Taylor Swift, 1989 (2014)
No, I wanted to talk about guilty pleasures
I think there's a general consensus that a "guilty pleasure" is something that, at least from a critical standpoint, is looked upon with disdain, typically a piece of art that achieves some level of mass success in the face of rejection by esteemed arbiters of taste; and to admit actually enjoying such a thing is to invite ridicule from people whose judgment you generally respect. So we listen behind closed doors, or alone in the car with the windows shut tight, publicly disavowing such work when called upon to do so. In the indie rock world, this means proclaiming the genius of Pere Ubu and PIL and Captain Beefheart and Suicide, then slinking out of the room and blasting the Monkees and the Bay City Rollers in the privacy of our own homes.
But at a certain point, do guilty pleasures really make sense? Sure, when I was younger, it seemed important to establish the erudition of my taste, to confirm my indie cred, my rock canon bona fides; and to confess to liking something that the critics pooh-poohed and actually sold more than a few thousand copies (to teenage girls, no less!) was a one-way ticket to endless embarrassment.
But I'm 53 now (ugh). I've accomplished much in my life. I'm content with my lot. Why should I care about what anyone has to say about the music I like or don't like? If I want to proclaim that I do not like Tom Waits, and that the Archies are awesome, that's my prerogative. Accept it, reject it, it makes no difference to me.
Anyway, here we are. I managed to steer clear of Taylor Swift for much of her career; I had successfully indoctrinated my then-teenage daughter in the ways of rock and roll, steering her clear of popular trends, so this never found its way into my home. But then Ryan Adams released his reworking of 1989, turning the radio-friendly synth-pop into a blend of Americana and roots rock, and I thought, hey, these songs are pretty good... if nobody's looking, maybe I'll check out the originals?
The lyrics are often silly, a young woman excited to learn that New York is pretty neat and has gay people, and it sounds like a thousand producers relentlessly smoothed out every potential edge and compressed the thing within inches of its life, and it's fucking great. So sue me. No guilt.
Video? Sure, why not.