It’s decided. The apocalypse will begin with the release of Taylor Swift’s fifth album. 1989 is splattered all over the radio, internet, magazines – including TIME, which was delivered to my house with a retouched photo of the woman herself and the title, “The Power of Taylor Swift.”
And, sure, if power is influence, I could see how that could be appropriate. I don’t need to have a little sister to know the world is filled of skinny, red-lipped preteens singing “Blank Space” into pink plastic hairbrushes. But I have yet to determine my feelings as to the appropriateness of Swift as an American icon.
There is the economic factor to consider: 1989 sold 1.29 million copies in its first week alone. Swift is not, by any means, hurting for cash, but that didn’t stop her from taking her music off Spotify because the “low payouts” degraded her art. This didn’t sit well with me and not just because I love Spotify. It struck me as pretentious; Swift would have made millions regardless. But the internet broke down and cried, news stories pleaded for my attention, and Swift remained resolute.
She emphasized the art, the art, the art–but as for the artistic factor, I’m not sure I’m on board. The music, I confess, is danceable, even for the rhythmically impaired like myself. It’s happy music, a song you pretend you don’t own but turn up the volume whenever you hear it. And yes, sometimes I sing along with “Blank Space.” When I’m at home. Alone. Prowling the house. To be sure I really am alone.
But as for the lyrics, “I can read you like a magazine,” isn’t all that impressive, though I suppose we may call it exemplary when compared to other chart-toppers, such as “Anaconda” and “Trumpets.” The sardonic reference to a “long list of ex-lovers” is at least humorous, though it’s not enough to make me forget the Taylor Swift mania, red lipstick and polaroids in all.
Because I was born in 1999 – and I’m not buying it.