Taylor Swift doesn’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind is blowing. She’s vowing to get “political” on her next record. Her generation of pop artists has failed miserably, despite a huge stake in the future.
Rock and roll came of age in the ’50s and ’60s, driven by protest music that traced its roots back to the blues and folk songs of the ’30s Great Depression.
But those sentiments have been noticeably lacking for years among pop artists, at a time when the issues are as extremely import to their generation.
Such issues as abortion, climate change, the environment, gun control and the threat of war loom larger than ever. President Trump is having a profound effect on a country that millennials will inherit in a few short years.
Yet, pop music remains commercially driven and focused on silly little love songs.
Swift may be out to change all of that.
The 29-year-old singer teased that her forthcoming record “definitely” will have “political overtones.” Encouraging young people to “have a say” is “one of the most important things” she could do with her music.
“The album is very different from the last album [Reputation] I released. The last album really got to the bottom of dark emotions, and I think it can be complex and interesting to get its own,” she told RTL, an outlet in Germany.
“This new album feels like heaven looks like a storm – colorful, calm and peaceful, but somehow better. There are definitely political overtones in the new music that I have made,” she added.
“I’m not about to stop making young people vote and trying to get young people to do it to have a say in what’s going on in our country, I think that’s one of the most important things I could do.”
Miley Cyrus is the only artist who has come close to echoing the themes that are critical to her generation. But she’s done most of her protesting through public advocacy, not her music.
The ’50s and ’60s were marked by great social struggle focused on civil rights and the War in Vietnam. Those themes were reflected in the music, arising out of the folk-rock movement.
When the war ended and Americans gained new freedoms–including the right to safe legal abortions–the dance music craze took over. Pop music split into a dozen different genres from glam rock, heavy metal and alt rock to rap and hip-hop.
But today, a new generation is facing the same challenges as the Trump administration attempts to roll back the clock on important gains.
They include everything from packing courts with anti-abortion judges to rolling back key environmental regulations and suppressing African-American voters in the South and Mid-West.
Trump has also engaged in constant war mongering and has pushed the country to the brink of confrontation with Iran.
Swift has decided not push her head in the sand. She says she’s waiting for “the right moment” to drop her new album.
“I’ll tell fans first … I’m just trying to find the right moment to tell them and explain it to them, but I’m really looking forward to it,” she said.
The ‘Blank Space’ singer previously hinted that her new LP has been completed and she would only change the tracklist if she wrote another amazing song.
She said: “Yes [it’s finished]. Unless I like write something else, then I’ll probably put it on the album.
“I try not to go into making an album with any expectation. I started to write so much that I knew immediately it would probably be bigger. There’s a lot of a lot on this album.”
Many artists have been straight-jacketed by the music industry, which is far leaner these days, and far more commercially driven.
As a result, pop music has become homogenized to appeal to the broadest audience following the same formulaic style.
Taylor started speaking up about her political views during the 2018 midterm elections, where she voiced concerns about candidates in the state of Tennessee in particular.
Hopefully, Swift is on the right track and other artists will follow.