Parrying and thrusting at Taylor Swift’s lyrics seems a little too easy, but given that she has almost 30 million Twitter followers and seems hellbent on reversing nearly a century of progress, I feel that someone must pick up the scalpel and carve up these lyrics which are at times laughably hypocritical, ignorant, self-unaware or just bass-ackwards. I’m going to seem like a hater, which is something I am not and do not want to be. But voicing one’s findings following a stint of critical thinking often grabs the misnomer of “hatin'” in today’s world. So be it. Someone has to tell the truth, and George Carlin died.
It’s very important that we all accept that before calling something “wack” we should be able to, if called upon to do so, clarify the reason(s) said thing is wack. If a person calls something “wack” without knowing why said thing is “wack,” then that person is probably either an actual hater or just another group-think zombie. People: Getorix are neither. For this inaugural episode of TSIKW (which I might rename “Slaylor Swift”), let’s look at her most recent single from her latest album Red, “22.”
Can you see all the hipster irony?
Photo Credit: MIKE-AN-IKE via Compfight cc
Verse 1, Lines 1 & 2 (Henceforth known as “22 1:1-2”): “It feels like a perfect night to dress up like hipsters, and make fun of our exes, uh uh uh uh.” Okay, we’re busy right off the bat. The distinction between hipster and simply in fashion has almost wholly disappeared by the middle of 2013. I should note that in the music video for the song, Taylor is wearing black booty shorts and a black hat, that look anything but thrift-shoppy, to go along with a white, kinda sheer looking T-shirt thingy that reads “NOT A LOT GOING ON AT THE MOMENT.” She throws on some red, heart-shaped sunglasses to really hipster it up.
In the next shot, she’s leaning on what appears to be an island tabletop with a way-too-big chocolate and vanilla marble birthday cake. Swifty is rocking a blueish button-down that she’s hippishly left unbuttoned with rolled up sleeves. But she really drops the irony when she places, gasp, big, not-all-that-thick-rimmed new-age wayfarers on. That lets you know she’s really in hipster mode. Not at all what plenty of normal hot or otherwise girls dress like these days.
The thing about making fun of their exes I’m going to let slide, because far be it for me to be hypocritical whilst pointing out how hypocritical someone else is. We make fun of people who aren’t around. Like I’m doing now. Okay, fine.
22 1:3-4: “It feels like a perfect night for breakfast at midnight, to fall in love with strangers, uh uh uh uh.” Unless you’ve been sleeping while all of the second-shifters were working, I don’t think you can call the midnight run to Taco Bell or Waffle House “breakfast,” regardless of the nutritional makeup of the courses. You’re not really breaking any “fast,” since I just saw you crushing cake at the party in the last frame. Additionally, am I the only one who, when presented with an image of T. Swift, is not struck with the overwhelming feeling that this is not a girl who wears a shitty diet? I mean, I went through college, and I know what the early A.M. meals do for me. They don’t make me look like Taylor Swift, so I unfortunately had to give them up. This skepticism is both a compliment to your physique, Taylor, and a refusal to believe that any meal at midnight is in your repertoire.
Looking like a Waffle House regular.
Falling in love with strangers seems like a behavior that is probably strongly correlated with being clingy. I mean falling in love is cool and all, and if it was going to happen with someone you knew, it probably should have already, but the use of the words themselves, at least if presented to some stranger, probably arouse memories in the dude that have to do with taking the half-off parking lot to get an extra ten-dollar beer at the Milwaukee Brewers game and consuming just better than Triple-A baseball before walking the extra four blocks to his now double-parked Grand Am. It screams “you can get in, but good luck getting out.” I think The Eagles wrote a song about that or something.
22 1:5: “Yeeeaaaahhhhhh.” Yes.
22 1:6: “We’re happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time.” You know what, that’s cool. I think I get what you’re saying. I’d question that word “free” though, given Taylor’s track record and position in the consumer culture.
22 1:7: “It’s miserable and magical. Oh yeeeeahhhhh.” Umm, it really shouldn’t be miserable. Causing misery. Yeah, I’m almost certain that’s not the appropriate word here. I would offer “confusing,” but you used that in the last sentence, so… “difficult?” Oh, and it isn’t magical either. Magic isn’t real.
22 1:8: “Tonight’s the night when we forget about the deadlines, it’s time. Uh oh.” What deadlines, and how is tonight any different from every other night in that respect?
22 Chorus 1:1: “I don’t know about you but I’m feeling 22.” Taylor, you are 22. Or, at least you were when you wrote the song. I want to say you can’t really “feel 22,” but maybe we shouldn’t take it that far. But I can say with confidence that a 22-year-old claiming to be feeling 22 carries a lot less weight than, say, a 37-year-old claiming to be feeling 22.
22 Chorus 1:2: “Everything will be alright if you keep me next to you.” For who, me? Why? So I can be unavailable all night? If I’m going to submit to a cock blocking, there better be the likelihood of us leaving that midnight meal together and going to the same place, otherwise everything will not be alright. Not alright at all.
22 Chorus 1:3: “You don’t know about me, but I’ll bet you want to.” Man, this one really got me. So, I started off all like, “oh yeah, what kind of odds are we talking about on that bet? Because I’m a lock to win this one.” Then I got to thinking, “wait, this betting line looks like a trap, like when the Seahawks were +4 against the Steelers in Super Bowl XL then got jobbed worse than a WWE face might by special guest referee Tim Donaghy. Maybe I should reconsider.” So I did, and I realized that you’re right Taylor. If push came to shove, and I were single of course (or my significant other gave me the go-ahead on the “hail mary for half” play), I guess I probably would want to know about you. But I’d hate myself for it. Thanks a lot, Taylor Swift. Your booty shorts and your nice hair and your pretty good makeup and your healthy-diet jawline and your slenderness and your coached-up improved dancing skills and your youth and your probable good heart. Damn you. You’ve forced me to confront both that I totally would be down and that I still have all the makings of a gambling problem. Next line.
Ugh, alright. No bet. I guess given the chance I would “wanna know about you.”
22 Chorus 1:4: “Everything will be alright if we just keep dancing like we’re 22. 22.” Actually, I totally agree. I used to run with a girl who physically resembled you quite a bit, and this line has to be the most truth laden assertion of the song. My buddy-whatever-you-wanna-call-it and I would dance like we were 22, back when I actually was, in the sense that she was going strong on drink number five and was 19 or 20 at the time. So yeah, it was as if she were 22. Or at least 21. And the thing is, everything always did end up being alright. Or maybe more accurately, all right. Guys, this is the line to highlight if you’re scoring at home. (So… much… restraint… Must not… type… bad… pun…).
22 Verse 2: Lines 1-2: “It seems like one of those nights this place is too crowded, too many cool kids, ah ah ah ah (‘who’s Taylor Swift anyway?’).” Dear God. Help me. No, I have to do this. Okay. Here we go.
TAYLOR SWIFT IS THE FUCKING COOL KID. She was worldwide at 17 years old and has been ever since. Her music is on every pop station, which as I recall from the days of every fucking time ever, is the barometer of “cool” if we are using that word in a popular sense. Cuz, you know, “pop(ular) music?” Now, those of you inclined to enjoy this post are probably of a different mind when it comes to the definition of “cool,” and I agree with you. But the idea that there are a bunch of people out wherever Taylor Swift is that don’t know who Taylor Swift is because they are “too cool” is preposterous. If a person can distance themselves from pop culture that much, more power to them. But the much more likely scenario for a person aged 15-23 not knowing who Taylor Swift is almost certainly looks like a lack of internet connection caused by extreme poverty. All of her fans seem to be suburban daughters. So spare me the bogus underdog story. Again, 30 million Twitter followers as of this post. More money earned in show business than nearly any woman alive, any under-25er alive, hell, any person alive or dead. Taylor Swift cannot be the underdog. She cannot be “uncool” in the way she would use the term.
This attitude perfectly sums up her total lack of self-awareness, fake modesty, and commitment to always playing the underdog whilst never being the underdog. This isn’t just a Taylor Swift problem, either. She plays the underdog because scores of people for generations have talked about how much they root for and identify with the underdog. Studies the world over consistently show that’s bullshit. If that were true, mob mentalities wouldn’t have shaped the world from the moment man left the savannah until he finally brings about his extinction. If that were true, the sports teams with the highest payrolls would not also be the ones with the most fans. Or, more precisely, the ascension of Team X’s payroll would not precede the multiplication of the fan base. It would be the other way around; it would be organic. For those who may not have been aware of the world of sports over the last twenty years, it’s not organic at the top. That is what it is, money begets money, tradition begets tradition, etc. But people, en masse, do not root for the underdog. They do, however, claim to.
The rest of Taylor Swift’s song “22” is pretty much a rehash of lines we’ve already broken down, so it’s about time to wrap this edition up. What we learned:
- Hipsters are intentionally ironic; Taylor Swift is unintentionally ironic.
- The term “hipster” was not originally intended to refer to en vogue or wholesome money projects.
- Taylor Swift is almost certainly lying about being the kind of chick who eats breakfast at midnight (see Taylor Swift’s body).
- People who fall in love with strangers might also get clingy and/or vengeful (see Taylor Swift’s lyrics)
- Taylor Swift feels her age.
- There’s a fine line between keeping things chill and voluntarily submitting to a cock block.
- I still get excited about betting lines.
- I have a gambling problem.
- I am physically attracted to Taylor Swift.
- Dudes, you want to be in a situation where you and a girl are dancing like you’re 22. Everything will indeed be alright.
- Taylor Swift has more Twitter followers than all but four or five people on Earth yet still claims to be an underdog.
- Kids that Taylor Swift would consider cool somehow would not currently know who Taylor Swift is, according to Taylor Swift.
- Taylor Swift remains one of the least self-aware people in pop culture.
- Don’t claim to root for the underdog if you don’t actually do that. Cuz, like, that’s just being part of the problem.
Again, Taylor, I don’t think you’re a bad person. I don’t think you’re of below-average intelligence. You’re certainly not ugly. Here’s hoping you take some time to be quiet and be still. Listen, look, touch, eat, drink, sniff. More importantly, hear, see, feel, taste, smell. Grow. Evolve. Report back.