It is easy to write off modern pop music when you are buried beneath records from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. It’s all the same type of electronic noise, the same tempo, the same message.
I thought the same way for a long time, too. Then, one day when I was flicking through a music magazine, I found an interview with Neil Young. He reeled off a list of artists and mentioned Taylor Swift, praising her songwriting ability. I listened to a few of her records, and after several listens, got what he meant: she could really write a great song.
The show she put on at Wembley Stadium would have been exactly what the fans would have wanted: glamour, fireworks, flames. But the bit that struck me the most was when she strapped on an acoustic guitar and played two songs (Dancing With Our Hands Tied, So It Goes…) alone.
Playing the songs in this way showed the audience the bare bones. Each moving part was laid out. There was no hiding behind pyrotechnics and stage lighting, the music just stood there under the microscope. And it really worked.
Maybe one day we’ll hear all of these songs stripped back.