A few months ago I went through a breakup and, like most people, I was pretty bloody sad in the immediate aftermath.
My friends did what good friends do: endless support, kind words, advice. But there was one particular suggestion that stood out to me.
“You should listen to Taylor Swift.”
As a 28-year-old male from the north of England, I was naturally cynical, especially being aware of the abject madness that surrounds the US megastar.
In recent months “Swift-mania” has engulfed America, with towns visited by the singer-songwriter on her The Eras Tour making her mayor for the day and even renaming themselves in her honour.
The Swifties have taken over the internet and seemingly the world - crashing online ticket sites, spending thousands of dollars, and some even reportedly suffering from “post-concert amnesia” following her performances. I suppose that explains why some people bought such eye-wateringly expensive tickets for multiple shows.
Los Angeles County estimated that her six-day sell-out run at the SoFi Stadium in California in August brought in around $320 million to the local economy, with Taylor Swift themed cupcakes, merch stores and club nights appearing overnight throughout the city.
UK prime minister Rishi Sunak was even reported to have attended a spin class exclusively featuring TayTay’s music while on holiday there.
Despite this extraordinary reception, one simply cannot argue with her sway and appeal. Initially, in the simplest of terms, I thought Taylor Swift must be a proper laugh, and someone I would definitely go for a pint with.
So why not give her a listen like my friend suggested. Perhaps Swift’s unassailable brand of sad, white-girl music would also work on a sad, white man.
Cut to SoFi stadium August 9 2023, the final date of the Los Angeles run. Armed with 30 tradeable friendship bracelets, handmade by my friend’s mother, we made our way to the ticket office, wading through the hordes of brightly dressed superfans.
We took our seats and waited. Then the show began.
I tell no untruths when I say that over the course of the next three and a half hours I found myself utterly, unexpectedly, blown away.
How could one stranger with a guitar know every single thought, feeling and emotion I had been marinating in for weeks, and how was she able to so perfectly express it through a beautiful song?
That Cruel Summer had been a Love Story. I had been living in a Lavender Haze, but I did know All Too Well that despite my Wildest Dreams, that we were Never Ever (ever ever) Getting Back Together. It was time to Shake It Off. No Bad Blood. I was Mr Americana and The Heartbreak Prince…
All around me girls, young women, mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, and the elderly whipped themselves into a frenzy. Stamping, screaming, crying, throwing up. Beside me my friend practically foamed at the mouth as tears streamed down her face.
A bit much maybe, but still, I understood. I saw the light. I embraced Our Lord and Saviour Taylor Swift.
It felt like a cult – but a damn fun cult.
The seamless stage transitions, the many dazzling outfit changes, and Swift’s utter command of the stage – easily getting her steps in as she charged from one end of the elaborate set to the other – engaged her entire flock.
I had previously heard that Swift had the incredible ability at live shows to make each audience member feel seen and heard, as though addressing individuals directly – no mean feat in a stadium with a 70,000 seat capacity. And yet she did.
My friend and I staggered out of the arena following the final number, ears ringing from the boom of glitter cannons and fireworks, knowing that we had just shared a profoundly religious experience.
I felt cleansed, at peace, and sweaty.
Taylor Swift has controlled the hearts and minds of millions of people across the world for years, having become a bonafide global megastar through consistently sincere, relatable song-writing that perfectly encapsulates the human experience.
Despite her own turbulent and high-profile relationship history to which we owe her stunning and extensive back catalogue, Swift’s music has served as a guiding light for many normal people going through the mundanities of tough break-ups.
And it’s not just the unwashed masses that clamour for the comfort of her presence. Swift was recently pictured stepping out with Selena Gomez, Gigi Hadid, Cara Delevingne, and Sophie Turner, following the Game Of Thrones’ stars announcement that she and Joe Jonas were separating.
As of this week the US singer-songwriter’s resume already includes record-breaking Grammy artist, billionaire, political activist and social justice warrior.
It is time to add faith healer to that list, as anyone fortunate enough to see her perform live will attest.