Around 17 years ago, a 15-year-old girl from Redding, Pennsylvania wrote a song titled “Tim McGraw” in her high school math class. Outside of her small community, no one really knew who she was. To her, she was just another girl with a pen in her hand and a dream in her heart, hoping to find a place in this world. No one could have imagined in 2006 that this young girl would become the first artist to ever occupy all of the top ten spots in the Billboard Hot 100.
While many fans on the Internet refer to her as “the music industry” or the “best artist of our generation,” most people know her as Taylor Swift. Over her career, the influence that Swift has had on society has increased with each passing day.
With 10 studio albums, two re-recorded albums, a multitude of music videos and a short film, Swift has been a dominating face in the industry for over a decade.
However, she has not had a career free of controversy. One of the most defining moments in her career was when she won Best Female Video at the 2009 Video Music Awards. This award is one of the most coveted and highly contested awards of the night. Typically, some of the biggest names in
music are nominated in this category. During her acceptance speech for this award, rapper Kanye West got up onto the stage, took the microphone from Swift and proceeded to say, “Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.”
This put the entire audience in a state of shock. Everyone started booing West, but Swift revealed in her documentary, Miss Americana, that she thought they were booing her. Swift handled the situation the best she could considering an artist she liked walked up onto the stage and stole the spotlight out from under her feet. She tried to take the high road out, releasing album after album, but never really referencing the situation in her music.
All of this changed when West released the song “Famous” in his album The Life of Pablo. The song contains a lyric that paints Swift in a derogatory way, and when the song was released, Swift said that she never consented for her name to be used in that way.
She said in her acceptance speech for Album of the Year at the 2016 Grammys, “I want to say to all the young women out there, there are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame.”
After the Grammy speech, Kim Kardashian, West’s wife at the time, said in an article that Swift did in fact know about the lyric. This was further revealed when a three minute recorded video was posted on Snapchat by Kardashian of a phone call between West and a person assumed to be Swift.
Once the video was leaked, Swift took to Instagram in an attempt to defend herself, saying she wanted to be excluded from this narrative, but it was too late. People ran to her comment section, where they called her a liar and posted thousands of snake emojis and had #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty trending all over Twitter.
I’ve never understood this. Why were people so quick to cancel Taylor when Kanye was the one who took the microphone out of her hand when she was only 19 years old? She had a fanbase already and an album that was winning Grammys people knew who she was. Why was the world so quick to believe the man in the situation? Why are we believing that what a reality T.V. star is posting on her social media is the truth in the first place? There has always been, and there always will be, two or more sides to every story.
After the dust settled, Swift was not physically seen for a year. Rumors spread taht she was seen leaving her apartnment in a large equipment box. No one knew if she was ever coming back to the spotlight, let alone to music.
But on April 18, 2017, Swift’s entire Instagram went dark. Profile picture? Gone. Followers? Gone. Posts? Gone. The only thing that remained of her account was a username and the verification check mark. Was she returning from her cage of isolation? Disappearing from the spotlight forever? Only time held the truth.
Then on Aug. 17, 2017, the world was forever changed when Swift dropped the lead single of her new album Reputation, titled “Look What You Made Me Do.” I was not a big fan at this point, I don’t even remember this ever happening. But if you asked me if I could travel back to any day in the universe, it would be when Taylor Swift first uttered the words, “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, cause she’s dead.”
Nothing will ever compare to the “Reputation” Era. Not only did Swift manage to salvage the mere scraps of what was left of her reputation, but she used it to build an unbreakable platform of strength within herself. She embraced the snake, it was no longer a symbol of lies, but one of great power. I’ve always admired this strength because people will go to great lengths to see those on top fall. Swift has been called a liar and a snake, but as she said in the poem “Why She Disappeared,” “in the death of her reputation, she felt truly alive.”
This period of time wasa defining moment in her career, and one that can be seen in the themes of her music today.
After sitting in the Ticketmaster line for five hours to buy tickets to her upcoming tour, The Eras Tour which opens on March 17 in Glendale, Arizona, I definitely hope she brings back some of the same motifs and performances from this era to make up for the emotional turmoil fans all across the country endured.
And if you didn’t get tickets, don’t worry, because you can watch the Reputation Stadium Tour on Netflix from the comfort of your couch!
Featured image from Variety.com