The release this week of her fourth album, RED, has given Taylor Swift some of the best critical notices of the pop star’s career. Baited by its exceedingly pleasurable lead single, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”, I’ve been listening to it myself all week, and you know, it really is kind of totally good. Sure, it’s not going to magically win over those with no affinity at all for mainstream pop. There are a couple of gooey duets with dopey male singers (ugh, always with that, get some charisma, dudes) and a continuing soft focus that will grate on cynics. But it’s also a really well put together collection of unashamed pop songs that are appropriately youthful without pandering to dumb, and modern sounding without any ugly bombast. It’s an edge away from the plastic folksiness of country radio, in which the clunkers are far outnumbered by the songs that work. The whole thing is pretty damn charming, really.
So, for skeptics that remain among you, we’ve got 5 key bullet points for why this just might be your moment to give T-Swift her due. (When you come around, she’ll act really surprised and appreciative!)