I desperately want her lipstick

While I was rummaging around the internet looking for stuff on Nicki Minaj, I discovered a rather amusing tidbit. Apparently, her career got a huge boost when someone was interviewing Taylor Swift on the radio, and Swift admitted to being really stuck on "Super Bass". They actually got to sing some of it on the air, which amused the hell out of basically everyone, and suddenly Minaj got a ton more radio play.

Taylor Swift, if you have been living in a cave for the past few years, is a country pop star. I ran into her first about the time her second album dropped, when for no good reason I went poking around on her Facebook and Twitter and accidentally discovered she could spell. I'm not normally a fan of country music, but I like some of the country-pop stuff, and some of the country-pop people -- I have a couple of Shawn Colvin CDs, and I appreciate the Dixie Chicks speaking out to assure the rest of the universe we thought Dubya was a drooling idiot too. Swift has had a number of very big singles on the country charts, and an only slightly-smaller number of big singles on the pop charts. A couple of them have hit "oh god, do they really need to play that four times an hour?" levels, primarily this one, "Love Story":

A lot of people bitch that she changed the ending to Romeo and Juliet, although I'm not sure why. At one point she says "Then you were Romeo," which means she's not retelling the play, the couple in her story is just comparing themselves to Romeo and Juliet, which is a totally believably stupid teenage thing to do. She also name-checks The Scarlet Letter; what more do you want from a pop song?

She's also got "Fearless"


"You Belong With Me"


And now a single for the Hunger Games soundtrack, with the Civil Wars, called "Safe & Sound"


I've been poking around her social media again, and I think she's pretty charming. She really adores, and is very grateful to, her audience. She loves fan gifts, especially the handmade ones. She posts photos of pretty much the same thing you'd expect any young woman to post photos of -- new nail polish, things she bakes, her cat, touristy stuff she sees when she travels, fancy dresses when she's excited about having a place to wear them. Without her red carpet makeup, she looks like a regular girl, kind of tall and gawky and cute and a little bit awkward. She has a minor fascination with the number 13, which I completely understand because I do the same thing with the number 9. (It may be for the same reason, too -- my birthday is on the 9th, and hers is on the 13th.) Her best friend is apparently still a perfectly normal human being named Abigail, whom she met in high school.

A surprising number of people seem to hate Taylor Swift. I'm not sure why. A fairly common complaint I've seen is basically that she's a goody-goody two shoes, some nebulous anathema based on the idea that she's super Christian and pure and pseudo-perfect. I would guess she considers herself Christian, but that's based entirely on a single statement in her Twitter feed which was a (low-key, respectful) offer to "send out a prayer" for people in need. She did date one of the Jonas brothers once, but she's also hooked up with John Mayer and Taylor Lautner, so I'm having issues believing she wants the world to believe she's an innocent angel. I have yet to hear her voice any political views, right-wing crazy, or really say anything mean to anyone who wasn't personally a total douchecanoe to her first. The worst I've caught wind of is a small kerfuffle over a line in her song "Picture to Burn" where she says basically if her ex tells his friends she's a bitch, "I'll tell mine you're gay". She clarified later that it wasn't meant to be insulting, just tit-for-tat: if he's telling all the guys something that will make her undateable, she'll tell all the girls something that will make them see him as ineligible. Which is the way I took it in the first place, since to be intentionally denigrating to any general group of people like that is pretty much the exact opposite of her absolutely everything I've ever heard.

If she is super-Christian, she's putting her money where her mouth is, both literally and metaphorically. She's given benefit concerts up the wazoo, including the time she converted what was supposed to be the final dress rehearsal for one of her tours into a charity event at the last minute, and has already given millions of dollars in auctionable goods, services, promotion, and just very large checks to a variety of non-profits, mostly for disaster relief efforts. She's spoken out against bullying, specifically against gay bullying in concert with the general tide of projects going in that direction, but also in general. Swift herself was apparently the weird kid when she was in school; if she gives a reasonably accurate account of it, and there's nothing in her demeanor that sets off my bullshit detector when she does it, then she was picked on constantly through junior high and high school for what was essentially no reason, even by teenager standards.

She's written a song about it, which is apparently what she does about most things. The message is kind of unsophisticated, but she means well, and I kind of like it -- it's not often you see a pop star rocking out on her banjo.


I've also seen people complain that her surprise whenever she wins things -- and she has won a lot of them -- is annoyingly fake. I don't think so. She may have been taught, or taught herself, that exaggerating her reaction is a good way to get approval from other people, but I think she's genuinely surprised when the good things happen. I think she's reasonably bright, but not unreasonably bright, if you follow; she's also still pretty young, and if her history also includes being bullied in school, it might just be that, even though she knows she's pretty good at what she does, she still has trouble internalizing the idea that it's of value to anyone else. To the best of my ability to determine, she really is just a nice kid.

Moreover, a nice kid with an awesome sense of comedic timing. (Sorry for the video quality, but NBC keeps yanking the nice copies down, and the visuals make it a thousand times better.)

Comments

  1. Taylor Swift's voice isn't really my cup of tea, but I really like her music videos. They usually actually relate to the lyrics, and she always looks like she's having a good time. Thanks for pointing out the one for The Hunger Games soundtrack -- I just read the first book and I'm looking forward to the movie.

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