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  • Writer's pictureAmber Ang

Taylor Swift's Timeless Tapestry: Her Enduring Music Legacy

The debut of Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour” Concert Film in Singapore cinemas on November 3 has drawn crowds of enthusiastic fans, particularly the devoted “Swifties”, who attended the screenings adorned in stunning attire inspired by various eras of Taylor’s musical journey. Fans broke the conventional cinema norms, singing together and standing in front of cinema screens, an endearing display of their solidarity in celebrating Taylor's music.

But why exactly is Taylor’s fanbase so big and ever-expanding — so much so that many are jokingly terming it a “cult” of sorts? Let me bring you a walkthrough of Taylor's timeless musical legacy, illustrating her rise as one of the world’s most beloved superstars today!

Taylor’s Dedication To Re-record

If you are not a Swiftie, you may wonder why fans make it a big deal that Taylor is re-recording her music. In fact, Taylor’s decision to rework her first six studio albums stems from a significant event in 2019, when entertainment tycoon Scooter Braun acquired the rights to her master recordings and subsequently sold them to an investment consortium, Shamrock Holdings. The loss of rights to her music marked a devastating turn in Taylor’s career. However, this setback ignited her proactive efforts to re-recording her music, striving to regain ownership and autonomy over her artistic work. In Taylor’s words, when “something says in parentheses “(Taylor's Version)” next to it, that means [she owns] it”.

While the circumstances necessitating her re-recordings are heartbreaking, Taylor has masterfully transformed this endeavour into a profound celebration of her musical journey. In an interview on Saturday Night Live, she acknowledged the unique nature of her undertaking, while emphasising the cathartic value in revisiting these songs penned in her youth. Taylor’s commitment to re-recording her first six studio albums, with four already unveiled — Fearless (Taylor's Version), Red (Taylor's Version), Speak Now (Taylor's Version) and 1989 (Taylor's Version), is a pivotal moment both for her and her devoted fans.

There are also “(From The Vault)” tracks included in every re-recorded album, which are songs that did not make the cut back when she originally released the albums. The release of these vault tracks adds a touch of novelty as fans get to listen to never-heard-before music for the first time, despite the fact they were written years ago. For example, the release of All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (From The Vault) within the album Red (Taylor’s Version) presented an extended rendition of the original “All Too Well”, which debuted as a shorter 5-minute track back in 2012. Taylor further complemented this extended rendition by crafting a captivating short film, showcasing how this version intricately weaves a gripping narrative.

Moreover, the recent release of ”Slut!” (Taylor’s Version) in the album 1989 (Taylor’s Version) showcases Taylor's remarkable ability to reshape the media's harsh portrayal of her — originally depicting her as a woman with numerous sexual relationships — into a love ballad. This transformation renders the hurtful critiques inconsequential against the backdrop of the love she experienced with her partner at that time. Despite being penned years ago, the song’s enduring relevance persists, notably as the media continues to portray Taylor in a similar light even in current times.

Taylor’s latest re-recorded album, 1989 (Taylor’s Version), created a sensational impact across the internet. Through a groundbreaking partnership with Google, her team introduced 89 unique puzzle games accessible directly through Google’s search bar. This global initiative required fans worldwide to collaborate to solve a staggering total of 33 million puzzles, ultimately revealing the names of her vault tracks that would be included in the re-recorded album. Unsurprisingly, Swifties managed to do so within 20 hours. This achievement stands as an extraordinary hallmark within Taylor’s musical journey, representing a rare endeavour not commonly witnessed among other artists.

In hindsight, orchestrating such an ambitious project demanded significant resources, especially considering the collaboration with the world’s leading search engine. This achievement not only highlights the immense dedication of Taylor's fans towards her and her music, but also proves Taylor's dedication to actively involving her fans in her journey to reclaim her music.

Her Timeless Lyricism

For fans like myself, accompanying Taylor through each era of her musical journey has been an experience like no other. Unearthing a treasure trove of her artistry, now further enriched by her mature vocals in her re-recordings, has always been something I looked forward to. And for Taylor, the reclamation of her musical repertoire stands as a triumphant rebuttal to her critics and naysayers. Crucially, she also serves as a guiding light for other artists grappling with the challenges of owning their music, encouraging them to stand up for themselves and strive towards securing rightful ownership.

When Taylor won Artist of the Decade in 2019, she graciously paid homage to her award presenter Carol King, who was one of the most successful female songwriters in the United States during the 20th century. In her appreciation speech, Taylor acknowledged Carol’s remarkable talent in crafting music that transcends time. She related a personal anecdote, recounting how her parents had listened to Carol’s records when they first met. When they started their own family, they continued to play Carol’s music for Taylor and her younger brother.

Taylor's musical journey mirrors the enduring legacy of Carol’s iconic records, a journey marked by hardship but immense success. Much like a soundtrack, Taylor’s songs have seamlessly woven into the fabric of my life, beginning from when I was a young and naive girl in primary school. Through the tumultuous rollercoaster rush of adolescence, Taylor’s music has validated every emotion.

Wearing Her Heart On Her Sleeve

From the early teenage days of her debut album, where songs like "A Place In This World" articulate the sentiments of a young girl navigating feelings of being lost in life, to a plethora of love ballads like “You Are In Love”, “evermore”, the list goes on. Her vulnerability in penning these songs has created an avenue for people to connect with their feelings through her lyricism.

Taylor’s music not only dives into introspective or romantic themes, but also expands to address wider societal concerns. Her repertoire includes songs like “epiphany”, a poignant tribute to healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, tracks like “Miss Americana And The Heartbreak Prince” and “Only The Young” serve as compelling critiques of the political scene in the United States. The immense breadth and depth of the subject matter enable her to connect with audiences on multiple levels.

It is heartening to think about how cathartic it must be for Taylor to write and release these songs that resonate so deeply with people worldwide. The intimate connection formed between her music and her audience is palpable, especially when tens of thousands of fans sing her lyrics back to her during her sold-out stadium tours. The mutual exchange of emotions in these moments creates a powerfully shared emotional experience.

In her heartfelt documentary Miss Americana, Taylor shared her determination to give it her all during her Lover era in 2019 (“Lover” being her seventh album), fearing that it would be the last few moments when society would still tolerate her being successful. However, fast-forward to today, it’s beyond heartwarming to see Taylor continuing to shine as one of the world’s most cherished superstars. Amidst her globally acclaimed Eras Tour which is still ongoing till the end of 2024, she has also recently claimed the title of Spotify's 2023 Global Top Artist, further cementing her enduring appeal in the music industry. With her fanbase fervently supporting her every step of the way, her stardom is really timeless.

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