“WE’RE NEVER EVER EVER GETTING BACK TOGETHER”, are the ear splitting lyrics I hear blaring from every 13 to 20 something year old girl’s iPod everywhere I turn. I cynically turn up my own music to drown out the predictable and unimaginative ramblings of the dewy-eyed blonde songstress. I’m not expecting Taylor Swift to create a profound and moving ballad of eloquent prose, but I was less than impressed with the new release of her new album “Red” that dropped October 27th.
Her music is well marketed. The album sold over 1.2 million copies in the first week of its release. She tries to infuse other musical influences, I will give her that. But pop is ephemeral and made to please. It’ll top the charts for a few weeks, most likely have the most played song on a 15 year-old girl’s playlist. The question is 20 years down the road what will we think of her? She obviously transcends the age barrier, as I stated before I’ve seen tweens to 25 year olds fan-girl over purchasing and preordering her album. The number of Instagram photos I viewed on the 22nd of girls clutching their “Red” CDs, happily exclaiming that the checkout woman at Wal-Mart questioned them if the album was for their younger sibling, were endless. I get it you’re not ashamed of your love for T Swift.
I picked up the album with an open mind, hoping to find anything the track-list that would make me fall in love and clear my conscience. Sadly I found none, after the hearing about a minute of the opening U2-esk ballad “State of Grace”, my already lacking attention span was shot. Swift has obviously come a long way from being pegged as blonde bright eyed country star. Now she’s attempting to transition even further into the pop realm, which is sadly the only way to go nowadays. There was this weird sense of emptiness throughout the record. I wanted something, anything to grasp onto but I felt myself falling through a sickly sweet haze of pop experiments. I will admit the surprise track for me was definitely “I Knew You Were Trouble”. First few seconds were the typical guitar/peppy beat combo but halfway through a rising crescendo there was bass drop.Yes I’m serious, dub step in a T Swift song. I wasn’t sure if this was a tactic to dress up a shallow track to make it danceable, like many of her songs on this album, but I must admit it’s damn catchy. However it just shows you have to slap on 30 seconds of dub for anyone to care. The bubbly yet generic tune “22” opens with It feels like a perfect night to dress up like hipsters And make fun of our exes, I replayed that first line. Yep she really says this. She continues to chirp about dancing around with a group of friends like they’re 22. Clever. With other tracks such as “All Too Well” and “Begin Again” she slows the album down to write slower moodier pieces. I found myself losing interest quickly. I found myself reluctantly getting songs stuck in my head as I walked to class, wishing they would be replaced by anything but Red. Her album is poppy and catchy, but fleeting. In a few weeks the excitement will die down and everyone will go back to looking for the next pop craze. Over all it seems like she’s trying different avenues to go down, but not all of them are leading her in the right direction. She get’s an A for effort though.
I feel almost un-American for disliking her, I hold back seemingly “mean” tweets for fear of offending half my female (and male) followers. It’s like I’m guilt ridden for not being into her music. I always imagine myself making an ignorant humorous statement about her and she somehow finds my tweet among the thousands, reads it and cries. Sorry, I’m just not trying to have the next hit T Swift song written about me. Don’t get me wrong I love Swift’s wholesome image, it’s refreshing. I am in no way saying she should drastically change her sugar coated tween ways and turn into another Rihanna who went from “Pon De Replay” to being excited by chains and whips. There just comes a point when you need to mature as an artist, Swift just seems to be stuck on this Disney Channel persona. I thought about it the other day. She’s 22 years old. I’m 19 and it seems like I live an edgier and more “dangerous” life than she does. This coming from the girl who comes home from class and binges on pizza rolls and Harry Potter marathons. That is so disturbing to me. She recently split from her latest boo from the Kennedy clan. The running joke would be he can expect a song dedicated to him on the next album. It doesn’t take another track list to realize that the moral of her life story is that “boys are mean and will most likely make you cry”.
I feel almost biased writing this, I seem to have some grudge against female performers in general. I think it’s hard to see a balance of a sex, spunk, or originality without it being overdone in some form. A performer who doesn’t try too hard to be something she’s not, someone who doesn’t do things to please the public, but does her own thing and looks fabulous doing it. My word isn’t god or anything but someone who I idolize is No Doubt’s front woman/solo artist Gwen Stefani. I could on and on forever about why I think Gwen is fabulous, but let’s just start by saying she is probably the most gorgeous 43 year old I’ve ever seen. She still possesses the same signature abs in 2012 as she did in No Doubt’s debut 1995 Spiderwebs music video. To compare her to Swift only seems unfair. Gwen just has this effortless charm about her. When I first discovered No Doubt I was instantly attracted to the fact that she was just this ska punk chick who could hang with the boys, but also could also wear cut off shirts, red lipstick and be overtly girly. She was sexy as hell, but didn’t have to be half naked, grind the stage, or sing about bondage and one night stands. She had a different sort of sex appeal; she’s like this glamorous tomboy. Gwen could literally hang with any crew and could fit right in. From the ska punk rock scene, to her Harajuku girls, a chola high schooler, to a glamor infused starlet, Jean Harlow type. I think she possesses such versatility, unlike Taylor. Swift has innocence down to a T, even at 22. I don’t think she should take her top off on stage or curse out a band of paparazzi to gain my respect. I just believe that she is a little too sugar coated. There doesn’t seem to be a malicious or dangerous bone in her body. She’s too fragile. Gwen seems like a girl you could kick it with it on the weekend, but you wouldn’t want to step to her or she’d kick your ass.
I feel obligated and almost ashamed to like Taylor Swift. Call me insane for disappointing the country for not being hypnotized by her baby blue eyes and bouncy blonde locks. With Gwen Stefani I have this sort of pride that I’m in love with her. I wish I could be her. She’s badass, talented, sexy but not in an over bearing way. The only crime she’s committed is thrusting her perfect abs into the camera occasionally. Stefani has an edge that Swift isn’t close to grasping yet. I won’t deny it, I used to be one of those girls who ran home from the school bus in middle school and lamented over my own tear drops on my guitar. Let me repeat that “in middle school”. I’ve grown up, maybe Taylor Swift should