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Taylor Swift’s ‘You Need To Calm Down’ is a sugar-coated political statement (Song Review)
I AM NOT CALM! After weeks upon weeks of speculating, we finally have it. Us Swifties were finally blessed with a new song to follow on from ‘ME!’, rather aptly titled ‘You Need To Calm Down’. And, although it sounds like your standard bubblegum pop song, Taylor has something to say. In the song’s first part, the ‘Blank Space’ songstress addresses online trolls: “Say it in the street, that’s a knock-out, But you say it in a Tweet, that’s a cop-out.” It’s like ‘Shake It Off’s little sister, instead of telling you how to deal with the haters (cause they’re gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate), she’s addressing the keyboard warriors themselves. It’s a logical step from her prior album ‘reputation’. Instead of attacking with a venomous glint in her eye on a dark and brooding track, Taylor wraps up her message with a sonically sounding soft approach, and it’s just as effective. Keeping her feminity – the first two tracks from ‘Lover’ have been littered with butterfly imagery, and have a lighter, fresher feel – only makes the message of the song all that stronger. “You need to calm down” has, to generalise, been frequently used by men telling so-called “irrational” women to keep their emotions in check, discrediting their perfectly valid feelings. The fact that Taylor uses this phrase, then, as a weapon to tear her haters down is quite impressive. She rises above it all, and, as she says herself: “snakes and stones never broke my bones.” In the second verse, Taylor moves on to defend the LGBT community. “Why are you mad when you could be GLAAD? Sunshine on the street at the parade, But you would rather be in the dark ages, Makin’ that sign must’ve taken all night,” she quips, her sarcastic tone hammering the message home. The ‘GLAAD’ she’s referring to is the charity founded by the LGBT community. She then ups the anti, yelling “shade never made anybody less gay.” And, with that, goes Taylor’s famous political silence. Although she spoke out to support the Democrats in the US midterms last year, she hasn’t injected much political weight into her discography. Now, however, it’ll always be cemented in ‘You Need To Calm Down’, and it couldn’t have fit into a better song, especially during Pride month. Next on Taylor’s hit-list is those who pit women against each other – primarily those in the music industry. “And we see you over there on the internet, Comparing all the girls who are killing it, But we figured you out, We all know now we all got crowns.” Although she’s played a part in this narrative herself (who didn’t hear about her famous feud with Katy Perry?), it appears that with their make-up, Taylor’s come to the realisation that women should uplift each other, not tear each other down. She’s come a long way since ‘Bad Blood’ and ‘Better Than Revenge’. The repeated line of “can you not step on my/his/our gowns” is a nice little touch, too. Yeah bitch, her male friend is wearing a gown. Better not step on it and drag him down, because he is fab-u-lous. The development of the lyric adds a sense of narrative to the track, a form of unity to stand up against hatred. The track itself – the second single from her upcoming album ‘Lover’ – is light, fresh, and filled with positivity. Much in the same way of lead single ‘ME!’, it’s filled with self-love and not allowing yourself to vibe with those who’d tear you down. In a time where pop music (and Taylor herself, with ‘reputation’), tends to shift to the moodier, darker vibe, it’s refreshing to hear a uplifting, light and pure-pop track – just in time for summer. Brb, I’m gonna go listen to ‘You Need To Calm Down’ and ‘ME!’ 7,000 times before ‘Lover’ is released later this year. For more on Taylor Swift, check out my list of Taylor Swift’s most underrated songs. Related