BSBB Round 4: Taylor Swift, "Shake It Off" vs. Disclosure feat. Sam Smith, "Latch"

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Best Song Bracket Battle: View the Matchups | Critics and Rules





CRAIG JENKINS: Yo Taylor I'ma let you finish, but Mariah and Jermaine had the best "Shake It Off" of all time. T-Swift's ode to the cathartic power of dancing haters away is spotless and pleasant, but robotically so, happiness performed rather than exuded. Sam Smith and Disclosure's "Latch" catches the intoxicating headrush of the experience, both in the bubbling build and the dogged moxie of the lyrics. Point goes to the ruddy English boys.


My Vote: “Latch”
JEREMY D. LARSON: Sam Smith was working in a bar in England when he wrote "Latch" with Disclosure. That was well over two years ago, in the summer of 2012, and now he's poised to be the breakout new artist of 2014, with three songs in this competition. He deserves the shine, even if it’s for a song from when people were doing “Romney wants to kill Big Bird” bits on Twitter. That, and Disclosure's Settle is better than any dance pop record of 2014.

My Vote: “Latch”
JILL MAPES: This year's most pandering nag of a hit vs. last year's push towards a house music revival in pop. How is this even a match-up?

My Vote: "Latch"
ERIN STRECKER: “I stay out too late” dancing to Swift’s latest (biggest?) pop hit. “Latch” is a great song, but Smith has had better this year, and I can’t not vote for one the most ubiquitous pop songs of the year.

My Vote: “Shake It Off”
CAITLIN WHITE: “Latch" came out so far before "Shake It Off" that it's genuinely hard for me to compare them—they were produced by extremely varying environments. "Latch" is technically a love song, but it's slow-building ennui comes off as more love sick than anything else when contrasted to the bubblegum snapping, self-love of "Shake It Off." While the video applied the same disappointing "LOL-I'm-White" appropriation of twerking as Lily Allen's "Hard Out Here," sans visuals the song is an uplifting balm for when the wounds of the haters sting too sharply. And if we're talking about the tempo and climate of 2014, Taylor seems like the obvious victor as the year comes to a close. Latching onto someone was so 2013—this year was all about cutting ties and shaking the past all the way the fuck off.

My Vote: “Shake It Off”
STEVEN HOROWITZ: While “Shake It Off” is, ahem, unshakeable, it didn’t really do much to tamper with a standard pop songwriting format. “Latch,” on the other hand, took music conventions of the past (‘90s dance, what up) and mashed it into a contemporary dance context. Not only was it one of the best shows of artistic performance, it was also one of the best constructed pop songs of the year. Sorry Taylor — time to shake you off.

My Vote: “Latch”
HARLEY BROWN: My choice in this matter is entirely dictated by my personal experience. I love "Latch," but in my own humble opinion it's not the best song on Disclosure’s album (nor my favorite, which changes literally daily), nor is it the best Disclosure song (that honor goes to "Apollo"). In another matchup it may have won out, because I think Disclosure are flawless aesthetically, but that's also the problem: at the end of the day they're just not as compelling as Taylor Swift, whose next move you can't really predict — unless it's her outfit. Also, "Shake It Off" got me super psyched for work during the post-Thanksgiving doldrums, and as a manager I just met said, "It's impossible to not be happy while listening to that song.”

My Vote: “Shake It Off”
CHRIS PAYNE: Personally, it feels kind of weird to vote for “Latch” here. The track first hit the interwebs about three quarters of the way through 2012, which feels like a lifetime ago. Seriously, this song is not new. It feels like I’m scrutinizing the annual Grammy nominations for Best New Artist or something. But better late than never, right? Was there a cooler big-time hit in 2014? One that sounded like it could really lead pop radio into bold, uncharted territory? “Shake It Off” already feels like it’s two and a half years old, anyway.

My Vote: “Latch”
MYLES TANZER: These are both near-perfect songs. "Shake It Off" has the best horns of the year and is just super lovable. "Latch" makes you dance your face off and Sam Smith's vocal is at its best. Although I might actually like "Shake It Off" more, "Latch" has to win on a technicality because of Swift's bridge. It's simultaneously endearing and cringeworthy, but it's the one thing in these two songs that isn't complete perfection. "Latch" is robot pop that isn't as warm as "Shake It Off," but it's a true sick beat.

My Vote: “Latch”





OVERALL WINNER: “Latch”



Best Song Bracket Battle: View the Matchups | Critics and Rules