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Unless you’ve been living under a rock or have been pleasantly distanced from the internet for the last week or two, you’re probably aware of the three major things that happened: The first episode of the final season of Game of Thrones dropped, Avengers: End Game came out (no spoilers, but absolutely go see it, it’s amazing) and Taylor Swift released a new song with Brendon Urie from Panic! at the Disco called “ME!”

While there have been mixed reactions to the single that foreshadows a unique and exciting album to come, “ME!” produced nowhere near the controversy that “Look What You Made Me Do” did in fall 2017. Back then, the cheerful, romantic, country-esque-even-in-her-transition-to-pop Taylor was nowhere to be found, and even superfans like myself were SHOOK. If you’re curious on my thoughts about that era of Taylor’s career, check out my article about LWYMMD. That said, many are questioning whether ~2015 Tay-Tay is back, and the old Taylor can once again indeed come to the phone – to which I say no, sir. Taylor doesn’t do anything on accident, and the last thing she’d do would be to revert back to an old version of herself.

Let’s take a deep dive into the whirlwind that is the last 13 years of this world where the general public has been privy to the company TS’s music. Until 2010 when she graced us with Speak Now, her first venture into the world of pop, Taylor was country through and through. This was arguably an era within itself, consisting of Taylor Swift and Fearless, when she was just a young, curly-haired, starry-eyed teenager with songwriting skills that are only seen a handful of times per generation. (Fun fact: Taylor continues to express her country roots by writing songs for other artists, like “Better Man” for Little Big Town in 2017). Back before she ever dreamed of huge production music videos with more hidden Easter Eggs than her fans could ever hope to uncover, Taylor taught us that she was a wholesome, down-to-earth individual with #relatable experiences and emotions that she took the liberty of expressing for us poor 12-year-old girls who could never face the torment and dating-shame that she bravely and unfortunately experienced early on in her career. 

She taught us all too well that fortune favors the brave, and lucky for us she stuck it out and introduced a wonderful pop-y world of fantasy-filled love stories and heartbreak sagas in the form of Speak Now,  Red, and 1989, where she found herself unwittingly stamped with a reputation (oooh, foreshadowing) of being a serial dater with nothing intelligent to say – a label that she later worked hard to shake and one that saddened her true fans (or anyone who’d ever heard her lovely speeches on tour where she showed her true intelligence as not only a songwriter but a human being, and she inspired young girls to stay true to themselves and be brave in spite of everything she herself had experienced). At the end of these truly outstanding almost seven years of music, Taylor disappeared from the public eye for some much-needed and much-deserved peace, solitude and reflection. With a near decade long routine of releasing albums every other year and touring in between, her fans began to wonder if they’d ever see her again as she stayed quiet through almost two cycles worth of her previous release patterns. 

Now if you’re still with me, here comes the good part. Ms. Swift had had just about enough of the public torment, celebrity bullies and date-shaming she could take, and rather than rant publicly on Twitter like so many less tactful celebrities are known to do, she quietly simmered and, unbeknownst to us, began writing the biggest album of her entire career and honestly the most shocking single that I could’ve never expected from innocent Tay-Tay. Again, I won’t get into it because you can read my previous article linked above (plus if you’ve made it this far you’re probably a big fan who was just as shook as me when reputation dropped), but cue the next era and arguably the first one to ever actually be defined as such. Taylor had remained pretty true to character up until this point with her biggest surprise being her unprecedented jump from country to pop, so there had been no real need to segment the parts of her career into separate labels. But when dark-passionate-don’t-mess-with-me-snake-queen Taylor exploded on the scene in 2017, none of us were really ready for it. We enjoyed (and still are, let’s be honest) some incredibly inspiring, pump-you-up bops that taught us you can damn well be a romantic without being weak, as well as plenty of quirky cute songs with an attitude that reminded us that Taylor was still managing to be true to her cute self. We all wondered what would happen next once the reputation (STADIUM, btw) tour came to an end, but it was clear that Taylor was here to stay.

Now. That FINALLY brings me to last week, when we were blessed with a catchy single titled ME! that boasted a pretty pastel palette and a collab that our emo middle school selves could’ve never even imagined let alone dreamed we’d live to see, hinted at by a series of Instagram shots and clever hints from the lady herself in the first few months of 2019. To be honest, I was still riding the high of reputation so to be gifted a new single so soon was something I was initially surprised by, but we know by now there’s no shortage of brilliance in that songwriting mind of hers, so it’s pretty on-brand. Many are criticizing the song as “weak” and “girly” after such a power album as reputation, but I disagree completely. I think Taylor is just once again showing us her range, and now that’s she’s finally found a proper relationship worthy of all her kindness and empathy, she’s going to tell us all about it in a well-rounded album filled with more bops, some ballads, and some more BA power songs reminiscent of the rep style. 

But who knows. This woman is ever surprising us, and I’ve been here for her 13-year journey and I’m certainly not going anywhere anytime soon particularly with the promise of a brand new era. So join me in being unbelievably stoked for this album, or bring on the criticism because we know she and her fans can take it – after all . . .

Katrina Hicks

Northwestern '19

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