Archive | 1:30 PM

Kelsea Ballerini just might have had TWO subjects in mind: Marilyn Monroe (and Taylor Swift)

20 Oct

See my other disclaimers.


Yes, yes this song is most definitely about Marilyn Monroe.  Obviously.  But also I noticed some things and think the song’s subtext could be slyly talking about Taylor Swift in addition to the main muse of the song.

There’s a lot of foundational knowledge required to see the connection that I’m talking about. So I am going to attempt to run you through the abridged version of Gaylor/Kaylor 101. There will be multiple songs discussed within this song, but I promise it’s all necessary information so you can hear what I hear.

As a side note:  Marilyn and Taylor are actually related:

I’m putting Kelsea’s Marilyn lyrics in pink highlight

[Verse 1]

Must be nice to be so nice and beautiful

The internet is sprinkled with stories of Taylor Swift’s kindness to both friends and fans:

[I’m putting articles in green, so you know it’s not me writing]

Proving once again that a Taylor Swift best-friendship is the best thing a person can have, Taylor Swift did another TRULY lovely thing for one of her mates, planning a very special surprise for her best friend Abigail. 

If you aren’t totally read up on the history of Taylor Swift’s friendships, here’s what you need to know about Abigail. She’s one of Taylor’s closest friends, that she’s known since high school. She’s referenced in ‘Fifteen’. Taylor even took her to the Grammys. These two are true BFFs. 

So, on Abigail’s 25th birthday, Taylor obviously had to do something pretty special. Which she did. Another important fact about Abigail, apparently, is that she her favourite band is Dashboard Confessional. 

Can you guess where this is going? Taylor then casually asked if there was anyone named Chris Carrabba at the party (that’s the lead singer of Dashboard Confessional, FYI). 

And, because T-Swifty is the greatest, she had indeed arranged for Chris Carrabba to be there. Abigail got to sing along with one of her favourite artists of all time. Plus, Hayley Williams was there, which everyone knows makes even the coolest party 20 times cooler. 

And as for the second part of the line, it’s obvious Taylor Swift checks all the boxes for [patriarchal] beauty standards (even science says so):

Hang the stars in the eyes of everybody

Oh my God, if Taylor mentions stars, stars in eyes, the moon, or anything like that I am going to flip!  This post was nowhere ready to post, but I struggled to get it done before Midnights is officially released just for this theory: I think we’ve moved from the sun (and head up in the clouds during Kaylor/Lover) to other sky imagery.  If these key words are in Midnights I will be insufferable!

Got your name up in lights and in every home

It’s a common phrase, but also Taylor Swift wrote a song using just. those. words.  And it was similar to this song of Kelsea’s–that I thought to be about Briteny Spears (Lucky) and her super-fame, and how she didn’t feel “lucky” all the time.  

As you can imagine, Taylor was at a very different stage in her life and career when first writing “Red.” She was dating men in Hollywood. She was climbing the charts. And while she was most definitely a household name, is it possible that this wasn’t the life she always dreamed of?  “The Lucky One” appears on “Red (Taylor’s Version),” and there are a lot of questions on who it was written about. Was “The Lucky One” meant to portray Taylor’s life? 

In “The Lucky One,” Taylor tells the story of a young starlet who moves to LA to make her dreams come true. However, upon becoming accustomed to the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle, she realizes that it isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. While so many people yearn to be famous, this star does not feel like she is “the lucky one.” The first verse of the tune introduces the young starlet who is “chasing fame and fortune.” The lyrics state: “And the camera flashes, make it look like a dream / You had it figured out since you were in school / Everybody loves pretty, everybody loves cool / So overnight you look like a sixties queen.”

Then, the chorus follows: “And they’ll tell you now, you’re the lucky one / Yeah, they’ll tell you now, you’re the lucky one / But can you tell me now, you’re the lucky one,” Taylor asks.

In the second verse, Taylor unpacks the downsides of this star’s life. “Now it’s big black cars, and Riviera views / And your lover in the foyer doesn’t even know you / And your secrets end up splashed on the news front page.” The verse continues to note how unhappy she is with her life. Later lines read: “Another name goes up in lights / You wonder if you’ll make it out alive.”

By the third verse, we learn that the star vanished from the public eye. “It was a few years later, I showed up here,” Taylor sings, followed by “and they still tell the legend of how you disappeared.” Taylor croons that she didn’t originally understand why the star would give up her life of fame. “But I understand it now,” she says at the end of the song, hinting at the fact that she personally can relate. [The Lakes]

The star Taylor is referring to in “The Lucky One” is rumored to be former pop singer Kim Wilde, according to the Swiftipedia Fandom page. Fans speculated that Kim was the subject after noticing that the main hook melody in “The Lucky One” is sampled from Kim’s song “Four Letter Word.” Furthermore, Taylor wrote the lyric “Chose the rose garden over Madison Square” in the song. This may possibly reference how Kim abandoned her career to become a landscape gardener. Regardless of who the song is about, Taylor’s message is clear: Constantly being in the limelight isn’t always what dreams are made of. Taylor understands why this star left Hollywood for a more reclusive life. Previously, the “Cardigan” crooner has been targeted for the way she looks, the men she was dating, how many men she was dating, and more. She shares some of her story and the criticisms she’s received in the Netflix original documentary Miss Americana.

Marilyn Monroe, Britney Spears, and Taylor Swift all knew fame on an astronomical level.  Yet all 3 had their struggles, and struggles with fame, and secrets.  

Taken more like the sentiment of the phrase, name up in lights, here are some statistics showing how popular Taylor Swift is.  She is the fourth highest of all time for music sales (Madonna was, I think, 100 million above the rest, in her own category, which is why Taylor appears 3rd in this picture):

And for a more modern measure of success and popularity, here are the streaming numbers.  Taylor is the 6th most streamed artist of all time whenever this page was posted:

Looking at social media followers, Taylor has hundreds of millions of those too: 

So I think we can agree both Marilyn and Taylor are in every home and have their names up in lights.

But were you still alone at the party?

There is a song about how Taylor was alone at her own birthday party, The Moment I Knew, that contains lyrics like:

Plus, I don’t have every awards ceremony, every after-party in a list or anything like that, but there’s been a lot of times Taylor shows up with just her entourage, not a plus one.  Her recent folklore Grammy, for example, she had her co-workers there, but not a significant other.  It was a momentous occasion and she was alone.


Everybody wanted to see you

Everyone wanted to see Marilyn, we know this.  She is still an icon.  But check out Taylor’s ticket sales–everyone wants to see her too:

Lips red, eyes blue

This one is an obvious commonality between Marilyn and Taylor.

And everybody wanted to be you, yeah

Obviously Marilyn.  But also:  People in the industry want to know success like Taylor.  Singers and models like her style.  Fans emulate her every move.


Was it worth it to seem so perfect?

A big reason I think this song is also alluding to Taylor Swift, is her very calculated brand image.  Taylor has orchestrated her down to Earth vibes, friendliness, who she is seen with in the media, how she speaks, what she wears, how fans and parents and capitalists perceive her–she is in total control of her brand.  Things have gone off the rails a couple times (snakegate) but not for Taylor’s lack of trying to keep up the perfect persona.

I think Kelsea, being in the business herself, can empathize with the Marilyn’s and Taylors of the world–whose identity and brand get braided together until nobody including the artist herself, knows which strand is which.

Here’s a very recent quote from Taylor about being more brand than individual:

Blonde and curves didn’t keep you from your skeletons

We don’t really think of Taylor Swift as “curvy” in modern times.  Compared to Marilyn’s era, there is slightly more diversity in celebrities, and many of them have curvy figures.  But according to both of their measurements (I do not know where these come from, or how accurate they are) both gals are an hourglass shape.  

This line talks about how the subject is beautiful and portrays her life/image/brand as perfect.  Yet, the artist’s real life is not like that.  And the difference between the brand and the reality leaves an empty lonely feeling.  Both Taylor and Marilyn are the standard of beauty, yet there is a sadness about both of them.  

The skeletons part of this line is particularly geared toward Taylor.  She has secrets and uses her lyrics to tell her truth–but with plausible deniability.  On the surface the lyrics talk of boyfriends, but the subtext tells how Taylor dates women.  It’s like she writes personal experiences, but codes them and explains it away in promotional interviews.

The word, “skeletons” is in Cowboy Like Me, which we already talked about as a song possibly about bearding:

We didn’t talk about the line:

[because this could get confusing referencing Taylor’s lyrics in the middle of Kelsea’s song, I have highlighted TS lyrics in purple]

But that was all before I locked it down

It’s an interesting line that could be alluding to Pont des Arts in Paris, better known as the love lock bridge.


Taylor’s song, I Think He Knows also talks about locking it down:

I think he knows his footprints

On the sidewalk

The sidewalk reminded me of stuff I saw on Tumblr about some pavement etchings.  I grabbed some images and explanations from 

So thanks to 9x1ft, and visit the Tumblr for a trove of Kaylor information!

Lead to where I can’t stop

Go there every night

This is Karlie’s NY place, and that garden gate:

I think he knows his hands around

A cold glass

Make me wanna know that body

Like it’s mine

I don’t have any hardcore evidence for these lines, but applying them to Karlie here’s my thoughts:  A glass could have curves.  She might be comparing a glass (possibly from that dive bar) to her partner’s body.  Curves = female.  And “know that body like it’s mine” could mean they have similar bodies because they’re both women–rather than ownership.

He got that boyish look that I like in a man

Taylor, in curating her public relationships with boyish looking guys may have a two-prong approach:  She is trying to find a boy that is marketable to as wide of an audience as possible.  He has to be safe, have a pretty, photographable face, and fit with her clean-cut image.  The second factor could be covering up her actual private relationship with women.  Finding a dude who closely resembles her girlfriend gives her plausible deniability for her lyrics.  

A lot of the teen idols (Elvis Presley, James Dean, David Cassidy, Davy Jones, Donnie Osmond, Leif Garrett, Justin Timberlake, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Leonardo Dicaprio, Hansen, Justin Beiber, Zac Effron…) have boyish, baby faces.  They are white pre-teen to early twenties and are perceived as all-American, and wholesome and safe.  These boys can be marketed to pre-teen girls, a market with a lot of disposable income–they don’t yet have bills, but their parents are still buying them things.  In marketing to pre-teen girls, you also have to market to parents that can afford to buy their children a lot of extraneous things (vs necessities) suburban parents.

And doesn’t it just make sense that pre-teen girls who are WLW (or will soon discover that they are) would be attracted to boys with baby faces?  Those boys are feminized.  So these crushes still fit heteronormative expectations, but are actually attractive to young lesbians and bi-girls specifically because of their feminine features


I am an architect, I’m drawing up the plans

This line speaks to the above.  Taylor is curating a perfect relationship to cover for her actual relationship.  This is Cowboy Like Me in motion. This is not a statement of spontaneously feeling sparks or falling in love.  Taylor says she’s methodically putting together plans for this relationship in the song.

It’s like I’m seventeen, nobody understands

No one understands

Homophobic response to a child coming out:

Yuck.  and Gross.  

This is from Focus on the Family.  It’s coded as supportive, but it’s really gaslighting a gay person and trying to convince them they’re wrong about their sexuality.  Here’s an article about how Focus on the Family is a homophobic group:

I think Taylor is alluding to this homophobic type of response with that line.  Maybe she came out and people told her she’s too young to know.

…I think he knows

He better lock it down

Or I won’t stick around

‘Cause good ones never wait

He got that boyish look that I like in a man

I am an architect, I’m drawing up the plans

… Lyrical smile, indigo eyes, hand on my thigh

We can follow the sparks, I’ll drive

Lyrical smile, indigo eyes, hand on my thigh

We can follow the sparks, I’ll drive

So where we gonna go?

They went to Big Sur-just the two of them (and whoever took the photos).

And in her Vogue 73 questions Taylor says:

I whisper in the dark

Where we gonna go?

I think he knows

He got my heartbeat

Skipping down 16th Avenue

Got that, oh! I mean

Wanna see what’s under that attitude

Like, I want you, bless my soul

“Bless your soul” is a phrase that can be literal and meaningful or sarcastic.

Literal :  John gives $20 to a homeless man. The man says “Bless your soul.” (Genuine, gratitude)

 SARCASTIC:  Kim hates Kylie. Kylie tries to look pretty but Kim knows she’s prettier. Kim says “Aw, bless your soul for trying!”

(Sarcasm and an insult. Kim is proclaiming she is prettier.)

And I ain’t gotta tell him/I think he knows/I think he knows/I want you, bless my/I want you, bless my/I want you, bless my/I want you, bless my soul/I want you, bless my/I want you, bless my/I want you, bless my soul/I ain’t gotta tell him

I think he knows

See what I mean about plausible deniability? This could be Taylor sincerely saying she wants HIM. But also it could be the sarcastic usage of the phrase–like obviously I don’t want HIM like that.

This is Karlie’s arm putting her lock under THE NUMBER 13:

Hers is the one with the K heart. But tilt your head left and read it–there’s a T there. Koincidence?

And in Taylor’s lover promo, there is a heart it says Paris, City of love, there is a lock and key with “lover” there’s a rose, the butterfly like the wings and mural, and daisies. Which I just learned got their name from the center looking like… The sun. Like sunshiny Karlie.

Ok, after that quick, dirty lesson of how Taylor is likely WLW and Kaylor definitely was romantic and sexual, back to Kelsea’s Marilyn song:

Was it lonely, show pony?

I thought this was going to a western rodeo term, but urban dictionary gave these explanations:

This one easily matches Kelsea’s song about 2 performers.  But I thought this one was something:

Now, I’m sure if this is some homophobic response implying that gay people that are deemed “too flamboyant” are obnoxious show offs just for being themselves.  OR if this is a common term taken at face value. Does Kelsea know about the term relating to queerness? IDK. But it’s sus in this particular song for all the reasons I outlined.

I found this one appropriate for the subjects of this song because both are known for who they dated:  Movie stars, The Kennedys, Taylor’s “ex boyfriends.”  This could speak to superficial arm candy, PR arrangements, bearding…

Did you miss Norma Jeane?

Or did you always wanna be Marilyn?


Kelsea asks if Marilyn misses the real, authentic, non-famous, version of herself.  She also asks if she liked that person either, if she was always dissatisfied with who she was–plain or glam.

It pertains to Taylor because as she said in her song explanation, she doesn’t feel human anymore.  Taylor is more of a brand than a person.

[Verse 2]

Once you got through the doors, was it glamorous?

Or did you think you’d feel morе fulfilled? (Mm)

‘Cause I can see how it seemed

Through an L.A. silvеr screen

But I can also see how it’d drive me to pills

This is self explanatory, and hopefully the pills pertain only to Marilyn and not Taylor, but IDK.


So was it worth it to seem so perfect?

Blonde and curves didn’t keep you from your skeletons

And everybody wanted to know you/In every room

Was the way that everyone loved you/A feeling you outgrew?

‘Cause everybody wanted to be you/But did you? (Mm-mm, hmm)


Did you miss Norma Jeane? The woman underneath/Or did you always wanna be Marilyn?/Oh, ooh-ooh, Marilyn

[Outro: Marilyn Monroe]

Uhm, do I feel happy in life? Uhm

Uh, let’s see

Present tense could be for Kelsea and Taylor.