I was thinking about Taylor Swift today for no particular reason. Just kidding, I think about her all the time. I even wrote a whole play about her. And before you say anything: Yes, I do agree that Ms. Swift’s public persona is as problematic as it is controversial, but let’s all be honest, the woman can write a fucking song. She might be off hiding in suitcases trying to lay low, but you know that her return single once this suspiciously timed period of hibernation is over is going to be a banger.
Now, everyone who knows anything about Taylor Swift knows that the two most delightful elements of her songwriting are her signature T-Drop (TM), and her bridges. For those who don’t know what a bridge is, Wikipedia defines it as a “contrasting section that prepares for the return of the material section”. It’s basically that part near the end of the song in which instead of singing a third (or fourth) verse, the artist chooses to sing something melodically different, before going into the final chorus. At least that’s how Taylor uses it.
So, I was thinking about Taylor Swift’s bridges, and because I’m a silly person I started debating with myself about which were the most iconic bridges in her career. Pitting all of the bridges she’s ever written (that we know of) against each other was a task too herculean for this blog, so I decided to look up the top ten Taylor Swift songs according to the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and rank them based on their bridges. The criteria I used were: thematic value, musical inventiveness, how essential they are to making the song a good choice for karaoke, and what does Taylor scream at the end of the bridge.
So, here we go…
My ex man brought his new girlfriend
She’s like, “oh my God”- I’m just gonna shake
And to the fella over there with the hella good hair
Won’t you come on over baby, we can shake, shake shake…
Is “Shake It Off” a good song? It’s one of those questions humanity will probably never answer. One minute you go “this is actually a pretty fun song”, and then you’re like “hell no.” There’s a lot of good stuff in the song if you ask me, but the bridge is not one of them. The only thing that keeps Taylor’s attempt at rapping from being a complete disaster is that it is so dorky you are willing to let her believe she’s in on the joke (she’s probably not).
What does Taylor scream at the end of the verse? She doesn’t say anything, she just vocalizes something like “woo-oooh-ooh-aah”
Bonus points: The “rapping” is bad, but the vocalizing that closes the bridge is one of the best moments in the song. I once heard a cover of the song that didn’t do the vocalizing and I got so angry I’m still not over it.
I used to think that we were forever ever
And I used to say, “Never say never…”
Uggg… so he calls me up and he’s like, “I still love you, “
And I’m like… “I just… I mean this is exhausting, you know, like,
We are never getting back together. Like, ever”
This is the rare Taylor Swift song that I don’t like at all, and so it pains me to not be able to rank it last. It doesn’t really have to do with anything the song does particularly well, but rather with how horrendous the rap section of “Shake It Off” is. As far this bridge goes, the whole bit where Taylor stops singing to tell us about how her ex called her is the biggest offender.
What does Taylor scream at the end of the bridge? Nooo!
Bonus Points: The part of the bridge that is actually sung is more melodically pleasing than any of the verses or the chorus, so there’s that. And I guess the “no!” at the end is a nice touch.
Time slows down whenever you’re around
I can feel my heart
It’s beating in my chest
Did you feel it?
I can’t put this down
I was surprised to learn this song was as successful as it was. This bridge is pretty basic, it’s quite long, and doesn’t live up to the usual Taylor standard (especially since she wrote some of her best bridges in the early stages of her career). At least there’s no rapping or speaking parts, or fake phone calls or none of that nonsense.
What does Taylor scream at the end of the bridge? This was before she decided to end all her bridges with screams. She sings the last “down” very softly, but it’s long and it serves basically the same purpose as her later screams.
Bonus points: The little girl in the video is pretty cute, though I’m not sold on the boy.
And I remember that fight, two-thirty a.m.
‘Cause everything was slipping right out of our hands
I ran out, crying, and you followed me out into the street
I like this song quite a bit, but this feels like a little bit of a half-assed bridge, and especially if you consider some of the gems in that album (like totally amazing bridge in “The Story of Us”). The bridge is very short and uneventful, and it relegates all the heavy lifting to the pre-chorus that follows.
What does Taylor scream at the end of the bridge? She doesn’t, all the screaming is reserved for the pre-chorus!
Bonus Points: I think I already overestimated this bridge based on how much I like the song around it.
Band-aids don’t fix bullet holes
You say sorry just for show
You live like that, you live with ghosts
…If you love like that… Blood runs cold!
I will never not think that it’s super weird that Kendrick Lamar collaborated on a Taylor Swift song. They seem like two completely different kinds of artists. Kendrick is obviously not putting all of his talent into these verses, so I’ve always preferred the album version. All of that doesn’t really matter because the bridge is the same in both. It’s a pretty solid, if not particularly exciting bridge… until that last part. That last “blood runs cold” sung at the top of her lungs is the kind of thing you can’t help but sing along with.
What does Taylor scream at the end of the bridge? “blood runs cold”, duh.
Bonus Points: In the music video, the bridge coincides with the appearance of Mariska Hargitay, and I always find it funny that Taylor decided to put her in the video.
And the saddest fear comes creeping in
That you never loved me or her, or anyone, or anything…
Taylor’s experiment with dubstep is surprisingly successful given how half-assed her attempts at hip-hop have been. This bridge is by no means the most memorable part of the song (I always struggle to remember it), and it’s very brief, but it has a very different tone to the rest of the song. Everything is suddenly dark and sad for a moment. If we’re going by the Wikipedia definition of trying to do a “contrasting section”, then this one doe sits job.
What does Taylor scream at the end of the bridge? Yeeaaaah
Bonus Points: I find the way in which the scream at the end is incorporated into the incoming chorus to be a really nice touch.
You see me in hindsight
Tangled up with you all night
Burn it down
Some day when you leave me
I bet these memories hunt you around
Wow, I did not expect this song to rank this high. I suppose Taylor’s better bridges are in the songs that didn’t become huge hits. In any case… this bridge isn’t necessarily masterful, but it is quite essential to its song, and I have to give it credit for that. “Wildest Dreams” is such a slow and dreamy song that the little jolt of energy that comes with this bridge is very much appreciated and keeps the song from becoming too calming.
What does Taylor scream at the end of the bridge? The scream is replaced by an echo-y voice that says “follow you around”, which is appropriate given the dreaminess of the song.
Bonus Points: Out of all the songs in 1989, I did not expect this one to become one of the biggest hits in the album.
Oh, I remember you drivin’ to my house in the middle of the night
I’m the one who makes you laugh
When you know you’re about to cry
And I know your favorite songs
And you tell me about your dreams
I think I know where you belong
I think I know it’s with me
If we’re going by Karaoke rules, you can’t do much better than this bridge. It’s simply the most emotionally satisfying part to sing. It’s particularly appreciated because by the time you get to it you’re probably losing some of your crowd, and you can absolutely get them back by being super dramatic.
What does Taylor scream at the end of the bridge? Her “meee” is more of a lament than a scream, but very nice nonetheless.
Bonus points: There’s a change of rhythm, in which the song really kicks down on the ones and the threes (I think?) that really benefits the structure of the song. It makes the softness with which the last chorus starts feel more significant.
Boys only want love if it’s torture
Don’t say I didn’t say I didn’t warn you
It’s a simple line repeated a bunch of times, but it’s weirdly effective. It’s something she wrote, but doesn’t it feel kind of like something you’ve heard your whole life? Like a saying, or an ancestral piece of wisdom? It’s also the most iconic part of the song. Ok, “baby I’m a nightmare dressed like a day-dream” is probably the most iconic part of the song, but this bridge is definitely the most fun. This was a very serious contender for the number one spot.
What does Taylor scream at the end of the bridge? Don’t say I didn’t say I didn’t WARN YAAAAAA
Bonus Points: If you thought the scream from bridge into chorus in “Bad Blood” was gonna make you sing, well, this one’s even more effective.
I got tired of waiting
Wondering if you were ever coming around
My faith in you was fading
When I met you on the outskirts of town
And I said
“Romeo save me, I’ve been feeling so alone
I keep waiting for you but you never come
Is this in my head? I don’t know what to think”
He knelt to the ground and pulled out a ring and said
The absolute pinnacle of Taylor Swift’s bridges and there’s simply no question about it. Not only does it precede the most memorable T-Drop (TM) of all time, the emotional punch of the whole song revolves around it. The whole concept of the song hinges on our familiarity with the Romeo and Juliet story and its tragic end. The bridge here is the most melancholy part of the song, dropping the upbeat drums and relying musically on lone guitar strums. It sets us up for the young lovers’ ultimate tragedy, or so we think… It actually sets the stage for the song to build up to the apotheosis of the final chorus.
What does Taylor scream at the end of the bridge? There’s no time for singing, this girl can’t lose her momentum, she’s gotta run right into the next section of the song.
Bonus Points: I absolutely love the way she sings “my faith in you was FAE-ding”.