"Miss Americana": A Fan's Review

I’ve been a fan of Taylor Swift for about 10 years now, some times more intensely than others. Her albums Fearless and Speak Now were the first ones I purchased by myself. Those songs were the soundtrack to my preteen years; in those transitional years between not only CDs and iPods, but childhood and adolescence. I also played piano at the time and I’d learn to play her songs as a distraction from the boring classical pieces and scales I was required to learn.

As I grew up, I began to have a deeper appreciation and respect for Taylor Swift. I was actually able to relate to her specific yet universal lyrics about love and heartbreak. As an aspiring writer, I began to appreciate her talent as a songwriter and her strategic business moves. I also began to recognize the sexist double standards she continues to fight as a woman in the public eye. 

When the 2016 U.S. election came around, I was in the group of people who assumed she was a “crypto-conservative.” It seemed strange to me that she didn’t have an opinion about the election when so many other celebrities made their thoughts loud and clear.

But now, everything has changed. Taylor Swift’s recently released documentary, Miss Americana, tells the story of the mega star’s rise to fame, the controversies that rocked her career, and what went on behind her decision to start publicizing her political opinions. 

Watching Miss Americana made me appreciate Taylor’s journey as a person and an artist. The authenticity and vulnerability of the documentary allowed her self-awareness and growth to shine. We get to see behind the curtain of many events that happened publicly in Taylor’s life and how they really affected her. 

Some of the best parts of the documentary are when we see Taylor in her element, writing songs in the studio. The sheer passion and excitement she has for making music is compelling.  We get to see “ME!” “Delicate,” “The Man,” and “Getaway Car” come together, and hear how some of the lyrics changed. Being a Panic! At The Disco fan as well, I loved seeing Taylor work with Brendon Urie, who she fondly referred to as “the pro-est pro.” 

While I’m personally still a little underwhelmed at their song “ME!” they are both insanely talented vocalists and songwriters. “If I didn’t write my own songs I wouldn’t be here,” Taylor confesses in Miss Americana. She says her storytelling is what sets her apart and I couldn’t agree more. In an age where most pop singers aren’t expected to write their own songs, Taylor goes above and beyond. She has written or co-written every original song she’s released and a lot of her skillfully penned tunes are overlooked. She has a talent for seamlessly mixing the universal and the specific, which results in beautiful yet relatable lyrics. 

One fan favourite is a song called “All Too Well,” a song that has lyrics ranging from painfully specific details about a forgotten scarf to feeling like a crumpled piece of paper after being dumped. As the song plays in her documentary, Taylor says “I can’t change what’s gonna happen to me. But I can control what I write.”

Taylor talked about how there’s so much pressure to constantly reinvent herself - to constantly find a new facet of herself for people to enjoy. While I, as a journalist, mostly write in the realm of facts and can’t imagine having to fit a melody to the words I write, Taylor’s style and dedication to the craft is a huge inspiration for me as a writer. I’ve found that it’s so easy to get pulled away from your writing. There’s comparison, perfectionism and the fear of not being good enough.  But what really matters is what you create and how you feel about what you create. And if Taylor Swift can block out an entire world of opinions about her and the constant pressure to reinvent herself in order to write something meaningful, then so can I.

Whether you’re a hardcore fan, you only know the words to “Shake it Off,” or your feelings about Taylor are less than positive, I would recommend giving Miss Americana a watch. But if not, no “Bad Blood.”.