Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

“You Need To Calm Down” is a rare message song from Taylor Swift

Photo: Jeff Kravitz (FilmMagic for iHeartMedia/Getty Images)

Taylor Swift is primarily known for love songs, often written about ex-boyfriends that the masses love to gossip about. There’s also her subset of feud-inspired tracks, like “Bad Blood,” which was about her now-cookie-healed rift with Katy Perry. So, no, Swift isn’t really known for issue-driven message music. That changes, though, with her just-released single “You Need To Calm Down, which claps back at haters more effectively than “Shake It Off.”

Swift starts the synth-driven single by calling out people who go after her online (“you are somebody that I don’t know,” “say it in a tweet that’s a cop-out”). Then she moves on to anti-gay prejudice: “Why are you mad when you could be GLAAD,” she sings, offering a reference to the LGBTQ advocacy group. Elsewhere, Swift plays up the (Pride) parade, disses the “dark ages,” and cautions the listener to “control your urges to scream about all the people you hate/cause shade never made anybody less gay.”


Lots of pop songs vaguely preach inclusion, but “You Need To Calm Down” clearly and refreshingly combats homophobia and anti-gay bias. While the audio is available today—it’s currently trending at #2 on YouTube—Swift will release a video for the track this Monday on Good Morning America. According to EW, Swift said that the video “has a lot going on”—par for the course for Swift videos—so “she wanted her fans to have time to process the song on its own first.”

“You Need To Calm Down” is the second single off the Swift’s forthcoming seventh album—the rainbow-themed Lover—and it’s a lot more listenable than the cloying “Me!”, which assured us that “spelling is fun!” She announced on Instagram that Lover will be released on August 23—there’s apparently four different formats available Target, should you have a ton of cash to blow on Taylor Swift merch.


Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.

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