Taylor Swift “I Knew You Were Trouble” Lyrics Breakdown: Dubstep Gets Vulnerable?

BTL Taylor Swift I Knew You Were Trouble

Posted by on 10/09/2012 at 2:54 PM Lyrics, News

The Popdust Files: i knew you were trouble, lyrics, taylor swift

When we first analyzed the track list for Taylor Swift’s upcoming Red album, we assumed “I Knew You Were Trouble” would fit comfortably in the Snide Kiss-Off sub-genre of Taylor Swift songs, that brand of Swift jam that picks a target and excoriates them in loving detail. (Genre standouts: “Better Than Revenge,” “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”) Imagine our surprise then, when the song turned out to be something different: softer, quieter and more vulnerable. (Those are all very odd adjectives to describe a song that features a prominent dubstep drop, but stay with us.) Yes, the guy at the heart of the song is a huge jerk, but Taylor’s barbs this time have a touch of empathy to them we’ve never seen before.

Taylor Swift I Knew You Were Trouble

Once upon a time
A few mistakes ago

In true “Today Was a Fairytale” fashion, Swift begins the song with “One upon a time.” But she immediately undercuts it in the next line. The perfect date that her earlier song soundtracked turned out to be all a lie; the relationship was doomed from the start. But Swift also dials down the melodrama she might have employed earlier in her career. The guy wasn’t a soul-destroyer, or a life-ruiner. He was just a mistake, that’s all. That’s the type of world-weary, seen-it-all pose we all adopt in the wake of heartbreak—even when, like Swift, we’re not nearly as experienced as we might pretend to be.

 I was in your sights
You got me alone
You found me
You found me
You found me-e-e-e-e

In case we weren’t sure of this guy’s character from the title, here Swift spells it out for us. He’s a player, who went after Taylor purely because he thought she was an easy target. But even as Taylor knew what was going on, she still couldn’t help herself from being flattered by the attention. He could have any girl in the bar, but he found her.

I guess you didn’t care
And I guess I liked that

It’s a typical lazy early-20s relationship, where you stay with someone who’s not that into you, simply because the act of trying to make them be into you gives you something to do. We’ve seen something very similar on our TV screens this year:

And when I fell hard
You took a step back
Without me
Without me
Without me-e-e-e-e-e

While Taylor is mourning this guy’s sudden-yet-inevtable ghosting, notice the focus. Again, she’s missing the validation she got by being with this guy, more than she’s missing any of his actual qualities.

And he’s long-gone
When he’s next to me

Even when he was in the relationship, this DB was barely present, emotionally. It’s a bit of a cliche, but Taylor’s vulnerability saves it.

And I realize
the blame is on me

We wouldn’t go that far: A crappy partner is always more at fault than a person who stayed with a crappy partner. But it’s refreshing to hear Taylor acknowledge that she, too, has flaws. It gives the song an added complexity her earlier break-up songs have lacked.

‘Cause I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Blew me to places I’d never been
‘Til you put me down, oh
I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Blew me to places I’d never been
Now I’m lyin’ on the cold hard ground

Max Martin’s production overtakes Taylor’s voice at times in the chorus, but her seesaw enunciation. (“I KNEW you WERE…”) still stands out. Unlike the jubilant kiss-off of “We Are Never…,” here Taylor’s more ambivalent about the breakup. He was a bad guy, and she should have known not to get involved with him. But even after he’s left her heartbroken, she can’t hate him completely: whatever else happened, the relationship with him gave her the gift of experience.

Oh, oh, trouble, trouble trouble
Oh, oh, trouble, trouble trouble

This is it, the much-discussed dubstep drop. We get why people are complaining about it—it is a little weird, and honestly we’re not sure why it’s here. Did Taylor Swift really think she needed to get some of that sweet, sweet Skrillex cash to stay relevant? Regardless, its effect is minimal, and it soon gets integrated into the main beat, so we’re guess when people are listening to this song five years hence, all they’ll think is “Everyone made a big deal over that?”

No apologies, he’ll never see you cry
Pretends he doesn’t know, that he’s the reason why
You’re drowning
You’re drowning
You’re drowning-ing-ing-ing-ing

We’re getting a fuller sense of Taylor’s ex in this verse. Just like the sniveling weakling of “We Are Never…” this guy too is a familiar type. He’s the ice-cold, emotionally stunted Alpha Male, who would much rather ignore any problems than address them directly. After all, why should he bother himself with your emotions? They’re your own damn responsibility. And Taylor knows that sort of thing is even worse than fighting all the time: Instead of disagreeing with your feelings, he’s refusing to even give you validation they even exist.

I heard you moved on
From whispers on the street
A new notch in your belt, is all I’ll ever be
And now I see
And now I see
And now I see-e-e-e-e-e

Taylor’s projecting strength in the wake of the breakup. No Facebook-stalking for her, she maintains, she merely heard about him from the rumor mill—and she may even be telling the truth. She still feels used, but she’s made her peace with that.

He was long gone
When he met me
And I realize
The joke is on me —hey!

And here’s the moment of revelation. It wasn’t anything that Taylor did that made this guy so messed up, he was like that long before he met her. Their relationship wasn’t a tragedy, it was just a joke. And, after one more go-round of the chorus, here comes the punchline:

And the saddest fear
Comes creepin’ in
That you never loved me
Or her, or anyone, or anything, yeah

This guy’s got issues. And that’s not a reason to hate him—it’s a reason to pity him. Never before has a round of Taylor Swift skewering been so emotionally astute.

Here are the full lyrics. You can play the song at the bottom of the post!

Once upon a time
A few mistakes ago
I was in your sights
You got me alone
You found me
You found me
You found me-e-e-e-e

I guess you didn’t care
And I guess I liked that
And when I fell hard
You took a step back
Without me
Without me
Without me-e-e-e-e-e

And he’s long-gone
When he’s next to me
And I realize
the blame is on me

‘Cause I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Blew me to places I’d never been
‘Til you put me down, oh
I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Blew me to places I’d never been
Now I’m lyin’ on the cold hard ground

Oh, oh, trouble, trouble trouble
Oh, oh, trouble, trouble trouble

No apologies, he’ll never see you cry
Pretends he doesn’t know, that he’s the reason why
You’re drowning
You’re drowning
You’re drowning-ing-ing-ing-ing

I heard you moved on
From whispers on the street
A new notch in your belt, is all I’ll ever be
And now I see
And now I see
And now I see-e-e-e-e-e

He was long gone
When he met me
And I realize
The joke is on me – hey!

I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Blew me to places I’d never been
‘Til you put me down, oh
I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Blew me to places I’d never been
Now I’m lyin’ on the cold hard ground

Oh, oh, trouble, trouble trouble
Oh, oh, trouble, trouble trouble

And the saddest fear
Comes creepin’ in
That you never loved me
Or her, or anyone, or anything, yeah

I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Blew me to places I’d never been
‘Til you put me down, oh
I knew you were trouble when you walked in (Do it right there)
So shame on me now (Do it right there)
Blew me to places I’d never been (Ooooh)
Now I’m lyin’ on the cold hard ground

Oh, oh, trouble, trouble trouble
Oh, oh, trouble, trouble trouble
I knew you were trouble when you walked in
Trouble, trouble trouble
I knew you were trouble when you walked in
Trouble, trouble trouble

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY19UekAORQ

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