Categories
Viewpoint

Why I ‘worship’ Taylor Swift

When Taylor Swift first rose to fame, her flocks of fans, passionately known as Swifties, formed shortly thereafter. As a proud member of this group, I can attest to the personal benefit it brought to my own life.

After that first Taylor Swift concert I experienced years ago, my mom bought me a bracelet to commemorate the special evening. She never realized this at the time, but that two-dollar purchase would turn out to mean everything to me. Once I had that bracelet on, I subconsciously decided never to take it off. I wore it every day following that unforgettable night, even to middle school dances.

On one particular occasion — after having just completed my second day of an arduous high school math class — I went to lunch to decompress and ended up randomly sitting next to a girl with blonde hair and bright blue eyes, who also happened to be sporting the same rubber Taylor Swift bracelet as me. Nervous to strike up a conversation but eager to make a friend, I turned to her and said, “Are you a Taylor Swift fan?” as if the bracelet wrapped around her wrist did not already answer my question. When she confirmed that my assumptions were true, I couldn’t have been happier, and I know that she felt the same way, too. From that point forward, a friendship like no other blossomed, all thanks to Taylor Swift.

Because Taylor brought me my high school best friend, one person I have always “worshiped” is her — in a non-literal way, of course.

To a majority of people, hearing that I “worship” Taylor Swift might come across as extremely ironic, especially since she and I have never even met and she quite literally has no idea I exist. However, to me, she is everything. Taylor is the epitome of kindness and generosity. She gives to those around her without expecting anything in return, whether it comes in the form of paying for someone’s rent or visiting terminally sick children in the hospital. The environment that she creates for her fans is very welcoming. One thing that people who have met her will surely tell you is that when you have a conversation with her, she makes you feel like you are her best friend and the only person in the room who truly matters.

While she is definitely someone I look up to on a personal level, I also respect the way she carries herself in the business world. Most recently, she had her album recordings stolen out from underneath her. The songs she had spent hours handwriting on her bedroom floor were now gone. The songs that teenage girls like myself related to now belonged to someone else, a person who was hungry to make money off her fame and success. Taylor knew that not only was this a devastation to herself, but also to her millions of loyal fans. So she took matters into her own hands, announcing that she would be re-recording each one of the albums that no longer belonged to her. I have a deep admiration not only for how she responded from an artistic standpoint, but also for the fact that she did not let power-hungry record label walk all over her and steal her pride and joy. She set an example of right and wrongfor her fans — an example that will surely never be forgotten.

Even though Taylor does not know who I am, I still consider her one of the greatest people to “worship.” I aspire to be like her, someone who does not back down from a fight while also making sure to live their life acting in kindness and making the world a better place. I worship the humble way in which she carries herself when she interacts with her fans and how she is an example for those within the music industry. No matter where my life takes me, I hope to act in the way Taylor does with such grace and compassion. And at the end of the day, I know I will never be too tired to turn on a Taylor Swift song.

Isabelle Kause is a sophomore at Notre Dame studying sociology and minoring in journalism. When she’s not busy, you can find her listening to country music or Taylor Swift or trying out new makeup/skincare products. She can be reached at ikause@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Categories
Scene

Avril Lavigne’s ‘Let Go 20th Anniversary Edition’: Legacy and impact

On June 4, 2002, Canadian artist Avril Lavigne shocked the world with her debut album “Let Go.” Twenty years later, she returned to her roots with a 20th anniversary edition of the album. To commemorate this occasion, I am revisiting the album to reflect on what was so special about it and how it had such a profound impact in the music industry at large.

When “Let Go” was released, Avril Lavigne was framed as a pop-punky alternative to the mainstream, even so far as being referred to as an “Anti-Britney Spears.” She was taken as a truly authentic voice — more “real” than the likes of popular contemporaries such as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. In essence, her music was salient with her audience because she was seen as ordinary. She wore baggy jeans, tank tops, and neckties, embraced the rising skater culture and generally held an attitude of forgoing glamor and “being fake.” In a world characterized by deceitful politicians and machine-like record labels, the Canadian artist was a breath of fresh air. In fact, “Let Go” remains to this day as the best-selling album by a Canadian artist in the 21st century, which is especially impressive considering her young age of only eighteen at the time of its release.

Avril Lavigne was also seen as pushing the limitations of traditional femininity. Armed only with a guitar in hand and a rebellious attitude, she embraced the genres of rock, emo and pop-punk, swimming against the then current trend of female artists producing pop music. Her tomboyish appearance reinforced this image and further added to her perception of being genuine and the same person on and off the stage.

The “Pop-Punk Princess” is often credited as a pioneer in the pop-punk movement, sometimes even considered the first artist to push the genre into the mainstream, and this is in no small part due to the massive success of her first album. In addition to her personna and her push of alternative rock further into the pop space, another component that contributes to the legacy of Lavigne and “Let Go” is her skillful balance between her angsty side (“Sk8ter Boi,” “Complicated”) with the drama and sensitivity of a conventional singer-songwriter (“Tomorrow,” “I’m With You”). Such a balance has been adopted by other mainstream artists such as Oliva Rodrigo and Billie Eilish, who in the footsteps of Lavigne (Rodrigo and Eilish have both credited her as a major influence) are leading a recent trend of rock and punk in the pop scene. Her triumph was not in the fact that she was a mess; it’s in that she had the confidence to admit it.

The 20th anniversary edition of the album features six bonus tracks that were written for the debut album but never made it to final production. Notably, one of these is “Breakaway,” which Lavigne sold to Kelly Clarkson because Lavigne found it to be unsuitable for “Let Go.” The song went on to huge commercial success under Kelly Clarkson.

Overall, Avril Lavigne had an instrumental role in shaping and defining the pop-punk and alternative scenes as we know them today. Her success can be attributed to not only the fact that she was different from the mainstream but that she had the guts to own it. She is a reminder that originality and authenticity are factors that allow a song to transcend from just being good to being memorable.

Maxwell Feldmann

Contact Maxwell at mfeldma3@nd.edu.