Taylor Swift delved into the way she manages and maintains her career, friendships — including Kanye West — and the mythology that surrounds songs like “Bad Blood,” in a revealing, lengthy profile in GQ.
Author Chuck Klosterman spends much of the story plumbing the peculiar relationship between Swift’s very public personal life and her music. While her songs are frequently dissected for references to a specific person (particularly ex-boyfriends), Swift said she did not begrudge the analysis and noted, “I’ve never named names, so I feel like I still have a sense of power over what people say.”
“Bad Blood,” from her latest album, 1989, drew such attention, especially when she told Rolling Stone for a cover story last year that it wasn’t about a guy, but another female pop star who tried to sabotage a tour by hiring personnel from under her. Katy Perry was quickly pegged as the likely target. And while Swift neither confirmed nor denied the allegation, Perry added to the speculation with a cryptic tweet upon the story’s publication, “Watch out for the Regina George in sheep’s clothing.”
A year later, Swift still won’t say who “Bad Blood” is about, but she revealed her thought process when Rolling Stone asked about the song’s subject: “You sit there, and you know you’re on good terms with your ex-boyfriend, and you don’t want him — or his family — to think you’re firing shots at him. So you say, ‘That was about losing a friend.’ And that’s basically all you say. But then people cryptically tweet about what you meant.”
As Klosterman notes, Swift’s initial response was more revealing and specific than she makes it seem in retrospect; but it also shows how adept she is at managing expectations and assumptions, protecting the person she wants to while still stoking interest in the song. Swift believes this kind of self-awareness is crucial to navigating stardom, but elsewhere, she bemoans how this mindset and her actions are construed as “calculating,” a term she despises.
“I do think about things before they happen,” she said. “But here was someone taking a positive thing — the fact that I think about things and that I care about my work — and trying to make that into an insinuation about my personal life. Highly offensive. You can be accidentally successful for three or four years. Accidents happen. But careers take hard work.”
Still, her career has included several monumental accidents, most famously when Kanye West interrupted her acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Swift hasn’t spoken much about the incident itself, but recalled being overwhelmed by confusion while it was happening.
“When the crowd started booing, I thought they were booing because they also believed I didn’t deserve the award. That’s where the hurt came from. I went backstage and cried, and then I had to stop crying and perform five minutes later. I just told myself I had to perform, and I tried to convince myself that maybe this wasn’t that big of a deal. But that was the most happenstance thing to ever happen in my career. And to now be in a place where Kanye and I respect each other — that’s one of my favorite things that has happened in my career.”
Read the full profile at GQ.