Taylor Swift isn’t the first to monetise her heartbreak. Here are five of the best examples

This list will make you ponder what you could have done after a break-up instead of sitting around the house moping

Taylor Swift does a lot of things. She writes songs, she increases hotel prices around concert dates and she made the NFL briefly interesting. But she also indulges our very base and human obsession with the messy love lives of others. Sure you could argue Swift made her billions and smashed Spotify streaming records with her latest bulging album because she’s a talented songwriter, but she also has the general public being nosy to thank.

A large portion of the publicity and content generated since the album’s surprise weekend release has been devoted to raking through the lyrics and promotional material for “Easter eggs”. These are secret messages, hidden hints and clues usually scattered throughout her songs and video clips that tell us what we all really want to know – who are the songs written about and what caused her last break-up. While the term “Easter eggs” originally applied to segments of video games that were hidden away or could only be accessed with secret codes with creators rewarding extra player effort with more information about the game’s lore, it’s become tied to Taylor Swift thanks to her excellent eye for detail. And our voracious capacity to stick our noses in other people’s business.

She’s spawned thousands of think pieces about her album as if it was a giant, inconclusive escape room puzzle where our reward is finding out she broke up with her ex because he was being a bit obnoxious.

She’s spawned thousands of other counter pieces of content about how juvenile, how unethical it is to make art about your little break-ups, which is oddly never levelled as much at male artists. For example, Hozier has made a career out of pining to the extent we’re starting to wonder if we’re running out of women in Ireland who keep breaking his heart so badly (if his songs are autobiographical) . We might have to stage an intervention to get him a nice girleen who won’t make him yodel with longing because she’s there on the couch in her Penneys pyjamas with him every night catching up on Bake Off.

Swift hasn’t really commented publicly on the demise of her six year long relationship with her English actor ex or the alleged on/off dalliance with another English bad boy rock star. Which sets the audience up to greedily pour over clues she left in her lyrics. We love digging through other people’s break-ups whether it’s Tay-Tay or stalking through a girl from school’s Instagram profile when pictures of her husband disappear and are replaced with quotes about “Knowing your worth and knowing when to walk away”.

Tay-Tay might be one of the most prolific break-up artists but she wasn’t the first to monetise her heartbreak. There’s a long, proud artistic tradition of using your talents to get back at your ex. Let’s take a look at some of the best examples:

Fleetwood Mac but especially Stevie Nicks.

It’s why we love the Rumours albums decades after it exploded on to the scene. What more could you want as this drug-fuelled masterpiece lets you push your nose up against the glass of a band dealing with affairs, jealousy, rage and heartbreak. Special points go to Stevie Nicks who made her ex sing songs about how much of an ass he’s been for years to come because they became massive hits. Sure he wrote Go Your Own Way about “packing up and shaking up” but that Silver Springs 1997 performance confirms he really will never “get away from the sound of the woman that loves you.” Nicks hexed him there live onstage and now keeps his soul in a little jar in her bedside locker next to her hand lotion. Don’t believe me? Look it up on YouTube.

Tracey Emin – My Bed

The renegade Young British Artist suffered following a traumatic break-up. After spending a few days wallowing in bed, she was inspired to exhibit it. The glorious mess of body fluids, condoms, empty booze bottles and a pair of slippers was nominated for the Turner prize and was bought by Charles Saachi for 150,000. It later sold for 2.2 million in 2014, which put a cork in any remaining detractors that it wasn’t art.

Britney Spears- Toxic

One of Ms Spear’s sexiest tracks is responsible no doubt for an entire generation of children. Hit songwriter Cathy Dennis apparently wrote it around the time of her break-up with a TV presenter. Sometimes break-up art can sometimes vastly romanticise the person who inspired it. For example Alanis Morrisette’s seminal split anthem “You Oughta Know ‘’ is about Dave Coulier. That’s right the lines “would she go down on you in a theatre” was directed at Uncle Joey from Full House! That’s the coolest Dave Coulier has ever been or ever will be and it’s all thanks to upsetting Ms Morrisette.

Bob Dylan – Don’t Think Twice

The song university boyfriends posted on their MySpace accounts when they wanted people to think the break-up was mutual (it wasn’t). Maturing is realising Bob Dylan might have been the problem in the relationship.

Ernest Hemingway – A Farewell to Arms

Hemingway was heartbroken when the nurse he fell in love with when he was recovering from an injury in first World War went off with some other lad. So he wrote a book about a soldier falling in love with a nurse except this time he kills her off instead.

There are countless other examples to include but it really makes you ponder what you could have done instead of sitting around the house moping after your last break-up instead of letting inspire a bout of creativity and a chunk of money to hit your bank account. As the late and great Carrie Fisher was fond of saying “take your broken heart and turn it into art”.

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