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FUCHS: Taylor Swift leads music industry in authenticity

Column: Questioning Jules

Taylor Swift's music leaves a lasting impact on her fans by incorporating relatable themes, catchy tunes and her own personal experiences — something the music industry should learn from. – Photo by Taylor Swift / Twitter

This entire semester, I have devoted my columns to French philosophers and some lessons I got from reading in my French literature class (not entirely intentional). For the very last column of this spring, I want to do something a little different.

Taylor Swift is one of my absolute favorite singers. Listening to her music has made me feel comforted and has been great background music for studying and doing homework. I have really begun to embrace my passion for her music and how it makes me feel.

In a lot of her songs, I hear philosophical meaning. Unfortunately, some of her earlier work has given her a reputation of being a serial dater who writes songs about her exes after she breaks up with them.

If you take a deeper look into her songs, you can find a more philosophical meaning — much like a modern-day Jean-Jacques Rousseau or Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Many of her songs give meaning to feeling young, looking for simplicity in life and staying true to yourself.

She has a way of creating lyrics with messages that people of all ages can connect with. For example, in the song "cardigan," she said, "When you are young, they assume you know nothing." Any college student can relate to this. People assume that the younger you are, the less you know. Wisdom does come with age, but a wise mind is not exclusively for the elderly.

Young or old, as Swift explains, you can know what you want or need, understand world problems and know an important person when you meet them. A lot of this knowledge, in fact, comes when you are younger and comes out in hindsight rather than when you are older. Everyone has experienced this feeling of being undermined and not taken seriously due to their age.

You can also hear a lot of her philosophical themes in her song "evermore." Her younger work gives more meaning to the feeling of youth and the simplicity of happiness. "Red" is an example of one of her albums and work that gives way to younger themes.

A lot of pop music today is more focused on attracting listeners and getting high up on the Billboard music charts rather than telling a meaningful and personal story with a good message. Swift is one of the few popular artists today who sings about her significant experiences as an individual, but does it in a way that attracts listeners. The reason why a lot of her songs end up making it onto the charts is due to her amazing sound.

Swift manages to introduce her philosophical messages by explaining experiences she has had in her life: some are with past lovers, some are with friends who turned enemies, some with friends and family who remained forever important. Swift takes life in strides and focuses her sound and album on what stage in her life she is in. Whether this is intentional, it is beautiful, chronological and philosophical.

Each album tells a unique story and captivates a different age group. "Fearless" is perfect for younger teenagers, "Red" for people in their late teens and early 20s, "folklore" and "evermore" perfectly capture the essence of mid to late 20-year-olds and use music as a relaxing and meditative aid rather than something to just jam out to and blast.

This remarkable way of creating lyrics that grow with the listener as well as evolving her sound make her fans feel she has grown up with us and changes her music to adapt to our life changes.

Her lyrics and the meanings behind them are possibly some of the most philosophical writings of our generation. Music is the best platform to express these ideas with: her songs are thought-provoking and, a lot of the time, take a few listens to grasp the bigger meaning and underlying theme.

Music today has changed a lot — many of the artists that are popular and heard on the radio use lyrics that lack depth and meaning but are explicit and catchy. Swift manages to write graceful and relatable music with deep meanings that answer many questions about love, friendship and life.

Julia Fuchs is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in history and anthropology and minoring in French and archaeology. Her column, "Questioning Jules," typically runs on alternate Thursdays.

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

YOUR VOICE | The Daily Targum welcomes submissions from all readers. Due to space limitations in our print newspaper, letters to the editor must not exceed 900 words. Guest columns and commentaries must be between 700 and 900 words. All authors must include their name, phone number, class year and college affiliation or department to be considered for publication. Please submit via email to by 4 p.m. to be considered for the following day’s publication. Columns, cartoons  and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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