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love story

Why is Taylor Swift so popular?

While the haters hate, hate, hate, Tay-Tay gets bigger and bigger.

Apple-Taylor Swift-Future of Streaming AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

TAYLOR SWIFT IS on a floating platform above the crowd in Dublin’s 3Arena and, for now, she’s not singing -she’s talking.

The 25-year-old American singer is imploring her fans, who she’s already told are her “friends” not to accept others’ opinions of them.

“You are your own version of beautiful and worthwhile,” she tells the 13,000-strong Monday night crowd.

Around this writer, people are crying. Not just young girls, teenagers, women in their 20s, one man.

There are gigs. There are sold-out gigs. There are fervent fanbases. But there is nothing that I have experienced like a Taylor Swift gig.

Fan – short for fanatic

When Swift stopped by Ireland this week, she sold out the 3Arena for two nights in a row. No big deal, in the scheme of things. Swift sold 26,000 tickets on the two nights before AC/DC put 45,000 in the Aviva.

But, not only does one get the impression that Swift could have sold out a number of nights at the former Point Depot, there is also the depth of fandom on show here.

It’s doubtful that anyone in the crowd at the Aviva had a homemade sign with fairy lights or came in a t-shirt bearing a picture of Angus Young’s cat. Even more certain is that few of those in the Aviva thought of queueing at 5am.

In Ireland, Swift fans are serious.

Around 60 or 70 have become close friends through a combination of her music and social media, calling themselves the Irish Swiftie Squad.

Why does the singer matter so much to them? Here’s what they say:

Whether contrived or natural, Swift’s normalcy in both her media appearances and with her fans sets her apart in a world of more outlandish characters like Nicki Minaj or Rihanna.

It’s the songs

TaylorSwiftVEVO / YouTube

Swift has been called a lot of things in recent months, but at her core she is a singer.

And, to that end, it’s not difficult to see why Swift would be popular. Like them or loathe them, her songs are catchy and sell. In a world of declining sales, Swift’s 1989 album sold around 1.2 million copies in America in just one week.

Kate Head of Stoked PR in London says that it comes back to the fact that in 1989 Swift has written a very good album.

“I believe it’s because women, men, boys and girls all relate to her songwriting and 1989 is a magnificent album.”

That is echoed by Dublin-based music PR Kathryn Mason.

“Her songs are very good pop songs.”

But it’s not just the songs

Celebrities-Destinations AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

But lots of acts have good songs. Lots of people write good pop. Few of them could change the largest company in the world’s mind on a new product.

For photographer Kieran Frost, who snapped photos on Monday under Swift’s notoriously strict photography release, it’s a little deeper than just Swift.

“Her songs are good pop songs that are aimed at the mainstream.

“But she obviously has a great team around her who protect her.”

TaylorSwiftVEVO / YouTube

Lancelot Smith, who owns Camelot Studios in Dublin, agrees.

What people see is the face of a machine. All people see is the shiny outside layer. What [these acts are] is a business model. They’re incredible singers and beautiful people, but that’s all they tick in the boxes of what makes a musical act.

“While I see the appeal, it’s not supposed to appeal to me. Fair play to her, but I don’t listen to her and admire her in the same way I would a band like Pearl Jam.

“I just hear the gloss at the top.

“As a business model, Taylor Swift Inc is very strong.”

The’s Emer McLysaght was in the audience on Monday, she says that Swift’s attitude sets her apart, having been in the industry since she was 14.

She’s a grafter who’s been in the music business long enough so that everyone knows she’s a grafter. She writes damn good pop songs. She protects her business and she’s not afraid to defend her right to do so. She manages her brand to perfection, and even those who think it’s all a too-perfectly twee house of cards poised to tumble at any second aren’t entirely convinced by their own cynicism.

A role model

Swift has been venerated as a feminist icon in the last two years, standing up to media on their attitudes towards her love life, her stance on business and the double standards inherent in being a woman in the public eye.

Mason says Swift is a role model.

“She’s a role model to a lot of young girls. Not everyone could get Apple to change their minds.”

At one stage during the gig, a video pops up while Swift changes costumes. It features the singer’s “squad”, a cadre famous friends.

Lena Dunham, Cara Delavigne, Haim, Jaime King, Karlie Kloss and Selena Gomez extol the virtues of Swift the artist, feminist, trailblazer, friend and cat enthusiast.

But, at the end of the day, to the the 13,000 people in the 3Arena on two nights this week, the why is unimportant, as McLysaght says:

Did I mention the DAMN GOOD pop songs?

Read: Taylor Swift had her afterparty at the Guinness Storehouse

Read: 28 things I learned at my first ever Taylor Swift gig

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