This is a great piece by Sinéad O’Sullivan at The New Yorker. O’Sullivan gives name to the phenomenon that has, for me, begun to remove some of the shine from Taylor’s work over the course of the last few years: her records have increasingly come to feel less and less like “albums”, and more like entries in what O’Sullivan calls “a musical franchise”.

Much like the MCU, the Swiftiverse has increasingly become a closed system that is primarily in conversation with itself through easter eggs and callbacks laced throughout the songs. This feeds a particular type of obsessive fandom, but it also takes the attention away from the particularities of a single song or album, placing them almost entirely in service to the grand meta-narrative in which they’re meaning is ultimately rooted. Unfortunately the result, it seems, is a loss of the very immediacy and urgency that makes pop music, at its best, such a powerful art form.