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Stars and the “Real” Girl; or, Yeah, I Listened To That One Taylor Swift Album A Few Times

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.


  1. Emily wrote:

    Sady, I would love to read your thoughts on the recent assault of Lauren Valle. Although most blogs I’ve read have framed it as a liberal/conservative, activist/oppressor issue, it seems quite likely to me that her sex played a role in her treatment. A woman with a voice and a different opinion? The excessive and unjustified violence against her is about as surprising as the violence against the Suffragettes who picketed the White House.

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Permalink
  2. Sooz wrote:

    I really appreciate your thoughts on Swift. The more I hear of her, the less substance she seems to have. :/

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Permalink
  3. Kathy wrote:

    I’m far from Swift’s target audience, but I’ve tried to give her music a fair shake, and not dismiss it as top forty pap. But, agreeing with Sooz above me, there’s little substance to her music — and I like a good revenge song (Marianne Faithfull’s “Why’d Ya Do It” comes to mind), or an entire album of them.

    I know there’s some unexamined privilege involved, and I’m probably not articulating properly what I want to say, but the song that’s allegedly about Kanye just seems patronizing. She’s young, yeah, but there are other songwriters her age — Janelle Monae, Thao Nguyen, hell, even GaGa, who show a greater level of self awareness.

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Permalink
  4. Britte wrote:

    OH MY GOD.
    Thank you.
    I was beginning to think that I was the only one weirded out by Taylor Swift’s lyrics, which only seem to be about famous boys, vengence on man-stealers, and belittling Kanye.

    Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink
  5. Anna wrote:

    Have you already read this?
    Sums up my issues with Swift pretty well… at least re: Kanye.

    Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Permalink
  6. AngryPunkPixie wrote:

    I don’t even like her to start with!

    Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Permalink