Taylor Swift and God’s Transforming Love
Can I ask you a question . . .? Are you a Swiftie like me? Have you met Taylor at midnight(s) for every new album release and tour announcement? Here at TC, we love Taylor Swift too. True to our tagline—“there’s no such thing as secular”—we’ve explored the intersection of faith and Swift’s songs by asking the following questions:
- How does Taylor Swift’s music interact with God’s story?
- Does it echo the gospel in some fashion?
- Does it provide evidence of our need for the good news?
- Does it contradict our understanding of the world in a way that deserves a loving response?
Across Swift’s albums, you’ll hear songs about loving, losing, grieving, changing, and growing up. These ideas can also be found throughout the Bible, from the Old Testament to the stories of Jesus, all of which are still relevant in our own lives today. The following articles will help you stay in our lavender haze, where we find glimpses of God’s story in Taylor Swift’s music:
Look What You Made Me Do: John Calvin by Way of Taylor Swift
Swift’s lead single from Reputation, “Look What You Made Me Do,” introduced us to the darker side of our spunky, country superstar. The imagery of the music video and the vocal performances on the single depict motifs of death and resurrection, while the lyrics repeat and reinforce Swift’s blamelessness in a dark world. This article explores what personal culpability and recognizing our own sins have to do with righteousness.
Taylor Swift’s False Reputation
“My reputation’s never been worse / so you must like me for me,” croons Swift in the opening lines of “Delicate,” from Reputation. This album showcases a new sound, a new look, and a new sensual side to Swift. But in the end, even with sharper words, we still find echoes of the old Swift looking for someone to intimately know and love her, just as we seek that in a relationship with Jesus.
Swift’s color-soaked Lover album is a combination of her previous musical stylings. She brings her newfound edge from the Reputation era into hits like “You Need To Calm Down” and “The Man,” balancing them with intimate songs like “Lover,” showing her growth and confidence as performer and person. While Lover features this mix of brazen pop anthems and soft, soulful ballads, the heart of the album is Swift reminding us of her desire to love and her end goal, her telos: to be loved in return.
Taylor Swift’s Isolation Hymns
For many of us, the COVID-19 crisis brought life to a halt, slowing us down and forcing us to be alone with ourselves and our thoughts. Swift released two surprise albums—folklore and evermore—during this unprecedented period in history. On folklore, she grapples with the idea of loneliness, exile, and isolation. Her stripped-back music, largely acoustic, and her raw, almost mournful vocals express the collective loss many of us felt in 2020. But there’s also hope—a reminder for Christians that even when we feel most alone, God never leaves us.
evermore, the sister album to folklore, is also quiet and contemplative in nature, with Swift’s falsetto mixing with soft guitar and piano. evermore is an album in search of hope, looking for a light in the darkest places. Swift takes us on a musical journey of sorrow, pain, grief, love, and hope, reminiscent of what we find in the Psalms. But unlike evermore, where hope is not assured, the Psalms remind us that we can always place our hope in God, even among the difficulties we face in life.
Taylor Swift’s Midnights and Psalm 139
The Midnights album debuted a new, collaborative style, compared to the Swift eras that have come before. Featuring the sharp edges of Reputation, the quiet musings of folklore and evermore, and the soulful intimacy of Lover,Midnights is a reflection and reminiscing of Swift’s very public personal life. Swift’s songs take us through many years, reminding us of the pains and joys she’s faced at the hands of society. Psalm 193 reminds us of similar struggles, while offering this consolation: instead of searching for (and perhaps losing) affirmation from society, we can always find affirmation from God.