One of the new songs on Taylor Swift's soon-to-be-blockbuster fifth album, 1989, features a song called "Welcome to New York" (listen to a preview below). The song, unsurprisingly, is an ode to Swift's adopted home, and NYC and Company — the city's official tourism arm — is now using the tune and Swift's image to promote travel to the city, The New York Times reports.
That would be mostly innocuous except for the fact that much of New York media despises the song, seeing it as a banal depiction of America's largest city (although one with a shout-out to Swift's gay fans):
It’s a new soundtrack I could dance to this beat, beat Forevermore The lights are so bright But they never blind me, me Welcome to New York It’s been waiting for you Welcome to New York Welcome to New York
When we first dropped our bags On apartment floors Took our broken hearts Put them in a drawer Everybody here was someone else before And you can want who you want Boys and boys and girls and girls
“I’m not sure who comes off worse in this public relations horror: New York City or Taylor Swift," Gawker's Dayna Evans writes. "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!’”
Likewise, The Village Voice's David Colon writes, “‘Welcome to New York’ celebrates as generic, flat, and lifeless a New York as has ever existed in pop culture. Think about the song, and try to pick out a single detail about the city. You can’t. Replace ‘New York’ in the lyrics with ‘Des Moines,’ with ‘L.A.,’ with ‘Pittsburgh,’ any city you can shoehorn into the beat, and you wouldn’t have to change a single detail. Taylor Swift’s idea of New York is as boring as any rich, sheltered person’s idea about it, but the difference is that most of them don’t get to sing about it.”
Of course, Madonna's "I Love New York" wasn't an opus, but some see Jay-Z and Alicia Keys's "Empire State of Mind" as a more fitting tune for the city, one that depicts Gotham in all its unperfect glory, warts and all; a city that represents opportunity for down-and-out strivers, not just wealthy celebrities.