Taylor Swift is one of the biggest names right now. Against my will, I am aware of this. It seems no matter where you go online, Taylor Swift is there. Even if you don’t like Taylor Swift, the algorithm seems intent on making you feel as though you should. This then translates to the real world, where liking Taylor Swift has become a badge of honor worn by nearly everyone. And if you don’t agree, you are either “too good” to fit into this class of superior beings or you just don’t have good taste.
I want to begin by establishing that I have tried to enjoy the world of Taylor Swift. At some point or another, it dawned on me that maybe I should just become a fan of hers and then it won’t bother me so much every time I go through my social media. So I did my research on Ms. Swift. There must be some reason that people enjoy her so much and I was deadset on finding out this secret that I seemed to not be in on.
The first thing that I discovered is people think she’s a great artist. I remember when “Anti-Hero” came out and everyone was so excited over one line, “I’ll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror.” Not to come off as arrogant, but this is a basic, first grade-level of writing. Also, the hype with “All Too Well?” “I’m a crumpled-up piece of paper lying here.” How in the world is this songwriting Grammy nomination level?
Along with the lyrics, her clues are supposedly another great part of her artistry. But these clues aren’t anything crazy, either. If Swift wears black nail polish, that’s a clue that she’s releasing “Reputation” next. It is as if the things she does are so overly hyped that you believe she really must be a genius. But when you strip away the hype, sometimes it’s just nail polish.
This leads me to my next point. If Taylor Swift is an over-hyped singer, why are people so dedicated to defending her? People say that it is because they’ve “grown up” with her. But then why her and not Katy Perry? I’m pretty sure the same fan base that listened to “Fifteen” listened to “Firework” and “Roar.” If it’s because she’s consistently released good music, I don’t think that’s a good argument as, in comparison, her newer albums, “Lover,” “Folklore” and “Evermore,” sold a minimum of 2 million copies fewer than her older albums, according to USA Today. Swift is probably aware of this, which is why she’s recycling old material in order to tour, i.e. the Eras Tour. Tactfully, this tour is able to market and disguise itself as a tour that isn’t just doing just that but is instead part of a narrative — the Eras Tour is Swift’s bold statement as she rerecords her old music.
However, there is one thing that I’ll give Swift: her ability to build a persona that keeps her fan base loyal and feeling connected to her despite the fact that she is far removed from them. According to Forbes, Swift is the 2nd richest woman in music and 34th richest woman in America, with a net worth of $740 million. Additionally, Swift owns eight homes valued at $150 million (according to Vulture) and a $40 million private jet, (according to Simple Flying). Swift does not live a relatable lifestyle but a luxurious one that depends on keeping a heavy stream of income flowing. An example of her being oblivious to modern world problems was during the 2023 Grammys when Swift was questioned if her fans could get the price of eggs to drop. She responded (seeming confused), “There’s really nothing they can’t accomplish.”
People pointing out her reaction online were met with a swarm of fans eager to defend their queen. Somehow, fans are convinced that they must defend because Swift understands them. Understands them — because she also experienced a breakup? Because fans have also felt like a crumpled-up piece of paper? But maybe that’s why the lyrics are so basic. So everyone can feel like they are being related to. I get that lyrics are meant to connect, but I can connect with lyrics and not feel the need to defend a person I have never met for no real reason. It kind of sounds like brainwashing, doesn’t it? Or am I not allowed to say that because it is triggering for fans that are totally-not-brainwashed?
I don’t hate Taylor Swift. I just don’t think the level of success she has is because she’s a great artist but is instead due to a combination of the team she has around her, such as her PR team and her commitment to presenting a perfect image of herself that fans buy into so much that they become a huge unpaid marketing team themselves, shutting down bad rumors and continuing to build the hype among each other. In total, these elements leave her practically untouchable. As someone who tried and failed to understand the Taylor Swift excitement, my lingering question to Swift-loving readers is still — why?