his Super Bowl halftime show — probably the best platform to help push new music for an artist with more than 100 million viewers watching closely.

Listening to the disappointing project is a hard pill to swallow since Timberlake was once an idol on the level of Beyonce, launching hit after hit and working the stage like a passionate veteran, all while expanding and growing his overall sound.

But there’s no way to justify “Man of the Woods” — the saddest part about the album is that some tracks are painful: The title track is unbearable, while “Flannel” is almost as bad — coming off like an awful lullaby.

Timberlake recruited The Neptunes to produce most of the project, but clearly Pharrell was too focused on producing movies and film scores because he doesn’t bring the right heat. Timbaland is part of the album, like Timberlake’s last three albums, finding success on some of the songs. But he’s not always on point: First single “Filthy” still sounds like a hot mess.

Timberlake does have some good tunes here, thanks to country superstar Chris Stapleton. The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter co-wrote the album’s best songs — the Alicia Keys-featured “Morning Light” and “Say Something,” where Stapleton also provides vocals.

But Timberlake’s problem on “Man of the Woods” is he’s trying to craft a rootsy sound like Stapleton’s AND keep you on the dance floor. But instead of rocking your body, you’ll want to cry yourself a river.

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