It appears the “old Taylor” can come to the phone after all. For anyone hoping for a more conventional Taylor Swift single from her forthcoming sixth album, “Reputation,” the third time’s the charm, as “Gorgeous” finally provides some of the conventional pleasures that only a pop song about falling deeply in crush can.
Not that “Gorgeous” (released at the stroke of midnight Friday, in advance of the album’s Nov. 10 drop) would ever be mistaken for an outtake from “Fearless.” Producers Max Martin and Shellback have taken the track’s musical bed in the same deep electro-throb direction of the two preceding singles released from the album, “Look What You Made Me Do” and “…Ready for It?” It doesn’t even involve the currently trendy trick of combining electronic and acoustic instruments: If you’re looking for an “organic” element in the arrangement, you might have to settle for that split second pause between the verse and chorus, when we get what sounds suspiciously like… a triangle solo.
Musically, it’s closest to ‘Blank Space’ — that triangle chime even serves the same drop-out purpose as the pen-click sound effect in that former hit — but in lyric and spirit, ‘“Gorgeous” is, essentially, “Enchanted 2017.” And the segment of her audience that wasn’t entirely down with the paranoid turn of “Look What You Made Me Do” will be enchanted to meet the lighter side of Swift again.
Like “Enchanted” (from 2010’s “Speak Now”), “Gorgeous” is a sweet song about becoming besotted to the point of shyness while circling an object of desire at a social gathering. The main difference between then and now is the references to these sudden desires being influenced by being under the influence: “You should take it as a compliment that I got drunk and made fun of the way you talk,” is the opening line. Later, she establishes their location as being at the intersection of “whiskey on ice, Sunset and Vine,” where she’s got “a boyfriend (who’s) older than us… in the club doing I don’t know what.” (Dorothy, we’re not in “Our Song” anymore.)
The language is alternately self-mockingly dramatic — “You ruin my life by not being mine” — and whimsically frisky: “I can’t say anything to your face, because look at your face.” The effervescence of the chorus melody makes it clear that we’re not to take too seriously any of this being bewitched, bothered, and bewildered.
Or are we? Speculation immediately ran rampant that the song is about her rumored boyfriend, actor Joe Alwyn, with the soon-to-be-forgotten older dude in the disco possibly representing her past with one of the world’s more famous DJ types, Calvin Harris. Or, maybe this time around, she’s stopped writing autobiographically. (Sure she has.) A reference to “ocean-blue eyes” is likely not random, historically speaking. In the past, Swift’s references to eye color have been a veritable decoder ring to real-life lyrical assignations. (A brief history: the guys in “Sparks Fly,” “Everything Has Changed,” “I Know Places,” and “Wonderland” had green eyes, a la Harry Styles or Conor Kennedy, while the fellow in “State of Grace” had blue peepers, making him Jake Gyllenhaal, in perception if not reality. Maybe blue is her color after all.)
Apparently fans will have to wait another three weeks for the release of “Reputation” (an album so closely guarded her team doesn’t even plan to reveal the remaining song titles in advance) to try to figure out if the would-be swain in “Gorgeous” is, in fact, the guy who ultimately met the cats.