We’ve envied her #squad, we’ve crept her Instagram and we’ve belted out her lyrics into a hair brush. But there’s a lot we don’t know about our fantasy BFF, Taylor Swift—until now. Thanks to a lengthy cover story that GQ posted yesterday, we got a rare glimpse into the method behind the hit-making machine—her ambition, her power plays and her dedication to an image she has so carefully crafted. Plus, that Katy Perry feud…
Here are your five need-to-know takeaways:
1. “Bad Blood” is really about… nobody?? “…I don’t necessarily care who people think it’s about. I just needed to divert them away from the easiest target. Listen to the song. It doesn’t point to any one person or any one situation,” Taylor told Chuck Klosterman. In an earlier interview, for Rolling Stone, Taylor had strongly hinted that her song “Bad Blood” was about a pop star with an affinity for candy-colored wigs and throwing major shade. But now she asserts that she never specifically singled out anyone, and the lyrics are a broad meditation on the demise of a friendship. She also claims that pointing the finger at a rival was really just a way to divert attention from the “she only writes about boys” narrative. Klosterman seemed dubious with her new explanation (and tbh, so are we).
2. She’s a would-be marketing whiz. This isn’t scandalous or headline grabbing, so it’s a question very rarely asked of famous young people: what would you be doing if not this? Swift says she would have gone to college, ultimately to work in marketing. Considering what a genius she’s been at marketing herself, we’re sure the corporate ladder would have been an easy climb for her. Also, she’d def be the officemate who brings in cupcakes for everyone’s birthdays.
3. She’s a self-made star. “There is a perpetual sense that nothing about her career is accidental and that nothing about her life is unmediated,” writes Klosterman. “These are not unusual thoughts to have about young mainstream stars. But what’s different with Swift is her autonomy.” There are so few young superstars of their own making: peek behind the curtain and you’ll usually find a trainwreck momager (see: Lindsay and Dina Lohan), a shady father (see: Beyoncé and Mathew Knowles), a faceless corporate overlord (see: every former Disney star) or a seasoned and ruthless manager (see: One Direction and Simon Cowell). Usually, a break from said “maker” is what ushers in an artist’s second act. Not so for Swift; she has been using her cunning instincts to guide her own musical growth all along—including her decision to leave country music in the glitter dust.
At the beach with GQ A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on
4. Her squad is no fraud. While many have snarked on her ever-expanding, oh-so-photogenic gaggle of friends, Taylor insists that her platonic relationships aren’t a PR ploy. Her pre-fame teen years were largely lonely and friendless, and she’s certainly making up for lost time: “She tells a story about middle school, when she called several of her peers on the phone and asked if they wanted to go shopping. Every girl had a different excuse for why she couldn’t go. Eventually, Swift’s mother agreed to take her to the local mall. When they arrived, Swift saw all of the girls she had called on the phone, goofing around in Victoria’s Secret.” If Hollywood is popularity contest (who are we kidding, it definitely is), there’s no doubt Taylor’s winning now. Bet those girls are feeling preeeeetty bad about ditching her all those years ago.
5. She cares what people say! Think all the chatter doesn’t penetrate Taylor’s gilded life? Think again. Swift admits to being on the pulse of what people are saying about her, and carefully navigates image—and damage—control: “In 2015, that stuff does matter. Because if enough people say the same thing about me, it becomes fact in the general public’s mind. So I monitor what people say about me, and if I see a theme, I know what that means.” She knows that if a rumour floats around long enough, it becomes part of the gossip zeitgeist, so she works to stamp out stories that are untrue. Think of her approach like a double-sided mirror; she sees herself, and she knows how others see her, too. A mind-boggling concept to put into practice, but as the interviewer notes, “Taylor Swift is 25. But she’s older than you.”
Bonus Track: Taylor may have been born in 1989, but she clearly enjoyed everything the ’90s had to offer. She adores Friends reruns and was obsessed with Behind the Music (her favourite episode: The Bangles). If you think about it, the whole situ with Katy Perry is very Brenda vs. Kelly, which would then make John Mayer… Luke Perry—blasphemy!
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