I’ve always considered myself a music aficionado–maybe even a music snob as I got older. The first music I ever owned was on a cassette tape, and it was given to me by my father to shut my ass up and make me go to sleep. It was Chubby Checker, “Twist Again,” along with five other songs that aren’t worth remembering. If you don’t know who that is, you’re probably not alone. I am also not sure what my dad’s train of thought was there and how he came to that selection, but it started me on a musical odyssey that would span my entire life. I would go on to learn several instruments, including the guitar, and I even stepped out to do my own songwriting. That’s why I have such an appreciation for singer/songwriters, because it is the most agonizing, ball-busting, life-draining process there is. Simply put, I gravitate to their music out of respect.
Enter Taylor Swift.
When it happened, I was 20 years old, sitting in my fraternity house bedroom, drinking cheap beer and stealing music off the internet, when this 16-year-old tweenager, who is not even out of high school, drops the proverbial bombshell that is “Tim McGraw” on me. Say what you want, but that is a good song. From both a writing perspective and a marketing standpoint, it’s damn near flawless. I was hooked. What I could not have anticipated was the unholy, crusade-like backlash from friends, family, and even strangers when I mentioned I like, and religiously listen to, T.Swift. My man card was stripped from me so many times that I started to feel guilty standing up to pee. In response, I was forced to come up with a six-step defense to repel the venomous stigma attached to liking the Princess of Pop as a man. Up until today, it has served me well.
Step 1: Point out she’s smoking hot.
This is more of a distraction defense than anything else, because literally nobody can disagree with this. Beauty is beauty, and let’s be honest, fellas–if you haven’t at least spent a minute or two wondering what it would be like to be the subject of one of her breakup songs or have her trademark red lipstick smeared on your neck, you’re just lying to yourself. I really can’t make an argument for the high-waisted bathing suits, but google any picture of her on the red carpet and DAMN. She’s tall but not too tall. She looks good with or without makeup. She even looks good coming out of the gym after a workout. Guys everywhere should agree on this, and when they do, you’re halfway there.
Step 2: Explain how she is an exceptionally smart business woman.
For not having what some would consider a “traditional education,” Taylor has built an empire and has a stranglehold on the music industry. Her record label, Big Machine Records, was literally built by her success. She parlayed that into partial ownership of the label, and five (yes, five) multi-platinum record labels later, Big Machine Records is actually living up to its namesake. It was rumored, after her Spotify decision, that Big Machine might be looking to sell. If that is the case, I’m sure Tay Tay stands to gain a pretty penny. Not to mention, her real estate game is on point. You have to respect the girl’s real estate game. She buys these flat-out ridiculous homes, already worth multi-millions of dollars, and turns around and sells them for a profit. Why? Because saying you live in Taylor Swift’s old house is like the haymaker of conversation starters, that’s why. Rich people dig that shit.
Step 3: Hum or sing a line from her songs and watch the magic happen.
Not unlike Roger Rabbit, who couldn’t contain himself when he heard “A Shave and a Haircut,” the melody of any T.Swizzle song will leave you with insatiable tune cooties that are harder to get rid of than Ebola. Allow me to illustrate: [clears throat] “And the players gonna play, play, play, play, play…” Good luck getting that little gem out of your head the rest of the day. If everyone is disgusted by her music, if it is truly that bad, there is no way it should have this Jedi mind control grip on us the way it does. Her songs are relatable and catchy. Who can honestly say they haven’t been told they stay out too late? Or knew someone was trouble when they walked in? Exactly.
Step 4: Explain being a singer/songwriter doesn’t exist anymore in music (barely).
Most of today’s ratchet, gutterbutt pop music is filled with so much suckitude, it’s hard to turn on the radio and not want to instantly run your car into the closest lamp post. It is so contrived and over-managed that at some point, it stops being music and starts being just sound waves of unintelligible fecal matter. Most mainstream music today is created by a legion of writers (none of whom are the end performer), an army of producers, and two or three executives pushing everyone involved to spit out the next loogie of an album faster than the last. While Taylor does collaborate with other writers from time to time, most of the songs start with her ideas and melodies. Not to mention, she remains hands-on throughout the production process, from song-mastering all the way to stage performance and concert setup. You think Britney Spears or Chris Brown does that? I’ll let you answer your own question.
Step 5: Blast her latest song in a social setting.
Then sit back and watch the party start. Ever girl at the bar will proceed to grab her girlfriends and head straight to the dance floor. If you listen closely, you’ll hear things like, “OMG Becky, this is our song!” as they pull each other, sometimes violently, toward an open dancing space. If you have spent any time in a bar in your life, you’ll know that guys are soon to follow. Instant party. An instant energy shift in a room like that is hard to miss and hard to refute, but if your opponent still insist that Taylor Swift is the antichrist and you are less of a man for being able to mouth out all the words to “Teardrops on My Guitar” (which I can totally do) there is a sixth and final step you can take…
Step 6: Complete and total disregard for their thoughts.
As my very good friend Britt (he’s a guy and that is his full name, not short for anything) so eloquently put it, “If you don’t like Taylor Swift, then fuck you.” Guess what? He’s right. At the end of the day, music is completely and totally subjective. Oftentimes, it’s not even about like or dislike. If it makes you feel anything at all, it’s a win as far as the artist is concerned. Who really cares if your buddy introduces you as a “16-year-old girl”? Own it. Sure, she drinks nasty ass Diet Coke and is moderately to fairly obsessed with her cats, but she looks damn good in a ball gown and will provide you with breakup music for years to come. Embrace your love for the dark side of music and America’s sweetheart. You’ll be glad you did..