“Welcome to New York”. Seems innocuous enough, doesn’t it? If anything, it’s quite inviting. When put into a song, you’d even think that it would be a wonderful feel-good anthem. Well, you would be wrong!
“Welcome to New York,” is one of the titles on Taylor Swift’s recently released, aready-record-breaking album, 1989. It was one of the few songs which were released before the actual album was dropped, and it highlights Taylor’s not-so-secret love of the Big Apple.
Considering Taylor Swift’s incredibly impressive selling power (see above record-smashing album sales) New York City’s tourism board has decided to use the song to promote tourism of the city. They’ve also titled Swift an official New York Ambassador. Taylor Swift is an internationally recognised name, she’s got the ability to rake in massive sales numbers, and there seem to be daily pap shots of her happily strutting around New York in cute/sexy outfits. As such, you would think it would make sense to award her such a title, right? Again, you would be dead wrong!
Evidently, there are quite a number of New Yorkers who are up in arms about this latest move. There are millions of kids who will be going to bed starving tonight, no idea when their next meal will be. Just as many people in parts of Africa have no access to clean drinking water. People are being mercilessly murdered because of their religion; others still because of their sexual orientation. So, of course, our priorities are totally in the right place when we decide to get pissed off at Taylor Swift’s song not being representative enough of all of New York.
Writes Gawker’s Dayna Evans’, whose indignation isn’t misdirected at all, “I’m not sure who comes off worse in this public relations horror: New York City or Taylor Swift. When affordable housing is near impossible to come by and as monolith branded-cool companies push out arts communities and while entitled rich children run through the streets proclaiming ownership over everything and while minority arrests continue for low-level crimes, the least (or most?) likely choice for the promotion of a city with equal problems and triumphs is a whitebread out-of-towner who says, “Hey, don’t think about those scary, unjust things! Let’s talk about that night we stayed out late dancing instead!” Swift’s role is to attract tourists to the ol’ Big Apple, sure. But her antiseptic pandering, riddled with platitudes as boring as “like any true love, it drives you crazy,” is embarrassing for New York because the image she paints for out-of-towners is as dull as one can get. Swift trades in the same reductive simplification of this enormous, culturally vibrant, changing, frustrating city as say, Humans of New York does.”
Ms Evans is not the only one who thinks this way. A quick Google search will result in no shortage of like-minded individuals. I suppose it’s a good sign of how first-world we are that we can afford to fly off the handle over something really as inconsequential as the lyrics to a Taylor Swift song. Even more so, how we can’t seem to make up our minds. When she writes melancholy ballads about heartbreaks and ex-lovers, we’re on her case that she never writes about anything else. Then, when she gives us upbeat tracks about her love of a city, we complain that it isn’t dreary and depressing enough. Our priorities are definitely in the right place.
Swift’s “Welcome to New York” is being used to attract tourism to the city. The nerve of these tourism officials to choose a song that paints the city in a beautiful, welcoming light! What kind of tourist who visits anywhere for a weekend would ever choose their destination because it’s happy and lovely? I know that I, for one, always base my vacation hotspots on how well the city can convince me of the homelessness, poverty and mind-boggling crime that there is. Furthermore, how dare Taylor Swift write a song about her personal experiences and make it sound so personal and not at all like other people’s experiences?! How. Dare. She?