Is Taylor Swift the newest wannabe queen of pop? It seems so. However, it will be years before Queen Beyoncé hands down the throne, and even then I highly doubt it will be to Taylor Swift. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Taylor Swift and I have been a true fan since her beginning. But in recent weeks, Taylor Swift has drastically changed her image and the world is having a hard time keeping up.
On August 18th, Swift teamed up with Yahoo! in New York City to have a worldwide live stream where she announced her upcoming new album, 1989. Additionally, she debuted her first single off her fifth studio album, “Shake It Off,” and it has been in the music news ever since. Besides performing it live she also released the music video, which has been receiving a lot of reviews, though they are mostly negative. Leading up to the big announcement, she teased several clever clues via Instagram and Twitter (which I am proud to admit I solved two of).
The first time I listened to “Shake It Off,” I had to remind myself several times that I was listening to Taylor Swift, who was once one of America’s many sweethearts with her long curly blonde hair and her cowboy boots. She has since transformed. Swift said goodbye to her long locks a few years ago and has since been sporting a shorter, wavy hair look. Gone are her loved dresses as she attended the VMAs in a very interesting looking jumpsuit. But what has changed the most is her music. Beginning as a cutesy country singer, she has over the years slowly been trying to her define herself as something else, but many could never tell what that was until now. Swift has made it clear with her heavily auto-tuned single that she is breaking in pop music and she can’t be stopped. But do her fans agree that this is the right choice for Taylor Swift? No.
Over the past week, Swift first received a lot of negative attention regarding her music video for “Shake It Off,” and her performance at last Sunday’s VMAs. The most talked about response is probably the look Miley Cyrus had on her face the entire performance (shown below).
There have been rumors circulating that Cyrus reacted this way to Swift’s performance because at the 2013 VMAs when Cyrus debuted “We Can’t Stop,” Swift reacted with the same shocked expression. I guess their friendship has fizzled out since Swift had a featured song on Cyrus’s movie, “Hannah Montana: The Movie” soundtrack. No one said that just because you’re famous you have to be mature.
As with all award shows, what people wear is a huge part of it. Since Swift opted to wear a jumpsuit rather than an elegant dress, people have since been referring to her as a “praying mantis” due to her outfit choice. Additionally, people have related her outfit to Jon Heder’s character in the movie “Blades of Glory.” Now for her performance, she did perform the entire thing live but it was not up to par. There were many shaky parts. The performance had a 1920s feel even though her album is called 1989, marking the year of her birth, which proved to be a tad confusing. However, her outfit for the performance was tasteful and slightly resembled an old Taylor Swift when she sang in her SNL monologue, “I like glitter and sparkly dresses.”
Two years ago, at the 2012 VMAs, Swift debuted her single for her fourth studio album, Red. That song was “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Just like “Shake It Off,” this song also received a lot of negative reviews. Remembering this, I went back to listen to it and view the music video and I found a lot of similarities between the two singles. For example, they are both reflecting the musical genre of pop more so than any of her other music. They also both feature Swift repeating words and phrases over and over again. Both songs also featured Swift talking in them as part of the musical bridge of the song. Most importantly, both the music videos do not reflect Taylor Swift’s style at all. In the “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” video, her band dressed as woodland creatures and followed Swift throughout the song and the walls in her house are made of yarn. In the “Shake It Off” video, while the world is now used to Swift’s obvious awkward dancing, the video features her in all different types of dancing and even gymnastics. It was different to see Swift have so many costume changes as well as have a music video that does not strictly follow her lyrics word by word. Unfortunately, she and her director have been referred to as racists during the part of the video where Taylor crawls under a row of twerking dancers. It seems as though the world is still use to Swift crying over a boy in her videos with dramatic backgrounds and so this sudden change is hard to handle.
Now, it is not to say that Taylor Swift is pulling a Miley Cyrus, but Swift has made a statement to her fans as well as her “haters,” that she is trying new things. Why? Because she understands how the music world works. If you’re not one step ahead, you will be left in the dust and forgotten. Therefore, I firmly believe that Taylor Swift deserves a chance with her album. Red ended up being an amazing album so who’s truly to say that 1989 (being released on October 27th) won’t be another hit?