I got a lot of respect for Taylor Swift.
Ask Elton John and Bernie Taupin – it’s an art to create a good pop hook. Swift’s hooks are so fat they drip juice. Every single is pure pop. Every lyric is easy to understand. Every melody sounds simple to create. It’s easy to take this for granted – after all, she makes it looks so easy.
I understand the distractors. She writes about boys breaking her heart. Males are dressed up like princes in her videos, waiting for her damsel-in-distress. It all sounds like poems scrawled in a girls Mead notebook. (And sometimes, they are.) But why is this bad? This stuff is a part of adolescent life. For as much talk as people say that what they like about hardcore hip hop is its truth, certainly more people have had heartache than they have had thug life.
So Swift does what she does, and conquers everything doing it. And along the way, you’ve never heard a tabloid peep about her (except maybe this). This is certainly not for lack of trying. When she is in the media spotlight, it’s because a relationship has ended – you’ve never seen a headline about a sex tape or drug use or even ex-girlfriend drama. This is not that type of star. “Getting drunk is just not cute”, she tells 60 minutes. While many “realists” may roll their eyes right now, ask this question: is the girl wrong?
My wife has said Swift is one of the few pop singers she can be comfortable having our daughter listen to. That’s certainly true, and that’s certainly smart. Swift’s concert are full of girls and their moms – double admission y’all. And while the imagery can be too much – guys dressed up as princes, for heaven’s sake – there are no parent-cringing moments. Consider her latest performance on the American Music Awards. Through a heavily produced routine (and God, more princes), it was striking to see what was not present, because you’re used to seeing it. There were no half naked dancers, there was no suggestive imagery you have to explain later, there wasn’t even one hip thrust. I was actually rather shocked that Swift wasn’t trying to shock me.
“Will Smith doesn’t have to curse to sell records, but I do,” Eminem famously said. I want to hear both kinds of artists. But in some ways, I know I’m going to hear Eminem’s sound, and hear the critical praise that comes with it. But how about a little love for artists that are good at what they do – being talented, and being good?