Taylor Swift’s new album Evermore, which dropped at midnight on Thursday in a surprise release, was Swift’s second surprise album of 2020. It comes after July’s heavily acclaimed Folklore and as Swift continues to re-record her old masters (she teased a bit of the new “Love Story” earlier in December). Jesus, you might be forgiven for thinking when Swift announced Evermore less than 24 hours before its release. Does she ever sleep?
But this streak of productivity fits into an emerging popular consensus on Taylor Swift. What is most compelling about Swift, commenters have started to agree, is how much she works, and how seriously she takes that work. That’s a startling contrast to the consensus on Taylor Swift a few years ago, when she was widely considered to be a try-hard whose hard work was off-putting.
“Taylor Swift isn’t very good at indifference,” remarked one critic in 2017, concluding that she’d probably enjoy Reputation more “if Taylor Swift wasn’t so try hard.”
For Vulture in 2015, Lindsay Zoladz described a cringey moment of Swift’s 1989 concert tour: Swift giving the audience “the look the young, wide-eyed ingenue gives the twinkling skyscrapers in her coming-of-age movie right after she steps off the Greyhound,” as all around her the crowd wore light-up plastic bracelets that glowed varying colors and pulsed to the beat of her songs. “Do you think Taylor is controlling these with her mind?” Zoladz quipped. And it was the fact that Swift was trying so hard, regulating everything so tightly that you could see the sweat, that made the moment cringey.
At Jezebel, Jia Tolentino said the regimented, precision-edged sheen of the same concert tour made her think of Swift as “an animated mannequin, a Rockette on
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