September 1, 2023
“Taylor Swift is…The Music Industry.” No, that is not just the personal opinion of her fans. Journalist icon Barbara Walters was the first person to have made such a statement in her 10 Most Fascinating People of 2014, and Taylor Swift’s success in the decade that followed has done nothing but prove that further. Before you click away because you disagree, don’t like her, or just aren’t a fan, I ask that you stay, stay, stay, and hear me out.
When someone mentions Taylor Swift, typically one of two reactions occurs. The vast majority would range somewhere from mild interest to fanatic exclamations; but there is the secondary response of disgust or complete disinterest. Roughly 7 years ago the mass reaction would have been flipped, especially on the Internet. If you remember the 2016 number one worldwide Twitter trend #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty… those were the dark days. So how did Taylor Swift go from arguably one of the most hated celebrities to the most streamed female artist in Spotify history? The shortest answer is authenticity and raw talent.
Though she has spanned 3 major genres throughout her career, not everyone can get on board with enjoying her music. This is understandable: there isn’t an artist out there that can appeal to every human on earth. Her voice is not for everyone, her production styles, her tour dramatics, her public image is not for everyone. What does seem to be for everyone (who’s actually looked into it) is her songwriting. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t think she was a great lyricist even if they don’t care for her or her music. Music legends like Paul McCartney, Dolly Parton, and Billy Joel have all praised Taylor for her songwriting capabilities. At this point, most of the general public can all agree: she is an incredibly talented writer.
With the fourth Taylor’s Version album coming next month, there is no need to reiterate the full motive behind these re-releases. What nobody could’ve predicted about these is that she would be catapulted into interstellar stardom and success unlike anything many stars’ careers had ever seen. Not only did her die-hard fans care about this passion project, she also began a movement of artists investigating what exactly their labels were stipulating. Artists are aware now more than ever of just what they’re signing up for and how ownership comes into play for their work. This increased scrutiny and accountability of labels would likely never have been initiated without Taylor’s Versions.
In the mid-2010s, she pulled her entire catalog from Spotify to stand against the lack of royalties for streams; this resolution changed the way streaming companies compensated all artists. A true voice for the people! Now, it is easier than ever to publish music to streaming services and social media, making music more consumable than ever. On many platforms, there is an overwhelming amount of Taylor Swift covers, many of which completely strip songs of their original production and create an entirely new sound. There are covers that changed from synth-pop to indie, radio pop to country, alternative to emo punk, and anything in between. This not only shows the universality in her writing but also how many creative people recognize themselves in her. She is influencing mass amounts of people through her music, and that’s a beautiful thing about humanity.
Speaking of invisible strings that tie us all together in the human experience: live music! The Eras Tour is expected to be the highest grossing tour ever, projecting a gross of $2.2 billion (yes, with a B). She is only a third of the way through, and this tour has already caused an earthquake, launched a federal investigation, and saved the U.S. from a recession (source: ME! …but also The Federal Reserve said she definitely boosted the economy). On top of all that, the show itself is a feat of creative and engineering brilliance. There are intense dance numbers, a 200-foot-long stage, LED screens and floor, and sets that seem to appear by magic. Not to mention her nearly 50-song setlist where she is giving 100% energy for three and a half hours straight. Everyone knows the The Eras Tour had hours-long lines for tickets, but recently the AMC app crashed when she announced the tour would be coming to select theaters. She is truly doing something to a level of professionalism and entertainment that few have dared attempt, let alone pulled off successfully.
Sure, the phenomenon that is Taylor Swift’s success could be solely attributed to her many dedicated fans that love her and her discography. But why do they love her so much? In my 17 years of experience with Taylor Swift, I believe it’s because she has always been authentically herself. There’s her stage presence that can be seen in even her first parking lot shows in 2006 – some could argue theater kid energy. Interviews show her charming yet dorky personality that has never changed. Even her awkward moments are always so quintessentially Taylor. Her entire career has been filled with staying true to herself even under constant judgment from media outlets, haters, and even getting cancelled that one time #SnakeEmoji. Yet she still managed to keep doing what she loved and learned along the way to only do it for herself instead of pleasing others. Except, it didn’t just please others, it awakened an entire cultural phenomenon.
She proves herself time and time again through award-winning Shakespearean-level writing. She paved the way for many artists and songwriters to own their work and be appropriately compensated. She dominates charts and ticket sales. And she does all this while facing the intense criticism from the media on every move she makes. Whether it’s “too many breakup songs” (we can never get enough), “too many boyfriends” (let’s look at other artists who have dated), “too many love songs” (let people be happy!), and any other nitpicky thing they could think of, they’ve attacked it. Yet she still managed to come out on top.
So why do some people still “just not get the hype”? That can only be answered by the people who hold that opinion. Hopefully this blog opened your mind a little bit. No matter if you’re a veteran of the fandom, had your life changed by 1989, have just been born as a baby Swiftie because of The Eras Tour, or you think she’s insane, Trivia (Taylor’s Version) has a blank space. And we’ll write your name on September 5. Come bejeweled, walk into the LaHaye Event Space at 8:00 p.m. and make the whole place shimmer!
Written by Anna Pender
Anna is the Special Events Manager of Student Activities.