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The Flor-Ala

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How Taylor Swift keeps me sane

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I’m sure many other Swifties can relate to me, but as Swifties, we get a bad reputation. People look at us in disgust when we plan our concert outfits months in advance. Most men judge us for conjugating in a stadium to witness the greatest musician of our generation. And people love to talk down on us for idolizing her lyrics. 

What most people don’t understand is the way I, and the hundreds of thousands of other Swifties, come to life when listening to her music. I become transformed into her rich stories where I’m suddenly Betty after having her heart shattered by the love of her life. Or I’m so deep in my anxiety that I feel my heart beating to the pounding rhythm of “The Archer.” 

My heart becomes full of what I can only describe as the sweetest of flutters. My brain becomes relaxed, and it feels like nothing in the world can touch me. No matter what I went through in the day, Swift’s music is always there to make me feel like I actually belong in this world, and that even my smallest of feelings matter.

I begin my 10 favorite songs with #10: “New Romantics.” On the surface, the song presents itself as a pop love anthem from Swift’s fifth album, 1989, and it has recently been rereleased as 1989 Taylor’s Version. It has an upbeat tempo with an extremely catchy chorus. I find that the beat of this song uplifts my mood no matter whether I’m feeling frustrated, gloomy or wronged. To me, this song is the perfect summer song. Riding around with your best friends, laying out on the beach and late night dance sessions are just a few of my favorite occasions to listen to this song.

We’re continuing on with #9: “Tolerate It.” It pains me to say this was a recent find, brought to my attention by the Eras Tour. If you’re like me and feel the pain of others intensely, prepare yourself to be swiftly moved to tears by this masterpiece. 

From the genius album Evermore, this song deals with feeling like an outsider in your relationship. There’s this brilliant piano melody that slowly builds all the way to the bridge, which truly makes this song stand out. Personally, I scream this bridge whenever and wherever I hear the song, but mostly it happens in my car. I mean, how could someone not sing the lyrics, “While you were out building other worlds where was I? Where’s that man who’d throw blankets over my barbed wire?” The protagonist has given and given to a partner who cannot be bothered to return any type of love or even attempt to love anymore. This song is so relatable, but it is so beautifully written that it still brings me to tears, even after well over 100 listens.

I feel as though a Swiftie cannot have a top 10 list without mentioning this next song somewhere along the way. #8: “All Too Well (10 Minute Version).” To me, this masterpiece is the epitome of a fall song. Now, the background to this beauty goes way deeper than autumn, and I would be doing Miss Swift an injustice without mentioning it. 

Firstly, ATWTMV is a “From the Vault” track of Red Taylor’s Version. “All Too Well” was released originally as a five minute song, but Swift made a statement saying she had written the song with a time frame of 10 minutes, but had to shorten it for the original release of Red in 2012. Thankfully, we were awarded with the full 10 minute version in 2021. 

This song is allegedly about Swift’s unfortunate relationship with Jake Gyllenhall, and many Swifties, especially me, fell in love with the genius lyricism built within. My favorite verse has to be “Time won’t fly, it’s like I’m paralyzed by it. I’d like to be my old self again, but I’m still trying to find it.” Her story telling ability is unmatched in this song, and you truly feel like you’re trapped within this one sided, manipulative relationship. 

My #7 spot goes to “Lover,” regardless of how mainstream some may argue it is. I think this song is the definition of true love. The melody is so intoxicating, it makes me want to grab the love of my life and slow dance with them in the kitchen at 2 a.m. 

Swift incorporated so many minute details that define love, and I think many may overlook them. She’s so unapologetically authentic in the way she sings the lyrics, “At every table, I’ll save you a seat.” Such a small action is filled with so much passion, and every line is like this. I think this song serves as a symbol of hope for all us hopeless romantics, that there is someone out there for us. When we find them, we will, too, be able to share this form of contentment. It will make us want to go wherever our partner goes and love them through all their summers. 

Next on my list goes to yet another Evermore track. #6: “Ivy.” To me, this song is meant to be listened to while walking through a decadent green path in the woods, or while making a steaming cup of hot chocolate in an old cottage. Unfortunately, I do not have the luxury of doing either of those things, so I settle for listening to the track everytime I’m in my car, and I love forcing my passengers to fall in love with the song.

The context to this story is the protagonist of this song is a married woman who is undoubtedly in love with someone else. It’s told through beautiful lyricism: “I’d meet you where the spirit meets the bones” and “My house of stone, your ivy grows, and now I’m covered in you.” The entire song fuels my heart like a poem, but the bridge truly shows Swift’s masterful ability to seal the deal in her stories. Her voice becomes all powerful, and she effortlessly wraps up the song, resulting in me starting the song again.

We’ve finally arrived at my top five, beginning with a Folklore track. #5: “This is Me Trying.” This track is one of her most relatable songs, and her delivery makes it a vulnerable masterpiece. Swift writes about the emotional struggle and self doubt that comes with constantly making mistakes. It’s intensely raw, both with the lyrics and the melody.

The overall message of the song is to clearly state that we all make mistakes, and we all fail. It’s the unfortunate reality of life, but what makes it okay is our ability to keep trying. Our flaws, our imperfections make us unique individuals. My interpretation of the song has to do with academics because I have always put an immense amount of pressure on myself when it comes to school. 

My favorite lines in this song are “And my words shoot to kill when I’m mad, I have a lot of regrets about that,” closely followed by the easily recognizable “And it’s hard to be at a party when I feel like an open wound.” This is the song that when it comes on, everything leaves my brain for 3 minutes and 15 seconds, and I just allow myself to feel the words. At the end of the day, “At least I’m trying.”

My #4 spot goes to my favorite track off Reputation, “King of My Heart.” This song is a certified banger, and the drums in this track just completely take it to the next level. It’s a fierce declaration of finding the love of your life. Now, Swift wrote about the love of her life at the time, Joe Alwyn, but anyone can relate to the idea of finding the “King of [our] heart, body and soul.” 

The entire Reputation album is arguably a love album, but this song is my love song. I’ve always been a hopeless romantic, just dying to find my person, that one person who fully knows me and accepts me exactly as I am. And yes, this track furthers my desire for love, and maybe even more, the anticipation for love. The lyrics “Your love is a secret I’m hoping, dreaming, dying to keep” lights up my heart into the brightest of fireworks.

This next song fully embodies me as a person. #3 goes to “Mastermind,” a track from Midnights. I completely fell in love with every aspect of this song the first time I heard it last October. There’s something captivating about the broken gamelike melody, and there’s something completely alluring about how I can relate to every lyric in this masterpiece of a song.

The opening lines “Once upon a time the planet and the fates, and all the stars aligned/ You and I ended up in the same room at the same time,” is so magical to me. I believe everything happens for a reason, and I’m an extremist when it comes to fate. Already, I was hooked on the song. Furthermore, “I laid the groundwork and then just like clockwork, the dominoes cascaded in a line,” is my most satisfying line to sing. It flows so effortlessly together, it makes me feel like a “Mastermind” when I belt it. 

A common theme here, the bridge in this song is beyond unmatched. What starts with “No one wanted to play with me as a little kid,” ends with “I’m only cryptic and Machiavellian ‘cause I care.” We have all been at a point in our lives where we felt like we had to work extra hard just for others to want us around. Once again, Swift expertly balanced a vulnerable admission with her twisted complexity, and that’s what I openly admire about her.

Continuing on with the “M” theme, #2 goes to “Maroon,” another brilliant track from Midnights. This song is everything I could ever ask for in life. It has a slow melody with powerful vocals, including Swift’s talented vocal range. 

I idolize the tragic story within this song. It was the perfect break up song before us Swifties even knew it was a break up song. It’s the all encompassing contrast between the honeymoon phase of a relationship, where all you need is time with your partner, and then the tragic ending where you’re overcome with those same memories, only now turned sour. 

Particularly, her chorus showcases her lyricism. She is able to effectively describe the color maroon six different ways, never once mentioning the color. The “burgundy” on her shirt, the “wine” splashed onto it, the “blood” that rushed to her cheeks, the “mark” on her collarbone, the “rust” between telephones, and finally, the “lips” she once called home. It’s a tough back to back comparison to be able to sing when you’re just starting, but listen to it five times and you’ll be able to sing it in your sleep.

Finally arriving at my most favorite Taylor Swift song, I could potentially write an entire essay on the jewel that is “My Tears Ricochet.” From Folklore, this song is hauntingly beautiful. It’s slow, it’s passionate and it’s raw.

Swift’s vocals throughout the track never fail to impress me, even through my hundreds, yes, hundreds, of listens. Her ability to demonstrate such vulnerability can be found in all her albums, but something about Folklore, specifically, gives me the chills. In the song, Swift utilized her entire vocal range, and my favorite parts are both when she goes deep into her register, as well as high into her range. It’s low and ghast when she sings “And you can aim for my heart go for blood, but you would still miss me in your bones,” but she basically screams next with “And I still talk to you (When I’m screaming at the sky).”

There’s many ways to interpret this song: a tragic end to a love story, the betrayal Swift felt when manager Scooter Braun sold her music, or my interpretation, the bittersweet end to your most valuable friendship. Whichever way, her lyrics are nevertheless dark and deliberate, and that’s what I truly love about this song. It’s such an open and honest explanation to her inner thoughts, and when I sing along, I can finally let go of any frustration from my past friendships.

It’s not an exaggeration when I say Taylor Swift is my outlet. Her music awakens this deep desire in me to be heard and recognized, and her music lets me know it’s okay to have these big feelings. I encourage everyone to listen to just a few of her songs. She has gripping, relatable music, and there is a Taylor Swift song for everybody.

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About the Contributor
Tristan Gregory
Tristan Gregory, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Tristan Gregory is a sophomore from Alabaster, Alabama. She is currently working towards a bachelor's degree in psychology and a minor in criminology. She started as a volunteer writer before moving to staff and is now the Arts and Entertainment editor.

Tristan intends to be a confident voice that shares stories from students, staff and faculty of UNA.

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