Monday, October 20, 2014

Engaging in the Offness of the Shaking


Taylor Swift, former country-singer/songwriter turned pop star, has a song that has been playing incessantly on the radio for some weeks now. It's called "Shake It Off." As far as pop songs go, it's relatively harmless, a fluffy, upbeat little diddy. But since the radio station has decided that this song is the ONLY song they want to play around here, I've started noticing little things that are strange to me.

There's this...it's not a rule per se, but it's a common idea that there's a thing called the "Rule of Three." We as people generally seem to like a list when it's got three things in it. We won't snap and go on a puppy-kicking spree if someone uses only two things in a list, but in general, that's where things in our brain seem to work out best. The best example is joke lists. Say someone wanted to put something in their Twitter bio for a joke. More often than not, it would read:

"Bobby Gluesniffer is a father to his two children, a husband to his patient wife, and the ruler of a micro-civilization living in his belly button."

If you cut out the second item in the list, the punchline comes too abruptly.

The reason I bring all of this up is because in the song "Shake It Off," Taylor Swift constantly violates the rule of three, and it's started driving me bonkers.
"I stay out too late
Got nothing in my brain
That's what people say, mmm-mmm
That's what people say, mmm-mmm"
 Why is there not a third thing in that list? WHY IS THERE NOT A THIRD THING IN THAT LIST??? GRRRRRR!

She does that four times. Four times she lists two things, and then just repeats "that's what people say" twice. I get that it's symmetrical, but it bugs me.

What bugs me more is Taylor Swift's diversion into cool talk.
"Hey, hey, hey. Just think while you've been getting down and out about the liars and the dirty, dirty cheats of the world, you could've been getting down to this. Sick. Beat."
 First of all: AAAAAGH IT SOUNDS LIKE MY MOM TRYING TO TALK LIKE A HIGH SCHOOLER, BLAAAAAGH.

But also: the beat isn't really that sick. It's a very mediocre boring beat. And if she's referring to what follows that portion? Well...it's a cheerleading chant. A relatively common sounding cheerleader chant.
"My ex-man brought his new girlfriend
She's like "Oh, my god!" I'm just gonna shake.
And to the fella over there with the hella good hair
Won't you come on over, baby? We can shake, shake, shake"
Two things about this cheerleading breakdown:

1) She violates the rule of three again. My ex man, fella over there with the hella good hair, and I REALLY feel like there should be a third thing that to make this breakdown feel worth it.

2) My wife and I got into so many debates about this part.

My wife, whom I STRONGLY DISAGREE WITH says that the new girlfriend is the one talking about how she's going to shake. But clearly Taylor Swift is the one going to shake. IT'S THE WHOLE POINT OF THE SONG. "The haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, but I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake it off." She's shaking off her troubles!

It usually goes like this:

Me: Taylor Swift should really use some better ammo against her ex-man's new girlfriend. I mean...she just says "Oh my god"? So what? Does that make her vapid? Because I'm pretty sure Taylor uses that in some of her other songs. Just seems like she has no reason to hate on her other than...that her ex-boyfriend started dating someone else.

Wife: She does use something else. She's like, "Oh my GOD, I'm just gonna shake." She's just an idiot on the dance floor shaking it around.

Me: No, the SONG is called "Shake It Off." Taylor is the one doing the shaking. She's shaking off her bad feelings over seeing the new boyfriend.

Wife: No, you're wrong.

Me: It's the whole point of the song.

Wife: Nope. New girlfriend is shaking it all over the dance floor.

Me: No--well, I mean, maybe, but Taylor specifically is shaking it.

Wife: Nope.

Me: Yes she is! She's shaking off her troubles! It's the whole point of the song!!!

Wife: I think you're mistaken.

And so on. I think she just likes to torture me.

I give Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" a stale cherry Pop Tart out of fliverteen stars.