How Taylor Swift’s Music Helped Me Embrace Being ME!

When Taylor Swift’s first album came out on October 24th, 2006, I was 12 years old. I was at that stage in life where all I wanted to do was fit in. We all remember being 11. Most of us were starting a middle school, moving on from being babies and getting closer to being teenagers. We were in that in between stage where we wanted to be treated like adults instead of children, but we weren’t quite sure what being an adult actually meant. We were at that stage where none of us wanted to be an outcast and we sometimes did outrageously stupid things in order to fit in, in order to be liked and seen as ‘cool.’

For me, I wanted that as well.

At first.

We had just moved from Iowa to Oklahoma that summer. I started middle school with completely new friends. It sucked. No one wants to start a new school. I was awkward and shy. I hadn’t yet figured out who I was. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was one of those typical emo-goth girls who listened to a lot of Paramore, Flyleaf, Avril Lavigne, My Chemical Romance and Panic at the Disco. I wore black and way too much eyeliner. (I still wear black but less eyeliner, and am still a sort of Goth Southern girl but now, I’m classier.)

Middle school I found myself in that group. You know the one. The one where it’s a hodge-podge of Goths, jocks, nerds and preps. Those kids who don’t quite fit in with their usual clique. I would keep this trend throughout my life. It was all very Breakfast Club.

Basically me and my friends. A bunch of awesome, amazing and incredible misfits.

And though yes, I did listen to all those emo-goth bands, Taylor Swift really resonated with me.

Taylor Swift

I remember singing “Teardrop on my Guitar” because this really cute guy I liked, Josh, didn’t like me back and was dating some other girl who was sort of my friend but not friend. (You know how that goes.) Josh lived down the road from me and I saw him all the time. And I definitely pined over him like some silly middle school girl from one of those semi-horrible 2000s rom-coms.

So I’d sing in my room to my hairbrush:

“Drew walks by me,
Can he tell that I can’t breathe?
And there he goes so perfectly,
The kind of flawless I wish I could be,”

And my mother or stepdad would walk in and laugh at me. I was that girl. I loved Taylor Swift – and even now 13 years later, she’s still one of my favorite artists.

I connected to her songs like no doubt, many other middle schoolers did. “Tied Together with a Smile” was like, my anthem, in middle school.

My childhood wasn’t the greatest. My mother wasn’t around and I was left at home watching my siblings. When really I wanted to be hanging out with my friends. Most of my friends didn’t know what was going on at my house. And if they did, it was one of those topics that we never really talked about.

Once, my friend Rachel was over. My stepdad had just gotten kicked out. He came back and started pounding on the front door, trying to break in. Rachel and I had to lock all the doors and windows, call 911 and my mother.

It was an incredibly embarrassing moment for me. Rachel’s mom didn’t let her come over anymore.

“Tied Together with a Smile” was my anthem because it was true. Middle school I was so close to breaking. I wanted to be that 13 year who got into trouble. But I couldn’t be. I had to be my mother’s good girl and a good influence on my siblings. It was exhausting.

“Hold on, baby; you’re losing it
The water’s high, you’re jumping into it
And letting go, and no one knows
That you cry; but you don’t tell anyone
That you might not be the golden one
And you’re tied together with a smile
But you’re coming undone”

Like Taylor, I was the “good girl.” The sweet Southern girl. I just wanted to be taken seriously, you know? But no really did take me seriously in middle school. I got taken advantage of a lot. I let people walk all over because I was so focused on being good and sweet and kind and accepted.

7th grade was when I really started to say fuck it. I didn’t allow my mother to buy me those stupid cutesy outfits. And if she did, I didn’t wear them. I started to listen to edgier to music (at least to my 13 self it was edgier, now I know it’s not). I tried to be more outgoing. . . and that got me in trouble a few times with my friends. I got pulled into some drama with a girl named Miranda who was a close friend. Her friend is the one who started it but I got blamed and it was a whole ordeal.

Then in 9th and 10th grade I got pulled into more drama. I let myself get pulled into that drama because I wanted to be a good friend, and in the end I lost a lot of friends. And just like Taylor, I got called two-faced. A lot. I also got called a skank and a whore during 9th and 10th grade. And a boyfriend thief for some reason that I can’t remember.

The drama didn’t get disappear until after I left Memorial High School But it still haunted me a bit. Just like the drama didn’t end with Taylor Swift. She got heat because she wrote songs about her exes and also the whole Kanye West thing.

In each album you can see her growth, and in a way, her albums also reflect my growth as a person as well.

Favorite Songs of the Album:

(Starting with my favorite song to my least favorite song.)

  1. Tied Together with a Smile
  2. Cold as You
  3. Tim McGraw
  4. Teardrop on my Guitar
  5. Stay Beautiful
  6. A Place in this World
  7. Mary’s Song (Oh My My My)
  8. Should’ve Said No
  9. The Outside
  10. Picture to Burn
  11. Our Song

Fearless

Her next album, Fearless, released November 11th, 2008, was still a country album. But whereas the self-named album Taylor Swift was more teenage angst and talking about boys you liked and trying to figure out who you are, Fearless was a bit different. Instead of “Picture to Burn” it was “Love Story.” Instead of “Should’ve Said No” it was “You Belong With Me.” (I apologize if you now have “You Belong With Me” stuck in your head. My brother Kody, who is now 14, used to sing this song all the time when he was little. He knew the lyrics better than I did. He loved Taylor Swift. Now not so much.)

Her songs in Fearless are a bit more hopeful and yes, they are mostly about relationships, but the lyrics allude to the fact that hey, she’s learned from her mistakes.

Fearless became my motto in high school. And to this day, it still is. Fearless to me isn’t the absence of fear it’s having the strength to do something even if you are afraid. (I plan on getting a tattoo with the word “Fearless” and a daffodil surrounding it – maybe the word forms the stem? I’m not sure. I’ll need to design it. A daffodil symbolizes a new beginning.)

“And I don’t know how it gets better than this
You take my hand and drag me head first
Fearless
And I don’t know why but with you I’d dance
In a storm in my best dress
Fearless “

An underrated song is “Breathe.” This is a collaboration that Taylor Swift does with Colbie Caillat. It’s about letting go of a relationship and moving on. A relationship that was started but in the end, someone had to say goodbye. But instead of blaming the other, there’s almost peace. Yes, it’s a goodbye but no hard feelings. And yes, maybe that friendship has changed but so have they as people.

Another underrated song is from Taylor’s first album, “Cold As You.” This song is different than “Breathe” because while “Breathe” is almost a bit hopeful, and about ending a relationship because you both agree that it’s not working.

“Never wanted this, never want to see you hurt
Every little bump in the road I tried to swerve
But people are people and sometimes it doesn’t work out
Nothing we say is gonna save us from the fall out.”

“Cold As You” is about a relationship that is falling apart. The girl, in this case, Taylor, is in love with the boy who doesn’t love her back. But they still are in a relationship together. He’s cold and she’s clinging on to him. She’s emotionally invested but he doesn’t give a damn. I dated someone once, a few years ago, that I did love but I felt like they weren’t invested. They came off as cold. I think we all can relate to that. When you’re in a relationship and you’re clinging on with all your might but you know it’s not working and you really just need to “Breathe” and let the relationship go.

“You never did give a damn thing honey but I cried, cried for you
And I know you wouldn’t have told nobody if I died, died for you
(Died for you)”

Favorite Songs of the Album:

(Starting with my favorite song to my least favorite song.)

  1. Breathe
  2. Fearless
  3. You’re Not Sorry
  4. Forever & Always
  5. Change
  6. The Way I Loved You
  7. White Horse
  8. Love Story
  9. Hey Stephen
  10. Tell Me Why
  11. The Best Day
  12. Fifteen
  13. You Belong With Me

Speak Now

Taylor’s next album was Speak Now, released October 25th, 2010. Her music started turning more pop-like in this album.

While I love all the albums, Speak Now‘s song lyrics are simply. . . .beautiful. They are poetry. Whether that means “Mine,” “Back to December,” “Enchanted,” or “Last Kiss.” All of the lyrics are simply beautiful. I listened to this album with my friend Brittany for hours. Pretty sure this is the album I know the lyrics to every single song. Every time I listen to this album, I think about my last two years of high school and how even though it did suck at times, I still had so much fun with my friends. Every time I hear the song “Long Live,” I think about my friends. Some of whom I still talk too.

“We are the kings and the queens
You traded your baseball cap for a crown
When they gave us our trophies
And we held them up for our town
And the cynics were outraged
Screaming, “This is absurd”
‘Cause for a moment, a band of thieves
In ripped up jeans got to rule the world”

One of my favorite song – or rather my two favorite songs from this album are “Back to December” and “Last Kiss.”

“Back to December” is an apology to an previous boyfriend. This is Taylor saying “Okay, I fucked up. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” Apologizing to someone – especially someone you love or care about – after you did something to hurt them is incredibly hard. Sometimes you struggle to find the right words to say and then, sometimes, in the end, you say the wrong words and make everything so much worse.

This song is saying that this guy was wonderful and brilliant and good, but Taylor was afraid and thus, she hurt him. I dated a guy once, fell in love with him at 19 and then regretted it because he was a good guy. (We ended up getting back together and then he broke up with me but that’s a longer story. . .) It sounds cliched but you really don’t know what you had until it’s gone.

“I miss your tan skin, your sweet smile
So good to me, so right
And how you held me in your arms that September night
The first time you ever saw me cry
Maybe this is wishful thinking
Probably mindless dreaming
But if we loved again, I swear I’d love you right
I’d go back in time and change it, but I can’t
So if the chain is on your door, I understand.”

“Last Kiss” is one of those songs that makes me feel things. I get all the feelings. (It’s horrible.) It’s about saying goodbye to someone – even though you’re really not sure what went wrong. Why is it our last kiss? What happened to make us end this way? This song in a way reflects my relationship with Morgan. We started out of BFFs and then that changed into something more, and now, we are nothing. There’s nothing.

Taylor Swift’s bridges are almost always my favorite parts of the song. The bridge for “Last Kiss” is definitely on my Top 10.

“So I’ll watch your life in pictures like I used to watch you sleep
And I feel you forget me like I used to feel you breathe
And I keep up with our old friends just to ask them how you are
Hope it’s nice where you are
And I hope the sun shines
And it’s a beautiful day
And something reminds you
You wish you had stayed
You can plan for a change in weather and time
But I never planned on you changing your mind”

One of my least favorite songs from Speak Now is actually “Mean.” It’s one of those songs that gets stuck in your head. it’s already stuck in my head and I haven’t even listened to it. However, the video to it kind of makes me laugh a bit. Not gonna lie.

(It’s stuck in your head now, isn’t it? I am so sorry.)

The first song off of Speak Now is called “Mine.” It’s a really sweet song. The girl has a pessimistic view on love because of her parents’ failed marriage. This song shows how the girl falls in love with this guy (like any good rom-com movie) and he helps her see that love isn’t all bad. And yes it has it ups and downs, but in the end, it’s worth it.

And when I look at my relationships, when I even think about starting one with someone, I always think about my parents. I think about them and I don’t want to be like them. I don’t want relationship like theirs because it wasn’t good or healthy. It just. . . .was.

For once my favorite line is not the bridge. Instead my favorite line is:

“Flash forward, and we’re taking on the world together
And there’s a drawer of my things at your place
You learn my secrets and figure out why I’m guarded
You say we’ll never make my parents’ mistakes”

Favorite Songs of the Album:

(Starting with my favorite song to my least favorite song.)

  1. Haunted
  2. Last Kiss
  3. Sparks Fly
  4. Mine
  5. Back to December
  6. Dear John
  7. The Story of Us
  8. Speak Now
  9. Enchanted
  10. Better than Revenge
  11. Never Grow Up
  12. Long Live
  13. Mean

Red

If you were to ask me what my favorite album of Taylor Swift’s was, I’d say Red. Red is my favorite album of hers. I may not like every single song on the album, but it’s still my favorite album.

Between Speak Now and Red, Taylor really went from being country with a big of twist of pop. Red came out while I was in Iowa and let’s just say that was not a pleasant experience. I didn’t get the CD for a long time but I listened to all the songs on YouTube. Red was released October 22nd, 2012. This album is all about relationships that burn bright and are tumultuous. The relationships that well. . . burn red. Those relationships that start and it’s like fireworks and gunpowder and fizzy soda all at once. But then it fades, and you’re sad because you wanted it to last. But it didn’t.

It’s difficult for me to pick one song from this album that is my ultimate favorite. The two songs that stick with me though are “Red” and “Treacherous.” They are two very different songs.

“Red” is the title of the album. “Red” is about falling in love and it’s intense and fast. Then, just as quickly as it came, it’s gone. It’s red. Sometimes you fall so hard so fast that you don’t even think about it. You just are in love and you’re reckless and stupid. It’s like that first love. That first taste of love and you almost feel high with how strong it is.

Then suddenly you’re no longer high. You are simply empty because that love is gone.

Taylor talks about losing him, missing him and forgetting him, and compares those emotions to colors. This is the chorus of the song.

“Losing him was blue like I’d never known
Missing him was dark grey all alone
Forgetting him was like trying to know somebody you never met
But loving him was red
Loving him was red”

“Treacherous” has a different tone that “Red.” Treacherous is about taking a chance on love, even though you don’t know how it will go. It’s about being attracted to someone and maybe their relationship has to be kept a secret. But it’s also about being in love or attracted to someone whom you probably shouldn’t.

This song can have all sorts of meanings. For me, it reminds me of the first guy I ever slept with, the one I lost my virginity too. I was head over heels in love with him (or so I thought) and though a part of me knew that continuing to talk to him and be with him was treacherous, I did it anyways. No, it didn’t even well but I took that chance.

“Two headlights shine through the sleepless night
And I will get you, get you alone
Your name has echoed through my mind
And I just think you should, think you should know
That nothing safe is worth the drive
And I will follow you, follow you home
Follow you, follow you home”

“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” is one of those songs on this album that you can’t help but sing. . . .even though I don’t personally like it. Also, the video is super weird. Like super weird. Watch it below. It kind of reminds me of “Don’t Wanna Know” by Maroon 5.

“I Knew You Were Trouble” is another song that’s not my favorite but the lyrics get stuck in my head. all. the. damn. time. Seriously. I bet it’s stuck in your head.

Taylor concludes Red with “Begin Again.” This song is very sweet. She talks about her last boyfriend and how he didn’t like James Taylor or when she wore heels, but then she talks about a new guy and how he does. I also like that she ends with this song.

“‘Cause you throw your head back laughing like a little kid
I think it’s strange that you think I’m funny ’cause he never did
I’ve been spending the last eight months
Thinking all love ever does is break and burn and end
But on a Wednesday in a cafe I watched it begin again”

Favorite Songs of the Album:

(Starting with my favorite song to my least favorite song.)

  1. Red
  2. Treacherous
  3. All Too Well
  4. Begin Again
  5. Starlight
  6. Everything Has Changed
  7. The Last Time
  8. Holy Ground
  9. The Lucky One
  10. I Almost Do
  11. Sad Beautiful Tragic
  12. State of Grace
  13. I Knew You Were Trouble
  14. We Are Never Getting Back Together
  15. Stay Stay Stay
  16. 22

1989

The album dropped October 27th, 2014. When the first single of this album dropped, “Shake It Off,” I did not like it. At all. I was like “Who the hell is this? Is this Taylor Swift?” Trust me, I was not a fan.

It wasn’t until I listened to the album fully that I actually liked it. No more was Taylor sort of pop. She was full blown pop. It was different and new and fresh. 1989 was vastly different than Red. I think that’s what threw me off, but I still liked the album.

While “Shake It Off” is not usually my type of song, I did end up liking it. Eventually. After I listened to it eighty times. I think what really helped me to appreciate that song was the video. If you haven’t watched the video, watch it. Taylor is such a dork in it. It’s wonderful.

1989 is all over the place. You have “Shake It Off” which is straight up pop and very much about her reclaiming her reputation and dissing all the haters. Then there’s “Blank Space” that has a similar message but different sort of lyrics. She’s basically singing about herself. It’s a very satirical song. She’s making fun of herself and what people have said about her writing songs about her ex-boyfriends.

“Screaming, crying, perfect storm
I can make all the tables turn
Rose gardens filled with thorns
Keep you second guessing like
“Oh my God, who is she?”
I get drunk on jealousy
But you’ll come back each time you leave
‘Cause darling I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream”

(I actually have a red tank top that says “Darling I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.)


Other hits off this album are “Bad Blood” which is apparently a hit at the feud with supposedly Katy Perry. Selena Gomez, Hayley Williams, Zendaya, Ellie Goulding, and a whole bunch of other female artists are in this video. Taylor Swift loves Law & Order: SVU and she got Mariska Hargitay to be in this video. She plays Olivia Benson in SVU.

Also “Style,” “Out of the Woods” and “Wildest Dreams.”

Some of my favorite songs on this albums are those that didn’t not get a lot of spotlight such as “I Know Places,” “Clean,” “Wonderland” and “You Are In Love.” The last two are on the deluxe version of 1989.

“I Know Places” is about the paparazzi and how she feels like she’s always being hunted by them, like nothing is private. She just wants to be with this guy and spend time with him but she knows that if they – the paparazzi – see her with him, they’ll tell everyone. And she doesn’t want that.

“Lights flash and we’ll run for the fences
Let them say what they want, we won’t hear it
Loose lips sink ships all the damn time
Not this time”

“Clean” is a song about moving on from a relationship. It’s oddly sweet and hopeful. She’s learned from the relationship and though she’s sad about it being over, she knows it’s time to start over. It’s time to be clean. And yes, at times, she does it, but it’s over and that’s it.

I broke up with someone once, and though it was the right thing to do, that didn’t mean that I didn’t miss them. It didn’t mean that I wish we had worked things out. That didn’t mean I didn’t think about them some days and it ached because it was over. But I know that I am older and wiser. I have learned from that relationship.

“Ten months sober, I must admit
Just because you’re clean, don’t mean you don’t miss it
Ten months older, I won’t give in
Now that I’m clean, I’m never gonna risk it”

“Wonderland” is about being in love and it makes you go mad, like the Mad Hatter. It’s about a toxic relationship that you shouldn’t be in because it’s bad for you. Who hasn’t been in a relationship that is toxic but you still stay in it? I think that’s what took me so long to break up with an old love. And it wasn’t like that relationship was purely toxic but it was getting there. I wasn’t happy, but I was clinging to this idea of it being happy.

If you haven’t heard it, definitely take a listen.

“Didn’t they tell us don’t rush into things?
Didn’t you flash your green eyes at me?
Didn’t you calm my fears with a Cheshire cat smile?
Ooh, didn’t it all seem new and exciting?
I felt your arms twistin’ around me
It’s all fun and games ’til somebody loses their mind”

While I didn’t start out liking 1989, now I do like it. Yes, it’s different, but it’s still Taylor Swift.

Favorite Songs of the Album:

(Starting with my favorite song to my least favorite song.)

  1. I Know Places
  2. Clean
  3. Out of the Woods
  4. I Wish You Would
  5. Blank Space
  6. How You Get the Girl
  7. Wildest Dreams
  8. Style
  9. Shake It Off
  10. All You Had to Do Was Stay
  11. Bad Blood
  12. This Love
  13. Welcome to New York

Reputation

If we thought 1989 was different, it was nothing compared to when Reputation dropped November 10th, 2017. This album is all about Taylor Swift reclaiming her reputation.

“Look What You Made Me Do” was the first single released from this album and I fell in love instantly. I love the lyrics and the video. Everything.

What is this song about? It’s basically a diss track to all her haters. Taylor is saying “Look what you made me do. You made me do this because you wouldn’t leave well enough alone.”

Snakes are a huge theme in the music video to this song. At the end of the video, there’s this huge mountain of old Taylors and then a cute, funny, satirical skit where she plays as herself. She’s calling out her haters but also she’s moving on. Basically, this song is a giant “FUCK YOU” to everyone.

“…Ready For It?” was the second single and though I’m still not sure what it’s about. . . .the video is weirdly beautiful. Next was “Endgame” ft. Ed Sheeran and Future. Taylor’s collaborated with Ed Sheeran before for “Everything Has Changed.”

“Delicate” is my favorite song from this album. Or it was until the radio killed that song. Now I can’t listen to the song at all. The video of the song is hilarious though.

“This ain’t for the best
My reputation’s never been worse, so
You must like me for me…
Yeah, I want you
We can’t make
Any promises now, can we, babe?
But you can make me a drink”

“I Did Something Bad” and “Don’t Blame Me” are two of my other favorite songs.

“My name is whatever you decide
And I’m just gonna call you mine
I’m insane, but I’m your baby (Your baby)
Echoes of your name inside my mind
Halo hiding my obsession
I once was poison ivy, but now I’m your daisy”

Basically all of the songs are here have to do with her reputation and she’s taking it back. But it’s more than that, she’s owning up to what everyone’s said about her as well. Talk about a change.

Favorite Songs of the Album:

(Starting with my favorite song to my least favorite song.)

  1. Don’t Blame Me
  2. I Did Something Bad
  3. Delicate
  4. Look What You Made Me Do
  5. Ready For It
  6. End Game
  7. Call It What You Want
  8. Gorgeous
  9. Getaway Car
  10. So It Goes
  11. Dress
  12. Dancing with Our Hands Tied
  13. This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
  14. New Year’s Day
  15. King of My Heart

And now for her latest single. . . .

ME!

A few weeks ago Taylor Swift revamped her Instagram. Suddenly it was all pastels and clouds and cutesy stuff. There were SO many articles trying to interpret what the change on her social media and even her style change meant. Maybe a return to innocence? Maybe she’s moving on? Maybe she’s being hopeful? Who know! The world was going crazy trying to figure out what was going on. Then she posted “4.26” on her Instagram and on Spotify. Turns out. . . .she’s been working on this new top secret song!

Isn’t this awesome?

I love the beginning of this video where you see the cute pastel pink snake and then boom! it changes into a bunch of butterflies! This song reminds me almost the Spice Girls. That sort of boppy cutesy girl group stuff. I kind of like it. Also, it has Brendon Urie in it and he is life. End of discussion.

Whenever I hear this song, I can’t help but bop to it. It’s so cute and upbeat that it just makes you happy.

I look forward to Taylor Swift’s new album. I can’t wait to see what Taylor does next. Also I looked up the dates her other albums were released and she tends to release a new album in the fall. So I guess (or I hope) we’ll be getting a new album sometime in fall. When it is released, I’ll tell you what I think.

I will always love Taylor Swift no matter what the critics say about her. Her albums really do correlate with my life at times, which is scary but also kind of cool. I like that over the years she’s basically said “You know what, I’m not afraid to be me and I’m not here to cater to you.” And I relate to that because over the past 6 years I’ve been in Arkansas, I’ve slowly becoming more and more comfortable with myself. I’m no longer afraid to be well ME! That’s thanks to my aunt and to my friends and to all the music – like Taylor Swift – that inspires me.

Now please, take a look at the video for “ME!” It’s great.

-K

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