7 Reasons Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" Became a Number 1 Hit, Starting With Those Silly Dance Moves
The numbers are in, and once again, Taylor Swift has proven that everything she touches immediately turns to gold. "Shake It Off," Swift's first single from her upcoming album, 1989, debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 — who didn't see that one coming? It's hard to believe that my new favorite song (and its equally adorable music video) debuted barely a week ago, but I am always ready to welcome new T.Swift tunes into my life with open arms. According to Billboard, the song sold over 554,000 digital copies — that's a lot of people who are listening to Swift's new song right now.
"Shake It Off" is also breaking records. Not only was the song Swift's 60th Hot 100 hit, but it was also the first song to reach Radio's Top 10 in two weeks or fewer since 2011. The last song to do that? Lady Gaga's "Born This Way." That's right — Swift's officially reached popularity of Gaga proportions. Of course, this isn't exactly surprising news, as the empowering single was poised from the beginning to take over the charts, but a victory for Swift nearly two years after the release of her last album, Red, means that her fans (or her place at the top of the music food chain) definitely aren't going anywhere.
But there are a lot of ingredients in the instant success of "Shake It Off," and all of them have to do with the fact that Swift is a well-seasoned businesswoman who could probably make an entire album of herself sneezing fly off the shelves. How did Swift manage to pull it off? Because she's brilliant, that's why.
There was crazy anticipation before the release of the single
If you've been paying attention — and don't feel bad if you haven't, because I've been paying enough attention to T.Swift for all of us — you know that Swift's new album come in a tried and true pattern of web chat announcement in August, first single premiere, and then, finally, the album's release later that fall, exactly two years after her previous album. Swift is a creature of habit, and once this August rolled around, fans knew they were due for new music. But this time, Swift released a series of Instagram clues that told fans that the big announcement would be happening on August 18 at 5:00 p.m. ET on Yahoo.
And then the chat happened — and a short contest where fans could enter for a chance to attend — which included not only the debut of the single, but the music video as well. And after that? "Shake It Off" was pretty much the only thing the internet cared about for a solid 24 hours. Well played!
The song's lyrics prove how self-aware Swift has become
As Swift has said herself, we live in what she calls a "take-down" society — and she's well aware that she's been someone society's been trying to take down for quite a while. Her lyrics show that she isn't oblivious to what the media's been saying about her dating history, not that the rumors will change how she lives her life. And the music video? Basically three solid minutes of Swift reminding us how much she can't dance. You're not insulting her by making fun of her award show dance moves, guys. She's in on the joke.
In "Shake It Off," Swift manages to playfully mock herself while at the same time empowering herself and anyone who can relate. Not exactly an easy task to take on, but she pulls it off flawlessly.
And those dance moves were pretty much an ad for her VMA performance.
When I think of award shows, I instantly think of the comedic gold that is Taylor Swift dancing in the audience. Since her first performance of "Shake It Off" was at the VMAs, it was pretty smooth that she released a video showcasing her dance moves just days before the show. It ensured that all eyes (and MTV's live feed cameras) were on Swift in the audience, instead of on the actual artists, anytime someone was performing on stage. Is there any better publicity than that?
"Shake It Off" is A Simple Pop Song — AKA The Best Kind
It would be easy to argue that Swift made her transition into pop long ago, but 1989 will be her first 100 percent, truly-categorized-as-pop album, and "Shake It Off" is the perfect song to welcome us to the new era. The lyrics are very basic and easy to quickly memorize (I would know), the chorus is catchy, and the melody is upbeat. There's not a lot more to making a pop hit than that, and by keeping it simple, Swift has created something that a wide audience will enjoy.
And besides, it's the perfect "Car Song"
Top 40 radio is based on the top 40 songs radio listeners want to hear each week, right? And when do you listen to the radio? In the car, usually. If you find a song that doesn't make you want to instantly change the station, it's going to climb the charts, and there's no better song to listen to on a sunny day with the windows rolled down than "Shake It Off." If you've been caught dancing in your seat in traffic to Swift's new song already, you're not alone.
The great T.Swift Drought Of '13
After Swift's last album, Red, fans have been clamoring for new music. And after months of hearing "I Knew You Were Trouble" on the radio 900 times, at long last, the drought has finally ended. At this point, the long wait meant "Shake It Off" was automatically destined to be a hit.
The Controversy Behind The Song
Some might've taken "Shake It Off" to be a huge dose of offensive cultural appropriation, and over the past week, the controversy has made Swift and her single a hot button topic for listeners. Even though I don't agree with their opinions, I certainly can't fault them for standing up for what they believe in — and I know there are definitely people who were made curious by the controversy and listened to the song (and watched the video) because of it, thereby unintentionally making the song even more popular. Oops.
Oh, and the amount of Facebook battles I've had with people who've taken Swift's video the wrong way? Yeah, it's gotten heated — and I know I'm not the only one who's taken a stand for her this week. Swift's not too worried about what people are saying, though. She's just gonna "Shake It Off"... all the way to the bank.