No more is the timid girl from a Christmas tree farm with a big voice, hiding behind a guitar and country guise. Rather, behold Taylor Swift, the pop star, who closed last night’s MTV Video Music Awards with a big and choreographed performance of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Big live shows like this have never been Taylor’s forte, her songwriting being far stronger than her singing, and so she’s created scenes — the “You Belong with Me” subway crawl, the this-one’s-for-you-Kanye but also Little House on the Prairie inspired “Innocent” — in which she might star for each of her VMA performances past. This year, though, she was the scene. There was stomping and hair flipping, a choreographed routine and dashing male backup dancers, an extra-fitted pair of short shorts; and all was befitting of the high-impact and empowered pop song she chose to perform. And more so, the pop star she is evolving into.
Taylor began the performance in a mock-recording booth, an appropriately intimate space to recall “I remember when…” and a place where Taylor feels comfortable. But this time, she didn’t seem to need that. Boyfriend so dismissed, the studio walls pull away for the real show. She sort of broke her singing to yell, “This time I’m telling you, I’m telling you,” while an army of dancers back-flipped behind her. And then, with a foot stomp and hair flip she went in. We-eeee!
Colorful and choreographed, the whole thing was not unlike a Gap commercial or Feist’s “1,2,3,4” video, but Taylor really seemed to be having fun. We love the way she leaned back into the climactic “never ever ever getting back together,” all the spins and struts and hip throws, and even that less than inspired stage dive she attempted at the end. And as she slowly sauntered off, we felt for the first time that maybe Taylor Swift could be more then just a singer-songwriter. That she’s working toward pop star, and that she’s having fun figuring it out. And she’s young and talented and looks great in her Françoise Hardy uniform — so why shouldn’t she be?