Monday, October 25, 2010

Teardrops on my Remote Control

First, a disclaimer, so that I don't get bombarded with hate mail from people calling me "Kanye":
I heart Taylor Swift. She's smart, she's classy, she's talented. I have many of her songs downloaded from iTunes. I'm listening to "Picture to Burn" as I type. [full disclosure: I'm totally dancing in my chair.] I love her, from her crisp, cascading curls, to her artfully lined, piercing eyes, to her sequined mini dresses that reveal her spindly legs, which are anchored securely in a well-worn pair of boots. I think we all love seeing the world through her romantic (if a little naive) and optimistic lens. She's a vision, an icon, and if I said one mean thing about her, it would only be because I'm jealous. Then I would never be welcome to sit at the cool kids table, because if America is one big high school, Taylor is the most popular girl in school. I would NEVER say that she's "overrated" or that her voice isn't nearly as impressive when heard live as compared to her recordings. I simply wouldn't say it. 
I recognize that the process of producing music must be lengthy. I'm sure each of Taylor's three albums were in the works for months or years before being released. I mean, Britney Spears can stumble into the studio on a Tuesday (frappuccino in hand), belch the alphabet, and her hit single "3" is released on iTunes in time for the weekend (thank you, auto-tune!), but the singer/songwriter's process takes more time from start to finish--one could assume. How else can you explain why an almost 21-year-old Taylor is still singing from the point of view of a high schooler dealing with puppy love, angst, and high school politics?

Taylor: "Oh, if you loved 'Teardrops on My Guitar', you're in luck! I totally have like, fifty more songs I wrote that same week! We could like, record them all for my next five albums!"

While we're at it, what the hell does she have against cheerleaders? I guess the ones at her school were a bunch of bitches and she hasn't forgotten. She sure showed them! Another thing about her angsty (spell check says "no" to "angsty") high school ballads--she didn't even have to stay in high school for the full four years like the rest of us. She got to leave early and go be a country music sensation, and she still has enough material to sing a hundred songs about the pitfalls of high school life. I have to say, I'm growing a little weary of it all. It's like, I keep getting older, and Taylor stays the same age.

Now she has a new album to promote. For me, this means that every time I turn on the TV, I am treated to a "sneak peek" of her "newest" single, along with an "exclusive" interview from Taylor herself, giving us the "real" story behind the song. [Sigh]. I realize that Taylor's unique in that she writes her own stuff, but it seems to me that more attention is paid to Taylor's songwriting process than that of any other artist. Why can't we just let her sing?

What confuses me most about the media's yearning for Taylor to decode her songs, is that Taylor's songs are all straightforward narratives. I mean, if she is in love with a boy named Drew, she writes a song...about a boy named Drew...who she is in love with. He doesn't know it though, because he's dating--you guessed it--a cheerleader! That bitch. The cheerleader, not Taylor. Never Taylor. Taylor Swift is not exactly Eddie Vedder, her songs aren't so steeped in mystery and metaphor that any reasonable 10-year-old couldn't unravel the meaning behind her songs and determine which song is about a Jonas brother and which is about John Mayer, and which is about that bitch cheerleader from high school who was mean to her. I'm not sitting with my ear pressed to the speakers and asking aloud "What does it all mean?" As much as I may care--and believe me, I do--I don't really require further explanation.

I've previewed her new album on iTunes, and every song is beautiful and catchy. I detect the suggestion of a high school setting in a few of the songs, and a few adolescent overtones, but nothing too overtly teeny bopper this time. I think the record label needs to pump the breaks and let this beautiful album speak for itself. I think her albums would sell millions without over-promotion and cramming it down our throats, but I'm not the one in charge here.

So tell me, Taylor, which song is about Miley?!

1 comment:

  1. i have hope for taylor, but i give beiber and miley 6 more months before they are doing lines off a urinal