August 17, 2019

Taylor Swift lezzes out to late '80s singer-songwriters with "The Archer" and "Lover"

Earlier posts here and here have looked at the regular appearance of the dream pop genre during the vulnerable, refractory phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle, among both indie and mainstream artists.

"Delicate" by Taylor Swift comes pretty close to fitting into this pattern, but doesn't have enough of an instrumental drone, or vocal echoes / self harmony, to fully qualify. However, a new non-single song "The Archer" does (from her upcoming album). This is the final year of the current vulnerable phase (late 2010s), so it's just sneaking in before closing time at the emo bar.

Her new single, "Lover", is another good fit to the current mellow and vulnerable atmosphere. Between the two of them, I pick up vibes from a previous vulnerable phase -- the late '80s. Especially the singer-songwriters who were actual lesbians, or were popular among them: "Sweet Jane" by Cowboy Junkies (itself a phase-matching cover of a Velvet Underground song from the early '70s vulnerable phase), "Baby Can I Hold You" by Tracy Chapman, and even a little hint of "Rockin' Back Inside Your Heart" by Julee Cruise (or similar Angelo Badalamenti tune for David Lynch).

Taylor Swift is a closeted lesbian herself (her last girlfriend being Karlie Kloss), so it's natural for her to channel those vibes. It is unusual, though, for such a babyfaced lipstick lesbian to do so. She could use them to pivot toward a more mature audience during the upcoming restless, warm-up phase, which will echo the early '90s. That's when people are worn out of being worn out, and are intent on overcoming whatever vulnerable state they had just been in.

I could easily see her covering -- or at least channeling -- songs by lesbian / androgynous artists from the early '90s, like "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover" by Sophie B. Hawkins or "Why" by Annie Lennox. These are not about letting yourself drown in vulnerability, but about rebuilding yourself or finding new confidence after being so beaten down during the vulnerable phase. It remains to be seen, though, if Millennials can pull off a mature persona.

These singer-songwriter tunes from Taylor Swift remind me of a photo shoot she did for Wonderland at the very end of the last manic phase, as it was about to shift into the current vulnerable phase (late 2014). These were included in an earlier post covering the revival of intimate portraits during the vulnerable phase. No matter how many times I see them, I still can't believe that's her. She's so smolderingly dark and hot, whereas she normally comes off as a libido-less lipstick lezzie. Maybe it's that these songs are about taking the risk of exposing herself, rather than hide behind her closeted persona. Whatever it is, they go very well together.

"The Archer"



  1. Nice contrast in tone on "The Archer" vs. "Me!" and "You Need To Calm Down".

    The two mainstream hits have a typical Millennial tone for dealing with the negative vibes people feel during the vulnerable phase:

    1) Soyface selfie-taking denial -- "i don't feel bad, i mean, i'm so awesome just the way i am, yay!"

    2) Deadpan dismissal of feedback -- "if you don't think i'm awesome the way i am, you're just a jealous hater."

    "The Archer" is more honest, introspective, and sincere. Tellingly, it won't be a single -- too much for Millennial audiences, but it would do well with Gen X adult contempo audiences.

    I think it would connect with Gen Z, though, too -- they seem to be more of an echo of Gen X, rather than a more extreme level of Millennial-ness.

  2. "Lover" refs the style of the late '50s, but via the late '80s revival of that style. In the chain of transmission, the saxophone has been lost.

    That was a key instrument in the second half of the '80s, as they were reviving an earlier vulnerable phase, one that they grew up with. That's especially true for self-consciously "retro" songs like the Angelo Badalamenti / Julee Cruise ones.

    The further we get away from rock's origins, the fewer of the original elements remain. Now, "retro" means sometime before late '90s techno -- an '80s synthesizer and a '50s upright bass both sound equally retro in degree, albeit in different kinds of ways.

  3. Karlie Kloss is married to Jared Kushner’s brother, which reminded me of your theory about Ivanka marrying Kushner to help keep him in the closet as well.

  4. Whamen be bearding. At this point, it's a coin flip that an elite marriage is a sham -- guy is gay, woman is a dyke, or both. That includes elite-aspiring "couples" too.

    I've noticed while channel-surfing that all the Bachelor-type dating shows these days have "contestants" who are all gay. They're competing to be part of a power-bearding elite.

    It's been that way in fiction for awhile, where the romantic interest is gay. Now that includes reality TV.

    Things could not get more disgusting or pathetic. Not that most people watch this crap from start to finish, but every single millisecond is calibrated to intensify degeneracy, atomization, and status-striving yuppie bullshit. You can't escape it even while channel-surfing.

  5. Homosexuality is glorified by Hollywood but none of these people are really gay. They're just bored and confused and if all you do is travel around giving concerts and live in fancy hotels and eat restaurant food, I'm sure you're a go for anything after awhile. But: It's not real.


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