Monday, August 28, 2017

Taylor Swift- Look What You Made Me Do

I know what you might be thinking. What 30 year old sits down to write a blog post about Taylor Swift?

I do.

There is a lot of buzz surrounding Taylor's most recent single, Look What You Made Me Do, and perhaps even more buzz around her video to accompany the song. And ever since I first heard the song on Friday morning, I have wanted to share my thoughts. I've sent out a few tweets here and there since Friday, but let's face it, 140 characters just doesn't cut it.

Before we dive in, I should give some background on my Taylor Swift fandom. I have been a loyal fan since her first album dropped in 2006. I was fascinated that this 16 year old, just three years younger than I, was writing these incredible songs. And I wasn't even a fan of country music! I loved her lyrics. I've been following Taylor ever since, and have always appreciated her creativity when it came to songwriting, performing, and, let's face it, marketing. Taylor's music has been a major part of my life for 11 years now. So yes, you can say that I am a fan, and I am not ashamed nor do I think her music is solely for teenagers. I also have an incredible respect for the way she treats her fans (giving them gifts, paying for tuition or medical treatments, etc).

That being said, I've had my share of disappointments in Taylor. There are songs I refuse to listen to (22 and Welcome to New York being two examples). There have been times I've rolled my eyes at her. There have been times I wish she would speak up, and times I wish she wouldn't say anything. I recognize that she's done some shady things.

 But I certainly can see that people have been very unfair to Taylor, too. Calling her a "serial dater" when she is a teenager/young lady who is simply dating just as any other person her age does. Saying she only writes about heartbreak when literally 90% of the songs we hear on the radio are about love/heartbreak and no one complains about Ed Sheeran doing the exact same thing. Saying that she is "always playing the victim" when she literally HAS BEEN the victim in many situations.

So that sort of brings us to where we are today, with her recent release of the pop heavy Look What You Made Me Do. On first listen of the song, my initial reaction was that this MUST be about Kanye/Kim. But after a few more listens, I started to wonder if the song was actually Taylor talking to herself, at different phases of her life/career. I thought this song could maybe be like Blank Space, which is a total sarcastic response to the media's image of Taylor's dating life.

After watching the video, I think I might be on the right track. Sure, there could be some subtle digs at Kanye, Kim, and Katy. But I truly think the real "bad guy" in the song is the media, combined with mistakes or missteps Taylor has made along the way. This was especially obvious toward the end of the video, when all of the "old Taylors" are knocked down by the new Taylor, and at the very end of the video where Taylor full on addresses some of the most common criticism she has faced along the way.

I know that for a lot of people, this song is another "she's playing the victim" song. But in my mind, it's Taylor taking back ownership of what she's created. And frankly, she should. Taylor is one of the most hardworking people in the industry, several folks who have worked for her can back up that claim. And she makes a lot of, if not all of, the creative decisions surrounding her work.

I get that a lot of people won't like this song. People miss the old "Teardrops on My Guitar" Taylor or they just think this song is too much. I'm not here to convince you to like it. People have different music tastes and I get that (and frankly, I hated Shake It Off the first several times I heard it). What I'm doing here is simply saying "Taylor, I get the song, I get the video, and I support you".

If you appreciate creativity, symbolism, or are just genuinely curious about Taylor's video, check it out below. You can read a breakdown of all the symbolism here. It really is quite fascinating and creative. Also, I should add, I have not cared or appreciated a music video in about 5 years, so obviously something about this is sitting with me: