I wish the old Taylor would come back.
On Friday at midnight, Taylor Swift dropped “ME!,” the first single off of her next album, featuring Brendon Urie from Panic! at the Disco.
The music video is a fun look through key moments of Swift’s life in the two years since she released “reputation,” but the song itself – I just didn’t like it.
“ME!” sounds like bland, bubblegum pop that I never expected from her. Instead of the catchy pop lyrics that we saw in “Shake It Off,” which took weeks to get out of my head, I couldn’t remember any specific lyrics from the song an hour after the premiere.
OK, that’s not fully true. I remembered the line “Hey kids, spelling is fun!”
For all of the fantastic bridges Swift has written over the years, that was a let down. For most of her fans who have completed the third grade, we all already know that you need “me” to spell “awesome.”
Unfortunately for her, you also need “me” to spell “disappointment.”
My best guess is that “ME!” is aimed at bringing new Swifties into the fandom. She built up an inordinate amount of hype for the single, planting an elaborate puzzle of clues for Swifties to decipher.
Who would have thought that the lyric “Reputation precedes me,” from the song “End Game” on her most recent album was foreshadowing this single. In hindsight it seems obvious.
Swift plans on continuing the detective game too. Later in the day on Friday, she tweeted, “So . . . the new album title is actually revealed somewhere in the video AND so is the title of the second single, but I haven’t seen people finding them yet . . . [Detective Emoji] [Detective Emoji].”
The music video was able to redeem some of the disappointment from the song, but not all.
With clues hidden throughout the video, it’s no surprise that Swift smashed records for largest debuts on YouTube, Vevo and Amazon.
Every time you watch the video, you’ll see something new, and then rewatch it.
On the first watch, I saw Swift pick up a telephone and sing, “I know that I went psycho on the phone.”
It was good to know that she wasn’t dead, like she told us in “Look What You Made Me Do.”
On the second watch I appreciated how she referred to her two cats, Olivia Benson and Meredith Grey, as her daughters – another sign that she’s trying to introduce new fans into the Swiftie culture.
After that, the video became more . . . out there. Toward the end, it looked like Swift was slowly melting away into Go-Gurt.
Despite a mixed review for this single, I’m still looking forward to the album.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the first single on “reputation” but the album turned out to be fantastic.
It’s possible that she’ll continue with more bubblegum pop, and eventually I’ll get used to it and appreciate it. Her messages of empowerment and self-belief usually transcend the music itself.
Ultimately, my car only has room for six CDs, so we’ll see if this seventh album can make the cut. Hopefully there won’t be any more spelling lessons.