Hello, surprise! There's only one more sleep till Fearless (Taylor's Version) is in the world, and yet, Taylor isn't even going to make us wait that long to hear another vault song. This morning, Twitter lit up in a flurry when we found "Mr. Perfectly Fine" on YouTube and streaming services. Of course, Taylor did eventually arrive to explain what all the "Omg Taylor"'s on my timeline were about.
Me in 2020: life is chill, writing songs based in fiction to avoid drama, feeling pretty grown up— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) April 7, 2021
My 2008 music from the vault, in a goblin voice: “REELEEEEEEASE MR PERFECTLY FIIIIIIINE” https://t.co/PCexr31q9x
After starting the week with a word scramble and an open vault to unveil the track list of the unreleased songs, we already have 2/6 in our possession. If you haven't seen it yet, the remaining vault songs we have left to hear tomorrow night are "We Were Happy", "That's When", "Don't You", and "Bye Bye Baby". Keith Urban is also featuring on an undisclosed track. The productions are done by the premiere Folklore crew, Jack Antonoff ("Mr. Perfectly Fine") and Aaron Dessner ("You All Over Me"). Even though neither of them were around during the first Fearless era, they've been doing an admirable job of imitating the sonics and the distinct feeling of that era.
So let's talk about "Mr. Perfectly Fine". The song has the most immaculate passive aggressive vibes as she takes us through the story of this relationship through the trope of Mr. However Taylor Feels About Him In The Moment, which is pretty cute and a unique structure. It definitely has major Fearless vibes, and it's interesting to see the way that Taylor's songwriting has shifted in the last 13 years and what's also stayed perfectly the same.
Sonically, the track made my brain jump straight to "Story of Us", which I know isn't on Fearless, but it carries that mix of country accents and rock undertones from the bright drums and ringing guitars that are echoed here. Taylor hasn't been purely country since her debut. She does an amazing job of controlling the dynamics to match the lyrics. The first verse is slow and drawn out. She extends certain vowels in interesting ways to make it almost dreamy, but then the pre-chorus hits and she finds an amazing driving rhythm through the lyrics that clues us into the fact that this isn't going to be a happy story. It's the constantly delicious sonic play where the instrumental and harmonies are so bright, but the lyrics have a bite to them. Like I was saying about "Deja Vu", "Mr. Perfectly Fine" is also a sad song that's past angry and bitter and is more just picking through the irony of the situation from a more removed point of view. This'll be the perfect song to thrash around to in the car.
Lyrically, she nails every single jab. The entire first verse is made up of Taylor using things that this guy had obviously told her in this "Mr" format. The quotes give us a glimpse of how hard the fall of the break-up was for her. And it picks up on the same themes that run through many of the songs on the album (particularly "Forever and Always") where she realizes words are just words and fairytale endings are generally fake. You can tell this guy was one for lofty, romantic promises from the lyrics- "Here to stay", "Looked me in the eye and told me you would never go away", "Every single day until the end, I will be by your side".
And then the pre-chorus tears down that delusion brick by brick starting with "But that was when I got to know Mr. 'Change of Heart'". Since my favorite part of these vault songs is connecting certain lines or themes that pop up in her later works to these, I immediately thought of "How You Get The Girl" when I read "Mr. Leaves Me All Alone, I fall apart" as it echoes the HYGTG line "When you left her all alone/ And never told her why, why". And in the last two lines of the pre, we see how it's starting to destroy Taylor to get jerked around, "It takes everything in me just to get up each day/But it's wonderful to see that you're okay". I love the snark in that last line, and this song is full of barbs.
She breezily tackles her own heartbreak in the chorus as she sings, "Hello, Mr. Perfectly Fine/How's your heart after breaking mine". You can just see the little hair toss Taylor would do after that line while performing the song live. Later in the chorus she mentions "Mr. Casually Cruel", proving that Taylor's been a fan of that particular alliterative statement far longer than we first saw it appear in "All Too Well" on Red in 2012. It's further proof that she really does write down words and phrases to fit into songs later like she's discussed during the Folklore era. My other favorite name from this chorus is "Mr. Everything Revolves Around You" because it perfectly summarizes exactly why the relationship went the way it did- everything from the excessively lovey beginning to casually dropping Taylor without considering the gravity of what he was doing. He got bored, and he was the only one who mattered in the equation.
In the second verse, she follows more of the format of the chorus than the first verse where she blends new names for him and lines of her own observations. Verse 2 is all about realizing how truly selfish the guy was and how the relationship and the break-up was solely about him and managing his image and his ego. The pain is maybe a little less when you start to see what happened from the outside. "Mr. Never Told Me Why/Mr. Never Had to See Me Cry/Mr. Insincere Apology So He Doesn't Look Like the Bad Guy". I think we've all met those people once or twice. And there's nothing worse than receiving an apology when you know it's not actually for you at all.
She switches up the pre-chorus to build on the progression of the story and double down on how carelessly he moved on. While she opens with lines about how she's picking up her heart off the floor while he's picking up a brand new girl, it's the second set of lines that really have the bite I'm looking for. "And I never got past what you put me through/But it's wonderful to see how it never phased you". There's such a sneer to that that's delicious, and it so casually portrays the devastation that's washing over her.
After the chorus, she swings around for the third verse. It highlights Taylor's forever long obsession with putting unique words in songs as she slides in "sashay" to paint this picture of this chic guy who's above absolutely everything in his rich, perfect, well respected bubble that Taylor somehow finds herself outside of. She closes out the verse by nailing down another arc-type of someone we all know and despise and don't understand in our own lives- "Oh, he's so smug, Mr. Always wins/So far above me in every sense/So far above feeling anything".
Finally, in the bridge we arrive at acceptance where Taylor affirms that she's going to me "Miss Be All Right Someday". And she holds her ground with the final two lines that make the verse telling him that it's actually too later this time, very reminiscent of "White Horse", "And someday maybe you'll miss me/But by then you'll be Mr. Too Late".
For the final chorus, she blends together old and new lyrics from prior choruses to give the song a sense of closure and finality. Instead of saying "Hello" to Mr. Perfectly Fine, she's saying goodbye. She asserts that she's learning and moving on saying, "I've been Miss Misery for the last time". The only crack in the removed, sarcastic, ironic facade comes in the last lines where she sings, "Mr. Look me in the eye and told me you would never go away/You said you'd never go away". It's the tiny crack where you're still just a tiny bit stuck on all the broken promises.
I think "Mr. Perfectly Fine" is a complete bop. I think it's the perfect song to rage to post-break-up. I love the snarky attitude and the witty wordplay. I also love how lyrically dense the song is. There's a bridge and a third verse which is exceedingly rare in songs these days. It's close to double the now standard 2.5 minute radio song. As someone who's been longing for bridges and extra verses sprinkled in the standard format, it's comforting to see Miss Swift's blast from the songwriting past. I'm also just perpetually in awe of how Taylor can fit an entire relationship from lovey, ooey-gooey beginnings to heartbreak to patching up and moving on (almost) in an entire song. She always captures the entire spectrum.
I'm so incredibly excited to hear the 4 vault songs we have left, and I absolutely need Taylor to come up with a way to play these new songs for us live.
(I'll be reacting to the Vault Songs on Friday!)
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