Shake It Off

I have commented a few times before about my fondness for Taylor Swift, and my ability to relate to her particularly approach and style [1]. To be sure, she is a musician that has attracted a fair amount of criticism, especially for her troubles in relationships and her compulsions about writing and singing about them that she has shown her entire career. Despite the fact that celebrities engender a certain amount of hostility due to envy and our desire to tear down others, I have been surprised at the hate that I have seen about her latest single, “Shake It Off,” coming from her forthcoming album. Given the fact that this hate is directed at an innocuous piece of ear candy, I feel it somewhat necessary to explain the song, Swift’s approach to music, and why I feel it necessary to defend her.

First, let us look the lyrics to see if they have anything that would merit complaint:

“I stay up too late, got nothing in my brain.
That’s what people say, that’s what people say.
I go on too many dates, but I can’t make them stay.
At least that’s what people say; that’s what people say.

But I keep cruising, can’t stop, won’t stop moving.
It’s like I got this music in my body and it’s gonna be alright.

Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play.
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate [2].
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake.
I shake it off, I shake it off.
Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break, break, break,
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake.
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake.
I shake it off, I shake it off.

I’ll never miss a beat, I’m lightning on my feet.
And that’s what they don’t see, that’s what they don’t see.
I’m dancing on my own, I’ll make the moves up as I go.
And that’s what they don’t know, that’s what they don’t know.

But I keep cruising, can’t stop, won’t stop moving.
It’s like I got this music in my body and it’s gonna be alright.

Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play,
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake.
I shake it off, I shake it off.
Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break, break, break,
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake.
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake.
I shake it off, I shake it off.

I, I shake it off, I shake it off.
I, I shake it off, I shake it off.

Hey, hey, hey, just think while you’ve been getting down and out about the liars and dirty, dirty cheats in the world you could have been getting down to this beat.

My ex-man bought his new girlfriend.
She’s like “oh my God”, but I’m just gonna shake it.
And to the fella over there with the hella good hair.
Won’t you come on over, baby, we can shake, shake, shake.

Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play,
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake.
I shake it off, I shake it off.
Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break, break, break,
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake.
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake.
I shake it off, I shake it off.

I, I shake it off, I shake it off.
I, I shake it off, I shake it off [3].”

There is little in this song that would appear to merit the sort of hatred I have heard from friends of mine. There is some cheeky lyrics (not too dissimilar, but a bit more pointed, than “Mean” or one of her other related songs about her past relationships). There is taking the name of God in vain once, in a mocking sort of way, but this is not something that tends to draw a lot of hate from the world of music fans, given the fact that there are so many worse offenders around [4]. The song isn’t country, but there are plenty of songs that Taylor Swift has made that are not country songs, as she is a pop superstar and a young woman who writes solid pop songs along with pop-country. Swift has been making pop songs for at least a couple of albums now, so it would appear that this should not draw any great hostility.

Likewise, Taylor swift is the sort of person who has always written songs like this. From her very first album she wrote songs about people breaking her heart and cheating on her, and she has always been sensitive to criticism from others, responding by writing songs and then singing them. I happen to be the same sort of person myself, having written plenty of songs myself that had to do with others in ways that are almost as transparent as Swift’s efforts. As the theme and content of the song are not particularly new, nor poorly done, it should not be any sort of matter worth giving her such hostility. After all, there are a lot of people who find being made fun of for their failures in romance to be galling and bothersome, and if one cannot shake it off by simply not mentioning one’s problems, at least speaking out about the matter is the next best thing, I suppose. None of this ought to be too surprising.

Why then all the hate for Taylor Swift? She cares about her love life, doesn’t like awkward situations and wants happiness and has a wicked and deadpan sense of humor about what people say about her? Even if her song is rather repetitive, it certainly isn’t an offensive song, but rather an intensely humorous one, a song that will likely be forgotten within a few months, but one whose sentiment expresses the way that many of us (myself included) actually feel about life. Let’s let Miss Swift grow up a little. Assuming she can find a good man and settle down, the odds are good that she will not feel it necessary to write about her love life in songs like this anymore. She strikes me as the sort of person who writes according to her life, and so the best way for better songs to come about is for her to live a better life. I can relate to that too.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/what-to-give-to-the-man-or-woman-who-has-everything/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/the-only-exception/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/the-other-side-of-the-coin/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/it-shouldnt-be-so-complicated/

[2] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/haters-gonna-hate/

[3] http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/t/taylor_swift/shake_it_off.html

[4] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/gospel-minus-gospel/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/if-i-could-do-it-again-i-would-do-it-again/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, Love & Marriage, Music History, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Shake It Off

  1. After that awful spectacle with Miley Cyrus gyrating on stage nearly nude with Robin Thicke, one news critic defended her, stating that she had only one boyfriend in the last three years while Taylor Swift had jumped from guy to guy. A very well-known TV personality answered that the guys break up with her when they realize that she won’t “give it up” to them. She has high standards–very rare in today’s world. Her message is worth listening to, and I personally respect her for baring her soul instead of her backside.

  2. You and she have common ground, which is obviously why her story is so appealing. Quality is a magnet for those with a true heart, so do not despair.

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