You are always efficient, well-organized, dependable, and self-sufficient. You prefer to plan things in advance and aim for high achievement. People who rank lower in conscientiousness may view you as stubborn and obsessive.
You are trustworthy, kind, and affectionate toward others. You’re known for your pro-social behavior and you’re often committed to volunteer work and altruistic activities. Other people may view you as naïve and overly passive.
You are known for your broad range of interests and vivid imaginations. You’re curious and creative and you usually prefer variety over rigid routines. You’re known for your pursuits of self-actualization through intense, euphoric experiences like meditative retreats or living abroad. Others may view you as unpredictable and unfocused.
You experience a high degree of emotional instability. You’re more likely to be reactive and excitable and you have higher degrees of unpleasant emotions like anxiety and irritability. Other people may view you as unstable and insecure.
OK, you remember some of “Our Song,” but it was their song, not yours, so who cares if you know all the lyrics. You probably know all the lyrics to your song, you just don’t know all of them to “Our Song.”
You got: “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
You’ve learned that not everybody’s worthy of your efforts and attention. Some people are just out there to use you, and some just seem to be out there to waste your time. It doesn’t matter to you, though, because you’re over it.
You’re a bit cynical, or at least you are as of late, when it comes to love. It seems like every time you get someone you chase them off, but you’re also a sucker for love. You’ll never stop the chase because you know that to get what you want, you have to get up and fight for it.
You’ve been through some pretty rough times, but now you’re back for blood. You may have been the butt of the joke before, but you kept your list of names and you’re coming after all of your wrong-doers now. You believe in karma and it’s what gets you through every day.
You’ve had a lot of trouble with love, but you’re still a hopeful person. You know that life isn’t easy and neither is love, and you’re determined to put your all into everything you do. The only question you have to ask the world is, “Are you ready for it?”
It should be noted that the single did not debut at No. 1 like some Swifties and Lambs may have hoped. The song began its ascent at No. 77, but it received a huge boost from streams. In fact, Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” had a record-breaking 84.4 million streams in the United States — the highest of any song this year and the only woman to ever do so.
Guys, it’s been nearly THREE years since we got a new album from Taylor Swift, and I for one am seriously counting down the seconds until Reputation is released.
So, in my humble but very educated opinion, here are some of the best and most overlooked Taylor tracks for your pure enjoyment.
I know that country music isn’t for everyone, so I’m going to start this list with her more recent ~pop~ music, and lean you into her more country-inspired stuff slowly. There’s a Spotify playlist at the end of this post for your convenience.
Possibly one of the biggest bangers on 1989, the chorus is catchy as hell and pretty much impossible not to sing along to. Fun fact: I took a “All You Had To Do Was Slay” poster to her concert. Clever, I know.
Perfect for: Screaming along to while you’re driving in your car with all the windows down.
This is a 1989 bonus track for reasons that I’ll never understand, as it is so album-worthy. With Alice In Wonderland-themed lyrics, it’s all about falling into the rabbit hole of intense love that comes with a new relationship.
Perfect for: Playing on full volume after a break-up, once you’ve gotten past all the sadness and can happily reminisce.
What is it with this girl making all of her best songs bonus tracks? This is a much more slowed down one, with beautiful vocals and lyrics that somehow manage to work their way into your bloodstream and make you feel everything.
Perfect for: Listening to in the dark on a low volume. Sounds weird but trust me, it’s great.
This is a classic love song about two teens in the ’40s falling in love in the way only teenagers can. She wrote this song about Bobby and Ethel Kennedy after seeing a photo of them dancing together, which makes things even better.
Perfect for: Singing along to while reminiscing about your first ~Big Love~.
This song is MY ANTHEM. God, I love it so much. There’s something about this song that just makes you want to go outside in the sun, spin around, and forget about everything. She sang this when I saw her live last year and I nearly dropped dead, it was so good.
Perfect for: Having a dance therapy session, letting loose, and just shaking everything off.
This song is basically a reflection on fame and how you can go from being adored one minute to being dragged to hell the next. It makes me feel like at any minute Taylor might throw in the towel and go plant a rose garden somewhere.
Perfect for: Calming your mind when you’re having an existential crisis.
Not found on any of Taylor’s albums, this song was written for the Hunger Games soundtrack. A duet with The Civil Wars, her vocals on this track are PERFECT. They just make me want to give her a hug and pat her hair? That might just be me…
Perfect for: Listening to just before you fall asleep.
Taylor originally wrote this song when she was 16, before she got famous, and for years all we had of it was a low-quality YouTube live version of the song. Then, like an angel on Earth, she recorded it and included it as a track on Speak Now. It’s SO GOOD, guys.
Perfect for: Listening to while you walk down the street, hands in your pockets, pretending you’re in a movie.
This song really captures the magical, fairytale feeling that I associate with a lot of Taylor’s old music. It reads like a diary entry, and I can just imagine her writing this at 1am in her pyjamas, with a fluffy pen.
Perfect for: Listening to after you see a hot person on the train and imagine your lives together.
Do you remember being 16 and when someone wronged you, you had really vivid daydreams about performing a song in front of a whole crowd, with poignant lyrics calling them out for everything they ever did to you? Well, “White Horse” was the song I always dreamed of singing to a certain person in a school assembly, because the melodies are beautiful but the lyrics are damning as hell.
Perfect for: Performing to an audience of no one in your bedroom.
This song was included on the Platinum edition of Fearless which I HIGHLY recommend you check out for some stellar B-sides (or whatever B-sides are called now). If you mention this song to any Swiftie, I guarantee they’ll yell back at you: “WITH YOUR FACE AND THE BEAUTIFUL EYES AND THE CONVERSATION WITH THE LITTLE WHITE LIES AND A FADED PICURE OF A BEAUTIFUL NIGHT YOU CARRIED ME FROM YOUR CAR TO THE STAIRS.” Try it out.
Perfect for: Sing-yelling after you’ve had five wines.
If you asked me to name one song that perfectly sums up the vibe of Taylor’s debut album, this one would be it. It’s so bright and cheerful and just makes me think of teenage Taylor spreading light to everyone she meets.
Perfect for: Singing along to with all your girlfriends.
This song was never included on an album and every time I think about that it just makes me sad. Something about the lyrics and music just work their way inside you and fill you with joy. I didn’t fully understand it when I first heard it, but as I got older and fell in love and knew what that felt like, this song just got better and better. “Doesn’t he know that I’ve had him memorised for so long” is real as hell.
Perfect for: Playing on full-blast on your car stereo in the middle of summer, with all your windows down.
Happy listening, my loves.
And if you scrolled all the way down here to write a negative comment about this article or Taylor Swift, I’m going to stop you right there. Write it on a piece of paper and throw it in the bin. Spread love.
Taylor Swiftonce said she hates being called calculating. But professionally, well, Taylor Swift might just be the most calculating celebrity in the world. Nothing — not her tweets, not her timing, not her announcements — is done by accident. And nowhere is that precise premeditation more successful than in the months leading up to a new album, where she creates a release cycle so finely tuned it generates more hype and money than anyone else.
“Artists as big as Taylor Swift don’t work in a vacuum,” said David Philp, a professor of music and entertainment industries at William Paterson University. “Everything we see has been in the planning stages, probably for many months.”
Because Swift is such a massive star, and because her team (who did not respond to multiple requests for a comment) is so smart in their planning, how she chooses to release an album not only tells us a lot about her, it’s a microcosm for how the music industry has changed.
Swift’s sixth studio album, Reputation, isn’t due out until Nov. 10, which means — with her first single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” being released last week — Swift is working on an almost three-month lead time. This more than 70-day buildup to a new album is hardly standard anymore in the music industry. In fact, the way Swift is releasing Reputation harkens back to an older model of music distribution that very few artists can still work well within.
“Long lead cycles like Taylor’s [are] a relic of print medium,” said George Howard, an associate professor of music business at Berklee College of Music. “Long lead magazines — like Vanity Fair, Wired, etc. — all plotted their issues out months in advance to accommodate for writing, editing, and printing.” Historically, an artist who wanted to get press coverage needed to announce the release of their album early enough to get space in those issues, their best chance for finding new fans.
But in the last 15 years, the album release cycle has shortened drastically because of the internet. Starting with Napster and Myspace, and carrying through the rise of social media and the streaming revolution, artists are no longer reliant on print media. In fact, now a long lead time can do more harm than good. “Campaigns are getting shorter and shorter,” said Judy Miller Silverman, the founder and CEO of Motormouth Media, a boutique PR firm that works with artists like Animal Collective and Sophie. “People are finally realizing that print media is a shot in the dark.”
“It was just the beginning of two more years of Swift.”
The internet, of course, is where Swift thrives at building hype. Last week, all of the star’s social media suddenly went dark. Her photos, her bios, her friends, her retweets, her avatar — all were gone, and in their place hung a suspense worth millions. “I knew this was it,” Sammie Carter, a 29-year-old Swift fan from Long Beach, California, said. “I knew she was prepping for another release.” Of course, Carter was right. Soon there was a glitching 10-second video of a snake on Swift’s Instagram, signifying the official start of another Taylor Swift release cycle.
In the Instagram comments, the fandom kicked into high gear, posting snake emojis and exclamation points, and all-caps screaming. “Everything she does is so purposeful and she’s very clever,” Carter said. “So I knew what she was up to.”
In the days that followed, there was the announcement of Reputation, with accompanying art. Then, she released “Look What You Made Me Do” at midnight on a Friday because (as of 2015) the Billboard Hot 100 chart counts streams and purchases from Friday to Friday, which put her song in the best position to potentially go No. 1. There was also the lyric video, a Good Morning America music video teaser, a UPS partnership, snake-themed merchandise, an MTV VMA premiere of the music video, two Target zines, and a Ticketmaster collaboration that encourages fans to buy merchandise and preorder the album in an effort to get tickets to a not-yet-announced tour.
It was just the beginning of two more years of Swift.
Nothing signified that the era of the long lead album release was coming to a close quite like Beyoncé’s 2013 surprise self-titled album, which sold 617,000 copies in the three days that counted toward its first week sales. Beyoncébroke the previous first-week record held by, of course, Swift’s 2012 album Red, which sold 456,000 units. “It was proven that a single released months in advance didn’t have to take place,” Philp said. “Fans didn’t need a tease, or a taste, of the music before release to convince them to buy the album.” But very few artists move more than 100,000 copies in their first week. And, of course, most artists can’t pull off a surprise drop. Beyoncé and Swift are in a totally different league, and their release cycles prove that: Swift’s PR plan is longer than any other artist’s, and Beyoncé’s is shorter.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear how outmoded this long-lead cycle is,” Berklee professor Howard said. “Taylor Swift is somewhat in a class of her own, and is not instructive to other artists.” Most artists are fumbling somewhat in the dark now. There is no one-size-fits-all promotion plan that will work in the digital age. “There aren’t rules to album releases anymore,” said Kristen Foster, a publicist at PMK-BNC who works with major artists such as Tim McGraw and Joan Jett.
“The longer the hype cycle, the longer Swift’s songs are played.”
Some artists still want mainstream print coverage, some want to get picked up by alternative and indie publications, and some just want to hand their music straight to their fans. “The rule book has gone out the window, and bands can decide what works best for their music and their fan base,” said Foster. There’s an excitement to the surprise drop that artists and fans love. In the past four years since Beyoncé’s self-titled album, Kendrick Lamar, Radiohead, Drake, and Rihanna have dropped surprise albums without promotional buildup. In the last year, two brilliant and beautiful albums by artists who aren’t superstars — Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book and James Blake’s The Colour in Anything — were released unexpectedly. There is no data to prove whether those albums would have sold better with a longer hype cycle or not, but the surprise drop certainly has a dramatic urgency that gives artists a bit of attention they might not have gotten otherwise.
A half dozen experts on the changing music industry agreed that artists are increasingly opting for shorter cycles. Motormouth Media CEO Silverman said that for her clients, a happy medium is something like a two-week buildup, which gives fans enough time to get excited, but not so much time that the hype dies off before their album comes out.
So why, in 2017, when everyone else is compressing their album cycles into bite-size moments, is Taylor Swift maintaining a three-month hype cycle? Because she’s an artist, but she’s also a brilliant businessperson.
Silverman guessed Swift’s approach “has to do with some big money thing: sponsorship, show, commercial, event.” Philp put it more succinctly: “The whole purpose is monetization. How can they make as much money as possible in the beginning when the hype is at its peak? … The old model can still benefit the massive artists.”
Every stream, every video play, every radio turn makes Swift money, and she has made it clear in the last four years of her career that she will milk each album for every coin it’s worth. In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in 2014, Swift argued that art should never be free, and that the music industry’s future was sunny because fans will pay for music. It was the first in a series of financially based anti-streaming proclamations Swift would make. Just after the release of 1989 in 2014, Swift pulled all of her music from Spotify, saying that the service did not appropriately value her art. (Spotify functions on direct deals for performers, and whatever deal Swift struck with the company to return her catalog to the service earlier this summer only applies to her work and has not been disclosed.)
While still on the 1989 tour in June 2015, Swift then turned her attention to Apple Music, writing a stern letter on her Tumblr that she would be withholding 1989 from the streaming service because of the service’s three-month free trial, which she said could be debilitating to young struggling artists. Apple retreated within 24 hours, saying they would pay artists for the three-month period. Swift then signed a deal with Apple Music (like Drake), giving them exclusive streaming rights for her entire catalog and performing commercials for the streaming service. In June, that deal ended, and her work returned to other streaming sites as well.
Streaming is still a fluctuating distribution system that most artists don’t have the clout or financial leeway to negotiate with, the way Swift has done consistently and successfully. After all, “Look What You Made Me Do” broke Spotify’s global first-day record with 8 million streams. The video broke Adele’s single-day Vevo play record with 30 million views. On the first three days of airplay alone, it hit the Billboard Top 100 at No. 77, and is expected to steal the No. 1 slot from the previously untouchable “Despacito.” The single is predicted to sell half a million downloads in its first week, which is more than any song has sold in the past six months. All of these record-breaking numbers create headlines, and all of those headlines add to the hype. The longer the hype cycle, the longer Swift’s songs are played in anticipation of the full album release — and the more financial opportunity to sell music.
In addition to the money, there are the accolades. Swift has long timed her releases to bring as many Grammys home as possible, releasing a single before the Sept. 30 deadline and an album thereafter, which allows her to be nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year one year for the first single and Album of the Year the next. For example, “Look What You Made Me Do” will be up for the 2018 Grammys, and Reputation (and possibly some future single) will be considered for the 2019 awards. Swift has been using this timeline since she released “Love Story,” the lead single from 2008’s Fearless (intentionally or not) on Sept. 12, 2008, and the album on Nov. 11. The Grammy year difference also keeps Swift in the public eye for longer than any other artist. The first single off 1989, “Shake It Off,” was released on Aug. 18, 2014. Swift gave her Album of the Year acceptance speech 549 days later on Feb. 15, 2016 — that’s 18 months of constant attention. (For comparison, Beyoncé released Lemonade on April 23, 2016, and lost the Grammy on Feb. 13, 2017, 296 days later.)
Swift’s fans have come to expect and love the long release cycle. “The Swift team is an expert on their fans,” Philp said. “Besides the [digital] data they can collect, they’re also out at every tour stop, watching how the fans react to a song, seeing if they take video and share it across networks, seeing what type of merch they like best, seeing the age of the fans.”
While Beyoncé fans love the drama of a surprise drop, the Swift fans who spoke to BuzzFeed News said they didn’t want one. “Although I’d be absolutely ecstatic and amazed that a new album would be there, I think I’d miss the excitement and buildup of a release date,” Chloe Irving, a 17-year-old Taylor Swift fan from the UK, said. Waiting three months for an album is, for Swifties, a pleasure and an expectation.
For nonfans, though, the cycle seems long because it absolutely is. But it also pays off. The extended release generates headlines, breaks records, and creates piles of money.
Swift is one of only a few artists who sell albums. Forbes named her the highest-paid artist of 2016, estimating that off her blowout 1989 tour and product endorsements, she probably made $170 million. Her system for new releases might be calculated and exhausting, and not trendy, but it absolutely works for her. ●
Kelsey McKinney is a writer based in Austin, Texas. She has written for The Atlantic, Slate, The Daily Beast and TimeOut New York. She likes her sandwiches fat and her novels slim and full of heartbreak.