“You Need to Calm Down” Taylor Swift: Podcast Transcript

0-0:09 (opening): Miss Americana: Barbara Walters “Taylor Swift is the Music Industry” https://www.netflix.com/watch/81028336?source=35

0:09-0:31 (Narrator): Taylor Swift is the music industry just about sums it up. An artist at her level, winning accolades the way she does is unheard of in today’s day and age. The age of songwriting, releasing and touring seemed over when Covid hit, but Taylor Swift proves otherwise. From her country roots, to her now pop stardom, a lot has changed throughout the years. 

0:31-1:50 (tape) → Miss Americana her dad being worried about her safety for speaking out about politics https://www.netflix.com/watch/81028336?source=35

1:50-2:15 (Only the Young) www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJU-S1t2r1M.

2:15-2:54 (Narrator) It was at this point in her career that Taylor realized her voice needed to be used for a change, regardless of the backlash. She knew her voice could be used for good and after sitting around, locked into a labeled contract for years and going through her reputation being torn down, and her masters being sold she realized that she needed to become an advocate for those who couldn’t speak. Young people, upcoming artists and especially the LGBT community. The last clip that was played, Only the Young was the first dive into politics that Swift released musically, leading her into You Need to Calm Down. 

2:54-3:01 (You Need to Calm Down; LIVE)

3:01-3:42 (narrator) “Using my voice to try to advocate was the only choice to make.”

After realizing this, Swift put out three political songs, and her album Lover. Swift also urged her fans to get out of the polls to vote, which event brought in record numbers for voter registration in the 2020 election, regardless of what her father and management would say. Easter Eggs written into her songs and videos and her consistent speaking out on political issues throughout society today reign high on her list of to-do. Which is essentially what we see from the release of You Need to Calm Down, to the music videos, to the live performances and to her interviews we now see where she stands on politics and how she really feels. 

3:42-3:55 (You Need to Calm Down BEAT INTRO)

3:55-4:27 (Donald Trump – “I like Taylors music 25% less now”) www.youtube.com/watch?v=dieYdiq3FMM.

4:27-4:47 (narrator) Right after Donald Trump said that he liked Taylors music 25% less, Perez Hilton, a well known Hollywood “reporter” which may be a loose term to describe him, said, note how Republicans are attacking @taylorswift13‘s intelligence instead of her ideas. They don’t respect women enough to debate them. 

4:47-5:10 (Narrator) All of this leads right back to and leads me into You Need to Calm down and how her career changed after it was released. The overall evolution of Taylor Swift shows from her country roots to her pop-stardom. People, as usual, wanted to attack her intelligence instead of her ideas because she is a woman in the music industry. Which is what we see in her other song from the Lover album, The Man. 

5:10-5:22 (The Man Chorus) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqAJLh9wuZ0

5:22-6:05 (Narrator) Now that we have gone through the other songs that Swift wrote politically after she originally dove into politics, let’s move onto the important stuff, with You Need to Calm Down. “You Need to Calm Down” was released on Taylor Swift’s Lover album back in 2019. The song was released leading up to the 2020 elections, and right after the November 2018 elections when Swift endorsed Phil Bredesen, a Democrat running for senate in Tennessee, as well as shocking the country music community by speaking out about politics, and being a democrat (which she ended up writing Only the Young in response to his failed campaign) and You Need to Calm down in response to the critiques she got for supporting a democrat. 

6:05-6:14 (Narrator) Through the first listen of the song, there are many Easter Eggs (as her Swifite fandom calls it) that are not necessarily noticed. One that stands out the most is this lyric 


6:26-6:56 (Narrator) When you first hear that lyric you immediately think of the emotion of being glad. However the lyrics are actually “Why are you mad? When you could be GLAAD.” With two A’s. The extra A in glad offers an additional critique because if you were not reading the lyrics, and just listening to the song, you would not recognize the way that GLAAD is spelled to represent the LGBTQ organization, and not the emotional glad. It’s small Easter Eggs like this that make Taylor’s song writing seem like she is an overall mastermind. 



7:30- (Narrator) Taylor Swift “Easter Eggs” aside, this video itself is very strong. By having very prominent people apart the LGBT community in the video pushes the message that much more. One scene from the music video in particular that stands out is the picketing “protests” that are clearly protesting the LGBT community. It proves the message that this song is about. People are against a community that should be equal to everyone else. It proves that this is a protest song. It creates a visual that could be heard in the lyrics but creates the overall persona and message that I believe Taylor is trying to portray – and she does a great job doing it. 

7:30- (Narrator) There are many different live performances that Taylor has done of “You Need to Calm Down” over the years, but the one that stands out the most is at the VMA’s right after the song was released. This one stands out the most because it is meant to replicate the music video and give it a bigger platform as it was performed on live television for all of the world to see and for all of the news outlets to talk about. The fact that it was also used to open the VMAs can be seen as a strong message. It shows that artists are allowed to express themselves and their music (which could be used as an argument for what MTV and the VMAs really stands for, as it’s not as high class as the Grammys). Additionally, having the actors and actresses and influencers on stage with her as they were in the video is strong. It shows the diversity that America strives for, yet proves that it is not everywhere, regardless of what some people may think. The most important part of this award show, and the winning Video of the Year for the YNTCD video was…

7:21-7:30 (VMA ACCEPTANCE SPEECH) www.youtube.com/watch?v=8z4icNgFSPI.

(Narrator) In conclusion, Taylor Swifts, You Need to Calm down calls out a multitude of movements, women’s rights, freedom of speech and most importantly, LGBTQ rights. It connects to the movement by calling out those who do not support the equality of the community in general, but especially in regards to the equality act. You Need to Calm Down being released as a pop-song is incredibly important, and is also equally as important that Swift did this after leaving country music. The odds of a song like this being accepted in country music is slim to none, because like Swift mentioned, label executives had always told her to be the nice polite girl, who lets people think how they want and just listen to her music. Pop music allowed her to express herself and beliefs more freely, even with backlash from her father, her management and even the President of the United States. Pop music is known for being incredibly popular, hence the name. There are many different reasons for this but the reason that this song and this message was able to be pushed so well was because of the way that pop music gets pushed onto the radio, spotify playlists and creates an overall catchy theme that people remember. Repetitive lyrics are a main part of how artists get pop music to get stuck in peoples heads longer. By making a melody that is repetitive and catchy, it allows songs to catch better traction with the audience. The layered vocals in the “uh oh’s” also creates something that people remember. Layered vocals seem to stick out more, so using them in “You Need to Calm Down” can also give the song traction that the beat itself may not give it. The vocal performance in a lot of Taylor Swift’s songs are what she is known for, aside from all of the lyrics that she writes herself. This is what makes her songs so easy to remember and popular, giving her the ability to write songs that need a platform to be lifted up into the world in a way that some of her other songs may have not in the past. Overall, Taylor knew she could use her platform for good after being released from a label contract she was trapped in, and she did. She used her voice to the best of her ability (despite what the haters say) and still continues to do so today, regardless of what people continue to say and think about her.