Last night at the Billboard Music Awards, Taylor Swift and Brendon Urie debuted the live performance of their newest single "ME!"
The performance, which featured a pastel-clad legion of dancers twirling from suspended umbrellas, opened with a drumline that many saw as a rip off of Beyoncé's seminal Coachella performance.
Of course, Beyoncé did not invent the marching band. But the 2018 Beychella performance has been at the forefront of everyone's cultural purview since the documentary, Homecoming, dropped just a few weeks ago. Beyoncé's performance, as explained in the documentary, was a tribute to the homecoming events of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU). Even if Taylor had planned her strikingly similar performance months in advance, she had to have realized that starting with the pink marching band opening would ignite at least some backlash. But then again, for T Swift, there seems to be no such thing as bad press.
As if the poorly-executed pink drumline wasn't enough, T Swift also announced that she will be releasing a live 2019 BBMA Rehearsal Audio––much like Beyoncé's latest live album, Homecoming. It would have been one thing if it was just the performance that was suspiciously similar to Beyonce's, but this just seems calculated.
After years in the public eye and countless scandals, Swift has mastered the art of harnessing media attention and using it in her favor. Capitalizing on outrage seems to be her forté––like when she tried to reclaim the image of a snake (a word used to describe her by many after a slew of controversy a couple of years ago) and become a "bad bitch." Unfortunately for her, this rebranding ended up falling flat, with her Reputation tour and album receiving a luke-warm reception.
Supporting the claims that Swift will do anything for personal gain, the singer told her fans that the music video for "ME!" contained hidden clues for the new album, which inevitably led to fans rewatching it over and over again, sneakily bolstering the number of views until it managed to break the record for most views in 24-hours. . It's kind of twisted, but kind of genius.
Also, let's not forget that this isn't the first time Swift has been accused of copying Beyonce. She was under fire for her "Look What You Made Me Do" video, where her choreography looked awfully similar to Bey's in her "Formation" video. Given the number of instances that Swift has appeared to borrow ideas from Queen B, it's difficult to believe that this is anything other than a deliberate pattern of mimicry.
The swifties may be a devoted fanbase, but they should never under-estimate the Beyhive, who have gotten the hashtag #Mayochella trending. The internet is doing what it does best and ruthlessly making fun of the allegedly ripped-off performance in what is now being referred to as "#Mayochella," or as one Bossip headline referred to it, "MAGAchella"
But the drags don't stop at the condiments. The Beyhive reigns supreme when it comes to coming up with the most creative and hilarious disses: "Homegoing" "The Unseasoning Stone" "Diet Lemonade" "Marching Bland" and "The Alabaster Abyss" are among some of the funniest disses in the Mayochella hashtag.
But when it comes to Taylor Swift, it's hard to know whether she's actually tone-deaf, or whether it's all part of a savvy rebranding scheme to garner attention for her music videos. Is she always three steps ahead or does she just have a strategic PR team who are really good at covering up her missteps? I guess we'll just have to see how the new album rollout goes. The new title has yet to be revealed, but perhaps it'll be called Limeade.
Sara is a music and culture writer.
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