This has been the year of Taylor Swift. We all know this. Single after single from 1989 has gone straight to number one. Her music videos are some of the most watched videos on YouTube. Her letter to Apple got them to majorly rework their new streaming service. It is just a matter of time before she is Hillary’s VP.
But we need to talk about how all of these singles are just marking time to the eventual release of “Clean”, the last song on the album, and how “Clean” is obviously the best song on the album, maybe her best song ever.
Co-written with Imogen Heap, with Imogen Heap doing most of the instrumentation and Swift on the lyrics, the song is a lush, pop ballad about finding yourself when a relationship ends. If you do not already own the song on iTunes, I urge you to do so, as Swift’s copyright people have effectively eliminated any way of listening to the song for free, so I can’ t even let you sample it. Imogen Heap used two sets of tubes called “BoomWhackers” and a keyboard-like instrument called an mbira to create the dreamy, ethereal quality of the song, plus added her own signature vocals to the background at Swift’s request.
But the real strength of the song lies in Swift’s lyrics, which describe the end of a drought, with the speaker punching a hole in the roof of her ceiling to let the floodwaters in:
Rain came pouring down when I was drowning
That’s when I could finally breathe
And by morning gone was any trace of you,
I think I am finally clean
So much of Swift’s lyrics are about being boy-crazy and obsessed, but here she describes the emotion that comes after, when you finally move on and start becoming your own person again. It could easily double for any kind of powerful emotion that overtakes you, be it a relationship, a mental health issue or what have you.
I will also admit that part of my love of this song is that I had the worst crush of my life this past year, and though I’m definitely not over it, listening to this song makes me feel like I’m getting there. I listened to this song when I finally told him he was being a shitty friend, and even though I apologized a trillion times afterwards, at least for once I stood up for myself. I think the right song can allow you to see the world the right way, and I think “Clean” is one of those songs. It will no doubt be a single by the year’s end, but listen to it now so you can be cool before everyone else.