Taylor Swift’s Anti – Hero is a perfect example of an artist at her peak, using all of her talents and tools at her disposal. This track has the lyrical brilliance and maturity of folklore / evermore with the pop glam of 1989. A perfect storm of pop glitter and songwriting edge all comes together to create the best track off the record.
Swift’s Midnights is the perfect blend of her evolved songwriting and pop golden touch. She has an inherent talent to create a perfect pop track out of nothing and take it to depths rarely explored by pop artists. The only other artists who have this inherent gift to constantly be on the forefront of pop music are Rhianna, Beyoncé and Madonna. Well, Swift has that gift and Midnights is an example of that gift firing on all cylinders.
Musically, Anti – Hero comes off as an edgy, a bit more lo – fi version of Blank Space or Wonderland. Don’t get me wrong, there are classic glittery Swift pop droplets sprinkled throughout the track. However, the deeper bass and fuzzier synth gives it just that little bit of darkness the track needs. Think of Rainbow Dash wearing black nail polish and Doc Martens…maybe a ripped Patti Smith Horses shirt…that vibe.
Now, I titled the article ‘Patti Smith Meets Rainbow Dash’ and here is why. Musically, it has all the pop twinkles and energy of a Rainbow Dash with just enough darkness to sharpen those rounded edges. Swift approaches channels her inner Patti Smith with her writing. She takes on negative self – talk, the patriarchy, society’s unhealthy expectations of women and self – loathing all in one track. The song starts with “I have this thing where I get older, but never wiser.” That line is fire. She gives voice to negative self – talk with “It’s me / Hi / I’m the problem / It’s me.” This refrain can also act as a personification of depression as you run that through your head over and over. Moreover, the image of the ugly monster on the hill looking down at all the “sexy babies” works on a number of levels. This gets at the patriarchy and how unrealistic expectations of women’s bodies can lead to negative self – talk / eating disorders. I think this is a very well written record.
Swift is able to take the surface level / vapid genre of pop and give it some real depth. Few artists can successfully do this…and most of them came out with records this year…more on that in a future feature. She gives voice to the demons that haunt all of us at different times and keep us up at night. With her last three records, Swift has moved from a “pop star” to an artist.
Listen to Anti-Hero