How Bad Is Taylor Swift's Cover of Earth, Wind, and Fire? An Investigation

Taylor Swift

The backlash over Taylor Swift having spent the last decade in the spotlight trying to be America’s Bestie has been a little over the top. But in the case of her cover of Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September,” the response is justified, if not a bit understated.

Some of the reactions online are fairly polarizing. A mixture of disbelief, sarcasm, disgust, and outright offense characterized many responses.

In case you need to hear the whole thing to decide for yourself, have at it.

Are there a lot of people out there who listen to classic soul songs and think “This is good, but I’d prefer it if you slowed it all the way down, replaced everything fun about it with a banjo and added some breath-y, open mic-style vocals”?


Quick reminder, this is the song she is covering.

Now this is not to say that you can’t re-contextualize upbeat songs, or that coffee house covers are always bad (debateable). What makes this version fall flat is how unremarkable the whole thing is. There’s little to say about it other than it is a thing that exists.  Also it’s painfully boring. There’s a time and place for stripped-down minimalism, but it needs to have a purpose and urgency, none is found here. And Taylor’s attempt at minimalism is half-hearted at best. Why does this song exist? It all feels very half-assed for an artist of this stature.

This tune is playing on loop in the overcrowded mall food court in hell. The Panda Express is eternally out of Orange Chicken.

In her defense, she nailed the ‘dormroom youtube cover’ vibe. Honestly, this seems like a surreal set up to a Your #wcw bit. As in “Your #wcw takes iconic 70s dance jams and makes em so boring Starbucks wouldn't play it. She also might be a low-key nazi.”

That’s a joke by the way. Starbucks probably commissioned this shit-sandwich.

A certain type of person seems unable or unwilling to take or recognize jokes these day, like the dark-money-funded fools over at The Federalist. These brain genius thought it was worth addressing the fact that GQ writer Nathaniel Friedman called Taylor’s cover “hate speech” on a popular social media platform. Aside from the fact that he’s correct, this is an obvious joke.

(PSA: Don’t read The Federalist, instead read @freedarko’s book about pro baseketball, just in time for the playoffs)

I mean, who even writes an entire post about what’s happening on twitter?

Speaking of basketball, this is another heat check gone wrong from Taylor. (Insert your own Reputation joke here)

What is even going on with her vox on the chorus?

I don’t think this cover reminded me of Big Enough, but I’ll use any excuse to play this

The history of popular music in this country is more or less white people taking minorities best ideas and sanitizing them for mass consumption. This song falls comfortably into that paradigm, while not meeting Merriam-Webster’s definition of a crime. Although it should be noted by the original's greatness and ubiquity, it is not in need of any thing in order for it to be loved by the multitudes. `

In conclusion, Taylor Swift’s cover of “September” is CLEARLY not hate speech. It just sucks.

Image by GabboT CC BY-SA 2.0


Calvin Paradise is not any one thing. The half-hearted vagabond and forgetful luddite currently resides in Los Angeles and how he spends his time is none of your damned business.