My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

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Single Review – Taylor Swift – ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’

Between canoodling with Connor Kennedy in a red and white polka-dotted two-piece, and buying a multi-million dollar estate on Cape Cod, Taylor Swift has found time to return to the spotlight with new music. And in the two years since her highly confrontational Speak Now, she proves she hasn’t softened her scathe towards anyone who does her wrong.

“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” her collaboration with pop songwriter Max Martin and Swedish record producer Shellback, moves the songstress even further away from the founding principles of country music, but what she lacks in down-home twang, she makes up for in overall likeability.

The track works because of its infectious thump, a sunny and bright mix of acoustic guitars and driving beats that recall her early work, especially “Should’ve Said No.” Swift sets the tone with the opening verse:

I remember when we broke up the first time
Saying, “This is it, I’ve had enough,” ’cause like
We hadn’t seen each other in a month
When you said you needed space. (What?)
Then you come around again and say
“Baby, I miss you and I swear I’m gonna change, trust me.”
Remember how that lasted for a day?
I say, “I hate you,” we break up, you call me, “I love you”

She manages to capture the confusion surrounding the end of a relationship perfectly. He says he’ll change; she takes him back, no behavior modification. The second verse digs a bit deeper, and highlights Swift’s instinctively sharp writing abilities:

I’m really gonna miss you picking fights
And me, falling for it screaming that I’m right
And you, would hide away and find your peace of mine
With some indie record that’s much cooler than mine

But that’s where the song goes from interesting to unbearable. As an avid Swift fan, I have a fondness for just about every single she’s released. But her idea that every boyfriend is her “forever” (like she suggests in the bridge here) irks me. That kind of thinking may have been appropriate at sixteen, but it shows a level of immaturity at 22. The ‘phone conversation’ bit is also grating, a further attempt at driving home the song’s overall message that just plain wasn’t necessary.

Swift’s somewhat screechy vocal ability is on full display here and the obvious attempts at masking it (the swooshing production and vocal layering in the chorus) show the producer is trying too hard to make it work. And I can’t forgive the need for a country remix, when Swift is supposedly a country singer who has occasional inroads into the pop market.

But if nothing else, “We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together” is a first-rate infectious guilty pleasure, that type of ear worm that plants itself in your brain, even if it isn’t healthy. I could go on and on about how it lacks any resemblance to country music, showcasing a genre in a downward spiral towards oblivion, but like those great Shania Twain and Faith Hill records from the late 90s, you can’t help but be transformed into a good mood whenever you hear it.

Grade: B 

Listen here.