Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Dumbing Down Of Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift image
The music of female pop singers, not to mention the pop singers themselves, is so interchangeable these days that it’s difficult to tell them apart. Jesse J, Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Demi Levato, Ariana Grande, Rita Ora - unless you’re a 14 year old girl you’d be hard-pressed to identify which is which when played back to back. The last star we expected to fall into this crowd was Taylor Swift, but there she is, dumbed down like the rest of them with her latest release “Shake It Off.”

In a world where the music on the radio increasingly sounds the same, Taylor Swift stood out from the rest. She wrote her own music, and was able to share the details and feelings of her life in a way that was overwhelmingly relatable to her audience. Not only that, she had a personal relationship with that fans that was fairly unique amongst pop stars today. She wrote about the things they cared about, but she was also reachable by social media, just like they were, and had the most amazing and enduring quality that any music star could hope for - she was her audience.

It’s fair to say that the measure of an artist isn’t necessarily their singing or musical ability. What really makes an artist into a star and provides for a long career is the ability to write songs, a rule of stardom that virtually every American Idol winner has managed to prove. Of course, songwriting has been Ms. Swift’s strong suit, and she certainly had her hand in “Shake It Off,” as evidenced by the lyrics. Read more on Forbes.


Stephen said...

I respectfully disagree Mr. Owsinski. After watching the video a few times I believe Taylor is making a personal commentary about those who are critical of her dating habits and her music in general. She clearly seems to be parodying a lot of different pop styles from Lady Gaga and Gwen Stefani to Miley Cyrus and looks purposely and adorably awkward while trying to do so. She knows she doesn't fit these molds and the contrast between herself and the dancers behind her seem well defined. At the end there are bunch of more normal looking folk who she seem more in sync with. I think the whole thing is a well crafted parody. As for the music, it might not be the "new country" that you refer to, but she's been drifting from that mold for a long time... so much so that her country roots seem long gone, but her storytelling is still there. I don't think I'd pop one of her CD's in for my own pleasure (I'm not her demographic), but as the father of two girls who love listening to her tunes, I'm never worried about the message that she seems to be sending. And her friendship with Lorde, who has very strong ideas about self-confidence and what it means to be a teenage girl makes me think she has a pretty good head on her shoulders. That's just my honest opinion.

Fred said...

Wait a minute. Neither Sinatra nor Elvis wrote their own songs, and they certainly had longevity. That's also true for Alison Krauss today. These are people who just knew how to pick great songs that suited them.

Craig said...

I agree with Stephen that it "seems" like the whole thing is a parody of every scene depicted in the video. It reminds me most of an Avril Lavigne video/song/presentation.

The thing I do feel is a downturn here is the actual music itself. In the past she'd have put out a more complex and subtle version of the content presented and it would have sounded more like "people playing music" than "gimme a beat" style tracks.

I like a lot of Taylor's music, though I can never hear "Trouble" without the goats anymore ;)


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