The Number Eight Most Downloaded Song of All Time: ‘Love Story’ – Taylor Swift
If there’s one thing you can say about ‘Love Story’ (and most of Taylor Swift’s catalog), it’s that it’s “sweet,” though it’s hard to say anything more complimentary than that. By design, it’s a color-by-number generic retelling of a relationship. It borrows from classic novels that teenagers read in high-school: both Romeo and Juliet as well as The Scarlet Letter having been name-checked specifically in the song.
What’s startling, though, is just how whitewashed these references are by the determination of the song to have an ending that is just as romantic as the rest of the song. That happy-go-lucky banjo persists throughout the song, appropriately accompanying a happy-go-lucky love story that rarely exists, if at all.
The song does an admirable enough job of acknowledging that troubles exist, but in this song they exist only as obstacles that increase the mystic of the relationship itself. The disapproving parents, the need for secrecy, they all serve to prove that “this love is difficult, but it’s real.” In other words, they are necessary tests, that provide the male to prove his love. The real trial, a time of loneliness and questioning about the nature of the relationship ends with a realization that the trial never really existed at all: “Romeo, save me. I’ve been feeling so alone. I keep waiting for you but you never come. Is this in my head? I don’t know what to think. He knelt to the ground and pulled out a ring.”
The allusions to Romeo and Juliet as well as The Scarlet Letter don’t ground the song in reality as they should, because the true lessons of those classics are wholly ignored. Concepts of repentance, the dangers of unrequited love, the cost of rebellion, and the sacrificial nature of real love are eschewed in the name of a happy beginning, middle and ending. It would all be fine and dandy if only she’s use appropriate references and call it what it is: a fairy tale.
The Number Seven Most Downloaded Song of All Time: ‘Low’ – Flo Rida
This song represents a host of other popular dance songs, that find their meaning not in even the most shallow soul searching or exploration of human experience. Instead of reflecting human experience, ‘Low’ exploits it. It is the story of a male on the prowl, an ode to a woman who does all the right things to catch his attention. The sexuality only escalates as the song drones on, and for once I find myself relieved that the majority of those on the dance floor don’t pay any mind to these lyrics, though further reflection and a glance at the typical club atmosphere shows us that these songs do have actual cultural implications.
One thing’s for sure, Flo Rida’s breakout hit makes it just how clear how low we’ll go for a song that we can dance to.