(Click through, too — both posts feature a lot of excellent writing, by quality and in Taylor’s case by quantity too.)
Charli XCX, “Break the Rules”
Taylor Swift announced her love for late-’80s pop just as Charli XCX thoroughly abandoned her immaculate recollection of the form that was True Romance. What she’s abandoned it for, thank goodness, at least in part isn’t bland “Boom Clap” metapop but pop-rock made by badass robots with teased hair-filaments: the stuff of Sky Ferreira’s “Red Lips” and Fefe Dobson’s debut and Garbage at their commercial tackiest on to Republica — and as the one person alive who listened to Christiana Obey, I’m all for that. Charli throws in references at post-Internet hyperspeed: building off that one guitar line everyone uses to signify punk in pop, rhyming “discotheque” with “getting wrecked” because anachronisms are also broken rules. The song builds like EDM, but instead of a drop there’s a low-key variation on the “Shout” riff, and is that a DJ Mustard loop I hear in the background where it’s pointless? Even Charli’s trash is treasure. 
Taylor Swift, “Shake It Off”
I feel like I’ve pissed off the world’s most insular wizard, who has doomed me to be the contrarian on every Taylor Swift song. Single after single of supposed singular girlfire left me grumpy and unmoved, and now her new one is a tiny, sour-sweet raspberry hard candy piece and it’s great. A backlash was due — Red‘s singles cycle petered out, Swift’s image took some tabloid hits. In times of adversity businesses batten the hatches, which in pop means Max Martin and Shellback on everything and less personality, and the grumbling associated with that. Then came the video: so close to being OK, then enter that scene, like twerking clockwork. At first I thought the team was just going for a lazy Evolution of Dance, Except I’m Taylor Swift And I’m Totes Awk! theme, and all they took away from Miley2K3 was that people called her slutty — but no, it’s Mark fucking Romanek, who directed “Scream,” “Closer,” “Criminal,” and “99 Problems.” He knows how controversy works; more pertinently, he hasn’t done any videos this decade except “Picasso Baby,” U2 and this, so this clip is probably just a deliberately cynical way to funnel your clicks into his kid’s tuition jar. The song, however, is great, mostly because it stands alone. Taylor isn’t rapping, she’s doing cheer chants or perhaps Leighton Meester; every spoken-word interlude in music is not rap. The rest is concerned solely with caramelizing Robyn, Miley, Christina, “Problem,” “Happy,” Bella Thorne and the tabloid bullshit (“I go on too many dates, but I can’t make them stay”) into limitless hook sugar. It is inessential and indelible. Like “Get Lucky” and “Call Me Maybe,” it’s got an endlessly snowclonable chorus; meme aggregators gonna gate-gate-gate-gate-gate. It is also a massive earworm.