Photo: Jean Ho

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: With her debut album, Good For Her, out this Friday, Emily Heller is striving even further to make her mark on the comedy world. She’s been named a “comic to watch” by both Variety and Comedy Central, appeared on Conan and @Midnight, and is a regular on TBS’ Ground Floor. She also hosts the podcast Baby Geniuses, as well as the Above Average series The Future. Good For Her is a fun but dark look at being a woman in your 20s, from adventures in shitty employment to what it’s like to be single in the age of Tinder. Pre-order it now via Kill Rock Stars.

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The hated: Taylor Swift, “You Belong With Me” (2008)

The A.V. Club: Why is this the song you picked?

Emily Heller: I picked this song because I find it despicable. I think it’s a very evil song about trying to steal someone’s boyfriend masquerading as a love song. It’s a horrible, evil song.

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AVC: Right. If the guy in this song shouldn’t be with his girlfriend, that’s up for him to decide and not Taylor Swift.

EH: Right, absolutely. To be fair to Taylor Swift, this was six years ago before she realized she needed to call herself a feminist, but it’s like this stage of pseudo-feminism that everyone goes through where they think hating pretty women makes you likable. And I get where that comes from, but it’s especially ludicrous coming from a 5-foot-9 waifish blond millionaire.

AVC: She also wears more short skirts than T-shirts these days, I would guess.

EH: I was trying to figure out what the other girl did wrong in the song. If you look at the lyrics of the song, she talks about what she wears, which we know is a foundation for anything wrong. The only thing you have to latch onto to say, “Oh yeah, she sucks” is that he made a joke that she didn’t think was funny. We don’t even know what the joke was. What if it was super racist? What if this is a love story about two racists falling in love?

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AVC: We don’t know.

EH: We don’t know! I mean, it is about her being better because she’s blond. It very well could be.

I really hate it.

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AVC: This song certainly hasn’t aged along with Taylor Swift.

EH: Yeah, this is the kind of stuff she’s definitely not doing anymore.

AVC: I don’t think she does it live very often. I saw her this summer and I don’t think she did it. I wanted her to.

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EH: Really? That’s interesting. Wait, you like this song?

AVC: I don’t know. She did her entire new record, which I like, but there were some points where I thought I’d like to hear some older stuff. I like country-fried Taylor Swift.

EH: I do feel like if I saw her and she was singing this live, I’d definitely dance and sing along. Don’t get me wrong—it’s that kind of song.

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AVC: You definitely know every word, whether you want to or not.

EH: Absolutely. I wish she was singing about something else though, because then I’d really enjoy it.

AVC: This was her big crossover hit, too. This is what made the rest of the music world realize who she was.

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EH: I just hate anyone who is masquerading as an underdog. And that’s what she’s doing.

AVC: Well, then you hate Taylor Swift.

EH: Yeah, I guess I do. That’s kind of her whole thing, and that’s what this whole song is about. She plays both of the women in the video. She plays the evil girlfriend who really did nothing wrong except touch another guy’s face in the video, which is something her boyfriend did before she did. So, she didn’t even do anything wrong or that the guy hadn’t done before. Anyway, the evil girl is a brunette in the video, which is a very weird move on [Swift’s] part to be like “the brunette is the evil one and I’m the underdog.” It’s just backward; that’s not how it works.

AVC: It’s very much based in high school drama.

EH: It very much is. And I’m all for the pining song; I love songs where the person who’s singing it is in love with someone who doesn’t love them back. But I feel like those songs should not be about the person that he or she’s in love with who’s not you.

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AVC: You’d rather a song be about “we can’t be together” and not, “we can’t be together because you’re with some dumb bitch”?

EH: Exactly. Or “I don’t get why you don’t want me.” I love those songs. I like “Why Don’t You Love Me?” by Beyoncé. A song like that.

This feels like a worse version of “Dancing On My Own” by Robyn. “Dancing On My Own” doesn’t talk about how skanky the girl he’s actually dancing with is. It’s just about the pain you feel when you watch them together. It’s more genuine, more relatable. This song is just about how slutty this other girl is. It’s crazy.

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AVC: There’s definitely some implied slut-shaming, like, “Ohhh, short skirts.” You know what that means.

EH: Short skirts. High heels. She’s a cheerleader. Taylor Swift is like, “I wear T-shirts, so I guess that’s why you don’t like me.” Which, by the way, if this is a guy who only cares about that, why are you in love with him? If you have such a problem with people who dress like that and that’s what he’s into, you’re not a good match! You don’t belong together!

This is not a song that Taylor Swift the person wrote; this is a song that Taylor Swift the panderer wrote. That’s the thing I also find really gross about it. Regardless of what she’s saying, it just feels disingenuous and it was clearly written for a very specific audience of fat, nerdy girls. And as an adult fat, nerdy girl, I don’t appreciate it. I don’t appreciate being pandered to by a super hot blond woman.

AVC: I don’t appreciate it, but I understand the sentiment. In high school, I would have understood this song to my core.

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EH: There are plenty of guys that I could have listened to this song and cried about, but also, it’s fucking Taylor Swift. She doesn’t get to sing this song, I’m sorry!

AVC: Who would you rather sing this song?

EH: The one saving grace of this song is that I one time saw a shot-for-shot remake of the music video, but with a guy playing her part so it was a story about a gay guy in love with the football player being like, “You belong with me and not with her” and I was like, “Oh my God, this makes so much more sense!”

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AVC: Like, “stop kidding yourself”?

EH: Yeah. “I’m the one who understands you.” It turns it into this beautiful, gorgeous sentiment and at the end of the video when he shows up at the prom and they admit that they love each other, it’s so much better. So I think a gay guy should be singing it.

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