Taylor Swift’s “ME!” is a window into the “new” Taylor in Trump’s America

Has she finally answered the phone?

April 26, 2019

After weeks of clues and countdowns, a new Swiftian epoch has descended upon us, and the future looks bright – quite literally. The freshly-dropped single for “ME!” sees Taylor trading in the top 40 villainy of her Reputation era for a butterfly-filled pastel pop world that, despite the song’s ego-centric title, shows a shift in persona that’s further in line with the singer’s recent emergence as a force of political influence. Though her celebrity and privilege may remain on full display, it’s the acknowledgment of this power and influence—along with the singer’s decision to wield it as a megaphone of self-acceptance—that seems to consistently define this new side of Swift.”

It would be fair to assume that “ME!” traffics in the same unapologetic politics of self that Swift displayed in songs such as “Look What You Made Me Do.” But on Good Morning America, Swift clarified that the single is less of a celebration of Taylor, and more “a song about embracing your individuality and really celebrating it, and owning it.”

With lyrics like “You’re the only one of you/Baby that’s the fun of you,” one can see “ME!” as distinct from Taylor-centric anthems of the past. Instead, it’s a prime example of the singer preaching a message of self-love and encouraging the others to do the same. “I think that with a pop song, we have the ability to get a melody stuck in people’s heads, and I want it to be one that makes them feel better about themselves.”

Beyond the Lisa Frank dreamscape aesthetics, it seems that Swift’s leveraging of her own celebrity as a means of empowerment in others is a clear pivot point away from her Reputation days. When we measure this up against her recent political statements about against Donald Trump and the discriminatory policies advocated by members of the Republican party then you get an interesting blend of intentions.

This past October, Swift stepped out of her lengthy political silence to endorse the Democratic candidates in her home state of Tennessee, and in the process called out Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn’s policies regarding race and women’s and LGBTQ+ rights.

Though Swift’s influence led to a nationwide spike in voter registration, Blackburn still went on to win which hasn’t slowed Swift’s from fighting. Recently she donated $113k to help fight a number of anti-LGBTQ bills that went on to pass under Blackburn.

Looking at her latest single in the context of the developing relationship between Swift’s celebrity and anti-discriminatory politics, what we have in “ME!” is far from just another slab of Reputation-era narcissism pop; rather, it’s the latest step in using her undeniable influence to champion inclusivity in the acceptance-averse era of Trump.

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