Song of the Day #2,225: ‘Shake It Off’ – Taylor Swift

taylor_swift_shake_it_offTaylor Swift is making it harder and harder to like her.

She’s a talented songwriter, no doubt, but it’s hard to argue that she’s using those talents wisely these days. Her last album was the uneven Red, which spawned a few clever, pop-infused hits but also caught her spinning her wheels.

Last week, Swift announced the upcoming release of her next album, 1989 (named after her birth year). And based on the first single, it’s a step in the wrong direction.

At this point in her career, do we really need a Taylor Swift lead-off single painting her as a victim? Haven’t we been down this path with the much better ‘Mean?’ Not to mention about 80% of her other songs?

And do we need another pop tune co-written by Max Martin and Shellback? I understand that Swift wants to shed her country roots, but for this? Dozens of singers without her songwriting chops churn out soulless pop like this every day. Is this really the evolution her sound needed?

The video is also a head-scratcher. Surely Swift knew, based on the experiences of Miley Cyrus and Lily Allen, that she would be criticized for “appropriating black culture” when she brought in a gaggle of dark-skinned women to twerk behind her.

I don’t know if Swift was being naive or calculated when she put together this video. Maybe she welcomes a little controversy to help push album sales higher. Seems to have worked for Miley. But I’m sure Swift’s response to the backlash will be a wide-eyed insistence that she was just trying to be inclusive. She might even mean it.

I’m sorry to be one of those haters Swift references, because I have liked a great deal of her work up til now. But this isn’t encouraging.

[Verse 1]
I stay out too late, got nothin’ in my brain
That’s what people say, that’s what people say
I go on too many dates, but I can’t make ’em stay
At least that’s what people say, that’s what people say

[Pre-Chorus 1]
But I keep cruisin’, can’t stop, won’t stop movin’
It’s like I got this music in my mind sayin’ it’s gonna be alright

[Chorus]
Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

[Verse 2]
I’ll never miss a beat, I’m lightnin’ on my feet
And that’s what they don’t see, that’s what they don’t see
I’m dancin’ on my own, I’ll make the moves up as I go
And that’s what they don’t know, that’s what they don’t know

[Pre-Chorus 2]
But I keep cruisin’, can’t stop, won’t stop groovin’
It’s like I got this music in my mind sayin’ it’s gonna be alright

[Chorus]

[Refrain] (x4)
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off

[Interlude]
Hey, hey, hey, just think while you’ve been getting down and out about the liars and dirty, dirty cheats of the world you could have been getting down to this sick beat

[Bridge]
My ex-man brought his new girlfriend
She’s like “oh my God”, but I’m just gonna shake it
And to the fella over there with the hella good hair
Won’t you come on over, baby, we can shake, shake, shake

[Chorus]

[Refrain] (x4)

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9 thoughts on “Song of the Day #2,225: ‘Shake It Off’ – Taylor Swift

  1. Dana says:

    You are likely to get some strong resistance from my kids, but Amy and I were both disappointed with this song. It may work well as a dance song, which is clearly her intended goal, but I’m not a fan of dance music and I don’t think she has added anything original or interesting to the formula.

    I have less of a problem with the video. I think it’s pretty clever and Swift looks quite sexy.

  2. The Cool Guy (Daniel) says:

    Clay, although I do see what you’re concerned about, I don’t think that you are correct in your assumption that based off this one song the whole album is going to be bad. I loved the song, but I can understand why some others would not…(Haters gonna hate). When “We are Never Getting Back Together” came out I’m sure many fans were thinking that it was too poppy and she was perhaps wasting her talent, but in my opinion, Red was an amazing album that I would never call uneven. I think the one hit that is released before an album is not indicative of the entire album. Though in the cases of “Shake it off” and “We are Never Getting Back Together” I thought the songs were empowering, funny, and altogether great songs. If it doesn’t fit the type of genre that you like, I don’t think that’s reason to dislike her more. Why you gotta be so mean?

  3. Clay says:

    It’s not the dance style that I find tiresome as much as the subject matter. I’m sick of Swift songs that put her in the victim role. It’s her favorite subject, and it’s off-putting.

    • The Cool Guy (Daniel) says:

      I think she’s self deprecating in this song and that this is not a victim song, but an anthem for people who can shake off criticism and other things like that.

      (I’m questioning the rap break a little)

    • Dana says:

      You’ve been critical of Swift’s subject matter for quite a while, even when the songs were markedly better. You criticize her relationship break up songs. You criticize her victim songs. You don’t like political/social issues songs, so I assume you wouldn’t want to hear her do those. So, once you eliminate biographical relationship, coping with the negatives of celebrity/victim and political/social themes, what exactly is left about which you would like her to sing?

      • Clay says:

        About a million other things.

        Joni Mitchell and Carole King, to name two songwriting legends Swift probably looks up to, sure made decent livings writing about things other than their own boyfriends and celebrity status.

        Look at the catalogs of Ben Folds, Elvis Costello and Lyle Lovett.

        I think you’re limiting Swift by suggesting that she has nothing else to write about other than her own celebrity. She has the potential to be a great artist, not just a big star, but it seems she is more interested in the latter.

      • Clay says:

        Swift’s friend Lorde is an example of an artist eight years younger than her who released an excellent album around themes other than the ones you mentioned.

  4. Amy says:

    My two observations when I first saw the video – a) why would she churn out a song a hundred others without her talent could make and b) why would she court controversy with the choice of dancers/ dance moves in this way? I “get” that it’s a fun song, and I appreciate that she wants to try new things, but I hope she returns to form.

  5. Dana says:

    Okay, fair enough, though I think Swift has hit other topics in her songs. No question, however, that break up and responses to criticism (whether you interpret them as victim or empowerment songs) tend to dominate.

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