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Friday, April 26, 2019

New Music on the Horizon from Taylor Swift

Written by Jon Williams

Taylor Swift has had social media buzzing lately. Starting on April 13, each day she posted a cryptic photo to her Twitter and Instagram accounts with the caption “4.26.” It culminated on Thursday with the unveiling of a butterfly mural by artist Kelsey Montague at Nashville’s famed Gulch neighbourhood, and the wait ended at midnight with the release of her new video and single, “Me!” Full details on her forthcoming seventh album haven’t yet been announced, but she has assured fans that it will be releasing soon.

Swift is hardly a stranger to buzz, as she’s been a sensation for most of her life. Developing a passion for music at a young age, she signed her first record deal when she was just fourteen years old. After developing her songwriting voice and her musical chops, she burst onto the country music scene in 2006 with her self-titled debut album at the age of sixteen. While it never made to the top of the album charts (it peaked at #5), its staying power made it the longest-charting album of the 2000s, and it has been certified 7X platinum. She followed that up in 2008 with Fearless, a diamond-selling monster hit that won two Grammy Awards (including Album of the Year) and made her a bona fide star. Then two years later, in 2010, came Speak Now, which sold more than a million copies in its first week alone and has since gone platinum six times over.

Through her first three albums, Swift’s sound was primarily country, with more and more pop sensibility being added on each disc. That pop sound came even more into the forefront on 2012’s Red, another multiplatinum-selling success. She left the country sound behind altogether on her fifth album, 1989, and was rewarded with a 9X platinum smash hit that gave her a second Album of the Year Grammy and which was covered in its entirety by Ryan Adams. She gave her pop sound a darker edge on 2017’s Reputation, which is her most recent album release leading into her much-anticipated seventh. If the candy-coloured video and bright tones of “Me!” are any indication, the tone of her upcoming album will be a 180-degree departure from Reputation.

As if her stellar music career weren’t enough, Swift has also dabbled in the acting side of the entertainment industry. She started with a role in a 2009 episode of CSI, and made her feature film debut as part of the ensemble cast of 2010’s Valentine’s Day. In 2012 she voiced the character of Audrey in the animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax. She returned to TV for an episode of New Girl in 2013, and appeared in the 2014 adaptation of the beloved YA novel The Giver. She has taken a break since then, but will be starring alongside such names as Idris Elba, Rebel Wilson, and Ian McKellen in the upcoming movie version of Cats, coming to theatres this December.

Taylor Swift’s new album will be one of the biggest music releases of the year. Your patrons will be looking for it as soon as it is released, and her back catalog will be in demand as well. Stay tuned for more information on the album as it becomes available, and SmartBrowse her name on our website for live albums, karaoke and lullaby discs, bio videos, and more. Also, make sure to let your patrons know that her music and plenty of other content is available for checkout from hoopla digital, all with no waiting or late fees!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Game of Thrones Finale Set for Record Ratings

Written by Jon Williams

This Sunday begins the long-awaited and highly anticipated eighth season of the hit HBO show Game of Thrones. The abbreviated final season will consist of just six episodes (although four of those will run around 80 minutes, 20 more than the typical episode) and will culminate in the series finale on May 19. Over the course of the show’s seven seasons to date, its ratings have continued to climb, making it one of the most-watched cable series. With nearly two years of hype building up since the Season 7 finale that aired on August 27, 2017, plus the anticipation of who—if anyone—will survive to take the Iron Throne, the eighth season’s viewership numbers are sure to set new records, and the series finale will likely go down as one of the most watched of all time.

On network television, of course, those numbers are untouchable. The series finale of M*A*S*H on February 28, 1983, drew upwards of 105 million viewers, making it the most-watched television episode ever. The only other broadcasts that garner that type of viewership are the American Super Bowl each year. The closest any show has come since was ten years later, with the series finale of the hit sitcom Cheers, which came in at 84 million on May 20, 1993. Before M*A*S*H, the record was held by the wrap-up of The Fugitive on August 29, 1967, watched by 78 million people. Rounding out the top five most-watched series finales are two more sitcoms: Seinfeld (May 14, 1998) with 76 million and Friends (May 16, 2004) with 52 million. In the realm of science fiction and fantasy, the record is held by Star Trek: The Next Generation, which came to an end on May 23, 1994, with an audience of 31 million.

Network broadcasts, though, have always had the advantage of being available to anyone with a television set, without the necessity of additional equipment or subscription fees. That’s why ratings for shows airing on cable networks are measured in a category of their own. For cable series, the top two most-watched series finales belong to HBO, the same network that airs Game of Thrones. First up is the mob drama The Sopranos, whose controversial blackout ending aired June 10, 2007, to 11.9 viewers. Coming in second, and holding the top spot until The Sopranos came along, is Sex and the City, which bowed to an audience of 10.6 million on February 22, 2004. Those numbers are especially impressive considering HBO is a premium network which has traditionally required an additional subscription fee on top of a cable package. Then in third place is the acclaimed AMC drama Breaking Bad, which, like Game of Thrones, started off to relatively modest ratings and then steadily built over time. That show finished up on September 29, 2013, with 10.3 million viewers.

So how will the Game of Thrones finale fare? Obviously it won’t approach the numbers of network shows like M*A*S*H or even Friends, but it has an excellent chance of setting a new record for cable shows. Season 7 averaged upwards of 10 million viewers, and the season finale drew over 12 million. With anticipation at an all-time high, the numbers for Season 8 should leave those behind easily. And with two more novels to come in George R.R. Martin’s novel series and a spinoff series in production from HBO, the fever is sure to last for years to come.