Taylor Swift dropped a new video yesterday for “Shake it Off,” the first single from her next album, 1989. So how does the song measure up with T-Swizzle’s previous lead singles “Love Story,” “Mine,” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together?”
Not very well, unfortunately.
The track is reasonably catchy, but because it borrows so much from other pop songs, it’s a step back rather than an artistic leap forward. Swift wrote “Shake it Off” with Swedish pop music hitmakers Max Martin and Shellback, who are at least a couple years past their expiration dates at this point.
The lyrics have an upbeat message, as Swift encourages listeners to stay positive and not sweat the small stuff. Swift sings about the gossip surrounding her – “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” – and vows to shake off the rumors.
But, like the rest of the song itself, the words are unoriginal. “Can’t stop, won’t stop” and “I’m dancing on my own” are among the lyrical fragments borrowed from other songs. Musically, there’s nothing even remotely country about “Shake it Off,” but that’s not a big deal since it became obvious years ago that Swift was heading in a pop direction. What’s more disturbing is the unimaginative bridge of cheerleading chants. Did you think we’d already forgotten “Hollaback Girl,” Taylor? Or Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend?”
There’s also a saxophone riff throughout the song – of course, because that’s the hot instrument in pop music right now. For someone who’s seemingly made all the right moves in her career, Swift misses the mark by a surprising margin with this new single. “Shake it Off” will still be a hit, because it’s Taylor Swift. But she’s capable of so much more.