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Taylor Swift’s Stardom Is Affecting How Her Music Is Listened To

Taylor Swift’s level of fame is making it impossible for her music to be listened to objectively and reviewed on the same grounds as other artists.

YouTube/Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift released her highly anticipated 11th studio album, The Tortured Poets Department, this past month. Chances are, you have heard about it, fan or not. Escaping Taylor Swift seems to be impossible for everyone. She is everywhere, to haters’ dismay and fans’ delight.

Dealing with criticism is nothing new to any celebrity with this level of fame, especially Taylor Swift. She is no stranger to it: reputation was made for a reason… The hate has never been enough to take Swift down. She has said it herself, she always “come[s] back stronger than a ’90s trend.” The general public seems to go through cycles with their opinion of Taylor Swift. Last year, everyone was fighting for tickets to see Swift on the Eras Tour. This year, everyone seems to be fighting to criticize her every move.

Taylor Swift performing to a crowd on tour
Taylor Swift performs at the “Eras Tour.” YouTube/ Taylor Swift

Since becoming an artist known by absolutely everyone, people seem to forget that she is not for everyone. She is expected to be everything at once in order to cater to the many different audiences she has reached over her 18-year-long career in the spotlight.

This is obviously impossible, but Swift is no stranger to being held to unattainable standards. The level of fame Taylor Swift has reached has led to her being viewed as a brand above all else. This has caused the general public to dehumanize her and critique her and her life in endless unfair ways.

Due to how well-acquainted everyone is with Swift, it is clear that the world is having a hard time separating the art from the artist. Here is a deep dive into the critiques Swift’s music has received recently and how they often stem from critiques of her rather than the music.

“She chooses quantity over quality.”

Taylor Swift has released two new studio albums in the past three years: Midnights (2022) and The Tortured Poets Department (2024). With two years between, these albums experienced relatively normal album cycles. However, the interruption of the release of her re-recordings has distracted us from this. With the release of Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) (2023) and 1989 (Taylor’s Version) (2023), it can feel like she is creating albums at an insane rate.

The fact is, this is not the case. She is not writing any new songs for the re-recorded albums. They would never be in the equation if her work had not been stolen from her to begin with. As much as everyone wishes she would just be done with the re-recordings, she undoubtedly wishes even more that she was never put in the position to have to do them in the first place.

The critique that Swift prefers quantity over quality was given more ammo when Swift released a double album on April 19th. The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology was released at 2 am. This left fans with a total of 31 songs. People sprinted to social media to use this as proof that Swift prefers quantity over quality.

It is clear through the songwriting, however, that this album is purely a result of catharsis for Swift. She has stated that she spent almost two years writing and producing the album. Creating 31 songs in that span of time is not something that would result in the dilution of her work.

“All she writes are breakup songs.”

The long-used critique that all Taylor Swift writes are breakup songs is as outdated as the slut-shaming that is often paired with it. It is just as wrong as it was in 2014. Before the release of Tortured Poets, only 41 of Swift’s 243 songs were solely about a breakup.

Not even all of those were about her own experiences. This critique is often made by those who haven’t fully listened to her discography or even a vast majority of it and are just eager to jump to misogynist conclusions about her songwriting abilities.

Even if most of her discography was about breakups, that does not make the songs any less valuable! Every other artist does it as well, yet Swift is known for shouldering most of the hate in that field. This is largely due to Swift’s public dating history.

This also often leads to people paternity testing her songs and making them all about the men she may have possibly written them about. The odd obsession the public has with doing this often leads to unfair critiques: “Taylor Swift sucks! That “Dear John” song is awful! How could she do my man John Mayer like that?”

“She is a billionaire. What could she have to be sad about?”

Apparently, the message behind “money can’t buy happiness” is dead. One of the biggest critiques Swift has received in recent months has been that she is a billionaire, so she can’t possibly be sad. According to the people who make these claims, songs about depression and loneliness simply fall flat when they are coming from a billionaire. This is a great example of how people dehumanize Swift and then use it as a weapon against her art.

Swift’s feelings are constantly invalidated by those who reduce her to her wealth rather than a human being. The invalidation of her feelings undermines the strong emotions in her songs, which is what makes them so important and loved by many. This is a huge reason why separating art from the artist is an important practice in listening to and critiquing music, something never seen in regard to Taylor Swift.

Taylor Swift with a pill on her tongue.
Taylor Swift with a pill on her tongue in the “Fortnight” music video. Credit: YouTube/Taylor Swift

“We are sick of seeing her everywhere!”

She is everywhere. However, that is not really her fault and should not impact how her music is critiqued and listened to. Taylor Swift did not ask 70% of the people you follow to repost her album announcement on their Instagram story. She did not request that she be shown on the TV screens of every football fan in America; she was just supporting her boyfriend.

The point is that Swift’s music should not be critiqued due to the overexposure the general public has experienced. Insane levels of success come with insane levels of exposure. Swift should not be asked to step back and give everyone a break from her simply because she is becoming too successful, and people are sick of seeing it everywhere. The perception of her music should not be affected either, but unfortunately, that seems to be a part of the cycle she has found herself in before.

All of this leaves one question about Swift’s career: Will her music ever be respected and fairly critiqued as long as she remains at her current level of fame?

Written By

Azlyn is a 20-year-old student at Ohio University who has a love for writing about everything entertainment. She's all about pop music, early 2000s movies, and trending romance novels. With her finger on the pulse of pop culture and a talent for spotting the next big thing, she's always on the hunt for the latest scoop to share with her fellow entertainment enthusiasts.

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