Saturday, August 26, 2017

Look What You Made Me Do | Lefsetz Letter

You never punch down.

So this is the second strike out by Jack Antonoff, after Lorde’s “Green Light,” Jack’s no Max Martin. Martin releases no track before its time, Martin has his finger on the pulse of music culture, he knows the hit parade and adjusts his sound accordingly, Antonoff is a niche player with talent who gets undeserved accolades, because if you’re the go-to producer of follow-ups…

You’ve got to deliver.

“Royals” was a phenomenon. It’s got 424,344,664 streams on Spotify, and it was released before that platform blew up. “Green Light” only has 172,029,805, a huge come down. It’s only the media which still believes Lorde is a pure heroine…

She’s peaked.

As for Taylor Swift…

She’s winning the battle for mindshare. In today’s world, it’s hard to get everybody’s attention, only Trump seems able to do this.

But she bunted. Criticizing Kim and Kanye? Isn’t that like Paul McCartney trashing Peter Noone? Or Steph Curry going on about some hater in the crowd?

Kanye’s a bipolar nitwit. Married to a nincompoop. To focus on them only brings you down.

And the only reason Taylor got into this tiff is because she lost perspective. She was so busy being everywhere and fabulous that when someone pointed this out, took her down…

She couldn’t take it.

There’s nothing worse than a sour grapes celebrity, complaining that they’ve been done wrong.

But this has been Taylor’s MO for eons. But it used to be a guessing game, in the old days the targets weren’t famous, now she’s in feuds with other celebrities, when what we’re really looking for is guidance, for her to float above and tell us what to do, instead of illustrating she’s no different from the hoi polloi, living in the gutter of social media.

As for the line about Taylor Swift being dead… Didn’t Miley Cyrus do this act years ago? This is not Madonna excavating a niche trend and making it mainstream, like with “Vogue,” rather Taylor Swift is beating a dead horse and we’re supposed to care.

And the Swifties will.

This is where statistics fail us. Believe me, “Look What You Made Me Do” will rack up streams, expect to see stories about broken records soon. It will be a hollow victory lap. Because at the center is this pleasant track about dissing folks that does not cry out for endless repeats unless you’re a dedicated fan.

But there are enough dedicated fans to make this look like a hit. They’ll eat up everything Tay Tay does. So where does this leave us?

Looking for some truth.

John Lennon was in the biggest band in the world, then he goes solo and opens a wound and testifies in a personal way heretofore unheard on Beatle records.

U2 is fearful of repeating itself and therefore brings in Brian Eno to switch up sounds, ultimately successfully. And when the band was experiencing its backlash, after “Rattle and Hum,” when Bono was excoriated on both street corners and in the press, what did the band do? They went to Berlin and cut an album with industrial sounds that was a distinct departure from what had come previously. One that delivered more rewards the more you listened to it. The more you listen to “Look What You Made Me Do,” the less you want to.

But they’ll spin it in clubs. And we’ll all be told what a success it is…

And there you have the modern world. Why so many dismiss the music business. It’s a producer’s medium. This sounds nothing like what Taylor Swift made her bones on. That was closer to countrified Joni Mitchell, this is of the moment disposable dreck. At least “Shake It Off” was catchy.

So now I’m part of the problem. I didn’t buy in. Like the rest of the somnambulant groupies and critics who have become cheerleaders, who can say nothing negative.

What we’re looking for is someone to push the envelope. And those with the greatest attention have the greatest responsibility. That’s one of the reasons we still marvel at the aforementioned Beatles, they took left turns, they didn’t give us what we wanted.

Then again, Taylor Swift is a woman of her times. Embattled, self-righteously taking on all detractors, just like the President.

And by pointing this out I’m seen as part of the problem as opposed to part of the solution.

But someone has to stand up for truth.

And I’m not worrying about payback, SHE ALREADY WROTE A SONG ABOUT ME!


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