Skip to main content

Taylor Swift and the "ME!" Era


So you know the famous line from the first single off of Taylor Swift's last album, Reputation? "I'm sorry, the old Taylor can't come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, cause she's dead." Yes, "Look What You Made Me Do" was jarring. It was a Taylor no one had ever heard before. The anger that simmered quietly behind a fair number of her songs was allowed to take the lead, but that line wasn't true. The old Taylor was very much still there, just an older version tired of all the media attention. Tired of having every angle of her life run over with a magnifying glass. That became even more clear when the video dropped. It made me feel okay about the future of Taylor again. It was self deprecating, honest, and entirely self aware. "Look What You Made Me Do", while not necessarily a bop, was a statement. And I loved the darker, new angle that the album carried. It fulfilled the promise Taylor made in the 1989 era. Yes, it's pop, but it's all Taylor's own.
"ME!" on the other hand, is not. And while I wrote a nervous yet optimistic defense of LWYMMD when it came out, I can't do the same this time around because the song is something I never thought Taylor could be- hollow.
Don't get me wrong, I love the message. Be yourself, love yourself, don't ever compromise that. It's the theme of most of Taylor Swift's catalogue, and she's always delivered, framing the same message is a million different delicious packages that feel like a warm hug from an older sister you never had. I love Taylor's new optimistic, happy outlook on life and her transformation into a butterfly, but, when the snake disappeared in a poof of butterflies at the start of the "ME!" video, I didn't expect the authenticity to go with it.
It doesn't start out too horribly. The intro verse is intriguing enough, but when the bridge hits, the song loses me. I want to shut my laptop by the time the "ooohing" starts. While the chorus will make a lovely Target commercial, it's contrived and simply twists some basic words around in a circle till they sound groovy and confuse you enough to make you think there's substance. The breakdown towards the end where she shouts, "Spelling is fun!" is another place where I breakdown. That whole segment sounds like "ABC" by the Jackson Five. She's explained that they did it to keep the song "fun" and lighthearted, and I'm just not a naturally goofy person, so maybe I'm just destined not to jive with this, but the song doesn't make a ton of sense to me. "Shake It Off" was goofy and fun, but it was structured and unique.
This is a song that I might not have such a problem with if it was from the pop machine that fuels artists like Meghan Trainer, but, from Taylor, who's based her whole brand on being unique, this is a confusing track. Especially since she's billing it as her new era of honesty and unabashedly being herself.
What this says for the other 14 or so songs on the album, I'm not sure. Will they all be so predictable? I hope not. It seems like she definitely plans to take this album in a totally new direction from reputation and even 1989. She wrote and produced "ME!" with Joel Little, who I don't believe she's collaborated with before. Looking into his background might offer a few clues for where this album is going and why he was chosen, but the results are mostly inconclusive. He's a New Zealander with roots in pop punk and has written for acts like Lorde, Ellie Goulding, Ruth B, Tove Lo, Imagine Dragons, Kesha, and Shawn Mendes. While these acts all generally produce music with a much darker edge than "ME!", it shows he's no stranger to basic radio hits. Pop punk also seems to be the label that Taylor is applying to this album.
Taylor has done an amazing job of balancing and structuring albums in the past, so, even if I can't love this album as I whole, I might find a few songs with old Taylor vibes.
While there's not too much to go on now, I'm going to say this- Reputation didn't kill old Taylor, it was "ME!".

Taylor Swift Posts...
Taylor Swift and the Reputation Tour: Here
The Reputation Era and Taylor Swift: Here

Other Discussion Posts:
Recognizing the Artist: Here
Trigger Warnings Show Empathy: Here
Is YA For Me: Here

Links of Interest:
With The Fire On High: Review Here
Into YA with Jennifer Dugan: Here
Hot Dog Girl: Review Here
Opposite of Always: Review Here

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

Guest Post Claire Bartlett: Unpacking Fairytales

This week I want to welcome author Claire Bartlett to the blog to talk about the fascinating history of fairy tales throughout culture and how they play a role in her new book, The Winter Duke (out March 3). I've been a huge fan of fairy tales my entire life (I even wrote a giant paper on the Brothers Grimm for a school project once), so it was so much fun to read about the history of a couple tales that Claire uncovered in her research. If you missed the last time Claire was on the blog to promote her debut, you can find that post here.


I always wanted to write a fairy tale retelling, and it only makes sense to me now that I'd combine fairy tale, history and fantasy to create The Winter Duke. Fairy tales have long been intertwined with history, and in fact it's now estimated that fairy tale tropes go back thousands of years, being retold and reworked to fit audiences. Many of them were somewhat cemented in the public mind after being written down by the Grimms, among oth…

Weekly Book Reviews and Recommendations: Week 5

This week has been a bit crazy. With a four day weekend because of Easter, I thought I'd get some extra reading done. Lo and behold, that's not exactly what happened. I was way busier than I thought I'd be, but better late than never, I guess. Anyway, I read three great books this week that were all very different but also very good in their own rights.


1) Girl In Pieces  by Kathleen Glasgow (406 pages) 
This book was so beautiful and amazing that I had to write a Standout Review for it. I published that earlier in the week, and you can check it out here: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/04/standout-book-girl-in-pieces.html


P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (337 pages)
Overview:P.S. I Still Love You is the second installment of Jenny Han's YA series. (You can check out my review of the first book To All The Boys I've Loved Before here: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/03/reading-reviews-and-recommendations.html ) In this book, we catch up with Laura Je…

Heroine

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis (417 pages) To Purchase From Your Local Bookstore (Affiliate Link)
TW: Depiction of opioid addiction 
Overview: Mickey has it all. She's on the best softball team in the county, she has a supportive best friend, and, even though her parents have recently gone through a divorce, they both want to support her. And then she and Carolina get into a car accident on the way home to watch Netflix and eat pizza, a regular Friday night. Mickey's leg is all but torn out of her body, and her hip has to be put together with screws. Carolina, the school's near famous pitcher, nearly destroys her arm. As the girls fight to be ready in time to play their senior softball season, Mickey falls down a dangerous road, slowly upping her intake of pain pills to get through the day and to quicken her pace through physical therapy. Even as she tells herself that it's just for softball, just for her team, just for her parents, as she gets further in and her dependency i…

Should Books Be Adapted?

This is going to be a post you'll either whole-heartedly agree with or completely disagree with because that's how movie/TV adaptions of books work. You either love them or you wish they were never even imagined. We love the idea of them most of all. We all want to see the books we love on the screen, and, from what I've seen, we regret wishing for it in the end a lot of the time.
Movie and book adaptions are so tedious because some stories aren't made to be relayed through a screen. Books are so full of emotional subtext that's hidden in tiny details and in the voice and precise words spelled out on the page. There's so much more to a book than what you can portray on a running film of actual video even with voice overs. There are deep internal ramblings that make characters who they are that are hard to put on a screen because there are only so many tools to get internal during a movie.
Also, there are books that play out like movies in your head or make you…

What If It's Us

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (448 pages)
Overview: Ben and Arthur meet at the post office during a flashmob. Well, Arthur followed Ben into the post office because he thought he was and, and, just as they started talking, in true form with Arthur's New York fantasy, a flash mob erupted. When the boys and split up, Arthur loses his chance at connecting with Ben, but when he can't stop thinking about him, he explores ways to reconnect even in a city of a million empty faces like New York. Even if they can find each other, with Arthur going back to Georgia at the end of the summer, will it even be worth it? Overall: 4/5

Characters: 4.5 I'm not sure what to say about the characters. I liked them enough, but I didn't feel any real attachment to any of them. I liked the cast of friends, but they all lacked a certain weight that would give them a stronger sense of reality. My favorite relationship in the book was the friendship between Dylan and Ben.…

How Not To Die Review

How Not To Die by Michael Greger
Overall: 5 
I picked up this book not knowing what to expect. If you're unfamiliar with its premise, Michael Greger is a doctor who has made it his life's mission to educate people about the ability of a plant based diet to prevent and heal the leading causes of death. He's a proponent of the plant based diet, but it's not a book about a specific diet. He isn't trying to sell you something. I was surprised to learn that all the profits he gets from the book goes to charity. He really goes above and beyond to assert that he's not doing this to make a buck or push a system. It's purely based on the idea that knowledge is power, and, even though I went in dubious, I walked out shocked and compelled.
The way that the book is broken down, it's focused on two parts. The first half moves through the leading causes of death and how eating a better diet, generally a plant based one, can cause skyrocketed protection from these horr…

One of Us Is Next Review

One of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManus
Overview: Bayview was rocked by Simon's death and his gossip app, but everyone thinks that things might be going back to normal until Truth or Dare gets texted to everyone's phones. The game offers players two choices- pick truth and have a secret of yours texted to the entire school or pick dare and be told what prank you have to pull. Pick dare because none of them are worse than the truths the anonymous texter possesses. He also seems to be targeting specific people at Bayview, Phoebe who is kind of a golden girl and is hooking up with the star football player on the down low, Brandon, that football player, Jules, Phoebe's best friend, Sean, Brandon's best friend, and Maeve, Bronwyn's younger sister who was involved in cracking the Simon case. When the game starts to move from extremely annoying to actually threatening, everyone involved is locked in a stand-still about how to confront the issue. And when Phoebe ends up with …

Dumplin'

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy (375 pages)
Overview: Willowdean "Dumplin'" is fat. It's something that she's come to accept about herself even after years of fad diets enforced by her mother and bullying at school. Aunt Lucy certainly helped with her self acceptance, and in cultivating her love of Dolly Parton, but Will is left rudderless after Lucy has a sudden heart attack. To reclaim a bit of confidence she'd lost, Will signs up for the Clover City Pageant. Though she's not the typical beauty queen, Will and her group of friends get to put their own stamp on her mother's beloved pageant. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 I like Willowdean. She lives in the place most of us do on the fine line between insecure and confident. Murphy does a great job building a crew of characters around Willowdean. It was fun to revisit the cast after I'd read Puddin', Murphy's forthcoming companion novel.

Plot: 4 While this book is mainly billed as being about a beaut…

Layoverland Review

Layoverland by Gabby Noone
Overview: Bea doesn't know what's going on. One second she's battling with Siri who insists on playing "Hey Soul Sister" the next she's flying through a windshield and waking up on a weird airplane. She quickly realizes that possibly the worst day of her life was also a last, and now she's stuck in an airport otherwise known as purgatory. If living in a horribly boring airport isn't bad enough, Bea has to work in the memory department to help move other souls on to heaven to make up for the bad things she did in her life. They weren't worthy of sending her to hell, but she's certainly been less than nice to quite a few people. Told in chapters that fill in the catastrophe of the last day of her life and her experiences at the airport, Bea goes on a real journey that teaches her what's important about life, even though she can only apply it in death. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 Bea makes the book. She's a character…