Connect with us


Taylor Swift’s incredible success in graphs




Of recent artists only Drake, Kanye West and Beyoncé have the same cultural vitality as Taylor Swift, and I am nowhere hip enough to be part of the Beyhive

At a certain point every 50-year-old man has to face up to the fact that they are a Swiftie. OK, maybe it is just me.

I’m not even sure how it happened. I could blame it all on my teenage daughter. It’s basically a law of nature that girls her age are fully immersed in Tay-Tay. I guess it’s her fault.

But no, as Taylor would say “I’m the problem, it’s me”.

Somehow I find myself in a position where colleagues half my age wander by my desk asking what I thought of her new album because I was listening to it the very second it dropped, and my editor gets me to write a column about Swift because she saw my tweets on the subject.

Who even am I at this point?

Taylor Swift: Midnights review – poised between self-flagellation and pure bliss

Good thing is I am not alone. This week Midnights has been streamed on Spotify just over 700 million times.

Swift might sing that we should “Put on your records and regret me” but no one seems to be regretting putting on hers.

The amazing thing is not that I like Swift, but that anyone still cares about her. It’s hard to do that 18 years into a recording career.

At this stage of their career the Rolling Stones were putting out Emotional Rescue, Dylan was releasing Street Legal, Bowie did Let’s Dance (nice, but hardly culturally dominant), Springsteen was past Tunnel of Love and no longer vital to anyone under 30. R.E.M released Up, which no one cared about, even at the time, and U2 were about to hit the Pop phase

Of recent artists, only Drake, Kanye West and Beyoncé have really had the level of long-ongoing cultural vitality as Swift, and I am nowhere hip enough to be part of the Beyhive.

And even Beyoncé doesn’t have the popularity of Swift; among women artists, Swift is miles in front:

I’m not even a Swiftie. Not really. Sure, I can sing all the words of Love Story, but who can’t? Yes, I know about her scarf and with whom she is never getting back together, but don’t we all? I know 13 is her lucky number and might have had a couple songs on Folklore at the top of my Spotify Wrapped. But I’m not a Swiftie. Not really.

There are plenty of songs/albums that I don’t know. Around her Reputation phase, the only time I thought about her was when a colleague and I discussed whether we thought she voted for Trump. Let’s face it, she wrote a song about her mansion on Rhode Island, so we’re not talking Billy Bragg on the political spectrum.

But you have to acknowledge she can write a damn good song.

My interest in Swift has gone in phases and, given I use graphs to explain everything, I present the following:

Really, it was the pandemic that is to blame. Folklore dropped out of nowhere and I gave it a listen and after three songs (including that one about the mansion), I thought … what is going on … I really like this.

For me the best three albums of the lockdown era were Folklore, Phoebe Bridgers’ Punisher and Bob Dylan’s Rough and Rowdy Ways. All three seem very much of that time – that stuck-at-home-things-are-pretty-sad-and-I-just-want-to-ruminate-about-life period.

That two of them were by women aged 26 and 30 and one by a retirement-age bloke is a bit weird. But we should all be well past the time where I need to explain why I enjoy Swift and Bridgers – and seriously got excited when I heard Nothing New on Taylor’s Version of Red – but not Dylan. And yet here I am still sort of doing it.

Cripes, I grew up being told that Springsteen singing about cars and girls (thanks Prefab Sprout) was deep, but honestly there is not much that has better encapsulated destroyed love than Swift singing “And you call me up again just to break me like a promise, So casually cruel in the name of being honest”.

Looking around popular music these days, a bloke my age notes the lack of blokes with guitars. But there is Swift, Bridgers, Angel Olsen, Sharon Van Etten, Lucy Dacus, Courtney Barnett and many others who have the guitars and are writing songs that matter and that tell of life.

Look, I’m not really a Swiftie. But sure, I may be wondering just what did she do on April 29, and who is Daisy May and why we are saying goodbye to her.

But her Easter eggs are part of the fun. And the music is good. In the end, that’s all that matters, and besides, there’s plenty of us.