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Taylor Swift: Babe or bane of your life

Love her or loathe her, there’s no denying Taylor Swift has made her mark on the entertainment industry.

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It all started in 2006 when a country starlet was plucked off the Nashville stage (she moved there age 14 to pursue her dreams) and thrown headlong into the world of country stardom.

From her self-titled debut release aged just 16 to her recent chart-running pop album 1989, Swift has taken the music world by storm and nowadays you’ll be hard pushed to find someone that hasn’t heard of her. In a year that she finally made the top 100 on Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful women, then, what is it about Taylor Swift that warms the cockles of country and pop hearts alike?

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#taylorlovesherfans

From hand-written notes to visiting the terminally ill, Swift has her fans in her heart. She invites them into her world, both lyrically and literally. Swifties are her ‘best and longest relationship’ – she said so herself – and it shows. Fundamentally, Swift is fan-driven and presents a professional persona that is pretty relatable to people around the globe.

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#taylorthefeminist

It might have taken her a while to get on the feminist scene, but lately, Swift has been preaching equality between women and men under the label. Following OK magazine’s headline referring to her simply as ‘Harry Styles’ ex’ then following this up with an article interlaced with several references to her as ‘Calvin Harris’ rumoured girlfriend’, Swift was quick to fire up. Pointing out her distaste at being referred to only in relation to men, the songstress tweeted:

The meme only betters the message in true Taylor style.

#taylorthedaughter

Earlier this year, however, Taylor shared some saddening news with her Swifties. Mama Swift has been a strong presence throughout her daughter’s career, but in April, Swift blogged to say:

The results came in, and I’m saddened to tell you that my mom has been diagnosed with cancer. I’d like to keep the details of her condition and treatment plans private, but she wanted you to know.

Popstars are people. We are people. And people support each other.

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#taylortherolemodel

In today’s ultra-competitive world, we hear every day about how important it is to stand out from the crowd and make our dreams count. Across the media, we see people going off the rails, getting crushed for their personal choices. And Swift, like the rest of the pop industry, is scrutinised relentlessly. From her love life, to her infamous awards show dancing, the media absolutely adore splashing about her latest rumoured antics. Only too aware of the power of media, Swift’s outlook on this is pretty positive.

In 2011, she told 60 Minutes,

I definitely think about a million people when I’m getting dressed in the morning […] The truth of it is that every singer out there with songs on the radio is raising the next generation.”

In recognising her power at the top of pop, Swift knows the world is watching. And with that knowledge, she’s making history.

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#taylorformusic

Of course, this brings us back to the events of this week. Following Apple’s announcement of an online streaming service, Swift wrote a frank open letter to the company, saying

 “Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months […] I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.”

Along with writing this letter, Swift withdrew any prospect of Apple getting their hands on 1989 for streaming purposes. To the industry’s shock, Apple quickly backtracked and tweeted

“#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period.”

Taylor Swift is clearly a wanted woman. But aside from that, what she’s done is speak for those smaller artists that will struggle in not being paid for three months, not to mention those too little known for Apple to care.

We have to bear in mind, of course, that Taylor Swift is by no means perfect.

Like the rest of us, she’s only human, multiple Grammys aside.

It’s got to be said however, that Miss Swift is riding the wave of well-deserved success, and, if you ask me, long may she reign.

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People are going to talk about you. But maybe you’re having more fun than them anyway.

– Taylor Swift, People, 2014

Cecily Sheppard

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