It was no surprise that her newest album, 1989, won “Album of the Year” at the 2016 Grammy’s earlier this month. At only 26 years old, Taylor Swift has skyrocketed to success. With this year’s three wins, Taylor now has 10 Grammy’s.
Taylor is a truly talented artist who strives to be real with herself and her fans. The effects of stardom can be crippling, but Taylor has been able to remain a respectable individual, even in the wake of pressing celebrity standards.
How has she done this? Taylor exhibits many character qualities that are hard to find in stardom circles. Here are the top 5 reasons why I believe Taylor has been able to retain her integrity and become an incredible artist:
She is real.
Taylor’s music depicts real life for the average person. She sings with genuine heart and feeling about things that everyone can relate with.
She works hard.
This is no question. She has not gotten this far with out a whole lot of hard work.
She is engaging.
Taylor is not afraid to talk to her fans. She is down-to-earth in the sense that she does not puff herself up to be better than everyone else.
She is kind.
We rarely hear about Taylor getting into fights or arguments. She also publicly shows that she appreciates her fans at every concert.
She is approachable.
Taylor has a ginormous fan base, but through her social media outlets she makes herself available to all her fans in a personal way.
These are all qualities that make someone great—whether you have 3 fans or 70 million. I often get stuck thinking that my success is determined by my career. But just think—if Taylor had none of these qualities, would be as big of a star? Don’t ever exchange a kind heart for a larger paycheck. It is often the small character qualities that start in the heart that make someone truly great.
Yes, I said “truths.” We are constantly being told all of the lies that media is presenting to us, such as what love is and what makes a person feel happy and fulfilled. It is true, the media definitely spits a lot of falsehoods at us, but if we look at the media in a more positive light, are there any truths that it presents to us? Is there anything we can learn from the entertainment industry that is beneficial in our knowledge of ourselves and the world around us? I think that there are. Here are three of them:
Attention is a drug.
We can clearly see how this affects celebrities. For example, what does a musician or actor do when they begin declining in popularity? Many times, they resort to using the value of shock in order to get attention. This goes to show how addictive the desire for attention can be and how it has the potential to drive us to do crazy things.
Trends are temporary.
This is obvious when looking at clothing and hairstyles, but we can even see this when looking at ideal body types over the years. I think this is an important truth that we can take away because it shows us how frivolous chasing after the ever-changing trends is. There is nothing wrong with getting a cool haircut, but we will never be satisfied if we are placing our identity in short-lived trends.
Fame is exhausting.
Sure, it may look glamorous, but when hearing about the hours that actors spend working on films or the long tours that bands take, it really is hard work. Think about it: if you’re a celebrity, you can’t even run a simple errand without the paparazzi hunting you down. As an introvert, I think I would go crazy.
Even though these are just a few, I think there are a lot of lessons and truths we can take away from the media and entertainment industry. What are some others that you have noticed?
From the Jackson 5 to the Jacksons to emerging as a solo artist, Michael Jackson is a legend. His album “Thriller” is one of the best-selling albums of all time, not to mention his signature dance moves that have become iconic. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t very familiar with him or his music until after his death in 2009. But last year, my roommate and I went through a bit of a Michael Jackson obsession. We blasted his songs almost every morning as we got ready for class, watched videos of his performances, and learned his songs on guitar.
What is it that makes his music so timeless? The catchy bass lines? His unique voice? Or is there more to it than that?
Something that I think makes Michael Jackson’s music beautiful is the emotion that he is able to channel through it. For example, his song “She’s Out of My Life” captures the mixed feelings of a break up. In “They Don’t Care About Us,” he boldly displays his anger toward the media. And then there’s “Man in the Mirror,” which talks about first making a change with yourself in order to make a change in the world.
I think this is a big reason that Michael’s music has stood the test of time. Sure, the catchy melodies are part of it, but not many other artists that I’ve listened to have been able to so accurately portray such a wide rage of emotions. I would say that his music could be a soundtrack to life. In other words, you can listen to it when you’re sad, angry, happy, going for a jog, or need motivation to do homework (although, you may end up getting completely distracted as you sing and dance along, which usually happens to me).
So what’s your favorite Michael Jackson song? Have any of his lyrics resonated with you in some way or another?
A popular phrase that we as Christians often hear is that we are to be “in the world but not of it.” It is even included on our “about” page. It is one of our goals as young adults who are surrounded by secular culture. But what we don’t often discuss is what this looks like when lived out. Is there a certain point at which Christians need to take a few steps back in their engagement with pop culture and the media?
I’m going to be honest in saying that this is a question I’ve wrestled with a lot. But I’ve come up with three more questions that I think are beneficial for us to be thinking about when it comes to our involvement with pop culture.
Where am I placing my identity?
Am I listening to certain bands and watching certain movies just to look “cool” and gain the approval of others? It is important to be honest with yourself about your motivations.
Is this band, movie, etc. becoming an idol?
Especially think about this in terms of your thought life. It’s okay to be a fan of something, but is it turning into an obsession? Are you constantly thinking about it when you should be spending more of your thought life on Christ?
Am I compromising my values?
It is important to stop and see how this is affecting our behavior. For example, if you’ve been watching a show where the Lord’s name is taken in vain quite frequently, have you noticed that maybe you’ve started using it in that way, too? It eventually starts to seem okay.
This post may not be as light-hearted as some of the others, but I believe that we need to think about questions such as these in order to appreciate pop culture’s beauty in a healthier and more God-honoring way, so that we might have an influence on it, instead of the other way around.