I have no interest in any guessing games around the subject — or is that target — of “Mr. Perfectly Fine,” one of the songs Taylor Swift recently dug out of her stash of previously unreleased material. Nor am I capable in any way of expounding on how this piece, originally intended for Swift’s sophomore album, fits into the grand swath of the performer’s career. I’ll leave more expansive commentary to the legion of dedicated Swiftologists operating in the virtual research institution spread across social media platforms.
My primary admiration for this catchy pop ditty is the way it represents Swift using her considerable fame, and commensurate privilege, to reclaim her art after it was tossed around as a commodity entirely apart from her preferences, the sort of cold cruelty that’s hardly a new phenomenon in the music industry. She’s underway rerecording the old albums that now make money for people she loathes, cannily sweetening the deal with vault material that is otherwise unavailable. Good for her. I hope the original version of Fearless never moves another copy, and the 2021 release, parenthetically designated as Taylor’s Version, permanently takes its place. I’m not under the illusion that Swift is lacking for funds, like so many who’ve followed their dreams into the precarious field of music-making, but the exploitative jerkfaces who blithely move money around to claim ownership of other’s creativity don’t deserve to make a nickel off her wares.
And I will absolutely admit that “Hello Mr. ‘Perfectly fine’/ How’s your heart after breaking mine?” is pretty nifty lyrical turn of phrase.