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Taylor Swift has been on high for so long another tumble feels inevitable

Emer McLysaght: While her Swifties would fight to the death to defend her, I’d call myself Swiftie-lite

It can’t be easy, being the most famous woman in the world. A celebrity since her teens, Taylor Swift has spent 20 years performing and being watched, both on and off the stage. She grew up with the internet and used it to her advantage, managing to cultivate online relationships with millions of fans. She’s weathered scandals not of her making and brought about scandals of her own – alleged feuds, a mortifying carbon footprint, a “mean girl” era that almost ended her career.

Now, in 2024, Swift has categorically taken the world by storm with her Eras stadium tour. She has the dream boyfriend in the shape of Travis Kelce, whose Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl last Sunday under the watchful eye of Swift who’d flown in from the Asia leg of her tour for the game. She announced a new album while collecting awards at the Grammys. Everything’s coming up Taylor.

Die-hard Swift fans call themselves Swifties. They have very definite feelings about which one of her “eras” they identify with and would fight to the death to defend their girl. I’d call myself Swiftie-lite. I had a relatively late Swift awakening in 2014 with the release of her album 1989. I sat beside a Swiftie at work and her enthusiasm was infectious. The tracks on the album were rumoured to be inspired by a relationship with Harry Styles. The songs, like so much of Swift’s work, were undeniable pop bangers.

However, it hasn’t been plain sailing as a Swift fan. Her feud in 2016 with Kanye West and then wife Kim Kardashian painted Swift – in hindsight unfairly – as untrustworthy. There were cringey public romances and she appeared to turn into the mean girl she used to rail against in her songs. Her feelings of hurt and her desire for revenge were palpable in her 2017 album Reputation. Her stadium tour in support of Reputation was critically acclaimed but Swift failed to fill Croke Park for two nights in 2018. It’s a far cry from her three Aviva Stadium shows this June for which tickets are like gold dust.


I hated the growing misogynistic narrative that Swift was only good for writing about break-ups, but she had form in that area. Her public romance with actor Tom Hiddleston was difficult to defend purely because of how mortifying it was. I, a hopeless romantic at heart, thought she was just trying to have fun. The growing, baying mob clamoured that she was just looking for notice and Swift went to ground.

She spent her time cultivating a relatively private relationship with actor Joe Alwyn – they broke up last year. There were none of the theatrics of previous romances. “Ah, she’s finally growing up,” people assumed. She released two surprise acclaimed albums in 2020, working with artists such as The National and Bon Iver. “Cool” musicians. By 2022 and her most recent album Midnights, she was riding high. And now, she’s back on top of the world. But for how long?

Swift’s very public relationship with Kelce is cute but almost unbearably cheesy. She’s announced a new album that appears to be a direct shot through the heart for Alwyn. Even the title The Tortured Poets Department is a little too on the nose when you consider Alwyn is in a WhatsApp group called The Tortured Man Club with Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal.

As the most visible woman in the world, she’s an obvious target. Why should I use paper straws while Swift takes her 67th private flight of the year to see her boyfriend for 10 hours? How can I support a billionaire when the ethics of being a billionaire are so difficult to reconcile? There are those who claim that if Swift posted in support of Palestine on her Instagram, the West would fall within the hour, which is a lot to put on her shoulders. However, with a situation like Gaza, pressure is the only tool us civilians have and if Swift was to exert her words and influence, the pressure would shift closer to unbearable.

The pressure on Swift herself feels oppressive. She’s been on such a high for so long now that another tumble feels inevitable. Even if she vowed to never fly again, reduced all concert tickets to €10 and took on Israeli president Binyamin Netanyahu herself, there would still be those ready to say they always hated her. The Swifties are even more powerful, though, and now they’re parents. There’s a whole new generation ready to help her shake it off, when the time comes.