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At her prime or past her peak: Taylor Swift
Wingspan Editor-in-Chiefs Athena Tseng and Caroline Caruso discuss musical artist Taylor Swift's career
December 1, 2022
Embarking on her largest tour to date, pop sensation Taylor Swift remains a popular topic of conversation amongst listeners and within the pop culture arena. Being that this is not the first time the star has broken records of popularity, is her zenith in the past, or is she still on the rise? Wingspan Editors-in-Chief Athena Tseng and Caroline Caruso debate if Swift’s career is just seeing its beginning or end.
No longer “22”
Taylor Swift, the coming-of-age icon every girl living in 2014 knew “All Too Well.” Taylor’s songs were a great segway into the 2010s: the happy-go-lucky, care-free lyrics of her songs made every girl hit the replay button on their iPod touch. I remember learning the lyrics of “Love Story” on CD when I was 10 years old to sing to my elementary school crush. I even had my fourth-grade cheer routine choreographed to “Shake it Off.” Taylor’s songs were perfect for that time in my life.
The issue is, now I am older. As time has passed, I feel as though my music taste has matured.
Songwriting, especially Swift’s genre, pop, has explored other topics aside from love and relationships. But sadly, Swift’s songwriting is stuck describing her life in her twenties, despite it being a decade later.
Yes, Taylor Swift made a name for herself back in the day. But I think nowadays people listen to her music mainly because of the nostalgia-hit they receive when they press play. Midnights, her newest, and “truest” album-or so it is claimed to be– is nothing more than a repeat of what she wrote about in the 2010s, just with a synthesizer and edgier twist.
Without new topics to write about, many argue she has lost her initial claim to fame as a “genuine” and “relatable” artist and is just riding out the wave of popularity. This is evident in the lyrics of her newest song “Anti-Hero”: I have this thing where I get older but just never wiser. I should not be left to my own devices. I end up in crisis (tale as old as time).
Perhaps Swift is describing herself as having a midlife crisis. Yes, she has reached the top of her career, but in doing so she sacrificed precious moments of life outside of her work, such as building a family or getting married. She knows her lens is limited, and outside of living vicariously through her younger years, has nothing to relate to her audience about. The memories she was able to experience at a younger age have now become her ghosts, coming to haunt her by reminding her of better times as she grows older. Yet, she continues to write about them because that’s all she has.
I’m not denying her current success in the music industry, but eventually, her writing will get old.
A lyrical legacy
Ten albums. Two re-recorded albums. Five world tours. Three Album of the Year awards.
Taylor Swift has become a household name for a reason.
Despite people discrediting her work, she has transformed the music industry. Since the release of her debut album, Taylor Swift, in October 2006, she has broken dozens of records, including the most American Music Awards, most VMA video of the year wins, and the most-streamed album in a single day on Spotify.
This has transcended to her newest release of her album, Midnights, as well by being the first artist to occupy all top 10 songs of Billboard Hot 100 and her announced tour, Taylor Swift: the Eras Tour, is projected to be the largest grossing tour in U.S. history beating her own record of her previous tour, the Reputation Stadium Tour.
From her country roots (Taylor Swift to Red) to pop (1989 to Lover) to folk (Folklore and Evermore) to her re-recordings (Taylor’s Version), she has constantly kept the same high quality of lyricism and musicality. Showing her talent as not only a musician but a songwriter as she has written all of her own songs.
After losing her master tracks to Scooter Braun in 2019, she was unable to perform and lost royalties to six of her albums: Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now, Red, 1989, and Reputation.
However, she took matters into her own hands by re-recording her old albums and has advocated for artist’s rights and altered the way artists manage their music.
Many top artists now credit her as their musical inspiration such as Olivia Rodrigo, Conan Gray, and Phoebe Bridgers. This just highlights the influence Swift has left on the music industry even beyond her songs.
Being one of the most successful female artists, advocating for music rights, and paving the way for young artists, Taylor Swift’s legacy on the music industry is undeniable and will leave a lasting mark for decades to come.