Taylor Swift – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

First Hit #1: September 1, 2012

2012 is a mix of breakups, big choruses and pleasant surprises, and Taylor Swift continues that trend with a sing-along chorus and a pretty upbeat little number about finally discarding an on and off again relationship. Swift began a something of a country artist, and she does still retain some residual acoustic guitar that hints at her former sound, which is actually a really nice addition to what is essentially a straightforward pop song. It’s also got that chorus that’s easy to sing along to, enough asides that show Swift is at least able to have fun with the idea of a relationship imploding, and a general upbeat and kind of fresh sounding track. A lot of people dislike Swift, but honestly I’m not sure why, she’s just a pop star who likes to explore various niches. I would argue that she has yet to find her sound – she has country instincts that she’s trying really hard to ignore here, even if they do subtly surface – but in searching for her sound she’s at least doing something a bit special that still works.

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3 Responses to Taylor Swift – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

  1. JM says:

    Swift hate is mostly born of her lack of imagination. The large majority of her songs are either autobiographical or movie premises which place her squarely in the good girl role. If she could write a song about killing a man in Reno just to watch him die, her songwriting cred would escalate to match her popularity, which is the mismatch that rockists bristle against. That said, adding Max Martin was clearly the right career move.

  2. musicosity1 says:

    Taylor knows her niche, and writes what she knows. Between this song and “You Belong With Me” (maybe throwing in “The Moment I Knew” for good measure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WONuTxOn46s) she captures the apparently cataclysmic romantic dramas of 8th Grade perfectly. The song lyrics suggest that this heartbreak is too much to handle, but there she is, standing on stage a young woman who survived, giving hope to tween girls everywhere. She is to Junior High what Joni Mitchell (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLoKSS1P2No) was to 70s Hollywood. At one point recently, she was even in the running to play a film version of Mitchell. As for the hating: She does lyrically vomit all over her former beaus, and any sane guy would realize that he’s about to become the butt of a sad story on her next album. But hey, it wouldn’t happen to me, right?

    Musically, she’s completing her Olivia Newton John arc from country music outsider (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xB2cY-8xFdI) to blonde teen phenom (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULJ3KrFwdbA) to full blown popster (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWeJ9p42ufg), in Taylor’s case a popster of the Avril Lavigne persuasion. Like Newton-John, Swift is an adequate singer but an engaging stage presence. She obviously has a genuine love for pop music, to the point of doing an acoustic cover of an artist related to each different stop on the tour: Jackon 5 for Detroit, Kim Carnes for L.A., and so on. Despite this song’s sneering reference to indie records, she also emblazoned her arm with a different song lyric each night as well, often an obscure song or band. The album featured duets with UKers Gary Lightbody (of Snow Patrol) and Ed Sheeran (boozy sensitive guitar guy).

    The melody has four distinct sections: two in the verse (“I remember…” and “Ooooh…”) and two in the chorus (“We are never…” and “You go talk…”), of which the catchiest by far is the fourth of the four, but the goofy overlap between the second “We….eeeeeee!” and the rest of the second chorus line is a great clue that this song is making fun of its histrionic protagonist as much as her moody emo boy.

    Swift can’t play 8th grade forever, though. Will she turn her eye to other topics, or stay stuck on young romance, just as Britney Spears is stuck in a clubbing (and rutting) rut? Time will tell. Also unclear is whether Swift will learn a new chord progression. Almost the whole album is good old I-V-iv-IV, though this song goes IV-I-Vsus-iv, starting the same circle of chords in a slightly different place.

    The album placed four singles in the US Top Ten. This one is surely the catchiest, but the album’s best song, so far not a single, was the sultry, moody, even U2-ish “Treacherous,” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkKmkBEUkWk) which describes a moth-to-a-flame romantic scenario which, while probably only semi-autobiographical, supplies another heap of bricks to build her her “unlucky romantic” public persona.

  3. musicosity1 says:

    Error: The “good old” chord progression is I-V-vi-IV, and this song is IV-I-Vsus-vi.

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