EW Description: “The singer’s third album showcases a candid, evocative blend of spite, sorrow, and love, with songs (possibly) aimed at VMA interrupter Kanye West, ex-boyfriend Taylor Lautner, and – is that John Mayer? Working through serious heartbreak has rarely sounded this great.”
Okay, I’m really doing my best to go into this with an open mind. Taylor Swift and I have a very complicated relationship. When she first came out with “Tim McGraw,” I thought she was a sweet, talented singer-songwriter who had the potential to become a very big country star. Well, clearly, she’s become a huge star, but in my opinion, she’s turned into a teenybopper shadow of her former self.
My all-time favorite song of hers is “Picture to Burn,” from her first album. It’s the one I feel is the strongest example of feminism that she’s ever recorded. I love the message that it’s not a big deal if some guy breaks up with you, just burn his picture and move on with your life. However, since then, she’s just recorded variations of “Teardrops on My Guitar” and “Love Story.” Her lyrics have become extremely problematic, particularly in the song “Fifteen,” where she almost flatout says a girl is nothing to a boy if she has lost her virginity. But, I really am going to try to listen to this album with an open mind. Here we go.
Mine: While this song is completely overplayed on the radio and I change the station every time it comes on in my car, it’s not entirely bad. When I actually listen to the lyrics, it does promote a healthy relationship. There’s equality between them, both are referred to at one point or another as belonging to the other. While I don’t believe people are property and can belong to someone else, at least they’re on equal ground. However, the tune reminds me so much of Love Story.
Sparks Fly: It’s a sweet song about how attracted she is to some random guy. There’s just nothing particularly original about it. It’s definitely not something I would remember.
Back to December: Rumor has it that she wrote this song about Taylor Lautner, which brings me to my other big problem with Taylor Swift. Every song she writes is now about some celebrity guy that she fell in love with and then broke her heart. Considering how often she is linked to some random celebrity, I doubt she’s actually loved every single one of them. Her credibility is completely shot. However, this song is probably the best of the album at this point and actually sounds like something I haven’t heard from her before. I might go back and listen to it again.
Speak Now: This is probably the closest I’ve come to hearing her have the same spunk I loved on her first album. There’s no talk of how she’s nothing without this guy, which is refreshing. It still embodies one of the biggest cliches, though, with the talk of breaking up a wedding at the “speak now or forever hold your peace” part.
Dear John: Her voice sounds better on this song than on any other song on the album. It’s more authentic than any song she’s written about breaking up with someone. You can actually hear the hurt in her voice and how she felt like she was betrayed. I think this is probably the strongest song on the album. However, I believe a better song about John Mayer would have been “I Can’t Believe I Dated That Walking STD.”
Mean: Coming off Dear John, I had high hopes for the rest of the album, but this song is terrible. I appreciate the sentiment of it and am all for telling off bullies, but this is so annoying. Seriously, you can’t find a better word than mean? It sounds like you’re one step away from calling this person a poopoo head. I never want to hear this song again, which of course means it will probably be her next single.
The Story of Us: This has a really great beat and is very catchy. That’s really all I have to say about this song. It doesn’t blow me away like Dear John did. It doesn’t make me cringe like Mean did. It’s just kind of meh.
Never Grow Up: This is probably my second favorite song on the album. It sounds like a song a 20-year-old should be singing. It’s not some crap about high school heartbreak. It’s about growing up and how fucking terrifying the world is. As a 20-year-old, I completely relate to this song. I love it.
Enchanted: This is another really great song about how taken away you can get when you first meet someone. Sometimes, you just meet someone and they completely enthrall you. While it does get a bit repetitive, it does capture that feeling of crush at first sight.
Better Than Revenge: I love the spunkiness in this song. This reminds me a lot of Avril Lavigne and I mean that in the best possible way. This is just really catchy and I could see myself blaring this when I’m in a slightly pissed off mood.
Innocent: This is the Kanye West song, but it’s not what I was picturing at all. It’s a completely different take on the situation and is almost like she’s pitying him because he was so out of control the night of the VMAs. Very interesting.
Haunted: This actually sounds really different from her other songs. It’s amazing how adding different rhythms and instruments can make a song original. Probably one of the strongest songs on the album. I really like it.
Last Kiss: This is another song about Joe Jonas, but it’s not bad. It captures the spirit of that first heartbreak and how incredibly painful and confusing it can be. Not my favorite song on the album, but it’s pretty good.
Long Live: A strong finish to the album. Original tune, good lyrics. I like it.
Okay, so this wasn’t nearly as awful as I was expecting. I actually found some songs I really like and there was only one song that truly made me cringe. I just wish her producers and managers would pick better songs to release as her singles. Mine is not a very strong song. I would have picked either Back to December or Dear John because it’s something different from her. They probably wouldn’t play as well with the Disney Channel crowd, but I don’t necessarily believe that’s a bad thing. Overall, this album isn’t as strong as her first, but it’s much better than Fearless was.