Are you Team Taylor?
Following her long awaited return to the music scene, Harriet and Kirsty discuss what her rebranding really means. See what we thought below:
So the Two Birds agreed to disagree. What are your thoughts? Personally, I have a whole lot more to say on the matter (as I'm sure the rest of the internet and every op ed journo in the world does). It's not that I'm here for the 'I'm too sexy vibes' - though you can't deny that that in itself is an odd choice. It's that as a previous consumer of Taylor's music I know her greatest skill is her ability to tell stories. But in this latest track, is she simply telling tales?
Her sharing her side of the story, reclaiming her narrative or whatever you want to call it is fine by me. We know that she excels at it - just look at tunes like Shake it Off and Black Spaces where she criticised tabloid culture and her so called reputation with a tongue placed firmly in her cheek. Similarly, her calling out celebrities - pitting herself either as the victim or the avenger is nothing new. Just look at her back catalogue of heartbreak calling out exes or the now infamous Bad Blood. This feels different. It's not funny, or refreshing or insightful. It just comes across mean. Her references to Santa (checking a list twice), Mean Girls, fairytales and the nursery rhyme quality of the tune does little to distance herself from the unfortunate playground bullying that we have seen among celebsville in recent years.
Perhaps my biggest problem with it is not the childish sneers of 'look what you made me do' but that reflects a bigger problem - her deep refusal to take any accountability. Something about the current political climate makes the act of wiping your hands clean from responsibility - petty or not- somehow unsavoury.
In spite, or perhaps in the face of Trump, accountability has become the new currency of pop music. It's not necessarily about getting political, it's about acknowledging privilege. In 2017, Jay Z opened his thirteenth album with a track called 'Kill Jay Z', a song where he admitted his failing as a father, husband and friend. Jay Z said he wrote the song in a bid to 'kill off his ego'. Katy Perry also referenced this theme on her most recent album and while promoting Witness, she publically apologised for the cultural appropriation in her work saying: "I will never understand some of those things because of who I am. But I can educate myself, and that's what I'm trying to do along the way." Most recently Lorde took to Twitter to blame all white people for the horrifying riots that occured in Charlottesville.
As Harriet noted, maybe it's too much to ask for Taylor, a rich, beautiful, white woman, to release a powerful piece of work that addresses cultural issues. I agree it would be a difficult thing to do. But at a time where Trump is in power, accusing the media of getting it wrong (#fakenews!) and telling a black artist that she wants the keys to her kingdom back while wearing a chain around her neck on the cover of her new album - is worse than bratty behavior, it's tone deaf.
Perhaps I'll be eating my words by the time her full album drops in November. Taylor has always been a very successful and shrewd businesswoman – even when she was playing the dork dressed in nighties baking cookies. This image revamp is certainly calculated. Let's hope it's of value too.