Taylor Swift Series; Bleachella [Karma?!]

Karma. Down the Rabbit Hole, we go.

1989 Styled

In between 1989 and Reputation, before Taylor went into hiding for a year, after the downfall of Kanye and Kim playing her a second time on the internet, Taylor Swift began to show an aesthetic that showcased a ‘rock’ and punk vibe. The look definitely premiered on the red carpet of the Met Gala, but also appeared in many articles and photoshoots, including in Vogue Magazine.

Taylor has always used fashion and her hair to point to the next era of her career. She often states she can’t ever stay in one era or one spot of creativity for a long time, which has benefited her career because she is constantly switching it up. A line from her documentary, Miss Americana, that lives in my mind rent free is when she states, ““Throughout my whole career, label executives would just say, ‘A nice girl doesn’t force their opinions on people; a nice girl smiles and waves and says thank you.’ I became the person everyone wanted me to be.” She then discusses how if women don’t change who they are or don’t reinvent themselves, constantly, they will go out of style and the media and fans will move on. She was always forming to what people wanted, which is why I love Folklore’ and ‘Evermore’ so much, because she finally is free from this narrative.

May 2022

As I reflect on this notion more, I found myself talking to others about it, asking them, who has been a female artist that is still relevant in your mind today, that has been relevant for the last 10 years? I think about musicians who have come and gone or are still here but seem quiet either in record sales, billboard charts, etc. Ellie Goulding, Carrie Underwood, Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Ariana, Katy Perry. When I mention these names I mean to bring up women who have been introduced 10 or more years ago [not just arriving in between 2012-2022, but prior to thatso not including Olivia Rodrigo, Doja Cat, Billie Ellish etc]. Even if these people are still making music and are still ‘iconic,’ most of them are left with less acknowledgment, awards, and charting statistics than they deserve. Haley Williams and Avril Lavigne have made albums after the times they were peak famous, and the albums just didn’t do as good after that peak. Ariana is still charting decently but she has stepped away for more personal reasons too, just making her a little less seen or heard.

I think about this a lot because Taylor HAS been relevant through the decade. Although we know the names above and some of us may be stans of some of them, it doesn’t change the fact that some of their albums haven’t done very good, and continue to stay on that trend. Since Taylor began her re-releases, all of her albums have charted heavily, and more so than they did when they were first created. Justice for Speak Now and Reputation.

For good or for bad, she has been in the eye of the public and in the charts of billboards and the top of streaming services. So why am I mentioning this?

Reputation

Taylor has used fashion, hair, colors, as her next indication of where she is going musically. She has had to create interest with her fans and with those who dislike her, to keep them engaged in what she is doing next. People often forget that while artists are touring one specific album, they are writing the next. She began to show a rocker, ‘blondie’ aesthetic after touring 1989. It was an indication that she was writing and heading towards this new, vogue-like, grungy sound, vibe, or music. However after the edited clip of her from Kanye went on the internet, don’t worry blondie, your stans believed you through and through, she went into hiding, and a year later came back with this isolated – secretly – deep loving – album called Reputation.

She came back out of hiding with long hair, and normally colored instead of bleached. Because of this, many fans think she put an album on the back burner and/or scrapped it completely. I don’t believe many Swift fan theories, but this is one I am kind of into. It just makes sense that an album wasn’t released because of her current situation at the time, and because we know she wasn’t writing the Reputation songs during the 1989 tour. This also would explain why we never got an album with Calvin Harris references in her songs [lol] because those songs would in fact be on this missing album.

This specific image is from “The Man” Music video, there are a ton of different album names but we have “Karma” in the middle? Which has nothing to do with “The Man,” but maybe it is? If we are talking about ‘Karma” being the record sales that sky rocket with her new production method and and it’s gonna bite scoot scoot in the ass. But also this is where fans speculate it’s actually a hidden album. The 13 represents her favorite number and number often identified with her, but also the missing sign is kinda key:

BUT – the biggest element to this, is during her 1989 tour she started to make her past songs more rock,’ bringing out electric guitars and changing the style of the songs – notically during “We are never ever getting back together.” omg please listen to her bridge on this performance.

The Shoot

For this shoot itself I was trying to do more ‘inspired by’ images rather than copy, per say. This brief moment of her aesthetic, was definitely brief. There are 1-2 big shoots she showed this new bleached hair vibe which was definitely a mixture of 1989 and Reputation – the middle ground. If I were to do this again I would utilize more colored backdrops and hot lights- but I was kinda mixing her eras of Lover, Folklore, and Evermore, since those are more my favorite vibe, stylistically, with the use of shadows and light.

I really loved her Vogue shoot with the dress and crazy boots, I obviously didn’t have the same set up, so instead of the green wall decided to rent a green dress/robe and flip the colors.

Vogue inspired [including the posture]

Because I had this dress I decided to shoot a bit more in it – so .. it’s giving lover quarantine vibes, which is kinda like Reputation without the anger [lol].

Lastly, we thought about the Met Gala and the aesthetic. I actually think these portray the era the most correct. The vibe, the make-up and outfit, and the runway feel without the people and red carpet.

And just for fun we ended this shoot outside. It’s definitely not ‘bleachella’ but it definitely feels like 1989, film, mixed with a bit of Taylor’s Version.

TIKTok of Bleachella

Anyways, this project has been a blast. It’s been so fun visualizing these aesthetics in Grand Rapids, MI, and being inspired from shoots, songs, lyrics, actual eras or fantasy ones. On June 10th I will be releasing a blog post that I have spent 7-8 months writing. Originally I was going to release this in April on my birthday, but some of my shoots got pushed back which in turn helped me gain more information, study images, listen to podcasts with other opinions, and research a tad more on pop culture or actual artist right issues with Taylor’s past record label and herself.

The final blog will include pop culture discussion, theories, album eras, aesthetics, reasoning for specific songs, lyric discussion and art breakdowns in general. This blog will be extremely personal to me as well, and explains why I am so fixated on this musician and why I have been my whole life. For awhile it felt like it was cool to hate Taylor – so when I was in my 20’s I would tell people I loved her and they acted surprised because I was an artist and for some reason the world didn’t see her like that. They wanted me to listen to indie music, or underground artists, but in fact I love Swift, I love heavy metal [lol I know, a switch] and I love most genres of music including rap and r&b [my only dislike is country tbh]. But she has always been an artist – she’s always been a lyricist, a poet, an inventor of herself, and a damn good one too.

So although long, if you want to understand me as a person, Taylor more as an artist, with a ton of side notes: theories, speculation, diving into her lyrics, and importance of them to the music industry, I would love if you took time to read it, even if its in breaks!

Most likely I will not stop doing some of these Taylor inspired shoots. As she continues to write I will dive into her aesthetics, but also I am very interested in creating work inspired by lyrics in her songs. I have a few ideas for her new song “Carolina,” coming out, and I have a TON of ideas for songs that I gravitate to that exist on her albums already. So this isn’t a “good-bye” to this project, because it has given me so much peace, freedom, and excitement.

Next Up: From Debut to Evermore; A love story from Paige to TS

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