Taylor Swift’s re-recorded album, Red (Taylor’s Version), features a vault song called “Nothing New”. The song, sung by Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers, talks about how women are constantly criticized by society, especially in the music industry, and how when you begin to grow, you have a fear of the world changing and won’t accept you anymore. When the song begins, the lyrics explain how when you are succeeding, someone will bring you back down and blame you for not meeting their standards or not doing things right. Like in the poem, “A Work of Artifice”, the Bonsai tree has the opportunity to grow bigger but the gardener continues to cut it down and says the purpose of the tree is to be small and weak.
The gardener says the Bonsai is lucky to have a pot, but what’s the point if you’re not using it to reach your full potential?
Blair Somerville shows how he uses recycled materials to make them into something better. Instead of putting something to waste, he uses it to his advantage and makes art that takes a unique form. On that account, materials that people have thrown away are put in their highest potential which is something that the gardener should’ve allowed for the Bonsai tree.
In the chorus, the line “how can a person know everything at eighteen, but nothing at twenty-two” shows how the knowledge of such a young person is always questioned but they are still expected to know everything. This shows how unrealistic standards can be. When one is given something, they are expected to use it but when they do, others will either praise or criticize them.
There is a constant message in the song about how Taylor has the fear of aging and people not liking her when she is nothing new. For example, birthdays after 16 feel bittersweet. It feels like your last days of youth are draining away and we’re taught that every year older means we’re losing power and value. We’re told to make the most out of our youth but mocked when we try to. No matter how young we are, it will never be young enough. We are so caught up in either other people’s lives or our own that we don’t realize the little things in life: “I think how much I have seen disappear in my own life”.
You may feel the same but certain things about you or life will change as time moves. As the trends/standards change throughout the years, you change yourself to fit in but when you don’t, society will turn you down which is what you see disappear in your life, the freedom of being who you want to be.