This is quite the conundrum. Let me start off by saying this – I am not a fan of Taylor Swift’s music. I’ve never listened to any of her albums, and I could barely name two or three songs of hers. What I do know about her is that she is adored by millions, a winner of multiple Grammy’s, and has written her own lyrics from a very early age. From my outside perspective, she’s a super-talented artist who doesn’t get into any trouble and has managed to handle public incidents like being Kanye’d at the 2009 MTV VMA Awards rather gracefully. She openly embraces all genres of music, from country to hip-hop, and seemingly cares about the success and well-being of other artists in the music industry.
So then, why do I feel like I should hate her?
First off, there’s the dancing at award shows. I can’t really fault her for this. If Taylor Swift wants to act like she’s at Woodstock while wearing a dress that’s worth someone’s annual salary in an air-conditioned auditorium surrounded by other millionaires in suits and dresses, that’s her right. However, having the savvy of being in the public eye for many years, she must know that the camera pans to her about a hundred times, right? I admit it – my initial reaction to seeing her do her crazy dances on TV is to think that she looks ridiculous, but I know that’s no reason to dislike her. She’s entitled to do whatever she wants, and is this any worse than celebrities trying to look too cool for school when they’re on camera? No, in this case, I’m just being an asshole and a hater.
Then there’s her opinion about men. The two lyrics I know of hers are as follows:
1) We will never ever ever (ever ever ever? I lost count on the ever’s) get back together
2) Boys only want love if it’s torture
I don’t have a problem with Line #1. You see, by repeating the word ever she is vehemently emphasizing that she will not return into a relationship with her ex-lover. OK, got it. But let’s look at Line #2 – Boys only want love if it’s torture. So we LOVE torture that much, eh Tay-Tay? Do men seek out abusive, emotionally taxing relationships with women? Do we instigate conflict and consider love to be some kind of environment of instability? To this, I respond with a big, fat:
You know nothing, Jon Snow.
But what irks me the most about Taylor Swift is the Spotify issue. To a degree, I understand her stance. Artists don’t make nearly as much as they used to (except if you’re, I don’t know, Taylor Swift, who was estimated by Forbes to have earned $64 million dollars in 2014). And let’s genuinely believe that she pulled her catalogue from Spotify services because she wants to look out for all musicians out there and their financial interests. It still doesn’t lessen her delusions of grandeur when it comes to the Internet and pirating material. Does she think she’s going to cause a chain reaction of major artists and labels to pull their music catalogues from streaming services? Does she think this will bring a halt to all illegal downloading of her music and the music of other artists? Is this going to bring the music industry back to the Good ‘ol Days? I don’t know her true intentions but I am pretty confident in saying this – the Internet will always win. Instead of fighting piracy, Taylor Swift should realize that illegal downloading will always exist, and that her actions of pulling her music from Spotify only alienates a portion of the general population who will see this as another rich artist being greedy. There’s no stopping the evolution of society – Is anyone crying for cassette or VCR makers? Music is more accessible now – that’s just the way it is. Spotify, YouTube, and other streaming services give artists exposure to new audiences that otherwise would never be aware of their music. It’s a good thing. Let’s not fight it.
After all this, I am still unclear on how to feel about Taylor Swift. Do I have some unjustified bias against her because her music is seemingly not of my personal taste? Is it OK to be critical of her as long as I can acknowledge some of her good qualities? I don’t want to be that guy that hates her because I think she’s this or that, but what I do know, based on my perceptions and what I’ve seen and read, is that I have zero desire to listen to her music. I guess I’ll never know how good or bad it really is.
*Emily was conveniently unavailable to contribute to this post. I’m sure a debate is forthcoming.