The recent announcement that Radio 1’s Big Weekend will be held at Norwich’s Eaton Park this May is, I was informed, big news. I myself was somewhat bemused by this information, being rather engrossed in my paper when my housemate burst into my room clammering about Taylor Swift being the first confirmed headline act at this gathering.
Upon my arrival at the UEA Media Collective office the same day, I was told by many excited members of Concrete’s editorial team that Ms Swift’s arrival was the best thing since sliced bread. Again, I was somewhat nonplussed, having personally always thought that the best thing since sliced bread was probably my 12th birthday when I was given a Playstation 2.
In order to fend off my colleagues’ overly zealous proclamations of their love for Ms Swift’s music, I simply explained that I hadn’t really heard that much by her, and that hers wasn’t really my kind of music. I was reprimanded for spouting “heresy” and was told to return only when I had acquainted myself with Swift’s material.
So it would appear that I am on a journey to discover just what it is that I’m missing, culturally, emotionally and possibly, spiritually.
In order to understand my position of ambivalence, the only live music event which I have attended – aside from my brief spell as the lead vocalist of a five piece band at college called Playground Fire – was one of Kraftwerk’s Catalogue performances at the Tate Modern back in February 2013, which for many demonstrates my somewhat ‘niche’ music taste.
It wasn’t long before I realised that I would need to talk to an expert. Fortunately, my housemates are committed Swifties and the moment I mentioned the words “playlist” and “Taylor Swift” in the same sentence I knew that I’d come to the right people. I was soon presented with a ten-track playlist so, without further ado, I plugged in my headphones and hit play…
Picture To Burn
Taylor Swift 2006
The first track was released on Taylor’s first album when she was only 16, which you have to agree is impressive. However, my in-house ‘expert’ Meg Bradbury said that she wanted to “apologise on behalf of Ms Swift for the first track, which even I agree is ridiculous”. I don’t blame her, it’s certainly not what I was expecting, the banjo in the background was a surprise is all I’ll say.
I’m Only Me When I’m With You
Taylor Swift 2006
Our next track is again from her first album, which I’m already beginning to understand is somewhat different to what one usually hears on the radio. Without wishing to be rude, I must express my dismay, as I can’t really think of any reason why this track would stand out from the swaths of similar mid-noughties pop, however maybe that’s the point. Meg commented that the album did get a “very good critical reception”. Still, it’s no Dark Side of the Moon, is it?
That “very good critical reception” translated into a second album, which is where our next track comes from. According to my handout, this album starts to build on some recurring themes such as “kissing in the rain and stuff about fairy tales”, whilst Meg claims that “Everything in her life appears to happen at 02:00”, I would not recommend this as a stable sleep pattern.
You Belong With Me
Track four harks back to the country feel of the first album, but insists that this is a pop song; we’re talking about high-school love, here! The story which the song conveys is actually a little sad, but then again, Taylor does seem to be employing somewhat underhand tactics in order to get her crush to leave his girlfriend.
Speak Now 2010
Track five and we’re already on album number three. Meg explained it’s “more grown up, less teenager-y”, which I really hope is the case – listening to all this teen-pop is beginning to feel a bit weird. However, Meg then said that this and her lastest album are interchangeable, theme and style wise. Great.
Speak Now 2010
Sticking with the ‘punchy’ use of single word track names, Mean is next up. Again really strong throw backs to her country roots, which results in a very questionable blend of country and pop.
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
Ah, now, this is actually the first track on this playlist which I can consciously remember having heard before. Apparently the album is a bit of collection of styles, which I think this song shows. As for what she is trying to say in the song, I’m completely lost.
All Too Well
Staying with Red, track eight again confirms a stylistic change, from Taylor, however it seems that it worked, as Meg states that she performed with Ed Sheeran, and Gary Lightbody, from Snow Patrol. It’s a bit too ballad-y for my liking: John Farnham is the king of ballards – back off Taylor.
Out Of The Woods
We’ve reached her latest album, and the one which I’ve heard the most of. It is obvious that the transition has been made from country-pop. Personally, I think it suits Taylor more but then I did just say that I preferred You’re the Voice, so who am I to say?
Now, I actually quite like this track. Meg claims that the track is a parody of her portrayal in the media, which is very clever, good on you Taylor! It’s certainly very catchy, and the video is particularly well put together.
So that’s it, five albums and eight years in ten tracks. I can’t say that my horizons have been broadened, but I have gained a better insight into Taylor Swift, and just why so many people are rather fond of her work.