You don’t know me, but I know you. At least I think I do, as do millions and millions of people on this planet. I believe that’s where a lot of your anger and frustration, conveyed in your latest single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” comes from. You feature mention, after callout, after clue, shoving the perceptions of you right at your viewers, fans, whatever. Before I go there, I want to go back for just a minute.
There was a time in my life, before I realized that anything bad was capable in this world, that I heard your second album, Fearless, in my basement with my neighborhood friends, singing about kissing in the rain, having amazing days with your mom, and having this thing called “heartbreak,” which sounded like something out of a movie, before the villain gets defeated and everything eventually gets resolved with a happily ever after. Your voice, energy and liveliness slowly but surely roped me in for a whirlwind of affection for your music. Speak Now made me feel resilient and strong, while Red made me feel reflective and melancholy for things that happened to you. I’ve never met you in my life, but the words that you sang spoke to me in a way that not many others have been unable to do. As I started going through my own tough spots and heartbreaks, I would ache to listen to your words, knowing that someone out there understood, even if she was somewhere far away and didn’t know I existed. The lyrics put into words what I thought only I understood, and you have the magical capability to have millions of listeners captivated at the uncanny description of exactly how we felt. There were no clues or hiding; sure, some were invested in who exactly you were singing about, but for the fans, the ones who didn’t care WHO it was about, were just thankful it was written in the first place. Being your fan as a young girl, I didn’t realize the scrutinization you were under; being called boy crazy and fake and naive. While totally uncalled for, it somehow got twisted into a game; one that eventually became too challenging for me to play.
I think in the time between Red and 1989, you single handedly became aware of the magnifying glass on your life, and realized you could use this seemingly negative perception and shift it in your favor. Poke fun at yourself, and your critics, while still bopping along to a beat about shaking off the haters. It seemed like good fun, until any deeper look showed that your every move was calculated and perceptive. Every music video and song included hints and storylines to keep fans guessing what your next move would be. As I listened to your album that Christmas, I found myself bopping along, but the words no longer resonated with me. While I understood that artists grow and evolve, I always assumed my relatability to your music would remain. Songs about mocking your perceptivity as a serial dater, or having a feud with a peer, or shaking off the negativity were songs that I could sing along to, but felt somehow far away. Even while attending your 1989 concert, hearing how great you are from your many friends and celebrities (known as your squad) felt so manufactured. I obviously know how great you are, as a fan and a listener. That is why I attended your shows, bought your music, and supported your talents along the way. I think somewhere, you got angry at all the things thrown your way, so you twisted it into a money making machine. 1989 brought you fortunes, but left me wanting more. Where had the Taylor who sang about a deep love, a tragic loss, wrenching regret, and harrowing guilt gone? Each song sounded like the same generic teeny boppy song on the radio which sounded nice, but never really cut the surface. You no longer stood out to me, lyrically. Which leads me to here, now. “Look What You Made Me Do” is your new anthem. If the world thought “Shake It Off” was nonchalant, you have now reached the peak state of being unbothered. After months of more harassment and statements of the media, you came back with a vengeance again. But this time, it doesn’t feel so ruthless. It seems empty and overused, as you lash out in frustration over the people who you believe did you wrong. The lyrics are cheap and shallow. As far as I know, me along with many of your fans were surprised at the lack of substance in your attempted “vengeance” song. But if anything, it fell flat. Like the media’s constant attention on you, you’re giving it right back to them. Why give them what they want? What good comes out of painstaking clues that litter the lyrics and music video? What is the joy in watching fans wallow in confusion as they try to piece together hints that you drop about pop culture references and your enemies? It’s exhausting and disappointing.
I get that you don’t owe me anything and I can’t tell you what to do, and that me not supporting you won’t put a dent into your life savings. At the end of the day, your goal is to make money, which you are an expert at. I, however, have decided to look elsewhere for my time and money, putting it into artists who don’t make it agonizing for their fans to relate and understand what they are expressing. I know I’ll always have your old albums to fall back into, and I do wish you the best of luck as you navigate your “rebel” area. I just don’t think I’ll be around to see it.
Rep Image Taken from PhotoPin