Saturday, August 7, 2010

Taylor Swift, "Mine"

Since my readers have seen how mean I can be in these reviews, I'm sure you must be dying to hear what I think of Taylor Swift.  I know she can be a polarizing subject, so feel free to read whichever version of this review appeals to you.

VERSION 1 (For Taylor-lovers):  OMG!!!  Taylor is like so totally awesome! <3<3<3 I luv her and all you haterz can just stuff it cuz ur just jealous!  Taylor Swift is WAY better than Carrie Underwood!

VERSION 2 (For Taylor-haters):  God, why is Taylor Swift even alive?  She can't even sing, and she stinks live!  Her songs are so pathetic and she's not country and the only reason she's even popular is because of the whole Kanye thing.  Carrie Underwood is WAY better than Taylor Swift!

VERSION 3 (Actual version):

When a rough and unfinished version of this song was leaked online, Big Machine Records was forced to rush the release of the first single from Taylor's highly-anticipated third album, so that the fans can hear it as Taylor intended.  But does "Mine" really live up to all the hype surrounding it?

Taylor herself describes it as "a song about my tendency to run from love."  The first two verses sound like a typical Taylor "Love Story," but the song gets more interesting at the bridge near the end.  Taylor describes having a fight at 2:30 AM that sends her running out into the street crying.  At this point, she "braces [her]self for the goodbye, 'cause that's all [she's] ever known," but he reassures her of his love for her by singing the cute and gushy chorus to her.

But now let's talk about everybody's favorite topic:  Taylor's vocals.  The truth is that Taylor is a very limited vocalist who sounds best when she keeps her performance low-key.  "Mine" is three aching minutes of an overly ambitious singer reaching for notes that she can't hit.  It's rather ironic that this is the autotuned, "high-quality" version that had to be so hurriedly released.  One of Taylor's biggest problems is that she needs to learn her limitations, and to work with her vocal imperfections instead of against them.  She simply has not been blessed with the same powerful pipes as Carrie, Reba, Martina, Sara, or Jennifer Nettles.

The loud and aggressive production makes the vocal seem even more strained by comparison.  As soon as the first chorus begins, the track is overtaken by thrashing guitars and percussion.  There's just too much going on on this record!  It's disappointing to hear this on a Taylor Swift song, because most of her recent output has not had this problem.  In contrast, the simple and stripped-down production of songs like "White Horse" have represented Taylor's artistic peak to date.  What a shame to see Taylor make so much progress on her previous album only to begin sliding backwards!

In "Mine," I see the core idea of what could have been a fantastic song.  A song about a tendency to run from love could have been quite good.  Unfortunately, it's been drowned in a pool of screeching pop-country schlock.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)