Sunday, May 08, 2016

Choose a Side: Taylor Swift v Adele

We are in the midst of a season of conflict. Batman is taking on Superman. Iron Man is taking on Captain America. Bernie is taking on Hillary. Donald Trump is taking on human dignity and civil discourse.

It's time to take another side: Taylor Swift versus Adele.

Neither has a new album out, so don't panic. You haven't missed out on anything. This is a theoretical war, a battle of tastes. But it's no less fraught with inner turmoil than all the others. Both Adele and Taylor captured hearts throughout the world long ago. They've chosen to grow up in front of us, mastering the art of self-disclosure while the rest of us settle for sloppy selfies and boring blog posts. We are invested in them both.

So, which one are we invested in more?

Adele is a powerhouse, no doubt. She has an instantly recognizable voice and sings anthemically every time she takes the mic. Sure, she's young and silly and fun-loving, but when she sings she's all business. Even with The Roots playing children's music behind her, even when James Corden is driving her through the streets of LA, when she sings, you take her seriously.

Taylor Swift is the better lyricist, and her music offers more variety. All you millennials, and all those kids coming up behind you, know intuitively that you'll be dancing to Taylor Swift at your kids' wedding receptions, and that they'll be dancing along with you. If you're dancing to Adele there, chances are you'll be the only one on the floor, dancing with your kid.

But Taylor's also borne up longer under more social pressure. She's the perennial underdog—literally: People dog on her relentlessly about her relationships, her voice, her agency, whatever. She's suffered the poorly timed chivalry of Kanye West leaping to Beyonce's defense during Taylor's award acceptance speech, and the kind-hearted condescension of Ryan Adams "proving" she's a good songwriter by recording a track-by-track version of her album while it was still at the top of the charts. Like Captain America, she's been through the war in a way Adele, like Iron Man, never has. Even the Bible seems to be against her: "The race," it assures us, "is not to the swift" (Ecclesiastes 9:11).

Sorry, Adele. I love you, but I'm Team Taylor.

Now, you might be saying, "What about Beyoncé?" That is a perfectly legitimate question, despite the fact that our template (DC's Batman v Superman, Marvel's Captain America: Civil War, America's election process) only tolerates binaries. Nevertheless, Beyoncé holds a similar place in our hearts for similar reasons to both Taylor and Adele. In my mind, she is to them what Captain Marvel is to Batman and Superman, or what Captain Marvel is to Iron Man and Captain America. Captain Marvel exists in both comic book continuities but occupies an entirely unique space in each. In Marvel, she's in a completely different universe. In DC, he shows up every now and then completely out of the blue and saves the day. Sound like Beyoncé to you?

In any case, by setting up this binary I mean her no disrespect. At the end of the day, whether you're Team Taylor, Team Adele, or a soldier in the army of Queen Bey, we all know who runs the world.

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So, what about you? Team Taylor or Team Adele?