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Taylor Swift – “ME!” Track Review

April 28, 2019 | Posted by David Hayter
Taylor Swift - ME!
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Taylor Swift – “ME!” Track Review  

Has it really come to this? In “ME!” Taylor Swift has served up, not a delicious earworm pop single, but a thinly disguised marketing campaign. This, you see, is not a song; it’s a god damn course correction.

Swift has always been shrewd. Her albums come laced with well designed narratives that constantly reframe how the audience should view their cypher-turned-protagonist. Over the years Swift has blossomed from an overwhelmed and bumbling geek with a heart of gold to an ice cool, boy baiting, queen of the tabloids who couldn’t care less about her bad reputation.

Each album and each single has helped to further a cause. The cynical would label it branding, but this is a disservice to Swift’s vision. She has morphed and evolved in front of our eyes and each step in the process has been meticulously engineered to evoke empathy, even as Swift private life became public property.

Unfortunately, for all her control, Swift went completely off the rails with 2017’s Reputation: an album so cringe-inducingly self obsessed and, at times, callously mean-spirited, that it should have sunk. Mercifully, while Taylor’s messaging could have used some work, her songwriting remained impeccable. 411 gave the album a more positive review than most, not because of its lyrical content, but because Swift proved so adept at sneakily stacking impossibly addictive hooks atop one another (even as she unintentionally indulged in bad taste). “ME!” job is seemingly simple: maintain Reputation’s craft while presenting a more likable vision of its creator.

Thud! That’s the sound of Taylor Swift’s grand, clunker of a return smacking awkwardly against your eardrum. The single is almost a parody of Swift-isms, from the high school band drumbeat and cascading hooks to the awh-shucks comedy and sly allusions to a salacious private life. Normally these elements help Swift build momentum while letting her audience into her world, but “ME!” simply sounds cloth-eared (the arrangement is suffocatingly saccharine in its cheery anonymity) and disingenuous (each line is so knowingly cutesy, as if it was forged by an advertising agency determined to synthesise something resembling charm).

Worst of all, “ME!” feels desperate. The work of an artist who doesn’t know either what’s cool or what’s lovably un-cool anymore. Swift appears to have looked to the musicals for inspiration. This is a grope for the success of The Greatest Showman’s “This Is Me” and Troll’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling” without any of Swift’s signature class or craftsmanship. The secret to those frankly terrible songs is that, while they are built on empty uplift, they are tied to characters and experiences that the listener has loved (“This Is Me”) or prove completely sincere in their vapidity (“Can’t Stop The Feeling”).

When Justin Timberlake created his short-lived sound of the summer single he was writing a song for a children’s movie. Face value happiness was all that was asked for and that’s exactly what he delivered. In comparison, Swift’s “ME!” feels cloying and insidious. It’s a contrived coming “full circle” moment that’s begging to be loved. Swift is trying so desperately to convince us that, “hey guys, this is little old me”, when the best throwaway feel good songs do the opposite. They are not burdened by grand preconceived notions of self, they simply are what they are: proudly vacuous, because, truth be told, it is always better to irreverent than down right cynical.

The final score: review Very Bad
The 411
“ME!” is a stage-managed course correction from the ruthless Reputation era to the feel good gawkiness of old (albeit with some new musical theatre trappings). The music itself is almost painfully flaccid and laden with smultz, made by worse a lingering sense of insincerity. Taylor Swift has sadly delivered an overt marketing exercise masquerading as playful innocence.

article topics :

Taylor Swift, David Hayter