Swift Revenge: A Heads Up to Harry Styles


Tristan Gillia, Opinion Editor

It all started with “Teardrops on My Guitar,” with Drew: a boy Taylor Swift liked but never actually dated. In fact, he never even knew she liked him until he heard her crooning his name on the hit song. After that, her public relationship timeline begins.

Taylor Swift frequently vents about her relationships through song. In “Picture to Burn,” she complained about an ex who apparently never let her drive his pick-up truck, and then there was “Should’ve Said No,” about a guy named Sam who cheated on her. She also wrote at least two songs about Joe Jonas, who apparently made the mistake of breaking up with her on the phone. Taylor Lautner, the poor sap, was the next on the chopping block, although this time she was apologizing to him (he apparently told her it was “too late to ‘pologize”). Later, taking a page from the Joe Jonas dating guide, Jake Gyllenhaal broke up with her via text and was awarded with practically an entire album devoted to his (allegedly) selfish and fickle approach to romance. Of course, I would be severely remiss not to mention what many believe is the public skewering of John Mayer in “Dear John” and “I Knew You Were Trouble.” However, these weren’t her only victims; she’s also written songs purportedly about ex boyfriends Kyle Mckinley, Conor Kennedy, Riley Howell, and Lucas Till, and didn’t stop there. In “Mean,” for example, she even turned her wrath on music critics who were, well, mean. Not too subtle, but a good song nevertheless.

And this is not a complete list. Far from it. For a complete accounting of Taylor’s numerous romantic exploits and the songs written about them, you could go to any one of the countless fan websites devoted to chronicling her love life.  Or the magazine and newspaper articles. Or the youtube video clips of TV appearances. Or just type in “Taylor Swift” on Google and you will get more than you need.

She never (or rarely) comes out and publicly states the inspiration of each of her songs, and only sometimes puts in first names. However, she leaves a pretty clear trail of breadcrumbs in her lyrics and in the press that lead straight back to her boyfriends, for anyone who cares to follow the trail. Fans and the press seem to enjoy the game, even if the ex boyfriends don’t, and speaking personally as a fan, it’s fun to try and figure out whom the song is about.

If I were Harry Styles, Taylor’s current beau, I’d be quaking in my designer pop star boots, skinny jeans and artfully tousled hair. It’s a no-win situation, really. If he breaks up with her, he had better do it nicely, but even that’s no guarantee that he won’t be skewered in song. On the other hand, if she breaks up with him, he might have to endure a humiliating apology song that makes him seem like a puppy dog sap.

Putting aside the somewhat alarming number of boyfriends Taylor has had in the past few years, the question has been asked whether this public chronicling of boyfriend misdeeds is the right thing to do.

John Mayer, for one, has complained publicly that her predilection for pillorying ex boyfriends in song is a cheap and immature thing to do. Maybe it is. However, I’m skeptical. She’s just writing. She’s young, and she writes what she knows. Writers have been doing that forever. They’ve also been using their writing to exact revenge for as long as writers have been writing. Maybe it’s not that nice, but, then again, what damage has she really done? I mean, was anyone not aware that John Mayer was a hound dog? It certainly doesn’t seem to have hurt his record sales any. Jake Gyllenhaal is doing just fine, too, thank you very much, and if Joe Jonas has been relegated to starring in a lame TV reality show, well, that has more to do with his teenybopper persona than with anything Taylor ever wrote.

Another issue to keep in mind is that we’re only getting her side of things in these songs, and who knows if she’s painting an accurate picture? Then again, who cares? They’re her songs.  She has no obligation except to tell the truth as she sees it. In fact, she’s not even obligated to do that. Like I said, they’re songs, not depositions. They don’t have to be true. They just have to tell a story. In fact, the only debate around Taylor Swift is whether they’re good songs. Some people don’t like them, but a lot of people do – and I’m one of them.

Besides, at this point, any potential boyfriend really has to know full well what it means to get involved with Taylor Swift. She writes about her life. She always has. Always will.

UPDATE: Since the article was written, it has been reported that Taylor Swift and Harry Styles have broken up. Harry Styles, be afraid. Be very afraid.