Robyn Kelly breaks down the extensive music career of Taylor Swift, and how her legacy has been built.
It is no secret to anyone that Taylor Swift has had the music scene and the wider media wrapped around her finger for the better part of the last decade. Through her unbelievable shift in genre from country to pop, her recent re-releasing of albums after the Big Machine Record scandal, and her willingness to stand up for what she believes in, she has made a true example of what it means to control the music industry after it has controlled you for so long.
Taylor Swift has caught the attention of so many, not only with her ability to capture an audience with her songs, but also as a spectacle in the eye of the music industry. Being introduced to the scene at such a young age has meant that Swift has spent the majority of her life in the public eye. From starting out as your typical girl next door type to the independent craftswoman of storytelling we see now, Swift has adapted and changed in so many ways throughout her career.
Not so long ago, Swift fought for the rights for her own music which had been claimed by her previous label. This along with the Kanye West and Kim Kardashian ‘feud’ gave us Reputation. The most dramatic shift in image Swift had taken on by this point. By the time of Reputation in 2017, she had already made the bold and highly successful jump from country to pop music, but this new ‘bad girl' persona had taken everyone by shock. Since then, we have not only had the re-releases of some of Swift’s earlier music but also two new sister albums at the height of COVID – Folklore and Evermore. This image centred a lot more around a more cottage core vibe if you will, telling old stories with a folky instrumental sound. Through multiple sound and image shifts Taylor Swift has not only managed, but excelled at keeping us enthralled by whatever she may do next.
Over the course of these last few years, Swift has expanded upon redefining her own image, and also made her political positions more known, encouraging those who can vote to go ahead and do so while encouraging the fight for change. Being sixteen when she was first introduced to the music industry meant a certain type of image had to be portrayed. She was ‘the quiet girl’, never too loud, never opinionated. However, now at thirty-two, Swift has managed to not only grow and develop the type of music she wants to release but also the type of legacy she wishes to leave behind. It has been noted that Swift regularly donates to the Tennessee Equality Project, an organization set up to help fight discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community. In 2019, it was reported that she donated $113,000 to the advocacy group while also being one of the biggest contributors to sites such as Gofundme.com.
Through multiple sound and image shifts Taylor Swift has not only managed, but excelled at keeping us enthralled by whatever she may do next
Of course, money does not simply speak for itself, but the singer has also taken to social media and voiced her stance within multiple documentaries over the last few years. She has publicly stated that she is in fact pro-choice and an irrefutable supporter of women’s and gay rights. Within her Netflix documentary Miss Americana, Swift specifically spoke of local politics and her disgust for the politics of Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn, saying that her use of the phrase ‘Christian values’ when discussing the rights of LGBTQ+ people is incorrect. Swift confesses that she believes that Senator Blackburn “disguises these policies behind ‘Tennessee Christian values’,” saying, “I live in Tennessee. I am a Christian. That’s not what we stand for.”
While being a role model to many, the singer has also moved fans with her meaningful music and sheer talent for storytelling. This has undoubtedly generated a lot of excitement and anticipation for her newest release, Midnights, set to come out on October 21st of this year. In true Taylor Swift fashion, many hints and easter eggs have been dropped as we get closer and closer to the date. Swift has cleverly taken to TikTok to let fans in on what she has been working on. She recently revealed that the four different album covers, when put together, take the shape of a clock (get it?) To add to this, she has also come up with a sort of mini-series entitled ‘Midnights Mayhem With Me’, posted each night at (you guessed it) midnight to reveal the names of each track. A part of what makes Swift’s music so tangible is the experiences that come along from engaging with it. Communities are built and friendships are formed just to analyse the cryptic messages she leaves a trail of, every time a new album is announced. It is something that strengthens the bond between performer and fan regardless of the scale of popularity.
I can certainly say that I have enjoyed every second I’ve spent with friends and other people online happily deliberating on what she will do next. To experience this with other people with similar interests is such a fascinating thing. The imagination and creativity of it all is something to be cherished and I can safely say that because of this, Midnights will be one of a kind.
Communities are built and friendships are formed just to analyse the cryptic messages she leaves a trail of, every time a new album is announced
Swift has built her legacy on engaging with her fans, making her music interactive, standing up for what's right, and all the while producing enjoyable, good music. Little wonder, then, that Swift has the world wrapped around her finger.