Photo: Courtesy of Taylor Swift.
Taylor Swift is a fine artist. She's achieved more in her 23 years of life than most of us ever will, and, for that, an applause is in order. But, is she, as New York magazine claims, the queen of pop music? No, probably not. Even the pop darlings we cover here on the reg aren't "queens of pop." There are certainly princesses, but having the most number ones does not a queen make — no matter how exhaustive a thought piece one writes.
"Platinum Underdog: Why Taylor Swift Is the Biggest Pop Star in the World" is the Lindsay Lohan New York Times article of the pop industry. It does the opposite of belittling the singer by lifting her up on a pedestal that, yes, she rightly deserves, but whether we need that reminder is debatable. Of course, people are latching on to the juiciest tidbits of the piece (read: her boyfriends) and drafting headlines left and right about how Jake Gyllenhaal maturely responded to her public lament over their past relationship. Fine. Let the world eat cake. It's Jody Rosen's humanizing glimpse into her home life — something fans and curious minds alike previously devoured in last spring's Vanity Fair interview — that feels off. Indeed, Rosen brings Swift down to a "normal" level, but at what cost?
All the anecdotes thrown around do more than make Swift seem like your BFF — they add to the dicey climate pop music and all of its regalia have unfortunately fallen prey to. The "Your Fave Could Never" kind of fever that has Little Monsters pitted against Katy Kats; the Navy against Smilers; the Swifties against, well, the world, which leads to petty fan-turmoil over who's more important, who's more influential, who's the real queen. The comparisons take away from the very thing their leaders have set out to do: make music. In her conversation with Rosen, Taylor herself says she just wants to write songs. Why, then, is there this incessant need to build her up when she's already on top? For all the good things that will come from this article, there is plenty of bait for other fandoms to devour and attack with social media.
Rosen hits the nail on the head saying Taylor is a "generational bard" merging "the pleasures of old-fashioned songcraft with millennial social-media oversharing," but that's not the argument here. There's no denying Swift's talent, but whether she's queen or not is largely up for debate. Hell, the debate over who even is queen is one that yields no final answer. What matters, here, is longevity. What matters is an artist's impact on the grander scheme of pop. And, as far as we're concerned, the queen's throne is sitting pretty, collecting dust. (Vulture)