Being a young gay can be a bitch. But Taylor Swift doesn’t care.
One minute, the buzzed-about country star’s self-titled debut, released as a deluxe DVD edition in November, bitter-sweetly recalls dancing with her ex to a Tim McGraw tune; she even names the song after the country DILF. Then, though, she unleashes her gossip-spreading immaturity on “Picture to Burn.”
Whereas Southern singer Miranda Lambert would simply plug him with a bullet, Swift – barely old enough to attend an R-rated flick without a guardian – decides to spread a rumor: My ex is actually a honking homo who pretends to dig the vag!
Too bad her middle-school sass attempt fails more than her so-’90s payback tactic. Why? Because with sweet singles like “Tim McGraw,” a guitar-driven weepie, and country-less “Teardrops on My Guitar,” an achy girl-wants-guy lament, she just can’t pull off pissy. Doesn’t help that her sweetly-thin, sometimes-twang, sometimes-twang-less voice (trust me, no vocal match for Carrie Underwood) can’t trigger Bitchy Blonde. At least not without sounding like someone she’s not.
Attempt No. 2 with fiery done-me-wrong ditty “Should’ve Said No” works better. Starting as a simple drum-guitar memory-rewind, the song’s the country equivalent of an Avril Lavigne rant. And Swift sounds a shade more convincing.
Still, she’s better suited playing the sad-sack, like on “A Perfectly Good Heart,” where she gets her heart stomped on. Again. Her self-penned pubescent lyrics – love’s lows, her disgust for boys and finding herself – might strike an older audience, but teen girls (and gay guys!) looking for a soundtrack to young-love strife should no-doubt connect with Swift. Especially on “Our Song.”
Who doesn’t remember “sneakin’ out late” while “mama don’t know” to make whoopee? That tale is the centerpiece to the tune, an upbeat ode to two lovebirds. Moments like these are (almost) enough to forgive Swift’s sometimes-silly lyrics. And her marginal miffed-girl rants. And her derogatory attempt at rhyming: “I’ll tell (your friends) you’re gay, and by the way … ”
Even in the liner notes, Swift tries to come off as a Lambert clone: “To all the boys who thought they would be cool and break my heart, guess what? Here are 14 songs written about you. HA.” Sweet karma, right? Sure, some of her debut will have those guys wishing they were still going behind ma’s back to score some action, but songs like “Picture to Burn” will just make them laugh when they run into Swift at their high school reunion. With their rich-sexy-gorgeous hubbies. C+
7:30 p.m. Jan. 31 (Sold out)
Wharton Center for Performing Arts, East Lansing