3 months ago i asked for palette/subject suggestions and i’m just now getting around to the rest of them :x i’ve been getting strong sleepover vibes lately so ! here’s me living vicariously through some fox girls 💖
Taylor Swift’s Secret Sessions feel like a heart-to-heart advice chat with your coolest aunt, the one who turns you on to new music.
Swift has gathered 89 fans into her parents’ living room, the place where her family celebrates Christmas, the piano on which she started I Knew You Were Trouble in one corner. Having first sworn them to secrecy, she plays her new album, 1989, nearly a month before its Oct. 27 release, from an pegacorn-embellished iPod run through a sound system.
“I wanted so badly to play this album early for people, because I’m more proud of it than anything I’ve ever done,” Swift says later in a penthouse-floor hotel suite. “That’s how I know I love this album more than all the other ones — ‘I need to play this for them early!’ ”
A few months ago, fans began noticing that Swift had become more engaged online, especially on Instagram and Tumblr, where she frequently “liked” their posts and sometimes wrote lengthy responses. It turns out Swift was doing her research, building guest lists for the listening sessions in Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, Rhode Island and London. She’ll host a final, not-so-secret session that will air Monday on iHeartRadio top 40 stations and stream on Yahoo. For fans who’ve “stalked” her online for years, it’s been a thrill to discover that she’s been stalking them back.
Franklin Cammack, of Manchester, Tenn., proposed to his wife, Miranda, last September as Swift performed Love Story during one of her Nashville concerts. “I found out we’re known in the Taylor Swift universe as ‘the Love Story couple,’ ” he says. Two days before the Nashville session, he and Miranda got an invitation from a member of Swift’s team. The caller knew about the proposal and knew the couple planned to marry the next day. “They said, ‘We’ve been following your Twitter account for a long time,’ ” he says.
Cammack calls the session the greatest fan experience he could imagine. “I’ve met quite a few artists,” says the teacher. “To have enough trust to invite fans into your home or your parents’ home, that’s a special layer of trust I don’t think many other artists would even consider doing.”
Between songs at the sessions, Swift dishes relationship advice and opines about love to the group, mostly women in their teens and early 20s, who hang on each word. During songs, she lip-syncs the lyrics from her seat and acts them out with hand motions. She plays the tracks mostly in order, saving chart-topping single Shake It Off for a furniture-shaking dance-along at the end.
“It’s been the most fun thing I’ve ever done in my career, to have these parties,” Swift says. “It doesn’t feel like anything other than a big sleepover — without people sleeping over, of course. But it’s very much sleepover vibes.”
Several of 1989’s songs, like Out of the Woods, All You Had to Do Was Stay and I Wish You Would, clearly grew out of Swift’s relationship with One Direction’s Harry Styles. But they don’t possess the passive-aggressive vengefulness such earlier songs as Should’ve Said No and We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together did. Their inspiration quickly becomes the answer to a trivia question as her fans internalize them into their own lives.
“I promise you, music is always less gossip-centric than the media makes it out to be,” Swift says. “In this culture, especially with this generation, it is always about their story. Maybe for two minutes in a conversation, it’s ‘Well, I heard this is about so-and-so.’ Then it switches over to ‘Oh, my God, this reminds me so much of my ex, oh, my God.’ Or, ‘Oh, this is our song.’ ”
Even as the young women at the sessions hear the songs for the first time, they begin to make them their songs. Those fans, and others, look to Swift for cues about the music they listen to, the way they dress, the way they view relationships, the way they look at life. Swift takes that responsibility very seriously, though she has allowed herself to loosen up in the past few years.
“Being 24 now, I feel much more relaxed about the impact my actions have on younger girls,” she says. “In my teen years, I was so terrified to make one false step. I thought that if I made a single mistake, all of this would come crashing down.
"Having grown up and made it into my mid-20s, having weathered some storms and taken some sucker punches, I’ve watched as my career didn’t crash to pieces like I used to fear. It’s taught me that as long as I’m living my life with good intentions and doing the best I can, fans can pick up on it.
"I’ve learned that people, in general, relate less to picture-perfect celebrities than they do to humans who happen to be famous.”