There’s a new Taylor Swift single out called Shake It Off. The song will be a hit, it has the insistent beat of Pharrell’s Happy and the marketing might of Taylor Swift herself and all that’s at stake stoking her machine (her record label is called Big Machine), but the song it reminds me of most is Elvis Costello’s most unhitish soul foray on his 1983 album Punch the Clock, Let Them All Talk. The obvious tie in is the insistent soul horns, which would fit in well on a Dexy’s Midnight Runner’s song, but in typical Costello fashion they’re played for pure signifying noise rather than simple if numbing pleasure.
This clip is from an extended dance mix, which I’m not sure adds a lot of danceability to the track, but does open it up sonically.
Taylor Swift’s new album is called 1989 and I have no idea if that is a reference to the music of the 80s, but this video captured me from the git go. The mix of dancing and subtle jokes is totally winning. And while we can be certain Taylor wasn’t channeling Let Them All Talk, it is curious that her tune hits those same bleating horns hard, and is similarly self referential (though she never talks about the soul cliches).
Some will enjoy this, some will slit their wrists or puncture their eardrums, but I offer it up for its curious echoes…
By the way, on some plays the video is preceded by a clip of Taylor selling style for JC Penny’s, and watching her shill I don’t like her at all. But this video is really great. It elevates the song beyond beyond. I’m not going to stop watching, and probably won’t be able to, at least for a while.