Should We Give Taylor Swift A Break?
NOW, I’m not defending Taylor Swift’s habit of dissing ex-boyfriends in her songs but she certainly does have a flair for writing excellent songs about her past relationships.
It’s true, Taylor has had a pretty colourful love life over the last few years, having dated high-profile guys like Jake Gyllenhaal, John Mayer, Joe Jonas, Taylor Lautner and Harry Styles. However, the way the media have targeted her lately and branded her a ‘serial dater’ who only gets into relationships to find inspiration for her songwriting is ridiculous. I seriously doubt anyone who has had their heart broken before would actually chose to go through that pain again just to be ‘inspired’ to write songs.
Taylor has definitely gone too far in the past and said much more than she should have but she’s also had to deal with growing up in public while the media document her every move and insincere people try to get close to her to cash in on her success. Who hasn’t made mistakes or said things they shouldn’t have – especially in their teens? It’s difficult enough not to get caught up in your emotions when you’re a teenager without having to deal with being an obsession of the media too. Regular people write about it in a diary and tear up the pages when they’ve calmed down and moved on. Taylor writes about it in a song and it becomes a hit but she can’t take it back if she ever wanted to.
Although she has always avoided discussing the identities of her ‘muses’, sometimes it’s a little too easy to put the clues from her lyrics together and figure it out (take ‘Dear John’ for example). John Mayer and Joe Jonas, two of Taylor’s ex-boyfriends, were less than impressed with the songs she wrote about them and retaliated by writing their own songs about her but sadly for them, had nowhere near the same success in the charts as she did. Taylor is constantly criticised by the media while other artists like Adele, Ed Sheeran, One Direction and Sam Smith have all written songs (in some cases, even full albums) about their exes but rather than criticise them, the media actually applaud them for it. Just like Taylor, they’ve written quality music about past relationships but they don’t seem to get any of the backlash.
A good songwriter succeeds when their audience can relate to what they’re writing and feels that they’re genuine. So it makes sense then that songwriters do end up writing music inspired by their own life experiences because that’s their best and most authentic material. Taylor’s more recent ex, Harry Styles, has praised her new album 1989 (which apparently is largely inspired by him) saying in an interview with Ben Winston: “We write from personal experience, and I think everyone does, so it would be hypocritical of us to be like, ‘Oh you can’t write about us,’ And she’s really good, so they’re good songs,” adding, “I’m really lucky in that sense.“.
It’s important that artists who write about past loves (or even current ones) are respectful and discrete, even if they feel they’ve been badly hurt because they can’t take back their words once they’ve recorded them. Really, anyone who gets romantically involved with a songwriter should be prepared to feature in their music in a good or bad light – it comes with the territory. At the same time, people should also avoid over-analysing things and remember that sometimes a song really is just a song, no matter who the writer has been dating.
I hadn’t paid much attention to Taylor Swift’s music until I started following her on Instagram (after seeing a cute cat picture she posted) and discovered how kooky, fun and weird she is. In a good way. Her Instagram and other social media accounts were used as a genius marketing tool to promote her new album 1989. Taylor regularly posted arty shots with quotes from songs on the album counting down to its release. I was so curious by the time the album came out I had to buy it. I wasn’t a Taylor Swift fan until I listened to 1989 but I have to admit, I’ve been listening to it pretty much non-stop since I downloaded it.
With 7 Grammy Awards already under her belt, Taylor has upped her game again with 1989. It’s a refreshing album – sometimes cheeky and fun, at other times vulnerable and nostalgic but without any hints of bitterness that are sometimes present in her earlier albums. ‘Shake it Off’ is a perfect response to the criticism she’s been receiving from the media and grumpy keyboard warriors. ‘Blank Space’ parodies the portrayed image of her as a crazy serial dating man-eater but it’s really catchy and the video is comical. She also includes three voice memos about her songwriting process which adds a nice personal touch to the album. It’s not surprising that 1989 has done so well already and become her third album to sell over one million copies in a week.
In this past week alone, Taylor has celebrated her 25th birthday in style with an A-list pizza party, sold out both Dublin dates of her 1989 World tour in less than an hour and been named Billboard’s Woman of the Year.
Taylor Swift. She’s quirky, she’s emotional, she’s fun and she’s human. She’s not going to disappear any time soon, despite the critics.
Photos c/o hitfix.com, time.com