It will probably not come as a surprise to my readers to know that I am a devoted admirer of Taylor Swift. That said, up ’til now, I have not been very enthusiastic about the bubblegummy lead singles she’s tended to release during her current Pop phase…if you’ll recall, I panned “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”, and was only lukewarm about “Shake It Off”. Of course, “Look What You Made Me Do” was an exception, but then, it was the polar opposite of those songs in terms of style and tone.
This song, on the other hand, is essentially the same upbeat Pop style, just done right this time. With its joyous marching band melody and sunny, unashamedly garish tone, this is simply a glorious, glowing smile in music. The lyrics do at times resemble a children’s song, but they do so just enough to tap into primal innocence without ever becoming infantile, much like the Flaming Lips or Owl City.
I’ve heard a few critics, both amateur and professional, turn their noses up at the song, but then, this is exactly the kind of song the music snobs naturally hate. For the rest of us, this is probably the best lead single of Swift’s career so far, and while it is notoriously hard to predict the sound or tone of a Swift album from the lead single alone, this still seems to suggest a happier, more upbeat album to contrast with the brooding darkness of Reputation.
Now, while the “backlash” against that earlier album that her detractors love to speak of was clearly an enormous exaggeration (“failed” albums don’t generally become year-end bestsellers), I still admire Swift for varying her artistic palette, something she has always done and will no doubt continue to do with her upcoming seventh album.
Verdict: A modern masterpiece. I honestly can’t imagine how anyone could bring themselves to dislike this song.