Is there anybody else out there who has been thrown into a (grossly exaggerated) existential tailspin by the release of the new Taylor Swift single?
It's so damn catchy. I've watched the music video three times today and listened to the song at least eight. Every time it starts, I can't refrain from bopping my head around in classic clichéd working-girl-in-her-cube-with-headphones-on fashion. So far, my boss hasn't caught me. It's only a matter of time, though.
But I'm so conflicted. This single is making me question so much about my latent, passionate devotion to TSwift. Since college, I've identified deeply with her. I even drove five hours with a guy friend summer before our sophomore year to see her in concert (the "Fearless" tour). Her CDs have been the soundtrack to so many dance parties...and they are so weirdly appropriate for specific epochs in my life. Hi, duh, I have exes named Stephen and Jo(h)n. Cue "Hey Stephen" and "Dear John" on repeat please...
One of the best things about Taylor is how she has managed for the better part of a decade to come off as refreshingly real and relatable. A vindictive little part of me LOVES the fact that she's built a glittering career on getting to very publicly trash anyone who's done her wrong. She's flawed, she's genuine, she's vulnerable...or at least she's carefully curated this persona that she is all those things, anyway.
Maybe that's why this song/music video feels so disingenuous. She's clearly been moving in the direction of mainstream pop stardom for years now...just juxtapose her overtly twangy first album against the barely-there country undertones of "Red," and it's painfully obvious. That said, her first four offerings all sound like her...there's that distinctly earnest, diary-like, confessional aspect to individual songs in addition to the albums as a whole. I don't feel that with "Shake it Off;" given she's stated that "1989" is her "most musically cohesive album ever," I fear we're in for 13-15 more glittery, packaged pop tracks come October.
I don't NOT like it, clearly, given my shameless contribution to its video views. I just don't really like the contrast between the message of the song, which is classic Taylor "Omg, I'm a cute charming klutzy outsider girl-next-door just like you!", and the song's overall vibe. It sounds and feels so produced and try-hard that the novelty and niche of her special-unicorn uniqueness vanishes completely. The nuanced, confessional lyrics that made "Red" such a standout have been replaced with saccharine phrases like "this sick beat," "got nothin' in my brain," and of course the chorus's "Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate." It's kind of sad...I know that this is an inevitable part of her growth as a musician and twentysomething but it's making me seriously nostalgic for the days of "Everything Has Changed," "All Too Well," and "State of Grace."
OMG, guys. Seriously, can we all take a step back and laugh at how hard I'm overanalyzing this? I'm going to admit it...despite my weird dissonant internal spaz over Taylor Swift's identity as a musician and icon for the ages, I love this song. Can't wait to bust it out at the gym, and I'm calling it already--it's going to end up in a Notre Dame band halftime routine for suresies.
Off to go invest in red lipstick and a black turtleneck. Oh, and if you spot someone twerking in a tutu in downtown St. Paul later today...don't tell my boss.