Commentary: How did Taylor Swift get so popular? She never goes out of style

For the upcoming release of 1989 (Taylor’s Version), Swift has unveiled a series of puzzles on Google, which fans must solve together in order to reveal the names of the upcoming vault tracks.

Swifties collectively solved the 33 million (yes, that’s million) puzzles in less than 24 hours. The games played a dual role – not only did Swift announce the vault track titles, but she’s reclaimed her Google searches in the process.

Swift’s fandom crosses generations. She’s a quintessential millennial, and many fans have grown up with Swift over the past two decades. Some have even started to bring their children along to the concerts, posting videos of them set to the bridge to Long Live.

She’s also found a younger audience on TikTok, a platform predominantly used by Gen Z. Affectionately dubbed “SwiftTok” by fans (and now Swift herself), users post videos to engage with other Swifties and participate in the community.

Swift’s songs are often used in popular trends. The release of Midnights last year had many dancing to Bejeweled and Karma, but Swift’s older catalogue has also gotten a good run. A remix of Love Story went viral in 2020, which helped a new generation discover her older music. Most recently, her song August has been used for running on the beach and spinning around with your pets.

She’s also closely aligned with young adult shows like The Summer I Turned Pretty, which has featured 13 of her songs throughout the show’s first two seasons. Swift’s music is so central to the story that author Jenny Han nearly dedicated the second book to her.

Swift continues to dominate the cultural conversation through her music, business decisions and legions of devoted fans.

Right now, Swift’s popularity is at an all-time high, and it could be easy to dismiss this hype as a passing trend. But if these first 17 years are anything to go by, Swift’s proven she’s in it for the long haul, and worthy of our time.

Kate Pattison is a PhD candidate at RMIT University. This commentary first appeared on The Conversation.

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