Taylor Swift's Identity Crisis

Friday, August 23, 2019
Over the last couple of her album cycles, I think it's safe to say that Taylor Swift is having an artistic identity crisis. Granted, when the public image you've crafted for yourself after almost ten years of hard work, comes crashing down because of a snapchat video, and then need to clear your name and/or acknowledge the scandal in some way, your art will probably feel the impact of that.

Usually when something like this happens to an artist, they take longer than usual to put together their next project, and it's a great examination of themselves. That was not the case with Reputation. She was posturing herself as a villain, and as someone with more of harder edge, both in look and in personality, on that record than she has had through the rest of her records, which leads us to believe she does not have that edge as a person. Other artists are able to transform themselves to fit a new personality with each record, but that's not the case here.

So, after the bust that was Reputation, she is going back to the full-fledged pop that worked wonderfully for her with 1989, and that is Lover.

I would say Lover is definitely better. The only problem is that the production of the songs is so pop it can become bubblegum. It works for her songs with her more complex lyrics, but if the lyrics are simpler or more straightforward, it suffers. Which is why I don't understand how "ME!" or "You Need To Calm Down" were decided to be the lead singles or even on the album. The mix of the super pop production and the lyrics felt like posturing or performative. They're teeny bop. The real issue I'm having with this album is that the production of the songs isn't varied enough. After awhile all the songs started the bleed together. The songs all have this airy quality to them, and she's not really using her full voice.

Much like the songs on Lover need to do for me, Taylor Swift needs to come back down to Earth for a bit. Now that she's planning to re-record her albums, hopefully when she looks back at her earlier work she's reminded of what she's great at. And that's not me trying to box her in, because I love the country of her debut album and Fearless, I love Red and the songs she experimented with (especially "State of Grace"), and I love the pop of 1989. But over the course of the last few years, she's leaned more to the performative side of being an artist and trying to write music for whatever character that album was going to be about. She needs to stop playing characters, and start being herself again in her music.

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