Never underestimate the power of music.
It’s no secret that millions of Swifties around the world have connected with Taylor Swift‘s personal lyrics and infectious beats. But as it turns out, the pop music superstar also has her fair share of artists that delivered impactful songs for herself.
And Taylor Swift has spoken out about her intimate journey with music and the power of pop in today’s society for a passionate feature in ELLE UK’s April Issue.
Rumours are a-swirlin’ about Taylor Swift at the moment, with fans reckoning recent Instagram posts and cryptic messages are actually teasing a surprise album drop. Amid all this speculation, Swift’s doing exactly nothing to quell the buzz, instead appearing resplendent in yellow on the cover of Elle UK‘s April Issue, and writing a feature essay for the magazine titled ‘Power of Pop‘.
It’s a sweet little slice of nostalgia, mostly, in which Swift details her love of the genre so many see as “generic”, and talks about the time-travelling – and heart-healing – powers of a good pop song.
Here, for ELLE’S Music Issue, the singer explains why she puts her heart and soul into every song.
“My favourite kinds of books to read are the ones that do more than just tell you a story. They do more than just set the scene or paint the picture.The writing I love the most places you into that story, that room, that rain soaked kiss. You can smell the air, hear the sounds, and feel your heart race as the character’s does. It’s something F. Scott Fitzgerald did so well, to describe a scene so gorgeously interwoven with rich emotional revelations, that you yourself have escaped from your own life for a moment”.
I’m highly biased, but I think that the way music can transport you back to a long forgotten memory is the closest sensation we have to traveling in time. To this day, when I hear “Cowboy Take Me Away” by the Dixie Chicks, I instantly recall the feeling of being twelve years old, sitting in a little wood paneled room in my family home in Pennsylvania.I’m clutching a guitar and learning to play the chords and sing the words at the same time, rehearsing for a gig at a coffee house.
When I hear ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ by Panic! At The Disco, I’m transported back to being sixteen and driving down the streets of Hendersonville, Tennessee, with my best friend Abigail, euphorically screaming the lyrics. When I hear ‘How to Save a Life’ by The Fray, ‘Breathe (2AM)’ by Anna Nalick, or ‘The Story’ by Brandi Carlile, I immediately flashback to being seventeen and on tour for months on end. […] I’m convinced that ‘You Learn’ by Alanis Morissette, ‘Put Your Records On’ by Corinne Bailey Rae and ‘Why’ by Annie Lennox have actually healed my heart after bad breakups or let downs.
Accompanied with a rare high-fashion shoot, the Bad Blood hitmaker, 29, explained her experience with songwriting as she praised the craft for helping her through ‘the extremely good and extremely bad times’ in her life and ‘healed her heart’ after ‘bad break-ups’.
While the American singer, who is said to have a net worth of $320million, has broken boundaries with her award-winning résumé, Taylor steered away from her accolades to focus on music as an art form.
Swift also talks about her personal relationship to songwriting, and her drive to create those moments of transportation for her listeners.
The Red songstress shared: ‘I love writing songs because I love preserving memories, like putting a picture frame around a feeling you once had.
‘I like to use nostalgia as inspiration when I’m writing songs for the same reason I like to take photographs. I like to be able to remember the extremely good and extremely bad times.
‘I want to remember the color of the sweater, the temperature of the air, the creak of the floorboards, the time on the clock when your heart was stolen or shattered or healed or claimed forever’, she explained.
The Shake It Off star also revealed she often taps into her creative side when taking a break from her time on tour.
Taylor said: ‘When I’d get a day at home in between long stretches on the road sharing a van with my band and crew, I would spend my rare nights off painting alone with candles lit in my room – just being alone with songs. (Those are all from the Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack. My commitment to that show truly knows no bounds).
The blonde, who has previously dated stars such as actor Jake Gyllenhaal, One Direction’s Harry Styles and DJ Calvin Harris, credited music for ‘healing my heart’ from her break-ups.
She shared: ‘I’m convinced that You Learn by Alanis Morissette, Put Your Records On by Corinne Bailey Rae and Why by Annie Lennox have actually healed my heart after bad breakups or let downs.’
Candid: The blonde, who has previously dated stars such as Jake Gyllenhaal and Harry Styles, credited music for ‘healing my heart’ from her break-ups (pictured with current boyfriend Joe Alwyn earlier this month)
Taylor, who is currently in a relationship with The Favourite actor Joe Alwyn, insisted she likes the thrill of teaming strong emotions with catchy rhythms when creating her chart-topping hits.
The Pennsylvania native detailed: ‘The fun challenge of writing a pop song is squeezing those evocative details into the catchiest melodic cadence you can possibly think of.
‘I thrive on the challenge of sprinkling personal mementos and shreds of reality into a genre of music that is universally known for being, well, universal… the [songs] I think cut through the most are actually the most detailed.’
While holding the title as one of the most influential musicians in the business, Taylor insisted she doesn’t want her pop music to be ‘generic’, but rather focus on the emotional connection between the artist and the consumer.
The singer elaborated: ‘I think these days, people are reaching out for connection and comfort in the music they listen to. We like being confided in and hearing someone say, “this is what I went through” as proof to us that we can get through our own struggles.
‘We actually do NOT want our pop music to be generic. I think a lot of music lovers want some biographical glimpse into the world of our narrator, a hole in the emotional walls people put up around themselves to survive.
‘This glimpse into the artist’s story invites us to connect it to our own, and in the best case scenario, allows us the ability to assign that song to our memories. It’s this alliance between a song and our memories of the times it helped us heal, or made us cry, dance, or escape that truly stands the test of time.’
Here’s where she kind of loses me, though. While I admire her defending pop music (because pop music is often incredible), I think the idea that pop is generic is kind of a straw man. She mentions how songs with “extremely personal details like ‘Kiki, do you love me’ and ‘Baby pull me closer in the backseat of your rover’” have become phenomenally popular, apparently bucking the trend of generic pop – but like, look at almost any enduring pop hit and you’ll see the personal writ large, because everyone loves something specific to hold onto, right?
But whatever, Swifties are already losing their shit over their queen talking about her ~process~ and looking fine while doing so, and you know what, good on ’em.
- “Cowboy Take Me Away” by the Dixie Chicks: “I instantly recall the feeling of being 12 years old, sitting in a little wood-paneled room in my family home in Pennsylvania. I’m clutching a guitar and learning to play the chords and sing the words at the same time, rehearsing for a gig at a coffee house.”
- “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” by Panic! At the Disco: “I’m transported back to being 16 and driving down the streets of Hendersonville, TN, with my best friend, Abigail, euphorically screaming the lyrics.”
- “How to Save a Life” by The Fray, “Breathe (2AM)” by Anna Nalick, and “The Story” by Brandi Carlile: “I immediately flashback to being 17 and on tour for months on end. When I’d get a day at home in between long stretches on the road sharing a van with my band and crew, I would spend my rare nights off painting alone with candles lit in my room — just being alone with those songs. (Those are all from the Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack. My commitment to that show truly knows no bounds.)”
- “You Learn” by Alanis Morissette, “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae, and “Why” by Annie Lennox”: “Have actually healed my heart after bad breakups or letdowns.”
In her essay, Taylor also uses recent pop hits like Drake’s “In My Feelings,” or Camila Cabello’s “Havana” as evidence of how music resonates most when it’s personal. Could this be yet another clue that Taylor‘s planning on releasing a few new songs of her own?
The April issue of ELLE UK is on sale from 7 March.