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2024 Seniors (Taylor’s Version)

Discussing Taylor Swift’s enormous impact on our generation.
Eva Rinaldi
Taylor Swift’s impact on the Class of 2024. PC: Wikimedia Commons

Taylor Swift: arguably the most influential artist, songwriter, performer, and woman of this decade. With the impressive achievements under her sparkly boots, her impact is hard to deny. She has won 14 Grammys, received 52 Grammy nominations, won Time’s Person of the Year for 2023, was Spotify’s Global Top Artist, and her “Eras” Tour movie was the highest grossing concert movie of all time. However, besides being highly successful during our lifetime, Swift has impacted this generation in a variety of other ways.

First off, how did Gen Z come to embrace Swift and her music? With her debut album coming out in 2006, when many of us seniors were only just born,we potentially could have grown up listening to her music if family around us  were early Swifties. Her first three albums were very much country works, yet they entered the mainstream incredibly fast. The popularity of songs like “Our Song,” “Love Story,” and “Sparks Fly” have proven to be timeless and are still beloved by her Gen Z fans. 

Swift’s popularity really skyrocketed for our generation when we entered the “1989” era in 2014, at roughly seven years old for most of us. Here, Swift traded in her country style for a new pop sound. In this album, she gave us iconic bangers such as “Shake It Off” and “Bad Blood,” which are incredibly nostalgic, partly due to them being overplayed during our elementary school years. 

However, where I believe Swift really enchanted Gen Z was during the pandemic. Many of us were stunned by the treacherous outbreaks happening around the world while simultaneously being confined to our homes. So, when Swift released the album “Folklore” in July of 2020 and its sister album “Evermore” in December of the same year, many of us really paid attention to her music for the first time. 

These two albums were totally outside of our wildest dreams, especially since fans were anticipating “Lover Fest,” a tour for Swift’s 2019 “Lover” album which was canceled due to the pandemic. Usually, artists do not put out new music before touring with their latest album, a general norm of the music industry, yet Swift has dramatically changed this structure with her releases and tours being unlike any other artist. 

The sister albums have a very different vibe from the rest of her music. They contain folk influence which is exemplified both by their raw sound and detailed storytelling. Some songs are deeply personal and others are complete works of fiction, which intrigued fans all the more. 

In 2022, others discovered Swift’s music when it was repeatedly featured in the popular TV show, “The Summer I turned Pretty,” an on-screen adaptation of author Jenny Han’s book series by the same name. Songs like “Cruel Summer” and “The Way I Loved You” experienced a big revival due to them being included in the show. Members of the cast and Han herself, who had a big role in the show’s production, are big fans of Swift, so this pairing really hits different. 

Furthermore, old and new fans alike are continuously captivated with Swift’s content since she has not slowed down one bit since. She continues to roll out with more easter eggs for fans to follow, new albums, album re-recordings, and even her new prominence in American football due to her recent relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. 

Swift’s fans are generally characterized as kind, supportive, and slightly obsessive (but what hardcore fanbase isn’t). This can be directly observed at one of “The Eras Tour” concerts, where fans trade friendship bracelets, sing at the top of their lungs, and wear elaborate and niche tour outfits.

Online, many social media accounts are simply devoted to reporting on the neverending updates and theories having to do with the pop icon. Comment sections never cease to be filled with discussions about Swift’s songs, pop culture contributions, and public image, even when her reputation’s never been worse. 

Swift’s relatable lyricism throughout her career has really resonated with Gen Z. She has a discography full of songs about relatable life experiences, including influential friendships, heart wrenching breakups, rough betrayal, deep joy, growing up, finding a place in the world, working through personal issues, and owning your flaws. Many of these themes are precisely what we have gone through during our four years of high school. So, Taylor Swift has truly been the soundtrack for many during this critical point in our lives. 

Swift is not only known for her songs. Especially in recent years, she has cemented herself as a powerful business woman. Back in 2018, Swift left her music label, Big Machine Records, for Republic Records. We knew it was trouble when the following year Scooter Braun bought Big Machine Records from the previous owner, along with Swift’s first six albums. 

When Swift wanted to purchase her albums back to gain full ownership of them, Bruan did not even give her a price, as to Braun they were not for sale. Since he continues to profit from the royalties from the original versions of these albums, Swift decided that she would just re-record them. She even included bonus songs “from the vault” which have fans reliving their favorite eras with both old and new songs. By now, all fans have forgotten that Braun existed. 

This reclaiming of her music is especially aspirational to girls and women all around the world, showing that being a woman in any industry does not have to put you at a disadvantage. Furthermore, Swift’s teasing of albums, release of cryptic and Machiavellian easter eggs, and placements of purposeful numerical hints are excellent marketing strategies that prove she is a mastermind. 

Throughout the years, Swift has been criticized for her lovers, her body, and for “only writing breakup songs.” Yet, every time she is knocked down she comes back even stronger, another reason why many women are big fans of her. This, combined with the common themes of girlhood which Swift discusses in her music, makes her so relatable to many despite her celebrity status 

During the 2024 Grammys, Swift won “Best Pop Vocal Album” and “Album Of The Year” for her 10th album, “Midnights.” Fans had been predicting that she would be dropping “Reputation (Taylor’s Version) that night due to her Instagram profile picture being changed to a black and white photo and her look that night also being black and white. Yet, during her acceptance speech, Swift announced that she was releasing a completely new album titled “The Tortured Poets Department.”

The new album came out on April 19 at midnight. Then, two hours later, the second half of the album, called “The Anthology,” dropped, shocking fans everywhere. In total there were 31 tracks, which included collaborations with Post Malone on “Fortnight” and Florence + The Machine on “Florida!!!” 

Overall, Swift continues to surprise fans. She has shaped so much of our pop culture upbringing, no matter what direction she goes in next, this generation will follow. And to the graduating class of 2024, I hope you never grow up, and that you remember these years all too well.

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