During the 2019-20 academic year, TCU’s Faculty Senate endorsed a report finding that TCU’s full-time faculty compensation lags behind other nationally-ranked private universities.
The AAUP recently released new data on faculty compensation, so a subsequent analysis examined that data to see if that was still the case. This analysis also considered data from IRS Form 990 filings to get a fuller picture of compensation across the comparison schools.
The Board of Trustees’ decision to permanently reduce employee compensation (by reducing the retirement contribution rate by over 30%) also motivated the report. An Open Letter expresses faculty/staff concern about this decision, and as of this writing that Open Letter has been signed by almost 40% of full-time TCU faculty.
The report offers the following summary: “The reduction in the retirement contribution further diminishes TCU’s lackluster compensation packages in comparison to other nationally-ranked private universities. In contrast, recent history indicates that TCU has spent lavishly on the compensation of executive and athletic officers, at levels exceeding almost all other comparison schools.”
Taylor’s first album was strong, but Fearless is a big step up in quality, memorability, and epic sweep. Here, she establishes the foundation for everything she’s done since, although in some ways she’s still finding her feet as an artist.
Fearless (released 2008) “We were both young when I first saw you. I close my eyes, and the flashback starts...”
“Fearless” (7.5/10): #TS2 leaps out of the gate with a dance in a rainstorm in a best dress, effectively setting the theme and tone of the album.
“Fifteen” (7/10): A bittersweet reminiscence of youth and its transience–a theme Taylor picks up again, and sometimes better than she does here.
“Love Story” (10/10): It remains Taylor’s most iconic song even today, and deservedly so–it’s the moment when she vaults from pretty good to outright amazing, and seldom looks back.
“Hey Stephen” (6/10): A decent change-of-pace song that sits in between some better songs, but the “shine, shine, shine!” in the bridge is a bit cheesy for my taste (and I say that as someone who likes “ME!” …).
“White Horse” (8.5/10): The emotional punch at the end really elevates this ballad.
“You Belong With Me” (9.5/10): A Swift classic that generated an outstanding and cute video, and then her VMA award… with Kanye grabbing the mike and starting their feud, eventually leading to more drama drama down the album road.
“Breathe” (9/10): A bit of a forgotten treasure; allowing the orchestral strings to carry the emotion of the song (rather than a steel guitar, as she might’ve done if this were on Taylor Swift) foreshadows her shift to pop.
“Tell Me Why” (4/10): And after several steps forward, she takes a step backward with a song that’s reminiscent of the forgettables on the debut album.
“You’re Not Sorry” (3.5/10): My low rating here may say more about me than Taylor or the song, as this is the kind of folksy, slow country song that I don’t care for.
“The Way I Loved You” (6.5/10): I find the lyrics in the stanzas to be a bit labored, but hey, water imagery at 2 AM is vintage Swift.
“Forever & Always” (8.5/10): The emotion is intense as Taylor recounts her feelings about Joe Jonas’ famous 27-second breakup call, although I could wish for a bit more inspiration from the bridge.
“The Best Day” (7.5/10): As a father of daughters, this sweet song hits me in the gut; your mileage may vary.
“Change” (4.5/10): When it looks like you’re straining to be epic, you’re not actually being epic; and so although #TS2 is an excellent album, it doesn’t stick the landing the way all of the upcoming albums do.
Yeah, I’m a 41-year-old male, and I listen to way too much Taylor Swift. And I’m also a social science professor, so that means I like to analyze things in the social world.
So, over the course of the past year, it only makes sense that I took some spare time to (a) rate all of TSwift’s songs on a 1 to 10 scale (for us quantitative types) and (b) to give due respect to qualitative forms of analysis, I also wrote a one-sentence review of each song.
(Can I put this on my annual report for the university? Probably not… *sigh*… although it would’ve been fun to include this in the packet when I went up for tenure… I’m sure that would’ve sealed the deal… good thing it turned out OK anyway…)
Now it’s time to share those reviews with the world, and no, I’m not putting them through peer review; just posting them on my blog! We start with the debut album (Taylor Swift), probably my least favorite of her albums, but the one that started it all (and with much to commend it).
Analysis notes: 1-4 = not very good; 5-6 = decent; 7-8 = good; 9-10 = great; 10s are reserved for true Taylor masterpieces. I did think about things like musical and lyrical quality, but ultimately the numbers represent how much I enjoy the song. So if you disagree, more power to you, and feel free to let me know why you think I’m wrong! Of course, we’ll also be looking at means and standard deviations for each album (how could we not???).
“Taylor Swift” (released 2006) “Don’t know what’s down this road, I’m just walking, Trying to see through the rain coming down.”
“Tim McGraw” (6/10): An acceptable ballad that establishes a floor for better ballads later on.
“Picture to Burn” (8/10): This song has great energy and the banjo injects a good dose of fun.
“Teardrops on My Guitar” (7/10): A classic Taylor song and a strong example of her country artistry, although I wish it built to a better climax.
“A Place in This World” (9/10): An underrated gem that always reminds me of its role in the 2010 Ramona and Beezus movie.
“Cold as You” (3/10): Yes, I know it’s the first of the much-lauded “Track 5” songs, but still, I find this one rather grating and I would skip it if it came on Pandora.
“The Outside” (5/10): A pleasant enough song that’s listenable, but also not particularly memorable.
“Tied Together with a Smile” (5/10): I never think about this one but when I listen to it, it’s OK enough.
“Stay Beautiful” (5.5/10): The lyrics on this one are uncharacteristically indistinct, particularly in comparison to later Taylor (something about a guy named Cory, and a radio? I dunno…), but overall it’s a forgettable song that’s maybe a bit more fun than the other forgettable songs on this album.
“Should’ve Said No” (7.5/10): A worthy hit single that aurally and lyrically echoes “Picture to Burn,” but for my money, I think “Picture” is the slightly stronger song.
“Mary’s Song (Oh My My My)” (8/10): In the debut album she hadn’t quite mastered the art of being epic, but in this forgotten treasure, she’s getting there.
“Our Song” (8.5/10): The song that ended the original version of the album is sweet, fun, and catchy, and I confess I enjoy songs that are self-referential (the song concludes with Taylor sitting down to write the song).
“I’m Only Me When I’m With You” (6/10): The beat, fast pace, and steel guitar make it a bit more memorable and energetic than much of this album’s other songs.
“Invisible” (3.5/10): I confess that young Taylor can sound whiny to my ear, at times, and she does here; the song is also so dull that halfway through I found my mind wandering.
“A Perfectly Good Heart” (5.5/10): It’s a decently OK song but not much more than that.
“Teardrops on My Guitar (pop version)” (7/10): Oh look, it’s a slightly different version of a song I’ve already heard on this album; but what “pop version” of a song still has steel guitar in the background?
Taylor Swift mean = 6.30 (standard deviation = 1.77)