Earlier this week, Taylor Swift’s open letter criticizing Apple Music’s royalties policy provoked the corporation into an about-turn or, in the more hyperbolic words of her boyfriend Calvin Harris, “just changed the entire music industry”.
Taylor Swift - Hydro, Glasgow
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So Swift arrived in Glasgow, not just atop the ample royalties from her own multi-million sales of current album 1989, but as the champion of the young struggling artist. Sweet. And shrewd.
She is also the pop star champion of the young girls who were out in high-pitched force, brandishing all manner of illuminated signs. It wasn’t so long since Swift was a young girl herself and, even at 25, there is still something of the gamine teenager in her bearing. Yes, she wears the sequinned rigouts of her country pop roots but Swift is relatable, like the sussed, self-assured big sister, ready to dole out problem page advice. And how.
The Spice Girls summed this up in two words: Girl Power. Swift, however, preferred to give a succession of increasingly TED(ious) talks about love, identity, friendship. Her spiel about the tropes of 80s teen movies revealed a lot about how she operates – Swift understands the formula that keeps on giving but is astute enough to give it a mischievous tweak.
Frankly, she says it better in her lyrics, striking just the right balance between sass and self-doubt.
“Boys only want love if it’s torture,” she contended on Blank Space, accompanied by some artful tantruming choreography. She warmed further to her theme on I Knew You Were Trouble with a PG take on a sultry, steamy Kylie routine. Bad Blood was standard issue girl pop with attitude, plus would-be fierce dance routine, after which she strapped on an electric guitar and made like a prom queen Joan Jett on a rockish version of We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.
Even with the spangly Olympic opening ceremony concept of Into The Woods and the final bubblegum explosion of Shake It Off, the show was more straightforward than Katy Perry’s maximalist fairytale kingdom or Lady Gaga’s Dada cabaret, pushing the impression that Taylor Swift is the kind of pop star the fans could aspire to hang out with along with her famous girl pals Lena Dunham and Cara Delevingne – you know, just your regular models, actresses and high achievers – whose perversely narcissistic views on love and friendship were also relayed via the big screens.
Seen on 23.06.15