In her Yahoo! Live Stream Monday, Taylor Swift announced a few surprises, including that she will release a new album called “1989” in October.
While I think we all pretty much saw that coming (What other “big announcement” could she have when she hasn’t released an album in two years? Come on TSwift.), she wasn’t entirely predictable. She certainly threw me for a loop – and made me a little nervous about we can expect from her in the future.
The biggest surprise was not that she’s ditching country – her 2012 album “Red” was to country what a Kanye West album is to classical – but instead was the attitude of her new song “Shake It Off.”
Taylor sings that instead of holding onto grudges and feeling bitter about all the criticism she receives, she is just going to “shake it off.” Excuse me, TSwift, but the last time I checked, you were the queen of holding onto grudges.
While her new lyrics claim she does her own thing while the haters hate, her old lyrics have shown her tendency to do the exact opposite. Songs like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” “Dear John,” and “Mean” are anthems of holding bitter grudges. There is no trace of this “shake it off” attitude in songs like “Better than Revenge,” in which she lashes out at a girl who steals her man. Even when she’s not angry, Taylor’s lyrics haven’t shown resiliency: from lyrics like “I’m a crumpled up piece of paper lying here, ‘cause I remember it all, all, all too well” to “I can’t breathe without you, but I have to,” she does not seem to be shaking whilst the haters are hating.
If this new Taylor really is more confident and thick-skinned than the old Taylor, then I say good for her. Life’s too short for albums filled with bitterness. However, her new song’s generic lyrics make me nervous for future songs (though I will always be her number one fan, even if she tries to rap again).
In her attempt to take criticisms less personally, “Shake It Off” sacrifices the relatable lyrics Taylor’s fans love her for. With the exception of a few Taylor-specific lines in the song, the new pop song could have been sung by a number of artists. Gone are the personal storytelling lyrics that made songs like “Back to December” and “Ours” so great. Fans listen to TSwift because they want to hear about the boy with the tanned skin and the sweet smile, and they love that Taylor sings about the “snide remarks from my father about your tattoos,” because they can relate.
For now, we have no way of knowing whether “Shake It Off” sets a standard for future songs. Despite the fact that “Shake It Off” is highly entertaining and makes me feel like I am a good dancer (I’m not), I hope this is an exception rather than a new standard. Hopefully Taylor’s “rebirth” does not mean sacrificing the relatable, storytelling lyrics that her fans loved her for in the first place.
Ultimately, all we can do is have faith in TSwift and wait until the album comes out on October 27. Meanwhile, I will remain a loyal fan and I will continue dancing to this song on repeat. If Taylor’s fans can stick with her through her painful attempt to rap, we can stick with her through anything.