Two weeks ago, I attended the Eras Tour in Nashville one week after giving birth to my second child. Still riding that high, I’ll use this as an inaugural type of post -an appreciation post.
A Personal Recollection of T-Swift’s Rise
Back in 2008-2009 when Taylor Swift really emerged on the scene, I was not a Taylor Swift fan. The time would have been the waning of my Pop-Punk phase drifting into alternative and prog stage with a healthy dose of Big Boi mixed in. A girl singing about her beef with a cheer captain would have made me eyeroll, and I think I even assumed she was much younger given the content of her lyrics.
And then Red came out in 2012, and sure , I can beebop to ’22’ while I’m also a 22 year old girl. But I wasn’t quite caught.
And then in 2014, 1989 with ‘Blank Space’ released, and the lyric “‘Cause darling I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream” wafted through my ears. The glimpse of the goodie pop girl queen hinting at a more subversive inner working finally made me say, “Okay Taylor Swift, I’m listening.” Here we are nearly 10 years later, and I’m still listening.
The Pervasive Love of Taylor Swift
Why are we so obsessed with Taylor Swift? By we, I mean the 259 Million followers of Taylor Swift, 4.3 Million followers of Taylor Nation, and over half the adults in the US according to an article from Forbes.
The Forbes research went more in-depth than mere number of fans, including questions about the depth of fan interest, favorite albums, and struck at the heart of my question. According to the article “73%. That’s how many avid fans said that Swift’s music is a driving force of their support of her, compared to 50% who cited her performances and music videos and 42% who cited her relatability.”
Catchy tunes are certainly a win, but as the Eras Tour illustrates, Taylor Swift is a master of performance. Her set clocks in at over 3 hours, spans 45 songs from 10 albums, and she’s on-stage dancing, playing guitar and piano the entire time. Three nights in a row, nearly back to back weekends for 5 months. Oh, she’ll do it in a downpour. And remember that time she released two albums less than a year apart during a global pandemic? Let no person say Taylor Swift is not a hard worker.
I love Taylor Swift for her music and her performance art, but more, because Taylor Swift is a baller.
Pop Princess Power
In 2015, she wrote letter to Apple decrying their decision not to provide royalties to artists during the free trial period of Apple Music. She threatened to pull the 1989 album from the Apple Music catalog, and what did Apple do? The said, “Yes, ma’am!” She’d done the same thing to Spotify previously, but can you imagine the kind of clout you need to be able to boss around Apple?
Also in 2015, she had a DJ fired for inappropriately touching her during a promo photo at a radio event. While it could have ended there, the DJ decided to sue for damages from defamation. Perhaps he suspected she’d go easy and settle with him rather than deal with the publicity. Instead, she took him to court for assault, winning the case after seeking damages of only $1. Her point was not to get money but to empower victims of assault, a cause she continues to funnel money toward to this day.
While historically private about her political beliefs, Taylor Swift is a staunch advocate for LBGTQ+ rights donating to causes and collaborating with community members such as Ru Paul. In 2018, she penned a social media post against senatorial candidate Marsha Blackburn citing LBGTQ+ rights and advocacy against racism as primary reasons for dismay at the candidate. As someone in Tennessee who was similarly appalled at the commercials Marsha Blackburn released, let alone her voting record, I’ll echo Swift’s creed that “These are not MY Tennessee values.” In 2020, she again broke her own protocol denouncing Trump and accusing him of openly supporting violence and white supremacy.
It would be easy to dismiss Taylor Swift as a simple “pop star” or criticize that it’s easy to get famous when you’re backed by two hedge fund managers (both her parents worked at prestigious firms making money no issue in pursuit of her success). Both statements contain grains of truth but neglect the full impact of her stardom.
Finally, A Swiftie
The Beatles reigned supreme on the Billboard charts for a decade. Taylor Swift’s era currently sits around 15 with no sign of stopping. One doesn’t achieve such a feat without true talent. Her devotion to her fans and her commitment to her beliefs ensure she’ll be remembered not only for her music. With that, I’m happy to be a Swiftie.