The Evolution of Taylor Swift


Photo via Vevo

Taylor Swift: singer, songwriter and so-called snake. 


With the one year anniversary of Swift’s emotional documentary, “Miss Americana,” released on Jan. 31, 2020, I decided to analyze Swift and her personal journey as an artist, specifically through her era-style albums. 


The best way to understand Swift and her life would be to watch her two documentaries on Netflix, the “reputation Stadium Tour” and “Miss Americana,” the first filming the rebound concert after the infamous Kanye phone call, which was later proven to be falsely edited, and the second documenting Swift’s growth as an artist. 


In the “Miss Americana” documentary, Swift talks about the many trials and triumphs throughout her career, focusing particularly on the time periods of the “1989 World Tour,” through her beginning the “Lover” era. 


The documentary revealed that Swift struggled particularly with her relationship with the public and often became obsessed with being praised by her audience, which is a struggle for many artists. When the infamous #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty began, Swift felt like she had lost everything. 


The hashtag started after Kim Kardashian released edited clips of Kanye and Swift’s phone call, where Swift granted Kanye permission to include song lyrics that were about Swift in his song  “Famous.” After the song came out, the lyrics were different from what Swift approved and were incredibly offensive, but the clips Kardashian released branded Swift as a snake and a liar, prompting the world to turn on Swift.


I absolutely hate the Kanye fiasco and what happened to Swift, but she truly made an incredible comeback and grew into her own. Swift said she had built her mentality around being liked, and when that had been taken away from her, she had to rebuild her career and personal mindset. 


Swift was already in a dangerous mental place prior to the Kanye phone call, which makes her rebound that much more impressive. I wish that it had happened in a different way, but Swift’s comeback and recovery propelled her into the new healthy mindset for her career today. 


Part of what has helped Swift rebuild her life is a man named Joe Alwyn, Swift’s long-term boyfriend. Alwyn has been the inspiration for many songs on each album since “reputation,” namely “Call It What You Want.” In this song, Swift describes how she was about to break it off with Alwyn to protect his own reputation following the Kanye phone call, but Alwyn said he didn’t care, prompting the two to disappear together for months. 


Swift eventually came to the conclusion that she was so in love with Alwyn that it didn’t matter to her what the media said about her or her relationship, which was a monumental step for Swift. However, the couple still keeps their relationship incredibly private, typically only revealing details about the pair in Swift’s lyrics.


Despite all of the changes to Swift’s career and mindset, she still stuck with the same idea of different eras with “Lover” and “folklore.” Swift has consistently said throughout her career that she “never [wants] to make the same album twice.” In “Miss Americana,” Swift describes using this method as women in the music industry have to reinvent themselves more than men do so that they can seem new and young to their audience. 


However, everything changed last December when Swift dropped “evermore,” the sister-album to “folklore.” Swift has never released an album so quickly after the previous one, especially one that is so similar to the last.


In Swift’s album note, she describes “evermore” as a chance to start a new era or to keep writing with the same style, the latter being what she chose to pursue. “In the past I’ve always treated albums as one-off eras and moved on to planning the next one after an album was released,” Swift wrote. “In making [folklore], I felt less like I was departing and more like I was returning, so I just kept writing.”


Not only has Swift’s typical album routine evolved, but her own writing style has deeply matured. Rather than exclusively writing songs about her life, Swift has begun experimenting by telling fictional stories, such as in “folklore,” where she wrote a triad of songs detailing a high school love triangle, or on “evermore,” where she wrote songs about murder and infedility. 


Swift has actually begun writing songs with Alwyn under the pen name of William Bowery, which is a large step for Swift to take. Instead of Swift writing songs about her boyfriends like she did in the past, she is now writing them with her boyfriend.


Swift has still stayed true to her original personal style and has written about her life on “evermore,” particularly with “marjorie,” a song about her deceased grandmother, and “long story short,” where she summarizes the last few years to show her focus on her life now. 


At the 2019 American Music Awards, Swift won Artist of the Decade, an award that she completely deserved. Swift’s musical discography on its own is incredibly impressive as it jumps from every genre but understanding the background behind the music makes Swift that much more incredible, and I’m incredibly grateful to witness Swift’s journey as an artist and as a person.