Image from CNN
Taylor Swift has made Billboard history by becoming the first artist to debut at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (songs) and Billboard 200 (albums) in the same week. Not only did “cardigan” occupy the first spot of the Hot 100, but “the 1” and “exile” also made the top 10. Yes, this is the same girl who started out with just a guitar and her voice, signed with Sony at 14, and debuted her first single “Tim McGraw” on the Billboard country singles list. Taylor has long been a hugely influential force in the music industry, winning multiple accolades for her songwriting and music-making abilities, and yet, she seems to be largely known for her personal dating life and a feud with Kanye West.
Much like Taylor expresses in her song “The Man,” if she were not a woman, chances are her dating life would not be scrutinized by media tabloids and the public. Her romantic life is hers alone, so why do people care so much about it? People seem to think that just because someone lives a highly publicized life, that gives audiences permission to judge and criticize their lifestyle choices. Now, I agree that there is some degree of validity in questioning the precarious lifestyle choices of celebrities whose audiences are mainly underage, but having a perfectly normal dating life doesn’t exactly fit the definition of precarious. I say we turn away from discussing Taylor’s personal life and focus on her actual skills and abilities.
Taylor’s talent for songwriting is indisputable. She somehow manages to take a moment or a feeling, something so deeply personal it’s universal, and envelops listeners in that single sensation. It doesn’t matter if you have not experienced it. Taylor’s songs are a compilation of shared memories, essences of feelings and moments frozen in song for audiences to experience vicariously. It’s like being nostalgic for a life you lived in a dream.
Take “seven” from her newest album, folklore, for example. This song perfectly captures the innocence and magical thinking of when you are 7 years old. Taylor invites us to picture ourselves as children, flying through the air in a swing and playing in the outdoors, and it works. Every time I listen to the song, I reverse back in time to when I knew less of the world and was, oddly enough, probably wiser than I am now. This is Taylor’s specialty: bringing you to a small moment, the type that seems insignificant as it’s happening but sticks with you through time.
Taylor Swift has evolved right before our eyes. She started out as a young girl with a dream and a guitar, and she is now one of the biggest pop artists in musical history. She has the unique musical gift of vicarious nostalgia, one which connects listeners to her and each other. It’s a beautiful collective mind full of shared memories that no one has lived through but everyone has experienced. I, for one, am incredibly proud of Taylor and the artist she has become. I’ll admit she lost me for a bit with Reputation, but folklore proves to me that she really is as talented as I initially thought. And I can’t wait to see where she goes next.
What’s your take, are you #ProudOfTaylor?
Yes, Swifties for life