by Shelton Bumgarner
The thing about Taylor Swift is she is the Star Wars of pop music. She has a huge built-in fanbase. She is also kind of the absolute center of pop music and culture.
So, here I am, listening to music from her latest album, Lover. It’s pretty standard modern pop music. But occasionally, she throws some conspicuous curve balls at me. Take, for instance, the song, “The Man.” It’s reasonably woke for pop music, I guess. The issue is, of course, that in a sense Swift is simply going where her audience is going in this Age of The Thousand Year Trump.
Swift is like the hot girl in a small Southern town who is secretly dating a black dude but refuses to go public with the relationship because she might lose Homecoming Queen. The best example of this is how big a fan Swift is of the great TV show Fleabag. This is an prime example of what’s going on in Swift’s mind is significantly different than her well-hone public persona. As it is, I still struggle to believe Swift isn’t a virgin.
I guess the point of all this is Swift is never going to do what she might otherwise do — go through that crazy rebellious phase that female pop singers often go through. I mean, it’s not like she’s going to do a Playboy spread or anything. If she does, it’ll be when she’s in her 40s. Even Taylor Swift can’t escape the power of developmental psychology. The crazy thing is by the time she’s in her 40s, if Swift isn’t married with 3 kids she’s probably going to be a pretty aggressive cougar. She’ll be dating 2039’s version of Pete Davidson.
It’s not like Swift’s going to swerve into rock music. Or she’s not going to do a Blackout album like Britney Spears. Her fan base simply could not handle it. She’s always going to be what moderate centrist (white) young women imbue their hopes and fears into.
Now, maybe I’m wrong. If Swift got Billie Eilish to write and produce a single, then my views on her will change. As Swift grows older and a bit more secure in herself, there’s a least small chance she might produce an album that’s seen as outside her comfort zone. But that’s more a mid-30s come back album thing for her to do.
Another unknown is to what lengths she’ll go to be seen as a Hollywood star. Any number of women you might otherwise never expect to go topless have done so because of the demands of the showbiz industry.
I see her coasting through mainstream mediocracy for the time being, however. She has a vested interest in simply drifting through her career producing music that is more a reflection of her audience than a challenge to it.