Taylor Swift’s heartfelt, somewhat innocent music resonated with me as a middle-schooler. It was somewhere in between pop and country, with lyrics depicting high school clichés and coming of age confessions. Over ten years have passed since those early songs, and while Swift’s music has evolved into the auto-tuned pop music typical of chart toppers today, what isn’t so typical is how she has managed to secure a fan base that will gladly consume whatever she puts out.
Her latest single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” serves as further evidence for her lack of creativity when it comes to songwriting. If any other artist had written this poorly constructed, childish-sounding revenge song it wouldn’t have made it on the radio.
However, her intensely successful career seems to carry any new single she produces into undeserved popularity. “Bad Blood” was another example of a cringe-worthy hit designed to paint Swift as some kind of badass, but it came across as whiny and desperate.
In a music video portraying her “inner circle” of celebrity friends, “Bad Blood” starts off with an almost topless Swift fighting men in suits when she is thrown out of a window by Selena Gomez. The video continues showing each of her friends in tiny leather outfits, wielding swords and knives. The video brought to mind those of Lady Gaga and Sia, with dark makeup, lighting, and mood. It’s not the image I have a problem with, but how did Taylor go from producing silly, carefree songs like “22” and “Shake It Off” to this?
It’s clear she feels the pressure to align herself with other artists. Swift has even confessed her fear of “becoming irrelevant” as she ages. My personal theory on her lack of original content is her lifestyle.
Taylor Swift is a victim of her past successes. Some of her most loved songs were written when she was a teenager. After being catapulted into fame, her experiences are no longer song-worthy. The bits and pieces of Swift’s real life of which the public gets a glimpse include her supermodel pals, and her rivalry with Katy Perry and Kanye West. I am not going to pretend I know much about her personal life, but Swift’s music clearly reflects the experiences gained in the bubble of celebrity status.
Amongst widespread criticism concerning Taylor’s breakups and subsequent songs, it seems all she can write now are songs directly addressing her critics. It is unfortunate she feels confined to this topic, and even more unfortunate that her songs garner as much acclaim as they do.
The truth is, the music industry is already diluted enough with artists like Taylor Swift. Her music used to convey stories mixed with raw emotion, but now they sound ambiguous and repetitive. If her latest single is any indication of what the album “Reputation” will contain, I dread turning on the radio in the coming months.
At 27, Swift has had her time in the spotlight. It’s time she either fades out of the public view or starts producing better lyrics.