I’m not here to convert atheists into believers. Not everyone likes Taylor Swift; I certainly wasn’t always a fan. I thought her “nicest girl alive” thing was an act, her lyrics were melodramatic and that she would eventually fade into oblivion, dripping tears of money on her guitar.
But I was wrong. Taylor Swift is the greatest pop star alive today — a golden ambassador to a genre whose glory days are essentially dead. Where pop music once united everyone with a radio, it’s now become the watered-down cousin of hip hop and dance music, complete with rap-by-numbers verses about twerking and poppin’ bottles in the club.
Pop music needs her. We need her.
My ex-patriotism from haterville began with “Shake It Off.” The first time I heard the song, I felt blessed by the power of pop. The world was a good place again. Following that, I bought her previous album, Red, and from there my obsession developed.
Her words read like the diary I kept in my teenage years: I knew he was trouble when he walked in. (We broke up because he never texted me back.) It was a sad, beautiful, tragic love affair, but still — we are never, ever getting back together. And listening to her songs are like looking at my life’s reflection in a warped mirror with background music and added drama. I also stay out too late, Taylor! I can make the bad boys good for a weekend just like you!
It all harkens back to a simpler time when when lyrics had a narrative arc and the beat didn’t have to drop.
Maybe I like T Swift because she’s honest in her portrayal of romantic angst and blind, eternal optimism. Yes, she stalked a man younger than she. Yes, she was abandoned in a boat by Harry Styles. She went out with John Mayer in a classic “maybe-an-older-man-will-be-better-oops-no-same-shit” move. Who hasn’t experienced at least all of these things once in their life?
She’s also unapologetic about who she is. She doesn’t try to be cool. She carries around a cat despite the media’s efforts to paint her as a crooning, lonely spinster — constantly unlucky in love just because she hasn’t found The One before age 25. She makes fun of her own dancing abilities. She called herself “crazy” on The Voice.
Taylor Swift’s songs are tonic for the soul, remedying what ails us while doing what music is meant to do: connect. Her music reminds us that everyone else has been heartbroken before too, or nurtured crushes on people who don’t know they exist, and that while being 22 looks great on television, it can hurt inside. She also reminds us that it’s all going to be more than okay. Shake it off, remember?
So here’s to Taylor Swift, the greatest pop star of our generation.