Album Review: Red, Taylor Swift

All my indie cred is probably going to fly out the window for saying this, but whatever, I’ll stock up on striped scarves and organic peanut butter and manage to retain my sense of superiority somehow. What I’m saying is this: I like Taylor Swift. Sure, she’s kind of annoying. She does the wide-mouthed fake acceptance speech better than anyone, she’s twee, blonde, and unabashedly tweets pictures of carousels before making passive-aggressive music about her ex-boyfriends with the sort of glee generally reserved for a comic book supervillain. If it weren’t for the fact she’s actually good at what she does, I’d smack her into next Thursday. She moved to Nashville at age 14 after convincing her reluctant parents (likely with the same sort of rottweiller-on-a-kitten conviction she chases boys with) that she was going to become a country music star whether they liked it or not. In junior high, every other girl sang “Our Song” at the talent show in my home town. She has consistently put out good albums (like them or not) in an entirely strategic way for a decade. That’s impressive for anyone, especially someone who sings exclusively about her boyfriends. Swift manages to completely commit to a genre while somehow exploring others. She has teeny bopper country music down to a tee, earning a devoted (and insane) fan base as a result. This latest album, Red, aside from a few banjos, is not country. It’s straight pop, yet Taylor Swift still sweeps country awards,  most likely because those in charge of the CMAs knows that Taylor Swift keeps a younger generation interested in a genre and industry that is informally known as “Planet Garth Brooks”.

Red, of course, while straying entirely from her former genre with the dubstep drop of “I Knew You Were Trouble” and pop chimes of  “We Are Never, Ever, Ever Getting Back Together”, stays true to the typical Taylor Swift formula of singing about nothing but her infinite supply of 2 week relationships. She somehow manages to do what every thirteen-year-old girl wants to do when she gets dumped: exact her vengeance very publicly, get very famous for it, and count the money as her ex gets continually reminded of his scandalous ways all over the radio. In fact, T-Swift herself  has said that “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” was about an ex who listened to all sorts of cool indie bands and never respected her music. So she wrote a song guaranteed to get lots of play and drive him crazy. That is pure bunny-boiling crazy, and for that I love her all the more. It’s calculating, nuts, and I love her for it. For her next album, I hope her lead single starts “I am never ever ever telling you where his body is buried.” That would be awesome. Or, “Stabbing him made me see red.” So many possibilities for little T-Swift! The thing about Swift is that she knows exactly how to create her image. Little girls love her because she is exactly what they want to be when they grow up. She’s pretty, she’s successful, and she’s completely scandal free. So while media savvy journalists or critics might dismiss her as contrived and overly cutesy, not to mention guilty of completely infantilizing herself, little girls only see their favourite pop singer. And you’ve got to be grateful for someone who can take their role as a role model seriously; I’d much rather see my little sisters grooving to Taylor Swift and her inane relationships than watching Rihanna writhe around in bondage gear. They can figure that out when they’re older. Red‘s a good album. It’ll make you want to dance around your house. You should listen to it, I won’t tell the indie police, and we can write “I <3 T Swift” on our chucks together.

Jordan Tucker