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Mashups Have Turned The Eras Tour On Its Head, And I Am SO Here For It

The surprise songs are a staple of the Eras Tour, but now their tenacity has been doubled.

A still TikTok screenshot of a girl screaming, being comforted by friends with the caption "my reaction to Taylor singing Exile (also known as the song that saved my life)
Credit: TikTok / @maddie.braps

Back in December, what feels like an age ago now, I wrote a piece dissecting the phenomenon of surprise songs in the Eras Tour setlist. Well, call me Reneé Rapp, because I’m back! I’m back! And bitch I am NOT done.

And oh boy, the international dates have opened up a WHOLE new can of worms. Swift has taken the heart-palpitating anticipation of what her newest surprise song will be and trebled it. For, dear reader, she has now introduced the concept of mashups.

The first mashup was in Buenos Aires last year, when she combined 1989‘s ‘Is It Over Now?’ with ‘Out of the Woods’, just a month after the highly anticipated Taylor’s Version was released. If the rumours about them being about Harry Styles are true (are they even rumours anymore?!), then I’m sure this was a devastating blow to the ‘As it Was’ star, who debuted his new buzzcut not long afterwards.

1989 (Taylor's Version) cover
1989 (Taylor’s Version) was the album the first mashup was taken from (Credit: Taylor Swift / Republic)

It was also at this show when she revealed that she was breaking her own rule for the surprise songs, i.e. that international dates would be the exception to the ‘no repeats’ rule she’d previously established. The stakes were heightened, and fear entered the hearts of Swifties all around the globe, for now anything is possible.

The international leg of the Eras Tour for 2024 began in February, with its first stops in Melbourne, Australia. And the first mashup proved that not all of them have to be from the same album, nor do they all have to be taken from off the setlist.

A Guide To The Mashups So Far

Swift combined Reputation’s ‘Getaway Car’ with Folklore’s ‘August’ and Fearless‘ ‘The Other Side of the Door’. What was particularly surprising about this was that, firstly, August is already on the setlist. Whilst some people expressed annoyance at hearing it again, many were excited about the hundreds of possible combinations this seems to suggest. And, obviously, the inclusion of ‘Getaway Car’ sparked more rumours of Reputation (Taylor’s Version), as is normal when she wears a pair of black socks or Taylor Nation uses a snake emoji.

Speaking of Rep TV rumours, Taylor Nation went live on March 2nd, causing an absolute shitstorm on Twitter. She paired her Fifty Shades of Grey duet with Zayn Malik (‘I Don’t Wanna Live Forever’) with Rep‘s ‘Dress’. Obviously no announcement came of that, so fans were left to wonder what that actually meant.

What’s so significant about this specific pairing? Is there any relevancy with ‘Dress’ being the 12th track on the album and IDWLF being released in the 12th month? Who even am I anymore? Am I just a bunch of Reputation conspiracy theories smashed together into a person?

An edit of some of the Reputation (Taylor's Version) theories - including red arrows pointing to different pieces of information and TikTok screenshots.
Rep TV theories are actually insane (Credit: YouTube / tshockeybro)

One of my personal favourite mashups was in Singapore (7th March), when she combined Fearless‘ ‘Fifteen’ with Midnights‘ ‘You’re On Your Own, Kid’, making the latter the most played surprise song of the tour’s entirety. Both songs reflecting on adolescence and growing pains, they make a bittersweet pairing that I would have loved to have been there for.

Some other highlights include ‘Clean’ (1989) and ‘Evermore’, as well as ‘Long Story Short’ (Evermore) and ‘The Story of Us’ (Speak Now). Some of the eagle-eyed amongst you will recognise the clear thematical ties that each song in a mashup has with the other, whether it’s about the breakdown of a relationship or the portrayal of teenage life.

The Dress Theory

What these mashups have also disproved is the popular theory that she only performs her most devastating tracks when wearing the yellow dress. She has worn every variation of the dress for these mashups, which only adds another element of suspense. Taylor Nation themselves even recognised this:

Like I said, it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen now. Everything we thought we knew about the Eras Tour has been turned on its head. And there’s been some… interesting reactions online to all of this.

Reactions

One of the more, for lack of a better word, infamous mashups was that of Speak Now’s ‘Haunted’ and Folklore’s ‘Exile’.

A still TikTok screenshot of a girl screaming, being comforted by friends with the caption "my reaction to Taylor singing Exile (also known as the song that saved my life)
You might have seen this reaction deemed as being ‘overdramatic’ on the internet these past few weeks (Credit: TikTok / @maddie.braps)

if you’ve not seen this image floating around on the internet then… Where have you been? Okay, fair enough, I’m hopping on a dead meme in the hopes for some of that sweet sweet internet clout. But it goes a lot deeper than simply laughing at someone for having an extreme reaction to hearing a single song.

Because it’s about more than that. What this TikTok, and the whole host of content inspired by it, represents is the parasocial obsessiveness that permeates every part of online culture. Don’t believe me? Guess what! I’ve already written about it!

“This Song Saved my Life!”

There’s a reason that people are so invested in this ‘surprise song’ fad – because it gives them a chance, however minuscule that chance may be, to hear that one song that they’re absolutely beyond desperate to hear. That one song that got them through a rough breakup, or lockdown, or provided the soundtrack for their adolescent years. Whatever it may be, maybe they can hear it.

And Swift knows this. Of course she does. She capitalises on her fans now more than ever. Her upcoming album (The Tortured Poet’s Department) already has four bonus tracks on four separate physical copies. If you want to hear them all on release day, it’ll only cost you a whopping £135. (And that’s not including shipping costs!)

Don’t get me wrong, I love Taylor. But capitalism is a neverending hellhole that will entrap anyone – even our favourite megastars. Where was I? Oh yeah, surprise songs.

The point I’m trying to make, in my own roundabout and convoluted way, is that everything in the industry now is about pressuring fans into buying more things. Go to all the dates of the Eras Tour, because if you do you might get to hear your favourite song! She might do a mashup with Hayley Williams! Patrick Stump! Billy Joel! Freddie Mercury!

Because hell, if there are no rules anymore, then who knows what she’s gonna do next?!

Conclusion

I am a feminist. I support women’s rights, but I also love supporting women’s wrongs. So that begs the question… is what she’s doing actually wrong? Or am I just unnecessarily deeping a fun little tradition that adds excitement to a show that she’s done nearly a hundred times already?

It’s too easy to criticise Taylor Swift, maybe, after everything, she’s just trying to have a little FUN. And why should we stop her from doing that? I love the surprise songs. I love the mashups. If she stops doing them I’ll be devastated. And YES, I will be hoping for one single Speak Now surprise song during my show.

Maybe I will have a mental breakdown if she plays ‘Back to December’, or, heaven forbid, Folklore’s bonus track ‘The Lakes’. Shit, if she plays both you might never hear from me again.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Sue Barwise

    March 29, 2024 at 11:54 pm

    Another great write up Holly

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