‘Taylor Swift: Miss Americana’ — A Pop Star Finds A New Voice


In 2004, Taylor Swift, the prodigious singer-songwriter, grew to become, at simply 14 years previous, the youngest recording artist signed by Sony. Her first album, which went triple platinum, was launched the next 12 months. However she didn’t actually make it onto my radar till 2008, when two issues occurred. 

One, my daughter, then 11, requested for Swift’s second album, Fearless, for her birthday. I confess that, whereas I discovered the tunes nice in a pop-music form of method, I used to be not all that impressed. In reality, as a former English main, I used to be mildly irritated each time the hit “Love Story” got here on and he or she cooed “You have been Romeo and I used to be a scarlet letter and my dad stated steer clear of Juliet.” (Had the lady learn any literature in any respect?)

The second factor that occurred was that she was profiled in The New Yorker, a magazine that has by no means suffered fools gladly. The story, by Sasha Frere-Jones, was titled merely “Prodigy,” and identified, “Although prodigies are at all times stunning, the shock is barely in diploma, not class; what’s stunning about Swift is her indifference to class or style. She is taken into account a part of Nashville’s country-pop custom solely as a result of she writes narrative songs with melodic readability and dramatic form — Nashville’s stock-in-trade. However such songs additionally crop up in R&B and rap and rock . . . Swift just isn’t an agent of revolution; she, very similar to Beyoncé, is a preternaturally expert pupil of established values. Her precociousness isn’t about her chart success, however lies within the high quality of her work, how absolutely she’s absorbed the teachings of her elders and the way little she appears to care which radio format will ultimately declare her. Change the beat and the devices across the voice, and her songs may work wherever.” 

In different phrases, women and gentleman, Swift is the true deal.

Twelve years on, the documentary Taylor Swift: Miss Americana, directed by Lana Wilson, definitely reinforces Swift’s picture as a preternaturally gifted younger musician. Nevertheless, it additionally focuses on the famous person’s loneliness, insecurities, and a rising sense of social accountability as she nears her thirtieth 12 months.

Miss Americana begins off with Swift trying via the diaries she saved as a younger lady. Her ambition, creativeness, and writing expertise are already on show. That is the story of a gifted (and fortuitously lovely) little lady who obtained a guitar one 12 months for Christmas and by no means appeared again. Her household, supportive from day one, moved from Pennsylvania to Tennessee. Her mom continues to tour along with her and is described, unironically, as Swift’s greatest pal.

The documentary, promoted by Netflix as “uncooked and emotionally revealing,” is intimate, focusing as typically on a make-up-free Swift in flannel pajama pants because it does on the glittery pop goddess she turns into onstage. Tabloid fame is offered as a curse in addition to a blessing. Swift, described by many as a princess, is candid and articulate about her physique challenge challenges after near-constant media scrutiny resulted in an consuming dysfunction. “I generally is a measurement six,” she declares (the girl is 5′ 10″); “I don’t must be a 00.” We see her disappointment, then dedication, when she isn’t nominated for a Grammy: “I simply must make a greater file.” She opens up about her disgrace when Kanye West pulled the microphone away from her on the 2009 Grammy Awards to announce that Beyoncé ought to have gained. (“I believed they have been booing me,” she admits—an excruciatingly painful confession for a lady who grew up on fixed reward.) And she or he explains the affect of her authorized battle with David Mueller, the radio character who groped her in a publicity picture and was consequently fired. He sued her for defamation and damages; she counter-sued him for sexual assault. (It must be famous that he sued for thousands and thousands and he or she for one greenback.) The expertise gave her a way of consciousness and empathy she hadn’t identified earlier than. “I had six witnesses and picture proof, and I nonetheless needed to combat to be believed,” she recollects. “What occurs to the girl when it’s her phrase in opposition to his?” 



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