The Singles Party: Taylor Swift, ‘Shake It Off’

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Since first breaking out with her self titled album in 2006, Taylor Swift has become a musical icon. Although the public is most certainly divided between fans of the country turned pop musician, and haters who can’t listen to anymore songs about her past relationships. Regardless of how you feel there is no denying that she is one of the biggest names in music.

A few days ago it was announced that she will release her newest album in October titled 1989, the follow up to the 2012 Billboard chart topping mega hit, Red. The first single off the upcoming album is called “Shake It Off” and it surprisingly didn’t have the Pop-Break Singles Party too divided this week. Check out our thoughts on the latest track by Taylor Swift!

Lauren Stern: I first heard Taylor Swift’s new single “Shake It Off” on Z100 on my way from work earlier this week. I was surprised at how much I liked it. Like many of the Single’s Party members, I’m not exactly a big fan of hers. This is not because she is “country,” although I would argue that a lot of her more recent singles have been more poppy than country (Case in Point: “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”) It’s really because she has the same schtick each time she releases a song. It’s either a song about a girl really liking a boy, a boy really liking a girl, or a boy breaking a girl’s heart. It’s dumb, annoying, and totally overdone.

So needless to say, I’m glad she went in a different direction. This new song is catchy and I can’t lie, it’s been in my head for the last couple of days. I guarantee this is going to get super old after a while (much like “Fancy” did after the first 100 times), but until then, I’ll add it to my playlist, for sure. Verdict: Add to Playlist

Lisa Pikaard: Okay so when I heard we were doing this song, my first thought was “Woohoo! Country time for the Singles Party!” Yeah, no. This is as country as Disturbed is (okay maybe it’s closer to country than Disturbed but you get my point). T-Swift has removed the country from her music. She was always pop/country but now she’s straight up pop. This song is damn catchy and I have always despised Taylor Swift, her tone grated my nerves, and her personality drove me nuts. I hate to admit it but this song isn’t awful.

It seems as though whenever you are a new or emerging pop artist, usually boybands, you HAVE to have a speaking break in the song and they all sound cheesy and ridiculous. T-Swift joined the trend. If she took out the talking crap I’d be all about this song. The video is peculiar. Taylor Swift looks more like a spazz than ever but that was the point.

I haven’t decided what to do with this song. It’s not good enough to add to my playlist but I think after it really starts getting radio rotation, no one will have a choice and it will be on every playlist after it’s forcefed to us and eventually we will all think that it was our idea to listen to this song, not the people controlling the radio stations. Okay, I’m done ranting. My opinion, it’s so much better than other Taylor Swift and I’m just going to embrace the likelihood that this song is going to end up on my radio every day and say to hell with it. Verdict: Add to Playlist

Nick Porcaro:  STOP THE PRESSES. I’m about to recommend a Taylor Swift song. “Shake it Off” continues the chart-topping singer-songwriter’s radical departure from her country roots, and it’s a change that I’m A-OK with. For all the supposed heart and sincerity behind hits like “Love Story” and “Mean”, I only heard hollow pandering to an easily impressionable teenybopper demographic. But between this new track and the one-two punch of 2012’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” Swift is proving to be quite the entertaining pop artist.

“Shake it Off” succeeds by lifting elements from some of the past decade’s biggest hits—the schoolyard chants of “Hollaback Girl”, the rollicking drums of “Dog Days Are Over”, the falsetto accents of “Fuck You!”—and chopping them up into a capsule of pop songcraft in the aughts. While I take issue with the   overlong, momentum-killing silence between the bridge and the final chorus, the rest of the track is on the money, especially as Taylor’s voice hurtles all over the staff with effortless precision.

The key to enjoying a song like “Shake it Off” is that you drop any preconceived notion of what Taylor Swift WAS and embrace who she currently IS. It’s pop music, y’all—it’s supposed to be fun, and T-Swift’s recent work is way more enjoyable than her dour, critically-acclaimed efforts.

There, I said it. Let the haters hate hate hate hate hate hate. Verdict: Add to Playlist

Lucas Jones: Well, it happened again. Another musician went pop. Great job Taylor, I thought to myself. You were great! You preformed with Def Leppard, you broke up with John Mayer, you had so much going for you! Why throw it all away on a switch to electronic pop music? But while this was my state of mind going into the song, after listening to it, I changed my tune. While the song is pretty formulaic in terms if its beat and construction (but what pop song isn’t?), Swift’s voice elevates this track to the next level, abd she shows of her impressive and dynamic range as she moves from verse to chorus. As always, her lyrics and melodies are extremely catchy, although I could have done without the solid minute of “shake it off” at the end of the song.

The bottom line for me is this: I like when artists break out and try new things. Sometimes it turns out well, and sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, you still have to respect an artist for making the kind of music they want to make. In this case, Swift knocks it out of the park, but I hope this isnt an indication of a total shift away from country and rock. Verdict: Add to Playlist

Kelly Spoer: I don’t understand people saying “T-Swift went Pop.” Wasn’t she always considered Pop? *shrug* I am not ashamed of loving this song. Haters are gonna hate. It’s fun. It’s catchy. It’s utterly amazingly upbeat and truly, an song that should be more people’s personal anthems.

Now lets talk the video. I love her haircut! But really, here Ms Swift is trying to fit into all these types of dance, ballet to that wavy baton thing to twerking. And she doesn’t fit in. Instead of being sad, she realizes that this isn’t her. So what does she do? Wear all black with a nifty haircut and sing with a backing horn section. Wouldn’t you? The video is amazing, and it really hits home what the song is about: people are always going to judge you, so just shake it off. Verdict: Add to Playlist 

Max Freedman: Ah, Taylor Swift, the polar opposite of an original, inspiring musician. This is the girl responsible for the incredibly obnoxious “I Knew You Were Trouble When You Walked In” and a multitude of other vapid country-folk tunes; it’s surprising, then, that “Shake It Off” is actually not too bad. Excepting its embarrassing, corporate-forced-this-bit-in-here bridge, the first single from her forthcoming fifth studio album is actually catchy and well-produced without being grating and commonplace. That said, it’s definitely super cheesy and lyrically empty, but I’d still take it over any of her other singles, unless listening to “You Belong With Me” ensured I’d never see, hear, or think about clowns ever again. It’s also amusing how it sounds like a pop-ized version of a Florence and the Machine single titled, er, “Shake It Out”…

So the song is alright, as compared to outrightly hideous, but its video casts it in a negative light. It’s just another barrage of glossy, major-labels-think-they-know-art images that you could find in any Beyonce (sorry) or Katy Perry video. I’ll debate for a while whether it’s racist, as the incredibly intelligent Earl Sweatshirt and other social commenters have maligned it, but it’s undoubtedly detrimental to Swift and her newest song. But hey, anything to rack up the YouTube views, right? Verdict: Add to Playlist (for parties only, and with much trepidation).

Bill Bodkin: I can’t believe it. After years of wanting to set myself on fire every single time I heard the words, “Taylor Swift” I can honestly sit here and say this is a song I actually enjoyed. It’s an undeniably pop song and I mentioned this because I think the final hold outs claiming she’s still “country” can let that go. What I appreciate most about the track is that is probably one of the more clever tracks in a while. Yeah, T Swift she had that “We’re Never Ever Getting Back Together” bullshit, but this, this makes you smirk. You appreciate the fact she’s in on the joke and is owning her man issues.

As for the hook, man that is just something fierce. As Nick mentioned it has all the grandiose and infectious qualities of some of the biggest anthems of the last decade or so. And I can dig it. I appreciate a big pop hook and a killer beat, no matter who it comes from. This is one is going to get played into the ground really quickly, so I say add it now, enjoy and let that earworm bury itself in your brain. Verdict: Add to Playlist (And pull my metal card if you need).

Al Mannarino: I’m not embarrassed to say that I have been a fan of Taylor Swift since day one. I enjoy her early country songs and I love the incredibly catchy pop classics she has made in recent years. She makes pop music fun and she doesn’t make me want to shut the radio off when her songs come on. I’ve also seen her in concert and I can honestly say she is one of the most talented and hard working musicians that are currently performing.

Her latest song “Shake It Off” is fun, exciting, and very catchy. It’s a a shame she waited this long to release the track because this could have been the song of the summer. Instead I had to listen to Maps by Maroon 5 and Am I Wrong by Nico & Vinz six million times. The music video for the “Shake It Off” is ridiculous, embarrassing, and wouldn’t work with anyone else besides Taylor Swift. I would say listen to the track, but just turn on the radio I’m sure you will hear it. Verdict: Add to Playlist (and Shake It Off!)

Final Verdict: Add Taylor Swift’s latest to your playlist, but we suggest you skip the video.