Taylor Swift appear in all my TikTok For You Page
Now, this is by design. The all-knowing TikTok algorithm understands what I love, and serves it up daily: old Taylor Swift interviews, analyses of her latest cryptic Instagram posts, mashups of two or more of Taylor’s perfect songs. Over the past few months, Red (Taylor’s Version) fan promo has dominated SwiftTok, meaning I’ve watched Swifties rock out to the bridge of Red bonus track “Come Back…Be Here” more times than I can count.
SwiftTok — the fan hashtag for the collection of Taylor vids on TikTok — is the 2021 version of a message board or blog, but the easy integration of music makes it a far more natural home for the obsessive Taylor fans among us compared to other Swiftie social media faves of the past, like Tumblr. The video editing capabilities allow for a wider range of expression, meaning it’s TikTok where one can see fans dancing along to her bops, and it also allows them to cue up some of her most heartbreaking bridges to play over devastating texts from men with whom they went on two sort of ok dates.
Then, crucially, one can also head to the comment section, where they’ll be greeted like an insider, with winking lyric references and big-hearted support from a community all in on the same thrill. Apologies to YouTube, but SwiftTok vids are the best way to mimic the thrill of her live concerts, where the connection between Taylor and the audience is strong, but the connection between audience members is also pretty exciting.
It’s also where new fans, particularly Gen Z ones, can learn their Taylor history, studying up about secret messages in the liner notes of her earlier albums, or a theory behind the significance of a certain performance or song. SwiftTok is the kind of place where something like the phrase “10-minute version of ‘All Too Well'” can go from a legend, which only those deep in the fandom are aware might exist, to widely known enough that Swift not only put said song on Red (Taylor’s Version) but also made it a cornerstone of the marketing.
SwiftTok is fun, but it also illustrates and supports an unexpected bonus when it comes to Taylor Swift’s album re-release project: The platform contributes to and allows newer fans the collective thrill of an experience they may have missed the first time around. Scream-singing the chorus of “The Moment I Knew” is a joy no one should go without, regardless of when one joined the fandom. You can do that by yourself whenever you want, of course, but the combination of re-releases and TikTok make it clear you aren’t the only one, and in fact, are part of something bigger.
The new-meets-old specialness of TikTok for the singer is exemplified by what’s going on right now with Speak Now track “Enchanted,” which went viral in the last few weeks. Despite never being a single off the 2010 album, it’s charming to watch tons more people discover that, yup, that nearly six-minute ode to longing about an intoxicating new crush is…a Taylor classic. Blondie, as she is often referred to on SwiftTok, did it again.
This is particularly comical because some of the people are discovering the songs without first realizing they are Taylor songs. They’ll hear the hook on TikTok thanks to a snippet being used in a trend, and the next thing you know they are down the rabbit hole of her catalogue. This month, enough new people discovered an 11-year-old song thanks to TikTok that “Enchanted” recently hit the top 10 on Spotify’s US Daily Chart. A similar deal happened with 1989 fave “Wildest Dreams” earlier this year, resulting in Swift quickly releasing “Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version)”.
While there are certainly problems with stan culture in general, SwiftTok is a pretty positive place. For now at least, it’s able to eschew the negativity of some Instagram and Twitter chats about the singer, likely because — as TikTok will serve you related content based on what you previously engaged with — you don’t really wind up 12 videos deep on Taylor unless you, you know, want to be there. There are some jokes about gatekeeping a few of her more beloved or misunderstood older tracks, the general vibe is people who are really, really excited about the singer and want other people to join them in that celebration.
This aspect is touching because I suspect some of her older fans may have had a different experience with Swift when they were teens: performatively disliking her earliest music because, well, internalized misogyny is pervasive and sucks. Broadly, there is just more space these days to understand that pop stars are musicians, they are incredibly talented, and talking about romantic dreams and guys isn’t a weakness. It’s been a nice arc over the last decade to see that growth on both a societal level and see Gen Z able to reject it in larger numbers — as evidenced by the amount of them calling out bullshit concern trolling about Swift or publicly joking around about looking forward to heartbreak, all the better to relate to Red (Taylor’s Version).
Taylor Swift is rightly proud of the giant community she has built, and she has always used social media to stay connected with fans all the way back to her Myspace (!) days. So naturally, her millennial self officially joined TikTok in August and quickly posted a perfectly on-brand cat video. More recent activity from her include getting in on popular trends, and, thrillingly, popping in to leave comments on many fans’ posts. When Red (Taylor’s Version) dropped on Friday, Swift stopped by TikTok to let fans know all her songs were available for whatever quirkiness people wanted to get up to on the platform.
“I can’t wait to see what you make,” she noted.
We begin the game baby