In Defense of Taylor Swift
Published: Friday, April 12, 2013
Updated: Saturday, April 20, 2013 14:04
Twenty-three year old Taylor Swift, the mega-famous blonde popstar, gets too much bad press these days. Constantly, I hear how she goes out with too many guys, that she really isn’t talented, that she is mean, and that she doesn’t deserve the praise. This negative attention for Taylor is unwarranted, and absolutely unjustified.
Taylor Swift is the every-woman (and no, this is not really an overstatement). I truly believe that the one reason that people see fault in Swift is because they see their own faults in her. Sure, she isn’t perfect (but who is?). But think: remember your first relationship? That time you got into a really huge fight with your best friend? Or how about the fact that you realize that you’re growing up, and will never be little again? Yes, Taylor does too, and she writes about it. She puts into words what you can’t.
I feel like I have to unpack all the criticisms that are being thrown around about Taylor. First, the criticism that she “isn’t talented.” Clearly, if you say this, you haven’t done any research on her, or know anything about her. She has been singing since she was about eight years old. When her family moved from Pennsylvania to Nashville when she was fourteen, she began recording some of her self-written songs. Let me just pause here: today, Taylor Swift writes all her own songs (like most artists do, however, Swift began with three solo-written tracks on her first self titled album). Before she became as popular as she is today, she toured as the opener for some larger-than-life country acts, including Rascal Flatts, George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, and even Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s collaborative tour. She plays four different instruments seamlessly: guitar (both electric and acoustic), the banjo, the ukulele, and the piano. At her most recent tour, “The RED Tour,” she plays a specific kind of guitar with twelve strings. On top of this, she is an incredible entertainer, and has definitely come into herself over the years as a concert performer. Recently, she gained a stellar review from the entertainment magazine Rolling Stone, praising her most recent tour: “Seeing Taylor onstage now is just like seeing Morrissey in 1992 – that same level of total commitment, total fan fervor, total connection between audience and performer.” And her songwriting: she’s unstoppable. Her songs put into words what every teenager is feeling, what every young woman is feeling, what every woman has felt, sometime in their life (hello, my personal favorite song, “All Too Well.”).
Second, the criticism that she has too many relationships, which is perhaps the hardest criticism to defend. Taylor Swift is a young woman within the Hollywood crowd; from when she was in her early teens, she was the protégé, she ran circles in the Nashville country music crowd. As I’ve mentioned before, Swift is the every-women, and think about it: wouldn’t you want to hobnob with the Hollywood elite? Have some fun and date people who are put into the spotlight, people who are similar to you? Underneath it all, she is just a young woman who loves commitment and the thrill of a relationship. She is out to learn something from her relationships and grow as a person; this growth is definitely highlighted in her music from album to album.
She never blames her former beaus for her failed relationships; she always blames herself. Consider the song “Back to December,” about her relationship with Taylor Lautner: she sings about how she believes their break up was her fault. Then, consider the song “Dear John,” clearly about her interesting and rocky relationship with John Mayer, where she sings: “I shoulda known.” Or, in “I Knew You Were Trouble,” where the title suggests it all, that she knew when she started the relationship that it was going to fail: “It’s a shame on me now.”
We can’t pretend to know what happened in each of her relationships, specifically her relationship with One Direction’s Harry Styles, or Conor Kennedy. We do, however, know that Joe Jonas broke up with her via a twenty-seven second phone call. We know that Kanye West rudely interrupted her at the Grammy’s, claiming that she didn’t deserve it. Swift respond, brushing this off in her adorable way that she does, describing the experience: "Well, I was standing on stage because I was really excited because I had just won the award. And then I was really excited because Kanye West was on stage. And then I wasn't so excited anymore after that." We know that her and John Mayer had a rocky, too-adult relationship, something she surely regrets. We know that her serious-yet-quick relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal, and that he didn’t come to her own birthday party: see bonus “Red” song “The Moment I Knew.” We know that she struggles with insecurity, with constantly being the center of attention, generally negative attention with the tabloids: see “The Lucky One.” And we know that she struggles with growing up: see “Never Grow Up” and “The Best Day” (and have tissues close at hand). And we know that she’s just like us.
Many Holy Cross women (and men alike) listen to Swift’s music. “Taylor Swift is the every-girl. Her song lyrics each have something for everyone to relate to. She captures emotions in her songs that everyone feels and brings you back to a time in your life that you felt that way,” says Katie Bullek, ’15.
...Another fan, Makayla Humphrey, ’15, weighs in: “Taylor Swift has dominated the music world and achieved international fame by the age of twenty-three. For Taylor, acting as a role model is more important to her than basking in her fame. She preaches modesty, strength, and self-love masked in songs about tumultuous heartbreak or perfect love. These songs allow fans to connect with Taylor while learning lessons that every girl can benefit from. It is not just my connection with her music that makes me idolize Taylor Swift, but rather her grounded personality.”