Taylor Swift's 'Shake It Off' - DiS Does Pop Special
We at DiS Does Pop don't know what you were doing at 10pm last night, but if it didn't involve a ropey livestream of Taylor Swift's new single then brace yourself for a tidal wave of shame.
'Shake It Off' is undoubtedly (UNQUESTIONABLY) the most significant cultural event since Radiohead's King Of Limbs was breathlessly unveiled three years ago, so we decided to revive that infamous review format once more. What the hell are we talking about? Basically, DiS' writing staff have penned some opinions on the song. We've divided their responses into #TeamShakers and #TeamHaters. You can do the same with your own opinion on Twitter, but you'll probably look like a twat.
This song has passed the Can It Make Me Dance Around My Room At 7am Like Lena Dunham In A Scene Cut From GIRLS For Being Too Much? pop music test with flying colours. With mathematical precision, Swifto has written a song engineered to get your toes tapping and your adrenaline surging, and I am 100% totally cool with that. But you know in films when someone is suddenly able to read minds and it drives them insane because all they can hear is a cacophony of other people’s thoughts all day long? I’m starting to feel that way about Shake It Off - I’m on my, I dunno, eighty-sixth listen and I keep noticing bits from every pop song ever written hiding in there. Don’t get me wrong: it’s still brilliant. But it is starting to make my eye twitch along with my hips. Kate Solomon
All megastars have an image to live up to and Taylor Swift’s is the clean cut girl next door. She’s just like you, assuming you’ve got an astounding set of pipes, can play the guitar as well as Slash and your father is a financial adviser for Merrill Lynch. And do you know what? I TOTALLY buy this, because that is the power of a great pop song.
Since late last night ‘Shake It Off’ has cast an awful gurn over my face that’s going to prove a real problem if it sticks around any longer. Imagine walking up to your colleague at work with a smug facade that looks as though you’ve just eaten 10 marshmallows at once. I don’t have to. It’s embarrassing. Rob Leedham
Upon first look at this video you may be forgiven for thinking that "Shake It Off" is merely a pungent pile of pop culture references. Look, Lady Gaga! Look, Black Swan!! Look, “Hey Mickey”!! LOOK TWERKING! SHE'S ACTUALLY TWERKING!!! BUT SHE'S WHITE AND SKINNY!!!!!!!!!!! HAHAHAHA!!!
But on further inspection there is a far deeper and nuanced subtext at hand - the difficult issue of an adolescent girl's tentative understanding of her changing body, as Miss Swift recently explained to Rolling Stone...
"We had twerking, which was so funny. Those girls were trying to teach me how, and it's just never gonna happen. I tried really hard. They were teaching me what they do, and there's like a science to it – they're like digging their heels into the floor without you seeing their legs move, but their butts' moving. It's mind-blowing to me. They were explaining it all to me, and it's so above my comprehension of how to understand your body."
Also, the song's got quite a nice bridge. Andrew Wallace Chamings
The brass in the low-end of this wobbles somewhere that St Vincent wouldn't dare go, as it sounds too much like someone 'trumping'. Then again, it's hardly Colin Stetson. What this dittie is however is the first slice of post-'Happy' pop that takes the minimalist Pixar-friendly formula and lets the former country-star run amok. It's self-referential and silly and pretty much farting in the face of post-modernism, and that's what makes it a joyous ear-worm. Oh and does she slide in a little reference to Lykke Li or is that just me looking for indie-points, thinking all post-Lana modern popular music is littered with knowing nods?!
‘Shake It Off’ is all kinds of wrong-headed. The thinking behind it seems to have gone something like: “Pharrell has been selling a lot of records recently, why don’t we give THAT style the old Taylor-Swift-Kitchen-Sink-Treatment?”
On the surface, it makes a sort of sense – that age-old (but recently re- popularised) trick of paring a track down to a simple drumbeat, punctuated by little more than staccato horns and a hand-clap breakdown, can, in the right hands, be utterly amazing. But crucially, the effect is totally reliant on the SPACE such an arrangement allows. ‘1 Thing’ by Amerie or ‘Tightrope’ by Janelle Monae succeed because it is seriously rare to hear something so crisp and funky and light on its feet. The arrangement allows the melody to breath, allows the singers room to be playful, and makes the rest of us want to dance.
Taylor’s track though, by (literally) refusing to check all the usual Swift-ian bells and whistles at the door, ends up sounding over-paced, over-cooked, over-produced and over-long.
It’s unpleasant to listen to, I hate it, and it has made me feel sad and alone. Keiran Goddard
It's not really a song, is it? It's just the soundtrack to a video. Like her label said 'can you do one without a chorus, Taylor Swift? A chorus might distract people from all the money we're spending'. It's that genre of video when you can see it's nominally 'funny', but people who like it won't actually laugh, they'll just say 'ooh, she's a good sport, isn't she?' Andrzej Lukowski
What is it with Aryans named Taylor making wholesome softcore pornography? Taylor Swift. Taylor Momsen. Taylor off of ‘MMMBop’. Here, Swift panders gamely to the predictable sexual fantasies of every red-blooded American male. She’s the cheerleader. The ballet dancer. The GAP model. The gymnast. The manic pixie dream girl. The Caucasian who likes to crawl under the spread legs of a group of anonymous black dancers, jovially glancing up at their twerking crotches as if to say, “You think Miley and Lily got away with this kind of dubiousness? Well just look at how invincible I am!”
The song for the video, meanwhile, is your usual superficial kitchen-bin of gone-off vanilla. Fundamentally, it’s a commercialised rip-off of hardcore rap star Willow Smith’s 2010 debut opus ‘Whip My Hair’ (“pay no attention to those haters... shake ‘em off, shake ‘em off”). If you willingly listen to this exasperating blizzard of ear sugar more than twice, you must be a child, a moron, an ironic moron, a moron who should know better, or a naive theology student. It’s about forgiveness, you see. Or turning the other cheek at least. Haters gonna hate. Fakers gonna fake. Shake it off. Shake it off. Forgive me Taylor, for I know not what I do. J.R. Moores
Yo Taylor I’m really happy for you and Imma let you finish but MARIAH CAREY HAS THE BEST SONG CALLED ‘SHAKE IT OFF’ OF ALL TIME. Woodrow Whyte
Is this it? “Taylor Swift goes pop”, posited as a cultural benchmark for our generation, eagerly watched by millions, and we get this? A year in the making, access to the finest studios and songsmiths [Max Martin and Shellback] money can buy, her pick of heavyweight production superstars...all for a turgid, repetitive, non-entity of a song, as boring as it is pointless. At least Lily Allen had the good grace to admit her material was “docile pop rubbish”, what’s your excuse Taylor? Derek Robertson
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