Best Episode of Felicity Ever: Taylor Swift’s 1989
I was planning to pull a cute ‘oops, wrong CD’ (yes, compact disc, punters) conceit with this release, playing the grizzled green room veteran card and dropping a sage, patronising piece on an underexposed new band who could use the clicks and verify my impeccable taste making credentials (whilst still providing trenchant insight into Ms Swift’s offering).*
Then, catastrophically, I absentmindedly scrolled past ‘Taylor Hawkins’ in the iTunes after necking a few reds and wound up being waterboarded by this astounding, bonkers grimoire of twenty first century psychosexual WASP SWF restraining order lullabies.
Not since the mono-monickered heydays of Debbie, Tiffany, Sabrina et al have flesh crawling litanies of desperation, conceitedness and superficiality been birthed in such rude musical health.
Like an extended mash up of Wuthering Heights, spurned Disney princess penned suicide note and the turgid extremes of the Twilight ‘saga’, old mate Tay Swifty charts the modern romantic’s road map to unwanted teen pregnancies, thwarted dreams, foetal alcohol syndrome, third marriages and everything in between.
Steeped in unearned tweenie nostalgia and white picket fence fantasia, these Mills & Boon-lite bodice ripping odes to lowering the bar and accepting your prom date as your fate luxuriate in such revelatory imagery as ‘pictures in frames’, ‘kisses on sheets’ and, er, being in possession of wine stained outer garments.
Then there’s the flip side of the dysfunctional head case loop, the ‘spurned’ narrative, all bunny boiling screeds scrawled in homicidal red and on the brink of self-immolation, scorched earth despair at the horror of framing your self-worth through the affections of an interchangeable frat boy cypher:
‘So tall, handsome as hell, so bad but he does it so well.’
All this rum business is set to some admittedly impressive, shinily produced beats, sadly overwhelmed by the saccharine platitudinery (new word, deal with it) and spiteful hate blogging, all first form similes and hackneyed allusions, the aural equivalent of the best episode of Felicity ever.
Swifty even raps, Dio help us.
What we’ve got here is essentially that bit from Buffy where she and Angel break up before the prom on a sustained forty eight minute blitzkrieg.
1989 is perfectly chromed mall muzak for the vajazzling, anti-vaxxing, born again blank space Millennial at large, a searing insight into one woman’s emotional blackmail manifesto piped into the callow hearts and minds of those most susceptible.
Like a cat nailed to your flat door or a set of revenge nudes showing up on some smutty message board, 1989 is the stuff of unhinged self-harm, tear soaked interventions and botched duty of care. It’s an ugly testament to pathological self-obsession, grotesque personal politics and misplaced priorities, a fantastical tour of the vapid interior life of a so called American Sweetheart.
A perfect document for our beleaguered, collectively hollow, trauma drunk times, then.
*Am I, a man with the dubious background and questionable tastes detailed elsewhere, qualified or justified in assessing the cultural value of an offering from someone who was born a year after Expo 88 (take that for some temporal flag planting)? Probably not. But why ruin my ever strengthening run of misanthropic cane-waving now?
Originally published at www.hopscotchfriday.com.