In HateSong, we ask our favorite musicians, writers, comedians, actors, and so forth to expound on the one song they hate most in the world.
The hater: Comedian Kurt Braunohler has hosted his own game show (the now-defunct Bunk, on IFC), appeared on radio shows like This American Life and Radiolab, created a web series—Penelope Princess Of Pets—with Kristen Schaal, and has his own podcast, The K Ohle With Kurt Braunohler, on the Nerdist network. This week he released his first stand-up record, How Do I Land?, on Kill Rock Stars.
The hated: Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (2012)
The A.V. Club: Why is this the song you hate more than any other song?
Kurt Braunohler: Here’s the thing: When you choose a hatesong, you have to choose a song that sticks with you in some way. If you just hate a song, but it never has to be in your head, it’s more like you ignore that song. There are a billion songs that I’ve heard and said, “I don’t even care to have an opinion about it,” but if I have to hear a snippet of the refrain of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” once, it’ll get stuck in my head, and that drives me crazy.
First of all, I dislike Taylor Swift. I dislike hearing about teenagers’ romances, because I think they’re dumb and shallow and are, essentially, meaningless. It’s like, “Well, get a little bit of experience and then complain about real pain.” And then, also, there’s the chance that the song is about John Mayer, so then I have to think about two things that I hate. I have to think about Taylor Swift, this little girl that is a billionaire who I think writes about bullshit, and then I have to think about fucking John Mayer who is, I think, reprehensible. Then you have to think about John Mayer’s dick going anywhere near Taylor Swift and, as all these things are happening, your brain is forcing you to sing in your head, “We are never, never, never, never getting back together.” Also, repeating the same word that many times is, I think, lazy songwriting. But it also forces me to remember.
AVC: On the always-reliable Internet , it says that the song is reportedly about Jake Gyllenhaal, which makes it a little better, but not much.
KB: Keep your old dick out of teenage pussy! What the fuck are you doing? What are you people doing? You. Are. Adults. You live in the real world! Jake Gyllenhaal, John Mayer, all these people who have dated Taylor Swift: What are you doing?! Do you go to college campuses and cruise for chicks? Are you that weird and fucked up and pathetic? You’re dating a 21-year-old! Why?! Do you know what a 21- year-old is like? They’re essentially mentally disabled. You don’t become a fully-formed human as a female, or even a male, until you’re at least 30. So you are just an idiot. Why would you want to date an idiot?
It just proves that all the guys that date Taylor Swift are just not interested in intelligent conversations with a mature person. They’re just interested in a blonde, pretty girl, and that’s just like, “Ick. You people are disgusting.”
AVC: The song definitely speaks to a very immature concept of love and dating.
KB: It’s such a simplistic concept of love. And, also, who wants to get back together with you? Who would want to get back together with Taylor Swift after having dated her? I’m sure dating her is like talking to a white sheet of paper with a little bit of vanilla ice cream on it that doesn’t say anything. I can’t imagine she’s interesting or fascinating at all and then after she writes the song about you, who would say, “You know what? I want to get back together.” But I guess people do because she’s writing her songs.
AVC: Why else don’t you like Taylor Swift?
KB: I think she’s boring and vapid. The one thing I’ll give her is that she can play the banjo or whatever, but I think her music is like all of the stuff that is pumped on the radio constantly. It’s the producer’s work. The producer is the one that should really get the credit for making a song that’s catchy and sounds great. And even then it barely feels like she’s responsible for the lyrics, which are always vapid and pretty fake. She doesn’t have anything to say that I’m interested in.
AVC: She seems nice, though. Give her the benefit of the doubt.
KB: Have you ever seen any of her tweets? I don’t think she’s nice. I think she’s actually kind of horrible. If you give someone at that age that much fame and that much money, they become monsters. They haven’t had to struggle in their entire life, and they have no sense of like what’s actually in the real world. It’s like they essentially grow up in Disneyland and the whole world is Epcot Center all the time. Nothing’s real and there are no consequences for anything they do, and I think that is a recipe for making a horrible human being.
AVC: That’s how most people think about Justin Bieber.
KB: Yeah, no shit. He just pissed in that bucket and everyone is like, “Whoa, it’s crazy.” Everybody is shocked that the billionaire child star is a fucking monster. Yeah, like we never guessed that was going to happen.
AVC: Have you ever watched the video for “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”?
KB: No, I don’t want to. Oh, God, what is it?
AVC: She’s wearing pajamas and giant glasses, and there’s some knitting, and there are people in animal costumes dancing around.
KB: Is it precious?
AVC: Of course.
KB: Of course it’s very precious.
AVC: The spoken parts of the song are a little aggravating. She’s all full of sassy attitude.
KB: It’s just filler. Shit like that is filler because you couldn’t think of anything interesting to do in your song.
AVC: The track seems deep, but it’s actually pretty broad. It’s something any teenager would think was written just for them.
KB: Probably the thing I’m most angry about is that our culture is driven by 14-year-olds. I think that’s an inherent flaw in our culture. It’s a relatively new thing, but in the last 75 years we’ve come to the point where what a 14-year-old thinks is more important than what a person with life experience thinks.
AVC: Why do you think that is?
KB: I think it’s a combination of stuff. Young culture has been driving things since the ‘50s. But like now, specifically, it’s the idea of tweens. I think what has happened is that kids have more access to promoting promote their opinion in an instant on social media. They also have their parents’ money. So it’s essentially creating indiscriminating consumers with loads of dough. They’ll literally buy the dumbest shit, go to the dumbest movies, watch the dumbest TV, buy the dumbest music, and they’ll do it all with their parents’ money. And I think it’s only a specific section driving it because, apparently, that’s what everyone wants. Everyone wants something that’ll appeal to like 13-year-olds to 18-year-olds. Especially working in television and trying to pitch shows, they’re like, “We definitely want something that a 14-year-old will be like super psyched about.” And I’m like, “I don’t know if my reality is appealing to a 14-year-old.”
It’s problematic, I guess.
AVC: Or the 14-year-old that you would write for isn’t the 14-year-old that they want to appeal to?
KB: Yeah, that’s what I have to figure out. Can I do a show about 14- year-old me?
AVC: It’s hard not to say “kids these days” and sound like a crank, but the idea that kids have so much access to social media and smart phones and the Internet and everything is a little daunting.
KB: It’s unprecedented. We’ve never seen anything on this scale so we don’t really know what this level of access to social media will do, or what happens when, with YouTube, anyone can just immediately put whatever dumb thing they’ve done on the Internet and millions of people will see it. We have no idea what kinds of individuals this culture will produce. But we’re going to find out! If it’s like a billion Taylor Swifts, I might shoot myself. I would prefer death to a world of Taylor Swifts.