Earworm: "State of Grace" by Taylor Swift

Saturday, April 13, 2019
Before I get into this song and how it got stuck in my head, I feel like I should provide the history on my feelings about Taylor Swift. I missed the entire first two years of her career when she released and was promoting her first album. Missed "Tim McGraw", "Picture to Burn", probably heard "Our Song" and "Teardrops on My Guitar", but at that point in time I was actively rebelling against country music because it was all my mom would play and I was sick of it. Then, "Love Story" dropped, and I made the connection that the teardrops girl also did this song. And I started to become a fan, but not a fanatic because that is a whole other thing I could write about. As her success grew with the releases of Fearless, Speak NowRed, and 1989, you could see her songwriting start to evolve from straight up country, to country pop, to straight up pop. And the progression was natural. Then reputation dropped.

I do not like that album. At all. It felt that, because of all the negative press attention she had received in the couple of years before that for being mean and a snake, she was going to play right into that, even if it's not an attitude she can front naturally. So, that album did not sound like her at all.
But there was one song that was a musical shift for her, but still sounded like something she would write. That song is the opening track of Red, "State of Grace". This isn't a country song, it's not super poppy. This is a stadium anthem. It's an epic. It's not a song she makes all the time, so when I first played this album in full, it was a surprise. Normally, her bigger anthemic songs like "Change" on Fearless and "Long Live" on Speak Now typically close out her albums. By picking "State of Grace" as the opening track, it feels like a mission statement. Of course, as you make your way through the album, you realize that that song is an outlier, with the remaining tracks much more in her wheelhouse, but more mature and a couple more pop songs than her previous albums.

So, now that she's got the bad girl attitude out of her system, maybe she can rediscover herself, and the kinds of songs that worked for her in the past, without moving backwards. But until then, there's this underrated gem to tide me over.

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