The A Game: Taylor Swift’s lyrics have been the soundtrack to my life

I’ve always been a fan of Taylor Swift. To be precise, I started following her in the fourth grade after “Teardrops On My Guitar” made waves on Radio Disney. And I’ve listened to every song she’s produced up until her latest hit, “… Ready For It?”

Am I sometimes overzealous about my admiration for Taylor Swift? Yes. But is it unwarranted? Most likely not.

As melodramatic as it sounds, Swift’s music has been the soundtrack to my life for the past 10 years. In almost every situation I encountered during my formative years, there was always a song that resonated with my emotions; in a sense, she was the chicken soup for my sentimental teenage soul.

When I experienced my first real breakup, I listened to “Clean” from 1989 to remind myself that letting go would be the best way to get over heartbreak. When my parents helped me move in to USC, I listened to “Never Grow Up” from Speak Now because it was bittersweet leaving home for the first time. And when I finally fell back in love, I listened to “Begin Again” from Red because I knew I had finally moved on from the past.

While the world may now see Swift as a celebrity with a penchant for drama, my admiration for her has never wavered. She’s an incredible songwriter with a unique ability to relate to her listeners through narrative storytelling.

Take it from someone who’s followed her discography since 2007: Swift is a lyrical genius, but counterintuitively, she never leaves the biggest impact in a chorus. Rather, the focal point of any song penned by Swift is in the bridge — and it is a signature quality that elevates her among other songwriters and pop stars today. 

As with any other deeply personal song penned by Swift, the songstress creates a detailed narrative about her experiences. However, the bridges often contain the most revealing lyrics — ones that are pivotal to truly understanding Swift’s somewhat cryptic messages.

In her 2014 single “Begin Again,” Swift writes, “And we walked down the block to my car and I almost brought him up / But you start to talk about the movies that your family watches / Every single Christmas and I want to talk about that / For the first time, what’s past is past.”

In this bridge, she employs a personal anecdote to let her listeners know that she’s finally moved past her previous relationship. Instead of directly saying so, she decides to tell a story — and it’s poignant moments like this that allow Swift’s listeners to empathize with her emotions.

In “Last Kiss,” Swift describes her forlorn desire to keep up with her past lover’s life by looking at his photos and asking her friends about him. Strangely, I know that this feels like, and I’m sure that many other people have felt this way when looking back on past relationships too.

Even in less profound songs like “Look What You Made Me Do,” Swift still manages to utilize her bridge as the pop banger’s lasting proclamation: that the old Taylor is dead.

While she’s transcended genres throughout her prolific career, Swift has never deviated from the songwriting style that not only won her 10 Grammys, but also captured the hearts of millions of fans. It’s in the bridges she writes, from songs like “You Belong With Me” to “All Too Well,” that stick with every listener and remind them of her ability to make a statement with merely a short anecdote.

I’ll admit — I’ve grown and changed a lot over the years. But Swift has been with me through it all. From facing criticism to moving to a big new city, her music has been the sonic backdrop of my life. Right now, the song on repeat is “Change” from Fearless, which came out in 2008. It’s been out for nine years, but to me, every Swift song is timeless.

Lovers and friends may come and go, but Taylor Swift will always be there, offering sage advice and empathy in the soundtrack to my melodramatic existence.

Allen Pham is a junior majoring in public relations. He is also the associate managing editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “The A Game,” runs every other Monday.

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