Taylor Swift, Nick Jonas good...for a change

Taylor Swift, Nick Jonas good...for a change
NEW AND IMPROVED: Nick Jonas (right) and Taylor Swift (left) look to be making promising changes in their career paths.

Change.It's that ability to confound the critics with a new persona that has sent some acts into pop stratosphere.

Sometimes it doesn't work. Take Justin Bieber's ongoing and laughable attempt to become a bad boy of R&B.

But two recent cases show that assumptions are there to be smashed.

Which is why we are grateful for the new and improved Taylor Swift and Nick Jonas, whose upcoming works have given us renewed hope.

Swift's persona was one of a talented singer whose last four albums were mostly moany attempts to get back at old boyfriends.

She seemed bitter and not averse to throwing shade in public.

But if her latest single Shake It Off is any indication, her next album, 1989, will be a 180-degree change.

Completely shaking off her long-gone country roots, Swift has us dancing along to the catchy pop track, which is a cheeky diss at her haters, albeit in an upbeat and positive way.

Not only that, in the music video, she pokes fun at herself and her inability to dance through a variety of personas - clumsy cheerleader, awkward twerker and a blundering ballerina - as she ignores the naysayers.

It was an instant hit, chalking up over 65 million views on YouTube and headed straight for No. 1 on the Billboard chart.

Swift, 24, has promised that her fifth record - 1989 - is her "very first official, documented pop album".

It is shorter on the "jilted, sad, pining", she told UK paper The Guardian.

"It's the phase after that, when you go out into the world and make changes in your life on your own terms, make friends on your own terms, without (literally) saying 'C'mon girls, we can do it on our own!'" she said. Swift, who has also just been revealed as a guest advisor on The Voice, said that the album due in October focuses more on friendships than relationships.

Not like there's anything to talk about - Swift has been unusually quiet on that front.

It could be said that her string of recent gals pals - including model Karlie Kloss and singer Lorde - had a part to play in this change.

"I think my life has changed in ways that have surprised me. Deciding to spend my time in New York, cutting my hair, becoming all of a sudden surrounded by this great group of strong, beautiful, smart women who challenge me and push me forward - those are all changes in my life," she told Fusion's AM Tonight.

It remains to be seen how long fun Taylor lasts.

SOLO JONAS

Meanwhile, Nick Jonas, 21, is paving a promising solo career.

His band the Jonas Brothers called it quits last year, though you would be hard-pressed to say when they last had a bona fide hit.

His solo album is on its way and it sees him collaborating with singer-producer Mike Posner, rapper Angel Haze and Demi Lovato.

His second single, Jealous, will be released on Sunday.

Forget the teenybopper-friendly sound of the Disney-affiliated Jonas Brothers or even the diverse pop-rock-soul vibe of his side project, Nick Jonas & The Administration.

His first solo work will be an alternative R&B/pop album, drawing influences from the likes of Stevie Wonder, Prince, Bee Gees, The Weeknd and Frank Ocean.

For Jonas, taking the solo plunge was a leap of faith. Indeed, fear is a major theme on the eponymous record.

"For me, it was fear of the unknown, fear of my next steps, fear of making bold choices," he told Time magazine.

Besides branching out on his own, Jonas has also taken the plunge into acting.

He will star as an aspiring mixed martial arts fighter in DIRECTV's new drama series, Kingdom, which airs Oct 8 in the US.

It is Jonas like you have never seen him before -beaten up, bruised and deliciously buff. In preparation for the role, he put on 6kg and ate 4,500 calories a day.

Eager to take on more challenges, Jonas told pop music site Idolator: "It's about making the right choices and trying to grow - making it feel natural and organic. Like Justin Timberlake and Mark Wahlberg, they have made really great transitions and done a great job of starting at one place and building."

The other two in the band, Kevin and Joe, who are busy with parenting and a DJ project respectively, still lend their younger brother support.

"The great thing about the choice we made last year - to close that chapter of our lives together - was that we said, in order for all of us to be happy, we are going to do different things. It might take time, but we will always be supportive," he told the Inquirer.

Both Swift and Jonas are proving that opinions and careers can be changed and improved. Other young singers can use them as inspiration.

There's a difference between getting older and growing up.

ashikinr@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on September 03, 2014.
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