Tag Archives: Taylor Swift

All Too Well: A Love Letter to Inequality

Whether you’re a Swiftie or an innocent bystander whose TikTok For You page has been hijacked by Swiftok, you might have stumbled across the cinematic masterpiece: All Too Well: The Short Film. The film acts as the music video for the 10-minute version of the marquee song from Red (Taylor’s Version). Swift wrote the song about her relationship with ex-boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal and many fans across the country related to its sincere and gut-wrenching lyrics, but this did not spare the short film from criticism.

Taylor Swift; courtesy Universal Pictures

While the singer is re-releasing albums to create her music the way she intended, Swift was accused of holding grudges and parodied for being vindictive and petty.

 The short film puts those critics to shame by taking the audience on a visceral journey of a toxic relationship through the eyes of the young woman subjected to emotional trauma. Audiences are able to visualize the intricate imagery embedded in the lyrics of the song. Those who criticize Swift for holding a grudge are able to see how deeply painful the act of remembering this period of her life must be, and those who accuse her of fabricating details are reminded that one never forgets trauma inflicted upon them.

The film has sparked a conversation about age gaps in relationships and their impact on an individual. Swift, herself has been criticized for dating Conor Kennedy, who was four years younger, and Taylor Lautner, who was three years younger. However, the bigger criticism was the fact that Swift was an adult dating a teenaged Lautner. It is also worthwhile to note that comparing these relationships to the one with Gyllenhaal is unfair and inherently sexist, especially since their relationship had a nine-year age gap.

Power inequality in a relationship is often experienced when one partner has more power over the other’s emotions, financial security, or life in some severe cases. The inherent toxicity in Swift and Gyllenhaal’s relationship stemmed not only from their age gap but the fact that Swift was in her early twenties while Gyllenhaal was nearly in his thirties. The profound life changes between those decades not only shape you as a person but alter your perspective and outlook on life. Furthermore, there is a profound difference in confidence and comfort with yourself between the two ages. This means the older partner always has the upper hand in contrast to the volatile and emotional younger partner in the relationship.

A scene in the middle of the film highlights this imbalance in the relationship as the younger actress (played by Sadie Sink) fumes about how her older boyfriend failed to pay attention to her during a dinner with his friends. He dismisses her concerns and anger, calls her selfish, and gaslights her emotions. While the fight is resolved after he apologizes, a particularly telling moment is when the young girl says she feels embarrassed and her boyfriend says nothing. His refusal to admit he was wrong and that he has a responsibility to not make her feel isolated, shows he truly is an emotional manipulator whether it is unconscious or not.

The film does a fair job to portray him not as a villain, but rather as a damaged man who is unable to recognize his problematic behavior due to his own trauma. Despite criticism, the film captured the truly flawed nature of human beings and is a  warning to be wary of relationships with age gaps at different stages of their life. It is not different life aspirations as the final nail in the coffin of these relationships, but rather the older partner’s ability to manipulate the younger one’s emotion because they have experienced similar emotions and feelings in the past.

Sad Girl Autumn: Taylor Swift’s Saddest Lyrics

The mornings are getting chilly. It’s time to start pulling the hats, scarves and plaid button-downs from the back of the closet. Pumpkin spiced lattes have returned — not caring if someone calls it basic. Combined with the re-release of Taylor Swift’s fourth studio album, Red (Taylor’s Version), it’s the season of “Sad Girl Autumn.”

Inspired by “Hot Girl Summer,” coined by rapper Megan Thee Stallion, “Sad Girl Autumn” embraces the sorrow, soul-searching and nostalgia of the fall season. Along with Swift, singer-songwriters Adele and Mitski also released music fitting the theme of “Sad Girl Autumn.”

To celebrate the season, I compiled a list of Swift’s 13 saddest lyrics to reminisce and weep about ahead of the release of Red (Taylor’s Version).

Track Fives

Every Swiftie knows track five is the most emotional, honest and vulnerable song on each album. It’s impossible to discuss Swift’s saddest lyrics without mentioning some of these tracks.

If I could insert the entirety of “All Too Well,” I would. It’s the ultimate track five and is often considered Swift’s best song. In five minutes, Swift revisits a gut-wrenching breakup that still stings years later. With its highly specific lyrics, including a scarf left behind, she reflects on the best and worst moments of a short-lived relationship. 

The original version of the song was 10 minutes long with explicit lyrics before it was trimmed down. However, the re-release of Red (Taylor’s Version) includes the uncut song, as well as a short film starring Swift, Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien.

Saddest lyric: And you call me up again just to break me like a promise / So casually cruel in the name of being honest

In “The Archer,” Swift explores her insecurities in a relationship and troubles trusting people. She admits to engaging in drama and acknowledges she never matured enough to deal with this. The song might also be a possible nod to her zodiac sign (Sagittarius) whose symbol is an archer.

Its lyrics are deep and personal with strong metaphors (being the archer and the prey), and an old children’s nursery rhyme (Humpty Dumpty) to call out enemies who were once friends.

Saddest lyric: Who could ever leave me, darling / But who could stay?

In an Instagram post, Swift explained “my tears ricochet” tells the story of an “embittered tormentor showing up at the funeral of his fallen object of obsession.” Fans have speculated the track alludes to selling her master recordings by Big Machine Records founder Scott Borchetta to record executive Scooter Braun.

The song’s funeral imagery could also represent Swift mourning the metaphorical death of her six albums now in the hands of Braun. Although she is artistically free at Republic Records, she sings in the bridge about losing her old musical home along with her original albums at Big Machine Records.

Saddest lyric: And I can go anywhere I want / Anywhere I want, just not home

In an interview with Apple Music, Swift revealed “tolerant it” was inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel Rebecca, in which a husband simply tolerates his wife while she goes out of her way for him. It’s a story about yearning for love and appreciation from someone who does not pay attention to you.

In the bridge, she confesses how much of a priority her husband is to her. He was someone she loved, worshipped and respected. However, her efforts remain unreciprocated and ignored.

Saddest lyric: I made you my temple, my mural, my sky / Now I’m begging for footnotes in the story of your life

Pure Heartbreak

While track fives are personal, emotional and usually the ones that make me cry like a baby, certain songs have more subtle sadness to their lyrics. Sometimes, they are songs that you didn’t realize you connected to until years later.

Part of the folklore teenage love triangle, “august” follows a summer romance doomed from the start. It’s told from the perspective of the girl James cheated on Betty with. The other songs related to this storyline include “cardigan” and “betty.”

It’s a song written for people who have an ex that wasn’t their ex because they never dated. For those who relate to this story, it creates a nice yet strange feeling. Every time I listen to this song, the bridge never fails to break me.

Saddest lyric: ‘Cause you weren’t mine to lose

Ever since listening to “happiness,” I have learned to trust songs with the word happy or happier (looking at you, Olivia Rodrigo). Reexamining a rotten relationship, the narrator also looks back on the better moments before everything went sour. However, it’s a hopeful song that views the bad times as once good times with good things to come in the future.

To me, it’s the perfect song for “Sad Girl Autumn.” It’s mournful yet promising despite all the pain and destruction of previous relationships. It’s about someone still searching for happiness (no pun intended), even though they know it’s a difficult journey.

Saddest lyric: When did all our lessons start to look like weapons pointed at my deepest hurt?

On a more optimistic note, “Begin Again” recalls past relationships while looking forward to new romances. It’s not always easy to move on, especially when insecurities and fears from previous partners always linger as well.

Even though it’s not the saddest song, the few aching moments are loud and clear. It’s the song with lyrics that feel like a stab in the heart if you understand exactly what Swift is saying.

Saddest lyric: He didn’t like it when I wore high heels, but I do

Similar to the previous song, “New Years Day” explores Swift focusing on the future and yearning for the memories. As the closing track on reputation, she appears ready to move on from the old drama and past mistakes.

In the bridge, she fears losing the person she’s falling in love with. These lyrics are reminiscent of “Enchanted” from her third studio album Speak Now, in which she hopes the person she wants isn’t in love with someone else.

Saddest lyric: Please don’t ever become a stranger whose laugh I could recognize anywhere

Folklore / Evermore

I will always love Swift’s sister records, folklore and evermore. The best way to describe my love for these albums is the same way I feel about “All Too Well.” If you don’t like these pieces of work, you probably don’t understand or appreciate the beauty of storytelling and poetry.

It doesn’t matter how many times I listen to “marjorie,” this track will always ignite a waterfall in my eyes. It’s deeply personal full of lessons learned years, as well as guilt for the times Swift didn’t have with her grandmother.

Saddest lyric: Should’ve kept every grocery store receipt / ‘Cause every scrap of you would be taken from me

Going back to the message of “my tears ricochet,” Swift’s regret concerning the loss of her masters and re-recording of her old albums continues in “coney island.” In a Twitter thread, one user interpreted the song as her apology to her old music.

While she attempts to reconnect with her past, the usage of Coney Island and its fading popularity work to represent her current situation and struggles. As mentioned earlier, Swift has artistic freedom at Republic Record, but she remains remorseful for how everything happened so quickly and so publicly.

Saddest lyric: But when I walked up to the podium, I think that I forgot to say your name

Have you ever listened to a song and felt like it was written specifically for you? That’s how I feel about “this is me trying.” It’s a song I hold near and dear to my heart because it’s so personal.

This track follows the narrator accepting wrongdoings while making an effort to improve, even if it goes unnoticed. Things aren’t perfect right now, the narrator knows that, so they are taking the first step to admit and fix things they should have done a long time ago.

Saddest lyric: They told me all of my cages were mental / So I got wasted like all my potential

An Ode to Mom

These last sets of lyrics are less sad lyrics to understand and more of a heartbreaking parallel between Swift and her mother. The mother-daughter duo always had a close relationship, which Swift first wrote about in “The Best Day.”

In the song, she revisits her childhood and teenage years. She recalls her mother taking her window shopping to escape bullying in middle school. She sings, “I don’t know who I’m going to talk to now at school / But I know I’m laughing on the car ride home with you.”

Over the years, Swift has also been open about her mother’s cancer diagnosis and health as a top priority. She later dedicated “Soon You’ll Get Better” to her mother and revealed it’s one of the hardest songs for her to write. In the bridge, she sings, “And I hate to make this all about me / But who am I supposed to talk to? / What am I supposed to do / If there’s no you?”

Of all her songs and lyrics, the parallel between these two songs is the most personal and meaningful. They are also universal because they are songs about wanting only the best for the person who has stayed by your side all your life.

Final Thoughts

As you celebrate the season of “Sad Girl Autumn,” remember Taylor Swift knows how to tug at the heartstrings by creating a collection of songs and lyrics that connect with so many people. It’s both powerful and terrifying. She also knows how to write a bridge you will scream into the void with tears streaming down your face.

Featured image by Bettina Mateo

Olivia Rodrigo’s Inspirations and Parallels

With its perfectly balanced bridges, feelings of teenage nostalgia and varied influences, Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album “Sour” struck a heavy chord with both Generation Z and Millennials.

Released in May 2021, “Sour” explores themes of adolescence, young love and heartbreak. The album broke the Internet for its relatability. It is important to note some of the major inspirations, parallels and references scattered throughout the albums. To celebrate Rodrigo’s debut album, I put together a list of some of her inspirations and parallels.

Sound Comparisons

In the early days of the album’s release, Twitter users pointed out three obvious song similarities: “deja vu” and “Cruel Summer” by Taylor Swift; “good 4 u” and “Misery Business” by Paramore; and “1 step forward, 3 steps back” and “New Years Day” by Taylor Swift. I would add the way Rodrigo sings the chorus in “1 step forward, 3 steps back” sounds reminiscent of “Six Feet Under” by Billie Eilish. 

However, it is important to note the use of interpolation in these tracks, in which an artist uses a melody from an original song into a new piece of work by recreating it note for note. Learning about these song comparisons pushed me right down the rabbit hole of other songs with lyrical similarities and parallels.

Lyrical Similarities

In the first verse of “favorite crime,” Rodrigo sings from the perspective of someone being ‘buried’ by someone they once loved and trusted. These lyrics reminded me of “my tears ricochet” by Taylor Swift from her 2020 album “Folklore.” In an Instagram post, Swift explained how the song tells the story of an “embittered tormentor showing up at the funeral of his fallen object of obsession.” In the song, she sings, “you wear the same jewels that I gave you as you bury me.” To me, these songs are related to a mother-daughter relationship, which is ironic because both songstresses have jokingly referred to each other as mother and daughter.

Even though this next comparison involves Taylor Swift once again, it is impossible to not point out. They are two songs about young and painful heartbreak: “enough for you” by Rodrigo and “Dear John” by Swift. In the chorus, Swift sings, “I see it all now that you’re gone / Don’t you think I was too young to be messed with? / The girl in the dress cried the whole way home.” 

In the bridge of “enough for you,” Rodrigo sings just as emotional and a bit angrier with the lyrics:  “Don’t you think I loved you too much to be used and discarded? / Don’t you think I loved you too much to think I deserve nothing? / But don’t tell me you’re sorry, boy / Feel sorry for yourself / ‘Cause someday I’ll be everything to somebody else.”

Also in “enough for you,” Rodrigo sings about wearing makeup to please an ex-lover. It is similar to Swift singing about high heels that an ex-lover didn’t like in “Begin Again” from her 2012 album “Red”, which will also be re-released in November as Red (Taylor’s Version).

In another heart-aching track, the feelings of betrayal in “traitor” are nostalgic of “Burn” from the American Broadway musical, “Hamilton.” I didn’t completely understand this comparison until I listened to a mashup of the songs on YouTube and have not known peace since. The lyrics feel most related when Rodrigo sings about “brown guilty eyes and little white lies,” while Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton sings about “sentences border[ed] on senseless…paranoid in every paragraph.” It is almost like the comparison of “favorite crime” and “my tear ricochet,” except Rodrigo sings from a younger perspective, while Soo sings from a more grown-up perspective.

Parallel Storytelling

When I listened to “Sour” on the night of its release, I cried on the floor of my bedroom to the final track, “hope ur ok.” In the song, Rodrigo reminisces about old friends who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Though she’s no longer in close contact with them, she wishes them the best and reminds them of how proud she is of them today.

In the outro, she sings, “I hope you know how proud I am you were created with the courage to unlearn all of their hatred.” The song’s message alludes to the story of “seven” by Taylor Swift from “Folklore.” Similar to Rodrigo, Swift reflects about childhood friends with unhappy lives at home. Except Swift focuses on her innocence and how she thought tough problems could be solved by packing up their suitcases and running away to India. When I listened to Rodrigo’s song, I felt like she took this story and sang directly to the characters in Swift’s song.

Shifting from the album’s focus on young love and heartbreak, “Sour” also has tracks about  adolescence and the misleading promises of the younger generation stood out to me. Songs like “jealousy, jealousy” and “brutal” are examples of this. Both songs feel incredibly loud, vocally and lyrically, which reminded me of artists like Lorde and Billie Eilish.

In “jealousy, jealousy,” Rodrigo addresses the unrealistic beauty standards society often places on young women on social media. In an interview with the BBC in March 2021, she shared that she wrote the song when she was addicted to social media and found herself “crippled by the comparisons” of other girls. 

For me, it is the type of song that makes you wish you were born a nepotism baby with daddy’s money, a pretty face and a pretty boyfriend. It is also Rodrigo’s moment to comment on this issue in her own words, similar to “The Love Club” and “White Teeth Teens” by Lorde. While Lorde’s songs criticize the hollowness of cliques, Rodrigo discusses constant comparison and self-hatred as a result of social media. And the tone of her voice as she sings the chorus brings me back to the energy of ‘”idontwannabeyouanymore” by Billie Eilish.

Lastly, it would not be an article about Olivia Rodrigo without mentioning the fan-favorite song “brutal.” Its loud, angry scream-singing in the chorus brings me back to another song by a former Disney star: “7 Things” by Miley Cyrus. While both songs have some quiet moments, they are quickly met by a loud rage of emotion by both of the artists. They are the kind of jump around your room and scream at the tops of your lungs, beloved, angry songs. 

When it comes to the sound and beat of “brutal,” it is eerily similar to “Rebel Girl” by Bikini Kill. If you listen to the songs back to back, it is in the rise and fall of how each song flows. Its similarities also lie in the sound of the guitar, working simultaneously with the volume of the microphone at certain parts. Also, I cannot help but think about how Rodrigo’s singing of “God, it’s brutal out here” sounds just like “I know I wanna take you home I wanna try on your clothes.”

Final Thoughts

Even though I have loved “Sour” since I first listened to it, I fell in love with the album more after noticing its inspirations and parallels in the vocals, sounds, lyrics and storytelling.

Rodrigo’s debut album serves as a current accumulation of her style as a singer and as a songwriter. It’s a reminder that she is a young artist capable of elevating original songs by other artists, and crafting a new narrative based on her life and experiences. The outpouring of love for her first album might also indicate more success for her future.

Illustration by Valerie Aldana

Top Tracks on “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)”, in my humble opinion.

Photo by: Beth Garrabrant

In case you have been living under a rock, Taylor Swift fans new and old have been awaiting the re-release of “Fearless” , Swift’s sophomore album since it was first announced earlier this year. Some may say I am biased, but I wholeheartedly believe that 2006 to 2010 was the peak era in Swift’s career. 

I put aside approximately 1 hour and 46 minutes to listen to the rerecording on its release date. The album features 26 songs, yes. That’s correct. 26 songs. Twenty of which are from the original and deluxe versions of “Fearless”, along with six more songs that are “from the vault,” songs that Swift wrote but were not included in the 2008 release. 

Fans have said that the re-recordings are almost identical to the original release. For transparency’s sake, I am going to agree with them. But the difference is that in 2008, I was eight years old. I had not experienced anything that could make Swift’s songs even remotely relatable. But now, I am able to blast “Love Story” as I drive around in my car and sing along at the top of my lungs. Back in the day, I absolutely tore it up on Band Hero– I was always on the drums and my sister was on the guitar. 

Being able to listen to this album again 13 years later has made me gain appreciation for new songs and revived my love for some of the classics. Here are a few that I feel especially passionately about:

  1. “Today Was A Fairytale”

While this song was not technically released on “Fearless”, it was performed on her Fearless tour. Originally on the “Valentine’s Day”  movie soundtrack, the song debuted at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, and for good reason. It’s catchy as heck and somewhat restores my faith in finding my prince charming.

  1. “The Way I Loved You”

This song screams girl boss to me, but I cannot put my finger exactly on why. Maybe it’s just relatable. I am really bad at oversharing, so I am just going to leave it at that.

  1. “Come In With The Rain”

Another song that gets me in my feelings, but I cannot elaborate in the interest of preserving what little bit of dignity I have left. Just trust me on this one, it’s really good.

  1. “Superstar”

This is the most underrated song on this album. I know that is a very bold statement, but I can’t help it. I have always preferred slower, melodic songs that you can cry to but sing along to at the same time, and this definitely falls into that category. 

  1. “The Best Day”

The backstory of this song is really sweet, and the lyrics always seem to leave me misty-eyed. Swift recorded this song as a surprise for her parents—how sweet is that? The lyrics takes you through stages of life, from being young and not knowing “why the trees change in the fall,” being a young teenager and wondering “how my friends could be so mean,” to finally when she is all grown up and “knows why all the trees change in the fall.” Such a full circle moment. 

Whether you are a lifelong fan or just now tuning in, Swift has something in her long list of tracks that will have you replaying over and over again!

Women to Follow to Keep Female Empowerment Alive All Year Long

As we leave the month of March behind, April showers and marshmallow peeps come in full focus. Even as we leave Women’s History Month, it’s important to keep the message and appreciation alive all year long. So here are some badass women to keep on your Netflix watchlist, and in your Spotify Playlists.

Netflix And Girl Power

Good Girls

Photo Courtesy of NBC

This NBC show has all four seasons on Netflix and is the perfect binging material for a wild money laundering scheme that has three witty, dynamic women at the forefront of the plot. The constant twists and turns keep you on your toes until Netflix inevitably has to ask “Are you Still Watching?” This is definitely a show about women taking back the power, and also about how far they’re willing to go for their families. It’s a must-watch to keep the girl power alive all year long.

Ginny and Georgia

Photo Courtesy of Netflix

This Netflix original has one season that leaves you wanting more. Starring a spirited mother-daughter duo, the show has all kinds of messages of how far you’d go for family and also how women always seem to get the right thing done. Admittedly, Ginny is one of the most frustrating characters in television I have ever seen and most of the internet agrees. But watching these two women take the bull by the horns and work to get what they desire out of life is yet another binge-worthy event.

Firefly Lane

Photo Courtesy of Netflix

Another feisty duo, the two best friends in the Netflix original Firefly Lane tell their story through several different timelines. This show truly feels like a coming-of-age story between two women trying to work through the ups and downs of the world, as well as the highs and lows of their friendship. It’s a bit less adventurous than money-laundering or flower-poisoning, but the women who star in this series create a show that is an absolute must-watch.

Female Icons to Jam Out To

Taylor Swift

Photo from Miss Americana, A Documentary about Taylor Swift on Netflix

From the constant bashing about boyfriends to having her own music barred from her performances, Swift has been through a lot. However, she has spent plenty of time being a woman of empowerment. From her entire album, Reputation, to songs on many other albums, Swift has shot back tenfold. Now, on April 9th, she will be releasing a new version of Fearless to take back all the amazing music she created that her old label has tried to keep her from performing. This woman is definitely an icon in the pop industry, and you should have her on all your playlists.

Beyoncé

Photo from Homecoming: A film by beyoncé on Netflix

Beyoncé is one of those singers whose name always brings a cheer with it. She’s a legend in the industry and love for her music and her story runs deep in pop culture. Her passion and drive especially paid off when she received her 28th award at the Grammys, making her the show’s female artist with the most awards. She has always pushed her limits, and everything from her documentary, Homecoming, to the numerous albums she has created, shows her ability to work hard and continue to speak out for women everywhere with her iconic feminist lyrics.

Lizzo

Photo Courtesy of Lizzo’s Instagram @lizzobeeating

Lizzo very much creates music by women for women, in that she is constantly empowering her listeners with lyrics about self-love and self-confidence. She’s faced a lot of backlash for being a plus-sized pop star, but instead of ignoring the media’s hate, she claps back through music, TikToks, and more. Songs like “Soulmate” and “Juice” keep the empowerment alive in the form of fast-tempoed songs that anyone can dance to and talk about self-love. She’s definitely the hype woman to keep on repeat.

While these three artists are definitely my top choice to add some extra female empowerment all year long, take a look at some other female artists to add to your playlists to continue to expand on women’s empowerment all year long.

Whether it’s a binge-able show or a song on repeat, it’s important to keep yourself surrounded with that amazing Girl Power energy to remind all of us we are so much more than the world says we are. Keeping these reminders in our everyday life is what ultimately continues to sew the seeds for even greater social change, and even more women to go down in history to celebrate next March.