So I’m still a T. Swift fan.
A couple months back I ranted and raved about how much she’d changed, how stupid “Look What You Made Me Do” was, and how I wasn’t sure that I liked this new “Old Taylor is Dead” born-again version of the girl who used to speak all my truths.
(hand over heart, high school Taylor)
After writing that post, I proceeded to listen to the song more than a couple times, succombing to a dance party or two in my car, and finding any and every reason to pop into a conversation with a Valley Girl style “Cuz she’s ded”. It was infectious. Then “Ready For It” came out…some pretty good jams. “Gorgeous” was released and it fell a little flat for me. But then “Call It What You Want” popped onto my radar a day ago – after which point I conceded that I kinda loved it.
Unfortunately, those statements I made in the past, albeit incredibly true in the moment, must be recanted. Because while she’s done her best to be all secretive and unsocial, keeping the media in the dark by not granting interviews and going on every morning talk show, she IS still granting select fans the same exclusive treatment she has provided for previous releases. And she IS still posting photos of her cats and showing up at the White Bridge Target….
on Friday, November 10, 2017 I woke up and got out the house early just so I could make a pre-work run to the store to buy the exclusive magazine/CD combo and text my mom about it. There are only a handful of artists these days who I MUST go out on Day 1 for….and Taylor is still tradition. Apparently I should have already come to terms with the fact that my relationship with her music hasn’t changed all that much.
Interjection: I started writing this post about an hour after I’d bought the album and made it through a whopping 2 new tracks on my drive into work. Then I set it aside and decided I should probably try and listen to the whole thing before formulating my opinions. Now, I have. And after listening and reading and thinking and researching….here’s what I’ve come to believe:
Maybe Miss Taylor is indeed a victim – a victim of her own need to defend herself. I mean, there comes a time for all of us when we’re tired of what people think of us, how they may be treating us, or what their expectations are from us. We all had a short emo phase in middle school, ammiright? And I mean, I am NOT a confrontational person, but there have been times in the last several months where I have felt so attacked by co-workers that I’ve had to bite back a little. And then have a good cry in the bathroom. So I can completely relate.
Taylor has built a career on being nice. I always thought I was just a nice girl, too. But we can’t be nice all the time. And we can’t expect someone else to be all unicorns and rainbows all the time, either. Sometimes, the only natural human reaction involves fighting back – going all gangster on the people who would least expect you to defend yourself. Part of that badassery includes owning up to your mistakes, embracing your reputation and sometimes even blowing it all out of proportion. You can go ahead and try and prove the naysayers wrong….but when everyone’s given up on listening, what’s the point?
When we least expect it, that side of us that we’ve tried to keep under cover comes out. And in Taylor’s case, it’s produced yet another hit album.
And a totally necessary rebrand.
My mom and I always used to discuss what would become of the teenage girl who built a career on singing about her high school crushes, dreaming about fairytales and refusing to truly act her age in many instances. Now, we’re watching it play out. Because no one can live in that space forever. Everyone eventually finds their own way out. But if you look hard enough, that same person is probably still there.
So maybe Reputation is a pitfall of sorts – it’s Taylor being a little too overdramatic, a little too dwelling on the past, a little too “bad girl” … but it’s her being her honest self in this moment. And I appreciate that. Dare I say I’ve even got a few new Taylor-made favorites. The snakes are clearing out and the watercolors are coming back into focus. And alas, the old Taylor is still alive and well. She’s just a little tougher than before.