PWN teen writers share their favorite books, movies, TV shows, and more every Friday to inspire young writers. We believe that the best way to become a stronger writer is to immerse yourself in other storytelling forms.
This week, teen writer Vivian DeRosa shares three of her favorite albums.
by Janelle Monáe
Monáe is the gift that just keeps on giving. She’s a style icon! Award-winning actress! And of course, she’s the artist behind Dirty Computer, an ode to otherness. She is so clever with her lyrics, with wordplays like “take a byte,” “I cut ’em off like Van Gogh,” “electro-cute,” “I fold ’em like origami,” and “I got away with murder, no scandal.” Just writing those made me shiver. Every song is stellar, from “Django Jane,” which explores the intersection of gender and race, to “PYNK,” a queer anthem. And don’t miss the video that accompanies the album—Monáe calls it an “emotion picture.” Favorite lyric: “We gave you life, we gave you birth / We gave you God, we gave you Earth / We fem the future, don’t make it worse.”
by Taylor Swift
I always knew Taylor Swift was one of our best songwriters (this is the woman who started her career as a teen with lines like “our song is the sound of slamming screen doors”), but in Folklore, Swift finally and completely embraces her storytelling nature. For the first time, she really plays with characters and fiction—and it is everything. There’s dogs dyed key-lime green! Braids like a pattern! Yearning! This album came out a month ago and I haven’t gone a day without thinking about it—I’m gonna write a Folklore thesis. I can’t choose my favorite lyric because I like too many of them, but this one’s funny, so here: “Cold was the steel of my axe to grind / For the boys who broke my heart. / Now I send their babies presents.”
by Rina Sawayama
Sawayama has range: you can have a dance party to the absolute bop “Comme des Garçons” and then weep to “Chosen Family,” a song about how “we don’t need to be related to relate.” I recommend listening to this album at full volume in the car while you soar down the highway and reconsider where you’ve been and where you’re going. I love how Sawayama treats platonic relationships as seriously as romantic ones—especially with her song “Bad Friend,” which addresses the struggles of friendship and calls for the audience to “put your hands up if you’re not good at this stuff.” Favorite lyric: “Thought I was original, but after all, I guess this is just another song ’bout Tokyo.”