Taylor Swift


The pop music industry is booming with new music, new artists, and new releases. But the one thing that has remained constant is the deep-rooted sexism. 

Hardly any of us would be ignorant about the general consensus of the world on male pop groups or singers. Every conversation about BTS, One Direction, Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes elicits the same scorn filled reaction from self-proclaimed music critics and experts- a passing trend, shallow music, etc. “They’re only famous because they’re pretty” is a popular belief, and it becomes important to acknowledge the not so subtle sexist undertones that lace this common misconception. 

A common feature of these singers and groups is their predominantly larger female fanbase. It is this demographic that automatically reduces their music to something that only ‘thirteen-year-old teenage fangirls’ listen to. And even if it is just thirteen-year-old teenage girls listening to it, why is it that it becomes a bad thing? One could say that every neighbourhood rapper in the past 12 years has had the same sad flow beaten to death over and over again, and yet with a fanbase that is predominantly male-centric, it becomes a thing of critic and is labelled ‘cool’. 

Anything that women and girls love is deemed hysterical, even though men and boys might have the same level of passion for an artist without being considered ‘frenzied’ or ‘mad’. Fans of artists like Eminem haven’t truly been sneered at for decorating their spaces with his merch, which unfortunately does not hold true for pop artists like BTS and Taylor Swift.

The biggest example of this has to be the global sensation Beatles. The band’s rise to popularity in the 1960s came to be termed as Beatlemania. The band was known for its ‘screaming female fans’ and was even dismissed early on as a fad. The fans, who were termed hysterical and their expression, which was termed as a mania probably says more than enough. Yet, almost seven decades down, they’ve only gotten bigger; The band that paved the way for fangirling is now termed a classic.  

The sexism in the industry becomes apparent when these artists are called homophobic and sexist slurs when their hard work and talent is reduced to nothing, when their sense of self-expression is labelled ‘girly’ because that makes them ‘less than’. And it isn’t just the artists who suffer too. As a male, liking these artists or groups makes the fans social pariahs as well. They are ridiculed and shamed for liking something ‘girly’. 

But that’s the notion that’s been established by the toxic masculinity perpetuated by society-  that men and soft emotions cannot coexist. That artists that rap and rock it out over dark, intense concepts are applauded in the same musical space where soft, peppy love songs are given a cold shoulder. 

 “I feel like the toxic notion that men are supposed to be rough and into ‘dark’ music is the reason why a lot of men only listen to rock/rap. Everyone somewhat enjoys pop music which is why it is pop. But revealing themselves as fans of easy, uplifting pop music does not align with their entire aura of being tough,” said a twenty-year-old male fan.

Sexism is not just limited to genres and artists though. The catchy songs hitting the charts reek of objectification, misogyny and in cases, even violence. Songs by popular artists like The Weeknd, David Guetta, Jason Durelo, have multiple lyrics objectifying women and calling them names. Eminem is known for producing music that talks about bashing gays and raping women, and well, he’s remained a favourite. Because, honestly, hardly any of us care about the lyrics when ‘the beat slaps’.

Evidently, in the industry, this sexism is perpetuated and sustained by the very industry itself- the artists and the fans alike. 

Feature Image Credits: Scopio

Satviki Sanjay

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Shreya Juyal

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In the middle of the month of June, the Pride Month, Taylor Swift had dropped a new video for her single ‘You Need to Calm Down’. A song battling homophobia and her haters, the song has received moderately good reviews but it’s the video that has been making headlines.

The video starts with Taylor waking up in a trailer and then burning it down as she walks past anti-LGBTQ protestors. She keeps on walking in a world of flashy colours which features a huge ensemble of some of the greatest queer icons, from Ru Paul judging a beauty pageant to Ellen DeGeneres getting tattooed by Adam Lambert. In the end, even Katy Perry (a major foe of Taylor in the past as per gossip journalists) gets along with her.

But the reaction like most of Taylor’s content in the past has been polarising.

While her support for the LBGTQ community has been welcomed, some are critical of the vibe that the video gives off. Associating queer people with pink and all other flashy colours is a major stereotype and unconsciously the Drew Kirsch directed video seems to reinforce the very same stereotype.

As a queer school student (name withheld) said, ‘She went with the whole stereotype with how LGBT is all about rainbows, being excessively flamboyant, spilling tea and being dramatic and constantly being obsessed with drag culture.’ He added that it caters to an extremely exclusive set of people from the community and not every ‘non-straight guy’ would relate to it.

There have been artists in the past with songs that achieve the status of a ‘pride anthem’, like many tunes by George Michael, Lady Gaga and Madonna. But none of these artists ‘try’ to be queer icons. It’s the community of their listeners that ultimately give them this status.

In the case of Swift, before her ‘Swifties’ decide, she seems to have proclaimed herself as a queer icon. As a Vox report read, her song ‘wants to be a queer anthem’. It also feels that she like many other capitalist companies is trying to commodify Pride Month and make money out of it. But is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Even if shameless capitalism is involved, in some way or the other they are trying to celebrate pride and criticise the homophobes. That just makes them allies of the LBGTQ community and that’s a good thing…right?

But support and appropriation are two extreme sides of the rainbow. ‘She’s just queerbaiting. She can’t take up a space that’s not hers. We don’t need straight saviours’, Ambuj, a third-year student from Ambedkar University said.

Poet and blogger Arjun Randhawa had a similar narrative that Taylor ‘overdid’ herself as he called the video ‘a great way to get views during pride month and for calling a truce with another pop star (Katy)’.

So, appropriating, pretending, overdoing, stereotyping, capitalising, there are many allegations on the pop star but it’s no secret that she has been a genuine ally for the queer community for a long time. In fact, Taylor has released this song to raise funds for GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and her own petition urging the US Senate to pass the Equality Act.

She might be walking the straight path of being a ‘straight saviour’ for the community in the video too but maybe some queer people are ready to give her this status despite her heterosexual identity. But as the video many famous queer personalities, do we really need a straight white singer to be their voice, that’s the question.

A Hyderabad student who identifies as bisexual (name not disclosed) feels that the hate that Taylor is getting seems a bit unnecessary.

‘She has been a genuine ally, and the video isn’t the same as corporate gaining off the pride tide. This is a product that can be streamed and viewed with nothing to pay for but our time. Yes, she gets ad revenue but come on, the sets didn’t materialise out of thin air right!’

So, have you watched the video for You Need to Calm Down? Do you feel Taylor Swift overplayed her ‘queer avatar’? Or do you have a ‘calmed-down’ stance?

Featured Image Credits- Taylor Swift Archives

Shaurya Singh Thapa

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Music videos are a vital part of songs and help the listeners to visualize the song from the perspective of the artists themselves. There are times when the music video becomes the sole reason for the success of a song and no one knows this better than Drake and Bieber. Music videos in 2015 awed and won the viewers through strong vocals, dancing, creative storylines and great production value. Here is a ranked list of top five music videos of 2015:

1. Drake: “Hotline Bling”

Director: Director X

Well, this is the video which triggered thousands of hilarious memes, buzzfeed lists and parodies. A dream come true for the GIF makers; it was as if Drake knew that his dorky dance moves would instantly be GIF’d by the internet. Drake’s drunk-dad dancing moves on a retro-futuristic set with a handful of dancing girls were so ridiculous and silly that they actually managed to grab the attention of the masses, making this song this year’s biggest novelty hit and putting this video on the top of our list!

 2. Taylor Swift, featuring Kendrick Lamar: “Bad Blood”

Director: Joseph Kahn

A year without Taylor’s video is not possible and this year was no exception. From, ‘Wildest Dreams’ to ‘Bad Blood’, Taylor hooked us with her videos yet again. ‘Bad Blood’, insanely hyped and one of the most awaited Taylor’s videos, released in May. In this star-studded, futuristic clip Taylor is surrounded by her celebrity besties, including Selena Gomez, Lena Dunham, Hailee Steinfeld, Ellie Goulding, Zendaya, Hayley Williams, Lily Aldridge and Karlie Kloss. This video has a lot of elements from Mission Impossible, Hunger Games, Divergent, Tron, Avengers and many more with Kendrick Lamar’s remix. This video with its star girl power and action sequences grabbed the second spot on our list and also, made us rethink our #squadgoals!

3. Sia: “Elastic Heart”

Director: Sia

Choreographer: Ryan Heffington

After Sia’s ‘Chandelier’, Maddie Ziegler comes back with her same large, crazy eyes and maniacal intensity in Sia’s ‘Elastic Heart’. But, this time she’s not alone as she and Shia LeBeouf engage in a performance-art ballet inside a huge bird cage. With Sia’s vocals, Maddie’s Dancing, LeBeouf’s intense performance and a stunningly powerful expression of loss at its conclusion, ‘Elastic Heart’ won our hearts and gained the third spot on our list.

 4. Major Lazer and DJ Snake featuring MØ: “Lean On” 

Director: Tim Erem

You would really have to be dead to know not have heard or seen this song’s video. ‘Lean On’ is a highly commercially successful song of 2015 and reached on top of many charts globally. This song was extensively shot in India. And, it also happens to be that one song which was not only played on the English music channels in India but, it was played on Hindi music channels too. This song with it infectious beats and crazy dance moves clinches the 4th spot of our list!

5. Carly Rae Jepsen: “I Really Like You”

Director: Peter Glanz

Seriously, who wouldn’t want to see Tom Hanks lip-syncing a frothy bubblegum pop song? Well, this song by Jepson has Tom Hanks walking the streets, lip-syncing on her girlish voice with the chorus hook “I really really really really really really like you” makes it downright adorable and comic. This carefree-happy song ends with Jepson and Hanks dancing down the street with a big group of dancers and an unexpected cameo from Justin Bieber (yeah, that guy in the end was not his lookalike!).

These were our favourite music videos of 2015. Let us know your favourite ones in comment section!

Nidhi Panchal

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Image Credits: www,ioneglobalgrind.files.wordpress.com

Following her recent string of high-profile relationships, including a romance earlier this week with Garfield cartoonist Jim Davis, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is now dating Suri Cruise, sources confirmed today. “Taylor and Suri were seen grabbing lunch at a Thai restaurant in SoHo earlier this afternoon, and we can confirm that the two are now officially an item,” TMZ reporter Allison Raeber wrote of the budding romance between the 23-year-old pop star and the 6-year-old daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, nicknaming the couple “Saylor.” “Fans spotted the two holding hands on the way out of the restaurant, and Taylor was even seen giving Suri a quick peck on the lips before getting into a car.” At press time, sources reported that Swift had just entered Cruise’s apartment building in downtown Manhattan.