Taylor Swift seems so nice in person (and is), but as she’s shown over the course of her short, but extraordinarily successful, career, if you date her and cross her (or she perceives you do), she will come after you in song.
Has there been any pop artist who has chronicled her love life so directly since Alanis Morissette on “Jagged Little Pill?” Certainly not one whose albums consistently have such a high body count. On “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” a pop stomp that blends Hot Chelle Rae crossed with Pink and Katy Perry, the boy in question has done the push-me/pull-me act one too many times and she’s finally really ready to give him the heave-ho.
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The best line is when she, venomously dripping sarcasm, sings “You would hide away and find some peace of mind with an indie record that’s much cooler than mine.” Not only is it delivered beautifully, but there is no doubt that that incident really happened, which only makes it more relatable.
As always, Swift, who co-wrote here with Max Martin and Shellback, has a way of not sugarcoating her thoughts: she’s hurt and she’s lashing out and it would be nice, given the sway she has over her millions of teen followers, if the song led them to also get out of a bad relationship. To her credit, there’s no hint in the lyrics (and hopefully won’t be in the video) that she’s even possibly thinking about going back again. This earth is better left scorched.
Though acoustic guitar based, with sweet “ooh-ooh” background vocals, this song is pure pop. It will be very interesting to see if country radio, which received a huge youth infusion courtesy of Swift, will touch this. There’s not a whiff of country on it and for all its pop leanings, country radio may not go for something quite this pop. My hunch is country stations will play it and review the call-out research very closely to figure out how to proceed. I also bet that Swift, who has never abandoned the country stations who helped break her after she crossed over to pop, will have something on “Red,” her new album, that will cater more to country. (Clear Channel immediately embraced the record playing it at the top of the hour yesterday on 300 stations, according to Billboard. Plus, Swift is slated to play Clear Channel’s IHeartRadio concerts in Las Vegas next week. The song also shot immediately to the top of the iTunes singles chart).
There’s a bigger question at play here: At 22, Swift probably has several more years of “Smart Women, Foolish Choices” relationships ahead of her, but the bigger question is how much longer can she mine them in this school-girl diary way (the lyric video even opens with the words scrawled in a composition book), full of drama and behavior that is understandable when you’re a teenager, but starts to look a little immature, if not slightly psycho, as you age? The good news is that this song, with the “indie record” line shows small growth in the right way. Swift is a strong songwriter that there’s little doubt that she’ll figure out a way to express her relationships in a more adult way rather than something that seems suited for a show on ABC Family. And while we don’t know how often it happens that she’s the one exhibiting the bad behavior, as she showed in “Back To December,” she is also adept at writing about her faults as a romantic partner.