Look What You Made Me Listen To

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By Katherine Harris

Taylor Swift’s tactics of profiting from a narrative of perpetual victimhood are both calculating and arguably successful. But they are not hard to figure out. Over the last year or so, Swift’s methods, as well as her persona, have been picked apart by everyone from Everyday Feminism to The Economist. Here’s a list of the essential elements in constructing the perfect Taylor Swift-style revenge track.

1. Be Vague
Call out all your nondescript foes. Just don’t be specific. The vengeful nature of your song should rest on ambiguous statements like: “I don’t like your perfect crime / How you laugh when you lie.” Allow gossip sources to speculate to whom such lyrics refer, but never confirm nor deny anything. Is this song about Kanye West? Or the shirtless guy from Twilight? Or the Starbucks employee who messed up your order? We’ll never know. Similarly, subscribe to some vague definition of feminism. But don’t engage in women’s marches, don’t speak out against Trump, and don’t condemn the neo-Nazis who allegedly worship you. Wouldn’t want to isolate your alt-right fans now would you?

2. Never Leave High School Behind
Since your target market is mostly high-school girls, strive to emulate them. Start by being petty: if someone did something to remotely upset you, write a song about them, claiming “band aids don’t fix bullet holes.” To show how little you care about what others think, spend time in a studio recording a song about how you don’t care. Secondly, adopt the way fourteen-year-olds talk. Say things like, “She’s like ‘Oh my God.'” To show how cool and edgy you are, use statements like: “The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Cause she’s dead.” In other words: “It’s not a phase, Mom. This is who I really am!!!”

3. Blame Others
Your revenge is centered on everything being somebody else’s fault. Consider the title, Look What You Made Me Do. It’s not like you’re an autonomous person or anything.

4. Spare no Expense on Videos
To distract from your songs being kind of simple and repetitive, use over-the-top music videos to gain attention. If your “squad” of attractive Victoria’s Secret models and actresses is unavailable, use props like horses, cats, and an assortment of designer gowns. Maybe throw in a bathtub full of jewelry.

5. Catchy is Key
Like successful government propaganda, Taylor Swift songs follow you everywhere. I can’t sit in a lecture or wait in line at McDonald’s without that stupid “look what you made me do” chorus popping up in my brain.

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