The Atlantic

The Queasy Double Message of Taylor Swift’s ‘You Need to Calm Down’

The singer’s pro-gay single strangely compares her struggles with fame to more dangerous kinds of persecution.
Source: Universal Media Group

Since it debuted Friday, Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” has bounced around in my head for exactly the reason a pop song should: the way it sounds. I like that the beat’s something a great beast might march to, slowly from one side to another, rumbling with each footfall. I like that the “oh-oh” swell of the chorus takes yummy harmonies, typically the key side dish in pop, and makes them the main course. I like the dry, silly way Swift drawls the strongest punch line of the track: “Like, damn … it’s 7 a.m.”

But I’ve also been fixated on—uncalmed by, and maybe even losing sleep over!—what the lyrics say. Shout along with this brain bender: “Shade never made anybody less gay!”

“You Need to

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