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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Edited by: Oishiki Ganguly

I don’t listen to Taylor Swift. But here’s how her new album changed me without ever listening to it.

Alright, there’s no way to say this lightly. I am not a fan of Taylor Swift. Now before you go on to dismiss me as a musical snob who “listens to rock to seem qUiRky”—let me respond to it right away on behalf of the multitude who do-you’re probably right, we need the validation. Now we can move on. 

I write this in an effort to build a leeway for non-Swifties like myself to consider a future of entering the Swiftie fandom. Or this can be seen as a trivial rambling of how I, as someone who doesn’t particularly listen to Taylor, was pleasantly affected by her recent album without ever having listened to it.

Now I’m not going to pretend like I’m completely unaware of who Taylor Swift is and what she creates. Some of her more popular songs (every album of hers has at least one track that’s a cross-genre banger) are attached to some very fond memories from primary school. Chanting the chorus of I Knew You Were Trouble (when you walked in) every time someone walked into the classroom was a comedic masterpiece that somehow relentlessly forced laughter out of every 7th grader at the time. The joke, having been so redundant and circumstantial, was essentially only replaced by Adele’s Hello three years later. Anyway, with the white pinafores and pigtails vanished my incessant need (and mental vigor) to keep up with new music, and I have receded from pop since.

Although I was aware of how popular Taylor generally is, her staggering fanbase amidst those around me was news to me. You can imagine how confused I was last week when I saw almost all of my Spotify friends listening to the same album at the same time (don’t you stalk your friends on Spotify and judge your entire relationship with them accordingly?). I got around to finally figuring out that she had dropped a (new?) album, and like we would do with our favorite artists, many flocked to listen to it. I found myself searching ‘why does everyone love Taylor Swift?’, not to be cocky but out of genuine curiosity. Since the results of this search were mostly listicles on Taylor’s fashion, artistry and philanthropy, I also spoke to a few Swifties in my life, whose sentiments I will try very hard to give justice to.

Thanks to a hearty, patient and lengthy voice note from a batchmate, the RED that Taylor released to us in 2021 has changed a lot of how I perceive her and her art. Interestingly, the album that dropped on November 12th is a re-recording of her original 2012 album with the same title. The case of Taylor Swift vs Scooter Braun (not a legal feud), while it may be familiar to Taylor fans and anyone who keeps up with western cultural news, was only something I’d recently learned of, and explains why she began to re-record her initial six albums. And rightfully so. The exploitation of artists by record labels and streaming services (Spotify included) is too widespread to ignore. And Taylor is only one example. Metallica, Trent Reznor (lead vocalist of Nine Inch Nails), Prince, Snoop Dogg (the infamous and rather entertaining feud with Death Row Records) and Dr Dre are a few of the many artists that have created dialogue and acted against the exploitation (of consumers and artists) by record labels, producers, and the record industry as a whole. Even today, young and/or black artists continue to receive the short end of the stick. While this is an issue that we are passively aware of, Taylor has constantly vocalised the need for artists’ rights over their content. And her recent album has pushed many of us to think of it further.

Having said this, will I now listen to Taylor’s version of RED? It doesn’t matter because my respect for her as an individual goes beyond my need to engage with her music.

At the same time, I would encourage everyone to stream their favorite (and probably underpaid) artists on loop when you go to sleep. Give them those stream counts pls <3.

Vyshnevi is a to-be crazy cat lady with an incomprehensible love for music, chai and literature. An undergraduate student of Ashoka University, she grapples to the idea of better tomorrows and believes in spending valuable money on speakers just to listen to distorted shoegaze music.
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