Saturday, April 4, 2015

Led Zeppelin IV and Taylor Swift Red

Led Zeppelin IV and Taylor Swift Red:

I wandered into my local Disc-Go-Round [1] looking for a David Bowie CD [2].  I was unable to find the Bowie disc, so I began browsing looking to see if something else caught my eye. [3]  It was then I remembered that my music collection was sadly lacking in that I actually didn't own any Zeppelin. [4]  So I picked up Zeppelin IV and then Taylor Swift's Red CD caught my eye.  I also didn't own any of her CD's, but in one of those weird serendipitous cosmic sets of coincidences, she and her music had come up a lot in several recent unconnected conversations and programs. [5]  So I took it as a sign that I should get both.

Before I actually gave either a listen it seemed obvious that this would be a perfect opportunity to compare the two.  If not necessarily a fair two things to compare.

Granted that while as I previously mentioned I didn't own and had never owned any Zeppelin CD's before,  [6] I have heard plenty of their songs.  As for Taylor Swift, I think I could count the number of her songs I'd previously heard on one hand and I probably couldn't name the title of a single one, save Blank Space. [7]

So without further ado, after having twice listened to both CD's completely, a comparison of Led Zeppelin IV and Taylor Swift's Red.

1) Length:

Zeppelin IV has eight tracks on it.  Red has sixteen.  Personally if I get a CD and it only has eight songs I usually feel kind of ripped off.  [8]  There are exceptions to the rule, Donald Fagan's Nightfly for example.  Of course there are also CD's that have plenty more songs, but it's clear that the artist was scraping things off the sides of barrel to fill up the disc.  So, I'd rather have a shorter disc of awesome songs, than a longer one of crap.  Sixteen songs is on the other side of the spectrum.  Too many songs and I've quit paying attention by the end.  Surely not all sixteen of these are quality?

In these instances both are exceptions to the rule.  Zeppelin IV is eight songs and there is nothing you regret hearing.  They could have put more, but the CD is enough.  Red goes on for sixteen, but there is nothing you want taken out of the list.

The Winner: A tie.

2) Catchy-ness of songs:  

There is no denying that the Zeppelin songs have staying power.  Of the eight songs, I already knew five of them by heart and I was at least familiar with one of the others (Battle of Evermore).  Thus only two of them were relatively unfamiliar to me (Four Sticks, When the Levee Breaks).

I don't think I'd ever heard a single song off of Red before.[9]  Of course I don't typically listen to any radio station that would be playing Taylor Swift songs, so it's possible they are all played non-stop somewhere else on the dial. [10]  There were several of the songs that I caught myself singing later (22, Stay Stay Stay, and Red at the minimum.)  But that was immediately after listening to the disc and I haven't done it again since.

The Winner: Zeppelin

3) Replayability:

Granted this is a lot like the previous topic, but it is not the same.  Uncatchy songs would lead to low replayability, but catchy songs that don't go together, go on too long, or are too much the of the same [11] make CD's non-replayable as well.

Zeppelin IV has decent replayability.  Again since five of the eight songs are legitimate hits, even if you don't particularly like the other three, you need only wait a few minutes and you're back to a hit.  However, the songs do all have a very similar feel to them.  The same guitar sound that pretty much defines Zeppelin dominates all of the songs and let's face it Robert Plant pretty much sounds the same every time as well. [12]

Red also has decent replayability.  The CD is sixteen songs, but there is quite a range of styles and sounds. For instance, some of the CD sounds downright country.  Others are clearly rock, pop or a kind of bluesy romantic.  Swift also sings in a variety of styles.  The result is a lot of variety that keeps the CD fresh sounding.

The Winner: Swift [13]

4) Topics of songs

As previously stated my exposure to Taylor Swift is limited to these sixteen songs and a handful of others.  So, perhaps this next statement isn't true, but it sure seems it to me.

Here is a story line:

A) Girl desires boy [14]
B) Girl and boy start seeing each other
C) It gets serious
D) Everything is wonderful
E) Conflict and tension arrises
F) Things aren't going so good
G)They either resolve things (go back to "D") or things fall apart (go on to "H")
H) They break up
I) Girl thinks back on relationship
J) Go back to "A" [15]

Every single Taylor Swift song follows this story line.  EVERY SINGLE ONE.  Granted some of them do not go through the entire story and may only focus on one, two or three parts of it.  But they are all there.  I know this is true for her Red album because I realized this halfway through the first listening and so on the second listening I identified where in the story line each song was.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, [16] and I'm sure there are people who really, really, really like focusing on that topic, but for me it gets kind of worn out.

Zeppelin IV does not have this problem.  Sure there are some songs here about girls.  There is also a song that just about walking around the city and stuff happens (Misty Mountain Hop), a song about rock and roll  and girls (Rock and Roll), a song about trying to buy your way into the afterlife (Stairway to Heaven) and a song about the battle between good and evil [17] (Battle of Evermore).  If I have a complaint about the CD it's that there are times when the songs seem to lose their continuity.  Honestly there are times when I think Plant no longer knows what he's talking about and is just filling space with lines that rhyme.

The Winner: Zeppelin IV by a long shot.

5) Cuteness of Artist

Have you looked at recent pictures of Plant?  Even at their best the guys from Zeppelin are kind of shaggy, and unkempt.  And I don't know why, but I suspect that they didn't necessarily smell so good either.

Taylor Swift is gorgeous.  There are sometimes where she has this slight oddness and angularity to her look that I can't quite put my finger on, but whatever.  She's a hottie.

The Winner: Taylor Swift by a really really long shot.

Doing a quick tally the verdict is 2.5 for Zeppelin IV and 2.5 for Taylor Swift's Red.  Thus a tie and a need for a tie breaker category.

Here it is:

Tie Breaker: If I was out of space on my iPhone which would I delete first to make space?

Taylor Swift's good looks notwithstanding, Red would get deleted without a second thought.

The Final Winner: Led Zeppelin IV

Led Zeppelin IV: A-
Taylor Swifts- Red: A-

[1] - Except I've already lied to you as it is now a CD Warehouse and hasn't been Disc-Go-Round in years. I evidently have issues with change.
[2] - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars to be specific.  Perhaps I have a problem with letting go of the past instead.
[3] - This was one of those rare moments when I'm child free and suddenly find that I am free to browse and not focused on just keeping the Bean from destroying the universe.
[4] - I know.  I know.  Please don't tell anyone.  I've gotten past it now.
[5] - Mostly stuff on the radio (NPR ftw), but also on other media types
[6] - Unless the Encomium tribute album counts and it shouldn't.
[7] - But only because it was the topic of one of the coincidental Taylor Swift occurrences that had occurred in the previous couple days.
[8] - Counting Crows don't think I didn't note that your newest 11 track offering includes two demo versions of two of the songs, so really only has nine songs.  You aren't fooling anyone.
[9] - It's possible I heard 22 before, but I don't think I actually had.  More likely is that I heard someone else singing snippets of it.
[10] - But I doubt that.
[11] - Any Boston CD for example.
[12] - Changing volume level or speed doesn't count.
[13] - But just barely.
[14] - Typically one if not both of them are of the "bad girl" or "bad boy" variety
[15] - Usually with a new boy
[16] - Especially if you are a teenage high school or college girl who's life is surrounded by that kind of drama.
[17] - And maybe a little Tolkein


  1. You should give Led Zeppelin III A whirl, as it can whoop both of these albums. One thing to keep in mind about album lengths, is that the 40 minute album of the vinyl years leaves a whole lotta room left over on a 70 minute CD, as compared to new music being 60+ minutes these days.

  2. I will bear that in mind the next time I have a free dollar for CD purchasing. fwiw, Taylor Swifts 1989 also whoops both of these albums.