Listen to You Need to Calm Down by Taylor Swift

 pitchfork.com  06/14/2019 15:57:00 

In her latest decree as pops current Glenda the Good Witch, Taylor Swift has told an unnamed group of online haters to calm down. If that seems like an unhelpful appeal in the midst of everything fucked up about social media, it is. But since she took off her Reputation villain costume, Swift is all about spreading self-love, touting the joys of spelling and showering in rainbow sludge. In the Lover album era, she would release an anti-bullying ally anthem so positive its almost unnerving.

At its core, You Need to Calm Down is well-intentioned. Like, yes, of course its good to take the high road, kill them with kindness, and other clichs that moms like to tell tweens. But Swift aggressively avoids anything more nuanced, adopting internet speak to fight internet haters. Youre taking shots at me like its Patrn, she says with all the flair of someone who just listened to a rap song for the first time. In an effort to brush off the haters and display resilience, she doesnt reveal any of the uncertainty and vulnerability that previously lay at the heart of her songwriting. Instead, the words are penned with the energy of a nail-painting emoji and delivered with a plastic smile.

Swift dedicates the second half of the song to prove her allyship to the gay community, which again, deserves some props. But her way of showing alliance is confounding: Why be mad, when you can be GLAAD, she sings, upping the LGBTQ-centering media organization, but also parroting a literal Tupperware slogan. And when she says shade never made anyone less gay, she adopts slang with queer black origins in an attempt to create a mic-drop moment, but ends up sounding like another corporation proving theyre down for the cause during Pride Month. All of this, coupled with a hook thats mostly vowels, makes for a song thats somehow bewildering and underwhelming at the same time. You Need to Calm Down is like one of those fancy unicorn cupcakes, an impossibly cute confection designed to distract you from the fact that its a mediocre dessert. I cannot think of something I would rather buy into less.

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