“Are we in the clear yet?”

“Out of the Woods” by Taylor Swift | Now, if I really want to feel insecure about being 30 and having accomplished relatively (arguably) little in comparison to my peers, I should write about Taylor Swift. You can’t not know she’s turning 30 this year – she’s named an album after it, kind of. One of the biggest names in pop music, one who’s deft both in songwriting and in business (just think of how… cold her 78 Questions video for Vogue was) and one who seems to know what she wants to do before she even does it. Or she has good advisers. Often (especially lately) I stop and think, wouldn’t it be nice to still have the world in your palms when you cross the invisible, arbitrary threshold of turning 30? Or maybe not extra successful like her, but like my peers, with their five-digit salaries in the upper half (I assume) and the ability to indulge in their hobbies without having to worry. Like, this blog is a hobby but it’s increasingly untenable. And then I realize they have their problems of their own, and I’m fine, at least for the moment. But still… [NB]

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“너무 부끄러워 쳐다볼 수 없어.”

“Gee” by Girls’ Generation | Yeah, we’re writing a lot about K-pop lately, so this was bound to happen. (That, and this song is turning ten this year.) Six of Girls’ Generation’s nine members – don’t get me started about how one member left and, just last year, how three left the agency, but not the group – are turning 30 this year, which reminds you that not everybody reaches this age in Korean music, especially on the pop side, and remains relevant. That tends to be reserved to groups that have attained legendary, industry-altering status (take the boys of Super Junior) or those who had relatively late peaks in their careers. (Solji, who turned 30 the day after I did, was part of ballad duo 2NB before joining EXID, just before they really got successful.) Yes, sadly, I am just an uncle fan. All these new K-pop groups have members who are just over half my age – IZ*ONE‘s Jan Won-young is just 15! – and they’ve likely trained for years before that. Here I am, cheering (and being skeptical sometimes) about little kids pressured by society to be the best version of themselves, make-up and all. Well, at least Squirtle is turning 28 next month. She’s closer to my age, even if she doesn’t act like it sometimes. No wonder I’m a MooMoo[NB]

“I know you love me. I don’t need proof.”

“What You Don’t Do” by Lianne La Havas | Before I get accused of wrecking childhoods for being not-so-complementary about their choice of pop tunes, I’ll switch to something less mainstream. Lianne La Havas is also turning 30 this year, and good timing, because a few weeks back (calling it “last year” is too much?) I rediscovered this song. I missed the confidence and the swagger of this song; I ended up going back to her two records and enjoyed a couple of hours in bed with them. Is asking “whatever happened to her?” too much? She hasn’t entirely disappeared, but it’s been a while since the release of Blood, and being taken under Prince‘s wing before his untimely death must be a sign of confidence from the cosmos. Lianne, we need you back. Maybe as a birthday present to me, too? [NB]

“How am I supposed to breathe with no air?”

“No Air” by Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown | Last week I turned 30, and I gave myself an extra week off. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now it feels weird that I was off for three whole weeks and am starting in the middle of the month. (But then, I totally forgot to take my customary August break.) So, well, hello there – let’s kick off a whole new year with a week of musicians who are also turning 30 this year, eh? Perhaps to make me feel inadequate about not having accomplished much (relatively, you’d argue) at the same age, but then again, I never made myself out as a singer. If I did, I would’ve joined those audition shows really early on. Jordin Sparks was just 16 when she first auditioned for American Idol – I remember the angle was her really young age when she finally became winner at the end of the sixth season. She did all right – she was all over the radio; she was kinda close to Kelly Clarkson-level success – but it’s been a while since we heard new music from her, because all we seemed to be preoccupied with were her relationships (she was engaged to Jason Derulo – also born in 1989 – which led to… this) and now I read she’s got a baby. But at least I remember her fondly, even if “No Air” didn’t age that well because it’s just sappy. Unlike the other guy in this song, well… [NB]

“There’s always one more mountain left to climb.”

“Days Are Numbers (The Traveler)” by the Alan Parsons Project | All my life I always thought this song was called “Days Are Numbered”, which is still poetic, if not a bit ominous. No. It’s called “Days Are Numbers” and it’s poetic in a sad way. We’re transient, we’re temporary, you get the idea. I didn’t think I’d end the week with these thoughts, but here we are. Days are numbers. And frankly, it’s about time. [NB]