The Genius Of Taylor Swift’s Girlfriend Collection

Swift has spent the last two years “making friendship fun.” But her choice of Instagram girlfriends is also an incredibly savvy image maintenance strategy.

Around the October 2012 release of Red, when Taylor Swift had spent the gossip year linked with several boys — Jake Gyllenhaal, John Mayer, Taylor Lautner — and seemingly written songs about all of them, it became clear that the narrative of her life was spinning out of her control. So Swift changed the conversation: She stopped hanging out with boys (or at least viable boyfriend boys), and started hanging out with girls instead. Lots and lots of girls. And she documented it all on social media, mostly on Instagram, showing the world what cool, fun, awesome friends she had.

Thus began a new phase of Taylor Swift’s life: Strategic Girlfriend Collecting. It’s garnered her a lot of positive press; she’s been trumpeted by the New York Times for her emergence “as a single-and-loving it cheerleader for girl power,” with “a clique of BFFs — including Karlie Kloss, Lena Dunham, and Lorde — in her corner.” Us Weekly, People, and the gossip blogs have overflowed with reposts of Instagrams of Swift and her coterie; Glamour editor Cindi Leive has gone so far as to claim Swift has “made friendship cool.”

And the “reinvented” Taylor Swift “really likes” her life: “I have friends around me all the time. I started painting more. I’ve been working out a lot. I’ve started to really take pride in being strong. I love the album I made. I love that I moved to New York.” It’s a sweet life of Chicks Before Dicks, of playing house with Karlie and being your best self.

Certainly she hasn’t made friendship uncool. It’s simply that the friends Swift chooses to present to the world serve to support crucial, carefully crafted components of Swift’s image. She isn’t coldhearted or utilitarian in her friendship so much as savvy to the ways in which the production of celebrity is, at its heart, utilitarian — and it takes a lot of labor to make something as manufactured as a celebrity image look as natural as Taylor Swift and Lorde on a beach, just being the wacky and carefree young women that they are.

But natural is precisely what all of Swift’s feed looks like: a bunch of (beautiful) friends just hanging out. Shopping, goofing around, taking selfies. Being 25(ish), and posing with their best sides to the camera. These friendships certainly do emanate an aura of cool, but they’re also each calculated to reflect a particular component of the Swift image. Lena Dunham and Rookie editor Tavi Gevinson suggest she’s an enlightened feminist without her having to come out and say it. The recent appearances of the sisters of the girl band of the moment Haim give her indie cool cred, balanced out by the mainstream cred of Justin Timberlake, Jay Z, and Beyoncé, all of whom made an appearance in her birthday Instagrams in November.

Swift seemingly doesn’t discriminate according to age or source of fame: One day she hangs out with 35-year-old Jaime King, best known for her role in The CW’s Hart of Dixie; the next she’s with 18-year-old Hailee Steinfeld, lately of True Grit and Romeo and Juliet. She’s all-American enough to bake cookies with figure skaters (Gracie Gold) and hang out courtside with Amanda Seyfried and Kate Upton, but crucially still makes time for select friends from home (including Tennessee best friend Abigail Anderson, a name familiar to anyone who’s listened to Swift’s hit single “Fifteen”).

Swift works hard to show she’s no friend snob — her wholesome birthday parties and 4th of July gatherings mingle all levels on the celebrity pyramid — even if they are, with few exceptions, white and skinny. The flattening frame of Instagram puts all her friends on the same playing field and invites you to feel like you could be part of it — a fantasy actualized in Swift’s numerous fan posts, which effectively catapult the fan to fame. Superfan Gena Gabrielle, whose bridal shower Swift “crashed” earlier this year, has 15,000 Instagram followers. With such benevolence, Swift comes across as the ultimate in magnanimity: the opposite of the Regina George insult Katy Perry flung her way earlier this year.

Of all the friendships, Lorde’s seems the most strategic. In the lead-up to the September 2013 release of Lorde’s EP Pure Heroine, the New Zealand artist told Australia’s Metro Magazine that “Swift is so flawless and so unattainable, and I don’t think it’s breeding anything good in young girls” (she later clarified and pseudo apologized on her Tumblr). At some point during this time — it’s unclear exactly when — Swift started texting her and sent her flowers to celebrate the release of her album, and by November, the two were hanging out at Shake Shack in New York; in 2014, Swift’s Instagram found them on the beach and going to cooking class. Carefully planned friend outings, appropriately photographed, that together suggest that Lorde and Swift, the golden yin and dark and twisty yang of contemporary pop, aren’t at war, but in harmony, oftentimes literally.

With the noted exception of Katy Perry, Swift doesn’t cultivate rivals so much as neutralize them: Take her posing with upstart pop competitor Ariana Grande, who also performed at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, whom Swift pulled into an Instagram shot and smothered, captioning it “Oh my god she couldn’t be cuter.” She applied a similar strategy with British pop star Ellie Goulding, Swift Taylor first smotherfriended in 2012 and Instagrammed, photo-of-a-photo style, with the caption “Ellie Forever.” And even if Grande and Goulding wanted to reject Swift’s advances, their publicity team would undoubtedly tell them not to: a Swift Instagram appearance arguably makes you more visible, especially to a target demographic, than a magazine cover.

The smother is Swift’s modus operandi, whether it’s with boys or girlfriends: from 0 to 100 real quick. She doesn’t have hook-ups or casual acquaintances; she has forever loves and best friends forever. At least that’s how she manifests her relationships, both in lyrics and in social media. Which is exactly how she became friends with current BFF Karlie Kloss: According to now well-recited Swiftian lore, Taylor’s first friendship overture arrived in a February 2012 Vogue cover story, in which she exclaimed, “I love Karlie Kloss…I want to bake cookies with her!” More than a year later, they hung out at the 2013 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, with Swift singing (in a dress) and Kloss walking the runway (in wings and lingerie).

Swift’s been friends with model Lily Aldridge (another Victoria’s Secret Angel) since the two were neighbors in Nashville, but the friendship with Kloss has been next-level BFF-ing. They road-tripped to California, go to the gym together constantly, look really glam at Knicks games, and hang out with Swift’s brother Austin. The most in-depth recent profile of Swift, released in tandem with 1989, broadcast that she kept a room for Kloss in her New York penthouse, stocked with her favorite foods.

Over the year, Swift’s feed has gradually filled with more models: more Aldridge, plus Cara Delevingne, Martha Hunt, and Candice Swanepoel. Paparazzi photos caught Kendall Jenner leaving Swift’s apartment, but Swift didn’t Instagram the visit. Maybe a reality-star friendship, no matter how high-profile, just isn’t on brand.

It’s difficult to parse exactly what attracts Swift to models: I’ve had friends explain it in terms of body-matching (Swift’s finally found her tall, wispy people) or that Kloss, like her, has juggled fame since her early teens. The writer Durga Chew-Bose told me that “being with Karlie is probably the one time when Taylor can feel invisible.” I don’t think any of these explanations is necessarily wrong. But I think there’s something even deeper about Swift’s model affinity, especially to the Kloss-like variety that currently dominate the industry.

Kloss, like the other Victoria’s Secret Angels on stage at this year’s fashion show, function as “painfully desexualized,” “listless, leggy dolls,” flattened through endless Pilates and macrobiotic diets. They have all the parts that signify sex, but these Angels are far more sex doll than actual sex. Swift isn’t going for sex doll herself — when she appeared to sing “Blank Space” wearing a teddy, a robe, and a pair of feathered slippers, she seemed much more Sexy Great Aunt — but nor has sex ever been Swift’s endgame. Her wheelhouse has always been romance: the whisper of coupling to come, not the realization thereof. That’s why she refuses to show her belly button, opting instead for a ‘50s-style crop top and high-waisted pant/skirt/shorts duo.

It’s a flattering look, but it’s also very on brand: She talks in riddles in her songs because she wants you to try to solve them, and she dresses quasi-modestly because she wants you to think what’s beneath is all the more precious. She’s no pinup, though: When it comes to ‘50s idols, she’s far more similar to Natalie Wood years before the rumors of her sexual explorations emerged, and everyone just thought she was a wide-eyed girl with the best boyfriends in town.

Photoplay / Modern Screen

Before her girlfriend-collecting days, Swift defined herself by the men she loved. Think of Tim McGraw, as one of her first hit songs went, and think of her. Now she’s defining herself by the women who surround her — famous and non-famous — and has succeeded, rather triumphantly, in changing the way that people talk about her life. Crucially, it’s still Taylor’s World, with a cluster of friends in her orbit, blinking in and out of visibility. But we’d never know: Part of the genius of Swift’s Instagram game is how, apart from Kloss, no one makes more than a few appearances, usually spaced over a period of months, making it effectively impossible to speculate as to an inner circle, frenemies, or fake friends. (Just last month, she shut down gossip about her once robust friendship with Selena Gomez with this post.)

In the absence of boys or friend drama, the only thing left to gossip about in Swift’s life is her friendship with Karlie Kloss. Photos of them hanging out (and embracing/maybe kissing) on a balcony were quickly transformed into evidence of a relationship. Even the gossip press, which should be sated with the stream of Swift paparazzi and Instagram photos, is on board.

OK Magazine

As evidenced by the abundance of “Kaylor” fanfic on Tumblr, there’s a serious audience and appetite for those rumors coming to fruition. But Swift’s popularity ultimately hinges on her image being mom-safe. Perhaps that’s why she can hang out with Lena Dunham but never say a word about Girls or Dunham’s memoir, why she distanced herself from Gomez when she went back to Justin Bieber, and why she spends more of her time with Kloss, who spends her time promoting her charitable vegan cookie line for Momofuku, than Cara Delevingne, a model in the bad-girl Kate Moss tradition who parties with Rihanna and dates Michelle Rodriguez.

For a young woman so mindful about the power of friendship, it feels noteworthy that of the 16 acts that have opened for Swift over the North American leg of her last three tours, none have been women. In this, she’s very much alone: All other major female pop acts — Katy, Gaga, Miley — have at least one female opener. As evidenced by the success of Ed Sheeran, a slot in the Taylor Swift opening lineup has the potential to launch a career. But Swift, who loves to do things like surprise fans with Christmas gifts and give them cash for dinner, seems less interested in actual female collaboration and partnership than the appearance thereof.

It’s no coincidence that the aesthetic of 1989 is that of the Polaroid: a technology that, in its contemporary manifestation, connotes thick feelings of authenticity, immediacy, and wistful nostalgia not unlike Instagram’s own filters. Look closer, though, and the Polaroid, while tangible, is still just an overexposed image, flattering vis-à-vis its limited technological capacity to show the fullness of the moment. From far away, a Polaroid can communicate bold strokes of fun, bliss, friendship. But get closer, and you see it’s flimsy, unclear, and impossible to replicate.

Additional reporting by Kelley Dunlap.











Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/annehelenpetersen/kaylor-forever

Rihanna Serves Vocals On New Single “Towards The Sun”

It’ll be featured on the soundtrack for Home.

1. Last year, Rihanna announced she’d be releasing a “concept album” based on DreamWorks’ upcoming animated family film, Home.

Def Jam

Dreamworks

 

She’s also voicing the main character, Tip.

2. Now, a full year after it was announced, the first taste of the album has made its way online and it’s good! Titled “Towards The Sun,” the song manages the tricky feat of being both family-friendly and distinctly Rihanna.

View this embed ›

Stream via Complex.

3. Also, vocals! In keeping with her other single “FourFiveSeconds,” Rih is singing on “Towards The Sun.”

4. According to a now-defunct Amazon listing, the soundtrack is due out March 17 and is rumored to feature three more new Rihanna songs, as well as new tracks from Charli XCX, Jennifer Lopez, and Kiesza.

Westbury Road Entertainment

1. “Red Balloon,” Charli XCX
2. “Run to Me,” Clarence Coffee Jr
3. “Dancing In the Dark,” Rihanna
4. “Peaceful Holiday,” James Clark
5. “Boov Death Song,” Jim Parsons
6. “Towards the Sun,” Rihanna
7. “As Real As You And Me,” Rihanna
8. “Deck the Halls,” The Platters
9. “Slushious,” Stargate & Balkan Beat Box
10. “Only Girl (In the World),” Rihanna
11. “Cannonball,” Kiesza
12. “Drop That,” Rihanna
13. “Feel the Light,” Jennifer Lopez

5. Fans are already clamoring for a video and it doesn’t look like they’ll have to wait long — last week, the pop star spent her birthday on a music video set.

7. This will definitely keep the famously ~patient and easy-going~ Navy happy until #R8, right?

Giphy

Giphy

 

Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/kelleydunlap/rihanna-serves-vocals-on-new-single-towards-the-sun

The 2012 Grammy Nominees; Award Ceremony set for February 12th

The 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards will be held Sunday, Feb. 12 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, and will be broadcast live in high-definition TV and 5.1 surround sound on the CBS Television Network from 8 – 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT).

The Recording Academy®’s GRAMMY Recordings® and Universal Republic Records have joined forces to release the 2012 GRAMMY® Nominees album on Jan. 24, 2012. The 18th edition of the best-selling series will showcase many of this year’s GRAMMY-nominated artists and songs. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the album will help support the year-round efforts of the GRAMMY Foundation® and MusiCares® Foundation — two charitable organizations of The Recording Academy.

2012 GRAMMY® NOMINEES ALBUM GIVES MUSIC FANS A CHANCE TO ATTEND THE LIVE TELECAST IN 2013

ALBUM CONTAINS 22 TRACKS FEATURING A DIVERSE ARRAY OF ARTISTS AND MEMORABLE SONGS

ALBUM AVAILABLE DIGITALLY AND IN STORES JANUARY 24, 2012

Press release — Universal Republic Records and The Recording Academy®’s (www.grammy.com) GRAMMY Recordings® have partnered to release the 2012 GRAMMY Nominees album and give a lucky music and GRAMMY fan an opportunity to attend the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2013. The album, which will be available January 24, 2012, features 22 critically acclaimed smash hits from a myriad of chart-topping artists from various genres.

The 18th edition of the best-selling collection includes many of the most widely recognized GRAMMY categories representing nominees for Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Best New Artist, Best Country Album, and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. The album is made possible by a special arrangement with all of the major music distribution companies and rotates labels from year to year. A portion of the proceeds from the album benefits the MusiCares® Foundation (www.musicares.com) and the GRAMMY Foundation® (www.grammyfoundation.com) — two charitable organizations established by The Recording Academy.

Additionally, in conjunction with the 2012 GRAMMY Nominees album, Universal Republic Records and The Recording Academy will give a lucky music fan an opportunity to attend the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2013. Each 2012 GRAMMY Nominees album purchased in stores or online will include a special game piece featuring a unique entry code for the 2013 GRAMMY Ticket Game. To participate, the code must be entered at www.grammy.com/grammyticketgame for a chance to win a trip for two to the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2013. The second-place winner will receive a GRAMMY Awards T-shirt and the third-place winner will receive an official GRAMMY Awards poster.

1. ADELE
“Rolling In The Deep”
Record Of The Year
Album Of The Year

2. BRUNO MARS
“Grenade”
Record Of The Year
Album Of The Year

3. KATY PERRY
“Firework”
Record Of The Year

4. MAROON 5 FEAT. CHRISTINA AGUILERA
“Moves Like Jagger”
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

5. NICKI MINAJ
“Super Bass”
Best New Artist

6. RIHANNA FEAT. DRAKE
“What’s My Name?”
Album Of The Year

7. J. COLE
“Work Out”
Best New Artist

8. LADY GAGA
“Yoü And I”
Album Of The Year

9. FOSTER THE PEOPLE
“Pumped Up Kicks”
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

10. SKRILLEX
“Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites”
Best New Artist

11. COLDPLAY
“Paradise”
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

12. FOO FIGHTERS
“Walk”
Album Of The Year


13. THE BAND PERRY
“If I Die Young”
Best New Artist

14. MUMFORD & SONS
“The Cave”
Record Of The Year

15. BON IVER
“Holocene”
Record Of The Year
Best New Artist

16. LADY ANTEBELLUM
“Just A Kiss”
Best Country Album

17. TAYLOR SWIFT
“Mean”
Best Country Album

18. BLAKE SHELTON
“Honey Bee”
Best Country Album

19. ERIC CHURCH
“Drink In My Hand”
Best Country Album

20. THE BLACK KEYS
“Dearest”
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

21. JASON ALDEAN WITH KELLY CLARKSON
“Don’t You Wanna Stay”
Best Country Album

22. TONY BENNETT & AMY WINEHOUSE
“Body And Soul”
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

Chris Brown Apologizes For Rihanna Assault In New Video

‘I’m truly, truly sorry that I wasn’t able to handle the situation both differently and better,’ he says in clip.
By Jayson Rodriguez





Chris Brown in his video apology

Photo: Jive Records/ChrisBrownWorld.com

Chris Brown issues his first full public apology for assaulting Rihanna.

In a video that appeared online late Monday afternoon (July 20), Chris Brown has apologized publicly for the first time about the domestic altercation that took place between him and Rihanna earlier this year.

In the clip, obtained by MTV News, Brown, dressed in a red long-sleeve shirt with buttons on the front, spoke directly to the camera and apologized to his former girlfriend and his fans.

“I’ve told Rihanna countless times and I’m telling you today, I’m truly, truly sorry that I wasn’t able to handle the situation both differently and better,” Brown said.

At the beginning of the two-minute clip, Brown explains that his attorneys advised him to not speak about the situation until the legal ramifications were settled. But Brown said that ever since the February incident, he’s wanted to speak about the matter. The singer expressed his “deepest regret” over the fight and said he “accepts full responsibility” for the incident.

According to the police report, on the eve of the 2009 Grammy Awards, Brown and Rihanna engaged in an altercation that left the “Umbrella” star with facial contusions. Just last month, Brown pleaded guilty to one count of felony assault. The singer will attend anger-management courses, seek therapy and perform community labor as a result of his plea deal.

Toward the end of the apology, Brown continues to express remorse. The singer said up until the incident, he was living his life in a way that would make those around him proud. Through soul searching, he said, and help from his minister and mother, Brown intends to work on himself and gain forgiveness for his actions.

“I only can pray that you forgive me, please,” he said to his fans.

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