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James is a contributor at The Hudsucker and Indianapolis Monthly. He's also a full-time student at IUPUI where he's one year away from a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with a minor in Sociology. Music and friends are his main interests. He also loves sports, vinyl records and photography. Born and raised in the Midwest, he loves Indiana. But in a perfect world he would take Nashville, Tennessee and place it on the coast of St. Augustine, Florida, where he would live and never leave.

Taylor Swift Matters


In today’s world we need artists to be more than just musicians. The younger generation, especially, needs a good cultural leader. Hope resides in a 6-foot blonde girl woman that has mainstream music lovers on a super tight leash. In and away from music, she’s a saving grace.

Photo Credit: Sarah Barlow

1) She’s one of the last good role models left:

Taylor Swift is a beam of light blasting through brainless popularity of teen interest. Swift is hope for the younger generation, whose main concerns are the lives of pregnant teenagers on MTV and obnoxious Instagram posts.

If you’re not keen on Swift’s music, settle with this.  She is a dependable leader to a plethora of confused young people. Her extremely honest lyrics knock her walls down to let fans connect on some sort of personal level.  And the ability to write all of her music is noble in today’s image-first music industry.

Swift is one of the rare ones to have respect in the public eye, and with the strenuous behind the scenes work. Her consistent positive feedback from all media is unique and contagious.

From television networks to radio stations, and from other musicians to everyday people, Swift is known for being openly caring and genuinely personable.

I agree, it gets tiring watching her act surprised at all of her accomplishments (See: Kristin Wiig’s SNL impression). But then I realize it’s hard getting used to seeing gratitude when you rarely ever see it in superstars.

2) She helps promote indie-rock, alternative music and singer/songwriters:

During Swift’s 2011 “Speak Now” tour, which was heavily catered toward impressionable teenagers, she physically introduced her fan base to some very important musicians they perhaps weren’t familiar with. Throughout the tour, Jimmy Eat World’s Jim Adkins, Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman, Paramore’s Hayley Williams, and James Taylor (yes, that James Taylor) all performed their biggest hits with Swift.

Probably the biggest helping-hand Swift gave was her choice for a 2011 opening act. South Carolina rock quartet, NEEDTOBREATHE, had the privilege of opening all shows on the North American run of the “Speak Now” tour, which grossed around $100 million.

Even subtle gestures grab audience interest with Swift. Each night on her “Speak Now” tour, she would pen lyrics from other musicians all the way up her arm. Fans would go out of their way to see what song Swift was feeling for the night.

Ryan Adams, Feist, Ingrid Michaelson, Band of Horses, Keane, The Killers, and Death Cab For Cutie all drew interest of many new fans.

The already triple-platinum, “Red,” features collaborations with Semisonic’s Dan Wilson, Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, and singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran. Sheeran must have impressed Swift, as he will be opening each night of her 2013 “Red” tour.

3) Her dating life is actually pretty conventional:

Think of all the people you’ve dated, “talked to,” or had interest in. Now imagine doing that under a microscope with millions of people watching—literally. It’s someone’s job to stir up Swift rumors at the sight of her with a presumed lover, leaving the casual pop-culture indulger to see her as a mess.

Sure, Swift asked for the attention when she entered the industry. But her honest lyrics should be enough, even when they’re unintentionally annoying at times. At least let her cling to the one thing she has left—who the songs are about. In the end, we are the ones that care too much.

Swift’s brain away from music is probably right on par with any 23-year-old that you personally know—she just happens to write music for a living.

If there’s anything the younger generation needs, it’s to understand breakups will happen often, but it’s not the end of the world. Express yourself when you’re feeling low. Don’t dwell in it forever making it a piece of who you are.

Swift might be considered a breakup-artist, but she’s just writing about friendship, love, loss and change.  You might notice these themes in EVERY OTHER ARTIST EVER.

Even with the telescope on her, Swift is still herself—a successful young woman in her early twenties.

4) Secretly, she’s already your guilty pleasure:

Swift’s music is like a good chick-flick.  Her songs feel like Love Actually and The Notebook are trapped on Titanic. Guys tend to watch these movies with a date, only to come back to their friends conveying they weren’t that bad.  They probably weren’t.  People don’t want to feel ashamed about liking things they, “aren’t supposed to like.”

It’s no secret, Swift has an eye for decent melody. So when you’re out pumping gas and “Marry me Juliet. You’ll never have to be alone,” pops into your head…it’s okay. If you’re worried about the state of your music taste, listen to the opening track on Swift’s new record, “Red.” State of Grace is proof Swift’s talent exceeds Hot 100 structure.

Here are some of Swift’s mature, well-crafted, comprehensible pop songs—with a splash of her roots: Begin Again, Cold As You, Breathe, Long Live, All Too Well, Mine, and Treacherous.

Let’s be honest. With more than 22 million albums sold, and more than 50 million downloaded songs—worldwide, we’ve probably all purchased at least one of these.

5) She gives back, and you never hear about it from her:

Last year, Swift received an award from our First Lady for her philanthropic work. I could end this section right there. But Swift has an endless list of good deeds given. If I listed all the charitable work Swift has done—and continues to do, it would tower over a thousand words. Not that you should ever rank good deeds, but here are a couple highlights:

  • In 2011, Swift sold tickets to the final dress rehearsal of her “Speak Now” tour—something she’s never done. More than $750,000 was raised for tornado victims of the southern states.
  • Last December, Swift was honored at the “Ripple of Hope Awards Dinner,” which is put on by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights.
  • Recently, Swift donated $4 million to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, located in Nashville. The museum will use the money to build an exhibit with classrooms for children. It will be called the Taylor Swift Education Center.

Last October, Swift released her fourth record, “Red.” In doing so, she became the first woman in history to release back-to-back records that sold a million copies in one week.

Basically, Swift is here to stay. And thankfully, her image is reliable.

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