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