In September 2002, Christina Aguleria released her scuzzy hit, “Dirrty,” which is just as gross as its double-r’s imply. I was a 15-year-old boy at the time, so obviously I was a big fan of the song, or more specifically the music video, but even I felt guilty listening/watching to it. It’s a nasty song, and not in the Janet Jackson sense. It also wasn’t as popular as I remember it being: “Dirrty” only peaked at #48 on the Billboard Hot 100; it was Aguleria’s first single to not hit the top-20. So her label panicked quickly released another track: the sympathetic, you-are-perfect anthem “Beautiful.” It became a commercial (#2 on the Hot 100) and critical (Song of the Year nomination) smash.
Taylor Swift, who’s as popular now as Aguleria was during her pop peak, didn’t release a “Dirrty.” She went straight to her “Beautiful,” with a modern twist. She went awkward.
Picture the average T-Swift fan. They’re probably a 13-year-old girl. Maybe she’s too shy to talk to the boy she likes in class. She’s definitely aware of her graceless age; she stumbles and acts like a general klutz. Basically, she’s everyone’s younger cousin. She can’t relate to Beyoncé’s empowerment and Justin Bieber is, like, GROSS, but she can make sense of, “Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake.”
The music video for “Shake It Off” (which, honestly, isn’t a very good song) is that line, visualized. Swift surround herself with talented dancers who move with the nimble grace of a deer; meanwhile, she’s the goof who stomps around like a bear and messes up cheerleader routine. This is obviously ridiculous, because Swift is very composed and very beautiful, but that’s what pop music is: a lie you choose to believe. Taylor Swift knows EXACTLY who her audience i$$$$$$$$$$$$, and she doesn’t care if you’re not along for the ride. Because then you’re just a hater who’s gonna hate, hate, hate.