Everything Taylor Swift Has Been Writing About Since 1989

It's been almost two years since her last album, and we're weeks away from the 2nd anniversary of "Shake It Off": Here's what we imagine has been fueling Taylor in the meantime

By Natalie Finn Aug 02, 2016 9:02 PMTags
Taylor Swift, PerformingKevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With everything else that's been going on in Taylor Swift's life recently, the realization that we're closing in on two years since the release of 1989 just sort of snuck up on us.

Since its release on Oct. 27, 2014, Taylor's fifth studio album has sold more than 9.5 million copies worldwide and she scooped up three Grammys for her efforts, including Album of the Year, this past February.

And with the confusing timing of how singles are rolled out, making the old seem new again, and how awards are awarded to people, with eligibility cutoff dates making seemingly old albums (and TV shows, movies, music videos, etc.) new again, that span between now and the day in 2014 the world stopped to watch Taylor and a flock of overjoyed fans shaking it off during a livestream has gone by in the blink of an eye.


Taylor was 24 then and she's only 26 right now, but…is it just us or did she really grow up since then? Or perhaps it's that a host of more "grownup" things happened, from some of the empowering business choices that she made to the realization that the Internet will turn on you at a dime no matter how much your fans love you, to… yes, her most serious-looking relationships yet.

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But back to the fact, judging by her past timetable, that there could be a new Taylor Swift single upon us any day now (or any minute, really, as Beyoncé, Drake and others have proved). It's Aug. 2, 2016, and "Shake It Off" arrived on Aug. 18, 2014.

She may be madly in love with Tom Hiddleston and busy enjoying the fruits of more than eight years of nonstop work…but Taylor is nothing if not a shrewd businessperson, and it's unfathomable to think that 2016 will conclude without, if not an entire new album (forces greater than T.Swift have been delayed by industry and creative issues), then at least some new music.

A source told E! News back in June, after she and Calvin Harris split up but before she went public with Tom, that Taylor was "concentrating on herself" and "writing new music."

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That was certainly to be expected, especially post-breakup. And we've been told more recently that she was writing during her travels with Tom and he was inspiring her creatively as well. Also to be expected.

But songwriting and dating patterns aside, fans have been speculating more than ever lately that Taylor is hard at work on new songs—and perhaps we're on the brink of hearing them.

Eyewitnesses saw Taylor at dinner with Tom in West Hollywood on Saturday night, and an eagle-eyed fan tweeted about seeing "Shake It Off" video director Mark Romanek at the restaurant as well.

We don't know about you, but we're ready for a new Taylor Swift album, and all the glorious dissection and star-packed touring that will go along with it. And while affairs of the heart could have carried a whole LP, no problem, so much else has happened since 1989 came out, we can almost hear the words "double album" being said in an executive conference room down the road…

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Matters of the Heart

Before Calvin and Taylor broke up, I was selfishly wondering just what, exactly, she was going to write about. Love and friendship and kitties are nice, but did I want to download that album at the stroke of midnight?

I thankfully no longer have to worry about my own crisis of conscience, that relationship having ended in June. So the fodder for a story that had a beginning, middle and an end presented itself. (And then re-presented itself as the drama with Calvin dragged on...)

But even though Taylor has fallen head over heels for Tom Hiddleston in record fashion, it's been everything that's happened since their debut that has reminded us that Taylor has always known how to get creative with her life story—and it's the palpable nuances of a relationship, dalliance or split that make the music.

The ghost of Harry Styles certainly haunts 1989, but with that album Taylor also really excelled at cleverly playing upon her own reputation and winking at her critics with tunes such as "Blank Space" and "Shake It Off." So even though Taylor's happy and seriously dating someone now—not her usual status when an album drops, but that's life—she's had two more years of life experience to draw from and you can bet any musical relationship (or breakup) anecdote will be as pithy as ever.

Celebs and Their Parents
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

The Love of Her Life

Thankfully, Andrea Swift has been looking healthy and seems to be doing well lately. But in April 2015 Taylor revealed that her mother was battling cancer, and while the family has understandably kept further details private, we picture Taylor cathartically filling pages and pages with her thoughts. The 26-year-old is very close to her parents ("The Best Day" is devoted to Andrea), and it's hard to imagine this scary, emotional time not inspiring songs—whether they're clearly autobiographical or more metaphorical—about love, the bonds of family and what really matters in life.

Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS

Hear Her Roar

The last couple of years have been transformative for Taylor from a business perspective as well. She was already a millionaire Grammy winner, but she really came into her own as a force to be reckoned with in the industry. First, after 1989 dropped, Taylor pulled her music from Spotify in objection to what she viewed as unfair compensation to artists whose music streamed on the site.

In March 2015 the "Style" singer also gave Jay Z and Beyoncé's fledgling Tidal service a streaming coup by releasing her older albums to Tidal while Spotify went without.

And then last summer she was singularly influential in Apple's infamous about-face, when at first the corporate behemoth wasn't going to pay artists royalties when their songs streamed as part of the free-trial stage of the Apple Music rollout and then reconsidered after Taylor pointed out that most artists needed that money.

Moreover, playing hardball just made Apple Music more eager to be on her team—the service contracted to stream exclusive footage from her 1989 World Tour last year, and this year she's been starring in their ads.

Apple Music

We're not suggesting that Taylor's been writing nsongs about digital publishing rights and streaming services, but might this year (or 2017) be the year of the March Madness anthem-ready, Super Bowl Halftime Show-perfect, hyper-produced, scream-it-from-the-rooftops, true girl power anthem from Taylor Swift?


I'll Show You Famous

Taylor addressed her 2009 MTV VMAs run-in with Kanye West on 2010's "Innocent," but their relationship has only grown more, shall we say…complex since then.

Whether Kanye West Gave Taylor Swift a Heads-Up on ''Famous'' Lyrics Doesn't Really Matter to the Internet
Stephane Cardinale - Kevin Mazur-Taylor Hill / GettyImages

Two Sides to Every Story

Whatever Katy Perry did or didn't do to Taylor Swift to inspire "Bad Blood" now seems like so much child's play when viewed through the prism of Kim Kardashian's Snapchat account. The Internet initially took fierce sides between Taylor and Kim when the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star unleashed the proof that Taylor did give her approval to at least one of two lines about her in Kanye's "Famous." Some applauded Kim for making Taylor answer for the previous discrepancies in her story, while others questioned Kim's tactics.

For the best songwriters, including Kanye West and Taylor Swift, each track is like a puzzle—you put the parts together, trying this one and then another in case that one didn't fit, until you get a picture that makes sense. And the "Famous" conundrum is now a greater puzzle, with each side holding different pieces that, if you put them together just the right way, will make a cohesive whole.

And how to sum all of that up in a song? If anyone can figure it out, it's Taylor Swift, who knows more than anybody that life itself is just a work in progress.

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