Darr: Taylor Swift’s new single puts the ‘me’ in ‘shame’

There’s one big problem with the “self-love” movement: some people really do suck. Of course, all of us have pitfalls in our lives that we stumble into when our problems overtake us. We find ourselves treating the ones we love badly as we flail in the darkness.

For some, shame and guilt push them to climb out of the hole. Then, there are those who simply rationalize their own destructive behavior. They plunge deeper and deeper into the hole of obnoxious self-absortion until nobody can stand them long enough to help them out.

Somewhere deep within that hole, a speaker is blasting “ME!” by Taylor Swift as an army of zombies rhythmically plunge their shovels towards hell. It’s hard to tell what’s worse: Swift’s inane self-love lyrics or the throwaway Target-brand beat she sings it over.

It’s as if Taylor wrote “ME!” as a joke, accidentally hyper-inflated her ego listening to it, and became convinced that everything she writes is worth a six-figure music video accompaniment. Now we have a flaming trash heap of a song that’s geared towards encouraging other people to release their trash heaps into the world. We’re all going to die in the smoke.

Don’t get me wrong — self-love anthems are not bad by default. Beyoncé nails this category with an effortless sophistication. Katy Perry has built up quite a track record of effective, self-celebrating hits. Even Swift’s own discography boasts its own run of optimistic anthems.

The songs tend to work because at their core is writing that is true, focused, and musically appealing in some way. Often, the lyrics to these tracks might be simple and cheery, but they’re not going to snap you out of the soul-lifting vibe with their stupidity.

“ME!” probably will. Many times.

“But one of these things is not like the others / Like a rainbow with all of the colors.”

All rainbows have all of the colors. A rainbow with all the colors is exactly like all the other rainbows. The line doesn’t work logically as a simile, and it definitely doesn’t work as an LGBT pride declaration, as many have theorized online. If it’s an LGBT pride line, why is it sung by a straight woman who’s celebrating her own individuality?

Maybe it would make more sense if Brendon Urie, who last year came out as pansexual, sang it, but the line is actually changed when he echoes the melody in the following pre-chorus.

The incompetence of the line is almost lost among the remarkably generic chorus (“I’m the only one of me / baby, that’s the fun of me.”) and the cringefest Kidz Bob bridge about spelling:

“Girl, there ain’t no I in ‘team’ / But you know there is a ‘me.’”

Seriously? There’s a “me” in “team?” By your method, Taylor, there’s also an “eat,” a “meat,” a “mate,” and most importantly, a “tame,” which is probably the most friendly way to characterize a spelling section in a modern pop song. Maybe if you have to rearrange and cut letters in order to make a spelling joke, you should rearrange and cut the joke itself.

The wonderful thing about art in general, especially in the internet age, is that it puts on display the huge range of individual voices in the world. People have been saying the same things over and over again in different, creative ways, but how they say those things can still make core ideas shine by giving them a slightly new name or dimension.

None of what Taylor is saying is new. She’s simply saying it in a newly incompetent, yet simultaneously played-out, fashion. We know from Taylor’s discography that she can write wonderful pop songs. Unfortunately, “ME!” makes us hope that this abrasively self-loving Taylor isn’t really the person she says she is.