As Sinead O’Connor once mused on “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “How could I possibly know what I want when I was only 21?”
Well, Taylor Swift has hit 22, and she knows exactly what she wants: to ditch scenes with “too many cool kids” and to be “happy, free, confused and lonely in the best way.”
In her new song for “22,” the Grammy-bedazzled singer explores being 22 and why it’s apparently a total blast. Do we sign on to this vision of young adulthood? Check out the lyrics video below to see.
In the actual music video for “22,” she’s also seen eating cake and sitting on the shoulders of her friends, who are riding Schwinns.
I bring this up because the only pseudo-issue I’ve ever had with Taylor Swift concerns her age. When Lauryn Hill released the introspective, soulful, and very adult blockbuster The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, she was 23. Alanis Morissette was 21 when she released Jagged Little Pill. Sinead O’Connor released her caustic breakthrough The Lion and the Cobra at 21. At 22, the singer-songwriter Swift’s determinedly whimsical approach to adulthood is fun and harmless, but to me her phenomenal success is either an indicator that twentysomethings are the new teenagers (which is possible considering the large amounts of us who still live at home) or a sign that Taylor Swift is simply her own strangely encouraged brand of womanchild. It wasn’t long ago that she was waxing about princesses, Romeos, Juliets, and love stories. Hell, her Grammy performance this year was a Disney-fied trip to Wonderland where she all but called out her ex-boyfriend by name. Alanis still won’t budge on the “You Oughta Know” mystery front — and you have to admire her for that anonymity.
Though Swift’s a very palatable pop star, there is something weird and kind of telling about this version of adulthood. Is it harmful? Sincere? Speaking for myself, I was definitely over the concept of “cool kids” by the time I was finishing up college.
Maybe if she performed “Mandinka” a couple times, I wouldn’t be so bothered.
What’s your take on Taylor’s take on 22?