Saturday, September 13, 2014

Taylor Swift: reinvented?

by Melissa Scott, Writing Intern 

Photo by Oliver Hardt/Getty Images
Taylor Swift’s upcoming album, 1989, hits stores next month. And as usual, listeners can’t wait for the unleashing of her classic song-stingers. Swift contends that 1989 signals a significant turning point in her life - one of self-“reinvention,” and a deviation from anything she produced before. She maintains that the album best portrays her newfound station in life, one entirely non-“boycentric,” freeing, and individualistic.

Rolling Stone featured Swift in an exclusive tell-all interview and photo shoot, gaining primary access to her own promotion of her revolutionized album and lifestyle choices. First and foremost, 1989 officially marks Swift’s clear-cut transition from country to pop artist. Swift’s last album, Red, bestrode the two genres, mixing the different sounds throughout her songs.

Now, Swift’s decision seems resilient. “At a certain point,” she admitted, “if you chase two rabbits, you lose them both.” Swift publicly resolved not to go to any more country awards shows, or promote her album on country radio. She even disclosed her refusal to incorporate any country to the head of her label, Scott Borchetta, when she gave him the completed record. Swift said Borchetta remarked, “this is extraordinary – it's the best album you've ever done. But can you just give me three country songs?” Remaining steadfast in siding with pop, however, Swift replied, “Love you, mean it, but this is how it's going to be.”

Swift may be determined to change genres entirely, but it’s her other claims of self-renovation that I don’t buy. Her next significant life transformation, she told Rolling Stone, is a departure from the dating life, and all things guy-related. She claims the album completely lacks any “diss tracks” or call-outs featuring her notorious ex-list. Some songs, she affirms, refer to relationships and her past love life. But rather than vengeful and brazen, Swift categorizes them more as reflectively sentimental. “Different phases of your life have different levels of deep, traumatizing heartbreak,” she stresses. “And in this period of my life, my heart was not irreparably broken. So it’s not as boycentric of an album, because my life hasn't been boycentric.”

This might be a fair statement, and almost believable—until Swift directly offset the assertion in the very next sentence of the interview. She decided to bring up the very topic of an ex-boyfriend—none other than the popular heart throb and notorious ladies’ man, One Direction singer Harry Styles. Trying to back up her “boy-free” claim, Swift said, “I have not gone on a date [since breaking up with Styles]. People are going to feel sorry for me when you write that. But it's true.” Swift continued to name off not one, but four tracks that allude to her relationship with Styles. She mentioned “Wish You Would,” namely a song about an ex who bought a house two blocks from hers (implying that Styles did that). Next came “All You Had to Do Was Stay,” a song that happens to describe an ex who just wouldn’t commit (yet again a Styles’ definition). “Out of the Woods” refers to a snowmobile accident Swift and Styles reportedly underwent. Finally, Swift enthusiastically detailed  the boldly entitled “Style”—a spicy Miami vice-sounding track about a guy with slicked-back hair and a white t-shirt hitting it off with a not-so-classy girl in a tight little skirt.

Detecting a snide call-out there shouldn’t be too difficult. Harry Styles and Kendall Jenner started a short-lived relationship a few months after Styles’ break with Swift. And in one of their first paparazzi-caught pictures together, Styles in fact wore a white t-shirt and Jenner wore a tight black skirt. It didn’t take much investigative skill to work that out. Referring to “Style,” Swift grinned, “We should have just called it ‘I'm Not Even Sorry.’” So yeah, her “no-diss track” claim seems displaced.

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for MTV
Swift recounted to Rolling Stone yet another rebuking single, “Bad Blood,” This song namelessly attacks a fellow rival artist - a female. “For years, I was never sure if we were friends or not,” Swift declared scathingly. “She would come up to me at awards shows and say something and walk away, and I would think, ‘Are we friends, or did she just give me the harshest insult of my life?’” Swift continued, “Then last year, she did something so horrible. She basically tried to sabotage my entire arena tour. She tried to hire a bunch of people out from under me.”

Speculation concerning Swift’s bitter accusations point to Katy Perry. Notoriously, the two do not get along.  Previously, Perry hired three of Swift’s back up dancers, who all left Swift  mid-tour to join Perry. The act seems nearly identical to the sabotage story Swift noted. Meanwhile, barely 24 hours after the release of Swift’s interview with Rolling Stone, Katy Perry fiercely sub-tweeted, “Watch out for Regina George in sheep’s clothing.” At least Swift titled the song accurately. “Bad Blood” pretty much sums it up between these two.

So is 1989 really that much different from Swift’s previous albums? Setting the abandoned country flair aside, Swift’s mastery of passive-aggressive musical call-outs remains commonplace. The new album strikes more of a Taylor Swift reiteration than a reinvention. At least she can “shake it off.”


  1. She is trying to change and you don't give her a break. They are jealous of her talent . At least she is willing to try something new.


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