"Paper Doll" (CD Single)

Music review by
Grace Montgomery, Common Sense Media
"Paper Doll" (CD Single) Music Poster Image
Mayer hits back at Taylor Swift with poetic, clean track.

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Kids say

age 8+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

While the song does come across as a little bitter ("Was it just too far to fall / For a little paper doll"), Mayer doesn't stoop to petty insults and keeps it clean.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mayer has had some issues in the past with inappropriate interviews and boorish behavior, but he mostly keeps a low profile and doesn't publicly overindulge in the party lifestyle.


The line "Step out of that black chiffon" comes across as vaguely sexual, but since the entire song describes the "Paper Doll" trying on different clothes, it hits pretty low on the innuendo scale.


Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that John Mayer's single "Paper Doll" is rumored to be in response to ex Taylor Swift's song "Dear John." The poetic breakup ballad is about a girl still struggling to find her identity, but with no iffy language, references to drugs, alcohol, or sex, this song is OK for tweens and up. The hilarious and clean video also features YouTube sensation Joanna Rohrback doing her Advanced Prancercise workout to the song.

User Reviews

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Teen, 16 years old Written byrebma97 July 2, 2013

Not My Favorite, But Okay

This song is okay. It's not my favorite, but it's not terrible. I just find it ironic that John Mayer *may* have written this song about Taylor Swift... Continue reading

What's the story?

Almost three years after Taylor Swift released "Dear John," rumored to be about their relationship, Mayer may be answering back. "PAPER DOLL" shows a girl still figuring out her identity as she tries on different outfits. The chorus "You're like 22 girls in one," may be in reference to Swift's song "22." The goofy music video shows Joanna Rohrback doing a romantic Prancercise (or Romanercise) workout to the song while the lyrics display across the screen.

Is it any good?

All the drama aside, "Paper Doll" is a solid tune. It has a sort of easy-listening vibe with its jazzy guitars and breathy vocals, but there's something mesmerizing about the repetitive beat. And while it's a little weird to hear Mayer listing off women's clothing like he's reading the descriptions from a department store catalog, the lyrics are poetic when taken as a whole. Fans of "Your Body is a Wonderland" will probably dig this song. And you won't be able to stop watching the Prancerise music video.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the rumor that this song is about Taylor Swift. Do you think John Mayer wrote this song in response to "Dear John"?

  • Do you think musicians should write about their breakups in their songs? Do you think it's appropriate to publicly share details of your past relationships?

  • Why do you think Mayer chose to have Prancercise in his video? Does it have anything to do with the song or is it just for fun?

Music details

  • Artist: John Mayer
  • Release date: June 18, 2013
  • Type: Single
  • Label: Columbia
  • Genre: Light Rock
  • Parental advisory: No
  • Edited version available: No
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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