In various phrasings, Swift, Adele, and Beyonce have all expressed the same sentiment of “be yourself!” or “be true to yourself!” What is so intoxicating about this incantation that it slips its way into what we listen to?
To question this principle further, with numerous other female artists in play, why and how have Beyonce, Swift, and Adele changed the game for women’s roles in music, society, and marketing? Adorno and Horkheimer debate that in today’s culture “no one is officially responsible for what he thinks,” and though a society thriving on follows, retweets, and shares seems to support that theory, these women have proved as female artists—and perhaps, females, in general—it is they alone who are responsible for their art and the authenticity that steams from it. Swift, Beyonce, and Adele are as far from replicable as one can be, and it is their own prowess that has established them as not just celebrities, but icons, role models, and transcendentalists; they have redefined women’s role in music by, indeed, making it an authentic one: No longer are the “queens of pop” bubble-gum, sound-alike hit-makers. Instead, they are entrepreneurs, musical ground-breakers, and social leaders who employ authenticity in both the music they make and its creation, and the presentation of that music in their marketing.
Is it any wonder that we keep listening?