The new Taylor: From pop princess to dark empress

In November 2008, teenage heart-throb and all-American girl Taylor Swift released one of her most touching and heartfelt ballads, “Fifteen.” It told the story of Taylor’s first day of high school, where she met her best friend and experienced one of her first heartbreaks. It spoke to many young girls who gave their hearts away to jerks.

Now, nine years later, Swift released her new single, “Look What You Made Me Do.” The media and die-hard “Swifties” around the world were hit in the face with a cold, hard dose of reality: the old Taylor Swift is dead.

The chatter surrounding “LWYMMD has mainly been negative. People want the old Taylor back. Girls want love ballads. Parents want a clean, fun concert for their little girls. Nobody wants a dark, evil and “petty” Taylor.

However, Swift’s new song is not a new move. The music industry all too familiar with this shift in persona. Artists such as Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Kesha change their sound to fit with their maturing fans and the changing times. Celebrities and artists grow, just as students and children do.

Taylor Swift, who formed her image as the innocent girl who always gets played, is clearly not the same girl she was when she released “Fearless,” “Speak Nowor even “Red.Taylor decided to change her name and her “reputation” by embracing this new stage in her life.

Taylor has been completely aware of all the insults, criticisms and scandals that have plagued her career and public persona. Now, she’s transforming those insults into her own success. If you look closely at the “LWYMMD music video, she includes many not-so-subtle symbols and messages.

The lyric “I don’t like your tilted stage” could very well refer to Kanye West’s tilted stage on his Saint Pablo tour. Her bridge, “The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now / Why? / Because she’s dead” could be a nod to the alleged phone call with Kanye.

One of the gravestones in the beginning of the video reads “Nils Sjoberg,” the name Taylor used when she wrote the lyrics for her ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris’s song, “This is What You Came For.” When Taylor appears in the bathtub with her hand shaped like a gun – a nod to Kim Kardashian’s infamous robbery, perhaps – a $1 bill appears within the diamonds she is bathing in. Recently, Taylor dealt with criticism after she sued a DJ for sexual assault, in which her payout was $1.

Taylor has neither forgiven nor forgotten. Years of slander, criticism and insults pushed her to her limit. Many fans are disappointed and even surprised after watching her new video. But her music contained themes of revenge and self-defense from the very beginning. Don’t forget about “Picture to Burn,” “Better Than Revenge” and “Bad Blood.”

Taylor has always spoken her mind, regardless of what people say about her. She used every negative and hurtful brick that was thrown at her, as she put it in “New Romantics,” to build a castle. However, this “new” Taylor Swift probably doesn’t just want a castle. She wants an empire.