Let me just put it out there. I don’t “get” Taylor Swift. She’s cute, she’s blond, she makes catchy music that still sells like hotcakes despite the state of music industry, she’s nice. But aside from that I don’t “get” why folks seem to prostrate at her feet.

Kanye did it at this year’s VMAs, as did Nicki Minaj. She’s hung out with Snoop Dogg, and Kendrick Lamar (wtf?) rapped on one of her songs. Even Apple got punked by Swift after she called them out for not paying artists during their three-month trial for Apple Music.

While I’ve quietly watched her popularity skyrocket from the sidelines, I recently began to wonder when Taylor Swift became the Good Witch of the Music Biz that everybody has to suck up to and hang out with, or risk being banished.

Recently, Pop Matters joined the fray of Swift ring-kissers when it wondered, if Taylor Swift is the new Michael Jackson.



I think Mike’s face says it all for me, but here was Pop Matters’ rationale:

There are many similarities. Both superstars released these landmark albums at age 24. “Thriller,” delivered in November 1982, was Jackson’s sixth solo effort. “1989,” which dropped last October, is Swift’s fifth.

Imagination, smarts and hard work have made Swift successful, she told “Entertainment Tonight” in 2014 — qualities that also applied to Jackson.

Both were savvy enough to pull in unexpected collaborators — rock guitar god Eddie Van Halen on Jackson’s “Beat It” and hip rapper Kendrick Lamar on Swift’s “Bad Blood” — to help cross over to different audiences.

While Swift’s album sales are indeed impressive, they’re dwarfed by the sheer magnitude of Jackson’s (Thriller sold 29 million copies in the U.S. alone).

But numbers aren’t all that’s important here. While John Bream concludes Swift is “no thriller” because Jackson “was a dazzling dancer and a terrific singer” while Swift is “an unformed (but improving) dancer and a serviceable singer,” his attempt to make a case for the comparison between the two by elevating Swift’s videos–which is where Jackson’s genius completely out shined EVERYBODY–is problematic at best.

Bream writes:

With such videos as “Billie Jean,” “Beat It” and “Thriller,” Jackson not only tore down racial barriers at rock-oriented MTV but set new artistic standards, transforming videos from glorified commercials into big-budget, meticulously crafted pieces of art.

For her part, Swift has certainly made a dramatic impact with the videos from “1989.”

The dance-happy “Shake It Off,” with its retro ‘80s new-wave vibe, felt like her “Billie Jean.” With its opulent, combustible pas de deux, “Blank Space” is her “Beat It.” And “Bad Blood” is her “Thriller,” with its noirish takeoff on “Robocop” movies.


No. Just no.

Jackson’s videos were game-changing and iconic. They not only set the standard for what videos could be in the 1980s and 1990s, but they’ve remained in a class of their own to this day. Because of this Swift, and any other artist, is following in Jackson’s footsteps–not making their own.

Moreover, Jackson was a global phenomenon. His audience cut across racial, gender, class, age, and geographical lines–something Swift’s ultra white, ultra young fan base has yet to do.

So is Taylor Swift the cultural, once-in-a-lifetime entertainer Michael Jackson was? Not even close.

I could wax poetic about why there will never be another Michael Jackson in any of our lifetimes, but Twitter wasn’t feeling Pop Matters’ comparison either.

As one Twitter user put it, “Taylor is the first Taylor,” not the next Jackson. And nobody can–or will–fill the shoes of the King.

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  • binks

    #The devil is a liar
    #You tried it
    #B*tch where?
    #Please stop
    #defamation of character

    I am going to need the media and the entertainment industry to stop trying to blow Taylor Swift up like she is the savior of music when in fact she is mediocre. Her music is very NOW, I doubt in 5+years (hell even a year from now) Bad Blood and any other of her songs will be played unlike Michael Joseph Jackson. Hell, she isn’t even Shania Twain who did country/pop crossover better than her and was wildly successful with classic songs that are still being played. So they need to kill the noise. If you are a fan of hers great but don’t go blindly comparing accolades to someone who is deemed an icon in the field. The only reason why Taylor Swift is popular is mainly because of her fan base and she got parents on board due to her “nonthreatening, awkward, “I am not a girl not quite a woman (though she is 25) image”. She is the “safe” pop star but I bet once she is tired of the mold that is when the media will try and find another. They want to replace black influences and icons so bad in the media and in the entertainment industry that it is laughable at this point.

    • #The devil is a liar ( just lolz)
      #You tried it
      #B*tch where? ( this made me holler)
      #Please stop
      #defamation of character

      Just last week I played MJ’s thriller album while I cleaned my house- and I was jammin- how dare they compare classic music to music that will sound dated next year.

    • binks

      Right! I listen to Michael Jackson nearly every morning to the commute to school and my mood changes to energetic and happy especially when P.Y.T. comes on. People need to stop comparing because there is no comparison period.

    • love PYT and shes out of my life ( underrated)

    • binks

      Now you got me in my feelings with “She Out of My Life” Staci…lol. Underrated but good!

    • I love when Michael sangs. He’s more known for his pop but he has some bomb R&b too.

    • [email protected]

      You have great taste in music. Certain songs are just universally excellent.

    • binks

      Thank you Truth! I am just a music fanatic and great artists and music (no matter how popular or unknown) just doesn’t go out of style. I can’t wait until all this streaming war is over and we just get back to the music especially since a lot of good artists are dropping their CDs this Fall and we can get a break from the 24/7 Swift coverage.

    • [email protected]

      You’re Welcome Sister.

      Real music uplifts the soul, it can improve creativity, and it just feels better to listen to great music. In this time, we have to really search to find excellent music among contemporary artists. Angélique Kidjo, Corinne Bailey Rae, and other musicians are underrated artists. Even during the 1990’s, there were no massive streaming wars and artists like Groove Theory, Babyface (he has done music during the 1980’s too) , En Vogue, Toni Braxton, Monica, Brandy, etc. just showed massive talent.

    • [email protected]

      You keep it all the way 100 and you’re right.

  • RaiseTheBar

    MIKE Already KNEW — He got this:

    ♪You Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’♪

    ♪You Got To Be Startin’ Somethin’♪

    ♪It’s Too High To Get Over♪

    ♪You’re Stuck in the Middle♪
    ♪And The Pain is Thunder♪

    ♪You Love To Pretend That You’re Good♪
    ♪When You’re Always Up To No Good♪

    ♪Treacherous, Cunnin’, Declinin’♪

    ♪You’re a Vegetable♪
    ♪You’re Just a Buffet♪
    ♪They Eat Off of You♪

    ♪You’re Stuck in the Middle♪
    ♪You’re a Vegetable♪

    ♪Tellin’ Lies and Rubbin’ Shoulders♪
    ♪Talkin’, Squealin’, Spyin’♪
    ♪Hustlin’, Stealin’, Lyin’♪

    ♪You’re Stuck in the Middle♪
    ♪And The Pain is Thunder♪

    ♪It’s Too High To Get Over♪

  • FromTokyo

    They aren’t even comparable! Folks today stay raining down undeserving comparisons on mediocre modern day “talent.”


  • elle D.

    Negatory–no reason to even read this nonsense.

  • Reina Benoir

    I blame Kanye for this. If he had just kept his damn mouth shut she’d probably have gone away in obscurity and we’d be saved from this kind of foolishness.

    Thanks for nothing Kanye.

    • neodymium

      Hes also responsible for the Kar-SHADY-ians. Kim was on her way out into obscurity, folks were getting sick of her, and he just HAD to hook up with her, knock her up and marry the chic. Damn!