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Taylor Swift’s Vulnerable Love in Her New Single Delicate

I’d like to talk about what I like about Taylor Swift’s new song Delicate

Let’s talk through the lyrics

This ain’t for the best
Right off the bat, this is unusual.  Most love songs are crystal clear in their expression of love, or their intent for love.  This isn’t.
The first lyric as text is a statement of doubt stemming from insecurity.
The rise in intonation in her pronunciation of the words expresses hopeful pessimism: she is saying something pessimistic, but she places positive energy on the best, meaning she can see what ‘best’ would look like. She has a dream to hope for.
The use of falsetto rather than pure notes expresses that she’s asking a question.  This ain’t for the best?  But she’s of course afraid to show lack of confidence, so she expresses it grammatically as a firm statement. It’s in the vocalization that you hear the question.
The use of auto-tune for her voice, and the decision to make this acoustic communicates that this is her inner voice. Through some sort of technology, we are able to hear her vulnerable thoughts.
My reputation’s never been worse, so
You must like me for me
Let’s do a recap of the song thus far even though we’re only 3 lines in: negative line, negative line, positive line.  The ratio is 2 to one, so the struggle is real. The tone of the song has been set: she will try to express love, but be set back from doing so in some way.
Vulnerability is communicated because Taylor Swift’s reputation as a lover in real life outside of this song is in fact in a bad state: a string of multiple failed relationships.
The beauty of this statement is enhanced by the music video: the camera begins on her melancholy face, and the camera angle pans out as the lyrics are read, revealing that she is dressed up for a fancy formal event, and right as she says the lyric “my reputation’s never been worse” you see that she is a star in this event because she’s being interviewed. Because she smiles with her full face to respond to the interview question, you know her public reputation, her career reputation, is doing great.  She has it all. Her net worth has never been higher.  Fan following never been bigger.  So it’s clear: reputation means love reputation.
You must like me for me
This is very unique.  A lot of songs sing about how one person loves the other for who they really are. But rarely is that expressed via an “if then” statement the way it is done here: “If I have a publicly known bad reputation and you still like me, then you must like the me with imperfections, the real me.”
This is a sentiment which isn’t often expressed, especially in 2018, when technology dominates dating culture, and what you are on social media matters more, what you are to society matters more, what you are to yourself? Does that matter anymore?  The context makes this statement all the more poignant.
We can’t make
Any promises now, can we, babe?
But you can make me a drink
We can’t make PAUSE means “we can’t make it” but she doesn’t say the word “it” because while she is pessimistic, she is fighting to be hopeful. So she abruptly changes the sentence
Promises are a classic reason for relationship mishaps and failures. But she isn’t referencing just that. Taylor’s brand and marketing team is one of the top in the industry, and her career is in the stratosphere. These details mean that she knows how to be culturally relevant.  Therefore, you can assume that her lyrics and artistry are tailored to the cultural climate of the time.  That being: we are in an age where promises aren’t made. There’s been a fundamental shift in relationship expectations.  “promise you’ll ____” used to be the core tenet of religion/social structure that enforced relationships and their success. As history progressed, divorce came into the picture and promises could now be recognized as broken.  Then break ups happened.  Birth control and the 60s love movement led to more free and open love.  Globalization increased the physical reach of people and it became more common for distance to separate people from each other because people no longer stayed where they grew up, nor stayed at a job in a single location their whole life.  “relationship promises” became something that children did, and parents played along to keep the ‘love alive’ as long as possible for their delusional children.  But then the internet happened, and the delusion that adults made for children was taken down: google Santa and you learn instantly Santa isn’t real. Relationships don’t start with promises that lead to happily ever after.  Promises are broken.
All of this theory is encapsulated in this one statement: we can’t make any promises now.
“but you can buy me a drink” = 100% monetization strategy.  For those of you who don’t know the industry, artists get paid when individuals buy their songs OR when businesses pay licensing fees to play them for groups.  The licensing makes way more money than the individual song sales now adays, especially since you can pirate the song or listen on youtube or a streaming service for free.  But wait, Taylor Swift’s business plan has refused to sign on with any streaming service because the licensing fee is too low.  Therefore what? Where is her revenue stream?  Two are left: Live performances and business licensing fees. What kind of businesses would pay the most for this kind of club/modern/tecno genre music?  Clubs.  How do clubs make money? Drink sales.
Dive bar on the East Side, where you at?
Clever way to make up a story around the drink to make it seem natural, even though it’s really a monetization lyric. East side is the wealthy side of NY, so this signals further how well off Taylor is doing presently
Phone lights up my nightstand in the black
Paints a picture that she’s awake at night.  She is relating to her audience as we all know this scene personally, even if we aren’t as well off as she is.
Come here, you can meet me in the back
In the music video, during this lyric she is taking photos with honest fans, when a bell boy of the hotel she’s partying at jumps on her from behind harassing her. This communicates that she doesn’t know who to trust, because sometimes the employees who appear to be one thing (bell boy) are really something else (stalker). So thus she has to take precautions like meeting people in the back.
Dark jeans and your Nikes, look at you
Oh damn, never seen that color blue
Just think of the fun things we could do
During these lyrics, Taylor Swift is now walking down the hall with 4 body guards forming a square around her. She’s safe from deceptive employees now like the bellboy, but she’s also isolated from genuine fans. She is now lonely and alone.  The trustworthiness of the remaining bodyguards are expressed by the mechanical and obedient and imitating walk they do with Taylor.
They do precisely what she asks them to do. Which is why they are no fun and very boring. Which is why this is when she expresses exasperation and boredom at them with her slouched body language walk around the lyric “just think of the fun things we could do” where she references how freeing from this life being with her lover would be for her.
I now want to make a point about lyric structure so I’ll show two stanzas at once now, starting with the full stanza from above:
Dark jeans and your Nikes, look at you
Oh damn, never seen that color blue
Just think of the fun things we could do
‘Cause I like you
This ain’t for the best
My reputation’s never been worse, so
You must like me for me
Yeah, I want you
We can’t make
Any promises now, can we, babe?
But you can make me a drink
Here is where she demonstrates some of her amazing song writing ability.  First, you realize that the lead in to “this ain’t the best” is “’cause I like you” and therefore the start of the song wasn’t really the start of the song, but more of: we stepped into her brain mid thought.  The complete thought is: I like you.  Wait, I’m afraid of these feelings.  No. I want to push through these feelings and express love. But the tenets of a loving relationship has been broken down by globalization, consumerism, capitalism, the precise elements that have brought me an amazing reputation are what’s keeping me from having an amazing love.
Also, she’s gaining confidence in her expression of love: 7 lines are positive, and 4 are negative. The ratio has flipped from earlier to now 2 positive lines to 1 negative line.
Is it cool that I said all that?
Is it chill that you’re in my head?
‘Cause I know that it’s delicate (delicate)
Is it cool that I said all that
Is it too soon to do this yet?
‘Cause I know that it’s delicate
Isn’t it? Isn’t it? Isn’t it? Isn’t it?
Isn’t it? Isn’t it? Isn’t it? Isn’t it?
Delicate
Third floor on the West Side, me and you
Handsome, your mansion with a view
Do the girls back home touch you like I do?
Long night, with your hands up in my hair
Echoes of your footsteps on the stairs
Stay here, honey, I don’t wanna share
‘Cause I like you
This ain’t for the best
My reputation’s never been worse, so
You must like me for me
Yeah, I want you
We can’t make
Any promises now, can we, babe?
But you can make me a drink
Is it cool that I said all that?
Is it chill that you’re in my head?
‘Cause I know that it’s delicate (delicate)
Is it cool that I said all that
Is it too soon to do this yet?
‘Cause I know that it’s delicate
Isn’t it? Isn’t it? Isn’t it? Isn’t it?
Isn’t it? Isn’t it? Isn’t it? Isn’t it?
Delicate
Sometimes I wonder when you sleep
Are you ever dreaming of me?
Sometimes when I look into your eyes
I pretend you’re mine, all the damn time
‘Cause I like you
Is it cool that I said all that?
Is it chill that you’re in my head?
‘Cause I know that it’s delicate (delicate)
Yeah, I want you
Is it cool that I said all that
Is it too soon to do this yet?
‘Cause I know that it’s delicate (delicate)
‘Cause I like you
Is it cool that I said all that?
Is it chill that you’re in my head?
‘Cause I know that it’s delicate (delicate)
Yeah, I want you
Is it cool that I said all that
Is it too soon to do this yet?
‘Cause I know that it’s delicate
Delicate
In this day and age, make a wrong move and people cut you out of their life. Unfollow, de-friend, block.  That’s what’s delicate.  Relationships. She goes invisible half way through the music video: this is what she’s expressing. Friends she used to have, have blocked her and pretend she doesn’t exist, pretend that the relationship doesn’t exist between her and them.
All this happens after that beautiful mirror scene where she makes faces at the mirror. She has fun for once, but because her face while having fun isn’t perfect, is ‘ugly,’ people cut her out of their life.  This expresses the fear involved in expressing love because one wrong move and that person is out of your life complete. Love is delicate.
My compliments to Joseph Kahn for directing this! And the team for making such an amazing music video to compliment this song.
Full Lyrics From Google (contact me and I’ll remove this if inappropriate)

Giving Unhurtful Feedback

I am notorious for giving cruel, uncaring, cutting feedback.  I thought that if I was clear, firm, and to the point, I would achieve perfect communication.  This is true only for robots, but not for humans with emotions.

Here’s what I thought happens when two people talk:

(idea in head) -> words spoken -> sound in air -> words heard by other person -> (idea in head)

Here’s what actually happens

(idea in head) -> words spoken with tone and expressed with body language -> sound in air and visual imagery -> other person’s emotions at the time + other person’s unconscious biases and habits + other person’s beliefs and world view + other person’s view on the relationship between you and them + other person’s feelings of their relationships with themselves and the rest of the world at that moment + what you said + what they interpret what you said meant + what they see + what they interpret what they see meant -> (idea in head)

As a result, when I say something like “Don’t do that. Do this instead.”  What I think is happening is I’m clearly communicating what needs to be addressed, and how it needs to be addressed.  What is happening is I’m 1. taking authority and command and superiority to tell the other person what to do 2. making them feel small 3. making them feel threatened 4. making them feel confused and afraid from the threat 5. making them question why 6. making them insecure about whether to trust the information or not 7. wonder about my intentions 8. wonder about the impact on the relationship and on them self if they obey and if they don’t obey 9. creating a hostile environment into which it is difficult to give feedback, ask for clarification, be equal 10. etc.

Instead, lead with intent that is selflessly benevolent to the other person: I want you to do well, so I care if something bad happens to you. I an concerned that if you do that, a unfortunate etc. thing will happen to you, which I don’t want.  So my solution to the situation is to do this because given my experience etc. will happen. What do you think?

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Spend Time with Your Sick Friends

Feb 2017 I was sick and stuck in bed for 4 weeks due to the Flu, and I have to say being sick is a very lonely activity.  Being stick in bed means you don’t see anyone at work, because you don’t go to work, and you don’t see anyone on your commute, because you aren’t commuting, and you don’t see any human beings in person at all, except the ones who live with you, but they have lives and are rarely home, so you’re basically alone all day and night and it’s very lonely.

All the things you’d normally do to pass time are no longer an option.  You suddenly find yourself with so many hours of free time, but no energy or ability to take advantage of said free time.  So you aren’t gaining happiness from doing fun things. Instead, you’re just decaying slowly as the illness saps your energy.

It’s depressing to say the least. And the longer it goes on, the more lonely you feel because your Loneliness Battery isn’t being recharged.

I know the typical response is to say: oh that person is sick, I don’t want to get sick too so let’s avoid that person.  But that is the wrong thing to do because you aren’t helping them get well by leaving them alone.  Go to them, spend some time with them. Practice safe and intelligent hygiene to avoid contracting illnesses, and continue proper self care to stay healthy yourself.  Don’t underestimate the power of being present for someone in helping them continue to fight the illness, in helping them recover from illness, in helping them be healthy.

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