When last Taylor Swift launched a new round of music, with 2017’s “Look What You Made Me Do,” she was snarling about snakes and revenge.
But ladies and gentleman, the old Taylor is back from the dead.
On her new single “ME!,” which Swift had been teasing on social media before dropping it at midnight on Friday, the 10-time Grammy winner has returned to the relentlessly upbeat, smiley-faced Taylor of old.
The all-caps-plus-exclamation-point title says it all: This pep-squad ode to individuality — a duet with Panic! At the Disco frontman Brendon Urie — comes on like a stadium-size blast of confetti showering you with positive vibrations. It’s that, um, subtle.
The empowering lyrics — so rah-rah positive you may need a triple shot of caffeine before listening — sometime feel like “Sesame Street” platitudes for an artist approaching 30. “One of these things is not like the others/Like a rainbow with all of the colors,” she cheers.
It’s a clear about-face from some of the darker, sassier moments on Swift’s last album, “Reputation,” which, by her standards, was a disappointment, yielding only two Top 10 singles (“Look What You Made Me Do” and “…Ready for It?”) and failing to win a single Grammy.
If she was trying to be Lorde on “Reputation,” she’s back to being Taylor here. And certainly her old knack for catchy pop songcraft remains intact.
The video, which also premiered early Friday, drives the reversal to the old Tay-Tay home right from the beginning by having a snake burst into butterflies. Catch that symbolism?
Then Swift and Urie have an argument in French, but rather than going all Edith Piaf on us after that, T-Swizzle all of a sudden begins singing in English. The colorful clip, which looks as if it took over an old Hollywood sound stage, is as exceedingly vibrant as the song.
Before the midnight premiere, Swift chatted up ABC’s Robin Roberts about her new single during the NFL Draft. “ ‘ME!’ is a song about embracing your individuality and really celebrating it and owning it,” she said.
“With a pop song, we have an ability to get a melody stuck in people’s heads, and I just want it to be one that makes them feel better about themselves.”