Single Review: Taylor Swift – Shake It Off

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The sassy, hip-shaking lead single for Taylor Swift’s new album, ‘1989’, makes her move into pure pop official.

Album. Tour. Repeat. Album. Tour. Repeat. It’s needless to say that Taylor Swift is one of the hardest working musicians out there at the moment, as well as being one of the most media-targeted faces around. The pop sensation is set to release her fifth studio album, ‘1989’, next month at the age of just twenty four. Offering a sneak peak at the album, Swift has tantalised her legions of fans with her new single, ‘Shake It Off’.

Seriously, try to not dance and you will fail. Swift’s slow dilution from her country and folk exploits to just pure pop has been an enjoyable transition, and Swift has undoubtedly concluded this passage with ‘Shake It Off’. Hitting out at her numerous critics, Swift has taken a satirical, laugh-at-yourself swipe at her ‘haters’. Touching on issues from her relationships to her dancing, Swift’s new single certainly offers food for thought.

Vocally, ‘Shake It Off’ is not Swift’s biggest anthem, but its message is all the more powerful for its catchy, sing-along tone. Opening with “I stay out too late, got nothing in brain. That’s what people say”, Swift gets straight to the point: “I go on too many dates, but I can’t make them stay.” Lyrically sharp, Swift responds to the media’s constant digs at her relationships. In essence, what is fact and what the media make as speculation are two completely different things.

Famously, Swift dated guitarist John Mayer between 2009 and 2010, as well as Harry Styles of One Direction between October 2012 and early 2013. Accordingly, the media have turned Swift into a serial dater, whom cannot hold onto a relationship for more than a couple of months. According to the media, Swift has also been romantically linked with Ed Sheeran, Joe Jonas, and others. “At least that’s what people say”, is her reply.

Swift’s message is clear and simple: Writing songs doesn’t mean that each one is about a different relationship – multiple songs can be from different emotions, feelings and experiences from ONE relationship. The media have burdened Swift with the mismatch image of an all-too squeaky clean, ‘good girl’ symbol, along with the look of a woman who bases her albums off of her many ‘failed’ relationships, rather contradictorily . The effects? The press restrict her music, as well as her personal life, to constant scrutiny and criticism.

Shake It Off’, incidentally, is Swift’s homemade remedy to wash herself clean form the media’s sludge, despite how hard it sticks. It’s a tragic sign of societies rampant misogyny if the public cannot accept or dislike Swift for seeing men and having relationships. Her lyrical insight curses these accusations, and merely ‘shakes them off’. “But I just keep cruising, don’t stop won’t stop moving”, is her message. Accompanied with it’s groovy beats, suited horn intersections and snappy melody, ‘Shake It Off’ is a well crafted, manically dressed licence for Swift’s resilience.

Despite its sheer catchiness, the song has been questioned as being vapid. However, surely the point of a lead single is to be catchy, accessible and, above all else in todays market, a way of making money. This is not to suggest that other tracks on the upcoming album, ‘1989’, much like her previous records, will not dig a little deeper and tackle more personal issues. A readymade hip-shaking class, its intended message is carried along a tune that’s easily memorable and a whole lot of fun. Indeed, perhaps these criticisms are as empty and feeble as they claim Taylor Swift’s new single is.

In the breakdown section, one can’t help but wince slightly as Swift exclaims her admiration for the ‘the fella over there with the hella good hair,’ but it’s all in good fun. It’s just another road in the spaghetti junction of musical influences that the track endorses, including hip-hop, pop and R&B. It’s a full, lively song that rushes your blood to your extremities, and will have you shaking ’til the cows come home. Again, her stamp into pop music is shown to be complete.

At its very core, ‘Shake It Off’ is a drop-dead catchy, satirical crown of pop gold. The song and its video provide the appropriate lens to look at Swift’s hapless dance routine in a comic and delightfully likeable way. However, much like Taylor Swift herself, the track continues to have holes picked out of it.

Admirably, this is one hard working chick who just doesn’t care, and invites the haters to hate. Literally.


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