||"You Need to Calm Down"
||Taylor Swift has accumulated the power to speak to millions,|
||The Downtown Fiction
||"Medicine for You"
||and mostly uses it to say things of no consequence.|
||Tiny Moving Parts
||This is true of many pop singers, obviously, and Taylor wasn't a trenchant social critic even when she was a thoughtful writer of her own songs,|
||Van Dyke Browne's Crystal
||but she used to write empathetically about the emotionally vulnerable,|
||Omedetai Atama de Naniyori
||instead of glibly about the victorious.|
||Tales from Another War
||So it seems non-crazy to feel at least a little excitement for a new Taylor Swift song about an Issue.|
||"New Year's Eve"
||Sadly, as resistance anthems go, "You Need to Calm Down" is...weak.|
||"Chapter of the Witch"
||Racists and homophobes aren't being "too loud", they're being sociopathic.|
||"Tears in Rain"
||Cardi B is interviewing Bernie Sanders,|
||"Night of the Ravens"
||and Taylor Swift is impersonating a teenager discovering hatred for the first time as an Instagram hashtag.|
||But the irony, I think, is that as a song sung from the perspective of a teenager discovering hatred and reacting with instinctive trivializing exasperation, "You Need to Calm Down" is pretty great.|
||My Immortal Enemy
||Taylor may have no idea what to do with power, but she originally started earning that power by showing that she deeply understood what it felt like to search for and find power in yourself.|
||"Last Place on Earth"
||Last Place on Earth
||Sung in the voice of one of the world's most dominant pop stars, the wordless stairstep rise in the chorus is a distraction,|
||like she couldn't actually keep her attention on speaking for the abused.|
||And if ornament trumps content here, it raises the specter that the "content" is actually kind of ornamental, too.|
||It is a career-level failure of Swift's treatment of (and particularly the collaborative outsourcing of) her own songwriting that she has allowed it to become notionally limited to real-time self-expression.|
||blue frontier / 0841 2
||She has painted herself into an identity mode where she can't even really write songs about how she used to be anymore,|
||"Inferno (From "Fire Force")"
||never mind how it feels to be any of the people who saw themselves in her escape dreams.|
||Or, more precisely, she can't sing those songs.|
||She can't present them in character, because she has taken the power she yearned for as a conduit to freedom, and used it to trap her own character in a gleaming cosmetic mirror.|
||When you sing a song, though, you show it the world, and after that you don't necessarily control its fate.|
||Halocene are a YouTube channel as much as a band, and probably as good a representative as any for the fandom that Taylor Swift collects but no longer inhabits.|
||But this puts their shiny-spiky pop-punk rework of "You Need to Calm Down" into the voice of a totally different character,|
||"PICK UP THE PIECES"
||back into the discovery of power and responsibility instead of the uneasy use of it.|
||In the voice of an internet-native kid with a YouTube cover channel, speaking back to hate in her own idiom, the song is clever and glorious.|
||Live Forever +2
||The rising chorus is the indestructability of joy.|
||The lack of grim seriousness is an indelible quality of an empathic response.|
||"Break My Broken Heart"
||Break My Broken Heart +1
||This version of this song is not trying to meet the forces of evil at the summit with an army of angels,|
||Bat For Lashes
||The Hunger +2
||it's trying to meet them in their bedrooms before they ever assemble.|
||"New Year's Day"
||It sings for people that Taylor Swift has consigned herself to sing to.|
||The Joy Formidable
||"Chwyrlio - Welsh Language Acoustic"
||Whirring (acoustic) 2
||"Just makin' that sign must've taken all night", it boggles,|
||"Dan y Tonnau"
||but in Taylor's own expensive gloss this comes off as much as a disdain for effort as an argument for tolerance.|
||Halocene's version, crunchy and half-programmed, sounds like they recorded it last night,|
||like making songs really is a viable alternative to making signs,|
||The Forcing Season
||accessible to all the same people who aren't famous enough to get to write op-eds about how valuable things must always be purchased.|
||"Mailtofirstname.lastname@example.org_subject=Mind-Body Parallels : Clear Light"
||No Trump is ever going to relinquish narcissistic pettiness as a result of Bernie loudly explaining the gaping flaws in their character.|
||We had to fix them before they misformed.|
||"UP. UP. UP."
||We have to heal the next racists while their hate is still a child's helpless response to insecurity.|
||"Dogs Of War"
||Government needs better policies and legislators who can read complete sentences without grimmacing from the effort,|
||but culture needs much more pervasive collective biofeedback.|
||We need slang equipped for self-correction,|
||virtual communities of inclusion and outreach instead of isolation and self-reinforcement.|
||We need a wrecking ball made by bonding desperation and glee,|
||swung not at the supposed fortresses of our imagined enemies,|
||but from within at the walls with which we have trapped ourselves and too little music and too much CO2.|
||Fewer equal-time op-eds,|
||"The Killing of God"
||The Killing of God +1
||more frenetic drumming.|
||The 69 Eyes
||Black Orchid +2
||Fewer symptomatic histrionics,|
||more essential drama of causes.|
||"Takes All Night"
||Takes All Night +3
||Less envy of influencers,|
||more capacity to see ourselves in the YA novels that shaped us.|
||"El Ojo Testigo"
||En el Corazón del Laberinto
||Less repeated reaction, more witnessing of the unfamiliar.|
||"Nací en un Barrio"
||Giras y Madrugadas
||More time walking among each other,|
||"Tapsolj és Tátogj!"
||Tapsolj és Tátogj!
||gathering curiosity that produces crowds, rather than mobs that amplify doubt.|
||Your Last Steps
||"A Magány Körbezár"
||You have accumulated the power to speak, if nothing else, to all of your gathered past and future and potential selves.|
||"The Bright Parade"
||We figured you out: we all know now that we've all got crowds.|
||"En Tu Mano"
||We can swallow our doubt|
||"Mess with My Head"
||and let something else come out of our mouths.|
||The One 6
||There are no anthems of "shut up", only speak up and speak now|
||"Blessing I Can’t See"
||Fear No More EP 6
||and sing along.|
||"Sogno Di Volare (Civilization VI Main Theme)"
||You have accumulated the power to speak, and there are complicated limits to this power,|
||"FONGOLELA NGAI LOLA"
||but you are always allowed to speak for 3 or 5 minutes about the experience of being alive for 3 or 5 minutes,|
||"Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)"
||or about how you would do the next 3 or 5 minutes differently now that you know.|
||"Welcome to the Machine"
||You may not, in fact, be best served by calming down.|
||You may need to release power more than you need to wield it,|
||even to get what you think you want.|
||At least you need to know what it feels like to other humans when they want things,|
||"Gone - Clarence Clarity Remix"
||and how it would have to sound if the things we wanted were all suddenly to dance in sync.|