I recently came across a blog post by one of my favorite bloggers, Bob Lefsetz, regarding Taylor Swift’s new single “Shake It Off.” Besides some of the personal tangents he goes on, I generally value his opinion and advice on the current state of the music industry. He has a long history with the music business and thus has solid insight on the goings-on of today. However, I believe he missed the mark with his post on Ms. Swift.
I’m far from a diehard Swift fan but I’ll admit to occasionally finding a song of hers intoxicating, and “Shake It Off” was certainly one of those tunes. Before any digging, my initial impression was that it’s a great message for young people.
I felt very isolated from just about everyone in my life growing up but if I needed to feel validated I’d find a song that spoke the words I couldn’t find and sang the shit out of it. Even if I was the only one who heard myself sing, which was most often the case, it was cathartic and I always felt better after a few acapella solos.
I sincerely wish this song were in existence during my more awkward years.
For some reason, Mr. Lefsetz had a different reaction to the new single. You can read the post in the link above but in a nutshell he got the impression she was putting on a certain bravado and asserting that she was “untouchable,” which he believed counteracted the efforts she’d put in to acquire an insecure, nerdy, “real” fan base.
This has led to me believe that perhaps Mr. Lefsetz never experienced what it felt like to be an outcast. I wouldn’t be too shocked as he’s a white male with a law degree.
He was right in stating that she portrayed herself as an awkward nerd who sang about her crushes and how they weren’t very nice to her. Apparently that’s where he thinks she should coast. That’s all a female artist needs, right? To cry over boys, complain about how they mistreated her, and show that she’s really a nerd at heart and has flaws just like you!
This is why I think Mr. Lefsetz has no idea what it’s like to be ostracized or have the whole school staring at you and judging. When you feel like the whole world is against you, the very thing you need to hear is a loud and resounding
Ms. Swift says it in a much more catchy and happy way but essentially it’s the same message.
I might give him the benefit of the doubt if he truly could not understand why the exact fans he described would need to hear that uplifting message. However, today we have The Google, which knows all, so he has no excuse.
To prove this I searched “Taylor Swift Shake It Off Meaning” and got a bunch of hits. However, Mr. Lefsetz chose to reflect on what it means to him. And honestly I think that’s one of the best things about music: an artist can write something meaningful to them but it means different things to different people.
This is not one of those cases.
If he’d even tried to find out the message Swift had behind her new single and video I think he’d realize it fit perfectly in line with her messages thus far. Click the links above if you’d like proof but here are a few quotes:
“A lot of people who I think will relate to this song are people like… who are dealing with like not ever feeling cool about themselves because other people make them feel like they don’t fit in.”
“One thing I learned in this whole process is like… is you can get everything you want in life without ever feeling like you fit in.”
“You know, selling a million records doesn’t make me feel cool. Like, it makes me feel proud and like I have a lot of people on my side and I’ve worked really hard but, you know, I don’t think it’s the most important thing in life. To fit in. I think it’s to dance to the beat of your own drum.”
I know every person has the right to express themselves however they’d like and I respect that. With media and the power of editing today, it’s hard not to be affected personally by what you see. We need more songs like Ms. Swift’s and those who think like her.
I just so happened to be in a fit of nostalgia the other day and watched Spice World. Looking back at acts like the Spice Girls, the era of girl power was an amazing time for females. Of course not all their songs were to empower the female in society but a lot of them had great messages. The movie itself was a statement for female empowerment and a focus on the important things in life instead of fame and money.
If Mr. Lefsetz took the time to listen to the lyrics carefully and then maybe watch an interview or two he’d realize that she is still a nerd. And she’s telling her fellow nerds that you will be hated on and people will be fake but don’t take it personally or else you’ll worry yourself to a heart attack. That’s exactly what her fan base needs to hear and I’m sure they love her all the more for it.