Review: Taylor Swift’s new single ‘ME!’ is uninspired but catchy

by Shera Bhala | 5/7/19 2:10am

With the release of her new single “ME!” this past April 26, Taylor Swift has evolved once again. A bubbly and bright pop song, “ME!” marks Swift’s departure from the mood of her previous album, the inspired and aggressive “reputation,” and her persona’s transformation to the glaringly upbeat and pastel imagery of “ME!” 

A significant change from old, country-pop princess Swift and even more so from the edgy version of Swift expressed through “reputation” — an album full of dark colors and gothic script — “ME!” highlights Swift’s ability to radically reshape her profile. The new song stuns with its gushing, rainbow-colored scenery and unfailing enthusiasm. With lyrics like “But one of these things is not like the others. Like a rainbow with all of the colors,” “ME!” is decidedly more amusing and carefree than many of her past releases. 

The music video for “ME!” exemplifies the cheerful tone of the song. Beginning in an elegant villa with turquoise walls and mustard yellow furniture, Brendon Urie (front man of Panic! at the Disco and Swift’s musical collaborator) and Swift, acting as a couple, argue in poor French. The video proceeds to burst into a fantasy world of pastel color, where Swift and dancers line a candy-colored street wearing rose pink, robin’s egg blue and lavender suits. Sitting on the roof of one of the gem-toned buildings, Swift, whose pink gown flows down the structure like melted strawberry ice cream, accepts Urie’s proposal of a kitten as he sings “Baby doll, when it comes to a lover, I promise that you’ll never find another like me.” Urie’s heart opens to a Candyland-inspired universe of go-go dancers and then up to a shimmering rainbow castle. The video ends with the vibrant surroundings melting around the couple in a “Dancing in the Rain”-inspired rainstorm to the lyrics of the peppy chorus. 

 Despite the rebirth “ME!” provides to Swift’s musical career and presence as a public figure, the music video for “ME!” still features symbols from “reputation” — a connection to and perhaps recognition of — Swift’s past, which adds interesting layers of nuance to the video. For example, the video begins with a slithering, pink snake akin to the black snake imagery that frequented her music, costuming and other visual elements of her career during her “reputation” era. However, the snake, after hissing, bursts into a flurry of multi-colored, fluttering butterflies. This image can be interpreted to mean that Swift has moved on from the drama that fans speculate inspired “reputation” (namely, the tense feud she had with Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West) and embraces a new, exciting era. Additionally, the phone Swift uses as a prop in her music video for “Look What You Made Me Do” as she sings “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ‘cause she’s dead!” makes a re-appearance in the “ME!” music video, signaling that Swift is alive, recovered and as spirited as ever.

While these symbols contribute some substantive value to “ME!”, the song generally lacks creative depth and fits into the mold of a back-to-basics, cliché pop song. Musically, the single follows the format for trite tunes with short-lived spots on Billboard charts.The lyrics are similarly uninspired, despite Swift’s capability for simple yet moving and articulate lyrics that she’s demonstrated in her previous work. In fact, her lyrics for “ME!” are so simplistic and juvenile it borders on cringeworthy. For example, at one point Swift sings “Hey, kids! Spelling is fun! Girl, there ain’t no ‘I’ in ‘team.’ ”Swift’s lackluster lyrics are certainly disappointing, given that the positive nature of the new song and its savvy collaboration with Urie provide ample opportunity for smart, meaningful lines and images that resonate with listeners. Despite that opportunity, by-and-large, Swift failed to replace the darker, but more intelligently vindictive characteristics associated with “reputation” with smart, witty lyrics for “ME!” 

However, what the single fails to achieve in substance, it manages to achieve in light-hearted, sing-along fun. Through “ME!” Swift is pleasing her enormous fanbase with an infectiously happy song that celebrates the star’s own happiness and success. Posted on her Instagram story shortly after the song’s release, Swift shared that the music video to “ME!” received 65.2 million views in its first 24 hours, which has since more than doubled to nearly 150 million views in the first ten days. The celebrity of Taylor Swift continues with her effervescent, resilient personality and dedication to her fans. 

In terms of Swift’s upcoming music, the soft, pastel aesthetic of “ME!” provides context for the rest of the album, yet to be released. Judging from the exuberant character of the single, more bright, catchy songs await in an album inspired by revival and love. As for me, sometimes, a simple, radiant song is all that is needed.