As Swifties celebrate the release of 1989 (Taylor’s Version), they may also be secretly gearing up for the Kansas City Chiefs game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. After all, if one thing has been on Taylor Swift fans’ lips as much as the anticipated re-record of her debut pop album, it’s what’s next between her and NFL tight end Travis Kelce.
The new couple is abuzz across pop culture, bringing sports and music fans together for better – and worse. Because of that specific combination coincidentally aligning with the Wednesday, October 4 release of the four-part David Beckham docu-series Beckham on Netflix, constant comparisons arise between Swift & Kelce and David & Victoria Beckham.
However, no matter how prominent and popular Swift and Kelce are, they can never match the unique star power of Posh and Becks in the 1990s.
There’s no denying Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce are at the top of their respective games.
Kelce has two Super Bowl wins, with a third in the making. He gains momentum with new ventures, like his popular podcast New Heights, which he co-hosts with his brother Jason Kelce, a beloved center for the Philadelphia Eagles. Swift is a multi-hyphenate with a myriad of accolades to her name, including 12 Grammy Awards. Her songwriting continues to sharpen with each album, re-recorded or not, and the Eras Tour is beyond financially successful – in stadiums and movie theaters.
As a couple, Swift and Kelce make a perfect storm. Swifties are learning about or becoming more interested in American football, and football fans are giving Swift’s music a chance. Even Sunday Night Football uses Swift’s “Welcome to New York” in its promotion.
Their prominence in the media extends to tabloid front pages, think pieces, and the NFL’s coverage of Chiefs games when Swift is in attendance – and even when she’s not. The Kelce brothers have discussed whether the NFL is overdoing its coverage of Travis and Taylor’s new relationship during a recent episode of New Heights. Most recently, Swift and Kelce appeared on Saturday Night Live, with the former introducing the musical guest Ice Spice and the latter appearing in a skit about Swifties and football. They’re everywhere, which feels reminiscent of the early days of David and Victoria Beckham’s relationship.
Once the couple consisting of one of the most loved midfielders in football history and a freaking Spice Girl went public (not of their choosing), David Beckham and the then Victoria Adams were paparazzi cannon fodder, which Beckham depicts throughout the docu-series. In the documentary, director Fisher Stevens interviews two brothers, Eamonn and James Clarke, who are only some of the paparazzi who followed the new couple incessantly.
They speak about how David and Victoria were the perfect and unprecedented combination of pop culture and sport. The fascination surrounding them is unique because of the individual stardom of David as a Manchester United and England footballer and Victoria as Posh Spice from one of the world’s most popular girl bands, Spice Girls. The Anna Wintour, Chief Content Officer of Condé Nast & Global Editorial Director of Vogue, speaks to their popularity more eloquently, “But when you have two equally charismatic people, it doubles the volume. It puts the heat factor way up.”
That verbiage calls back to and explains conversations around Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s coverage across NFL social media accounts and throughout games. Of course, people, specifically companies who can profit from it, want to utilize their tools to showcase this relationship that gets so much attention from fans and haters alike.
That similarity isn’t the only one between the two couples. There are keen parallels throughout both relationship’s early days. For instance, Beckham’s “The Kick” details that “Posh and Becks” was born after the paparazzi discovered David bought Victoria a Cartier watch, which she publicly wore. The docu-series makes it abundantly clear that David and Victoria attempt to keep their relationship private for many reasons, but that watch cracks it open. What better way to explain the beginnings of Kelce and Swift’s match-up than a friendship bracelet popularized among Swifties during the Eras Tour?
Kelce attended the Eras Tour at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium on July 8 and spoke about his attempts to get a friendship bracelet with his phone number to Swift on New Heights on July 26. Developments slowly accrue, like an open invitation to Cheifs games, leading to Swift’s appearance – alongside Kelce’s mom, Donna Kelce – at the Chiefs game against the Chicago Bears. The Chiefs win, and so do the Swifties when Kelce and Swift leave the Arrowhead Stadium together.
Unlike Victoria Beckham, who repeatedly defines herself as a non-football fan but a fan of whatever David does, Swift is an American football fan – an Eagles fan, specifically. The singer-songwriter pens the lyric “With my Eagles t-shirt hanging from your door” in the song “gold rush” from the 2020 album evermore.
However, the two couples come back together in a shared appreciation of family, as seen at football games. Victoria describes David’s love for his family as one of the characteristics that made her fall for him at first sight. Swift, who is not new to warming up to her partner’s parents (HiddleSwift, anyone?), attends more Chiefs games and makes friends with Travis’ parents, Donna and Ed Kelce.
Even with those resemblances, the most clarifying indicators of the couples’ differences are the media and technology from the ‘90s and those that exist now.
Yes, Taylor Swift and Victoria Beckham have a celebrity status of their own making, meaning sexist remarks about the women attaching themselves to a professional athlete for visibility are off-base – to say the least. Yes, Travis Kelce and David Beckham are decorated athletes who (will) leave lasting impacts on their respective sports. Nevertheless, the eras in which the couples exist define them more than most factors.
Posh and Becks in the ‘90s didn’t have the same accessibility and visibility that comes from social media at people’s fingertips. Rather, the couple’s popularity is phenomenal because they dominated headlines and front pages despite that technological development. Most people anywhere, even outside the United Kingdom, knew (and still know) who “Posh and Becks” were. Comparing that stark prominence to Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s relationship in 2023 and the technological advancements that come with it is unfair.
It’s a false equivalency. No one can replicate the Posh and Becks era of the 1990s and early 2000s, which is true of most infamous couples in pop culture. Consequently, no one can duplicate the Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce era of the 2020s. Both couples now hold space in pop culture and sports history. David Beckham even said as much to the Associated Press at the Beckham premiere in London on October 3.
“Taylor is an amazing talent, and she’s an amazing person, and she deserves to be happy. And, you know, whatever she does and whoever she’s with, as long as she’s happy, that’s the most important thing. And it’s the same with me and Victoria. You know, we’ve been together now for 26 years, you know, almost three decades. We’ve got amazing kids. We’ve built businesses, but we make time for each other. We respect each other, and we love our kids. So, you know, you have to work hard at these things. And yes, we’ve been together for a long time,” Beckham said. Ultimately, Posh and Becks are one of a kind, but so are Swift and Kelce, and pop culture history is best to remember that.
What did you think of the Beckham docu-series? Let us know in the comments below!
Beckham is streaming on Netflix.