A ‘Swift’ Kick in the Pants to the New NYC Ambassador No One Wanted
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She gives strangers in Central Park obscene amounts of money to spend at Chipotle. She pulls her entire catalog off Spotify. She doesn’t sweat when she goes to the gym. She’s a celebrity heartbreaker who now serves as the poster child to welcome the masses with open arms to New York. Everyone seems to have an opinion about Taylor Swift and her recent PR campaign, which conveniently coincided with the release of her fifth album 1989.
If Swift is now the spokesperson for the city’s tourism, then her recent single, “Welcome to New York” is undoubtedly the sugar-soaked pop anthem to back her up. The song plays out like a kid from the suburbs on a school field trip to see their first show on Broadway. Complete with lunch at McDonalds.
There’s no question New York has a remarkable way of making you fall in love with it, whether it be your first time in Times Square, or your tenth time holed up in a cozy Chinatown bar. Everyone has their reasons for wanting to be here. But “Welcome to New York” falls flat in its generic repetition, flashy, optimistic lifestyle, uninspired synthesizing, and false advertising. The song ultimately lacks depth, which is certainly a characteristic that New York prides itself on. How the Taylor Swift of 2014 is able to dish inspiration on the struggles of “making it” in New York is laughable. Had she written this eight years ago, it might have been a different story.
Her hackneyed lyrics compare the joys and pitfalls of New York to those felt in the world of dating. Even if you can get past that, the never-ending chorus bores its way into your head and doesn’t leave until you’ve been wiped of all rationality. This isn’t a song that makes you want to love New York. This is a song that makes you want to drink a Diet Coke. Both her campaign and song fails to ignite a fire for a city so diverse, a city that doesn’t stop fighting when it believes in something – and that’s just scratching the surface. It succeeds, however, in the way it uses the pop star.
Because what Taylor Swift really is, is the ambassador of the one percenters.
For a successful campaign, it’s imperative to bury the mom-and-pop shops, jack up rents in the name of selling out, build luxuries only attainable by those worthy enough (and make the rest use “poor doors“), squeeze out every drop of history until all storefronts are chains, but most importantly, turn a blind eye to it all and chalk it up to an “ever-changing”city that “you wouldn’t change anything, anything.” Swift’s Mary Sunshine demeanor and awkward girl-next-door dancing suggest you shake it off and settle into complacency. Sure, New York is getting fancier, and at the expensive of many livelihoods, but embrace it! It might be a little hard, but there are bright lights and kaleidoscopes! It’s like a rave but worse, because the vomit is on the sidewalks now, not in a warehouse.
Welcome to New York, we’re erasing character with wealth. Welcome to New York, Hell Square’s been waiting for you to dance to this beat forever more!