Over the years, my feelings about Taylor Swift have varied wildly. From going to one of her concerts when I was in high school, to writing scathing reviews of some of her more recent work, Taylor and I have been on a journey together for over a decade. My thoughts about her are always evolving, and with her new song “You Need To Calm Down,” we might finally be entering a positive chapter.
Back in April, Taylor Swift kicked off her new era with her single “Me!”. I was really ready to embrace this new chapter with open arms, but things quickly went south. I’m all about having a good time, but Taylor’s new song felt like it was better suited for an episode of Sesame Street than a pregame playlist. The candy-coated video didn’t help things, and the entire effort came across like a high-budget music video for kids. Taylor, who turns 30 later this year, seemed lost, and a little desperate. Is this really what she thought we wanted from her?
The single underperformed by Taylor Swift’s standards, so at least I wasn’t the only one who was confused by this direction. I’m all for rainbows and catchy pop music, but I don’t want to be shouted at about spelling. The biggest question left in the wake of “Me!” was what Taylor Swift would put out next. Yesterday, she finally announced her album, called Lover, that will be released in August. Along with the album announcement, we also got a new single, and…
I love it.
After the perplexing elementary school vibes that she brought with her last single, Taylor Swift has finally returned to form. “You Need To Calm Down” is classic Taylor Swift from top to bottom, with a trademark long title, a hook that’s instantly catchy, and lyrics that are already burned into my head after approximately three listens. Okay, like 10 listens, but only for research purposes.
This song sounds like the best of the 1989 era, with layered vocals and synth beats that sound both moody and triumphant at the same time. There are some Reputation influences in there too, but luckily not the vague talk-rapping about her enemies. Hopefully that’s gone for good.
As for the lyrics, Taylor Swift really takes a step out of her bubble here by centering “You Need To Calm Down” as a pro-LGBTQ empowerment anthem. The lyrics contain references to Pride parades, GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), and men wearing gowns. In the prechorus, Taylor sings:
You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace
And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate
‘Cause shade never made anybody less gay
Basically, Taylor is telling people to stay in their lane, and that putting other people down doesn’t actually accomplish anything. Whatever your feelings about Taylor Swift, it’s nice to see her including messages like this into her music. She still has a wider impact than anyone else in music, so she actually has the power to influence people who might not be exposed to Pride parades on a regular basis.
Over the past year, Taylor Swift has become more active in the political sphere, something that she was hesitant to do for years. It’s refreshing to see her owning her status as an ally, especially during Pride month. We could argue about whether she’s benefitting from it, or how genuine it is, but sometimes it’s just nice to have visible support from people in places of power.
Of course, this is still a Taylor Swift song, so there are some classic Taylor references to snakes and crowns, but overall, “You Need To Calm Down” feels like a major step in the right direction for 2019 Taylor Swift. Whereas “ME!” almost felt like a publicity stunt, Taylor’s second single feels like an organic step in the right direction. There’s no argument that Taylor Swift can write catchy hooks and lyrics, so this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.
Hopefully you like this song as much as I do, because Taylor Swift is going to be everywhere over the next couple of months. She still has an 18-track album coming later this summer, so that’s a lot of opportunities for things to go very wrong or very right, but I’m at least cautiously optimistic now.
Images: Shutterstock; betches, taylorswift / Instagram; taylorswift / YouTube
Over the past decade, I’ve had a fraught relationship with Taylor Swift. While I was openly critical of Taylor during her last album/era, I haven’t always had issues with her. Back in 2013, I was thrilled to attend Taylor’s Red Tour, and I have no problem admitting that I think most of her music is great. So when Taylor Swift started teasing her big new project, I was honestly excited. I wasn’t a fan of the Reputation era, but I was ready to start fresh with 2019 Taylor.
At midnight on Thursday, Taylor Swift released her new single and video, “ME!”, featuring Brendon Urie of Panic at the Disco. Brendon was a perfect choice, because he’s very talented, very hot, and most importantly, very fun. From what we know so far, that’s what new-new-Taylor (or new-old-Taylor, I can’t tell) is all about: FUN! The video for “ME!” begins with a snake exploding into a cloud of butterflies, signaling that the angst of Reputation is officially gone.
But other than convincing us that she’s ready to be bubbly again, I’m not sure I get what she’s going for with this song. Lyrically, it’s a pretty straightforward declaration about how great she is, with the most memorable lyric being “You can’t spell awesome without ME!” In the past, Taylor has written some really beautiful, moving lyrics, and these feel like elementary school poems in comparison.
“I’m the only one of me / baby that’s the fun of me.”
While the song is definitely catchy, it feels like it was meant to play during the credits of an animated kids movie. The video, which was released at the same time as the song, only helps to drive this family-friendly vibe home. Taylor Swift and Brendon Urie are a couple arguing in French (why?), but then they go outside and everything turns into some kind of rainbow fantasy world, complete with hundreds of extras in penis-colored marching band outfits. The visuals really drive home the idea that old-new-Taylor is FUN!, and it is! The video is fun! Seeing Taylor Swift and Brendon Urie do their best Hairspray imitation is fun! Flying on umbrellas over the rooftops of Paris is fun! But that doesn’t take away the fact that this song is…baffling.
Like I said, it’s catchy, but then the whole thing gets derailed for the bridge, which starts with Taylor shouting “Hey kids, spelling is fun!” I’m sorry, but I am a grown-ass adult, and I don’t want a song on my Spotify playlist in which I’m being lectured about the joy of spelling. I left that sh*t behind in 4th grade, and I have no desire to go back.
Of course, “ME!” will most likely be a major hit, if only because Taylor Swift has some of the most dedicated fans in the world. The entire rollout strategy of this new era, from the months of clues on Instagram, to the YouTube livestream, feel designed to appeal mainly to the Taylor Swift diehards. In fact, she commented in the YouTube stream that the video contains a secret that she’s been keeping for months, which of course the fans are having a field day with. Right now, the top theory seems to be that she’s engaged to Joe Alwyn, because in the video, she turns down an engagement ring from Brendon Urie.
Taylor and Joe are engaged???? Is that the secret she's keeping for months? @taylorswift13 @taylornation13 pic.twitter.com/iDwqeC4B2v
— ????????? (@candiceXtayswft) April 26, 2019
Other theories include that the clock in the video is a hint about the album release (8/30, if you’re too lazy to look it up), that Taylor now has a third cat, and that there will be a Dixie Chicks collab on her new album. I’m super here for that third one, by the way.
So this means @dixiechicks is confirmed. Right? @taylornation13 @taylorswift13 #eastereggs ??♀️ pic.twitter.com/JKZ8WaxoYL
— ??? (@FrecklesSwiftie) April 26, 2019
I’m really hoping that this is another “Shake It Off” situation, where the first single from the album is kind of just a fun throwaway, but right now I don’t get what Taylor Swift is going for with this vibe. From this song/video, all I’m really getting is that she’s into rainbows and butterflies, but then the actual song is still just about how great she is. It’s a nicegirl anthem, with just the right amount of narcissism (she probably thinks of it as “self-love”). Maybe this has always been Taylor Swift’s brand, but it’d be nice to see a little more growth by now.
If you’re reading this and you love the song, that’s great. I don’t think it’s awful, I just don’t get what we’re supposed to do with it. I’m really not here to bash Taylor Swift, I just want her to explore her full potential (and give us iconic bops). Maybe her next song or the album will be more of a step forward, but for now, I guess we’ll just practice our spelling.
Images: Universal Records; @taylorswift / Instagram; @candicextayswft, @frecklesswiftie / Twitter; Taylor Swift Vevo / YouTube
Head Pro is able to separate the artist from her music and thinks Taylor Swift’s songs are mostly fine. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter and Insta at @betchesheadpro.
Ok look, let’s get something out of the way: if being a “fan” of anyone or anything is a core pillar of your identity, you’re a fucking mouthbreather and Darwin was wrong about everything. Just look at college football fans, for instance.
But Taylor Swift fans are a different breed, and have created an entire ecosystem that they inhabit. Now, there’s a major controversy brewing because Taylor—who, like her fans, is a weird combination of narcissistic and insecure—has divided her following. It all started when she debuted her latest disposable pop single, “Gorgeous.” At the very beginning a baby’s voice says the word “gorgeous,” and fans started asking the totally normal and not at all weird question: whose voice is it?
Explain us the baby’s voice Taylor. Who’s this? @taylorswift13 #Gorgeous
— Dilara (@queenswifty_) October 20, 2017
Who’s the baby at the beginning of gorgeous? Is taylor pregnant and hinting?
— Karl (@minimadkarl) October 20, 2017
It’s a strange thing to care about, but whatever. Shit got extremely extra real, however, when Taylor herself responded to someone on Tumblr (because of COURSE Taylor Swift has a Tumblr account) with the following (and now-deleted) cryptic comment:
Per Buzzfeed, the “300” is a reference to the number of people who’ve been to Taylor’s secret listening sessions at her various homes across the country. It’s the most Taylor Swift thing ever: a deliberate, narcissistic act of sycophancy meant to endear her to her most extreme base and annoy everyone else. It’s the entertainment equivalent of the fucking campaign rallies our idiot president keeps throwing for himself a solid nine months after taking office.
Anyway, now the Swifties not in this “inner circle” are red and nude and shitting their diapers with anger, appalled at how their messiah could have betrayed them by telling some people something but not other people.
taylor: 300 people know
everyone: she’s confirming some of the fandom are better than others
— katie / I MET HER (@swiftestgrande) October 20, 2017
you know what really hurts? a fan asked who was the person behind the baby voice and taylor actually answered, “300 people know” thats it
— q (@GUCCIKlM) October 20, 2017
This is just a small sampling because this is supposed to be a quick post, but this is insane. All of it, really. It’s insane that Taylor holds “secret” listening sessions for HER OWN MUSIC that she knows damn well won’t remain secret, making them obnoxious PR stunts. It’s insane that there are people out there who think that she owes them anything other than her music in exchange for their support (and money). Finally, it’s maybe most insane of all that Taylor thought dicking around on Tumblr like a horny teenager was a good idea.
Look, I don’t care if you like Taylor Swift. She’s fine. But if you feel compelled to show your ass online because some people know something about her that you don’t, here’s what to do: Put down your phone. Walk outside. Look around. Take some deep breaths. Literally anything else you choose to do is more useful than posting your anger online.
Oh, and the voice belongs to Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ daughter, James. Happy now?
Well ladies, it’s Friday, and that means that Ms. Taylor Swift has absolutely knocked it out of the park with another new song. It’s called “Gorgeous,” which is 0% surprising. We’re not sure whether this one is better than the first two dumpster fires from her new album, but there’s plenty to discuss.
First of all, the song itself sounds better than the first two. It’s no “Blank Space,” but at least it doesn’t have nine different beats clashing together at the same time. Seriously, “Look What You Made Me Do” has so much going on it gives me a headache. This new song sounds simpler, and is less of a departure from her last album.
But oh, the lyrics. That’s where the wheels kinda fall off. Because Taylor Swift is an icon of the feminist movement, she chose to go in a cutting-edge direction and write another song about how crazy a man makes her feel. She’s really covering new ground, good for her! The song is most likely about current boyfriend Joe Alwyn, the rando British actor who’s cute but she could do better. Or can she? At this point, I don’t know. I feel like she’s got to be paying dudes to date her, because I can’t think of a good reason why anyone would willingly sign up for that Tilt-A-Whirl of terror.
Anyway, the lyrics:
“You’re so gorgeous/ I can’t say anything to your face/ ‘Cause look at your face/ And I’m so furious/ At you for making me feel this way/ But what can I say?/ You’re gorgeous.”
There it is folks, the chorus teenage girls will be shouting for the next six months. In classic Taylor Swift fashion, she’s taking no responsibility for her own feelings and placing herself under the control of a man. But remember, she’s not a boyfriend girl! Taylor also says she “might sink and drown and die” in
Alwyn’s the subject’s “ocean blue eyes,” which is…romantic? Creepy? Fucking dumb?
There are lots more cringey lyrics in the song, but my (least) favorite is probably when she says “guess I’ll just stumble on home to my cats, alone, unless you wanna come along.” Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. No one cares that you have fucking cats, Taylor!! You’re not special!!
Aaaaaand right on time, this piece of shit song is stuck in my head. Brb, gonna go cry and wish that I was as rich as her.