A new Taylor Swift album, 1989, dropped this week, and a new Taylor Swift has dropped as well. Gone are the country gal ringlets and princess gowns, replaced with skater skirts, crop tops, and a straightened lob. Gone, too, are the Madeleine Albright coffee cup quotes aimed at Tina Fey and Amy Poehler:
And the “I don’t think you understood the question” answers to interview questions like this:
Do you consider yourself a feminist?
I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.[x]
Replaced, instead, with moments like this:
Guys, T.Swift has been on tumblr like a MONTH.
And already she’s celebrating cat aesthetics:
And serving up sass with a side of truth:
And she’s even into John Green, who objectively speaking is the most tumblr of all Young Adult authors:
I’m in Paper Towns movie meetings all day and they think I’m making notes on the script but I’m actually listening to 1989.
In short, Taylor Swift has become tumblr as HELL.
I can think of two explanations for this transformation, and both make me like Swift more than I did before.
1. Taylor, Or Someone On Her Team, Is A PR Genius
The most in-demand celebs today are funny and weird and maybe go off the cuff and say things they aren’t supposed to: Jennifer Lawrence, Anna Kendrick – that sort of lady. You could imagine being friends with them.
Sparkly-yet-boring types are out; people who like, or claim to like, chicken wings and binge-watching The Bachelor are in. It’s the difference between 2004 hot and 2013 hot that we wrote about last year. Less Paris Hilton, more Paris Gellar. Less Disney Princess, more Paper Bag Princess. Less Juicy Couture, more Etsy.
I can’t fault Taylor for showing some shrewd marketing savvy. When you’re a public commodity, it’s only smart to sell what people are buying today, not what they were buying 6 years ago. That’s why nobody is out there shilling slider phones and Yes We Can t-shirts anymore.
2. T. Swift Has Grown Up
Maybe we’re looking at the difference between a 19-year-old and a 25-year-old. Swift bypassed the usual college and young adult experiences that kick the rest of us into gear, but now that she’s is in her mid-20s maybe she’s just grown out of her old worldview. Or, maybe we’re looking at the difference between 2009 and 2014: if people in general are more into cat memes and straight-talking soundbites than they were five years ago, why wouldn’t T.Swizzle be, as well?
I knew things had gone super-tumblr when Taylor became a walking meme, spinning this reblog-able quip:
Not to mention, even her friend roster is now tumblr-approved. I will take your Emma Stone, and raise you a Lorde and a Lena Dunham. I wouldn’t be surprised if Taylor’s Christmas card list includes the ermagard girl, Grumpy Cat, and that one baby who’s shaking his fist. The card itself is an out-of-context yet empowering quote in Helvetica in front of a picture of the cosmos.
But how will we know when Taylor has gone full-tumblr? When she turns accepting an award into a meme-worthy moment. Getting an award is tough for Taylor; she makes that “who, me?” face on instinct by now. Tumblr needs more than that. It needs Jennifer Lawrence falling up the stairs; it needs Julia Louis-Dreyfus making out with Bryan Cranston; it needs Matthew McConaughey calling us all space men.
From the sounds of it, 1989 will be up for more than a few awards. Taylor has time to figure this out. So get out there, find out what reblogs and what doesn’t, and show us what you’ve got.
We know you can do it, Becky.