Madonna King: Pondering the conundrum of Taylor Swift

Swift's private jet drew plenty of interest as it arrived in Melbourne early on Friday morning.

Swift's private jet drew plenty of interest as it arrived in Melbourne early on Friday morning. Photo: Twitter

How do we feed the planet? How do we ensure there is sufficient clean water for those now without it? How do we stop global warming? Oh, and why is Taylor Swift so big?

All genuine questions – without clear answers.

And perhaps the most salient, this weekend, relates to 34-year-old billionaire and 2023 Time person of the year Taylor Alison Swift.

Swift is bigger than football. She’s bigger than most religions. Bigger than any performer the planet has ever entertained.

Yes, she’s gorgeous. And a clever songwriter. A music chameleon, who crosses country, pop and rock.

But why is she SO big?

How did she overtake the Beatles and Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Queen, Elvis, Michael Jackson and Madonna? And how could she be so famous that even her cats and childhood friends have become huge, in her shadow?

The questions don’t stop there.

How did Taylor Swift trump Broadway and West End and any television series or book or podcast or media outlet in history?

And what would prompt her trip to Melbourne to be the globe’s most-tracked flight?

taylor swift flight

Thousands tracked Swift’s flight as it crossed the Pacific to Melbourne. Image: FlightRadar24

Or her sideline attendance at the Super Bowl propelling the Kansas City Chiefs’ defeat of the San Francisco 49ers to draw almost 125 million views in the US.

Just consider that figure. 123.7 million viewers. That made the Super Bowl, where Swift’s boyfriend Travis Kielce featured on the Kansas City Chiefs’ team, the most watched match in the event’s 58-year history. And, reportedly, the biggest US audience for any event since astronauts took to the moon in 1969.

Now she’s in Melbourne, to perform at the MCG this weekend, before heading to Sydney for a string of further performances between February 23-26. Swifties in Brisbane and other capital cities feel excluded, but are putting their hands in their pockets for thousands of dollars to secure flights and accommodation and tickets.

Swift’s Australian tour will inject hundreds of millions of dollars into local economies, and has even prompted an international academic symposium – a Swiftposium – to explore her influence and reach.

Businesses ground to a halt when tickets went on sale, and some offices will be empty next week, when fans – of all ages – head to her Sydney concerts.

Swift isn’t the world’s best singer. Nor is she the world’s best businesswoman. But she’s pretty darn good at both – and relatable at every level.

One of my friends received tickets for her 50th birthday and is beside herself with excitement. They were bought by her 18-year-old daughter; a medical student who cannot wait to Shake It Off in Sydney.

Swift offers something for everyone, from cradle to grave. From her work ethic, to her outfits, her song-writing to her performances, she has lured in impossibly-wide audiences.

Grandparents love her sparkly clean image and mothers and daughters can be Fearless together. Many have grown up, over the past 20 years, alongside her.

pictured is Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce

Swift and Kelce celebrate after a Kansas City victory.

Her relationship with Kelsce has provided a fairytale for many young women, and even politicians are increasingly finding lines in her songs to torment opponents. Medicos, too, are using the beats of her songs to teach CPR.

In short, Swift shows the return on relatability; an equation that has delivered her audiences across race and gender and age and geography.

It’s a connection that makes every fan believe they are one of Taylor’s friends; a proud Swiftie.

Imagine if that Swift elixir could be used to drown hate. Or to encourage teen girls to put down their smartphones. Or to raise money for cancer research.

Swift delivers hope, and it’s a currency, on show in Melbourne this weekend, that we don’t value enough.

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