Taylor Swift releases new single ‘ME!’ featuring Brendon Urie

The secret is out


Eva Rinaldi

Eva Rinaldi/flickr

By Ashley Tsang, Collegian Staff

For the last few weeks, Taylor Swift has been uploading pastel, aesthetic images on her Instagram, all hinting at the date April 26. A countdown clock on her website and on billboards across the nation ticked down to the final hour. Many fans suspected this to be the release date of the first single on Swift’s highly anticipated seventh album, deemed “TS7” by the fans, with some even hoping this new album may even show Swift going back to her country roots.

Hours before the clocks ticked midnight, Swift confirmed suspicions by appearing  at the NFL Draft Thursday night to speak with ABC’s Robin Roberts. There, Swift spilled the details on her new single, “ME!,” which she sees as “a song about embracing your individuality and really celebrating it and owning it.”

“ME!” featuring Panic! At the Disco’s Brendon Urie, was produced by Swift and Joel Little, who has also famously worked with Lorde and Khalid, and was written by Swift, Urie and Little. The song’s message of self-love is presented through the cheery, theatrical number filled with basic and, at times, farcical lyrics. This single shines in stark contrast to Swift’s last album, “Reputation,” which was snarkier, darker and saw Swift experimenting with hip-hop influences. In fact, “ME!,” leans toward the old music of Swift, reminiscent of the “Red” album era, than as any continuation of the musical experimentation seen in “Reputation.”  It feels in line to “Happy” by Pharrell, in the sense that it has a repetitive upbeat chorus that no doubt will get stuck in people’s heads, but at some point will start to border on the point of annoyance.

Interestingly enough, the song starts off self-deprecating, as Swift sings, “I know that I’m a handful, baby… I know that I went psycho on the phone/I never leave well enough alone.” The song quickly picks up though, as the drums form a marching beat, sure to draw listeners in. Swift’s chorus is then filled with elation, as she sings about how there is only one of her. High, shrill “Me-e-e” and “ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh” vocals run throughout the chorus, and despite their repetitiveness making them memorable, they can be harsh on the ears. When the bridge hits, listeners are offered little relief from the excessive cheesiness of the song and are instead offered a spelling lesson as Swift yells out, “Spelling is fun!,” at which Urie and Swift go on to sing, “Girl, there ain’t no ‘I’ in ‘team’” and “You can’t spell ‘awesome’ without ‘me.’” Although, the childlike nature of the bridge adds to the fairytale-esque, sugary sweet vibe of the song, it leaves more to be desired and heightens the song’s message near the level of cringe.

Lyrically, this is not one of Swift’s strongest songs either. Swift is known to be a better songwriter, rather than a vocalist, with her lyrics usually filled with specific details that help to tell a story. “ME!” is devoid of most of that, perhaps in an attempt to make it relatable to all, but this leaves the song filled with “me,” “you” and cliché sayings, like “Livin in winter, I am your summer” that are vague to the sense of meaning little.

The music video, which was released at the same time as “ME!” is a psychedelic dream flooded with the same pastel hues Swift has on her Instagram. The video starts off with a pink snake slithering across a rainbow brick road, before it suddenly bursts into a bunch of butterflies, representing a transition and rebirth from Swift’s “Reputation” to this upcoming, seemingly more lighthearted seventh album.

What follows are a series of dream-like sequences largely influenced by musicals it seems, perhaps due to Swift’s announcement she will be taking part in the film adaption of the musical “Cats.” When the second verse hits, Urie is seen floating down from a terrace using an umbrella, a la “Mary Poppins.” Then we see Swift and Urie in marching in tandem with a mob, which looks strikingly similar to scenes from “The Wizard of Oz.” Finally, the ending scene is set in the street with colorful paint falling from the skies, and when Urie pulls out an umbrella, the pairing of that with the streetlight calls back to “Singin’ in the Rain.”

The music video is also jam-packed full of Easter eggs and references for fans to theorize over. One of them being a Dixie Chicks cameo among the paintings of chicks in sunglasses or “cool chicks” on the apartment walls. Not to mention, the kitten Urie gives Swift in the video is actually the introduction of her new cat, named Benjamin Button.

Overall, “ME!” is a cheery, cheesy song about self-empowerment. The single is no frills; it’s not complex or deep, and the message is spelled out clear as day. The music video is visually appealing and the references to other works are done beautifully, and it effectively outshines the song. Despite the song’s basic lyrics and overall repetitiveness though, it is sure to be a hit due to the sheer star power of Swift’s name being attached to it. The song is not bad per say, but it only really warrants a couple of listens; however, considering it will most likely be all over the radios this summer, it is bound to become annoying.

This lead single is most likely not an indicator of how Swift’s seventh album will be though. Swift’s lead singles are usually outliers from the overall sound and vibes of the albums. In this way, she leads fans to think one way before she ultimately surprises them with the entire album release. Although “ME!” may not be her best work, Swift definitely has the potential to produce real hits, and hopefully we see more of that in her seventh album, whenever she decides to surprise us with it.

Ashley Tsang can be reached at [email protected]