Dear Taylor Swift,
I owe you a sincere apology, and no, I am not being snarky this time. For years, I've fallen in with the usual lines about you. I laughed at the jokes about how quickly bad breakups were followed by hit songs, rolled my eyes at the repeated requests from the backseat to play "Fifteen" two or twelve or twenty-two more times, and dismissed most of your work as okay for teenyboppers. Sure, there were a few songs I liked. I thought "Dear John" was one of the best dismissals of the string-'em-along bad-boy type I've heard, and the song "22" reminds me of my own salad days a billion years ago. Still, most of your work sounded juvenile to me, which was only fitting, seeing how it was written by a juvenile. The songs you wrote that rang true tended to center on crushes and friendship dynamics and other issues that fade in importance as you get older; the ones where you tried to put yourself in a grownup's shoes sounded awkward and forced (Warren especially hates that one where you're trying to convince the guy to dump his bride at the altar. "Who is she to butt in on something like that?" he asks rhetorically whenever that song comes on.). When I heard another new Taylor Swift album was coming out, my reaction was to think, okay, how few songs can I buy from this one that will satisfy the girls and keep me from going out of my mind?
Well, let me be the first to say that I owe you an apology. 1989, in addition to being the year I graduated from college (which, what?!?! And also, I would post a picture of what I looked like at the time, but there was an asymmetrical hairstyle involved and thank Buddha I went through my awkward phase [i.e., years 1 to 30 inclusive] before the ubiquity of selfies) is a really good ... what do I call it nowadays? Album? Virtual CD? Collection of MP3s that happen to be sold together? Whatever, it's a really good ... body of work, let's say. Sure, you still have a number of songs about the ole reliable themes (lack of love, falling in love, falling out of love, wondering about love), but they definitely reflect more nuanced and sophisticated views. The lyrics rely far less heavily on rainstorms, crushes, and best dresses - okay, there's one song that includes a dress reference, but given how much I likes me a nice dress, who am I to point fingers? - than they do on actual, lived experiences, which makes for a pleasant change. You also have a pretty sly sense of humor: I have to give props to someone who can poke fun at her own reputation AND write a damn good put-down all in the same song. Furthermore, from least, I appreciate how you're managing to refer to, ahem, more grown-up activities in your lyrics without being so explicit that I have to block my girls' ears. As someone who wanted to claw her own eyes out after watching five seconds of Nicki Minaj's Anaconda video, I appreciate that. Last but far from least, putting on 1989 after dinner is over turns the always-agonizing prospect of chore time into an impromptu kitchen dance party, and anyone who makes the dishes-and-cleanup grind more amenable to my two kiddos deserves a million dollars and a Nobel prize. The $12.99 or whatever I dropped looks like a bargain by comparison.
So I say to you, Taylor, go ahead and keep doing you. Keep dating unsuitable men, buying waterfront properties, singing in your bra on New Year's Eve, whatever floats your balloon. As long as you keep churning out fun, interesting music, I don't care how many shades of cherry-red lipstick you buy. Just make sure my kids keep on doing those dishes without complaint, and you are all right in my book.