Home Music Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and ‘Barbie’ made for one epic summer time trifecta : NPR

Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and ‘Barbie’ made for one epic summer time trifecta : NPR

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Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and ‘Barbie’ made for one epic summer time trifecta : NPR

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This summer time, three girls on the peak of their powers lead a spectacular popular culture revival. Beyoncé, left, performs onstage in the course of the Renaissance World Tour in Might 2023. Margot Robbie stars in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie film. And Taylor Swift performs throughout The Eras Tour in March 2023.

Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood/Getty Photos; Warner Bros. Footage; John Medina/Getty Photos


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Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood/Getty Photos; Warner Bros. Footage; John Medina/Getty Photos


This summer time, three girls on the peak of their powers lead a spectacular popular culture revival. Beyoncé, left, performs onstage in the course of the Renaissance World Tour in Might 2023. Margot Robbie stars in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie film. And Taylor Swift performs throughout The Eras Tour in March 2023.

Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood/Getty Photos; Warner Bros. Footage; John Medina/Getty Photos

It was a last-minute impulse buy. Two hours earlier than showtime, I watched resale costs lastly start to fall for the extraordinarily sold-out opening night time of Taylor Swift’s six-night “residency” at Los Angeles’ SoFi stadium. Whilst a non-Swiftie, it has been unattainable to not comply with the feverish native protection of worldwide pilgrimages, friendship bracelet-making, and site visitors warnings. However that split-second popular culture buy was, for me, pure irrationalism.

With no fringe or Eras-themed ensembles in my closet, I rushed to my single seat via a sea of sequined, screaming squads with trepidation and a uninteresting white button-down. Would I, a fortysomething South Asian man with passing information of Swfitism be recognized as an unwelcome interloper? As an alternative, my very gracious neighbor schooled me on find out how to put on my allotted LED bracelet, and shortly I used to be alight in the identical neon pink as the ocean of humanity round us, Swift lastly rising out of parallel technicolor hues. The massive tent revival swept away any fears, variations, doubts.

A Taylor Swift fan wears friendship bracelets earlier than Swift’s efficiency on Aug. 7, 2023, at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP


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Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

For 3 and a half hours, I too was a part of the zeitgeist – a closing chapter in a summer time of spectacular popular culture revival led by three girls on the peak of their powers.

Greta Gerwig, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, and Taylor Swift have been the bona fide superstars of this American summer time, transcending their very own earlier triumphs to achieve unprecedented new heights.

#HotGirlSummer is now extra particularly #BillionGirlSummer, with Barbie already the primary woman-directed movie to gross greater than a billion {dollars} and Beyoncé and Swift’s twin stadium excursions estimated to gross equally dizzying quantities, every pumping much more into fledgling native economies across the nation.

In a metropolis with no middle and isolating automotive tradition, for one week Taylor Swift remodeled LA’s stadium right into a cathedral – an in-person congregation for tons of of 1000’s. Quickly Beyoncé will convey her roving “Renaissance” to the identical stadium for 3 nights. Throughout Los Angeles, cinemas are nonetheless full of squads of ladies and let’s not deny it, many males – wearing 50 shades of pink laughing and crying alongside Barbie’s quest to grow to be complete once more.

Just a few weeks in the past my colleague Brittany Luse hosted an episode of her present It is Been a Minute lamenting the dying of the summer time track that dominated and unified popular culture in our idealized millennial recollections. As a visitor pondering aloud with Brittany on the present, I questioned whether or not the shift from ’90s and early 2000s broadcast monoculture right into a streaming period Airpod “me” tradition meant there have been nonetheless summer time anthems however solely of an atomized, particular person selection that replicate our splintered cultural and political lives.

That rumination, nonetheless, was earlier than the Barbie, Beyoncé and Swift trilogy went pied piping their means via state after state, shattering information and creating a whole communal economic system of irrational exuberance.

Let’s flip briefly to the matter of crass capitalism and extra advertising underlying the feel-good fuzzies of company pop. It has been unattainable to keep away from the incessant social media protection of this trinity of pink extravaganzas. Even my Pakistani immigrant father is texting me about find out how to be a part of the Verified followers waitlist for Taylor’s subsequent dates. Regardless of the exorbitant costs for live performance tickets, journey and even native movie show outings – to not point out infinite product tie-ins for all method of merchandise — is that this feverish demand merely client insanity? Is it the cumulative decline of seriousness and style that pretentious critics lament?

The reply is a powerful no. The hype surrounding Barbie, Beyoncé’s Renaissance, and Taylor’s Eras tour is commensurate with the sheer quantity of assets, time and a spotlight so many People of all races, genders and ages are devoting to being a part of this second. Crucial acclaim has adopted every of those works, layers of that means are being made. They’re an plain triumph of ladies’s creativity and possession. No one I do know of is asking for refunds.

At a deeper stage, the roaring return of massive tent monoculture follows the ennui of lockdowns. It’s pop at its collective and connective finest – the very reverse of the tradition that has outlined the current previous – a splintered, atomized state of streaming individualism that gave the impression to be a everlasting new state of affairs. The promise of streaming allowed for a sort of hyper-specificity that ensured incessant algorithm based mostly devotion to the platform of supply. Insularity, it seems, has its limits. With at-home viewing not the one medium for leisure, I am actually not alone in craving the very reverse.

The continuing strikes in Hollywood have solely added to a downturn for streaming’s eminence as new exhibits have slowed for the primary time in years. Years of area of interest and difficult TV that supplanted cinema and boosted company income have been unmasked as rooted in extractive labor practices.

Critics like myself typically raved about exhibits which might be radical in type and representational progress, however many of those sorts of works hardly goal for or obtain mainstream success. Narrowcasting satisfies particular person tastes, however would not all the time construct bridges to these past one’s personal tribal allegiances. As new TV grinds to a halt, and a post-pandemic world feels absolutely open for enterprise, in-person extravaganzas are assembly audiences the place they’re, and the place others are also.

On a nationwide stage, a as soon as relentless wildfire of political crises has additionally modified course. Within the doom-scrolling period of the Trump presidency and the subsequently brittle politics of the pandemic, defiant narratives about id, ache and reckoning grew to become recurring and pure themes. For a lot of makers and customers, leisure may supply catharsis and defiance. However within the glow of a post-pandemic summer time that feels just like the calm earlier than a brewing storm, the heavy notes and sharp edges of overly political pop appear out of season. Billion greenback blockbusters cannot succeed with borders.

Within the communal ecstasy of sold-out Barbie screenings and stadium séance of Beyhives and Swifties – the temper is strategic and intentional inclusion.

What Geriwg, Swift and Carter-Knowles have created in every of their new masterworks are gated dreamworlds. Swift in her moss-covered cottage of Americana folklore turns stadiums into fireplace chats for any romantic, Beyoncé’s Home of Chrome is a black queer membership as a spaceship of alien superstars hovering above the fray – and Barbieland is a pastry inversion of the real-world’s patriarchy: a Palm Springs-style fantasia the place partitions do not exist, convertibles are all the time top-down and Supreme Courts marginalize males for a change.

There are critical political undercurrents to all this, however the temper on the experiential stage is buoyant, escapist and even comedic. Hovering on the distant horizon are Presidential elections and reminders of local weather disaster however here’s a ticketed invitation to dress, be a part of the festivities and for the length, launch the wiggle, to cite the “Renaissance.”

The closing be aware of every of those spectacles is a sort of switch of vitality, exuberance and American optimism that has been absent from public and cultural life for years.

Winter is after all coming. However within the interim, there was a outstanding sense of sunshine this summer time. Even these not in attendance have felt the afterglow of the ladies at its middle. Not a merciless, however a communal, collective, and sure, superb summer time.

For one week this summer time Taylor Swift remodeled LA’s SoFi stadium right into a cathedral — an in-person congregation for tons of of 1000’s.

Bilal Qureshi/NPR


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Bilal Qureshi/NPR

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