Taylor Swift Ushers in Enchanting New Era of Fan Engagement With ‘ME!’ (REVIEW)
Taylor Swift is revolutionizing what it means to interact with her fan base during her seventh studio album era.
It's not secret Swift is one of the most thoughtful and sneaky artists in the world. She teases fans well before new music drops, even during other album cycles. Her fans, the Swifties, have basically become detectives — much like one of Swift's favorite shows, Law & Order: SVU — looking into every minuscule thing Swift does. And with good reason.
In either a stroke of well-organized genius or impressive coincidence, her single 2017 "End Game," featured the line "My reputation precedes me." Reputation, her sixth studio album, literally preceded the new song from her seventh era, titled "ME!" — which, perhaps serendipitously, happened to release on the same day as Avengers: Endgame.
But that wasn't the only musical clue about "ME!" "Story of Us," off her album Speak Now, is 4 minutes and 26 seconds long, and also finds her singing of a "next chapter." Whether intentional or not, it was an epic find for some fans that sparked many theories, proving just how much they hang on her every word.
Dates also seem to be significant for Swift. Fans who purchased Swift's 2019 calendar noticed there were several dates with insignias on them. One of those dates was April 13, the day she announced her new single was on the way. Swift's official fan club got in on the teasing: On January 1, they posted 115 rainbows, marking 115 days until the release of "ME!"
Then, a mural that popped up in Nashville offered subtle clues that Swift might be the one behind it. From its pastel color scheme to its inclusion of cats (Swift's signature), Swifties quickly picked up that it might be in promotion of the pop star's new music. (Fun fact: The muralist didn't even know it was commissioned by Swift until today!)
Now onto the reason that Swift is one of the most thoughtful artists to her fans: She's one of the biggest stars in the world, yet dedicated almost an hour to take selfies with hundreds of fans Thursday (April 25), even getting down on her hands and knees on concrete to greet fans on the lower parking lot at her mural launch. By being so present in her fans' lives beyond music and concerts, Swift has created a higher standard for artist-fan engagement in the U.S.
Plus, her music matches the hype. Swift has previously collaborated with artists from every genre and level, and her collaboration with Urie isn't as surprising as you may think it is: Urie was spotted at a California tour date of Swift's Reputation Stadium Tour. Swift also gave him a shout out in her Elle UK interview, writing, “When I hear 'I Write Sins Not Tragedies' by Panic! At The Disco, I’m transported back to being 16 and driving down the streets of Hendersonville, Tennessee, with my best friend Abigail, euphorically screaming the lyrics.”
As for "ME!," the song itself is melodic gold that will likely be stuck in your head for weeks to come. The accompanying video is nothing short of production perfection, even featuring the props from the Instagram teaser images she shared leading up to its premiere. The video, which begins by symbolically showing the end of her Reputation era in the form of a light pink snake — which bursts into butterflies just as it recoils to strike — sees Urie playing Swift's love interest.
“Taylor Swift is just a beast in the music world, and I mean that in the best way possible,” Urie said about Swift in a previous interview, calling her "undeniably one of the best performers and one of the greatest artists of our day." “She has this way of controlling a crowd and making it look so easy. I feel like I’m working so hard on stage, she looks like she’s at 5 percent but somehow giving her all."
Not only has he praised her in interviews, and even said that she would be his dream collaboration, but he has covered her music in previous live streams, proving that Urie and Swift are both fans of each other's music. With Urie being a part of her album, chances are he's already a big fan of TS7.
With each album cycle, Swift offers fans a new era — a new feeling, genre, theme, color scheme. Almost everything is meticulously planned and changed to fit her aesthetic. Between leaving clues on social media and crafting music in the studio, Swift somehow finds time in her busy schedule to have a true relationship with her fans, both online and in person. She manages to follow her superfans' lives and discuss their theories about her subtle clues. She supports them just as much as the fans support her, which is no small task. Each speech she gives or open letter she writes, she somehow connects to millions of people and plays a part in each of their lives in different ways.
Based on her merchandise, social media and fashion, this new era will be bright and dream-like. There's no telling exactly what exactly this era will bring for Swift and her legion of fans, but one thing's for sure: Positivity, acceptance, support, creativity and beautiful music will all play roles in it.