By Jake Frederick
*Content Warning: Mention of Eating Disorders* (and Scooter Braun)
The closing number to Taylor Swift’s much anticipated “Eras” tour neglects to celebrate all of her eras equally. Swift's final-song selection of "Karma" was forgettable, and failed to tie together all of the "Eras" that she so powerfully displayed throughout the set. The Eras Tour is a celebration of each and every one of her eras that have led her to where she is now, so her closing number should emulate this.
For the final song on the setlist, Swift performs “Karma,” a song from her tenth album, Midnights, in which she sings about how she has good karma, which allows her to be happy and successful in life, as opposed to the people in her life who have bad karma and are now paying the price. The song itself is great and leaves the audience feeling empowered when they leave, but it doesn’t do justice to what should be a closing number. Instead, the tour should close with a song that encompasses all of her eras.
Swift’s song “You’re On Your Own Kid” from “Midnights” would have been a perfect ending to the show because of the song’s bridge. The bridge’s lyrics individually reference all of her different eras in order, which signifies her development as an artist throughout her career. During her journey, Swift experiences what is arguably every artist’s greatest fear– having her art stolen from her. In 2019, American record executive Scooter Braun acquired the masters for Taylor’s first six albums when he acquired Big Machine Records, her former record label. Through this deal, Braun had the rights to Swift’s official album recordings and profited off of them. Braun’s actions changed the course of Swift’s career; several of her songs make reference to the betrayal, and Swift may have never released what she calls “vault tracks,” songs that did not make it onto the original versions of the albums. Now, she is in the process of taking back her music: rerecording albums to create “Taylor’s Version”, and writing new songs that detail her experiences.
“You’re On Your Own Kid” is about this journey in addition to the pain and obstacles she overcame during each of her eras. She begins this recounting of her eras with the phrase: “from sprinkler splashes,” which serves as an ode to her self-titled debut era, characterized by a childhood innocence and acoustic guitars. Next, she mentions her albums Fearless, Speak Now, and Red in the lyrics “to fireplace ashes, I gave my blood, sweat, and tears for this.” These three eras contributed greatly to her growth as an artist; Swift poured her heartbreak into these albums and displayed a vulnerability in her lyrics. The bridge continues, citing problems she faced like “starving her body” referring to the eating disorder she has overcome in recent years. Swift has always been an artist who writes about her struggles in her music and this song celebrates all of the things she has overcome to be able to celebrate her eras and success on this tour.
Next, she makes mention of the iconic Reputation era with the world’s “jokes weren’t funny” as haters destroyed her image based on rumors that were untrue, and continues onto Lover, known for completely contrasting her previous album, essentially rising beyond the hateful words that were said about her. In her Lover era, Swift grows as a person and artist after overcoming a time when the entire world was against her. As she puts it, “[she] looked around in a blood-soaked gown and [she] saw something they couldn’t take away.” In the time between the 1989 and Reputation eras, haters had taken almost everything from her: her image, her reputation and her words. In a time of spite and anger, Swift looked inwards and realized that they could never take her work, her name, or the truth from her. Swift goes on to reference her story-telling albums, Folklore and Evermore, with the lyrics “there were pages turned and bridges burned” and she finishes the song with the ending lyrics describing where she “[takes] the moment and [chases] it,” looking at her Midnights era and towards the future.
The song’s bridge in combination with the amazing lighting and sets that highlight each of her eras one last time would be a phenomenal closing to each show on The Eras Tour. With each eras lyric she could transform the lighting, and flash images of those eras on the giant screen at the start of the stage. The nostalgia behind her eras is what creates the hype for the tour and she could easily make reference to this through the bridge of this song. The final lyrics of the bridge are a powerful message to her fans: to learn from the past and overcome adversity to grow into a stronger person. Swift has overcome a lot of obstacles in her years as an artist and still remains one of the most loved and renowned pop stars worldwide. Overcoming everything, she still stands in a full stadium of her fans, celebrating who she has become, which is why “You’re On Your Own Kid” serves as the perfect closing number for the Eras tour.