*This article is a bit of a cipher designed for people who have listened to Taylor Swift’s “Nothing New.” After this, if you haven’t already, I would then recommend listening to Lorde’s “Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen it All)” and Adele’s “I Drink Wine” in post to round out your experience.
What you are about to read is nothing new. The parts are already in place; the table’s set for two. So now, let me let you in on a bit of a secret. Your world is bigger than “Nothing New (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault).”
Before I go on, let me pour you a drink. What are you having? Too much to drink tonight? Two drinks and then leaving? Wine? Perhaps let’s start with a nice bubbly; the effervescence goes splendidly with your smile.
As I was saying, “Nothing New” is solidly a part of our world now. Since its release, it has seeped into our consciousness, its message permeating in the back of our minds. However, I am here to remind you that our wonderful world stretches far bigger than the musings of a sad-drunk Taylor Swift. I, too, quickly lost myself in her lyrics as she positions us as listeners so well in her magnificent melancholy. I felt the pain she was having about growing up, and for a moment, felt trapped, thinking to myself, what have I lost? And what will I gain? These songs that I will share with you momentarily helped me out of this rut. They aren’t rainbows and butterflies, but we can find alongside her same themes of growing up, messages from our other favorite female pop stars phrased in such a way your glass might feel a little fuller after giving them a listen.
Let’s start with Lorde. Just a hop, skip, and a jump back in time, our world was Lorde’s world. Last summer, Solar Power reigned supreme. The voice she lent her most recent album was more grounded and laid back than her previous releases and offered us the perfect summer sound. Listening to it now should bring you back to the white sand shores of hot girl summer and far away from the doom and gloom of sad girl autumn. However, we dig a little deeper into her messaging, and we find the solid foundation of her maturation that lent this voice so kindly to her album.
Granules of this messaging are sprinkled throughout her song “Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen it All).” From the getgo, she paints a picture, a renaissance you can recognize as your Saturday night. “Dancing with my girls, only having two drinks then leaving / It’s a funny thing, though you’d never gain self-control.” This line dips your toe into a song about growing up and lets you in on a secret: you do grow up. What you never thought would happen does, and quickly too.
You couldn’t wait to turn fifteen, could you? But then you blinked, and it’s been how long? Three, four, six years? That sweet self is gone. That kind of radiance you only have at seventeen has evolved. You are new now, and you’re doing things you couldn’t imagine then. “Everybody wants the best for you / But you gotta want it for yourself.” Does that ring true? If not, it might soon.
Our next icon shows you how. Adele is older than Lorde and Taylor and focuses her wisdom on this sentiment in her recent power ballad “I Drink Wine.” She does not compare her current self to her burgeoning beauty as a teenager, but instead to the children’s wonder she feels she now lacks, saying: “When I was a child, every single thing could blow my mind / Soaking it all up for fun, but now I only soak up wine.” As she progresses through her song, however, this openness we all felt as children, the breadth of possibility, is present. “I hope I learn to get over myself,” she says, “Stop trying to be somebody else.” This thought would not be possible without that brief suspension of reality. We all must spare a little imagination to discover our successive selves.
Adele asks questions throughout “I Drink Wine.” Those like “Why am I obsessing about the things I can’t control?” and “Why am I seeking approval from people I don’t even know?” go unanswered. Still, she is solidly grounded in hoping to find something to cling to and hoping her next iteration of self will be over her last one. You better believe she’s trying.
I can appreciate Taylor’s “Nothing New,” but I feel like it has been easy, partly due to the song’s exposure on social media, to get wrapped up in its wistful nostalgia. The feeling is comforting at first; she speaks to the soul, but it becomes a spiral of sadness not too far after this.
So, as your drink runs low, consider switching the tune. Growing up is a beautiful thing, and there are more ways to look at it than an act of loss. I say cheers to you and cheers to me and who we are and who we’ll be. In the wise writing of Lorde: “…when you’re ready, I’ll be outside, and we can go look at the sunrise by euphoria mixed with existential vertigo? Cool.”
Cover photo: Pinterest (the Baccarat website)