“Crying in the pouring rain at 2 am while waiting for my Prince to save me”
Believe me Taylor, I'm just as surprised as you.
Okay, call me crazy for writing such a detailed analysis on this but I just can’t be silent anymore. One thing I will never understand is the universe’s god-like worship of Taylor Swift. That, and how to legitimately fold a fitted bed sheet. (I don’t care what Martha Stewart says, it can’t be done.) Even if you hate her type of genre or don’t follow Top 40 music, you’d have to be locked up in solitary confinement to be unaware of her dominance in the entertainment business. This girl is practically inescapable. Despite all of this hype, I just don’t find Taylor Swift that talented. Sure there are plenty of entertainers nowadays who are famous and literally have no talent. Kesha, Megan Fox, The Kardashians, and the cast of every crappy reality show ever to exist.
So why pick on Taylor Swift out of all of these people? Well, to be more specific, it’s not the fact that Swift is popular that bothers me. What perplexes me is the fact that the public and most well-respected critics regard Swift as a highly talented musician. Critics and the everyday fans fawn over her “incredible” skills as a songwriter. One critic even went so far to compare Swift to Paramore’s Hayley Williams (um, okay). In 2010, Swift beat out Beyoncé and Lady Gaga of all people for Album of the Year at the Grammy’s, which is only one of a laundry list of awards she has won.
I realize that opinions of music/lyrics are high subjective, but I just don’t get the hype. At best her music is all fluff. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate fluff. I’m not one of these pretentious people who stick up their noses to anything mainstream. Speaking of pretentious, cue hipster cat:
However, I take this so-called “fluff” for what it is and nothing more. Anyway, let’s move on to the point of this post. Here are, what I believe to be, 4 legitimate reasons that Taylor Swift is underrated as a musician:
1) Almost all of her songs sound the same.
Most artists have a distinct “sound” or have songs with similar melodies and such, but Taylor Swift takes this to another level. Since she first broke out a few years back, I always thought her songs were just slight variations of one another. At first I thought that my musical preferences could have contributed to this opinion, since I’m not a big fan of country music (if you even consider her country). If I think all country music sounds the same, why would I find her country/pop songs any different? Well, it turns out I’m not as judgmental as I thought. Apparently, a lot of guitar players and musicians have pointed out that nearly all her songs use the same chord progression. For the non-guitar players like me or for those who are auditory learners, check this girl out on YouTube (skip to around the 1:19 mark):
This girl may not be the best singer or a guitar God, but I think she demonstrates the point well.
Where’s the originality? Furthermore, along with the instrumental content of her songs, the content of her lyrics are all very similar as well…..but more on that later.
2) Awkward stage presence
Okay so this point is not quite as significant as the others, but I felt it’s worth mentioning. During live acts, Taylor Swift has become admired for her high energy, fan singalongs and her quiet, intimate moments. She has a commanding presence on stage, but I often find her very awkward to watch. For her upbeat songs, she is constantly flipping her hair all over the place and flailing her limbs about, to the point that it is distracting. I hate to break it to you Taylor but you are highly uncoordinated. Please stop trying to shimmy around like some badass female rocker. For softer songs, she’s often sitting severely hunched over as she “strums” her guitar, which strangely resembles the way I used to strum my plastic ukulele when I was 3. Did I mentioned the quality of her singing?
3) Singing ability is questionable
Swift’s voice on recordings is unremarkable but passable in my opinion. She doesn’t seem to have much range or power, but her voice is generally pleasant in comparison to the auto-tuned shrieks that flood the radio. However, live singing is a whole other beast. Musicians who can sing well live seem to be a dying breed, and Taylor Swift is no exception. If you can bear it, check out her performance with Stevie Nicks at last year’s Grammy’s:
That was atrocious to say the least. Some may argue that she just had a bad night, like all great musicians have at one time or another. Sadly, I don’t think that is the case. Here’s another one:
Yeah, not much better. Of all the numerous live performances I’ve seen of her (since she’s been on practically every talk show and award show on the planet this past year), I have never once, heard her sing on pitch. Seriously, never. There are a slew of clips all over the internet to further prove my point. It’s painful. Moving on…..
4) Lyrical content is usually repetitive, predictable, and immature
Of all my criticisms, this is by far, the one that truly drives me insane. Taylor Swift has been constantly praised for her thoughtful and mature songwriting, and has even won an award for songwriter of the year. Huh? All of her songs are either about how she’s madly in love with a perfect guy or how a guy dumped her and he’s a horrible person. I’m aware that love is probably the biggest topic in songwriting, but if I hear her singing about thoughtless, teenage love one more time, I might smash my head into a brick wall. Oh and her lyrics usually contain some form of fairy tale reference, crying, rain, and sometimes even crying in the rain. She also seems obsessed with events that occur around 2 am. Think I’m exaggerating? I actually spent 30 minutes of my life skimming all of Taylor Swift’s lyrics to see if her non-single songs were any better or different (yes, I have no life). In her two recent albums, she mentions crying in 9 of her songs, some form of rain/storms in 6 of them, and princess in 5 songs (and this doesn’t include her first album, or singles released alone). I’m really hoping these songs are about the same event, or else this girl needs to invest in an umbrella and anti-depressants.
So, Taylor Swift is supposed to be a “mature” songwriter. Here are a few lyrics from various songs:
“Romeo take me somewhere, we can be alone.
I’ll be waiting; all there’s left to do is run.
You’ll be the prince and I’ll be the princess”
“But she wears short skirts
I wear t-shirts
She’s cheer captain
And I’m on the bleachers”
“Today was a fairytale
You were the prince
I used to be a damsel in distress”
“He’s the reason for the teardrops on my guitar
The only thing that keeps me wishing on a wishing star”
“Dear John, I see it all now that you’re gone
Don’t you think I was too young to be messed with
The girl in the dress cried the whole way home
I should’ve known”
If you told me that those “mature” lyrics were written by a girl in her college years I would probably laugh in your face. These lyrics sound like they were written by a delusional, boy-crazed, slightly bi-polar fourteen year old who thinks that Disney movies were based on real events. Oh, and another thing that drives me absolutely insane. In “Love Story” Swift takes a completely original approach by referencing Romeo. Fine whatever, she likes fairy tales and romance. But then she sings,
“Cause you were Romeo I was a Scarlet Letter”
Um, I’m no expert on classic literature but I’m pretty sure the Scarlet Letter was about a woman cast out of society for being an adulterer and having a child out-of-wedlock. Not sure if that’s what Taylor was going for….Not to mention she ends the song with Romeo proposing to her, because apparently he talked to her dad and worked it all out. I must have missed that part, or perhaps I got an outdated edition of Romeo and Juliet in high school.
One last but brief point I want to mention. Swift often starts a song from her point of view and ends with singing the same words but from the boy’s point of view. It’s cute the first and second time, but the third time is just gets predictable and kind of annoying.
So that’s that. I can’t believe I wrote a freakin’ essay on Taylor Swift, but what can I say? I’m a passionate person haha. I have nothing against Taylor Swift personally. Obviously I don’t know her. She seems like a nice, humble person and she does a lot of charity work. Regardless of the quality, I give her credit for at least writing her own songs and being so involved in her music unlike a lot of artists. The girl can write a catchy pop song, I’ll give her that. I’d be lying if I said I never caught myself humming or singing one of her songs. I just don’t see how she’s this ground-breaking artist she is made out to be. Music critics and the rest of the world really need to stop drinking the kool-aid.