i do propose taylor swift's red as a seriously good thing. don't hold it against her that she looks like that lancome girl or whatever. don't even hold it against her that she sells billions of whatever it is they sell these days. it's easy to go 'britney, avril, taylor,' but she is a completely different sort of thing. sometimes the right person gets appointed superstar. let's run through a few of the songs; i'll leave you some surprises.
first off, here's what you get when you actually make a pop princess out of a writer. i believe part of it is about patti smith. just possibly it is a good thing for our girls to be listening to songs about patti smith.
and here is a songwriting lesson for whoever formulated 'firework' for katy perry:
that *voice* is made of starlight. "we could get married, have ten kids and teach 'em how to dream." i like this as an antithesis to the entire lifestyle portrayed now as the ideal in pop music, namely drunkenness and promiscuity. that one features a typical taylor inversion: she uses a stepped-down version of the chorus as an intro before she launches the persona.
or sometimes she just builds a song steadily to a climax (as in "all too well" or 'i almost do': "every time i don't, i almost do.") not the sort of thing you're going to get from katy or gaga. it reminds me more of chrissie hynde or joan armatrading.
even on something that seems as slight as "treacherous," she throws in things like "i can't decide if it's a choice, getting swept away," which i'll be working into my book on free will. or: "nothing safe is worth the drive." and when she finally pays off with the chorus (or is the bridge? it only comes once (wait, twice)), it is a choiring of angels, i.e. many taylor swifts.
even i will grow weary of the title track after nothing else has been on any radio station or target ad for a couple of years. but it is something like a perfect pop song: contagious as an apocalyptic plague.
"forgetting him is like trying to know somebody you never met"; everywhere the lyrics are better and more interesting than they need to be. the vocal arrangement is incredibly lush. taylor has a lovely touch with a bridge or with the end of a song, which she often treats as a second bridge or just an opportunity to vamp and soar in her inimitable fashion; the transitions and resolutions always come exactly at the right moment, with the right structure, in an intrinsic relation to the narrative (because she essentially sings stories or ballads). the real use of these robotic vocal effects was never going to emerge until they were humanized or combined with some real emotion; an analogy would be what annie lennox did over dave stewart's synth-pop on the early eurythmics records.
i don't want to hear any more crap about auto-tune; her pitch is delightfully eccentric.
and then for god's sake she gives you an extremely simple, pure, naive country waltz, but with a completely characteristic taylor melody so perfectly identical to the lyric that it'll make your heart stop:
and if the light-as-air '22' (below) doesn't make you feel happy and free and melancholy, put it on again until it does. it's going to be ok!
[taylor, annie, joan, chrissie: quite a range of womanhood!]