Taylor Swift - Ours (Speak Now Deluxe Edition, 2010)
"Ours" is just a bonus track on the deluxe edition of Taylor Swift’s latest album, but it’s one of my favorites. The tone is dainty and brisk, almost twee in the way some kinds of indie rock were around the turn of the century. It shares with a few other songs on Speak Now a focus on the new independence offered by adulthood, and though its neat romantic narrative seems fictional, its details ring true. While on “Never Grow Up” Swift spoke with trepidation about the rite of maturity that is moving into one’s own place, on “Ours,” like “Mine,” she captures the vibrant novelty of self-direction.
The song’s set-up is almost too contrived. Swift is a narrator both fond of conventions and given to think cinematically, so “Ours” is essentially a romantic comedy. It begins with a cold open: “Elevator, buttons, and morning air/Stranger silence makes me want to take the stairs.”
Such a great couplet! The subject matter is banal to the point of cliché — TV Tropes has an “Uncomfortable Elevator Moment" entry — but Swift sings it in such a plainly observational manner that it seems noteworthy because this elevator is still something new to her. I imagine her living in an upmarket downtown apartment block, not yet used to the idea that going outside no longer involves stepping out a front door, walking to a garage, and directing a car into traffic. Note too the insertion of "buttons" into the otherwise broad description. When uncomfortable in your building’s elevator, anticipating the cold outdoors, what else is there to do but fumble with your coat? I’m reminded of the metro chic of Stars’s "Elevator Love Letter," which goes nicely with my initial comparison of "Speak Now" to Death Cab for Cutie’s "Company Calls Epilogue.”
These moments are what make the song, since its story is just the boy-meets-girl, certain-outsiders-disapprove tale of “Love Story,” albeit with the melodrama toned down. That’s OK, though, because the moments are great; another line has Swift instructing her beau to disregard “lipgloss smiles” — the kind with a lustre only wiped on, I assume. The overall impression is one of cozy intimacy. We are told people think this relationship is a bad idea, but Taylor is too intent on enjoying the happiness that exists in something shared between two people to care.
There are a couple noteworthy points for those who want to paint Swift into an ideological corner she is too complex to remain in. The first is a strange bit of gender-inversion; the chorus has her jokingly assuring her partner, “Don’t you worry your pretty little mind” in just the way an asshole alpha-male might tell his side-chick. The other is more pointed, and even makes the song seem like it might be a companion piece to “Mine.” “And any snide remarks from my father about your tattoos,” sings Taylor, and then a pause, to make her pronouncement firm: “will be ignored.” Swift’s business is her own, and not the patriarchy’s. Got that?
I hate to bring up that last point, because, really, this is just a cute song about a cute love story, and it’s best appreciated as such. There are nooks within it to explore, however, and Swift’s natural, unappreciated brand of independent womanhood is one of them.