CATHARSIS THEATER PRESENTS: What Was So Frustrating About The Taylor Swift Conversation, A Play In Five Years
Me: Wow, some of these lyrics are really anti-feminist. Have you heard “Better than Revenge?” That’s some messed-up stuff.
Them: Calm it down, Captain Buzzkill! Does everything have to be about feminism all the time? Why can’t you just evaluate the music?
Me: Okay. Let’s talk music. If we’re taking message and subject matter off the table entirely — which is a big concession for me to make, but this is happening in good faith, right? — then the lyrics are not very strong on a technical level. Just very one-dimensional and literal. There’s not a strong vocabulary or command of prosody — you’re never going to get “you made your major overtures when you were a sure and orotund mutt” here, consonance and assonance just don’t come into it at that level — and the command of metaphor and image is likewise lacking. Lots of cliches: If she writes about being unpopular, the song’s called “Invisible.” If she writes about falling in love, it’s “a fairytale and he’s the prince,” or else “sparks” are “flying.” Run down the list of song titles, and you’ll see what I mean: “All Too Well,” “State of Grace,” “Knew You Were Trouble,” and that’s just one album. It’s just a very flat, un-inventive use of language: Someone is describing a feeling by actually saying “I felt this way about that thing,” and when she tries to get fancy, she lands on “Hallmark” a troubling percentage of the time.
Them: Too much lyric talk, not enough music talk!