"Dear John" by Taylor Swift vs. Jessie James
If you’ve heard of Taylor Swift or any of her songs (and let’s face it, who hasn’t nowadays?) then you’ve probably heard her scathing shame-on-you song that many believe to be about singer/song writer John Mayer. Of course, until Swiftie herself comes right out and identifies her Dear John (see what I did there?), we’ll never know. When it comes to country/pop artist Jessie James, however, we are left with no doubt that her song “Dear John” is most definitely about Mayer. both are of the same genre, but the question left on our minds is which one is worth downloading and which one should be sent to the iTunes graveyard.
Let’s begin, shall we?
Taylor Swift’s song “Dear John” is the fifth track off of her 2010 album Speak Now. I’ll put my own personal feelings for Taylor’s music aside for now and admit that it is a pretty decent song on it’s own. I did enjoy the music for the track. It was sad, but there was another emotion in there that I can’t quite place. Pity? Disappointment? Whatever it was, it was definitely working for Swift. Her song tells the story of a girl who had so desperately fallen for a bad-news guy, and even though she tried everything possible to make it work out. It’s more a bitter remembering of doomed relationship, I would say. If there’s one thing Taylor is good at, it’s writing a good hate-song and “Dear John” is just that. She sings of the mystery man who not only is an “expert at sorry,” but also has a “sick need to give love and take it away,” which we can assume is part of his “dark twisted games.” I don’t know about you, but those words don’t paint pretty pictures in my mind. They kind of make me hate this John fellow’s guts. Through the whole song, John plays the victim but in reality when listening to it we all sympathize with the poor girl who wore her heart on her sleeve only to have the stitching ripped out by Mr. Tragic. The song was never a single, but it damn-well should have been because in my opinion it was one of the better songs on the album both lyrically and musically. But then again, I do have a soft spot for acoustic-y songs. In the end, it doesn’t matter who Swift wrote the song about because girls aren’t going to be thinking of him when they’re listening to it. Instead, they’ll be thinking of their own heartbreaker.
Jessie James on the other hand…well, it’s a good thing she’s pretty. Vocally, she has a much stronger voice than Swift. Lyrically? The song would have been better off a burning piece of paper in a waste bin than a recorded track—let alone a music video. James leaves no room for interpretation. Like Taylor’s, the music was slower, but in an up-beat, happy kind of way. Which is all fine and swell, it sounded good and it worked well with her voice. Unlike in Swift’s song, however, we know for sure that her song is definitely about Mayer. Why do I say this? Because it lists a significant amount of references to his work. From saying she “could be your wonderland” to “gravity is pulling me your way, stop waiting on the world to change, say what you need to say,” we know for sure who she is singing to. And those are only the references that I picked up on without sifting through John Mayer’s iTunes discography. My main problem with this song is that there is basically no originality to it. More than half of the song is just her artfully arranging Mayer lyrics into a cheap, commercial tune that I would hope my local country station would scoff at. And if she’s going to make a single out of a low-caliber song like that, it would be my assumption that the music video would have some type of compensation for the disappointing song. Instead, we get James on a bed, half-naked, posing and giving the came various “come-hither” looks that it makes me wonder if they tapped a picture of Mayer above the camera lens for her to make kissy-face at.
James released her “Dear John” in September 2010 (at least that’s when the music video was first posted on YouTube), just barely over a month before Swift’s album was released. But if I didn’t know when each song was debuted? I would think James was just copy-catting Swift. Although, assuming both songs are about Mayer, they paint strikingly different images of him. I also find if kind of funny that these songs were released the same year—barely and month apart—and are supposedly about the same guy. John Mayer must feel pretty special to have two songs written about him in the same season…
As a fan of James’s debut album, I was really disappointed when I heard the song. As much as it pains me to say, she should leave the country to Taylor Swift and focus more on the pop stylings that she has seen success for.
The winner here? Clearly Swift. Sorry Jessie.