Every year it's the same: January seems to go on forever. It's like the never ending month. I spent most of it preparing for the next step in my career and indulging in all the new releases in music, movies, television and literature as well as a new podcast. Below are a few of my favorites:
On January 10th Selena Gomez released her latest album "Rare." As a longtime fan, and a fan of her recent releases, the anticipation for new music was high. And I have to say, Selena delivered. Despite my initial hesitations, with each listen I grew to love the sound and the message of it as a whole. The confidence and self-love the album exudes is incredibly contagious. Selena, after years of being in the spotlight, has been through her own struggles when it comes to love, her health and her career. Having followed her journey from Disney Channel to the young woman she is today, it's refreshing to see her in a place where she seems to be at peace and truly comfortable with herself. As much as I love this album, however, I don't find the sound to be that far off from that of "Revival." So, for me as a listener, although I was impressed by her growth when it comes to the authentic message of self-love, it did not feel as if "Rare" went too far out of her comfort zone, sonically speaking.
Taylor Swift's Netflix documentary, that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, was released on January 31st along with song she wrote for it called "Only the Young." I'm not sure what I expected from it before I heard it, but I really appreciate how upbeat it is. It's a reflection of the fact that the change we desperately need in our country, can only come from future generations. It's an empowering message and one that reminds us that there's still hope. As usual, I truly love her way with words and the metaphors intertwined throughout the song.
This is the third release off of Kelsea Ballerini's third album. It's called "la" and so far, being that the album is self-titled, I am pleased at how much of herself Kelsea is sharing with her listeners. "la" describes her love-hate relationship with LA, as well as the feelings she deals with when she visits there. This song seems to be a way in which she feels comfortable sharing her insecurities and I absolutely love it. Since the first release, "Homecoming Queen?", Kelsea has taken the initiative to let her audience in on where she's at in life at this point. It's also super comforting to know someone who's rise to fame I have watched over the past couple of years, is still just as human as the rest of us. If you want an honest look at how success doesn't have to change you, give Kelsea's new music a listen.
On January 31st, Taylor Swift's documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival was released on Netflix. Although I do plan on writing a full post reflecting on this, I just wanted to express how much I appreciated this film. Having followed her career for the past 11 years, I felt like I already knew Taylor Swift, but this documentary revealed a lot about her that I didn't realize. It was super interesting to not only see the creative behind-the-scenes, but the personal, family moments as well. Where her headspace was during certain moments in her career, how it's affected her and how she's grown and learned to prioritize certain things. She's been in the game since she was 16-years-old so it's clear she's no novice, but living under a microscope for that long would affect anyone. And to be honest, this inside look on her life over the past few years made her more human, and down-to-earth to me than I thought possible. It's a must watch, even if only to see how she works in the studio alongside renowned producers and songwriters like Joel Little and Jack Antonoff. The process is fascinating and seeing them in the studio compared to shots of her performing the songs onstage brings it full circle, and is cinematically beautiful to watch.
The Bold Type returns for season 4! I was thrilled to find out not only was The Bold Type coming back this month, but it's a 18 episode season!! After three consecutive 10 episode seasons, a diehard fan like myself was thrilled we'd get more of the girls this time around. I have loved this show since season one and am ecstatic that with each new twist and turn it just keeps getting better. It is so refreshing to see a show that represents female friendships in such a loving, supportive, and all around "bold" way. The girls don't agree on everything, but unlike the drama of shows I've seen before, these three always find a way to talk through their differences. They show up for each other consistently, stand up for what they believe and the show delves into important issues. I love having a show where the characters are my age and they're navigating their young adult life but they're doing it together.
With the new twist of Scarlett going all digital, I'm curious to see how Jaclyn handles it, and I'm interested in how the girls deal with the challenges of their relationships throughout the course of this season.
The bookclub pick for January was "The Giver of Stars" by Jojo Moyes. I am not one to give a five star rating all that often, but damn this book earned it. I had previously read Moyes's "Me Before You," so I figured this would also be an enjoyable read, and boy was it. It was a historical fiction novel based on the true story "rooted in America's past." We follow the lives of some incredible women who develop a traveling library, where they deliver books to families all over a small town in Kentucky in Depression era America. I can't express how much I loved this book and these characters. The women were brave, bold and spoke their minds. They were set in their ways, determined to live their lives freely and it's almost scary how some of the trouble they run into isn't too far off from what the modern woman deals with. The book was a nice mix of adventure, love and friendship and I was always curious as to what would happen next.
I was super excited when I found out Jenna Ushkowitz and Kevin McHale were creating a Glee recap podcast! As you know, I've been loving the Office Ladies podcast with Jenna and Angela, and this one is just like it except it's Glee. Jenna and Kevin are going back through the archive and watching and discussing Glee episodes! And their first podcast features a special guest: Lea Michele aka THE Rachel Berry. I discovered it while I was traveling to a family baby shower and it kept me entertained and I got incredibly nostalgic over the days where I obsessed over and devoured every episode. I am so looking forward to continuing to hear stories about the cast, their thoughts on the plot lines and what the process of creating the episodes was like.