“Pop music has been a sanctuary and playground, and there’s an expectation that pop stars, particularly female pop stars, will nurture and honor it” (Ganz.)

“Here, Swift purposely spelled glad with two A’s, referring to pro-LGBTQ media organization GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). Since the beginning of Pride Month, Swift has been super pro-gay-rights. She recently made a generous donation to GLAAD and wrote a letter to her senator asking him to support the Equality Act, urging her fans to do the same. I remember being so truculently pro-gay-rights moments before I came out that all my friends were like, “We’re pro-LGBT too, but like … you, good?” Just sayin’” (Gutowitz)

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.


Alternate Versions:

There is one alternate version that Taylor did live, besides the performances of it at awards shows and on the Eras Tour. She did it in the BBC radio lounge during release week for the Lover album. It brought more press to the album, and ultimately to the song. This stripped down version reminds me of Sinead O’Connor on SNL. Allowing the lyrics to be heard gives the message a louder, more prominent meaning. This is incredibly different obviously from the original because of the guitar rather than the poppy beats that the original song really has. 

Award Shows:

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.

Music Video:

Taylor Swift “Easter Eggs” aside, this video itself is very strong. By having very prominent in 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. 


There do not seem to be covers by other artists, but that may be because of the rights and licensing that Taylor Swift has over her songs, unlike her previous catalog that Scooter Braun now owns. 

Fan Content: 

There is not a ton of fan content on social media besides videos of the tour, however one thing that did pick up traction was the phrase ‘you need to calm down’. That phrase picking up traction on TikTok continues to get the song to seek more attention and begin to trend – allowing its message to still be in the media 4 years later. There is nothing more important than trending when you want a message to be spread across the world, so that phrase trending allows the traction of the song to continue, even if the song may now be considered old.