Pop Culture Confessional is a weekly column where our writers can divulge and indulge in their most deeply embarrassing cultural passion — and then tell you why it actually rocks. Everyone has a few dirty little secrets. Only the truth shall set us free.
I’m a little bit of an indie kid. I don’t listen to pop music very much. When I go to a party I rarely know the beat pounding on the dance floor. I never had a Spice Girls phase, nor was Britney Spears ever my BFF. My first CD was music from Dexter’s Laboratory.
So it’s with no small amount of embarrassment that I admit that out of almost twelve days of music on my iTunes, Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” has hit #4 on my top most played songs, and is rapidly approaching #3.
I don’t know how this could happen to me. One day a friend was singing it at me as I cringed in pain. The next thing I knew, I was singing along (with all the irony I could muster, you understand) and then suddenly I found myself hitting that fateful download button (so that I would not have to face a cashier who would then know my dirty secret). At this point I just have to accept it. The numbers don’t lie: I love Tswift.
I tell myself no! Her lyrics are silly! I’m sorry, Taylor, but he’s not just going to wake up one day and realize he loves you. Maybe you should read a few pages of He’s Just Not That Into You. Or go ahead and continue crying onto your custom-made guitar.
But that’s part of the beauty of it. She writes (okay, co-writes) songs about being a teenage girl. At 19 it might sound pathetic, but at 14 it just sounds like life. Being relatable to the average 13- to 17-year-old female makes you a viable marketing powerhouse. You’re golden if you can make a 14-year-old say “OMG, story of my life!” And if you can do it with such a freakishly catchy chorus that 20-year-old boys sing along too, that’s when you get to the top of the charts in two genres.
I’ll admit this one freely — I appreciate a good banjo line. In an era in which the response to “what kind of music do you listen to?” is more often than not “everything — except country,” Taylor Swift’s twang on the Top 40 is practically a miracle. Granted, in many of her songs, it’s practically impossible to tell how much CMT loves her until certain lines come up and she goes Nashville on your ass.
Some songs, though, (read: “Our Song“) are about as country as you can get. Mention of riding shotgun? Check. Line about praying? Check. Reference to “your mama?” Check. Complete with a slow drawl, it can’t be passed off as straight pop. Yet it still made the Billboard Hits list. She is the most listenable country artist since Shania Twain decided it was okay to release a pop album.
Even if you don’t like her, you have to give her a certain amount of respect. Taylor Swift has managed to hit the top of the charts as a crossover star. She’s won enough awards as a singer and a songwriter to garner a separate Wikipedia page for all of them. She’s made country music appealing to people who don’t even know what a mandolin is — and she’s done it all before her 20th birthday. What’s more, as a female pop star she did something admirably rare: made it to the top with nary a sign of any midriff-baring dance numbers or paparazzi scenes.
But just because she’s classy doesn’t mean she’s boring. Ever since the “I’mma let you finish” moment with Kanye (which in itself made her a hot Halloween costume commodity this year) the Taylor Swift cool factor has been bumped up a notch. Girlfriend brought the sass on SNL, shedding a little of her sweet small town girl next door persona to diss all the people who needed it. Maybe the cute churchgoing girl who sings about boys does have a little edge to her.
I know you closet Taylor fans are out there. Admit it with me. My friends say, “Why would you be ashamed of that? She’s not trashy!” when I admit my dirty secret — and they’re right. Repeat: you have nothing to be ashamed of. Go ahead and buy the platinum version of Fearless, and blast it in your room so that your entire dorm can hear it.
I’ve spent my entire weekend watching all of her videos on YouTube, listening to her CDs on last.fm, singing her songs in the shower, and learning the tabs to her songs on my guitar, and I am not ashamed. Stay classy, Taylor. I’ll be listening.