Taylor Swift 's Shake It Off Essay

Taylor Swift 's Shake It Off Essay

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Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”, the first single off of her sixth album 1989, debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in late August of 2014. Swift, whose start as a country-pop performer had thrust her in the limelight when she was sixteen, cemented her transformation from country sweetheart to pop superstar with the track and subsequent album. Dealing with the many criticisms she had faced over the years, particularly the sexist accusations that she was a serial dater and crazy girlfriend, the song’s universally-appealing message of resilience combined with its catchy and carefully crafted sound ensured its positive reception. This popularity served as motivation for its inclusion on the song list for the A.V. Club’s Undercover series, in which invited bands come perform a song of their choice from the list. The band who chose to tackle “Shake It Off”, Screaming Females, shares little in common with Swift musically. Featuring Marissa Paternoster on guitar and vocals, Jarrett Dougherty on drums, and King Mike on bass, Screaming Females is a punk rock band from New Brunswick, NJ, whose hallmarks are Paternoster’s blistering vocals and impressive guitar skills. Although popular in alternative rock circles, the band has never seen the same mainstream success as Taylor Swift. Through their choices with regards to song structure, instrumentation, and vocal style, Screaming Females recasts Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” as a pop punk song that adopts a fittingly angrier tone while preserving the empowering core of the original.
Both pop and punk are defined by loose sets of aesthetic expectations. “Shake It Off” is a clear example of a dance-pop anthem, centered around a few particularly catchy hooks with lyrics that...


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...ng maintains the sense of female empowerment from the original song while also putting in the context of female-fronted punk band pushing against misogynistic connotations with the genre.
Overall, the Screaming Females manage to make “Shake It Off” their own. Through small changes in melody and formal structure, as well as instrumentation and vocal style, the band reframes Swift’s carefree anthem as a no less powerful pop punk track that capitalizes on the angry vocals of Marissa Paternoster. In their performance, Screaming Females managed to connect convincingly with an underlying passion in Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and express this connection through their punk aesthetic without sounding gimmicky or parodying of the pop track. Instead, the band helps blur the lines between genres and show that they can turn anything into a rocker no matter its pop roots.

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