Happy Birthday Taylor Swift – we chart seven reasons to love the Princess of Pop.
HER LOVE OF CATS
We love cats, but Taylor Swift loves cats. Armed with her cat-stickered phone cover, they have become part of her psyche. Her own two cats, Meredith (named after Meredith Grey from medical drama Grey’s Anatomy) and Olivia Benson (named after, well, Olivia Benson from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), are not only the main stars on Tay-Tay’s Instagram, but they’ve also scooped up their own cult following (Meredith has her ‘own’ twitter feed that has over 11,000 followers). Taylor even likes to take her cats out-and-about in New York when running errands. Having recently sworn off men after her treatment by the press, we can only assume TayTay has turned to kittens for unconditional love.
She might not be J.Lo on the D-floor and, in fact she can be a bit of an awkward mover (cue: awkwardtaylorswiftdancing.tumblr.com) but there’s something endearing about Taylor’s complete lack of self-consciousness. In fact, speaking on a chat show, Taylor explained that her ‘award show’ dancing is almost anti-establishment. Rather than sitting down all poise and stoicism at awards shows, Tay had this to say about it: “This is, like, all these incredible acts playing their biggest songs and I get to be front row and I’m going to dance during this because I feel like it, not because it looks cool because it doesn’t.” Her moves in the video for ‘Shake It Off’ are testament to this. If you need us, we’ll be finger tutting with Tay-Tay.
Over the past few years, and certainly after moving to New York, Taylor Swift has never looked bad. In fact, we don’t think we’ve ever seen the singer look bad…ever. She has a keen eye, keeping her day-to-day outfits refined with a preppy edge. Likewise at red-carpet events, Taylor keeps things understated and classic. But it’s one particular outfit that has us enthralled with Tay-Tay’s style, and that’s her dress in the ‘Safe and Sound’ video. Wearing a vintage 1920’s chiffon and silk dress, Taylor looks both effortlessly beautiful and completely vulnerable, her trademark blonde hair curled with her signature bangs. The look has an ethereal quality as she marches barefoot through the woods.
Taylor’s fans call themselves ‘Swifties’, and they’re actually a lovely bunch of people. While other fan groups bicker, Swities are most likely to be found baking quinoa muffins or making kitten-themed mood boards. They are a sweet gang. However, while some popstars purport to have a good and close relationship with their fans, Taylor takes it one step further. For the release of her new album 1989, she deiced that, rather than playing the record for a bunch of journos first, she would instead invite dedicated fans to her own houses and play it for them, later starting her own tumblr to quite literally mock herself, picking up on fan’s memes. The Pop Princess has also been known to surprise fans at weddings and shows – her love us genuine – she is equal-parts your best friend and aspirational popstar. It’s no wonder she reigns supreme.
Taylor differentiates herself from her peers with her knack at writing a stellar pop lyric. Even before her break-up with country music, Taylor’s ability to weave stories, emotions and hidden codes through her lyrics was quite something. The rich tapestry she manages to paint, whether it’s the desperation in ‘Back To December’ (“I’m so glad you made time to see me. How’s life, tell me, how’s your family?”) or the humorous recounting of unrequited love in ‘You Belong With Me’ (“If you could see that I’m the one who understands you. Been here all along so, why can’t you see— you belong with me, you belong with me?”), Taylor manages to make her lyrics personal yet accessible. There is a level of sophistication exhibited in Taylor’s lyrics, her mixture of narratives and metaphors (“You, with your words like knives And swords and weapons that you use against me”) tell stories in ways that other popstars just don’t.
HER MUSIC (duh)
Tay-Tay is unique. Rather than muscling her way into pop’s machine early, she spent years cultivating her craft in Nashville. This sparing, committed and talented community help develop young stars, and Taylor’s move from country-folk songs to pop has been a progressive and inevitable one. Her album Red managed to bridge the gap between Max Martin produced bangers and emotional ballads. However, one thing remains consistent; whether it be banjo or basslines, Taylor is dedicated to catchy toplines and even catchier choruses. In this way she is as conservative as they come when it comes to her songwriting. But with every other artist always pushing out proverbial boats, sometimes what the world needs is someone to bring it all back to basics. Sonically, yes, it might be simple but structurally Taylor takes cues from popular radio and classic songwriting of yore. Everything has a hook, and her commitment to choruses, double choruses, pre-choruses and post-choruses is to be admired. Also, they’re just bloody great songs.
Taylor’s latest wonder is her latest album 1989. Joining both her expert lyrics and songwriting expertise, 1989 is pretty much a near-perfect pop album. As many reviews have pointed out, Taylor hasn’t followed any current pop-trends. Quite simply, the album doesn’t really sound like anything else ‘out there’ at the moment. That’s not to say that, musically, this is an experimental record. In fact, far from it – 1989 is as classic as they come. Joining forces with pop’s behemoths Max Martin, Shellback, Ryan Tedder and Greg Kurstin, Taylor manages to import their skills while maintain what makes her ‘Taylor Swift’. Slightly mismatched phrasing, a narrative drive and Taylor’s perchance for metaphors sit nicely amongst the splatters of synths, drum machines and glossy production. Fun.’s Jack Antoff also provides Taylor with her most left-field songs yet, like the simultaneously hopeful yet despairing ‘Out Of The Woods’. In a year where big-budget pop has been seriously lacking, 1989 has come to replenish our needs. Big choruses and even bigger hooks appear one after another, and the album’s stadium sized songs are just calling out to be performed live – preferably in stadiums, tbh. Really, 1989 is one of the most accomplished, polished and expertly crafted pop albums in recent memory. It’s a wonder unto itself.
Words: Alim Kheraj.