‘Gorgeous’ falls flat in lyrics, artistry

Taylor Swift trades songwriting for edgy looks


Taylor Swift's new single "Gorgeous" sees the artist as stylish as ever, but failing to deliver a meaningful message.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

A new Taylor Swift era has descended on the music industry. She’s the new Taylor — the old Taylor Swift died, remember? She’s clad in black lipstick and serving edgy looks, posting cryptic messages on her Instagram and releasing various songs of different topics and genres while generating different opinions in the process. 

Perhaps her biggest move since her return to the music world was the surprising drop of her single, “Look What You Made Me Do.” The single brought mixed reviews, ranging from criticism about her continued silence on controversial issues to positive fandom excitement on Tumblr. Throughout the fall, Swift continued to drop various songs and music videos, enhancing her new image of an edgy woman who no longer cares what anyone thinks of her. 

For long-time Swift fans, these songs seem foreign. However, her new single “Gorgeous” begins to trace back to her “1989” roots — it’s a catchy pop tune with her signature chorus and lyrics about boys. Shocking. 

To be fair, the new song brings out a cheeky side of Swift — a side eager to embrace the objects and virtues of her daily adult life that previously seemed taboo for the singer. “Gorgeous” is generally a song about Swift wanting someone she can’t have. However, instead of a forlorn ballad of the “Fearless” era, she talks more about the edgy aspects of jealousy — hatred, beauty and alcohol. 

Twice in the song, Swift mentions alcohol in the context of being drunk and through the symbolic imagery of “whiskey on ice.” Her songwriting is also much more casual, as she seems to relinquish her classic storybook narrative for something more colloquial. Elements of this lyricism come from lines like “I guess I’ll just stumble on home to my cats” and other cheeky phrases that Swift uses to emphasize her normality and wit that still remains in this edgy time. 

Swift’s success as both a country and pop artist have put her on the level of pro-songwriter, with the ability to write not only the Grammy-winning pop album “1989,” but also to pen tracks for other artists such as Little Big Town, exemplified in their hit “Better Man.” 

There’s no doubt that Swift can write a song — it’s now just a question of in which direction her songwriting will go. By the sounds of “Gorgeous,” — as well as her other singles “Look What You Made Me Do” and “... Ready For It?” — her lyrics are much simpler and less artistic in delivering her message. While her rhymes and lyrics are clever and witty, they no longer portray that intelligent, story-like narrative that came through in albums like “Red” and “Fearless.” 

The single seems half-hearted in terms of lyrics, which is disappointing coming from the songwriter. Even though Swift continues to build a larger-than-life image with stealthy song placements in college football game reels and music videos filled with effects, her recent singles have somehow slipped by the wayside lyrically, as she writes primarily about her beef with other celebrities and her desire for hot, gorgeous boys she can no longer have. 

Despite the redundant and somewhat predictable nature of the songwriting, “Gorgeous” is comforting in that Swift shows her fans that she hasn’t completely abandoned the catchy pop influence that made “1989” so popular. Even though she seems like a complete stranger in looks and virtues, Swift still has a gift for pulling her fans to her music, in spite of the many changes she’s made over the years. 

“Gorgeous” is a classic pop tune that follows a timeless pattern, using short, blatant vocals in the verses, leading to repetitive, easy chorus that gets the point across without being too simple. It’s a perfectly crafted pop song, but it truly isn’t anything special where Swift is concerned. 

From what she’s released so far, it’s unlikely that Swift’s upcoming album “Reputation” will be a cookie-cutter pop record. However, the current clues don’t suggest anything truly artistically remarkable. So what will it be? It begs the question of what Swift is really trying to do with her music. With this new single, the tone of her future music seems unclear and meddled. 

It’s difficult to gauge the vibes of “Reputation” through these past three singles, as they are all so different. Yet, they are still classic examples of Swift trying to set a new standard for songwriting and pop music. Her cryptic images, secrecy and confusing musical pursuits, while not always the most tasteful, leave fans on their toes waiting for another clue and another glimpse. 

Putting aside her critics, Swift is very gifted at making fans want more. The next question is when it’ll be delivered — because in true Taylor Swift fashion, the music world will probably stumble upon it by complete surprise.

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