X Close

Taylor Swift, America’s national hero The tortured superstar is an antidote to Trump and Biden

Haters gonna hate. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Haters gonna hate. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)


February 10, 2024   7 mins

A record number of Americans are likely to watch this Sunday’s Super Bowl, probably only half of whom will be following the actual game. The other half will be scanning the luxury boxes for tantalising glimpses of Taylor Swift, the country’s most famous pop star, whose romantic alliance with Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce has united two tribes in a way that might have seemed impossible.

Welcome to the new America. In this strange new country, Taylor Swift fans are interested in football, while American football fans have been obliged to take cognisance of the existence of Taylor Swift, and even grudgingly admit that at least some of her music is actually quite good.

The Swift-Kelce singularity has already proved so powerful that there are dark mutterings from corners of the American Right that the celebrity couple is part of a plot to get Joe Biden re-elected, engineered by the US Department of Defense. Donald Trump is said to be personally miffed by Swift’s popularity, and to privately insist to unnamed advisors that his fan base is larger than hers.

Trump is right to take Swift seriously. I encountered America’s reigning pop princess on the last leg of her Eras tour — the music event of the summer, soon coming to Europe, with tickets selling for $1,500 and up — through a music-lover friend who, proclaiming himself tired of my unthinking prejudice against his teeny-bopper idol, offered me a ticket to see her show in Seattle. I alighted from my Uber outside the Lumens stadium in the company of a mother, in her 40s, and her daughter, in her mid-teens, wearing matching white glittery dresses. The middle daughter, in her early twenties, wore black, with a row of maybe a dozen friendship bracelets on her right arm.

By compelling the allegiance of all three generations, Swift has become the closest thing that America has these days to a national hero who connects the entire country, the country-club set included, together, and to a common mythos. F. Scott Fitzgerald would have loved Taylor Swift. A little bit cracked, a little bit reckless, bound for disappointment, but protected by invisible cushions of race and class, her tragedy is at once pre-ordained and, at the same time, affirms the country’s battered-but-still-existent social order. If “Cruel Summer”, Swift’s summer radio anthem, isn’t exactly Cole Porter, it’s easy to imagine F. Scott humming the tune.

But Taylor Swift is also something more than a pop star. Neither a brilliant singer nor a gifted dancer, she is the author of memorable lines and couplets that seemingly emerge from a stream-of-consciousness story-telling voice whose seeming artlessness is a calculated effect of her craft, of which she is a master. Her persona is a disenchanted version of the girl-next-door, who is overly labile, loses control of her emotions, gets dumped, and then pours out her simmering anger and hurt to her diary, as well as to her millions of fans, for whom she serves as a kind of substitute for family. What makes her persona stand out from the usual run of injured females is her awareness of her own failings, which is in turn the whetstone upon which she sharpens her daggers, which she thrusts into the eyes of those who have injured or betrayed her. Her actual family is an upscale affair, consisting of her young brother Austin; her mother Andrea, a former marketing manager at an advertising agency; and father Scott, a stockbroker-turned-vice-president for Merrill Lynch, who manages his daughter’s money.

Awaiting her arrival, the crowd was an explosion of cut-off-jean shorts over fishnets, prom dresses, glitter tops, shimmery metallic leggings, glittery tiaras, henna tattoos, rainbow glitter tops, glittery cowboy hats, and more glitter. It was like Planet of the Apes for Women Wearing Glitter. Perhaps half the crowd were seriously overweight, which is more or less the same ratio I’d expect to find among the men at a football game. Where male football fans wear team jerseys, the Swifties are dressed for a summer prom, proving once again that the audience for female finery is other females. Maybe one out of every 10 here is a man. Relations between the sexes are cordial.

Swift’s opening act was the Haim sisters, who rock a more physically and mentally healthy Sarah Silverman-type vibe. What they lack, however, is the comedienne’s awareness of her own brokenness, which was the source of her charisma and wicked sense of humour. Silverman knows that the world can be a mean, cruel place. Where young American men are generally forced to internalise the lessons of their own insignificance in unpleasant ways by the time they hit puberty, young women are encouraged by schools, older women, and every form of entertainment on the planet to believe they can have it all. To believe otherwise is to let down the side, which consists of all other women on the planet. The result being, at least here in America, the near-certainty that young women will fail to achieve even basic levels of happiness, as the gap between their expectations and reality proves impossible to bridge. Which is where Taylor Swift comes in.

Part Khaleesi warrior goddess, part stripper, part show pony, part Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, part sorority sister, part Country Western singer, part Daisy Buchanan, part woman scorned, and part broken toy, her presence is effortlessly authoritative. She just stands there, commanding the stage. Through the power of her persona, one she has assembled with her own magpie creativity, she takes colourful bits of string from the nests of her producers and song-writing partners and fuses them together in a way that is always uniquely her own.

Swift’s craft as a songwriter comes from her rootedness in the themes and rhythms of country music, which is the genre in which she began, and which she has seamlessly adapted to pop. The marriage of these two forms allows Swift to escape the emotional confines of pop, and channel the stresses and resentments of a generation of women who are hopelessly torn between the demands of the workplace and ingrained ideas of romance and femininity, and above all by the knowledge that the scripts don’t match, and never will match. Swift’s job in the culture is to take the toxic life-trap these women feel caught in and reflect it back to her audience while still making them feel special. Her songs mirror the brutal inner monologues of a generation of caged female animals who grew up with the language of girl power and are now unwilling to either fully endorse their condition or abandon the possibilities of romance with men.

Swift has a charming way of presenting her life as a movie while at the same time fully inhabiting the characters in her songs. She’s a better actress than Madonna, in part because her persona rests on being the girl next door rather than Superwoman. This persona is convincing because she suffers. She suffers because she wants too much, often from men whose inadequacies force her to settle for less, or much less, until she explodes, and leaves them long drunken answering machine messages, or stalks them at bars, or becomes obsessed with their new girlfriends. Costuming aside, she’s pure Nashville.

Swift is America’s Female Id, taking the feminine emotional range and insight of country music and injecting it into pop without compromising the virtues of either. “Oh wow, you know,” she said at the Lumens, returning to her safe place, which is her 70,000-strong audience. “Musically speaking, we’ve got a lot to catch up on. It’s been five years. But let’s not talk about me anymore. Let’s talk about you. There are performances I see in this crowd tonight that are Tony Award-level.”

What separates the performer from her audience is not that her inner life is any more elevated. It is that she’s a hugely talented songwriter who works incredibly hard at her craft, and there is something endearing about Swift’s need to keep making that point plain. “I’ve been writing songs since I was 12,” she said, matter-of-factly. “My way of coping with stuff is that I go through something, and then I write songs about it.” The fact that the stories in her songs are real is part of what makes them good though, just like any rap star, a fact she underlined by launching into “champagne problems”, a song inspired by her ill-fated liaison with Conor Kennedy, RFK Jr’s son. She’s a nightmare dressed like a daydream, or so the song says. “She would’ve made such a lovely bride,” she sings. “What a shame she’s fucked in the head.”

Maybe she is, and maybe she isn’t. Maybe it’s all her fault. Or maybe it’s the guy’s fault. Either way, it’s impossible not to be struck by the perfect construction of the line, and by the delicate emotional line that the song walks — between seeing herself through the eyes of her detractors and admitting that she is nuts and being a survivor who in the end will always win out, by turning the pain of being unwanted into pop chart success. Swift is a talented emotional acrobat who is continually walking lines that are finer than they look, feeling from the inside while describing herself from the outside. The combination of those talents makes her a star.

If it was exhausting, for a man in the audience, that nearly three hours of non-stop female emotional shadowboxing and politicking, there is also no denying how completely Taylor Swift has mastered the art of being a pop star, at a moment when Americans in general, and single American women in particular, seem paralysed by a pervasive uncertainty. Meanwhile, Swift is free to return to her roots. Which brings us to folklore, the alt-country pop record she released in 2020, at the height of Covid lockdowns.

“I hit my peak at seven feet / in a swing / over the creek / I was too scared to jump in,” she sings to a childhood friend, before wondering if there is still sweet tea to drink and other beautiful things left in this world.

This is Taylor Swift taking her stand. She’s still the most famous woman in the world, even if her job — as a songwriter and a pop star — is to be miserable. She can be famous and live in a mansion by the sea in Rhode Island, a safe distance from the Kennedys, but she can’t have it all. The rules won’t allow it.

Swift never stops trying, though. Her Nashville work-ethic, like her lunges at her exes, root her in a place that Americans look to for salvation from their present ills. Not to billionaire fantasies about colonising Mars, or the insistence on abolishing borders and gender, but to the Fifties America of Leslie Gore, where women could still call out the men who betray and control them, and assert the fierceness of their own inner lives, with the assurance that there is some greater form of structure, which, regardless of the constraints it imposes, might offer an alternative to being alone. After spending the past 50 years tearing down the structures of families, churches, local government, ethnicity, gender, nations and borders, a very large number of Americans now find themselves struggling to find rhythm and meaning to their lives.

The idea that Taylor Swift, of all people, can find happiness cheering for her boyfriend, a burly, bearded football star seems well-deserved. It is also an embodiment of the kind of healing synthesis that is hard to find in Trump’s angry bluster, or Biden’s senile ramblings, or activist campaigns to shut down bridges and highways, or mandate the exclusive use of electric cars, or otherwise force one’s views and practices on others. What Taylor Swift finally has for herself is what a large majority of Americans want for themselves. Or maybe it’s all a clever promotional stunt, cooked up by Swift’s handlers and the country’s most popular sports league to sell their respective products. Which would also be entirely and even comfortingly American.

“Hi, I’m the problem,” she announced in Seattle bluntly, before softening the blow with an eruption of glitter. “When I walk in the room / I can still make the whole thing shimmer.”


David Samuels is a writer who lives in upstate New York.


Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

194 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
5 months ago

You know it really is something special when I could literally waste an hour of my time writing paragraph after paragraph about just how little I care about Taylor Swift, her fans, or whatever her latest annoying publicity stunt is.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Nothing against Swift or her fans, just not that interested.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I’m equally uninterested but there was some excellent social commentary about the state of women in the US.

“
young women are encouraged by schools, older women, and every form of entertainment on the planet to believe they can have it all 
 The result being, at least here in America, the near-certainty that young women will fail to achieve even basic levels of happiness, as the gap between their expectations and reality proves impossible to bridge.”

Pretty well nails bar mentioning that the discontent is usually blamed on men.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

No, it’s not, on the contrary I hear young, white males blaming their malaise on females.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Only the terminally online. Most of the young lads I know are still normal, and thankfully spend their weekend drinking and reeling off cheesy chat up lines with varying degrees of success.
I think we all sometimes confuse a few noisy whiners (both left and right) on social media for real life, forgetting that most people couldn’t give a monkeys and act in largely the same way we always have

ralph bell
ralph bell
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

You personal anecdote aside, that’s just not true anymore if you see any of the stats on young people. They go out less, drink less, have less sex and less friends and consequently are far less mentally healthy. That’s both male and female.

Tony Price
Tony Price
5 months ago
Reply to  ralph bell

‘Fewer’ friends please – ‘less’ is correct elsewhere. My anecdote is that both of my sons seem to go out, drink, shag and have sufficient friends for my generation to expect to be normal.

Brian Thomas
Brian Thomas
5 months ago
Reply to  ralph bell

If they have less friends do they have more lonely?

Tony Price
Tony Price
5 months ago
Reply to  Brian Thomas

fewer lonely of course!

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
5 months ago
Reply to  Brian Thomas

If something’s countable, you use fewer. If it’s not countable, you use less. Fewer sugar cubes and less sugar.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
4 months ago
Reply to  ralph bell

That may all be true but I think Billy Bob’s point is that things are not as bad in the real world as they appear to be if you pay too much attention to the online world.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

So true.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Your reply that most of the young lads you know are normal cheers me up. I hope you’re right about the noisy whiners.
Where do you live?

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
5 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

It seems to me, anecdotally speaking, that young, white males don’t “blame” anyone for any malaises, because they realise early on that unlike with women, nobody is interested or cares. They are simply figuring out that they are better off without females, and all the hassle, drama and potential damages from divorce.

Which will make things interesting in a decade or two, because our “we can do anything a man can” young women don’t seem keen on a lot of those jobs that young, white males used to do. And those men don’t need to do those strenuous, high risk jobs anymore – since they only need to take care of their own, individual, rather basic material needs, rather than slogging away to support a family.

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
5 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I’m pretty sure you don’t really know any young white males

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago

A few, but from what I’ve read and from listening to Jordan Peterson that seems to be so. As females started to excel in class, males declined.

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
5 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

This coincided with the feminization of teaching, mixed sex classes, a nasty anti-male culture in education from kindergarten to phd… the constant vilification of male achievement…… They are not blaming women. Mostly not blaming anyone – just staying j their rooms, masturbating (or not) playing video games…. and hanging out online, smoking pot (which Trudeau kindly made available on every street corner). And the result of all this ‘success’ on the part of young women hasn’t been any better for them. Unhappiness and mental health has gone up every year since 1970….they don’t marry, defer having children.. relationships break down, juggling single parent hood. All this progress is basically shit for women, shit for men and terrible for children ….and catastrophic for society. Until we get back to some version of natural law….it will only get worse. So I guess Jordan Peterson is mostly right. But it’s not ‘blame’…simply sociology, psychology, cause and effect.

El Uro
El Uro
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Someone must be to blame!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I think you’ve got that wrong. But I get your frustration because you’re a man, and I don’t mean that disparagingly. As an older woman, I haven’t been drawn to the Taylor Swift thing either, but it certainly interests me and, I’ve been curious enough to try to understand it. So I found this essay interesting as it seems Samuels is curious, also. I’ve been exposed to her in the media and have heard about the phenomena she’s created, even positively affecting the economy and pissing off Trump. The power she has is truly amazing. The only time I’ve seen her interact is on The Graham Norton Show and she seemed quietly confident, unassuming, and as ever always smiling. Guileless is the word that came to mind. Travis Kelsey is always smiling, as well, so it seems their extroverted sunnyness is a good match. That’s the trick to finding a life partner, matching personality types. My only concern is that should they marry, would happiness dry up the source of inspiration for Taylor’s songwriting? Perhaps she won’t be able to have it all.
I wrote that before watching the documentary Miss Americana on Netflix. I now think there’s much more that Swift will be able to write about for many years to come. I recommend viewing the documentary for a deeper dive into the phenomenon that is Swift.

Dominic S
Dominic S
5 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

She has no power beyond that which the media choose to give her. And she’ll find it out soon enough.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
5 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

A happy marriage (other relationships are available) might just dry up her songwriting, but it might also do her the huge favour of leaving the stage at the top of her game, unlike (for instance) Madonna who’s been an embarrassment now for at least two decades.
Maybe a couple of kids down the line, she could return to the stage but with a different and wider message. The point is about remaining relevant.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

True.

Carmel Shortall
Carmel Shortall
5 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Well, I too am an older woman and I couldn’t give less of a sh*t about Taylor Swift.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
5 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I really don’t think there’s that much to understand

Trishia A
Trishia A
5 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I’m a middle aged woman who nope, doesn’t care to “understand”. Pop is silly, fad celebrities are silly, there’s nothing to “understand”

Dominic S
Dominic S
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I don’t think she’s a national hero for the US, but a national obsession, created by the media. Her life, her lifestyle, her morality and the rest of it, are so far from ‘ideal’ that the media will soon take delight in destroying her as fast as they created her.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

They democrat frat boy is bigging her up , part of project to flatter her into supporting Biden or even standing in his place . Perhaps with the bearded football player as her running mate . Actually it could be the romance is fake , part of a deal to increase her appeal to male sports fans . These articles are coming thick and fast , even on Unherd . We hear you , now stop trying to corral us like sheep .

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
5 months ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

She was always supporting Biden. She did last election too.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I thought this time she might just want to go with a more youthful candidate her young fans can identify with , and back Trump .

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

Youthful?! What?! Who?!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

That’s silly.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
5 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Thanks 🙂

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I’m inclined to waste time and digital space proving how little I care too. But I like it when UnHerd takes a break from political complaints and cultural lamentations. It cleanses the digital palate and attracts a less-incensed weekend crowd. (Why did N. Satori claim that my comments tend to sound like restaurant reviews?!).

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
5 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I was a little disappointed at first, but now i’m inclined to agree with your first point.
Regarding your latter point: because he can’t find anything to actually critique, which brings him out in hives.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

It’s all current events and therefore relevant. If one is well-rounded one has an interest in everything except the Super Bowl!!

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Including the Super Bowl.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Nah! What is there about it to be interested in except to marvel at the huge amounts of money made and spent. If one is a football fan then of course I can understand the interest, but I’m not, and I don’t know anyone who is.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
5 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I read that the nachos served in the stadium were $60. I guess if someone spent $8000+ to see the game, that’s a bargain.

Sudo Nim
Sudo Nim
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

This author, trust me, understands NOTHING about the US zeitgeist. This article couldn’t be more orthogonal to reality.

Mr. Felix
Mr. Felix
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Am I the only one here who thinks Unherd has devoted way too much time and space to this particular celebrity? Just when I’m ready to commit and become a paid subscriber, Unheard goes head first into celeb coverage. Just stop – If I want to read about them I can go literally anywhere else.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

When I was a kid (60’s) I felt the same way about the Beatles.

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
5 months ago

She won’t have made it until she drives her Rolls Royce into her Olympic swimming pool and takes her private plane to the Philippines for a peanut butter sandwich.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

Snorting a line of Columbia’s finest off a strippers todger, before head butting a policeman and running off with her managers missus

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Quite the image. You mean the manager whose missus Taylor calls “Mom”?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I must admit I’ve no real idea about her personal life, I just like pop stars to live a life of debauchery simply because I’m not able to

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Fair enough. Some people praise Swift for her comparatively sensible habits though.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Which probably explains why she’s a billionaire and I’m stuck toiling on building sites

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Exactly. She doesn’t seem to make even one misstep and she’s kind to everyone. It’s so refreshing.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I’m disappointed in you, AJ Mac, I thought you were more open-minded. If you think you are, check out Miss Americana on Netflix.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Living vicariously?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I have to these days, if I tried to act up like I used to it would destroy me. I learned the hard way recently I can’t keep up with the young lads anymore

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I hear you, me too! I say I’m more of an observer of life, than a participant, now. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I think Keith Moon already did that.

Walter Egon
Walter Egon
5 months ago

TL;DR
What is this Super Bowl you speak of?
Is it like Tupperware?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  Walter Egon

It’s a typo, it’s actually a Superb Owl

alan bennett
alan bennett
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Super bowel and Swift will be its movement.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
5 months ago
Reply to  alan bennett

Very funny 🙂

Amelia Melkinthorpe
Amelia Melkinthorpe
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

All owls are Superb, particularly the Ferruginous Pygmy Owl.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago

Any owl is better than the so called sport of American Football

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

So agree.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Them’s fightin’ words, man. Do we want another war between Britain and the U.S.?

Tom Hedger
Tom Hedger
5 months ago

I googled the pictures, You are right.

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
5 months ago

Beautiful!

Gregory Toews
Gregory Toews
5 months ago

This may sound odd, but I think one of my friends is possessed by an owl.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
5 months ago
Reply to  Gregory Toews

It does sound odd.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  Gregory Toews

Are they a hoot?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Funny.

ChilblainEdwardOlmos
ChilblainEdwardOlmos
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Who?

Rex Adams
Rex Adams
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

actually, it is the hyper bowl.

CF Hankinson
CF Hankinson
5 months ago

Really good article. Thoughtful considered and it amuses me that the female phenomena does sometimes reveal itself through mansplaining. Well it’s a bit like being a Martian trying to understand humans on earth it is so imponderable.
I tremble at her impossible fame. How she holds it. No preaching. Perfect humility. I’m now a Swiftie. To be able to reveal the problem of being a woman that cuts across all classes and ages, to acknowledge the insanity of it. I just hope they don’t eat her up.

Dominic S
Dominic S
5 months ago
Reply to  CF Hankinson

No preaching? You’re not paying attention. She has claimed herself to be a Christian, but to be in support of killing unborn children in the womb along the lines proposed by those who want to kill them after they’ve been born. And she’s declared herself a supporter of the Democrat Party. If that’s “No preaching” I don’t know what is.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

The idea that a Millennial woman is pro-choice can’t come as any surprise to anybody.

Catherine Conroy
Catherine Conroy
5 months ago
Reply to  CF Hankinson

I’m not a fan but I like your position. It seems to me however that, bad previous relationships aside, Taylor Swift is pretty much in charge of her life and her success (I credit her decent parents too) so good luck to her.

CF Hankinson
CF Hankinson
5 months ago

well like you Catherine I am baffled musically but supportive of accomplishment but a bit scared for her.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago
Reply to  CF Hankinson

Since her music doesn’t move you, I wonder how you would describe her “accomplishment”, if it’s anything beyond riches and fame.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

There are lots of music acts that I wouldn’t listen to personally, but that doesn’t mean I dismiss their achievements as simply riches and fame

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

But what would you call it then: popularity, business savvy, mass cultural appeal…?

Peter F. Lee
Peter F. Lee
5 months ago
Reply to  CF Hankinson

The only other things are the lyrics.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  CF Hankinson

I like “Tremble at her impossible fame”. Good one.

Catherine Conroy
Catherine Conroy
5 months ago

I’ve listened to her songs but, but, having grown up a non-English speaker, yet a fan of English and American songs, I’ve never cared much for the lyrics as long as they scanned and the chorus was catchy, so I’m unmoved. She’s an ok singer but does not stand comparison to many country singers such as Kathy Mattea, Suzy Bogguss or Alison Krauss.
Her songs are decent I guess but nothing special compared to those of Dolly Parton, who also wrote her own tunes, not just the words. I can only imagine that she must be charismatic on stage and she does tour a great deal, so good luck to her, but I am baffled.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago

But with Dolly Parton, there’s such a lot of rather offensive visuals that one has to get past, and it gets worse as she ages. Taylor is unpretentious, authentic, and easy on the eye.

ChilblainEdwardOlmos
ChilblainEdwardOlmos
5 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Lol. She’s completely manufactured.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago

May I suggest you check out the documentary Miss Americana on Netflix. I approached it not knowing much about Swift but being open to becoming educated about the phenomenon. I learned things about her that I found quite appealing and you may also.

Chris Van Schoor
Chris Van Schoor
5 months ago

As a European not-so-young male, I can only gaze across at the Swift phenomenon with a slack jaw. I tried to listen to her. I cannot finish even one song. It must be me.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
5 months ago

It must be her tall stature and shapely long legs that draws her to men? Otherwise, I’ve tried but, alas, see no magic in her voice or lyrics or self-centered, confident ramblings on Talk Shows. Must be the legs?

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
5 months ago

I have yet to meet another woman, or girl for that matter, who likes her wailing! It has all been done before and much better – for example, Alanis Morrisette, Janis Joplin, Janis Ian. Every generation has a Taylor Swift. At least in tbe past her predeccessors could hold a tune!

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

And yet she seems to manage to get a few people to come to her concerts….

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
5 months ago

As a 41 year old European woman, I also don’t get the hype
I applaud Swift for her success of course, but when I compare the music to the fame and power she wields, the disconnect makes me think that I’m either missing something or I’m just old.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

You are not that much older than Ms Swift herself.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
5 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Mary Harrington seems to think her songs gel with the emotional life of her teenage daughter . Something teenage girls and their mothers can share ?

Trishia A
Trishia A
5 months ago

As a middle aged female, I can’t stand her either. I don’t understand the phenomenon, and her stage performances and suits are so stupid. The article compares her to Madonna, in her youth, Madonna was incomparable. Now in her old age, she’s incomparable for all the wrong reasons!

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
5 months ago
Reply to  Trishia A

Oh, I quite like the spangly leotards. Although those are hardly ground-breaking.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
5 months ago

To be fair, I believe the author’s point was that Taylor Swift’s popularity is an American phenomenon. America is lumped together with Europe so often as ‘the west’ we forget how different they still are. The US isn’t Europe. Two hundred years ago their cultural paths diverged pretty dramatically and they’ve been drifting apart ever since, historical and political realities notwithstanding. I see it easily just reading this board’s comments. What the US does share with Europe is a reasonably well integrated ruling class that goes back to the previous century and the world wars, but it’s clear to me that the populations are drifting further apart even more quickly these days. Swift is far more popular in Asia than even the US. Japanese anime is more popular than anything I’m aware of that comes from Europe. I can think of more examples of Australian cultural influences off the top of my head than I can of German or French. The US is pivoting to Asia in more ways than one.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago

I think her target demographic is young females, not middle aged males.

Mark O
Mark O
5 months ago

.

jim peden
jim peden
5 months ago
Reply to  Mark O

I have to admit that I too am speechless that this is even a thing.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  jim peden

That’s funny!

John Tyler
John Tyler
5 months ago

Some commenting here just love to broadcast how much they care about not caring. Whatever criticisms one may have of TS she’s a superb performer who also reflects the angst of a vast number of normal people and is generally a positive role model for youngsters.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
5 months ago
Reply to  John Tyler

And the last throw of the dice for the Democrat establishment , great white hope for 4 more years of a critical race theory obsessed America led by a man who can no longer tie his own shoe laces.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

What does that have to do with the essay? Your comment is silly.

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
5 months ago
Reply to  John Tyler

In fairness, this article is clickbait. The guys that run UnHerd don’t seriously think that their readers wanted a longform essay on the talents and interests of Taylor Swift …they were just doing some cheeky click-baiting for the weekend emailer, and it worked!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  John Tyler

Well said.

David Ackland
David Ackland
5 months ago
Reply to  John Tyler

Normal and role model seem to be mute points in this and other examples of the ability of the Western media’s way of rising to stardom anyone they wish. What short memories we all have at times. It is just her turn. Pity the enormous amount of money she and her handlers will make for the short time she will be around is not shared with the many other enterainers who struggle even though they have plenty of talent.

Michel Starenky
Michel Starenky
5 months ago

You do not need talent to succeed in America..

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago

True, look at Trump and Biden

Cho Jinn
Cho Jinn
5 months ago

One of America’s most redeeming qualities- anybody can make it.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  Cho Jinn

Also one if its biggest flaws in that shysters often do

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

True.

Trishia A
Trishia A
5 months ago

Nor in Europe, Eurovision is the epitome of that!

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago

I don’t find Swift’s diary-entry songs appealing or admirable, especially as she approaches 35. But 10,000 country songs, usually by dudes, with the theme: “You don’t understand how much I care, so I’m getting hammered (again)” aren’t too fresh either. I like some of those tunes though.
I can’t imagine that she’ll alienate a major subset of her fans by openly endorsing Grandpa Joe.
Samuels can write something of interest even when his subject is trivial. He made me pay a bit of attention and almost care about the gushing mass-hysteria of some so-called Swifties. This doesn’t seem like a very good era in pop music; it’ll never be 1965-1973 again. So many of the reigning and ascendant stars are female, so maybe my ears are suffering from an auditory version of the “male gaze”, trying to hear what the clamor is about yet detecting little more than faint sirens and pretty noise. But Olivia Rodrigo gave a great performance on SNL a few weeks ago.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Yes, yes about music from ’65-’73! Never to be repeated.

Cho Jinn
Cho Jinn
5 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

A large part of her continuing appeal has been her relative outwardly apolitical nature. I think it would be the beginning of the end if she took a position on a 2024 candidate, but maybe she’s fine with that.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Cho Jinn

Maybe she is. I don’t think she is going to have a problem paying her rent anytime soon.

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
5 months ago

It’s Lesley Gore (not Leslie – the male spelling of the name) and her hit records were in the early Sixties. Sorry to be a pedant.

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
5 months ago

No better way of dealing with this form of mass hysteria
And only as Rab Butler used these words in Gone With the Wind

‘ Frankly my Dear, I don’t give a Damm ‘

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
5 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

Rab Butler, the Minister for Education who introduced the 1944 Education Act in the UK?
I think you mean Rhett Butler 🙂

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Steve I know but getting the edit button on this site to work
Is Akin attempting to herd cats
Someone in UnHerd needs to herd up
Their software engineers

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

I’ve never had any trouble with it.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

A haiku, right? Brilliant!

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I think those two were brothers….

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
5 months ago

After spending too much time trying to figure the whole thing out your piece has answered all my questions- well done, interesting and I think you have nailed it.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
5 months ago

“She would’ve made such a lovely bride,” she sings. “What a shame she’s fucked in the head.”
This is a “perfectly constructed line”?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
5 months ago

According to the Quran one of the signs of the end times is an over-abundance of female singers.

Cho Jinn
Cho Jinn
5 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I think it’s also one of those seven seals from Revelation.

Martin M
Martin M
4 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

There’re probably a song in that….

Saul D
Saul D
5 months ago

If you don’t know her too well (or get put off by the pop megastar image), take a look at her NPR Tiny Desk Concert on Youtube which is more personable.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  Saul D

Or the documentary Miss Americana on Netflix.

Trishia A
Trishia A
5 months ago
Reply to  Saul D

Ok, your comment hooked me, so I just tried, listened to the first three songs, and sorry, no, this middle aged woman simply cannot stand her flat horrible voice.
From her position on top of the celebrity world she wines how it “would be different as a man”? that is the utmost in ridiculousness.
Instead, if she had ANY insight in humanity, she’d have written: “would it be different if I wasn’t a tall slender blond”

James Anthony Seyforth
James Anthony Seyforth
5 months ago

Conplexifying Swift is like oversimplifying Any actually significant public figure, complete mindlessness

El Uro
El Uro
5 months ago

Please watch “The Animals – House of the Rising Sun” on YouTube.

Now imagine for a second what would have happened if the Internet existed during Beatlemania, and what parents and their children would talk about on social networks then.

I think this provides a good frame of reference for our discussion today.

Leslie Cook
Leslie Cook
5 months ago

Thanks. Enlightening as to the phenomenon. What I consider to be country music has to come from love or pain that feels authentic. Evidently she evokes that in this vapid generation to the tune of billions of dollars. I am unmoved though and prefer other singer songwriters. If I was in my twenties or teens, she might appeal. At 35, she’s not maturing much though. Unfortunately, her fame isn’t going to help that. Still, so many pop icons have made lifelong careers of adolescent angst! She was a shill for Pfizer like so many celebs. If she shills for Biden, she will lose quite a few fans.

El Uro
El Uro
5 months ago
Reply to  Leslie Cook

One day I picked up what I think is a successful (I don’t pretend to be anything) term for classifying this kind of performer: “hormonal singers.”

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  Leslie Cook

No, she won’t lose fans if she openly supports Biden. As far as her seemingly not aging at 35, yes, it is rather odd. Perpetually young.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

If she sang about the things 35 year olds care about, she would probably make less money.

Brian Lemon
Brian Lemon
5 months ago

I’ve tried and failed to understand her stardom based on her music, which I find formulaic and repetitive. The writer does a good job of explaining that it’s not really about her music, which is a relief because I can still hang on to a shred of my faith that people still can distinguish between musical genius and marketing.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  Brian Lemon

Well said.

William Shaw
William Shaw
5 months ago

“America’s national hero”
Geez that’s pathetic.
Can’t they find someone more substantial?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Yes, hero is the wrong word to use, but I suppose it’s meant to suck us in.

Mark epperson
Mark epperson
5 months ago

Not quite. I am really tired of seeing her face on almost every media site. Enough!

ChilblainEdwardOlmos
ChilblainEdwardOlmos
5 months ago

Make. It. Stop.

Alison Hine
Alison Hine
5 months ago

Interesting essay until you wrote ‘Biden’s senile ramblings.’ Seriously, really
.

F J
F J
5 months ago
Reply to  Alison Hine

Well we can call some of them attempted Haley Joel Osment impressions, Miterrand to to think of one…

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
5 months ago

The sneering tone of this article makes me disregard a lot of what the writer puts forth as insights. Perpetuating the misleading trope that Biden is senile is a cheap shot. As Biden himself says, “Don’t compare me to the almighty, compare me to the alternative.”

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
5 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Prefer the alternative.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

The wealthiest and most powerful country in the world, and all they can put forward as leader are two 80 year old sex pests, one a colossal crook and the other horribly senile

Peter F. Lee
Peter F. Lee
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

BB you are getting all mixed up, It’s the same person. Just a little Democrat projection thrown in.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter F. Lee

Anybody who thinks Trump is anything but an overly privileged simpleton needs their head testing quite frankly, and Biden was useless even before his brain turned to mush.
There are plenty of bad leaders throughout the world, but very few first world countries can throw up a leadership contest as abject as that one

Peter F. Lee
Peter F. Lee
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Not bad for a guy who did such a tremendous job as President of the USA for four years, starting in 2016. I will not bother to re-iterate all his accomplishments; all I will say they are the exact opposite of Biden’s’ starting with no wars.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter F. Lee

Fewer U.S. soldiers are in harm’s way and the U.S. is at war with fewer countries right now than we were under Trump. You blame every world conflict–or terrorist outrage–on the man in the Oval Office?

Peter F. Lee
Peter F. Lee
5 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

So how many US soldiers got harmed let alone killed? No do not answer the question, I take it back…… no point!

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter F. Lee

Yeah. You never come here to discuss or debate, let alone learn anything. You already know everything, courtesy of the infallible sources you drink from without any twist or chaser. Carry on then, Mr. Big Guy.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter F. Lee

Any list of his “accomplishments” as President must necessarily end with “Sent his goons to trash Congress”.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Hardly true. Trump is the sex pest and I wouldn’t say Biden is “horribly” senile. Aging memory lapses for sure.

Peter F. Lee
Peter F. Lee
5 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

You may wish to edit your comment about ‘misleading trope’.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
5 months ago

These comments are hilarious! Grumpy old men complain about a phenomenon that they don’t understand and dislike, for reasons that they can’t articulate.
Utterly predictable. I know every single thing you people are going say long before you have even thought of it. Especially the yappy little stalker with the lame puns – looking forward to seeing ya, lil’ guy!

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
5 months ago

Hello darkness, my old friend.
Come to speak to us again.

ChilblainEdwardOlmos
ChilblainEdwardOlmos
5 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

What’s up Youngblood?

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Did Taylor Swift write that? I like it!

Tricia Wine
Tricia Wine
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

It’s a Simon & Garfunkel song.

Martin M
Martin M
4 months ago
Reply to  Tricia Wine

Yes, I know….

Trishia A
Trishia A
5 months ago

Nope, I’m a feminist leftist woman and I can’t stand her atrocious voice. Without the pretty hair, face, long legs, she’d be nothing.

Chris Hume
Chris Hume
5 months ago
Reply to  Trishia A

I’m pretty far from a Swifty, but credit must be given where credit is due.
Her voice is pretty far from atrocious and the simple fact is millions and millions of fans (mostly women) love her music. If her success is based solely on her looks, why then do other even more beautiful women in the industry achieve a small fraction of her success?
She writes simple but well-constructed country-pop songs which speak to the experience of being a young-ish woman in our day and age. She has an eye for lyrics which resonate with a huge section of the population, a section which now commands the majority of spending on entertainment. She also performs all her own material for hours at a time, with the audience eating out of the palm of her hand. People say her subject matter is adolescent, but I disagree that disappointment with romantic love is necessarily a teenage or trivial phenomenon.
Basically, if it’s all so simple, I suggest her detractors give it a go and see how far they get.

Jae
Jae
5 months ago

Apparently women watch football regardless of Taylor Swift. It’s just that more will tune in this Sunday. Not sure we needed an article this long to tell us that, too bloated.

Swift seems like a nice enough woman. But it’s odd that she’s 34-years old and still singing about issues a 17-year old normally angsts over. And her boyfriend, Kelce, is a mouthpiece for big Pharma. Regardless of his being a football player that alone should ring a warning bell for Swift. She has poor taste in men for sure, as her songs attest.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Jae

But it’s odd that she’s 34-years old and still singing about issues a 17-year old normally angsts over. 
Why does that seem odd? It’s made her a billionaire!

JP Martin
JP Martin
5 months ago

Every time a Taylor Swift song is played, I am spared having to listen to rap. For this, I must be very grateful.

William Brand
William Brand
5 months ago

Taylor seems to have the same taste for a genetically ideal prospective father of her children as most women. Their taste in studs were set 20000 years ago in the Paleolithic and never updated. An NFL superstar has perfect genes by cave girl standards. She should remember that high end studs find women fungible and easily replaced. She will only be lead girl in his harem. They maximize their genetic potential by impregnating a hundred women and not paying child support. They marry supermodels and then cheat on them. For example, Mr. Olympia himself Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger married Maria Schriver a 10 but did not neglect to impregnate the maid a 3. This is the deal that Taylor Swift is entering. I anticipate the breakup song Taylor makes when she realizes she is just lead girl in a harem. She will either keep searching forever for a nonexistent idea mate or finally settle for a Beta Male (who finds her non easily replaceable) as dad to Super stud’s children. This pattern of male / female behavior is exactly the same in supposedly monogamous birds. It’s pure genetic advantage behavior.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  William Brand

You have a very strange view of the world don’t you? I do wonder where these ideas and theories of yours come from I must say

El Uro
El Uro
5 months ago
Reply to  William Brand

This pattern of male / female behavior is exactly the same in supposedly monogamous birds
Sorry, your knowledge of biology is poor.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago
Reply to  William Brand

You’re wrong about that. Travis seems to be grounded by family.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
5 months ago

Test

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
5 months ago

Nope. Like Trump-Biden, she’s a litmus of the decline of the West into meaningless narcissistic materialism – a mechanical meme-pop regurgitation of post-War and post-cold war tropes the scaffold for which – constant economic growth, Enlightenment hubris and more lately post-modern insanity – is crumbling beneath our feet. In ten years, she will be as relevant as the Twin Towers and JFK. The liberal age is over and has been found wanting.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago

You don’t think she is the new Bob Dylan?

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
5 months ago

Well , as far as Taylor Swift mania is concerned I can only confess I don’t “get it” and very much doubt I ever will. I am then left wondering whether that matters. I think not. But who really knows?

ChilblainEdwardOlmos
ChilblainEdwardOlmos
5 months ago

“By compelling the allegiance of all three generations”

Gen-X gets shafted again. Typical. The least awful of the 5 extant generations.Also, hard pass on the manufactured spectacle. Both.

Trishia A
Trishia A
5 months ago

Hear hear from an old Gen-X-er
Amazing really how the neither the zoomers or the mills of the BBs know we exist, it is so exactly how we fit our label, we’ve always been non-existent.

Cam Marsh
Cam Marsh
5 months ago

Like another, I too enjoy these less overtly politicised pieces. I’ve had a listen to TS but not been hooked. I kinda liked the last album with it’s lo-fi feel. But Swift never convinces with anger or with disappointment. She’s actually Nashville sunny. Guileless, someone else said. Now Lana Del Rey? She’s got some real issues. And more my taste tbh.

Bob Ewald
Bob Ewald
5 months ago

Putting all else aside, my issue with this media frenzy is just that; can we have one Chiefs game where Swift is shown perhaps once in the beginning and that’s it? She isn’t the problem here, the media obsession with a non-participant is the problem.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Bob Ewald

She drank a beer at the Super Bowl! It was on the big screen!

Peter F. Lee
Peter F. Lee
5 months ago

Quote from article
“Donald Trump is said to be personally miffed by Swift’s popularity, and to privately insist to unnamed advisors that his fan base is larger than hers”……
Investigating reporting at its finest by Samuels. Would not want to mention any names, would we, David? So I pay $120 per annum to read this nonsense: good job there are the commenters..

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter F. Lee

“Donald Trump is said to be personally miffed by Swift’s popularity”
Do you doubt this for one moment?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
5 months ago

No. It’s a huge blow to his fragile ego. I think Swift is courageous for speaking out as pissing off Trump is to piss off the MAGA cult followers who are prone to violence, and she could well end up getting shot.

Martin M
Martin M
4 months ago

No, not at all, but it is his own fault. All his songs suck.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago

The Swift-Kelce singularity has already proved so powerful that there are dark mutterings from corners of the American Right that the celebrity couple is part of a plot to get Joe Biden re-elected, engineered by the US Department of Defense. 
Does the US Department of Defense write her songs?

Brian Thomas
Brian Thomas
5 months ago

This chap is a bloody good writer. I’m depressed now.

F J
F J
5 months ago

Deify celebrities much? Imbecile.

c hutchinson
c hutchinson
5 months ago

She has stunning good looks, nimble as an Olympic athlete, wildly successful entertainer and business person but I am really, really tired of hearing about her 24/7.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross
5 months ago

I’m a 62 years old male from the UK and only a decade plus ago enjoyed the music of Lady Gaga, Rihanna, BeyoncĂ©, Lana Del Ray, Adele, Amy Winehouse. Just do not get the fuss about Taylor Swift!

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
5 months ago

Taylor’s music reminds me of Billy Joel’s. His music used similar personal narrative style. Joel never enjoyed very broad popularity. Critics in the music and entertainment industry ran him down at every possible opportunity, for much of the same reason the same elite establishment despises Donald Trump, not because he caters to the lower class folk, but because he actually respects them. Joel’s respect for poor dockworkers, city-dwellers, fishermen, dive bar patrons, and such resonates throughout so much of his work. He wrote almost exclusively towards that audience. His concern seems genuine though I don’t think the man was ever truly poor himself. Joel was unapologetically an entertainer first and an artist second or at all.
Swift seems to me to be the same sort of person. She’s not trying to leave some artistic legacy like Lady Gaga or Madonna. Swift uses a style similar to Joel in her use of first person almost stream of consciousness narration. Unlike Joel, she does so in a way that isn’t as easy to pigeon hole into that ‘lower class music’ ghetto. She uses her ‘woman’s perspective’ liberally to appeal to issues common to all women, like being obsessed with men despite not really actually liking men and finding most of them severely lacking, a timeless theme if there ever was one. It helps that she’s so wildly popular the critics would suffer for criticizing too loudly. She’s certainly not the ‘artist’s artist’. Her appeal is mostly to regular folks, and that’s why she fits in easily with the NFL. The NFL is also popular with the common folk though almost none of them can so much as afford tickets.

M James
M James
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Steve, that is a very perceptive comparison. Not one that immediately came to my mind but very true. Joel was an entertainer who happened to be a great writer but long after he stopped writing new material, he kept touring with the substantial catalogue of quality songs that he had built. Swift could do the same at this point.

Paul Hemphill
Paul Hemphill
5 months ago

I’m not sure about the article – a pseudo-jungian mish-mash. But I do agree with one of the comments: “Some commenting here just love to broadcast how much they care about not caring. Whatever criticisms one may have of TS she’s a superb performer who also reflects the angst of a vast number of normal people and is generally a positive role model for youngsters”. It seems that there are a lot of grumpy cynics out there who don’t listen to a lot of modern music. I’m a seventy something one time muso who loves TS’ work – and she does it so well. Here’s a fave line from my favourite TS song:”Loving him is like driving a new Maserati down a dead-end street/Faster than the wind, passionate as sin, ending so suddenly”. Ouch!

El Uro
El Uro
5 months ago

It’s time for mediocrity to become a star

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
5 months ago

Who is she again?

Michael K
Michael K
4 months ago

So many people seem to hate the woman who is currently the most successful pop act in the world.
So many men hate her and have boycotted the superbowl because she’s going out with their crush.
So many climate change deniers are complaining about her carbon emissions.

Taylor Swift is popular and successful.
Grow up and get over it.

Michael Layman
Michael Layman
4 months ago

Other than the run-on sentences, a well-written article.