“Who’s Taylor Swift anyway? Ew,” A famous background voice that appears in the 22 music video is a metaphor for Taylor Swift teasing the ‘cool kids’ who once considered her music bereft of any fun. 2023, love her or hate her, is her year, and her fans aka the Swifties, are enjoying every bit of it. There are artists we play on shuffle, add to our playlist, and talk about with our friends. But when it comes to the 12-time Grammy award winner, singer, songwriter, producer, and director (a never-ending list), Taylor Swift, this hardly does justice to the absolute chokehold Taylor has over her fan base.
In a generation of women reclaiming their lost girlhood and queer men also embracing their feminine side, Taylor’s discography triumphs. Romanticism, angst, and a joy of small pleasures are things attributed to the feminine—things that her music portrays vividly. And seeing women love and support each other for all these things, ditching the tired cliches of being ‘not like the others’ and embracing their girlhood, fills me with joy as does seeing femininity in all forms across the spectrum get more visibility.
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A Lyric For Every Emotion
As Terry Jeffords from Brooklyn 99 once said “She makes all of us feels things”. Taylor Swift’s musical journey has a song for every moment of a girl’s life – when getting your heart broken for the first time, Teardrops on my guitar is there. Missing your mom? I’m Only Me When I’m With You is the jam. Bumping into your crush… tune into I think he knows. Even when you are starting a new journey like getting a new job, or shifting to a old big city (my clever reference to the Mean song), she has songs with lyrics like From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes, I gave my blood, sweat, and tears for this, making you appreciate your little achievements.
Much has been written about her songwriting; for me it feels like a comfort hug on a bad day, giving you assurance that you are not the only one going through it. One of such masterpiece has to be You’re on Your Own, Kid where she sings (I hosted parties and starved my body) about finding herself in a new world, connecting friendships while grasping onto social capital and shedding light on how societal beauty standards have affected her.
Voicing Every Generation
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Her music cuts across generations, going beyond the Gen Z and millennial conversation. Her songs and lyrics resonate with girls and women, lending a voice to feelings that aren’t quite explained. A whole generation of women have known her, some closer to her age have been witness to the upheavals in her career. And there is a fair share of the newer Swifties who might have tuned in a bit late but are on this emotional voyage with fellow millennials. The feeling all Swifties feel with her music is more than universal; it feels powerful and surreal to be surrounded by people who feel the same way as you do.
Her words offer a sense of belonging and an escape from this world of chaos. “We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time. It’s miserable and magical.” These lyrics from Taylor Swift’s hit song, 22 has anyone who is entering their early twenties and trying to fit in their college or new adult life listening to it on loop.
She has showcased multiple phases of her life – from her country girl era in her sophomore album to a pop star phase in 1989 to her revenge mode in leather ensembles with Reputation. In every beat, swifties feel validated and understood, she’s practically created a community at this point. She has also inspired multiple new artists like Olivia Rodrigo, Conan Gray, Sabrina Carpenter, Gracie Abraham, and more to never stop writing their personal experiences for the world.
Making Her Way
This is a world where mainstream femininity seems to rile everyone up, more so by alpha males who seem to look at feminine values with visible disdain. When Miss Swift said I’m so sick of running as fast as I can, Wondering if I’d get there quicker. If I was a man, she was talking about the hardships of being a girl in this world and it spoke to girls everywhere. Society’s contradictory rules on how girls should act, dress, or talk have most people signed up, so Taylor’s songs have been an unshackling, a gentle approval of all things you consider close to your heart.
All of this has always invited hate from men towards Taylor Swift, who has expressed her feelings in multiple songs like especially in Mad Women where drop lines like She should be mad/ Should be scathing like me/ But no one likes a mad woman/ What a shame she went mad/ You made her like that, dropping reference on about how she is a punching bag for several men in the music industry.
Ever since Kanye West took the microphone away from a teenage Taylor Swift at the VMAs, men have appeared to be eager to talk over her success and undermine her accomplishments. Taylor Swift sets an example of someone who consistently defies expectations, she’s not going to play nice and she’s unapologetic about it. She unabashedly educates her fans to not let people walk over them and take their kindness as a weakness. Because sometimes it’s okay to not shake it off.
In the end, through Taylor Swift’s songs, I have been able to connect with and build some of the greatest female friendships in my life and enjoy a sense of community. While girlhood is about all the emotions that may indeed be frightening, I believe that everything can be solved by listening to a song like Me—yes, it’s one of my favourites—and letting ourselves feel. Maybe cry and dance a bit.