Taylor Swift releasing new music.
Since 2006, Taylor has been our not-so guilty pleasure. We have unabashedly devoured her albums, deep dived into her lyrics in an attempt to decipher underlying meaning, and devoted text message chains theorizing over her possible muses. She inspired us to create our own squad, proudly proclaim our devotion to her, and stan not only for her music but for tidbits on her personal life. For years, Taylor has successfully crafted this pop culture public persona that is easily digestible for all – she’s the sweet, vulnerable girl next door who just wants to tell you about her heartbreaks and that you shouldn’t f**k with her because she’s got a song ready to skewer your ass.
So on April 13th, when Taylor teased fans with this Instagram post…
…it made us all speculate. 1989 was her departure from her country music roots, fully embracing her new role in pop music. reputation was both an open love letter to boyfriend Joe Alywn (see “Gorgeous,” “Delicate,” “King of My Heart,” “Call It What You Want”) and calling out those who wronged her (i.e. Kanye West, Katy Perry, anyone who signed her high school yearbook “K.I.T.” but didn’t put their phone number). On April 26th, what music would Taylor bring to the table this time?
It’s All About “ME!”
She answered that question with her new single, “ME!”
The pop-synthesized song opens with this confession:
I know that I’m a handful baby, uh
I know that I never think before I jump
And you’re the kind of guy the ladies want
(And there’s a lot of cool chicks out there)
I know that I went psycho on the phone
I never leave well enough alone
And trouble’s gonna follow where I go
(And there’s a lot of cool chicks out there)
“ME!” is three minutes and thirteen seconds of Taylor and Brandon Urie telling each other that there’s no one like them, that they’re flawed (even “psycho”), but still “awesome.” We’re given an actual spelling lesson (“Hey kids! Spelling is fun!”) about how “you can’t spell awesome without me.”
Swifties, We Have a Problem
I wanted to love this song, completely devour it, blast it throughout my day, memorize each and every lyric.
However, after the first few tries, I just didn’t feel it.
Unlike her past premiere singles like the haters-gonna-hate anthem “Shake It Off” and even the controversial and borderline problematic “Look At What You Made Me Do,” “ME!” lacks the gravitas that we usually expect with a Taylor Swift worldwide premiere. Is there anything harmful about the song? Well, no. However, there is nothing memorable about it either.
(It doesn’t help that on the same day as the song’s premiere, P!nk dropped her album, Hurts 2B Human, which is beyond brilliant, f**king amazing, and showcases P!nk’s strong vocal register and ability to make pop music that inspires thought.)
Love or hate her, Taylor Swift has steadily become one of this generation’s resounding voices. Unfortunately, the song doesn’t demonstrate the finger-on-the-pulse songwriting that we’ve come to associate with her. Although “ME!” is pure camp, light-hearted, and safe for radio play, it feels that Taylor’s musical growth has become stunted because, quite honestly, we’ve heard all of this from her before. At the end of the song, we’re left with vapid lyrics (“cool chicks” and “lame guys”) that were most likely found in Taylor’s tween song journals and/or a rejected Schoolhouse Rocks! segment. For someone who famously told us that “the old Taylor couldn’t come to phone” because she died, it really does feel like the old Taylor has been resurrected.
What Exactly Was I Expecting?!
My favorite artists – from across all genres – all have that common factor: their music changes with the time. Having an artist open up to you about their personal life or even just about what is happening around them leaves us with a sense of intimacy and connection. We find ourselves in those lyrics, create a soundtrack to our lives, and grow as they grow.
Although I don’t expect Taylor Swift to open the door to her entire private life in just one song, I was hoping for a richer tapestry that reflected the growth of this now 29 year old woman. This is the same woman that, through her own public sexual assault court case, helped other women find their courage and voice to say that enough was enough. After years of playing it safe, Taylor finally used her influence to promote equal rights and endorsed political candidates who uphold that all people deserve fair and equitable treatment.
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I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway. So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! 🗳😃🌈
Perhaps we will see this Taylor reflected in her music. However, that Taylor can’t come to the phone either.
While there has yet to be an official album announcement, we’ll just have to settle with “ME!” and we shouldn’t ever have to “settle” when it comes to Taylor Swift.
What do you think of Taylor Swift’s new single? Let us know your thoughts!