The Musical Rise and Fall of Taylor Swift

“The innocent and the beautiful have no enemy but time.”

Innocence often doesn’t last too long in a world where right seems wrong and wrong seems right. Sometimes we see where we are in life and the decisions we have to make and we feel that it was all much easier “in our lunchbox days”. In so many situations, we come to a crossroads where it seems that everyone’s finger points in one direction. Which road do we take? One road pleases almost all and the other only a few. We all have an Achilles’ heel and at some point in our life, we fall.

Taylor Swift, a singer we know all too well, rose to stardom at a very young age and her latest album Reputation has broken records. But in terms of her artistic honesty, she has come to a sudden fall.

Paul Simon, James Taylor, Johnny Cash, some of the greatest songwriters of all time, will always be remembered because of the their music’s depth and their insightful perception of the world portrayed through their lyrics. Their songs were relevant, relatable and truthful.

Most current music has none of those qualities. Most often, we listen to pop music not because the song has meaning but because it is so catchy, but just because a song is catchy does not mean it is a good song.

Taylor Swift started out young as a songwriter and became popular immediately. She was not popular only because she was cute and her songs were catchy but because her songs were relevant, relatable, and truthful. Obviously as a young girl she did not have incredible depth, but her audience loved her because it was so easy to connect to her. As Swift matured, her songs matured with more complex music and increasingly better lyrics. With the release of her album, Speak Now, which is still known by critics for her iconic storytelling, the music world knew it was only going to get better. Critics even asked, “Where are all the older people who are supposedly making better pop albums than Taylor Swift?” and answered their own question—“There aren’t any”.

Taylor only got more popular when a couple years after her Speak Now release, she released her greatest album, Red. This album would be Swift’s transition from country to pop while still staying loyal to certain values of country music. This album was her greatest because she told her story of becoming a woman—her problems, her fears and her insights into the world of love. She opened up to her fans who had grown up with her and were experiencing the same things she was experiencing. She dove deep, using poetry and analogy, rather than Speak Now’s storytelling,  to describe everything she was experiencing. Fans immediately embraced this album, for Taylor had not only told her own story in such a truthful way but she had told the story of her fans.  

All good things must come to an end. After Red, Taylor released her pop album, 1989, which was also the first album where she full on embraced her pop star status. The album was catchy, but aspects of Taylor’s lyric genius were lost and could only be found in a few songs like “Clean” and “This Love”.

Then Swift released Reputation which was a huge hit, but no matter how you look at it, Taylor is not herself in this album. It marks her fall.

When Taylor was most herself, she was open, full of depth and soaring high. Reputation is spectacular as always when it comes to melody but like almost all pop albums, it lacks relevance, relatability, truth, insight, and most importantly depth—the characteristics that make artists great, that made Taylor Swift great. People fell in love with a pure, real Taylor but in this album she seems to have turned downright superficial. She doesn’t portray herself as a victim; she is simply angry. Unfortunately, rather than pleasing the few that care about good music, Taylor went the route of pleasing the world of pop and because of this her Reputation album will be short-lived.

The rise of Taylor Swift was beautiful but the fall was sad and tragic. To see an artist go from great to mediocre, at best, is like seeing a great sculpture torn down. Music changes through time and people change their taste in music. Music in the last few years has taken a wild turn, and Taylor Swift went with it. She made a perfectly unspectacular pop album which pleased everyone because people don’t care anymore about music with depth. They care about music that gives them a good rush, and that is what Taylor gave them—a good rush.

She came to two roads and almost everyone’s finger was pointed toward one road so she took it. Taylor Swift forgot that she was Taylor Swift and that there were just as many fingers pointing to the other road because no matter what she puts out, the majority will love it. She didn’t realize that she didn’t have to change; she could have remained the same. The old Taylor is dead for now, but we can remember the old Taylor who was a great artist.

“It was rare, I was there, I remember it all too well.”

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