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INSIDER Music Mondays: Why everyone likes Taylor Swift now



The singer's popularity has hit critical mass and here's why.

Over the weekend, Saturday Night Live aired a sketch called Swiftamine where a sudden rise in vertigo was attributed to the growing acceptance that Taylor Swift song Shake It Off is a well-written, catchy pop song. The song is such an earworm, the sketch suggests, it has become possible to ignore and hence medication is required in order to relieve the height-altering revelation.

It's funny because it's true. In the context of Taylor Swift's career, her current story is her graduation from young country singer to an honest and true mainstream pop star. Prior to the release of her 1989 album, the music industry was worried they wouldn't have a single album to hit 1 million platinum album sales in the U.S., a fact that would have compounded the general feeling that no one cares about albums other than the music industry anymore.

Swift returned, and her new album easily sold 1 million copies in its first week of U.S. sales. Sighs of relief from the upper-echelons of the label game were heard around the world.

That's great for the money-watchers and the forecasters but the real reason why 1989 has been so well-received is because of its content and the star who wrote the lyrics. Swift has already been one of the biggest pop stars in the world for eight years now. This will be her third-million selling album of her career, but it's definitely the most accelerated to get to that point, helped by the deliberate decision to not stream the album on services like Spotify upon release.

Beyond the normal channels, Swift is having a moment and it's not all to do with her music. If there's a single thing that's dominating the current conversation in online discourse and culture, it's the treatment of women, young and old, by media, men and a patriarchal society as a whole.

Which brings us back to Swift. Here's a positive All-American girl who is enthusiastic, is not too cool or self-conscious to enjoy herself at award shows, who is self-aware, ambitious, talented, flawed and remains likable against all the vitriol.

Shake It Off is indeed about that subject, she brushes off those catcallers, those naysayers and those trolls looking to hurt her. Swift does the things that women are told, indirectly or directly, they not supposed to do, she lives her life unapologetically, she articulates her own thoughts, she seeks love in the very public domain and writes songs about her relationships when they don't work out without apology. It's Swift that is in control of her own narrative, not the media. She speaks for herself.

That makes Swift an even bigger role model than she already is and not just for young girls. It helps explain the increased attention around her in the zeitgeist. It helps that she wrote a track as virally-infectious as Shake It Off to trail what will be her most successful album yet. Haters gonna hate.



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