No Trivia

“Runaway” vs. “Innocent”


The title of Kanye’s song should be “Innocent,” and Taylor’s Swift’s, “Toast For The Douchebags.” “Runaway” doesn’t work for either. This whole MTV masterplan to relive a not all that interesting or controversial moment from last year, by having each artist perform a song kinda sorta about that event thing was a terrible stunt/concept and it only worked out because the artists involved, Kanye West and Taylor Swift, are top of their game types. Both “Runaway” and “Innocent” are quite good but they’re also each respective musician/persona doing exactly what’s expected of them.

Kanye writes a confused, emotional epiphany rap that falls somewhere between honest and “honest” and steals the show (because he’s like that), continuing his culture-jamming streak by getting Pusha T up in front of an audience that probably doesn’t know who the hell he is, and shows that same rap-unaware audience an MPC in action. Not bad.

Swift does her A-student pop star thing, which totally stands-out because her peers are like D-minus students in terms of craft and performance, but it comes off a bit too precious and hedged. Nobody likes an A student because the A student route is mad easy and like, programmatic. She doesn’t put herself out there, but then again, Taylor Swift never does.

Kanye of course, must put himself out there for “Runaway,” but he can’t formally apologize and he can’t explain his actions either, he’s gotta do a little of both. So, he clouds the concept of the song with that immediately talk-about-able “let’s have a toast for the douchebags” hook and turns the whole thing into a knowing joke and a disarming confessional. “Runaway” is Kanye’s take on Scarface’s “say good night to the bad guy” speech.

Despite all that inward-looking self-justification, Kanye is talking about events bigger than his VMA assholism. The Taylor Swift “incident” is not the crux of the song, but one part of his “I’m an emotional fuck-up” narrative. Most of the song is actually about his issues with girls and intimacy and here, he’s quite honest: “Never was much of a romantic/I could never take the intimacy/And I know it did damage/Cause the look in your eyes is killin’ me.” That’s in sharp contrast to 2008’s “break-up album,” 808s & Heartbreak, where Kanye worked with a mix of grinning, laughing knowledge of how shitty he is and open-wounded, last-word obsessed, “fuck you hoe” bitterness.

“Runaway” is no less public about Kanye’s lovelife—and because we’re in gossip blog end-of-times here, we can connect 808s to Alexis Phifer and “Runaway” to Amber Rose—but he’s kinder and more apologetic. Take note of that aside in the “toast for the douchebags” part, where Kanye shouts-out “the jerkoffs/That’ll never take work off.” He’s extending his plight to something larger and distinctly, male: the focus on everything but the real, emotional stuff that actually matters, you know, being there, being available for another person. This is the sound of a person’s emotional growth trying to catch-up with their artistic growth and it sounds wonderful.

Still, Swift’s song is the stand-out because it’s so direct and empathetic—like, beautifully so. Swift’s talent and maybe even genius is that she’s sincere in her songs. It’s not that she doesn’t know about irony, it’s just that she’s decided not to be gobbled up and infected by it like the rest of her Billboard buddies. The result of course, is that she comes off a bit above-it-all and cold–like a grandmother giving you a life lesson—but that’s preferable to the sassy, pseudo-feminist kiss-off Lady Gaga or Ke$ha (or shit, even Beyonce) would’ve dropped if they were in Swift’s position.

*you can also read this post on Tumblr now, golly!

Written by Brandon

September 15th, 2010 at 6:01 am

Posted in Kanye West, vs.

4 Responses to '“Runaway” vs. “Innocent”'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to '“Runaway” vs. “Innocent”'.

  1. (Just a rant)
    ehhhh . . . Taylor’s performance was off, sorry, nothing special. I would fire the PR handlers that OK’ed this MTV manipulated performance to take a shot at Kanye.

    The incident was over, no one was really thinking about it. She received a bunch extra buzz because of this big, pop culture bully stole her moment in the spotlight for her prestigious video award. Sure Mr. West took a hit in his popularity and lost money by being booted off the Lady Gaga tour. Meanwhile, his brash act became a silly internet meme and his name remained in pop culture’s consciousness. Mr. West drops the grand “Power” song, with the the enigmatic video which is basically a still image. It gets placement for new film about the Facebook founders. He finally decides to try his hand at Twitter and makes a huge impact on social networking. So what does MTV the following year after Kanye West’s stage stealing tirade?

    They incessantly plug his name and reward him with the best slot of the night as the closing act AND have his “rival” sing a “diss” track alluding to his immature behavior.

    KanYeWest Wins. Yeah, let’s all toast the asshole, let’s toast the douchebag and the jerk-off.


    17 Sep 10 at 3:44 pm

  2. Completely agree with the line “…the jerkoff/that’ll never take work off.” That took it from internal struggle to universal, connecting with everyone who’s been in a relationship like that.

    Good write up as usual.


    18 Sep 10 at 8:59 pm

  3. P.S. Pusha T getting 16 bars on one of the biggest tv events of the year is nothing but great. That’s the genius of Yeezy lol.


    18 Sep 10 at 9:02 pm

  4. How come you do not have your website viewable in wap format? cant view anything in my netbook.

    external hemorrhoids treatments

    8 Jun 12 at 7:55 pm

Leave a Reply