Wednesday, December 27, 2023

My Two Cents (An Occasional Series): Special "Kids Today, With Their Loud Hair and Their Long Music" Edition

Okay, that was a cheap shot (I seem to be taking a lot of those of late) but on a more serious note, I think it behooves me as a rock critic and a cultural commentator to say a little something about Ms. Swift, which I have not done previously..

So here goes: Basically, I like her (or at least the idea of her) a lot; she seems to be a genuine mensch, if I may use that word for a nice goyishe girl, and the fact that she makes MAGA-types heads explode goes a long way with me.

That said, the idea that she's contributed anything significant to the art of popular music or songwriting is pretty silly. Basically, her whole aesthetic is the apotheosis of a half-time show at the Super Bowl; if that's your thing, god bless you, but don't tell me she's got anything more than competent craftsmanship and wicked marketing skills.

Your thoughts?


edward said...

Sums up my thoughts exactly.
I'll admit that I have next to zero familiarity with her actual music, so probably should refrain from commenting. It really has just not penetrated by sphere.

Likewise, she seems to have become a billionre with harming anyone, so good on her.

Let's hope she continues to piss off MAGAs and stays on the side of good.

Anonymous said...

Wicked marketing skills and she’s a cutie. And a certain blandness that always seems to work in the marketing of her to the public.

Captain Al

Anonymous said...

Long sexy legs. Sorry I’m a leg man.

Captain Al

Anonymous said...

I don’t know shit about her music beyond that song about her wearing short shorts from 10 years ago.

Captain Al

Gummo said...

It would be ridiculous for me to comment on music that's aimed at people half a century my junior, so I won't.

I'm just glad she exists.

Sal Nunziato said...

I don't think it's "ridiculous" to comment on music aimed at the kids. Shouldn't good pop music appeal to everyone? I don't care about Olivia Rodrigo, but I can recognize craft and hooks and melody, things I rarely hear in Swift.

I got lambasted for saying that I thought Taylor Swift has a lot to love about her, except the ability to write anything but the most generic pop music I have ever heard. One comment that was indirectly aimed at my comment was, and I am paraphrasing, "Any man over 40 commenting on Taylor Swift, really needs to get a life." A bit harsh, I think. But I forgave him because he has a teenage daughter, which seems to be the universal defense.

Seeing your teenage daughter happy is a wonderful thing, but fooling yourself into believing Taylor Swift's music is anything more than generic pop music set to diary entries is no better than geezers weighing in.

Cleveland Jeff said...

My daughter likes Swift a lot and I hadn't heard much, so I recently listened to all of her albums. I was not converted, but some of it was OK. "Competent craftsmanship and wicked marketing" sums it up pretty well. That, and she still writes about relationships like she's fifteen, which appeals to the young girls that love her.

steve simels said...

Cleveland Jeff -- that last commnt of yours gets it absolutely on the nose. That's Swift's musical niche, for sure.

Anonymous said...

a live barbie doll. heaven forbid she gets some wrinkles and blemishes as she ages it will be the end of her career unless she reinvents herself somehow. competent and attractive with good marketing definitely. reveals something about the state of our society today. just saying..... humbug! rs

Alzo said...

She has found the magic formula of hooks, looks and showmanship.
If you have a daughter, Taylor Swift is a terrific role model. Far better than Madge.

Jonathan F. King said...

I have never knowingly heard Taylor Swift. It's an achievement of sorts, but it's not intentional and it's not that hard: At 73 I don't follow pop music anymore, know any young women anymore, watch youth-oriented TV, listen to satellite radio, shop anywhere with back-announced audio wallpaper, etc. I may have heard her but I don't know that I have, in other words. It's amusing to watch the looks of skepticism & disbelief that attend that claim, as if I'm saying I've never been to the beach or watched SNL.

cthulhu said...

Cleveland Jeff - love your comment, but it points out a problem…if Swift’s teenage girl fans are enamored of how she writes about relationships, what does that say about her 20- and 30-something fans? Aging teens seeking to not grow up? They’d probably be better served musically and philosophically by moving over to Kate Bush and Aimee Mann…

And who’s the equivalent for the male audience, someone who captures the mystique of teenager-hood and makes guys want to stay perpetually a teen? Or are the guys just busy admiring Taylor Swift’s long legs and blonde hair? Not that there’s anything strange about that ;-)

And I have also never knowingly heard any of her songs either; not actively avoiding, just shows how circumscribed my music listening habits are.

Mark said...

Taylor Swift's craftsmanship and marketing notwithstanding, what made Swift as popular as she's become? My friends and I discuss this, and two reasons pop up in some of our conversations. And it's not only teens who are Swifties. It's kids as young as six and seven, who can sing along with parents.

One reason is that Swift is a contemporary human Barbie, and as anyone who's had a daughter in the past fifty years knows, or anyone who checks out Box Office Mojo knows, Barbie, for better or worse, is a personal and cultural powerhouse.

The other reason can be attributed to one of the many social effects of COVID: Swift's popularity increased algebraically when people were shut in, when fewer artists released new albums, and few if any artists toured. And what was Swift doing? Fighting the good fight against large record companies, getting publicity and credibility for doing so, and releasing her back catalog to her already large base of fans.

Swift's current time in the cultural sun - I believe - is an unintended consequence of COVID. But why her, you ask? See reason one, above.

MJConroy said...

My granddaughter is 15 and a "Swiftie". She got one of her lps for Christmas and her first turntable to play it on. I got to set it up for her and watch her eyes light up. So, at least she's given her an entry into records!