I’m not exactly sure when it became “hip” to dislike Taylor Swift but I’ll come right out and say I own every piece of music she’s recorded since the age of 14.
There’s this thing she does around the beginning of each show, it might be after the first song or might be after the third song, but she’ll pause, take a long look at the audience and say, “Hi, I’m Taylor,” and although this was the fourth time I’ve seen her smile proudly and wave, it gets me every time.
No matter how indifferent you are to Taylor, you have to admit she works extremely hard and is extremely popular, not just in America but across the globe. As I sat in the Mercedes Benz Stadium last last Thursday, just like in America, I could spot brave dads who were accompanying their daughters to maybe their first concert. They politely clapped at the end of songs and smiled while their daughters screamed the lyrics. It doesn’t make a difference what country you’re from, Taylor Swift is idolized everywhere.
Since moving to Nashville to pursue music at the age of 14, Taylor has won 7 Grammy Awards and 16 American Music Awards, and has gone on four world tours. I’ve attended three of those tours, now, and her dedication and love for music is reflected in every show.
Every pause, every look, every smile. She has it all planned out. Every step is pre-choreographed. I personally think concerts are so fascinating because the artist is trying to show you what they want you to see. Taylor spends months learning each step, practicing costume changes, and making sure the transitions to high notes are up to par. And for those of whom are at their first Swift concert or their first large arena concert, they see exactly what she wants them to. You’ll see how well trained her backup dancers are and how flawless she looks as she makes her way towards the crowd. The audience catches each display of perceived flawlessness on camera by the way.) But if you look a little closer you can see what performers think you won’t notice, how out of breath she might be, when she’s using the back-up track as more than a crutch, the ankle brace under the straps of her heels, how much effort she’s exerting to glide down the walkway. Noticing this really allows you to realize it’s not easy being a pop star, it’s months in a tour bus and catching flights, it’s night after night of stressing your vocal chords, it’s hotel rooms and headaches, and in Taylor’s case it’s also the media holding a magnifying glass over you.
Taylor is criticized for writing about her past relationships and for “serial-dating” but, honestly, if you listen to 1989 and hear nothing but catchy tunes and a girl’s “complaints”, you’re missing the point. The depth in this album is what is attracting 18,000 people to the Mercedes Benz Stadium and has made it the bestselling album, in the United States, of 2014 and 2015. If you’re not sure what I mean by depth, I highly recommend you take a break from studying for finals, put your headphones on, close your eyes, and listen to either ‘Clean’ or ‘You Are In Love’.
At every show she always makes sure to take time out to talk to the audience, made up of mainly young women, about following their dreams and not letting other people’s opinions control them. I guess to someone on the outside this may sound cliché but there’s a hush that falls across the audience that makes her words of encouragement sound especially impactful. And although she may have written the outline for the speech months ago and given it to audiences across the world before you hear it, it’s still going to be genuine and you’re going to feel like she’s rooting for you in whatever battle you’re fighting because somehow you can feel she’s been there. Taylor Swift is just plain relatable but how you relate to her lyrics and the things she promotes depends on your own perspective.
Despite criticism from both the music industry and the general media, she continues to create Grammy-worthy, platinum selling albums and she’s managed to keep her good reputation which is especially important for her young fans. She’s brilliant, beautiful, and she seems to really care about the people who have helped her get to where she is. Each audience member was gifted a bracelet that lit up an array of to the beats of her songs uniting the stadium.
The stadium was packed all three nights here in Shanghai and although she was noticeably a little exhausted on Thursday night, her performance was still fantastic. She made the stadium dance, sing, and lose our voices. She never ceases to disappoint. Say what you want about Taylor Swift but she built an empire and she’s only 25.
This article was written by Sonia Alvarez. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Lindsay Zhang