by Lanie Hymowitz ’22
Published Feb. 14th, 2021
As much as certain pop songs drive us to insanity, pop stars are a societal luxury. Think of them as designer footwear. We don’t need pop stars; everyone can get by just fine without an expensive pair of sneakers, especially if they find them clunky and overpriced. But on the off chance that the new shoes are an all-around perfect choice, the buyer wears those shoes as long as possible, avoiding stains and damages at all costs.
When it comes to Taylor Swift, the pop star shoe fits to a T, which is why we’ve yet to let her go. 2021 marks 15 years of hit-making for Swift, but you couldn’t tell that by her whirlwind year. Swift recorded two albums in 2020, folklore and evermore, which were marketed as “sister records” and were released within 5 months of each other.
In the albums before folklore, it was obvious to fans and critics alike that Swift was struggling to hash out a new image for herself in her mature years. Early in her career, she was the naive, sweet country girl who wrote about boys and aspired to pop stardom—a schtick that is no longer cute for a woman in her mid-20s. The album Reputation portrayed Swift as a tough girl with a carefree attitude and Lover made her a bubblegum pop princess.
However, folklore and evermore, the latter released this past December, depart from all of her previous themes. Swift follows a mature route, taking on the role of a storyteller weaving together a saga through the folk-pop songs that make up a majority of the album. It is a refreshing and perfectly executed move from Swift. folklore and evermore are her most critically acclaimed works to date and both hit number one on the Billboard.
It’s obvious that Swift no longer cares about maintaining a pop-friendly image—singles from both albums climbed higher on the alternative charts than they did on the Hot 100. That may very well be her secret to long-lasting stardom.
If there’s any musician who knows about career longevity, it’s Paul McCartney, who’s been making music for more than double Swift’s lifetime. In addition to both releasing chart-topping albums in December, the two have a lot in common. People may scoff at such a comparison, but the similarities in their career paths are striking. McCartney also started out as a teen act, with a discography made up of fairly innocent pop riffs. He started to be taken much more seriously once the pop music (and screaming teenage girl fanbase) disappeared.
Swift seems new to music when compared to the long-lasting impact of the rock legend. But with a brand-new direction on her horizon, perhaps Swift is a rising all-star who will create her own unique legacy for years to come.