On Friday, Dec. 1, Taylor Swift returned to the stage at the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball in Inglewood, CA. The videos of Swift's 2017 Jingle Ball performance prove that the old Taylor isn't dead, but the new Taylor is fiercer than fans have ever seen. The singer's set included hits old and new, and she even surprised the crowd by hiding a few tricks up her gilded sleeves. There were dance moves, red lips, and passion galore. The Reputation-era Swift performances are about to pick up their own reputation for being crazy intense.
Swift has always been a ferocious performer, but her onstage persona was traditionally more accessible. Fans see Swift as their best pal who happens to be a superstar. That's been her thing for a long time. Now, however, the old Swift is taking a backseat to the new one. She's still there, making mixtapes for fans and reblogging videos on Tumblr. But the New Taylor is the one that stormed the Jingle Ball stage in Inglewood and crushed it. The "Shake It Off" video, in which the singer mocked her own inability to dance, was only from 2014. Now, in 2017, she's performing complicated choreography at a holiday festival. And honestly? It's awesome.
Swift is at peak confidence during this performance. She's tough and she's sultry; it's like looking at an entirely new popstar. The vibe Swift cultivated leading up to Reputation is obviously here to stay. In her short time on stage — at a packed show like Jingle Ball, performers have abbreviated set times — she revved up the crowd, introducing the audience to the New Taylor with a punch. Her outfit was a lower-key version of her costume in the "Look What You Made Me Do" bank robbing scene, and it seems way more comfortable than performing in thigh-high boots or high-waisted shorts like in days of yore. If you can rock a baggy, hooded minidress that vaguely resembles snakeskin, why wouldn't you choose that over a tailored outfit and ponytail? Or maybe it's a loose top and coordinating shorts? This casually badass Swift look suits her new image. It also makes it way more surprising when she busts out new choreography with her backup dancers.
Of course, it's not as if the Old Taylor just evaporated overnight. She brought out a guitar for an acoustic performance of "I Don't Wanna Live Forever," her duet with Zayn Malik for the 50 Shades Darker soundtrack. She posted cute Instagram stories to keep fans in the loop leading up to her performance. Oh, and she shocked the crowd by bringing out Ed Sheeran to share the stage with her to sing "End Game." Fans went nuts for it, appropriately. Shoutout to the girl in the audience who already has the Sheeran rap memorized!
Swift can lean in to the "snake" thing all she wants; she's still the singer and performer her fans have always adored. Even in a media landscape where the press seeks to crucify her for everything she says and does, and even if their relentless obsession with Swift directly led to her rebranding as the New Taylor, the Old Taylor is still right at the surface. She's still beyond talented and obviously has a blast when she's performing. Swift is undeniably fun to watch, even for those who haven't kept up with her for a decade.
Try as she might to stay on the radar on her terms, people are still going to pick apart every decision she makes, from hair to makeup to microphone and whatever else. That's why videos of Taylor Swift's Jingle Ball performance are so fun: As glimmers of the old Taylor shine through, it feels like the first time in a while that she's stopped trying to convince people to get on board with Swift 6.0. The New Swift can stop warning people that she's coming; she's already arrived. And she is ready for it.