Famously known for her top-hit songs based off real-life experiences (usually break-ups), Taylor Swift has long been a popular music icon for teens across America. But though her most recent hits range are pop songs, no one can forget the classic old Taylor Swift’s country songs that attracted an audience ranging from elementary school girls to teens.
At the age of 14, young Taylor Swift and her family moved to Nashville to pursue her country music career. In 2006, Swift released her first single “Teardrops On My Guitar,” which landed her a spot on the country music billboards. With her signature blond curls, guitar instrumentals, and lyrics of young, one-sided love, sweet and innocent Swift’s music quickly grew in popularity.
In 2008, Taylor Swift released her “Fearless” album. Many of her more popular country songs, such as “You Belong With Me” and “Love Story,” were featured in this album. Once again, Taylor’s ‘pure’ music videos and lyrics captured the hearts of many young fans who found her music to be both catchy and easy to relate to.
Two years later, in August of 2010, Swift released her third studio album “Speak Now.” Her lead single of the album, “Mine,” featured a catchy, upbeat instrumental composed of drums, electric guitar, guitar, and a soft male vocal harmony, the song entered the US at number 3 on the charts. “Mean” was another popular track in the “Speak Now” album and featured a unique instrumental composed of a fiddle and a banjo that highlighted her country-style music.
The pivotal point in Swift’s career came with the 2012 release of her album Red. The first album to successfully pivot from the country roots of Taylor’s early career to the pop dynamics that would soon cement her commercial success. With tongue in cheek hits like “22” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” Swift showed her first hints of self awareness, singing lyrics like “This place is too crowded/Too many cool kids/(Who is Taylor Swift anyway?).” She balanced her flair for the dramatic with heartbreaking ballads, like her ode to ex-boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal entitled “All Too Well.” A return to Swift’s acoustic days, the song aches with nostalgia, dropping phrases like “autumn leaves falling down like pieces into place.” Red was a turning point, the first hints that alluded what was to come in Taylor’s career.
Next was her collection that seemed to be produced for optimum Top 40 potential. 1989 was a collaboration featuring the likes of Jack Antonoff, who has worked from pop superstars from Lorde to Carly Rae Jepsen. Hits like “Style” and “Out of the Woods” refused to leave radio stations for months on end, marking Taylor’s descent into mainstream pop.
“I’m sorry, the Old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now– why?– ‘Cause she’s dead.”
It’s 2018, and the Old Taylor is dead! Taylor, now 28, is unapologetic in her newfound edge. Taylor, in all her newfound sexuality and adulthood, is done with pandering to fresh faced tweens and their approving parents. A single off her latest album, smugly entitled Reputation, is completely over her squeaky clean image. “Dress” is a song written for the object of Taylor’s lust, and it’s hook says all that it needs to say- “Only bought this dress so you could take it off,” Taylor sings sweetly. Gone are the days of teardrops on Swift’s acoustic guitar, let us welcome in the age of a fully actualized Swift who finds time to mourn her public image and tell truth about her age-appropriate promiscuity.
Clearly, Swift has made leaps and bounds from the camera shy 14 year old who moved to Nashville in the hopes of pursuing a career in country music. Old Taylor may be dead, but the New Taylor has only just begun.
Violet Maxwell and Christine Han
Graphics: Erin Kim