I love the word gorgeous. It starts off aggressive, then becomes ripe and soft, ending on a hiss. Which means it can be whatever it wants to be – obscene, sly, but also alluring, and suggestive. Gorgeous is a great word. And now I’m worried Taylor Swift has ruined it.
Gorgeous is the third single off the upcoming new album reputation. It was released last night. It’s a song about a crush. Presumably about her boyfriend Joe Alwyn. With a shot taken at Calvin Harris.
And I got a boyfriend
He's older than us
He's in the club doing I don't know what
You're so cool it makes me hate you so much
I mean…I guess it doesn’t suck. But that also depends what you’re comparing it to. Compared to Look What You Made Me Do? Much better. Just like Ready For It was better than LWYMMD. But is that the benchmark we want to be holding it up against? Because LWYMMD is a bullsh-t song, far from Taylor Swift’s best song. Far from Style, or Blank Space. Go back to how you felt when you first heard Style. That opening 80s throbbing throwback beat like Top Gun, but asphalt in the dark instead of in the burning afternoon. With more yearning. Midnight. You come and pick me up, no headlights. I like where that story is going right away. I’m following the long drive.
God I love that song.
And this is not how I feel with Gorgeous.
Especially not when she rhymes “sad” with “mad”. Seriously. For someone who’s known for her lyrics, this is not a strong effort.
The best part of Gorgeous is when she mentions her cats. And the way she delivers the word “alone” like it’s a statement and a question. But that’s not enough. It’s not enough to elevate a pretty boring melody. And that’s maybe the worst part. I don’t want to sing along. And I always want to sing along to a Taylor Swift song. When Style comes on I can’t wait to James Dean daydream with her. There’s none of that in Gorgeous. Because Gorgeous is several steps backwards. Gorgeous is still Taylor Swift thinking about a boy who may or may not be thinking back about her. The reason why the love songs on 1989 were so effective was because on that album, she’d moved beyond the crush. She was telling the story after the crush. The story of relationships that don’t live up to crushes. About the fragility of post-crush love. About the constant uncertainty of love. Are we in the clear yet? When will it ever feel like we’re not standing at a precipice, waiting for what we built to fall apart?
Three years later, though, we’re back to crushes. And that’s because, yes, Taylor is happy and she’s in love again. And she’s singing where she is. I get that. But after all she’s been through, what does it mean that the crush sounds the same? What happens to our crushes when they’ve let us down before, so many times? What happens to the way we crush? Nothing? OK, I can buy that. But if it’s nothing, because love is, ultimately, always the most irresistible gamble, then that’s the story I want to hear.