More stories

  • in

    ‘The Bachelor’ Promises True Love. So Why Does It Rarely Work Out?

    Of the 40 combined seasons of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” only eight couples have stayed together. We spoke to former contestants and leads about roadblocks to a happy ending.The season premiere of any installment in “The Bachelor” franchise always starts the same: with the host talking directly to camera about the lead’s almost-certain path to finding lasting love. Unlike other popular reality dating shows, the franchise markets itself as a genuine chance to find love without any other incentives like cash prizes.But it’s actually not all that probable: Of the 40 combined seasons of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” only eight couples have stayed together — not great betting odds.Morale in the franchise was low going into 2023, with no recently minted couples still together, until ABC announced a hopeful new twist. “The Golden Bachelor” pledged to aid then-72 year-old Gerry Turner make the most of a second chance at love following the death of his wife. At season’s end, he proposed to Theresa Nist in a teary finale. In January their wedding was televised on ABC. By April, they’d announced plans to divorce.That breakup felt like the last straw in believing this franchise could foster lasting love, so to look into why “The Bachelor” rarely makes good on its premise, we spoke to the former Bachelorettes Kaitlyn Bristowe and Tayshia Adams, as well as the former contestants Tyler Cameron and Melissa Rycroft about the flaws that doom the reality franchises’ lovebirds.“When you’re in that ‘Bachelor’ bubble, all you do is focus on and be brainwashed toward that person,” said Tyler Cameron, the runner-up on Hannah Brown’s “Bachelorette” season.Mark Bourdillon/ABC, via Getty ImagesThe main prize might not be the catch you thought.Many love-related reality television shows that are on the air today — think “Love Island,” “Are You the One?” or even “Bachelor in Paradise” — allow for participants to intermingle in environments specifically designed to mimic some version of real life.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

  • in

    ‘Tortured Poets’ Has Shifted the Taylor Swift Debate. Let’s Discuss.

    The superstar’s 11th album is a 31-song excavation of her recent relationships that is not universally loved. Our pop team dissects its sound, themes and reception.BEN SISARIO Hey, have you guys seen my antique typewriter? I think I left it at someone’s apartment. I swear, I’m so absent-minded …JON PARELES I’m not sure you want to be associated with that typewriter’s owner, Ben. He doesn’t come off too well on “The Tortured Poets Department”; by the end, he’s been reduced to “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived.”SISARIO Over the years, I’ve trained myself to view Taylor Swift’s work through the eyes of her fans — that’s crucial for understanding Swift, whose connection with her listeners is at the root of her success, and it’s also become part of the art itself. The question is not just what is Swift saying, but what is she telling her fans, and how will they respond to it? And for my first few times listening to “Tortured Poets,” it seemed crystal clear to me that this album would rally fans intensely. This is an epic of romantic martyrdom, a cry of revenge greased by tears of rage. She’s pushing Swifties’ buttons, and I could imagine stadiums on every continent screaming in unison: “I love you, it’s ruining my life!”The sound, too, seems perfectly calibrated. Over much of the last decade, Swift has kept parallel musical paths: moody electro-pop with Jack Antonoff, and raw, delicate indie-folk with Aaron Dessner. She split the difference here, engaging both producers, and I think Swifties vote yes.PARELES It’s not just one Taylor Swift, though. It’s at least two: the world-conquering billionaire superstar who has stadiums chanting “More!” and the vulnerable girlfriend whose heart explodes when a guy teasingly slips a ring on her ring finger. It’s also the Swift who can’t help gathering writerly details for her next song, and the Swift who’s very deliberately planting autobiographical clues and Easter eggs for the fans to find. The tension between Swift as a shrewd, workaholic cultural colossus and Swift the 34-year-old woman seeking a worthy, committed partner — and, she suggests, marriage and family — is stronger than ever on this album, and makes it a real jumble of agendas.Some lyrics seem to be pushing back against the opinions of Swift’s judgmental fans.Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet for The New York TimesWe are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

  • in

    ‘Catfish,’ the TV Show That Predicted America’s Disorienting Digital Future

    MTVThis is Danny. He fell in love with a woman he’d met online. When he saw her photo, he called it love at first sight.He and Rosa talked on the phone daily for months and exchanged reams of texts in Spanglish. They bonded over being Puerto Rican.“You’re so funny, Daddy,” she once texted him. “You’re so sexy, my love,” Danny replied. Though they’d never met, he was making big plans: marriage and family.When the red flags started to pile up, Danny contacted “Catfish,” on MTV, for help. The truth was far from what he’d hoped. Rosa was secretly Jose.The TV Show That Predicted America’s Lonely, Disorienting Digital FutureSince its first episode aired in 2012, “Catfish: The TV Show” has held up a mirror to our online lives, reflecting how we present ourselves and make sense of love, lust, trust, companionship and loneliness in an increasingly digital world. Each episode unfolds like a detective show, with the host Nev Schulman summoned to untangle truth from lies, to take relationships that exist only on computers and phones and drag them into our three-dimensional reality.Listen to this article with reporter commentaryThe saga of Danny and Jose, which aired in 2017, is emblematic of the deception, dashed hopes and complicated situations regularly featured on the show.Danny contacted “Catfish” for help, believing Rosa had moved from Connecticut to Orlando, where he lived, but still would not meet him. Rosa had warned Danny that she had anger issues, in part because she had been molested as a child. When meeting with Schulman and his co-host Max Joseph, Danny said he wanted to help her by bringing more faith into her life. “I think I could make her a better person,” he said. “We plan to have a family.”In their research, Schulman and Joseph quickly discovered the so-called mask, meaning the unwitting person whose photos had been sent to Danny: a woman named Natalie. But Rosa’s real identity was harder to pin down. “This is the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to me,” Danny said when shown the evidence. “I never had anybody send me fake pictures.”Schulman called Rosa to inform her that Danny was now aware she’d lied about the photos. Though combative, she agreed to meet in Connecticut. It became clear that she had never moved.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

  • in

    Taylor Swift Lyrics: Who’s Mentioned on ‘Tortured Poets Department?

    Ex-boyfriends may be alluded to. Travis Kelce, too, fans believe. And some actual poets.When Taylor Swift released “The Tortured Poets Department,” on Friday at midnight, her fan base quickly got to work decoding the album, looking for layers of meaning and insight into Ms. Swift’s life. Of course, that includes the pop singer’s romantic history.Like many of her past works, the songs on this album — which features over a dozen additional tracks as part of an extended album called “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology” — are laden with names and references, many of which appear to be to real people from Ms. Swift’s universe and the literary canon. At least two poets, Dylan Thomas and Patti Smith, are mentioned.Here’s a look at some of those characters.Matty HealyMarcelo Hernandez/Getty ImagesPlenty of lines from “Tortured Poets” have fans guessing that certain songs — including “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived,” “The Black Dog” and “Down Bad” — may be about Matty Healy, the frontman for the 1975 who was spotted out and about with Taylor on several occasions last spring. One clue Swifties are latching on to: On the “The Black Dog,” Ms. Swift refers to the band the Starting Line. Mr. Healy covered one of the band’s songs while he was touring last spring. And then there is the much-discussed reference to a person Ms. Swift describes as a “tattooed golden retriever” on the album’s title track. Mr. Healy seems to fit the bill, according to her fans.Travis KelceFrank Franklin II/Associated PressMs. Swift’s fans have been floating the notion that the many sports references in the track “The Alchemy” allude to the football player Travis Kelce, the singer’s current boyfriend. “So when I / Touch down, call the amateurs and cut ’em from the team / Ditch the clowns, get the crown, baby, I’m the one to beat,” she sings in the chorus. “Where’s the trophy? / He just comes running over to me,” she adds in the bridge. But there is some debate, with some fans noting that her use of the term “blokes” would seem to imply the song is not about an American. (A winking line about “heroin but this time with an E” has some guessing the song is about Mr. Healy, who has previously spoken about his drug use.)We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

  • in

    Taylor Swift’s New Album, ‘The Tortured Poets Department,’ Could Use an Editor: Review

    Over 16 songs (and a second LP), the pop superstar litigates her recent romances. But the themes, and familiar sonic backdrops, generate diminishing returns.If there has been a common thread — an invisible string, if you will — connecting the last few years of Taylor Swift’s output, it has been abundance.Nearly 20 years into her career, Swift, 34, is more popular and prolific than ever, sating her ravenous fan base and expanding her cultural domination with a near-constant stream of music — five new albums plus four rerecorded ones since 2019 alone. Her last LP, “Midnights” from 2022, rolled out in multiple editions, each with its own extra songs and collectible covers. Her record-breaking Eras Tour is a three-and-a-half-hour marathon featuring 40-plus songs, including the revised 10-minute version of her lost-innocence ballad “All Too Well.” In this imperial era of her long reign, Swift has operated under the guiding principle that more is more.What Swift reveals on her sprawling and often self-indulgent 11th LP, “The Tortured Poets Department,” is that this stretch of productivity and commercial success was also a tumultuous time for her, emotionally. “I can read your mind: ‘She’s having the time of her life,’” Swift sings on “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart,” a percolating track that evokes the glitter and adoration of the Eras Tour but admits, “All the pieces of me shattered as the crowd was chanting ‘more.’” And yet, that’s exactly what she continues to provide, announcing two hours after the release of “Poets” that — surprise! — there was a second “volume” of the album, “The Anthology,” featuring 15 additional, though largely superfluous, tracks.Gone are the character studies and fictionalized narratives of Swift’s 2020 folk-pop albums “Folklore” and “Evermore.” The feverish “Tortured Poets Department” is a full-throated return to her specialty: autobiographical and sometimes spiteful tales of heartbreak, full of detailed, referential lyrics that her fans will delight in decoding.Swift doesn’t name names, but she drops plenty of boldfaced clues about exiting a long-term cross-cultural relationship that has grown cold (the wrenching “So Long, London”), briefly taking up with a tattooed bad boy who raises the hackles of the more judgmental people in her life (the wild-eyed “But Daddy I Love Him”) and starting fresh with someone who makes her sing in — ahem — football metaphors (the weightless “The Alchemy”). The subject of the most headline-grabbing track on “The Anthology,” a fellow member of the Tortured Billionaires Club whom Swift reimagines as a high school bully, is right there in the title’s odd capitalization: “thanK you aIMee.”At times, the album is a return to form. Its first two songs are potent reminders of how viscerally Swift can summon the flushed delirium of a doomed romance. The opener, “Fortnight,” a pulsing, synth-frosted duet with Post Malone, is chilly and controlled until lines like “I love you, it’s ruining my life” inspire the song to thaw and glow. Even better is the chatty, radiant title track, on which Swift’s voice glides across smooth keyboard arpeggios, self-deprecatingly comparing herself and her lover to more daring poets before concluding, “This ain’t the Chelsea Hotel, we’re modern idiots.” Many Swift songs get lost in dense thickets of their own vocabulary, but here the goofy particularity of the lyrics — chocolate bars, first-name nods to friends, a reference to the pop songwriter Charlie Puth?! — is strangely humanizing.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

  • in

    Taylor Swift’s ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ Arrives

    The pop superstar’s latest album was preceded by a satellite radio channel, a word game, a return to TikTok and an actual library. For her fans, more is always welcome.Taylor Swift was already the most ubiquitous pop star in the galaxy, her presence dominating the music charts, the concert calendar, the Super Bowl, the Grammys.Then it came time for her to promote a new album.In the days leading up to the release of “The Tortured Poets Department” on Friday, Swift became all but inescapable, online and seemingly everywhere else. Her lyrics were the basis for an Apple Music word game. A Spotify-sponsored, Swift-branded “library installation,” in muted pink and gray, popped up in a shopping complex in Los Angeles. In Chicago, a QR code painted on a brick wall directed fans to another Easter egg on YouTube. Videos on Swift’s social media accounts, showing antique typewriters and globes with pins, were dissected for clues about her music. SiriusXM added a Swift radio station; of course it’s called Channel 13 (Taylor’s Version).About the only thing Swift didn’t do was an interview with a journalist.At this stage in Swift’s career, an album release is more than just a moment to sell music; it’s all but a given that “The Tortured Poets Department” will open with gigantic sales numbers, many of them for “ghost white,” “phantom clear” and other collector-ready vinyl variants. More than that, the album’s arrival is a test of the celebrity-industrial complex overall, with tech platforms and media outlets racing to capture whatever piece of the fan frenzy they can get.Threads, the newish social media platform from Meta, primed Swifties for their idol’s arrival there, and offered fans who shared Swift’s first Threads post a custom badge. Swift stunned the music industry last week by breaking ranks with her record label, Universal, and returning her music to TikTok, which Universal and other industry groups have said pays far too little in royalties. Overnight, TikTok unveiled “The Ultimate Taylor Swift In-App Experience,” offering fans digital goodies like a “Tortured Poets-inspired animation” on their feed.Before the album’s release on Friday, Swift revealed that a music video — for “Fortnight,” the first single, featuring Post Malone — would arrive on Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern time. At 2 a.m., she had another surprise: 15 more songs. “I’d written so much tortured poetry in the past 2 years and wanted to share it all with you,” she wrote in a social media post, bringing “The Anthology” edition of the album to 31 tracks.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

  • in

    The Magnetic Fields Wrote ‘69 Love Songs.’ Here’s 11 of the Best.

    A primer on the indie-rock band’s triple album, now celebrating its 25th anniversary.Marcelo KrasilcicDear listeners,I hope everyone who was in the path of Monday’s eclipse enjoyed the view! I confess I didn’t acquire eclipse glasses in time and couldn’t see anything too spectacular from where I was in Brooklyn, but at least Friday’s Amplifier playlist gave me a soundtrack for imagining some awe-inspiring grandeur.Today’s playlist is something a little different, and more earthbound: a tribute to the Magnetic Fields, the long-running indie band that is currently on a tour commemorating the 25th anniversary of “69 Love Songs,” its landmark 1999 triple album, which I happen to adore very much.“69 Love Songs” is exactly what it says on the tin: nearly three consecutive hours of amorous-themed tunes, all written by the group’s mastermind Stephin Merritt. The album is a staggering showcase of his range as a songwriter, covering just about every genre imaginable and thoroughly chronicling the good (“The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side”), the bad (“No One Will Ever Love You”) and the ugly (“The Cactus Where Your Heart Should Be”) sides of love.The tour is currently in the middle of an eight-night run at Manhattan’s Town Hall, where the band’s original members are playing the album in its entirety for the first time in over two decades. (Because a 69-song set is daunting, they are splitting the album up over two consecutive nights.)For today’s playlist, I attempted something that I found very, very difficult: choosing my 10 favorite tracks off “69 Love Songs.” In classic Amplifier fashion, though, I found the task impossible and allowed myself one extra song. I can already hear some of you shouting at your screens — “What, no ‘I Don’t Want to Get Over You’? And no ‘Reno Dakota’?!” — but these are just my personal picks. One of the most enjoyable parts of dissecting this dense album is comparing notes with other fans; everyone seems to have their own quirky and somewhat inexplicable preferences. (I almost put “Kiss Me Like You Mean It” on this list, for example.)May this playlist serve as a less intimidating introduction to the album, if you’re unfamiliar with it, or a tantalizing refresher if you are. No playlist can duplicate the musical roller-coaster ride that is listening to “69 Love Songs” in full — an experience I would recommend to any music fan. By design, and to paraphrase one of its greatest tracks, some of it is just transcendental, some of it is delightfully dumb.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

  • in

    Cillian Murphy, Barry Keoghan, and Paul Mescal Spark a Thirst for the Irish

    Barry Keoghan, Paul Mescal and Cillian Murphy are among a crop of Irish hunks who have infused popular culture with big Irish energy.Sabrina Carpenter may already be dating an Irish hunk: The actress and singer attended the Vanity Fair Oscars party with the Irish actor Barry Keoghan last Sunday, adding fuel to rumors of their romantic involvement.But any feelings Ms. Carpenter may have for Mr. Keoghan did not stop her from saying she had eyes for Cillian Murphy, another Irishman, in an interview with Vanity Fair filmed before the party. Ms. Carpenter joked that if she saw Mr. Murphy at the event, she would leave with him.After a video of the interview was shared on Instagram, Mr. Keoghan left a comment. It had no words, only two emojis: a person with a hand raised and a shamrock. Another user commented, “She has a thing for the Irish just like me.”Mr. Keoghan, 31, and Mr. Murphy, 47, along with Paul Mescal, 28, and Andrew Scott, 47, have recently infused popular culture with big Irish energy by starring in the films “Saltburn,” “Oppenheimer” and “All of Us Strangers.” As a result, those actors have ushered in a moment for Irish crushes.The film “All of Us Strangers” featured a double dose of Irish hunks: specifically, Paul Mescal, left, and Andrew Scott.Ryan Pfluger for The New York TimesSome of them seem to have leaned into their reputation. Mr. Keoghan appeared on a version of the cover of Vanity Fair’s Hollywood issue butt naked. His body was only slightly more clothed in a Valentine’s Day campaign by the dating app Bumble; those images, when shared on social media, had some people drooling in the comments.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More