Arts, Music, Column

We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together: An Open Letter To Taylor Swift


It’s not you, it’s me—okay, maybe it is you. I never thought this day would come—the day when I would listen to a song of yours and not be completely mesmerized by it—but today marks the end of our eight-year relationship. I remember when I first met you: a childhood friend invited me to see you with Tim McGraw—you were the opening act, and it’s hard to believe now, but no one knew who you were. The first time I heard you bellow out “Tim McGraw,” I was hooked. I played it more times than I could count. I learned every word, which I would eventually do for all your songs.

You read me like a book. Song after song, I found myself astonished by just how relatable you were—the boys, the mean girls, the critics—it was like you knew my every thought and feeling. It was you I turned to in times of joy, sadness, stress, and anger. You were the one I trusted. You were the one who helped me push through my hardships and celebrate my triumphs, even when my friends weren’t ready to listen. Your ballads held meaning in my life—they would take me back to different times and places.

I also have never laughed or felt such joy than when I would blast your more upbeat tracks, whether it was “You Belong With Me” driving down the beach at midnight or screaming “We Are Never Getting Back Together” whenever it came on. It was your bubbly-pop, cookie-cutter style that brought on criticism from the public, but I didn’t care that you were immature, boy-crazy, or naive. You were my role model. You taught me to ignore the opinions of others and to embrace my quirks.

But something changed. Your newly released album 1989 is not you. You traded in the cutesy country star image for a more modern, pop-techno crossover. I can’t say I’m surprised. You’ve been breaking away from the country roots since your third album. Even Red had lost the ballad quality I’d grown up to love. In a way, change is always expected—you have to stay relevant, you have to please everyone and continue to excite your fan base.

It’s not your change of pace that is disappointing—it’s the fact that the album focuses too much on sounding different, and shies away from the lyricism that once carried your work. The tempos on 1989 stress me out, and beneath the album’s heavy computer manipulation, the lyrics are swallowed up. The happy, upbeat vibe is there, but the relatability is not. Your content have matured considerably (“Your hands are in my hair / Your clothes are in my room”), which also seems to be done intentionally to fit more in the pop category. In doing so, your lyrics have fallen into a convention. They weren’t captivating or awe-inspiring, but painfully typical, boring, or sexualized. In an effort to set yourself apart from other artists, you strangely slid into the mold.

I feel betrayed, abandoned, and disappointed—but truthfully, I shouldn’t. This is how you stay relevant, and that upbeat, fun nature of yours I fell in love with still is very much there.

But Taylor, here is where it ends. Here’s where I stop following your every move, stop listening to your new albums on repeat. You’ve grown, changed your style, and have picked far more mature topics, all in an effort to become a more legitimate, flexible artist.

I won’t stop listening to you. Like an old love, I’ll still listen to your old music, allowing myself to escape to those times and places your music once brought me. I’ll still listen to your new album, with a longing for a more traditional Taylor Swift.

Last semester, I wrote you my love letter. Here is where I say farewell.

Everything has changed,

Featured Image by John Wiley / Heights Photo Illustration

November 3, 2014

2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together: An Open Letter To Taylor Swift”

  1. I think you are sincerely wrong in so many departments, and I truly feel bad that you are looking so negatively upon someone you once cherished, for in my opinion, all the wrong reasons. First, you can’t expect Taylor to not include a sexualized element to her love songs. She has had sexual relationships with those she’s been in relationships with in recent years. She isn’t including it to gain audiences. If you know anything about her as a person, that is totally not her. She is doing it because it is part of her story. She’s 24 years old. She is not the same girl who stared at Drew across the classroom imagining how it would feel to have him hold her hand. She is imagining much different things about these men almost 10 years later. Secondly, her lyrics are absolute genius, just as much on her album 1989 than her others. Possibly even more-so. This coming from a communication major and literary geek. Out of the Woods, despite it’s anxious beat, absolutely amazes me. Her metaphors are so rich it actually cut me deep thinking about the concept and connection between an actual stressful outdoor accident and the anxiousness of a relationship doomed to fail. It is genius. And no one else would have been able to link the two so beautifully. I urge you to reconsider. I truly do. Because as someone who almost gave up on good ol’ TSwift when I couldn’t stand missing her big mess of curls, I promise it will be worth the second look.

  2. You’re definitely misinterpreting this album. One of the things that TSwift fans love about her is that she writes all of her own songs. Every album is essentially her diary, a manifestation of her life at the time. That’s what makes her so relatable. This album sounds different because Taylor is different. I absolutely agree with you that the sound and content of her older albums were better and more relatable. However, I don’t think 1989 sounds so different because she is selling out or trying to make herself more relevant. Taylor Swift could release an album of her banging a trash can for 45 minutes and it would be #1 regardless, that’s not the point. The point is that she has matured. Beyond even that, she’s become a celebrity. She’s been living in Hollywood, surrounded by every kind of mainstream social media and pop culture. Her music reflects this. My point is that although I agree that this album is probably her worst yet and strays the greatest from her traditional sound, it’s because it’s truthfully representing her life right now, not because she’s conforming to what she thinks people want to hear.