Shake It Off

Top of the Pops *

*this post is not about the BBC TV programme, it just seemed a fitting title.

I’m not a great follower of chart music. In the late eighties I worked in music retail (Our Price Music in London: Queensway, Notting Hill, Wandsworth and London Wall branches), at the time, I was well aware of the fluctuations of the charts. That awareness was curtailed when I moved to France in 1991, France is not exactly a pop paradise. Recently, however, teaching English I have a student interested in learning English through listening to the top hits. We look regularly at the Billboard top 10 hits and for the past two months, two songs have dominated those charts:

The first, “All About that Bass” by Meghan Trainor

and the second is “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift

Both songs are very catchy, I find them running through my head often when I am on the metro or walking around town. They also both have pleasingly positive messages.

Week of 15 November 2014 (Billboard Chart)

  1. Shake It Off               Taylor Swift         11 weeks on chart Previous week :2
  2. All About That Bass  Meghan Trainor   17 weeks on chart Previous week :1
  3. Habits (Stay High)       Tove Lo                23 weeks on chart Previous week :3
  4. Animals                      Maroon 5              11 weeks on chart Previous week :5

Meghan Trainor (a relative newcomer to the pop scene aged 20), who  it’s pretty clear,  ain’t no size two, her song basically is about not worrying about your size, You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along.

The song shows an awareness of the Photoshop manipulation of fashion images.

I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop
We know that shit ain’t real
C’mon now, make it stop

It is an empowering song about embracing your natural body size, it is Meghan Trainor’s first big hit.

The video is quite slick shot on a set resplendent in pastel colours, if an old English sheepdog were added to the mix, you could be forgiven for thinking it were a Dulux advert.

Taylor Swift, at 24, a veteran of the music scene,  looks a bit more like a stick figure silicone Barbie doll.

Her new album “1989” was the fastest selling album on the week of its release (selling 1.287 million copies)  since Eminem released the “Eminem Show”  way back in 2002.

“Shake it Off” is a song about ignoring criticism. She sings: I stay out too late
Got nothing in my brain
That’s what people say, (then she looks to the camera and nods with a sarcastic “mmm-mmm”)

…and continues the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate 

The message of the song seems to be that you have to not only live your life in spite of people who don’t understand you — you have to have more fun than they do. Shaking off the criticism.

Both songs are highly catchy, almost insanely catchy, both singers look knowingly at the camera and there is some of the seemingly obligatory booty shaking, what I believe is known as “twerking”, in both video clips.