As was to be expected from most Taylor fans (or skeptics, honestly) I anxiously awaited the release of your new single. I panicked when you deleted everything off of all social media accounts. I was all at once confused and in-the-know about the meaning of the gif pieces forming a snake. And I of course screamed via all caps in multiple text messages at the news that you would be releasing a new album, and a brand new song this week.
Nothing about my experience was vastly different from most other people who proudly hold the title of “Swifties.”
After listening to the new song, I can say this—this is clearly not the same Taylor we have always known—and that’s clearly the point. Listening to the song on repeat, I heard a sound similar to what you might hear from Lorde (or maybe I’m listening to a ton of Melodrama lately…but I digress). I listened to all the lyrics that will clearly be Tweet and Instagram caption worthy for who knows how long.
Yet I can say that truly, I can still hear past Taylor, even now.
I’ve been a huge Taylor fan since “Teardrops On My Guitar” when I too, had a crush on a guy named Drew who had a girlfriend. You have always been at once so relatable, and yet on an entirely different level than most of us will ever experience. I don’t fangirl about too many people/things in my life, but I’ve never had a problem gushing about you because as each album and era went by, your songs directly coincided with my life. The boys, the growing, the healing—all of it were soundtracks to my own situations in life, and I adored you for it.
In some ways, you felt like someone I could reach out to if I ever needed someone, yet simultaneously recognizing that you were this superstar on a pedestal that I could never think to obtain in my wildest dreams.
I definitely recall the Speak Now era, where amongst several hits that most will easily remember, tucked in the midst was “Better Than Revenge.”—an entire anthem dedicated to the statement that you clearly are the best at formulating and acting on payback. Or even going further back into the bonus track of “Permanent Marker”—a song about telling a boyfriend you blatantly disliked his ex, to the point of tearing up past pictures out of envy of them that you found. Even 1989 Taylor admitted slightly to being “drunk on jealously” in “Blank Space.”
We honestly know that you have always had a bit of a taste for karma, revenge, and jealousy. As much as we wouldn’t like to admit it, it was part of you that we also related to—even if this part wasn’t so pretty and covered in sparkles.
It was raw, and at times even a little toxic—but we all experienced it, and you were writing a song or two that acknowledged that we weren’t alone in it.
So of course, when drama began to circulate you in ways that accused you of being shadier than any of us ever expected, it was a bit heartbreaking. Even the most loyal of fans who were swarming to your defense online could admit, we were all a little shaken by the idea that our relatable yet elevated superstar was being shaken down by other big name celebrities who wouldn’t blink twice about trying to send an empire to the ground. We took in all the facts and took our own sides—but we’ve been waiting for your side of the story.
So listening to what is clearly a revenge-inspired song, I could admit that while the style wasn’t a typical Taylor song, this was not entirely a surprise. This is a new you, sure, but not so far gone that we have lost everything we’ve known you for. Clearly, this new album is going to be different from anything we have anticipated from you. The fact that you even subtly admit in your own single that you weren’t entirely innocent in the drama that unfolded (“maybe I got mine”) you also are ready to admit that you also have a say in everything that has happened to you in the last few years—and you’re not backing down without a fight.
So here we are, Taylor. You told us that the old Taylor is dead—and we are waiting to see what the new Taylor is ready to show us. Though I think all of us know, you tend to raise back from the dead.
You do it all the time.