"I feel like I'm in a GIF."
August 22, 2013 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Molly Lambert and Emily Yoshida go see Taylor Swift at the Staples Center and are transformed by the experience: Basically, you are at a slumber party with 15,000 people where everyone gets to talk about their emotions and just get real as girlfriends. And by everyone, I mean Taylor. The concert also featured the unlikely collaboration of Swift and Tegan and Sara on the latter's single "Closer."
posted by Cash4Lead (112 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
I dig Taylor. I listen to a song from time to time. Easy to play along with on guitar. Also I agree with these women - everything she does seems so calculated, yet she does it with this intriguing confidence.
posted by sweetkid at 11:47 AM on August 22, 2013


I really like her voice.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:49 AM on August 22, 2013


I think the sleepover comparison is totally apt. I told you it reminded me of the Ani DiFranco concerts I actually went to when I was (wait for it) 15. It's a place where nobody is going to be mean to you, everyone will accept you just as you are, and most importantly, no cruel boys will judge you on your appearance. Taylor fans wear a lot more makeup and tutus than Ani fans, but they both have the same kind of estrogen-heavy PLUR energy. It's a girl-friendly space, and it's just nice to be surrounded by the least-jaded music fans ever.

And now I can never make fun of Taylor Swift again. Thanks Grantland.

Okay, one more time: watching her "dancing" in her performance with Tegan and Sara, I can't believe nobody has asked her to revitalize the Mannequin franchise.

(That's not actually making fun because I would, sadly, probably totally see that movie.)

This article actually connects really nicely with a discussion I was having last night after seeing The Bling Ring finally and how wonderfully it captured that particular type of Hollywood stardom fetishness of the early 21st century, which has, in my estimation passed and morphed into something else. I'm not saying that Taylor Swift is a perfect pop icon for girls and young women to emulate, but she's sure as fuck better than Audrina Partridge.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:51 AM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I didn't read carefully enough and thought they were performing Nine Inch Nails' Closer. I was sadly disappointed.
posted by Justinian at 11:52 AM on August 22, 2013 [11 favorites]


T-Swizzle Ft. T-Pain - Thug Story.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:52 AM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm not much of a TaySway fan but I agree with them that it's really nice to see people who aren't jaded and are really into what they're doing on both the artist and fan side.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:52 AM on August 22, 2013


Here's another video of the "Closer" performance, less jumpy.
posted by Cash4Lead at 11:55 AM on August 22, 2013


I'm not much of a TaySway fan but I agree with them that it's really nice to see people who aren't jaded and are really into what they're doing on both the artist and fan side.

I'd buy into that theory more if it didn't look like so much of her persona is carefully calculated and focus-grouped and polished to a high sheen. I'm just waiting for her Robin Daggers moment.
posted by Etrigan at 11:56 AM on August 22, 2013


I am sad that she didn't like the Bad Lip Reading Version of "Our Song" because I LOVED IT and thought she'd be cool with it. It's all hip hoppy and sassy and hot.
posted by sweetkid at 11:57 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean I'm less sad that she didn't like it and more sad that she made them take it down.
posted by sweetkid at 12:00 PM on August 22, 2013


Kanye was rude, but he was right.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:02 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here you go. Left speaker is original, right is BLR.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:04 PM on August 22, 2013


This is a nice antidote to an article an article I read the other day where some guy was going on and on and ON about how he hated her and thought her songs were "dumb and shallow and ... essentially, meaningless ... lazy songwriting ... boring and vapid ... vapid and pretty fake. She doesn’t have anything to say that I’m interested in ... I think she’s actually kind of horrible ... I would prefer death to a world of Taylor Swifts."

And all I could think was, Jesus. dude, you are not making me nod in agreement with you. You are making me think you are a bitter joyless creep. Of all the people to fill your heart with rage, maybe there's worse out there than a successful singer who actually writes almost all her own songs.

And you know what? I like what I've heard of her music. And I'm a huge Tegan and Sara fan, so this post? I'm gonna kick back and enjoy it.
posted by kyrademon at 12:05 PM on August 22, 2013 [15 favorites]


So I went to a Taylor Swift concert and was transformed.
So I went to a One Direction concert and was transformed.
So I went to a Phish concert and was transformed.
So I went to an Insane Clown Posse concert and was transformed.
So I went to a thing that isn't for me, or so I thought, and then I learned to stop hating on things that weren't for me and found in the process they could be for me and then I was transformed.

Cool on 'em for getting over themselves enough to enjoy a thing but this is veering into trope-hood as a topic.
posted by basicchannel at 12:06 PM on August 22, 2013 [12 favorites]



Here you go. Left speaker is original, right is BLR.


No it's not, it's just this thread (I do feel like I'm in a GIF).
posted by sweetkid at 12:10 PM on August 22, 2013


I'm not saying that Taylor Swift is a perfect pop icon for girls and young women to emulate, but she's sure as fuck better than Audrina Partridge.

A few years ago a writer at McSweeney's wrote a series of posts about breaking into the Nashville songwriting business (he's apparantly still writing it) and I think it clarified a lot for me on the difference between singer-songwriters who come up through the Nashville system like Swift and those that come up through... I guess we could call it the Top 40 system.
posted by muddgirl at 12:11 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


No it's not, it's just this thread (I do feel like I'm in a GIF).

How does that happen? Here it is. *fingers crossed*
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:13 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't believe nobody has asked her to revitalize the Mannequin franchise.

Which would make Taylor Swift the new Kim Cattrall? Someone needs to get on this, pronto.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:13 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Taylor Swift just fundamentally seems like an live-action Idoru. She's basically flawless in her focus tested delivery. I almost refuse to believe that someone can deliver what is in essence an insanely packaged and choreographed persona while also seeming earnest and actually friendly.

She's gotta be grown in a lab or a really really excellent computer simulation.
posted by vuron at 12:14 PM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Which would make Taylor Swift the new Kim Cattrall? Someone needs to get on this, pronto.

I think the level of acting talent is about the same, so I'm in.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:18 PM on August 22, 2013


I'm an adult male Taylor Swift fan, so I'd like to officially register my objection to the TaySway name. I know I'm a fan of music for 13 year old girls, but please don't remind me of it quite so much.

I loved this article (if only for the "I realize that some of the things I am saying I like about the Taylor Swift live experience might also be true of fascist rallies"), and it made me wonder if I would enjoy going to see her live. I've never really considered going to a Taylor Swift concert because I'm mostly too broke to drop that much money on something, but the stagedness of it all seems really awkward and weird. I watched that clip of her doing "All Too Well" at the end of the article, which is a song I really like, but the pause before the last chorus thing felt so artificial that it kind of ruined the performance for me. It was too long, too obvious, and too planned to make it seem like she was actually having to collect herself. I mean, obviously it's staged and planned and she does it every night, but it seems like she could at least pretend better. Maybe that's my sterile office environment talking, though. Maybe in a stadium of screaming teen girls, the collective effervescence would make it work. I mean as the point about fascist rallies makes, collective effervescence makes people believe crazier things that Taylor Swift is feeling real emotions.

Part of the article's point about "the least-jaded music fans ever" is that the core of the appeal of Taylor Swift is believing in the genuineness of the emotion. One thing that she bizarrely has in common with Kanye is that you just assume that all of her songs are about her, even the ones that plainly aren't. Taylor hasn't broken up any weddings, that I'm aware of, just to pick a clear example. At least for me, in the context of watching a YouTube clip, the stage presentation made it harder to believe in the genuineness of her emotion.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:20 PM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Taylor Swift is cool. She has earned a few hundred million dollars (if I recall correctly), and done that in a period of less than ten years. Given what can happen with young celebrity, she's doing remarkably well at her craft, the life, and being herself.
posted by nickrussell at 12:20 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a bit sad that we only think a celebrity is being authentic when they're having a complete breakdown. Swift is undoubtedly presenting an insanely packaged and choreographed persona, but I don't think that says anything about her "real nature" beyond that she's clearly both talented and very internally driven.
posted by muddgirl at 12:23 PM on August 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Another +1 for Taylor Swift. One thing that I think people who are only vaguely aware of her don't understand is that radio routinely picks her weakest songs. She has some amazing pop/rock songs, especially on the "Red" album. The title track is really good with some great lyrical imagery, and if you picture the song "State of Grace" sung by Bono instead it sounds like it could be a really good U2 song.
posted by jbickers at 12:25 PM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Complete Works of Taylor Swift

(Taken from this, which while a little dated is generally what I think of first when Taylor Swift is mentioned.)
posted by kmz at 12:25 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Taylor Swift, as far as I can tell, is cut from similar cloth as Gwyneth Paltrow. She's got a good 10 years before redefining herself as a cool yoga mom and starting a newsletter.
posted by bonehead at 12:25 PM on August 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Taylor Swift is cool.

Another +1 for Taylor Swift.


Loving this thread!
posted by sweetkid at 12:27 PM on August 22, 2013


I think it's funny that here in Los Angeles she's now the record holder for most sold out shows at the Staples Center. Something just feels strange about that
posted by drewbage1847 at 12:27 PM on August 22, 2013


Also yes, Red has some good unknown tracks on there.
posted by sweetkid at 12:27 PM on August 22, 2013



So I went to a Taylor Swift concert and was transformed.
So I went to a One Direction concert and was transformed.
So I went to a Phish concert and was transformed.
So I went to an Insane Clown Posse concert and was transformed.
So I went to a thing that isn't for me, or so I thought, and then I learned to stop hating on things that weren't for me and found in the process they could be for me and then I was transformed.


No, no, what you're missing is this: I went to a [thing that someone as hip and sophisticated as me would not be expected to like] and lo, the simple, unjaded proles have it right - there is something in this naive, sincere, emotional music! Too many of us hip, sophisticated people fail to recognize the simple virtues of enthusiasm and sincerity and [stereotype about women, working class people, immigrants or people of color, depending on the subject of the article....also sometimes, for example, immigrant women of color].

The end result of this sort of article is both to assure us of the writer's sophistication and, by proxy, our own (note the effort that went into mentioning that the writers had - humble-braggily - never been to a top-40 band concert) and to put the subject under consideration well outside any critical judgment - because after all, the sophisticated listeners have signed off on it and what are you, a killjoy or something?

Taylor Swift may be wonderful, and there's certainly something to be said for abandoning yourself to the spirit of the moment, and something to be said for sparkley lights and enthusiastic little girls (though honestly, would they have worked the "this is sort of like a fascist rally or a cult, tee hee!" thing so hard if this were a performer - especially a male performer - who had more artsy cred but also accrues obsessed fans?)

Basically, this article had its charms, but I am really tired of the hook about how Our Sophisticated Journalist visits prole-landia and is made new.
posted by Frowner at 12:35 PM on August 22, 2013 [26 favorites]


I read that AV Club article too and was honestly astonished that it got published. Who thought it was a good idea to give that dude an entire column to spew misogyny in? A lot of Taylor Swift hate comes down to hatred of teenage girls. Like, how dare they pick up this cultural thing that we've collectively defined as femininity, and not be ashamed, and be happy, and enjoy it?

I got serious whiplash from "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" because most of it is a Taylor Swift Song like the ones she got famous with -- very timeless-innocent in a way that doesn't try to hide being constructed, very mom-friendly country-pop-radio -- and then, in the spoken intervals, she suddenly picks up some jarringly modern locutions and sounds exactly like any girl at a liberal-arts college who smokes pot and listens to Tegan & Sara. And then it zaps away again and she goes back to being Taylor Swift As Previously Defined. It was awesome.
posted by ostro at 12:38 PM on August 22, 2013 [11 favorites]


I like Tegan & Sara a lot so cool to see them get more exposure. And they would do a kick-ass NIN Closer cover.
posted by GuyZero at 12:38 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, keep up with those dubstep violin lessons kids. You'll be on stage some day.
posted by GuyZero at 12:41 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the level of acting talent is about the same, so I'm in.

I want to resist the suggestion that Kim Cattrall is not one of the great actors of our time.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:42 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


(though honestly, would they have worked the "this is sort of like a fascist rally or a cult, tee hee!" thing so hard if this were a performer - especially a male performer - who had more artsy cred but also accrues obsessed fans?)

Yeah I hear that.

in the spoken intervals, she suddenly picks up some jarringly modern locutions and sounds exactly like any girl at a liberal-arts college who smokes pot and listens to Tegan & Sara. And then it zaps away again and she goes back to being Taylor Swift As Previously Defined. It was awesome.

Oh that is such a good way to describe that song. I love "hide away and find your peace of mind/in some indie record that's MUCH cooler than mine."

It's like - hey! I know that too-cool early 20s musicy guy! I dated those! But wait, it's different because he's doing that and trashing your music, that's like, your whole life and actually probably how you guys met.
posted by sweetkid at 12:42 PM on August 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


Bulgaroktonos: Maybe in a stadium of screaming teen girls, the collective effervescence would make it work.

Yeah, you have to play so much bigger in an arena. My wife is borderline-obsessed with Rihanna, so I've been to my fair share of pop arena shows in the past few years, and if you watch the show with a kind of detachment it seems way too large, like Greek-drama-level stylized motion and tableau-style poses, but if you let yourself be washed along with the screaming, writhing hordes for a while it begins to seem totally natural.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:48 PM on August 22, 2013


I wonder why people are much less likely to try to dismiss Adele's talent with accusations that she's overly polished. Are we just more inclined to accept an insanely beautiful fat woman as authentically self-deprecating? Is it the emotive content of their music?
posted by muddgirl at 12:49 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I told you it reminded me of the Ani DiFranco concerts I actually went to when I was (wait for it) 15.

I don't get what's supposed to be so OMG about this sentence - what is the dramatic "(wait for it)" for? Is there something notable about being a 15-year-old Ani DiFranco fan? Isn't that probably around when most girls who like Ani DiFranco start liking Ani DiFranco?

I kinda hate Taylor Swift, but that AV Club piece is truly nasty, and yeah, does read as more hatred of teenage girls than anything else. Congratulations, old dude, on being hipper than middle schoolers.
posted by naoko at 12:50 PM on August 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Basically, this article had its charms, but I am really tired of the hook about how Our Sophisticated Journalist visits prole-landia and is made new.

I think it's only sort of that, though. Lambert describes herself as being a superfan, and the other calls herself as a casual fan; they're not outsiders totally unfamiliar with Taylor Swift's work. Hell Lambert expresses a hope that Taylor "chills out on the pop star stuff at some point long enough to make a dulcimer bluegrass album"; in the world of Taylor Swift fandom complaining about her being too poppy and wanting her to get back to her banjoified roots is a sure fire sign of an actual serious fan.

I got serious whiplash from "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" because most of it is a Taylor Swift Song like the ones she got famous with -- very timeless-innocent in a way that doesn't try to hide being constructed, very mom-friendly country-pop-radio -- and then, in the spoken intervals, she suddenly picks up some jarringly modern locutions and sounds exactly like any girl at a liberal-arts college who smokes pot and listens to Tegan & Sara. And then it zaps away again and she goes back to being Taylor Swift As Previously Defined. It was awesome.

Taylor Swift at this point is fairly delightfully schizophrenic. She's still got her pop-country girl with the banjo sitting on a chest thing, but she's also got the hip urban Taylor Swift thing. Looking at a recent set list, she's got "Mean" which is about living a small town and dreaming of making it, wedged between "22" and "The Lucky One" which are songs about being a cool urban young person and the perils of fame, respectively. Despite the fact that she tends to stick to the same topics (romance gone bad) and images (rain, kissing, and what happens when you combine the two), there's actually a lot of progression in her music, from being a 16 year old in a small town whose daddy was going to mess up the redneck who broke her heart to being an adult living life in the city. Hell, there's at least one slight sex reference on Red.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:51 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Frowner, I get where you're coming from but I don't think this is exactly that kind of article. They did expect to like it: "On our first-ever journey to Swiftopia, Emily and I entered Staples Center ready to be transformed by Taylor's magic. And we WERE!" One of them describes herself as a "superfan" and apparently had a whole list of favorite songs she was hoping would be performed. And the way they talk about the performance is pretty much the opposite of "naive, sincere, emotional" -- they seem to be explicitly enjoying the fact that there are all these machinations that allow everybody to enjoy the fantasy of naiveté, but those machinations are completely visible to both them and the teenage girls who are the primary audience. They do position themselves as way more sophisticated than all these teenage girls, but that's only because we can see inside them as professional writers -- I think, and I'm sure they think, that people go to a Taylor Swift concert to be unsophisticated. Like, I can guarantee you that most of the 15-year-olds at that concert were indulging themselves in a hell of a lot more unsophistication than they'll allow themselves on the first day of school two weeks from now.
posted by ostro at 12:52 PM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't get what's supposed to be so OMG about this sentence - what is the dramatic "(wait for it)" for? Is there something notable about being a 15-year-old Ani DiFranco fan? Isn't that probably around when most girls who like Ani DiFranco start liking Ani DiFranco?

I think it's just that there's a Swift song called "Fifteen".
posted by kmz at 12:52 PM on August 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't get what's supposed to be so OMG about this sentence - what is the dramatic "(wait for it)" for? Is there something notable about being a 15-year-old Ani DiFranco fan? Isn't that probably around when most girls who like Ani DiFranco start liking Ani DiFranco?

Fifteen is the title of a Swift song. I thought that was just a joke.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:52 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it's just that there's a Swift song called "Fifteen".

Fifteen is the title of a Swift song. I thought that was just a joke.


OH. Derrr. To be fair, that is kind of a lame joke.
posted by naoko at 12:57 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


The "dubstep violinist" mentioned in the article is Caitlin Evanson.
posted by wellvis at 1:01 PM on August 22, 2013


OH. Derrr. To be fair, that is kind of a lame joke.

Haha, you're the lucky one -- best just to assume a state of grace (i.e., sad/beautiful/tragic). The last time it got treacherous in here, I knew all too well that everything has changed. Just gotta know when to begin again.

(I almost do.)
posted by BurntHombre at 1:05 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey, don't be mean.
posted by sweetkid at 1:05 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why you gotta be so mean?
posted by naoko at 1:07 PM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


My husband and I have a whole theory about the Taylor Swift Progression: the first time you hear a new song of hers, you think, that's a pretty crappy song. The second time you hear it, you think, actually, it's not that bad. The third time you hear it it's all over, you'll be singing that song to yourself in the kitchen doing the dishes for the next month.
posted by gerstle at 1:11 PM on August 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


I too have seen Taylor Swift live. Anyone who knows me and my tastes in music will find this odd. I got offered some free tickets. What the hell. It was at the Rose Garden here in Portland.

It'd been a long time since I'd been to a stadium type concert. What struck me most was how weird stadium concerts are. There's something awe-inspiring about that many people going nuts, but the collective joy is almost smothered by how far removed you are from the music itself. A lot of the concert you really just watch on a screen. You need fans that crazy to sustain the concert feeling when it's that big of a space. Without the people around you losing their shit, you'd hardly know you were at a live event.

After every song, there would be a moment when the camera would zoom in on her face and she would sort of make this shy, look to the corner expression, and everyone would scream.

There was an enormous amount of spectacle. That was weird too. Because Taylor Swift is not spectacular. Her music is not the sort that lends itself to MJ-Sized productions with dancers and jet packs. And yet, it tries. At one point, there was Taylor, this folk singer, surrounded by back-up singers dressed as farmers on a farm set. And thousands of 13 year olds going nuts. It was like teenagers going nuts at the chamber version of Appalachian Spring. And yet, there they were. Screaming and crying for this band in overalls pretending to play banjos.

You do wonder about the back-up band. Not untalented musicians - no, you have to be on your shit. You are the real talent in this carnival. A good gig for a bass player, no doubt. But you do wonder about them. They are dressed as rock stars - skinny jeans, rock star hair, head banging along to the more allegro moments of Taylor Swift's teenage heartbreak revisited festival. Are they thinking about their paycheck as they dramatically strum chords like they're playing with The Nuns in Oakland? I wonder.

We got stared at quite a bit, the girl I went with and I. 20-something is not the demographic of a Taylor Swift concert. There are teenage girls and dads, predominately. In fact, I couldn't help but feel like, without a girl there with me, I would have felt vaguely uncomfortable, maybe a little creepy. The dads looked worn. Tired. We were too young to be parents of anyone there, and too old to be fans, and we were very out of place.

There is nothing more awful about the show than any other over-commercialized and packaged pop music. And I am not one to disparage people coming together over music. But if I had one critique of the experience it's that it was quite forgettable. Yes, it is a finely tuned machine. But these finely tuned machine type shows are a genre in and of themselves, and as wonders of the genre go, TaySway's show is not exactly among them. The music doesn't lend itself to very exciting dance routines. There are no extended versions or daft soloing. No jamming, no impromptu. There are no special shoes so everyone can lean forward more than is normally possible. No moonwalking. There is a cherry picker, par for the broadway course these days. But it is big and it is polished, which is not nothing.

She did seem charming, alluring, no doubt. You get the impression that she cares about you - each and every one of you. She has that sort of politician's charm. And sometimes I even wonder if seeing TaySway play in your living room with just a guitar would be a bit like Obama's Presidency. It seemed so exciting when we were all cheering in the same spot together. I was so convinced. But then.

We left early, to beat the crowds. It was not torturous, which is how I feared it might be. I can even say that I had a good time, until I hit my sort of crowded place wall. If I ever have a daughter, I confided, I do hope she likes chamber music or weird indie bands.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:16 PM on August 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


From what I've heard being in Taylor Swift's band is a decent gig.
posted by sweetkid at 1:20 PM on August 22, 2013


This is a nice antidote to an article an article I read the other day where some guy was going on and on and ON about how he hated her and thought her songs were "dumb and shallow and ... essentially, meaningless ... lazy songwriting ... boring and vapid ... vapid and pretty fake. She doesn’t have anything to say that I’m interested in ... I think she’s actually kind of horrible ... I would prefer death to a world of Taylor Swifts."

I read that article too. I'm not enthusiastic about most of what I've heard of Taylor Swift's music, and I am not above enjoying a joke at her expense. But by the end of the article I sure respected her more than the comedian who had decided to take a giant dump on her and the damn kids of the world who are clearly collectively ruining his lawn.

Orson Scott Card of all people (speaking of things people hate) taught me something years ago in an essay he wrote: if I don't like a piece of art, it might be because it's badly executed, but it's also likely enough that I'm just not part of its audience. Like everybody, I still get annoyed when something I don't think has much merit and/or can't have a positive experience with seems to explode in popularity, or even when I think something is overrated. But sometimes it's not because it sucks. For example, I couldn't stand Tracy Chapman's Fast Car as a 16 year old white kid in the suburbs, and it was all over the air (and pretty repetitive to boot), but by the time I was 22 I not only realized it had important things to say but I could finally *feel* it.

Of course, that example reinforces the (probably legitimate) complaint about a certain lack of depth teens can have and how dominated by adolescence our pop culture sometimes tends to be. But it's probably also worth being wary of the reverse as people get older and likely forget some of what it's like to be young. I might wish the enthusiasm of teenage girls was directed elsewhere (and perhaps not quite so high-pitched), but good for excitement and delight in the world.

(And of course western civilization flirted with destruction when a certain Black-Eyed Peas Song that shall not be named took over the airwaves. We were probably saved by our collective short attention span.)
posted by weston at 1:29 PM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


When my kids saw Swift open the Grammys with the Alice-in-Wonderland themed performance of "Never, Ever, Ever, Nope, No Way, Getting Back Together" their jaws hit the floor.

"Is that what a taylor Swift concert is like?" they asked incredulously. Because for such sappy pop hits she really does put on one hell of a stage show.
posted by GuyZero at 1:29 PM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I, a grown-ass man with a wife and two kids, kind of love Taylor Swift. There, I said it.
posted by diocletian at 1:33 PM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've decided that the only way I can digest AV Club's "Hatesong" column is to believe that it is deliberately idiotic. Every single article has either been flat-out wrong (and it's difficult for an opinion to be wrong) or boring ("I dunno, I just don't like that song. It's annoying.")
posted by muddgirl at 1:38 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I mean, why do I keep reading it? I keep expecting they'll get someone who's like, "I hate this song for a particular music theory reason, like the harmonies are a major third when they should be a minor 5th" or something like that. But it's always, "This song is dumb because it's popular and overplayed."
posted by muddgirl at 1:42 PM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've decided that the only way I can digest AV Club's "Hatesong" column is to believe that it is deliberately idiotic. Every single article has either been flat-out wrong (and it's difficult for an opinion to be wrong) or boring ("I dunno, I just don't like that song. It's annoying.")
posted by muddgirl


I just can't believe how lazy it is as a recurring feature. Never interesting, never insightful, always just a pool of flat bile curdling on the floor.
posted by COBRA! at 1:42 PM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have trouble with Taylor Swift. I think a lot of it stems from "You Belong with Me" (you know, the one where some other girl is cheer captain and Taylor's in the blea-chers) because it's dripping in that fakey teen movie trope where there are no plain girls, just hot girls who haven't had makeovers yet. I mean, come on, Taylor. As an actual plain teenage girl, I ran into this a lot, and it's always supposed to make you feel better because even celebrities are awkward and self-conscious - Niki Taylor was teased for being tall! Sarah Michelle Gellar doesn't think she's beautiful! They're just like us! - but it always made me feel worse. If conventionally attractive, well-groomed celebrities didn't think they were much to look at, there was no hope for plain-os like me.

I know this puts pretty girls in an unfair bind: if you admit that you think you're pretty, you sound vain; if you say you aren't, you sound disingenuous and you're probably making others feel worse in comparison. Even if you're not conventionally attractive, you have to deal with the pressure to look good without ever admitting that you do, and that's so tiresome.

I don't really know where I'm going with this. Mostly I don't much like Taylor Swift for some reason, and I'm having a really bad hair day and Swift-triggered flashbacks to middle school and the blonde Mean Girls therein. Though I do like "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and the line where her ex is listening to indie records that are cooler than hers. I thought that was pretty clever.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:43 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've decided that the only way I can digest AV Club's "Hatesong" column is to believe that it is deliberately idiotic.

This sounds like a job for ... Tanya Headon. (Wherever she is.)
posted by octobersurprise at 1:48 PM on August 22, 2013


I've decided that the only way I can digest AV Club's "Hatesong" column is to believe that it is deliberately idiotic. Every single article has either been flat-out wrong (and it's difficult for an opinion to be wrong) or boring ("I dunno, I just don't like that song. It's annoying.")

The very first one, with Jon Wurster picking a KISS song, is good, because he knows a ton about KISS and can make fun of the song without seeming like a cranky old man yelling at teenagers. Everything else that I've read has been massively disappointing.
posted by Copronymus at 1:49 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


if you admit that you think you're pretty, you sound vain; if you say you aren't, you sound disingenuous and you're probably making others feel worse in comparison.

So you agree. You think you're really pretty.

posted by sweetkid at 1:49 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I too have seen Taylor Swift live. Anyone who knows me and my tastes in music will find this odd.

You don't know HOW MUCH I wanted this to be posted by jonmc. Sorry, Lutoslawski.
posted by basicchannel at 1:51 PM on August 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Her performance of "Mean" at the 2012 Grammy awards left me in tears.
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:53 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have trouble with Taylor Swift. I think a lot of it stems from "You Belong with Me" (you know, the one where some other girl is cheer captain and Taylor's in the blea-chers)

This sort of goes back to my point about how we assume all Taylor Swift songs are about her. My initial reaction was the same as yours, but I don't feel that way anymore. There's a good reason for our reactions, clearly, because a lot of her songs are very explicitly about her life, but I don't think it's always the case. Especially with the high school set songs because Taylor barely went to high school. My read on "You Belong With Me" is that she's singing about that feeling* of being ignored (which I'm guessing everyone does feel) and using not particularly interesting tropes to do so. I don't love that song (there are at least six better songs on that album), but I've come around to where I don't think she's just saying "I wish I were pretty."

*I watched this VH1 Storytellers thing with her once where she announced "when I sit down to write a song, I start by thinking about my feelings," which just made her sound like idiot savant; she can write songs, she's clearly very good at that, but her explanation of the process made it sound like she had no idea how she did it.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:55 PM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


She said she wrote "Fifteen" for a friend who had been through a bad breakup or some guy had treated her like crap or something.
posted by sweetkid at 1:57 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Taylor Swift doesn't even know me.
posted by srboisvert at 1:58 PM on August 22, 2013


Taylor Swift is an interesting nexus between commercial interests and songwriting talent. I hope that ten years from now she's unfamous enough to write a couple of good songs, because I think she's got it in her to write actual country. I prefer good new country to good new pop, of which we already have plenty.

She was one of the musicians who, when I was in high school, taught me that people who are enthusiastic about something can make you hate yourself and want to die (well, want THEM to die). I know the internet acts like the cynicism-vs-enthusiasm struggle is some grand struggle with a definitive conclusion, and right now cynicism is on the outs, but a wave of children enthusiastic about a highly commercialized product is, not bad per se, but certainly alienating for people who haven't caught up with the wave. Taylor Swift can be a complex web of likes-and-hates, and is a more interesting cultural figure that way; we don't need to declare good or evil right now, or ever.

I will say this, though: any enemy of Bad Lip Readings is an enemy of mine. Grr.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:59 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've come around to where I don't think she's just saying "I wish I were pretty."

I think she has that thing that kids have when they've spent their whole childhood going towards this one goal - they get all this admiration, especially if it's sports or entertainment, but they're kind of dorks. Like Olympic ice skaters who name songs from like three years ago as their "favorite" because they don't have time to listen to music and read blogs and talk to peers and stuff. I can see how she would feel like an outsider at times. I mean not really really, but kind of.
posted by sweetkid at 1:59 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


She was one of the musicians who, when I was in high school

God Rory we get it you're like SO YOUNG

just kiddin luv ya
posted by sweetkid at 2:01 PM on August 22, 2013


I ... may be overthinking this ... Probably everyone will tell me that I am overthinking this ... but "You Belong with Me" has always registered to me as ironic.

I know no one else seems to feel this way and I am stating my opinion in a thread for an FPP about how Taylor Swift's music is completely unironic in every respect, but ... I can't hear that wailing chorus without becoming convinced that the song is being sung by an untrustworthy narrator who is the exact female equivalent of the heavily-in-quotes "Nice Guy". Who is sure that if she just hangs around her "best friend" long enough and makes enough disparaging comments about his girlfriend ... I mean, the singer is so NICE, right? She's NICELY pointing out that your girlfriend "doesn't get your humor like I do" and has bad taste in music and doesn't understand you at all ... because really, that's what a friend would point out, right? And the fact that she is saying "You Belong with Me" in her head over and over and over every time she talks with you isn't at all creepy, is it?

So to me, it's not really about the fact that she is "movie plain" and the other girl is "movie attractive" ... it's about that particular creepy dynamic.

EEITWMMV, though, of course (Everyone Else In The World's Mileage May Vary).
posted by kyrademon at 2:01 PM on August 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't think you're right but I kind of dig that reading kyrademon. You're totally right, she's a female "Nice Guy."
posted by sweetkid at 2:03 PM on August 22, 2013


Yeah, right, and Damon Lindelof ironically writes shitty movies.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:03 PM on August 22, 2013


God Rory we get it you're like SO YOUNG

I have a friend with whom I share my love of Taylor Swift mostly because my wife will ignore me if we're at a bar and all like "I'm going to pay as much as this internet jukebox will charge me to hear "Story of Us" right fucking now because I'm drunk and I need to hear Taylor Swift" whereas said friend will sing along with me. The thing is, my friend is basically Taylor's age. She was, I think, 17 when Taylor Swift came out. Sometimes that makes me feel old. But then I can put another dollar the jukebox and we can listen to "Picture to Burn" and I forget.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:04 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Of course, that example reinforces the (probably legitimate) complaint about a certain lack of depth teens can have and how dominated by adolescence our pop culture sometimes tends to be. But it's probably also worth being wary of the reverse as people get older and likely forget some of what it's like to be young. I might wish the enthusiasm of teenage girls was directed elsewhere (and perhaps not quite so high-pitched), but good for excitement and delight in the world.

This is all fair, and is sort of similar to what I was saying above about how it's unfair for a grown man to be picking on teenage girls' musical taste, but on the other hand, I was a teenage girl once too, and I am reasonably confident that I would have hated Taylor Swift had she been around at the time. Admittedly I was an obnoxiously pretentious teenage girl, and I have since come around on certain things and learned how to appreciate a good pop tune ("Mean" is actually pretty great, imho) and that there is more to life than being more punk/indie/alternative than thou (thank goodness). But I liked "Fast Car," and I liked a lot of music that I still think is interesting and meaningful, and I think it's a little unfair to teenage girls' intelligence to suggest that their addled teenage brains can't identify what is good and what is crap.
posted by naoko at 2:05 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's weird to think the annoying alterna guy in We Are Never Getting Back Together is most likely John Mayer.

I'm no fan, but he might have a legit point that "his" music is better than "hers".
posted by Ad hominem at 2:09 PM on August 22, 2013



I'm no fan, but he might have a legit point that "his" music is better than "hers".


I don't know if it's John Mayer, but I think the guy in that song is listening to like Mountain Goats or something, not his own music even if he is a musician.
posted by sweetkid at 2:12 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


This sort of goes back to my point about how we assume all Taylor Swift songs are about her.

I think this is a mix of (a) how we treat all pop stars and how we want their on-stage image to mate up with their off-stage lives, because otherwise we'll realize they're not actually our BFFs, and (b) how country music songwriting conventions often differ from pop-music songwriting, so that we get somewhat confused when a crossover star like Swift starts writing straight-up pop songs with Nashville lyrics. I think if Swift was still purely a country-music star, no one would question that her songs aren't purely autobiographical, because this kind of "image songwriting" is more common. I mean, no one's going around thinking that Tim McGraw recorded "Don't Take The Girl" because he'd actually lost his wife in childbirth or whatever. But the song was crafted to fit a particular McGraw image (like, a single tear running down a rugged cowboy face). It's the same thing with Swift's songs, although since she writes a higher proportion of her own material, it gets a bit muddied.
posted by muddgirl at 2:14 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ad hominem- We Are Never Getting Back Together is about Jake Gyllenhaal apparently.

(I'm so ashamed to know that and will go back to lurking and pretending i dont like Red as much as i do. If you only listen to it on Spotify instead of buying it it totally doesn't count....right??)
posted by zara at 2:14 PM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's not thought the consensus was that it was Jake Gyllenhaal not John Mayer. This is what the people who explain the chief liner note messages tell me, and I trust them.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:15 PM on August 22, 2013


I think Dear John is about John Mayer and it's pretty clear when you hear it.
posted by sweetkid at 2:16 PM on August 22, 2013


Well either Jake Gyllenhaal or John Mayer.

Mayer allegedly wrote Paper Doll about her.

The line about music is what makes me lean towards Mayer. He may be listening to some obscure band but it is clearly a dig at his musical genius reputation.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:16 PM on August 22, 2013


You guys are probably right anyway.

I just like to imagine she is making fun of John Mayer's music.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:19 PM on August 22, 2013


I'll just admit that I like John Mayer too. Mostly as a guitarist but I like a lot of his songs, too. He's an amazing blues guitarist though, reputation for being a jerk aside.
posted by sweetkid at 2:20 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


He had some undefined roll in Common's album Be so he's ok in my book.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:24 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like I wouldn't want to date him but I've dated enough jerks and they weren't even famous.
posted by sweetkid at 2:26 PM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


God now I'm listening to Stop This Train (live in LA) love that song/version.
posted by sweetkid at 2:38 PM on August 22, 2013


I decided I liked Taylor Swift personally at this years Grammys, where the cameras frequently caught her dancing unselfconsciously and singing along to several of the night's performances, while many of the other celebrities in the audience were busy acting stoic and too cool for the room.
posted by The Gooch at 2:38 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Where are all the haters? I was told there'd be haters.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 2:53 PM on August 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is how I felt after I went to see Paramore live. It wore off eventually but for a few months I didn't even mind listening to their albums, the girly energy was so fresh in my mind.
posted by town of cats at 2:57 PM on August 22, 2013


I just came in to curse this post. There I was, innocently wandering around the front page, when I got THAT SONG stuck in my head AGAIN on auto-repeat. Sigha.
posted by nevercalm at 3:05 PM on August 22, 2013


The best thing about this thread is people complaining about a rock concert for pre-teens, held on a stage at the 20,000-body capacity Staples Center, being "staged".
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:25 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


this thread isn't really people complaining....
posted by sweetkid at 3:29 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


My 7-year-old is pretty into Taylor Swift, along with Zendaya and some other Disney-tween-sitcom-spinoff pop artists. I'm glad about it, because it marks the beginning of her exploring and discovering musical interests of her own that I would never have introduced her to (her favorites from my influence include TMBG and Cake, which I would also call pop music.) I'm also glad about it tho because it means that by the time she's a teenager she'll hopefully have outgrown the superslick, supersimple stuff and be on to more interesting musical discoveries that she can turn me onto, as an old man not very hip to modern musical stylings.

I will admit tho that both the TaySway and the Disney dance pop are like irritating muzak the first time, bland nothing for a while after that, but after sufficient repetition to ingrain a tune into my nervous system, like it or not I'll be head-bopping and probably even singing along with the girl and her tunes, which just means it's a successfully engineered product. It doesn't sound trite or cliche to the kid because she's not familiar with its forebears, and I'd posit that the same is true of most any music that sounds original to anybody.
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 4:02 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love Taylor Swift. I love Taylor Swift because We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together was there when I was going through a very, very bad break-up from a relationship which had been very tumultuously on-again off-again for about a year before that point.

Yes, that sentimentality is unsubtle and can be hokey. But you know, there's a lot of people in the world who can be helped, just a little, by hearing the song that captures their feelings in that moment. Whether the singer has really authentically felt the way they did or not. A song like that, with a tune that is comfortably familiar, it's a good thing for it to exist, even if you don't like it personally.

There was, for a couple minutes every now and then, a feeling of borrowed triumph in a really shitty situation. Even if I never really connect with any song she ever writes again, I love her for that.
posted by Sequence at 4:05 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love and adore Taylor Swift, and part of the reason is that she totally writes her own songs and lyrics.

They may be twee and simplistic, but they're HER twee and simplistic thoughts, dammit, and not some anonymous hitmaker who is trying to engineer the perfect ear worm for the Star du Jour.
posted by spinifex23 at 5:25 PM on August 22, 2013


I don't understand how you get "Tay Sway" from "Taylor Swift". Pig Latin?
posted by Justinian at 5:32 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel like I'm in a GIF - the most fragile GIF on the WWW.
posted by unliteral at 5:37 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love that Tegan & Sara performed with Taylor Swift. Partially because I think their Heartthrob is actually the best Taylor Swift album (even if it wasn't done by Taylor Swift).

I am no longer a teenager girl and I also know I probably wouldn't have been too into her when I was. But I don't dislike her so much as I dislike what she is putting out there -- this kind of "I'm just kind of sweet an innocent and I have no agency in what happens to me!" aesthetic when she actually seems like she's probably a "mean girl" in a lot of ways -- and I'm cool with that if she'd just let that show rather than "Oh, I'm such a dork like one of you!!!" (Her move from this kind of cute girl with a guitar to a pop star dancing around on stage is another issue for me ... and maybe not fair.)

While I think Swift deserves a lot of the criticism she gets, I do feel like a lot it feels really sexist (that AV Club/Hate Song piece is a good example of that). I completely get plenty of girls and women dig what she's saying. I think she's probably smarter than she lets on.

But I think that's what sort of bugs me about her -- she's playing a part of this sweet, innocent "girl" and she's not that. She seems like she's much more "bitchy" and savvy than she's lets her public image be. How much of that is her fault ... I don't know. But I'm more interested in who Swift actually may be rather than the person she seems like she's trying to be.
posted by darksong at 6:01 PM on August 22, 2013


darksong: That's why I rather liked the video, because you can tell she's starting to move past the "sweet, innocent" persona. The way she stalked across the stage, how she talked to the audience like she was a motivational speaker--that seems new (to me, at least). She's dropping the nice Jean Grey act and embracing her true Dark Phoenix nature, so to speak.
posted by Cash4Lead at 6:16 PM on August 22, 2013


this kind of "I'm just kind of sweet an innocent and I have no agency in what happens to me!" aesthetic ... she's playing a part of this sweet, innocent "girl"

Ah, I think you're a bit behind the times. She moved on from that persona some time ago. She's gone more vampy these days.

Why do I know this. Why. Oh god.
posted by Justinian at 7:13 PM on August 22, 2013


Also she reminds me of a gazelle. Which is kind of weird.
posted by Justinian at 7:14 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like Olympic ice skaters who name songs from like three years ago as their "favorite" because they don't have time to listen to music and read blogs and talk to peers and stuff.

Man, I'm not even an olympic ice skater and I think I've developed this problem. :/
posted by weston at 7:17 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ah, I think you're a bit behind the times. She moved on from that persona some time ago. She's gone more vampy these days.

Much like a lot of self described "true fans" long for her to return to her country roots, many of them are put off by the way she dresses now and want her to go back to the more explicitly "innocent" look as opposed to the way she dresses now (a lot of this focuses on the curliness or lack thereof in her hair, which is weird). While I'm sure of some of this is just from people who genuinely care about fashion and hate high waisted shorts or whatever, a lot of it seems to be discomfort with the more adult sexuality of her current persona.

At least part of this is, I think, an artifact of being famous so young. Wanting to seem innocent and more child-like isn't age inappropriate for a 16 year old and vamping it up isn't age inappropriate for a 23 year old, but we set our image of famous people quickly, so it's hard to get our heads around the fact that between 16 and 23 all people, even famous people. change a lot. There's something similar going on with her music as well, Red doesn't have a song like "Love Story" or "Mary's Song" on it; there's less of the pie-in-the-sky innocence and naivety, and that makes sense.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:31 PM on August 22, 2013


I want to see the inverse, a story with writers from the modern equivalent of Tiger Beat going to a bloodplay fetish party and discovering that the latex and hemoglobin-clad hedonists there are just like them.
posted by Blue Meanie at 7:38 PM on August 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


It took me an embarrassingly long time to register that "You Belong With Me" had a dude in the song. I remember kind of passively hearing that song a lot at restaurants/supermarkets/in cars and only really registering the chorus and not the verse, and so I honestly thought for a really long time that it was this vaguely homoerotic song about the narrator's feelings for her super-femme best friend. I finally looked up the lyrics one day and was honestly pretty disappointed to find out that it was really just a song about why you should break up with that girl and get with me (because I am not like those other girls), which, yeah, is kind of problematic a lot of different ways. I still look back with fondness on those naive days where I thought it was a song about sapphic pining (and, you know, she talks way more about the other girl and all of her qualities than she does about the guy. JUST SAYING.)
posted by kagredon at 10:04 PM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Because it makes me consider Taylor Swift in new andb interesting ways even though I already think about her far more than I care to" - my new reason to appreciate Metafilter.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:31 PM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've never really been a fan. I just don't enjoy the sound of her singing voice, and after the hilarious screaming goats remix I just can't take it seriously.

Which sucks in a way, because the criticism around her is typically so ugly (teenage girls are awful, hurr) that I hate to be in agreement with it just on general principle.

Feh.
posted by Space Kitty at 11:59 PM on August 22, 2013


I totally buy into the theory that Taylor Swift is a regular on 4chan. I like her music, and she seems like a good person.

Sometimes, you see someone who's a pop star, and you're actually just kind of happy for them.
posted by heathkit at 1:12 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Adult male Taylor fan, reporting in.

I saw her do a 80,000 seater stadium gig and it was an odd experience. As many have noted, the whole thing feels so controlled and planned and non-spontaneous, but somehow compelling. This is not an easy thing to pull off.

She exploits the cognitive gap between being actually 'real' (she is actually apparently a human being) while at the same time being impossibly distant and beautiful and unreachable. This gave rise to a kind of a hysteria in the audience (including me) which reminded me of all those sobbing girls at Beatles concerts: "How can something this wonderful be real? But for me it isn't really real. But I'm here, and amazingly it is real! Is it? Help!"
posted by colie at 1:32 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Also she reminds me of a gazelle. "

I see more squirrel.
posted by colie at 1:43 AM on August 23, 2013


I'm no fan, but he might have a legit point that "his" music is better than "hers".

John Mayer can play the guitar. But his biggest songs (or at least his biggest song) are not really his . But he doesn't acknowledge the artistic debt.

And the lyrical inversion from the original (and the other music associated with it) to the endorsement of social passivity and ennui in Mayer's version is even sadder.

I've never been much for Swift, but I'd give a lot to be back in 98/99 seeing Tori Amos at the Rose Garden. I laughed, I cried, I came back to campus walking on a three foot cushion of feels. A different kind of persona, granted, but still someone who was also pigeonholed as being for earnest young girls, and having somewhat cultish fans. She was absolutely riveting in person.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:26 AM on August 23, 2013


I thought we decided 'You Belong With Me' is a love song from one guy to another...
posted by gadge emeritus at 9:34 AM on August 24, 2013


Heh, I'm not a huge fan of her music but from what I've seen I do like TS herself. Anybody telling One Direction to shut the fuck up at the VMAs is okay by me.
posted by Justinian at 9:13 PM on August 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


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