Despite the midriffs and big-booty appreciation show, there’s no denying that Taylor Swift was the hottest thing at the 2014 AMA’s (in every sense of the word “hot”).
She kicked off the night with the first ever live performance of her crazy-girlfriend anthem, “Blank Space” – complete with fire, throwing men across the stage and crazier eyes than Lady Gaga’s. But that performance, and taking the inaugural “Dick Clark Award of Excellence” weren’t the only “firsts” for Swift last night.
It was also the first time that the whole audience could honestly say (hesitantly or not), “yeah…everyone totally likes her now.”
2014 threw some crazy curveballs at us. A new Jurassic Park was filmed, fanny packs are suddenly coming back, and somebody has actually invented the E-Cigar. But the biggest surprise of the year has been the fact that people actually like the artist we’ve basically made a hobby of loving to bash.
With the birth of her new album, 1989, Taylor Swift has become much less easy to hate. Because for the first time in her career, she has presented herself as a confident artist who doesn’t just deserve our respect – she demands it.
Even as an artist writing her own songs in a digitally-produced world, her previous albums and music earned her fans, awards, and a ton of green – but never really earned respect. Songs like “You Belong With Me” and “Love Story” had a whiney, self-pitying message that sounded like they could have been pulled out of an eighth-grade girl’s diary.
Even the songs that called out her haters like “Mean” and “Picture to Burn” painted her as a helpless victim. And while they say “write what you know”, the old Taylor took that to childish levels – using not-so-secret life experiences and very openly mocking certain ex-boyfriends.
But if her previous albums were written from the perspective of a girl sitting on the floor and crying – the tune of 1989 is one of a girl wiping away her tears, rising up and strapping on her bulletproof vest.
Taylor Swift didn’t change herself in the face of the haters, she changed her attitude towards them and changed her song from one of self-pity to one of self-empowerment. This was summed up best in a quote to Billboard:
“If you’re upset that I’m just being myself, I’m going to be myself more.” -Taylor Swift
In a world where most artists are born in the production studio, the “real-life” songs that we all made fun of her for showed a spark of promise for making her a respectable and real artist. And while the songs in 1989 are still blatantly written about her personal life (and aren’t passing the Bechdel test anytime soon), they’re all her own vision.
Not to mention, they have a powerful message of maturity, confidence and independence – something that much of her previous music lacked.
“Welcome to New York” is all about her independent move to New York City.
“Blank Space” completely takes the “crazy girlfriend” caricature of her that the media has painted and uses it to mock both critics and herself.
And of course, “Shake it Off” needs no explanation.
After all, the haters are going to hate.
1989 essentially took the gasoline that was fueling the critical fire, drank it, and spit it back out at them. It took the power away from the haters. She made it clear that whatever anyone has to say isn’t going to hurt her. In fact, it’s going to inspire her and make her stronger.
On the surface, nothing has changed about Taylor Swift. She’s still dancing in the audience. She’s still writing about real life. And she’s still going to act shocked every time she wins yet another major musical award.
Taylor Swift isn’t changing who she is, she’s reminding people that they don’t have to.
Because in her case, it literally pays to be yourself.
(Featured photo courtesy of the TaylorSwiftVevo – Shake it Off)