by May Huang
Dec. 28, 2019
It is a truth universally acknowledged that there is a song for every occasion. Specifically, there is a Taylor Swift song for every occasion. After watching The Rise of Skywalker, I have been giving a lot of thought to the narrative arc that is Kylo/Ben and Rey’s love story. What better songwriter than Taylor Swift to provide the soundtrack of their star-crossed journey through the galaxy? Listen to the playlist here as you read along:
1. Love Story
Taylor’s hit song “Love Story” is based on the story of Romeo and Juliet, and Kylo and Rey’s narrative certainly brings to mind the ill-fated pair. Each of their “masters” (Snoke and Luke) advise them to stay away from or destroy each other, for they are supposed to be enemies! However, the star-crossed lovers fall for each other anyway, and the ending of TROS—where Ben gives his life for Rey and dies in her arms—might remind you of the way Romeo and Juliet concludes. “It’s a love story, baby just say yes”—Kylo and Rey each want the other to say “yes,” to turn to their side.
“Innocent,” a song that Taylor originally wrote for Kanye West, perfectly describes Rey’s attitude towards Ben Solo. “I guess you really did it this time / Left yourself in your warpath / Lost your balance on a tightrope / Lost your mind tryin’ to get it back.” Ben Solo is indeed stuck in his own “warpath,” and has “lost” himself by turning to the dark side and becoming Kylo Ren. Nonetheless, the song holds out hope and believes in a return to the light. As Tay/Rey sings to Kanye/Kylo (unkanny how that works, isn’t it), “who you are is not where you’ve been / You’re still an innocent.” The song is about #Bendemption.
“Treacherous” is a song that gets to the heart of the risk and tension inherent in Rey and Kylo/Ben’s force bonds. “I can’t decide if it’s a choice / Getting swept away / I hear the sound of my own voice / Asking you to stay.” Neither of them knows why they are being connected, but neither wants to lose the connection. “I’d be smart to walk away / But you’re quicksand” also speaks to how both are pulled towards each other, despite the fact that their bond could be dangerous (also, sand is a core part of Star Wars canon). The chorus says it all: “This slope is treacherous / This path is reckless / This slope is treacherous / And I, I, I like it.”
“Delicate” is a word that certainly describe Kylo and Rey’s connection in TLJ. It’s a tricky situation to have light and darkness attracted to each other—“this ain’t for the best.” Moreover, neither Kylo nor Rey are doing so well, reputation-wise. Rey realizes that her parents are “nobody,” while Kylo is bullied by Snoke and probably disliked by everyone on the ship. “My reputation’s never been worse, so / You must like me for me.” When Kylo asks, “Why is the force connecting us,” I think he’s also wondering: “Is it chill that you’re in my head? / ‘Cause I know that it’s delicate.”
5. It’s Nice to Have a Friend
This song is about how nice it is to have a friend when you believe you are isolated and alone. The line “you’ve been stressed out lately? Yeah, me too,” reminds me of when Kylo and Ren are connected in the hut and say to each other, “You’re not alone.” “Neither are you.” Also, “something gave you the nerve / to touch my hand” totally captures *that moment* when the two touch hands for the first time. This song is about finding your soulmate in adversity.
6. You Belong With Me
“YBWM” is a fun bop, and is important to include in this list because Kylo and Rey’s connection is one of the most entertaining parts of the sequels. The song is about convincing someone else that they belong with you instead of others who don’t understand them. “I’m the one who understands you / Been here all along so why can’t you see / You belong with me” exudes Big Kylo Energy. He believes that he truly understands who Rey is—“You’re nothing. But not to me”—at a time when Rey doubts that anyone really knows her. Kylo wants Rey to let the past die, dang it, and see that she belongs with him as rulers of the galaxy!!
7. All You Had To Do Was Stay
However, at the end of TLJ, Rey declines Kylo’s offer to join him (can’t blame her), refuses his hand, and instead leaves on his ship. After all their force-bonding, Rey’s decision to reject Kylo must have him feeling like: “Stay, hey, all you had to do was stay / Had me in the palm of your hand / Then, why’d you had to go and lock me out when I let you in.” In other words, “it’s treason, then.” What I love about this song is that towards the end, we also hear Rey’s voice enter the scene: “You were all I wanted / But not like this.” She wanted to take Kylo’s hand as Ben—not as Kylo Ren.
“Red” is a song that captures how Rey feels about Kylo and the dark side in general, probably. “Loving him is…passionate as sin”—it’s intense. Red is the color of Kylo’s red lightsaber and of Sith lightsabers in general. The lyric “tell myself it’s time now / gotta let go” also recalls the moment when Kylo is trying to sway Rey to “let go,” to let the past die. Although Rey does not give in, Kylo and the dark side he represents still haunt Rey in TROS, where “moving on from him is impossible, “I still see it all in my head / In burning red.”
Picture the scene in TROS when Rey heals Kylo/Ben after their duel on the wreckage of the death star. Now imagine Taylor singing: “Rain came pouring down when I was drowning / That’s when I could finally breathe.” “Clean,” Taylor’s song about finally getting over a longtime heartbreak, is the perfect song to capture Kylo’s turn. “By morning, gone was any trace of you, I think I am finally clean”—healed by Rey, and strengthened by the loving memory of his true parents, Kylo is finally Ben Solo again.
“Daylight,” the last song on Taylor’s last album, is also the song that sums up the end of the #Reylo arc. “I’ve been sleepin’ so long in a twenty-year dark night / And now I see daylight, I only see daylight” represents how Ben feels when he finally emerges from Kylo Ren’s shadow and turns towards the light. He messed up before—“I wounded the good and I trusted the wicked / Clearin’ the air, I breathed in the smoke” (Smoke also rhymes with “Snoke”)—but at the end of the day, both he and Rey can cast off their “cloaks and … daggers lightsabers because it’s morning now.” The monologue that concludes “Daylight” also recalls Rose’s line from TLJ about how victory comes “not by fighting what we hate, but saving those we love”:
“I wanna be defined by the things that I love
Not the things I hate
Not the things I’m afraid of…
I just think that you are what you love”
On that note, may the force flow SWIFTly through you! What other songs (by Taylor Swift or other artists) remind you of #Reylo?