Before Vampire Weekend proved it was more than an Ivy League novelty, before Frank Ocean crooned his way into our bedsheets, before LCD Soundsystem bade farewell to a generation of dance-punk converts, before Nicki Minaj silenced the haters with her spitfire feature on “Monster,” and before Mark Kozelek told the War on Drugs to suck his cock, I listened to Taylor Swift. 

Once, an age ago, I was a romantic. You may not know this about me. There might be a positive correlation between acne and sentimentality, or pubescence and feelings, or maybe this teenager was just born to pine. 

My stoic demeanor and baggy shirt hid an exploding heart (the metaphor, not the band). I once delivered roses to a girl at the ballet. 
When I couldn't bear the weight of  the heartbreak that my adolescence invited, I'd close the door to my self-hate-nest, cozy up to a teddy bear, and break out my Tay Sway. I loved “Fearless.”

I think Swift is very good at what she does. Even as a moody male teen I identified with her love-lorn characters. Her transition from bright-eyed, tug-at-your-heart-strings acoustic classics to four-on-the-floor pop hits felt inevitable, but she has done it with elegance. 

That is why I would not call her a guilty pleasure—why should we be ashamed of enjoying good craft? But sadly, the magic has run out. If Taylor Swift's new album “1989,” is guilty of something, it's of never even entering the orbit of guilty pleasure.

I stopped listening to Taylor Swift after making my blood pact with hipsterdom. 
In fact, I stopped listening to female artists at all. In switching off the car stereo, I not only turned away from the trite lyrics and predictable chord progressions of the Top 40, but also fled from a land where queens reigned supreme. The Best New Music section of Pitchfork was filled with edgy acts—though most were all-male outfits. 

Convincing myself that I only liked to listen to lead singers who were male, I flirted with, and fell for, the homoeroticism of Franz Ferdinand. 

I bought my first pair of skinny jeans, donning a sultry look that put the “sexual” in “metrosexual” (no high-end accoutrement could afford me the prefix) and channeled my teenage heartbreak into the aesthetic of a wounded but snobbish hunk. 

I found romance not in Taylor Swift's high school dramas, but in Arcade Fire's tragic tales of love and woe and in the Civil War shanties of the Decemberists.

At the turn of the decade, the phallocentricity of the Great Albums canon makes it read like the Great Books canon. I mean this almost literally, with Sufjan Steven's biblical history lessons and the romantic erudition of Bon Iver. 

Where are the women in the “Best Of” lists? The collapse of punk in the early 1990s gave birth to an aggressive female style, as bands like Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney upended essentialist notions of femininity. Of the top thirty albums of the 1990s, according to Pitchfork, only one can claim the appellation “feminist”: Liz Phair's “Exile in Guyville.” (The only other female artist in the top thirty is Bjork, though a handful of the bands listed have female members.) 

The riot grrrl movement of the 1990s was at the margins of marginalized music. Compare the riot grrrl to the trope of the sensitive male singer-songwriter of today. With his aching falsetto, skin-tight denim, and wistful coo, he approaches the classical feminine with more commercial success and cultural caché than the riot grrrls. At what point does masculine sensitivity edge out female versatility?

This is just to say that there are women who compose fearless pop music who should not be eclipsed by the bland pop affect Taylor Swift adopts on “1989.” 

Mary Timony, best known for her work in Helium in the mid-90s, comes to mind. The snotty power-pop of the debut of her new band, Ex Hex, is memorable without resorting to the generic yawns rampant in “1989.” 

Ex Hex may contribute nothing new to a long tradition of garage rock, but to hear a trio of women perfecting the art of rocking the fuck out with insta-classic riffs is a sonic windfall.
Speaking of rocking the fuck out, Sleater-Kinney announced its return in style with its first new song in nearly a decade. “Bury Our Friends” is a three-minute whirlwind of slashing guitars during which Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein exchange yelps as sharp as the cuts of a rapier. Their advice: “Exhume our idols, bury our friends!” Maybe it's time we put down the Taylor Swift and dusted off our Bikini Kill. Let's dig up a better sort of feminist. Resurrect the riot grrrl.