Taylor Swift enjoys the freedom young adulthood brings in the feckless “22.”
A restrained guitar opens the single, setting an pseudo-intellectual tone. Swift and her friends have finished their classes for the week. It’s a Thursday night and they are not quite sure what to do yet. A friend of hers starts going through her closet and throws some clothes on the bed. She’s the artsy tape and buys her clothes at the local vintage stores. Swift and her friends pore through the pile. Swift grabs a knee-length charcoal dress with ocean blue stripes and a pair of black Wayfarera. A half hour later, they have all changed and are doing impressions of their ex-boyfriends. Swift’s imitates how her anal retentive ex would have to everything just so by going up to her all her friends and adjusting any little thing she sees. They didn’t really eat much – save for some chips from the vending machine – and decide to go to the Waffle House. It’s midnight and they head out, flirting with some guys hanging out playing guitar in the activity center. (“It feels like a perfect night to dress up like hipsters/And make fun of our exes, ah ah, ah ah/It feels like a perfect night for breakfast at midnight/To fall in love with strangers, ah ah, ah ah..”)
In the pre-chorus, she says none of them who they are or what they will become yet. Some days, they wonder why they picked the major they did. Other days, they can’t wait to go for the weekend and get away from the fake pleasantries and cliques. There is so much new stuff to take in as they deal with being on their own. The papers can wait to be written one more day. (“Yeah/We're happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time/It's miserable and magical, oh, yeah/Tonight's the night when we forget about the deadlines/It's time.”)
In the chorus, she and her friends rely on each other as they meet new people. They are full of energy and optimism.. As the new hit song plays on the gas station speakers, they dance around in the lot, waiting for the vehicle to fill up. (“Uh oh!/I don't know about you/But I'm feeling 22/Everything will be alright/If you keep me next to you/You don't know about me/But I'll bet you want to/Everything will be alright/ If we just keep dancing like we're/22/22.”)
On Friday night, they go the local bar where everyone from college hangs out. When they get their drinks from the bar, they have to squeeze in awkward positions to return back to where they were sitting before. They spot the soroity girls dressed in the latest trends at a big table, whispering to each other, keeping to their tight pack. They decide to go back to the dorms and call it a night. However, they stay up talking about what they would like to happen to their lives in the future. (“It seems like one of those nights/ This place is too crowded./Too many cool kids, ah ah, ah ah (who's Taylor Swift anyway, ew?)/It seems like one of those nights,/We ditch the whole scene and end up dreaming/Instead of sleeping.”)
In the pre-chorus, she says they are going to stop wondering why the guy in one of their classes didn’t call back. (“Yeah/We're happy, free, confused, and lonely in the best way…tonight's the night when we forget about the heartbreaks/It's time.”) The chorus is sung again. In the bridge, she says they plan to have fun and enjoy life as much as possible while learning about love from all the wrong guys. (“It feels like one of those nights/We ditch the whole scene/It feels like one of those nights/We won't be sleeping/It feels like one of those nights/You look like bad news/I gotta have you/I gotta have you.”)
The chorus is sung again.
The bridge is sung again to end the single.
Swift’s stuffy, indulgent vocals are bossy while she orders her friends around, controlling the night’s events. She sneers at the girls who ignore her in the hallway and rejected her bid. She just as good as everyone else there.
Nonetheless, the song manages to hint at its point: she, along with her friends, are aware graduation is not far away and bigger responsibilites loom. For now, they’d rather hang to the possibilites life holds before it’s snatched away when they are not looking. However, it’s hard to find with the boiling anger threatening to burn at any time.
The cavalier “22” rolls it eyes, missing out on the picture right front of it.