I’m a Taylor Swift Scholar.

10 Apr

Lately, I’ve been feeling pretty old. Actually, I’ve been feeling pretty old since I was 12, so 10 years later, it seems like a great injustice that I can’t yet claim senility as the cause of my odd behavior. For the first time in my life, I’m relating this thought to my friends and it’s being met with “I know, right?” instead of “Uh…”

Aren’t I supposed to have written my early work by now? Or been to a warehouse party? Or at least learned that if I don’t do the laundry on weekends, I’ll end up wearing the rainbow underwear, inside out, because wearing them once wasn’t enough to shame me into action?

I spend so much time alternating between thinking I need to be this:

keats

and also this:

kesha

that I’m never able to commit to either.

This is how, today, in my car, Taylor Swift came to my rescue. Having forgotten my iPod at home and therefore not being able to listen to The National discography on repeat (Yes, Matt Berninger, all the wine is all for me), I defaulted to top 40 radio. This is when I discovered Tay Swift’s song, “22,” in which she describes “feeling 22.”

I suppose now would be the time to explain my unnecessarily complex feelings about Taylor Swift. I think I was probably the only person in my graduating class who made it to college without hearing her music. Then I got there (shout out to Bridgewater State. Go, uh… Bears?) and realized that a surprising number of women in college have some sort of minor post traumatic stress which causes them to listen to songs that imagine high school as a series of charming romantic encounters rather than a cloud of Axe body spray that thought quotes from Donnie Darko were the access code to their pants. Or maybe they were already trying to misremember college. Whatever the case, I was not impressed by this singing curtain of perfect tresses. I was not buying what she was selling. I was not even torrenting it.

During this dark period in my life, I played Weird Al with “Love Story” and “You Belong with Me,” because apparently writing things no one would ever read was more important to me than studying or partying (Wooooooooooooo college!). I wrote “You Belong to Me”, a song about a delusional high school girl who has convinced herself that her crush’s girlfriend is a ferocious bitch, mainly because I’m still pretty sure that’s the premise of the original song. There is no way that a guy with a girlfriend this intolerable would continue to date her if there were an attractive girl with a good voice who wanted to make out with him and also hear his fart jokes. A sample:

You’re on the phone with your girlfriend ‒ she’s upset.
She’s going off about something that you said
’cause she doesn’t get your humor like I do.

And you’ve got a smile
that can light up this whole town.
I haven’t seen it in a while
since she brought you down.

You say you’re fine. I know you better than that.
Hey, what you doing with a girl like that?

Yeah, what are you doing with a girl like that? Dump her, man. Give that cute blonde a call. Unless…

Standing by and waiting at your back door.
All this time how could you not know, baby?
You belong with me.

Whoa, Tay-Tay. Is that a metaphor or are you really waiting at this guy’s back door? Is it nighttime? Do you have a lock of his hair? I’m starting doubt your reliability as a narrator.

If anyone wanted this song to be plausible, they should have written it about how incompatible this guy and his girlfriend are.

You like sci-fi
She likes fantasy
It’s not gonna work
Cause you can’t share a TV.

Sorry.

My point is that I found her music to be ridiculous, even while my obsession with Murder by Death and O’Death and probably several other bands with “death” in the name fueled an envy of her perfectly-paired Western-style dresses and cowgirl boots.

Conveniently for me, and much to the chagrin of anyone who wanted to believe Romeo and Juliet actually ended with Juliet’s father witnessing and consenting to their hormonal, adolescent love, Taylor Swift has become just a little bit jaded (a weeee teensy bit). This coincided with me reaching some sort of plateau in my development, and now several of her songs really resonate with me. There’s part of me that suspects she might be the same kind of crazy I am, which is 80% of what anyone is looking for in their music (another 10% of that is talent and the remaining 10% is availability on Spotify because who pays for things anymore?).

Now that Juliet is out of high school and Lord Crapulet has accepted his limited control over his daughter’s life, it turns out that she and Romeo don’t get along so well. They are never, ever, I mean like I will put my iPhone in a blender before I talk to you again, getting back together. Judging by the looks of this music video, Romeo’s best strategies for coping with disagreements were turning “I have so many feelings” into “fuck this, I’m getting schwasted” and wearing a quilted vest as if he’s desperately trying to score a job at Gander Mountain.

By the way, I hope that anyone reading this appreciates the research I’ve done for this post, because the imagery in this video is like the laugh track on a sitcom. There’s one scene where Tay Swift is in her bedroom while Romeo is standing on the other side of the wall talking to her on a pay phone (a pay phone?) and fondling some other girl at a bar with a neon sign that reads “BAR.” Just in case you thought her apartment was actually set up like that, with phones between the rooms for easier communication. But I give the scriptwriters some credit, because I still haven’t deciphered the symbolism behind this:

Never.

If the stress of your relationship is enough for you to imagine that all of your stuffed animals have come to life as Wilfred-esque characters, you’re doing the right thing by ending it. Also, cut it out with the glasses already. No one believes you need those.

Okay, but now lyrics, for those of you who’ve somehow never, ever (duh duhn chhh) heard this song:

I remember when we broke up the first time,
saying, “This is it, I’ve had enough,” because like
we hadn’t seen each other in a month
when you said you needed space. (What?)
Then you come around again and say,
“Baby, I miss you and I swear I’m gonna change. Trust me.”
Remember how that lasted for a day?
I say, “I hate you.” We break up. You call me. “I love you.”

Ugh, the trap. You really could have moved on the first time if only he had a mute button. But he says he’s gonna change, and before you know it, you’re back to making pizza rolls and inside jokes together. Things start to look grim, but you might as well try to work it out, cause it’ll be embarrassing if your friend has to take you out for another cheer-up ice cream date, and all of your socks are at his place, and you’ve developed a weird, sentimental attachment to his butt which will leave a butt-shaped hole in your heart because you will never find another one like it. Let it all out. Rip him a new one (again).

I’m really gonna miss you picking fights
and me falling for it screaming that I’m right
and you would hide away and find your peace of mind
with some indie record that’s much cooler than mine.

Damn, girl, you said it. It’s like, “I thought we were gonna go get some lunch, and now we’re arguing about what to eat, but it’s really about your feelings, but you’re pretending not to have feelings, so now I look like an asshole for shouting about sandwiches in a parking lot.” Sure, there were probably a few times when you did the same to him, but whatever, he did it first. And don’t believe any of his lies. That “indie record” he keeps listening to is the Garden State soundtrack.

After that, she presumably never, ever got back together with that guy (well maybe one more time, but that was it), and moved on only to find the loser who inspired “I Knew You Were Trouble.” She suspected that New Guy might be a poor choice, but his carelessness was appealing to the rebounding songstress, and besides, everyone has a good side. Unsurprisingly to everyone but Swift, girl got burned. But when she sings about being sad that New Guy might never have loved anyone, it’s hard not to shout along to the “Yeaaaaaaah!” that follows, unless, of course, you’re around people and therefore pretending that you hate this song.

Based on the Born to Die vibe in the video, there were some pretty obvious indications that this guy was a sleaze:

Marriage material, this 'un.

“Drivin’ with my dick! Wooo!”

but since she was dating the guy from One Direction at the time, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say that someone else made the wardrobe decisions.

This is Taylor Swift…

tswift

and this is a deleted scene from Trainspotting:

Adding this haircut to my Pinterest.

I’ll skip the lyrical breakdown on this one since this blog post is quickly turning into a dissertation, but rest assured, world, this is a new Taylor Swift. You saw the pink in her hair, right?

So now that you’re all caught up, that brings us to today. Today I came across “22” on the radio. Not even the guilty pleasures part of my brain thought it was catchy. But she was singing about being 22, and I am 22, so like every misguided American who’s ever listened to “Born in the USA” on Memorial Day, I was on board. Tell me, Taylor, what’s it like?

I don’t know about you
but I’m feeling 22.
Everything will be alright
if you keep me next to you.
You don’t know about me
but I’ll bet you want to.
Everything will be alright
if we just keep dancing like we’re
22

Oh my god, you’re right! I am 22! I don’t have to worry about all the things I haven’t done! There is plenty of time to still do them and be young and fun. Everything doesn’t have to be so heavy because I can literally dance my problems away (wait, why do I remember feeling this way when I was 18?). Never mind the fact that this song was probably written by some guy who’s feelin’ 44 and wishing he still had his hot young tush (I am all about butts today, apparently). Alright, Tay-Tay, you’ve restored my faith. Close us out with somethin’ nice, how ‘bout it?

It feels like one of those nights,
We ditch the whole scene
It feels like one of those nights,
We won’t be sleeping
It feels like one of those nights
You look like bad news,
I gotta have you.

…are you fuh-king serious?

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