It’s no big secret that Taylor Swift is, decidedly so, no longer a part of the country music club. But that is where she started and where her fan base began. Over the past seven or eight years, we’ve watched T-Swift evolve from a shy, introverted girl with an acoustic guitar to one of the biggest pop stars of this generation – more so than even Miley Cyrus and others their age.
Being the same age as Taylor (no really, we’re just about a month apart), I’ve watched her rising fame from the time I was a junior in high school. I bought her first album on CD, before iTunes was the place to get music. I played it in my first car while learning to drive, singing along to “Tim McGraw” and “Picture to Burn.” Back then, I really related to her music, especially “Teardrops on my Guitar” – like who hasn’t liked a guy friend and hated his girlfriend? And that’s what I always loved about Taylor – even though she was famous, she still sang about relatable stuff.
Her second album, Fearless, was still mostly country, but edged toward pop without being classified as such. This might still be my favorite Taylor album because it was just pop enough to be dance-able, but still country. At the ripe age of 18, this was her first album as an adult, but she still sang to her audience: middle- and high school girls, specifically targeting them with “Fifteen.” “Love Story” even got a pop remix that played on mainstream radio stations. That song and “You Belong With Me” really propelled T-Swift into the mainstream audience.
Speak Now really started Taylor’s celebrity relationship/break-up song identity with songs like “Dear John,” “Better than Revenge,” “Back to December,” and “Story of Us.” During this period, the world began to track 21-year-old Taylor’s string of famous boyfriends, and the real judging of TSwift was initiated. Personally, I don’t understand why the world cares where she gets her song-writing inspiration. She’s famous and you’re not.
Taylor’s first more-pop-than-country album, Red, appeared two years ago (her albums are each released two years apart, always during the fall). Her chart-topping truly pop single “I Knew You Were Trouble” confirmed to the universe that Taylor was now a pop star, no longer that shy girl with a guitar. “Begin Again,” another major single off the Red album, held slightly to the country roots, but was more in the style of Colbie Callait and other “softer” pop singers. And let’s not forget the song that was stuck in all of our heads for months, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Even my mom was walking around singing this song. Taylor’s new catchy tunes completely pervaded the pop scene, establishing her as more than just a singer for young girls.
And this brings us to today, the release of Taylor’s totally pop album, 1989. I’m currently downloading and listening to it as I write this, and I have to say I’m a fan, despite loving her early country music. Say what you want about her, but she has transformed as an artist, keeping up with and adapting to the ever-changing music scene. Her music isn’t for everyone, but this new album is totally different than her previous. Again, I essentially grew up with Taylor along the way, so maybe that’s why I’m drawn to her music. Whatever. The haters gone hate, hate hate…