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Dear Jack Antonoff, please take a break

Jack Antonoff has worked on nearly a dozen projects since the start of the pandemic, from an album of his own to collaborations with Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey.
Jack Antonoff has worked on nearly a dozen projects since the start of the pandemic, from an album of his own to collaborations with Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey.

I didn’t intend to become a Jack Antonoff fan.

Not that I was actively avoiding it; I’ve just never given much thought to who produces the music I listen to, or how. Sure, I knew there were more people involved in a Lorde song than Lorde herself, but I didn’t care to familiarize myself with who those other people might be.

This all changed with the arrival of Taylor Swift’s album, “evermore,” in December 2020.

“folklore,” Swift’s surprise album from July 2020, was already one of my favorite records of the year. I’d heard Jack Antonoff’s name attached to the project, and I knew he was the producer, but beyond that I wasn’t sure what he really did.

But with “evermore” came the jokes.

“Taylor Swift must have Jack Antonoff chained up in her basement.” 

“How is Lana Del Rey ever supposed to release another album if Jack’s too busy with Taylor.” 

“No wonder Lorde’s album got delayed - there’s no way Jack could make it to New Zealand with all his other work going on.”

Variations of the same comments floated around TikTok and Instagram for weeks. None of the other women of indie-pop could release an album until Swift was done using Jack for her projects, however many there may be. At the time, popular wisdom said Swift would be releasing one more new album, “woodvale,” before she began rerecording her first five albums.

So, when Jack Antonoff first entered my awareness, it wasn’t entirely a positive experience. I’d been promised a Lana Del Rey album in September 2020. He was the sole producer of her last album, “Norman Fucking Rockwell,” and it seemed he’d failed to produce the follow up because Swift, by far the richest of his regular partners, was keeping him busy.

At the rate things were going, I could forget about a new Lorde album. Antonoff had produced every song on “Melodrama,” Lorde’s 2017 album (and the single greatest anything ever written), but in December it seemed unlikely we would get any future projects from the pair. 

Then March rolled around, and a beautiful thing happened: Lana Del Rey’s album, “Chemtrails Over the Country Club,” dropped. Short and sweet at 11 songs, it’s still my favorite album of the year so far.

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Antonoff once again produced every song.

I was struggling to hold onto my grudge against Antonoff. He’d only produced six songs from “folklore” and two from “evermore,” and none of them were my favorites. If anyone making jokes on the internet cared about accuracy (they don’t), their jokes about Swift locking up her producers would have been better directed at Aaron Dessner, who co-wrote and produced more songs than Antonoff on each album.

Plus there was the whole Lorde thing.

But then we got to May. St. Vincent dropped a banger of an album heavily inspired by the 70’s, a sound I hadn’t fully appreciated until then. I had no idea who was on her team while working on the album, and it didn’t really matter to me, until I happened to be reading an article and one name stuck out.

Jack Antonoff.

Since the start of the pandemic, Antonoff has been attached to 11 projects, including his own album under the stage name Bleachers, Lana Del Rey’s poetry audiobook (for some reason) and nine albums.

By publishing time, that number will become 10 with “Solar Power,” Lorde’s first project in four years. I might die when it drops. We’ll see.

People love to say Taylor Swift is the music industry, but that’s not quite true. Antonoff isn’t the music industry either, but it’s a bit closer to the truth.

Antonoff has defined the sound of pop music since 2012 when his two-hit wonder band, fun., released its album “Some Nights.” Since then, he’s collaborated with Swift, St. Vincent, Lorde, Del Rey, Clairo, Carly Rae Jepsen, FKA Twigs, The Chicks, P!nk and more.

He needs a break.

He won’t take it, of course. I doubt Antonoff will stop making his mix of bangers and ballads with the women of pop and indie music anytime in the foreseeable future, and of course I’ll keep listening.

Grudges aside, the man’s responsible for the sound of nearly half my favorite artists and albums, and even if Antonoff did call it quits, he’ll have left us with material to cry over and dance to for a decade.

scottsr2@miamioh.edu

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