Which isn’t to condemn Swift totally, or to say that her much-publicized dating life or much-published feelings are entirely artificial. It’s just hard to believe that the most important emotional moments in Taylor Swift’s life line up, so very closely, with the most important moments in her tabloid narrative.
You know what I love? Intimate lady writing, especially when it’s all about girls going unfiltered and getting Some Serious Feelings off their chests. You know what I don’t love? That one Taylor Swift album. It’s not just that the album is named after a song about stealing someone’s husband, and contains another song about how boyfriend-stealing sluts are God’s most hated children, or that the song where she snarls over and over again into the microphone about her undying thirst for revenge is directly followed by a song about her superior powers of compassion and forgiveness. It’s not just that it contains a song called “Never Grow Up,” although it’s good to know that’s part of the official mission statement. It’s not just that Swift is working in a genre which relies on lyrical ingenuity, self-awareness, and the ability to push familiar emotional states past the point of cliche and to the point of containing new insight about how emotion itself works, and just doesn’t seem to deliver on any of the above, like a professional meteorologist who never gives you the temperature or the forecast but can only say that it’s cold in winter and often damp on days when it happens to be raining. It’s a lot of reasons. Some are here. And if I enjoyed her lyrics, I’m willing to admit, none of them would really matter.