That night, Grace Jones sang “I Need a Man” just like a man might—tough and lusty, she was a woman who was not just singing to them, but also for them, as them. She was as queer as a relatively straight person could get. Her image celebrated blackness and subverted gender norms; she presented something we had never seen before in pop performance—a woman who was lithe, sexy, and hyperfeminine while also exuding a ribald, butch swagger. In ’79, Ebony got her je ne sais quoi exactly right: “Grace Jones is a question mark followed by an exclamation point.”
Of course Taylor Swift would want to emulate artists who sold millions, and of course doing so means ironing out the country, idling away from the specific. As of this month, just over five million copies of 1989 have been sold in the United States; other than Drake’s latest, it’s the only album to sell over a million copies in 2015. In the pictures publicizing Swift’s 1989 tour, the glitter rompers and pyrotechnics and celebrity cameos all add up to this new “pop” Swift, one with endless opportunities, endless ways she could live her life. This is the way she’s living her life. It looks fun, if also a little disappointing.
“She hasn’t had a single in eight years, and she said she hadn’t been inspired to write in a long time, but that Hannibal had inspired her and she would write a new song. It was an incredible honor. I told her it should be a love song between Will and Hannibal. She came back with this wonderful Bond theme of a ditty, and I just said that has to go over the finale. It was pitch-perfect.”