If you were like most of America this past Sunday, you were watching the American Music Awards (AMAs), and you may have been concerned after seeing Taylor Swift’s opening performance of her song, “Blank Space,” from her latest album, 1989. There is no denying that Taylor Swift is a talented artist with a ton of success, but a whole eight years after her first album, it’s a bit concerning that we are still hearing about her exes. What is even more troubling is that eight years after her first self-titled album, she has had enough breakups to write four more concept albums based on them.
Making an extremely savvy move by releasing “Tim McGraw” as her debut single off of her debut album, Swift took the music industry by storm with her girl-next-door attitude and lyrical content. Her music was simple yet relatable, and although it was weaved with a relationship theme, the songs told stories that girls everywhere felt they could never articulate on their own. But just like Taylor herself, her music and its content began to mature.
Fearless was Swift’s second album and by the time of its release, everyone everywhere pretty much knew what the songs were going to be about; broken picture frames, mascara-stained pillows, and park benches where broken hearts were left behind. While the songs were cliché to say the least, they still spoke to her target audience (yes, I was a Swifty myself during this time) and met the demand she was facing to release a new record. That being said, the live performances of songs such as “Hey Stephen” and “You Belong With Me” hinted at Taylor’s stalker capabilities, and the sweet girl-next-door was coming off a little bitter.
By this point in time, people began wondering why men would continue to date Taylor after it seemed likely they would become another track on her upcoming album. In spite of this, the relationship rumors continued to swirl themselves through every gossip magazine displayed at the end of grocery store aisles. During this time in 2010, Speak Now took the country and pop charts by storm. While I have to hand it to Taylor for including tracks like “Innocent” (said to be written as a response to Kanye West after his outburst at the VMAs that year) and “Never Grow Up,” those tracks became lost in the sea of breakup homages to the men who came in and out of her life in the years between Fearless and Speak Now.
With the physical release, her fans were given clues in the booklet of the album that indicated whom each song was about. This “interactive” experience made Taylor’s intentions a bit more clear, and perceptive people everywhere were picking up on the malicious trends in her music. It seemed like she was seeking relationships with the anticipation of them ending so she could be inspired for her next album.
This suspicion became clearer with the release of Red. While this album seemed to showcase a new, more hipster-inspired side of Taylor, her music was far from changed. In fact, “I Knew You Were Trouble” was simply a revision of “Mean” from Speak Now. I feel like by this point, Taylor shouldn’t have been pointing fingers anymore. When the entire world can’t count all of your relationships on two hands, I think it’s time to take a hiatus, but that’s just my opinion.
I have to be honest and say that songs such as “All Too Well” and “I Almost Do” were brilliantly written, and I appreciated the simplistic instrumentation and meaningful lyrics. They are still the best songs to listen to when you’re alone and depressed for no good reason, diving into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. That being said, their storylines echo that of fifteen other tracks from the T-Swift vault, so it’s hard to consider them new and original.
They say if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I guess that’s why Taylor felt the need to replicate her previous four albums with her latest, 1989. While it is clear the singer/songwriter has become more comfortable in her own skin, her music on this album is daunting a lot of people; once again pointing fingers to everyone around except herself. She should have a sticker on her forehead warning men to proceed with caution. It seems like once they enter her life, their lives are broadcasted to the world in subliminal ways. Not only that, but Taylor’s messages to her exes seem to become more and more deviant with the release of each album.
This was all enhanced with her performance at the AMAs two nights ago. Maybe it’s just me, but starting out your performance by poisoning your date across the dinner table seems like a pretty sure way of saying “I’m crazy, put me in a straight jacket.” What about the idea of ten more “ghosts of boyfriends past” standing behind her while she uses pyro to light roses on fire and stare crazily into the camera? You just can’t “act” crazy that well. It seemed like Taylor was slowly unraveling during the performance, leaving viewers scared by the end and understandably so.
The people who should really be scared though, are the men of Taylor’s past, present, or even future, for that matter. It is clear the pop star is a force to be reckoned with, trailblazing the music industry and breaking records left and right with her album sales, but at what expense? I can tell you one thing, she may be gaining new fans with the fruition of each new preteen generation, but the moment those preteens get a little bit older and can see through the forced charm, they’ll begin to notice that Taylor is becoming a personified version of a character in an unreleased Criminal Minds script; planning ways to humiliate, tell off (or apparently kill off) her latest ex. All I’m saying is, if it wasn’t clear to men everywhere after her first four albums, it should be clear now: proceed with caution, or just not at all. You’ve been warned.