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Bad Blood, Turning Tables, and Lost Love

Flashback 26 years to arguably the most influential year of the 20th century, 1989. Mr. Gorbachev, after many years of hostile relations, grants Reagan’s wish to “Tear down this wall.” Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie plop down on their couch for the first time, and an unknown Chinese student iconically steps in front of military tanks during the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Kids everywhere put down their jump ropes and sidewalk chalk for the hottest gaming console on the market, the Gameboy, and in a small Pennsylvanian town and the big city of London two baby girls are wailing their first notes, notes that in no time will be worth millions. On the cusp of what would be a decade filled with mornings of Saved by the Bell and bowls of French Toast Crunch, afternoons spent prowling the new releases at Blockbuster, and sleepless nights haunted by the Furbys in your closet, Taylor Swift and Adele Adkins entered the world and forever changed what it sounded like to fall in and out of love.

            As we come down from our 1989 Tour high, what better way to spend all our new found time (now that we don’t need to invest so much of it into trolling Taylor Swift’s Instagram to see who out of her A-list posse decided to join her on stage) than jumping on the Adele bandwagon. With the release of her first single in what seems like a lifetime, ‘Hello’ reenters Adele into the realm of relevance, reminding us just how powerful heartbreak can sound. With the debut of her first album, 19, the whole world bought into a 19- year-old Adele knowing a thing or two about love and loss. While most other 19-year-olds are dropping jaws due to the lack of clothing they’re now sporting, having just freed themselves from their hovering parents, Adele swooped into all of our hearts and dropped our jaws as she belted out unreachable notes with powerful meanings. Bluesy and brassy, funky and fresh, Adele stepped onto the scene defining herself as an old soul.  Adele brought the intimacy of music to her listeners, she reminded us of ourselves and brought back our not-quite buried heartbreaks of the past. She sings a cautionary tale as she reminding us of the pitfalls of love and the good old days that have since faded to black. She brought us to tears as we remembered going off to college and leaving behind the supposed loves of our love, she catapulted us back to times littered with lies and betrayal, Adele breathed life into the grief of heartbreak and in doing so boosted the sale of Kleenex worldwide as we all wept for the love we lost, the love we never had, and the love we just can’t seem to find.

             But how is it that this wise old sage and the cat loving, bubble-gum pop singing love guru, Taylor Swift are the same age? Just two years prior to Adele’s first album, Taylor Swift appeared on our 1st generation iPod Nanos to capitalize on heartbreak and turn her grief to gold. Just like Adele, Swift’s songs are born from break-ups and heart arches. From John Mayer to Joe Jonas, Jake Gyllenhaal to Harry Styles, Swift’s relationships have been as diverse as her ever-changing music style. Her music would not be what it is without the experience of heartbreak, and it is thanks to these countless breakups and her mess of feelings that she now has five albums chalked full of the heartfelt heartaches and sassy splits we’ve all felt. There might be teardrops on her guitar, but, unlike Adele, Taylor Swift takes a more goofy and juvenile approach to love. She reminds us of loving the boy next door, our first days of high school, shaking off the haters, and what it feels like to grow up and grow out of love. Compared to Adele’s soulful and intense ballads, Taylor Swift gives us catchy sing alongs to blare windows down and to dance along to at a slumber party. Taylor Swift reminds us that love doesn’t always have to be serious, and it’s okay to dance away heartache and fall back on your girlfriends for support.

            Although they have different takes on love and different experiences to share with us, Taylor Swift and Adele are hands down this generation’s go-to-girls for all things love. What these women possess that many other entertainers fall short of is the ability to forge an intimate relationship with their fans. They sing of feelings we’ve felt and show us that their lives are just as far from perfect as ours, and that that’s okay. They’re goofy and sassy, down to earth and honest, and their lack of a veil in both their lyrics and relationship with their fans is what makes them so lovable and iconic. God forbid either of these talented ladies ever settle down with Mr. Right.

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