28. Style – Ryan Adams

In October 2014 Taylor Swift released 1989, a synthy, poppy offering designed to distance her brand from the pseudo-country roots she, or rather her handlers in the music business, had been cultivating in the early years of her career. The time had come to shepherd her towards the mainstream mega celebrity she was inevitably to enjoy.

In September 2015 serial album-generating machine and huge Taylor Swift fan Ryan Adams released 1989, ostensibly a like-for-like cover of the entirety of the Taylor Swift album.

Cover of 1989 by Ryan Adams

The Internet Feminists did not like that one bit: Adams was accused of “mansplaining” Swift’s songs back to her (conveniently ignoring that the songs on the abum were almost exclusively written by men), and drawing attention to what must be “fragile masculinity” on Adams’ part, since clearly he couldn’t stand to let a mere woman have all the success and attention.

Sadly there’ll always be that demographic—you know who they are—who seek to further their agenda and increase their currency—both literal and metaphorical—by slinging mud, and riding the coat-tails of high-profile men. With his abject lack of people skills, and deep reluctance to engage with the media circus that inevitably dogs successful creative artists, Adams has always been seen as something of an easy target in that regard.

Heaven forfend we countenance that maybe, just maybe, Ryan just really, really liked the songs. Taylor Swift, for her part, loved the reimagined album too. She probably didn’t mind the little bonus on top of her royalty check either.

That Ryan’s record garnered more attention in the “serious” music press than Taylor’s was deemed to be blatant misogyny and musical snobbery. Heaven forfend we countenance that maybe, just maybe, Adams simply made a more interesting record.

It could be any track on the album, but I’ve chosen Style. Just a great, driving guitar-pop song about a star-crossed young couple who’ve had their ups and downs but can’t keep their eyes or indeed hands off each other:

We never go out of style

There’s a groove and intensity and perhaps even a sense of fun that the rather po-faced, 80s-lite original desperately needed. Adams modifies the lyrics, seemingly to espouse the point of view of the male protagonist, in counterpoint to Swift’s heroine of the original piece:

You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye
And I got that red lip classic thing that you like

So it goes
He can’t keep his wild eyes on the road, mm
Takes me home
The lights are off, he’s taking off his coat, mm, yeah

“Style” – Taylor Swift

You’ve got that Daydream Nation look in your eye
I got that pent up love thing that you like

So it goes
I can’t keep my eyes on the road
She takes me home
Lights are off, she’s taking off her coat

“Style” – Ryan Adams

They didn’t like that at all either, but then, had he not given them something to moan about, they would never have listened to a Taylor Swift record, let alone a Ryan Adams record, in the first place. So, y’know, joke’s on them.

Artist: Ryan Adams
Album: 1989
Writers: Ali Payami, Karl Johan Schuster, Martin Sandberg, Taylor Swift & Ryan Adams
Producer: Ryan Adams
Released: 2015; PAX-AM

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