Taylor Swift tried to label herself as a wannabe badass on 2017’s Reputation, but the black lipstick and punk girl attire seem behind her upon the release of her new song and video, “ME!” Many may be relieved to hear Swift’s no longer struggling to reach for the “bad girl” status, but her new schtick is even campier than that cringeworthy phone call from “Look What You Made Me Do”. As soon as the video begins, a snake hisses at the camera, ready to bite the viewer before it’s spontaneous transformation into a group of butterflies. However, the old Taylor proves she’s unfortunately still dead when the video cuts to the hitmaker and Panic! at the Disco’s Brendon Urie as a married couple arguing in French while their “young daughters” (their cats) are in the room.
Almost immediately, Swift exits the scuffle and dives right into the song’s annoying radio-friendly pop she’s been spitting out ever since she left the country genre. Her lyrics are along the same lines you’ve been hearing on Top 40 since the dawn of the ‘10s: she’s having a tough time making it work with her boyfriend, but she also understands she’s part of their problem, all that jazz. Following our reintroduction to T-Swift’s post-country-pre-Reputation mainstream pop brigade, Urie hops out the window with an umbrella Mary Poppins-style. There’s nothing too special about his appearance; he’s just there to play the boyfriend in Swift’s lyrical endeavours.
“ME!” checks all the boxes of a corny song and video shown to kindergartners to help them feel good about themselves, and that’s not only regarding the moment where Swift goes off-rhythm to declare “Hey, kids!/Spelling is fun!” The line “you can’t spell ‘awesome’ without ‘me’” sounds like it was ripped straight out of a lackluster PBS Kids program, not the girl whole stole our hearts more than a decade ago as a young country sweetheart.
The rest of the video is nothing but tacky, holding some less-than-exciting choreography and an overbearing amount of pink and light blue colors. If there’s anything to stop the bleeding, it’s recalling that the rest of Reputation was more textbook-Taylor than its in-your-face lead single, so the upcoming LP is likely to be a different story. That doesn’t shy away from the fact that “ME!” marks a glaring low point in the 29-year-old’s career.