NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE
job assignment just released by USA today calls for a “Taylor Swift Reporter” who can “quench an undeniable thirst for all things Taylor Swift with a constant stream of content across multiple platforms.” Indeed, Taylor Swift is no stranger to headlines. She breaks and sets records, whether for ticket sales, song downloads or Grammy Awards. Her net worth exceeds $700 million and she has over 100 million monthly listeners. But why does anyone like it?
It’s wrong to call Taylor Swift a singer because her lack of vocal talent means she usually speaks in a whisper. When I heard a Swift song, I never thought, “This is great.” If anything, I heard her glorified elevator music and thought, “That must be Taylor Swift.” His music is distinct, but his songs are indistinct from each other.
It is also wrong to call her a songwriter. There is something so unstimulating about his music; the beats are boring and the banal lyrics have the superficiality of a mommy blogger. Consider this refrain: “Welcome to New York, it’s been waiting for you / Welcome to New York, welcome to New York / Welcome to New York, it’s been waiting for you / Welcome to New York, welcome to New York.” » The song is aptly titled “Welcome to New York”. And let’s not forget these Shakespearean lines: “I shake myself, I shake myself / I, I, I shake myself, I shake myself / I, I, I shake myself, I shake myself / I, I, I shake it, I shake it / I, I, I shake it, I shake it / I, I, I shake it, I shake it / I, I, I shake it, I shake it off / I, I, I, I shake it , I shake myself. Incredibly, the song “Shake It Off” topped the charts.
Swift promises vulnerability, but she gives no sign of an inner life beyond sometimes liking an unimpressive guy who wears pill cardigans. She calls her music confessional, but it lacks depth or epiphany, leading only to the disappointing admission of “oops, I upset a boy,” which is sung in either a celebratory or depressing tone.
Instead of revealing nuanced emotions, she provides a step-by-step guide to everything she did and observed on an uneventful Wednesday: “So it is / He can’t keep his wild eyes on the road, mm / Takes me home / The lights are out, he takes off his coat, mm, yeah / I say, ‘I heard, oh / That you went out with another girl, / another girl.’ » Her attempts to appear free-spirited in fact are described as conventional: “We could leave the Christmas lights on until January / And this is our house, we make the rules.” » Leaving the Christmas lights on for six extra days doesn’t make her endearing and quirky; it just tells us that she’s a regular woman who loves sparkly things and the holiday spirit.
Her songs feel unfinished, as if she somehow gave up halfway through writing them. She may have used a dark version of Mad Libs to compose “Cruel Summer,” the song currently ranked No. 1 on her Spotify artist page: “Lower your head in the glow of the vending machine / I’m not dying / You say we’ll screw it up in these tough times / We’re not trying. She vaguely captures teenage desperation, but there’s nothing refreshing or insightful about her characterization; it lacks the self-exposure of a diary and reads more like a passage from an unpublished young adult novel. His music is surely accessible – even what liberals might call “inclusive” because its paucity of substance makes it beyond reproach.
Finishing a Taylor Swift album leaves me wondering, “Is this it?” It reminds us of visiting a wealthy neighborhood, only to discover that all the lights are out; you expect something, but there is nothing – and yet you know there must be someone at home. I wanna give Swift a thumbs up and nudge her, Do something. But all she can muster are variations of “he didn’t love me back” or “I broke up with him”, like a child’s stuffed animal with a button-activated voice box that repeats a few innocuous sentences.
Sometimes performers with merely decent talent are hailed as superstars because they are incredibly good-looking or have a captivating stage presence. Taylor is certainly attractive and she knows her way around the spotlight. But that is not enough to explain his fame.
And there are plenty of famous artists whose music is mediocre but who at least have good production, with great dancing and a groovy light show. But Taylor’s dancing skills are non-existent. She could be replaced on stage by one of those men in inflatable tubes who wave in front of a car dealership. Why would anyone see her in concert, let alone pay $11,000 for a ticket?
Taylor Swift is completely ordinary, and that’s precisely what makes her so attractive. She is the avatar of boredom, and girls find refuge in her meanness. The message of his music is clear: “Embrace mediocrity.” It is the opposite of an aspiration. Despite her success and immense fortune, she is not a “girlboss”; Swift is a of-motivational speaker who encourages self-acceptance rather than self-improvement. The concert participants leave consoled rather than exhilarated. Girls don’t want to be Taylor Swift, they want Taylor Swift to be like them.