All of the Lights: Taylor Swift & Usher – Flood Lights


Turn up the lights in here, baby / extra bright, I want y’all to see this  / turn up the lights in here, baby / you know what I need, want you to see everything / want you to see all of the lights – Kanye West, “All of the Lights”


This year Taylor Swift and Usher flooded the nation in fluorescence. She spoke now, well after the deafening sounds of Swiftgate settled to a dull roar. He saturated the market in music, void of a message, but with a ubiquitous mask so clean it bordered translucence. They were so bright, so white, so everywhere, so endlessly empty, and yet so inescapably enveloping. Mainstream music’s absence of creativity opened the doors for an influx of sheer commerce, and this year panoramic sterility sold.

This is America, we love our flood lights – so bright and unyielding, so integral to the world of endless recreation of the most mind-numbing, so fundamental to the 24/7 push of profitable play – night games. These aren’t streetlights that keep stickball games going past the dusk on a Brooklyn block… these are those overhead satellites keeping NASCAR motorcades roving around in circles ad naseum at primetime for ad revenue. Swift and Raymond are those forces bleaching the scene, sweetening the mean, and softening the screams of midnight melody makers whose cathartic cries were held at bay during the day.

Their light is the artificial recreation of that natural source which we were lacking. When the world is void of light, that’s when the flood comes. That flood… that natural disaster of Biblical proportions, washes away the past en route to something pure and new; but this is America and we whitewash away the authenticity of imperfect humanity en route to something Puritanical and untrue. Yet even in the starkly sightless state of man-made pseudo-luminescence, be forever certain just as it waned to set the stage of natural darkness – a darkness whose own self-inflicted retreat made it possible for the false light to prevail – the sun also rises, to silence Swift’s spoken present, and reveal the fruitless battle between Raymond and himself… shadowboxing in the dawn.

The freaks come out at night, but monstrosity stands muted in the midst of fluorescent flood lights. There’s not too much to say about these two emanations of artificial light, what you see is what you get: a blinding interruption to the pristine still night. The devil is in the details, but with Swift and Raymond we seemingly have none; then again, their halos only appear in the absence of the sun.

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