The Words and Music of Taylor Swift

by James E. Perone


Taylor Swift is not only one of the most popular and successful pop artists of the 21st century; she is also a "musician's musician" who writes or cowrites nearly every song she performs.

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Cover image for The Words and Music of Taylor Swift

July 2017


Pages 119
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Popular Culture/Music and Performing Arts
  Popular Culture/Icons and Celebrities

This scholarly analysis of the music of Taylor Swift identifies how and why she is one of the early 21st century's most recognizable and most popular stars.

By the age of 13, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift had already inked a development deal with a major record label. This early milestone was an appropriate predictor of what accomplishments were to come. Now a superstar artist with an international fanbase of millions and several critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums, Swift has established herself as one of the most important musicians of the 21st century. This accessible book serves Taylor Swift fans as well as students of contemporary popular music and popular culture, critically examining all of this young artist's work to date.

The book's organization is primarily chronological, covering Taylor Swift's album and single releases in order of release date while also documenting the elements of her music and personality that have made her popular with fans of country music and pop music across a surprisingly diverse age range of listeners. The chapters address how Swift's songs have been viewed by some fans as anthems of empowerment or messages of encouragement, particularly by members of the LGBTQ community, those who have been bullied or been seen as outsiders, and emerging artists. The final chapter places Swift's work and her public persona in the context of her times with respect to her use of and relationship with technology—for example, her use of social media and songwriting technology—and her expressions of a new type of feminism that is unlike the feminism of the 1970s.


  • Provides the only scholarly critical analysis of the songs and recordings of megastar Taylor Swift
  • Places Swift, her work, and her public stances in the context of her generation and its definition of "empowerment" and "feminism"
  • Explores Swift's work as an extension of the early 1970s' confessional singer-songwriter movement
Author Info

James E. Perone, PhD, is associate dean of the faculty and the Margaret Morgan Ramsey professor in music at the University of Mount Union, Alliance, OH. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in clarinet performance, a Master of Arts in music theory, and a doctorate in music theory from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He also earned a Bachelor of Music in music education from Capital University. His published work includes the ABC-CLIO titles Mods, Rockers, and the Music of the British Invasion; Music of the Counterculture Era; The Words and Music of Elvis Costello; Smash Hits: The 100 Songs That Defined America; and The Words and Music of Melissa Etheridge, among others. Perone is also editor of ABC-CLIO's The Album: A Guide to Pop Music's Most Provocative, Influential, and Important Creations and series editor of The Praeger Singer-Songwriter Collection.

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