Taylor Swift

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Taylor Swift
Portrait of Taylor Swift in a cocktail dress
Born
Taylor Alison Swift

(1989-12-13) December 13, 1989 (age 34)
Occupations
  • Singer-songwriter
  • producer
  • director
  • businesswoman
  • actress
Years active2004–present
Works
Relatives
AwardsFull list
Musical career
OriginNashville, Tennessee, US
Genres
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • piano
  • banjo
  • ukulele
Labels
Websitewww.taylorswift.com Edit this at Wikidata
Signature

Taylor Alison Swift (born December 13, 1989) is an American singer-songwriter. Her artistry, songwriting, and entrepreneurship have influenced the music industry, popular culture, and politics, and her life is a subject of widespread media coverage.

Swift began professional songwriting at 14. She signed with Big Machine Records in 2005 and achieved prominence as a country pop singer with the albums Taylor Swift (2006) and Fearless (2008). The singles "Teardrops on My Guitar", "Love Story", and "You Belong with Me" were crossover successes on country and pop radio formats and brought Swift mainstream fame. She experimented with rock and electronic styles on her next albums, Speak Now (2010) and Red (2012), respectively, with the latter featuring her first Billboard Hot 100 number-one single, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together". Swift recalibrated her image from country to pop with 1989 (2014), a synth-pop album supported by the chart-topping songs "Shake It Off", "Blank Space", and "Bad Blood". Media scrutiny inspired the hip-hop-influenced Reputation (2017) and its number-one single "Look What You Made Me Do".

After signing with Republic Records in 2018, Swift released the eclectic pop album Lover (2019) and the autobiographical documentary Miss Americana (2020). She explored indie folk styles on the 2020 albums Folklore and Evermore, subdued electropop on Midnights (2022), and re-recorded four albums subtitled Taylor's Version[a] after a dispute with Big Machine. These albums spawned the number-one songs "Cruel Summer", "Cardigan", "Willow", "Anti-Hero", "All Too Well", and "Is It Over Now?". Her Eras Tour (2023–2024) and its accompanying concert film became the highest-grossing tour and concert film of all time, respectively. Swift has directed videos and films such as Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions (2020) and All Too Well: The Short Film (2021).

One of

IFPI Global Recording Artist of the Year
for a record four times each.

Life and career

Early life

Swift's childhood home in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania

Taylor Alison Swift was born on December 13, 1989,

Merrill Lynch[4] and her mother, Andrea Gardner Swift (née Finlay), worked for a time as a mutual fund marketing executive.[5] Swift's younger brother, Austin, is an actor.[6]

Swift's mother is of

Italian ancestry.[7][8] Swift's paternal great-great-grandfather, Charles C. A. Baldi, was an Italian immigrant entrepreneur and community leader who opened several businesses in Philadelphia in the 1800s.[9][10][8] Her maternal grandmother, Marjorie Finlay (née Moehlenkamp), was an opera singer,[11] whose singing in church became one of her earliest memories in music that shaped her career.[5]

Swift spent her early years on a Christmas tree farm that her father had purchased from one of his clients.[12][13] She is a Christian.[14] She attended preschool and kindergarten at Alvernia Montessori School, run by Bernardine Franciscan sisters,[15] before transferring to the Wyndcroft School.[16] The family moved to a rented house in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania,[17] where Swift attended Wyomissing Area Junior/Senior High School.[18]

At the age of nine, Swift became interested in musical theater and performed in four Berks Youth Theatre Academy productions.

Dixie Chicks karaoke covers.[25] She was rejected, however, because "everyone in that town wanted to do what I wanted to do. So, I kept thinking to myself, I need to figure out a way to be different."[26] She spent summers in Stone Harbor, New Jersey until she was fourteen years old, performing in a local coffee shop.[27][28]

In 2002, when Swift was around twelve years old, local musician Ronnie Cremer taught her to play guitar. Cremer helped with her first efforts as a songwriter, leading her to write "Lucky You".[29] In 2003, Swift and her parents started working with New York–based talent manager Dan Dymtrow. With his help, Swift modeled for Abercrombie & Fitch as part of their "Rising Stars" campaign, had an original song included on a Maybelline compilation CD, and met with major record labels.[30] After performing original songs at an RCA Records showcase, Swift, then thirteen years old, was given an artist development deal and began making frequent trips to Nashville with her mother.[31][32][33] To help Swift break into the country music scene, her father transferred to Merrill Lynch's Nashville office when she was fourteen years old, and the family relocated to Hendersonville, Tennessee.[12][34] Swift attended Hendersonville High School[35] before transferring to Aaron Academy after two years, which better accommodated her touring schedule through homeschooling. She graduated one year early.[36][37]

2004–2008: Career beginnings and first album

In Nashville, Swift worked with experienced

Sony/ATV Tree publishing house,[42] but left then BMG-owned RCA Records (later bought by Sony Music) at the age of 14 due to the label's lack of care and them "cut[ting] other people's stuff". She was also concerned that development deals can shelve artists[33][23] and recalled: "I genuinely felt that I was running out of time. I wanted to capture these years of my life on an album while they still represented what I was going through."[43]

Taylor Swift singing on a microphone and playing a guitar
Swift opening for Brad Paisley in 2007. To promote her first album, she opened tours for other country musicians in 2007 and 2008.[44]

At an industry showcase at Nashville's

Bluebird Cafe in 2005, Swift caught the attention of Scott Borchetta, a DreamWorks Records executive who was preparing to form an independent record label, Big Machine Records. She had first met Borchetta in 2004.[45] She was one of Big Machine's first signings,[33] and her father purchased a three-percent stake in the company for an estimated $120,000.[46][47] She began working on her eponymous debut album with Nathan Chapman.[23] Swift wrote or co-wrote all album tracks, and co-writers included Rose, Robert Ellis Orrall, Brian Maher, and Angelo Petraglia.[48] Released in October 2006, Taylor Swift peaked at number five on the US Billboard 200, on which it spent 157 weeks—the longest stay on the chart by any release in the US in the 2000s decade.[49][50] Swift became the first female country music artist to write or co-write every track on a US platinum-certified debut album.[51]

Big Machine Records was still in its infancy during the June 2006 release of the lead single, "Tim McGraw", which Swift and her mother helped promote by packaging and sending copies of the CD single to country radio stations. As there was not enough furniture at the label yet, they would sit on the floor to do so.[52] She spent much of 2006 promoting Taylor Swift with a radio tour and television appearances; she opened for Rascal Flatts on select dates during their 2006 tour,[53] as a replacement for Eric Church.[54] Borchetta said that although record industry peers initially disapproved of his signing a 15-year-old singer-songwriter, Swift tapped into a previously unknown market—teenage girls who listen to country music.[52][12]

Following "Tim McGraw", four more singles were released throughout 2007 and 2008: "Teardrops on My Guitar", "Our Song", "Picture to Burn" and "Should've Said No". All appeared on Billboard's Hot Country Songs, with "Our Song" and "Should've Said No" reaching number one. "Our Song" made Swift the youngest person to single-handedly write and sing a Hot Country Songs number-one single,[55] and "Teardrops on My Guitar" was Swift's breakthrough single on mainstream radio and charts.[56][57][58] Swift released two EPs, The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection in October 2007 and Beautiful Eyes in July 2008.[59][60] She promoted her debut album extensively as the opening act for other country musicians' tours in 2006 and 2007, including those by George Strait,[61] Brad Paisley,[62] and Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.[63]

Swift won multiple accolades for Taylor Swift. She was one of the recipients of the Nashville Songwriters Association's Songwriter/Artist of the Year in 2007, becoming the youngest person given the title.[64] She also won the Country Music Association's Horizon Award for Best New Artist,[65] the Academy of Country Music Awards' Top New Female Vocalist,[66] and the American Music Awards' Favorite Country Female Artist honor.[67] She was also nominated for Best New Artist at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards.[68] In 2008, she opened for Rascal Flatts again[69] and briefly dated the singer Joe Jonas.[70]

2008–2010: Fearless

Taylor Swift in 2009
Swift at the 2009 premiere of Hannah Montana: The Movie. She had a cameo appearance in the film and wrote two songs for its soundtrack.

Swift's second studio album,

Pop Songs chart,[75][76] and its third single, "You Belong with Me", was the first country song to top Billboard's all-genre Radio Songs chart.[77] Three other singles were released in 2008–2010: "White Horse", "Fifteen", and "Fearless". All five singles were Hot Country Songs top-10 entries, with "Love Story" and "You Belong with Me" topping the chart.[78] In 2009, Swift toured as an opening act for Keith Urban and embarked on her first headlining tour, the Fearless Tour.[79]

"You Belong with Me" won

Artist of the Year.[83] She won Video of the Year and Female Video of the Year for "Love Story" at the 2009 CMT Music Awards, where she made a parody video of the song with rapper T-Pain called "Thug Story".[84] At the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, Fearless was named Album of the Year and Best Country Album, and "White Horse" won Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance.[85] At the 2009 Country Music Association Awards, Swift won Album of the Year for Fearless and was named Entertainer of the Year, the youngest person to win the honor.[86]

Throughout 2009, Swift featured on and wrote other musicians' releases. She featured on "Half of My Heart" by John Mayer, whom she was romantically linked with in late 2009.[87][88] She wrote "Best Days of Your Life" for Kellie Pickler,[89] co-wrote and featured on Boys Like Girls' "Two Is Better Than One,[90] and wrote two songs—"You'll Always Find Your Way Back Home" and "Crazier"—for the soundtrack of Hannah Montana: The Movie, in which she had a cameo appearance.[91][92] She wrote and recorded "Today Was a Fairytale" for the soundtrack of Valentine's Day (2010), in which she had her acting debut.[93] "Today Was a Fairytale" was her first number-one single on the Canadian Hot 100.[94] While shooting Valentine's Day in October 2009, Swift dated co-star Taylor Lautner.[95] On television, she made her debut as a rebellious teenager in an CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode[96] and hosted and performed as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live; she was the first host ever to write their own opening monologue.[97][98]

2010–2014: Speak Now and Red

Swift singing into a mic while playing a guitar, dressed in a purple dress
Swift on the Speak Now World Tour in 2011

Swift's third studio album,

Mean", "The Story of Us", "Sparks Fly", and "Ours". "Mine" peaked at number three and was the highest-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100,[103] the first three singles reached the top 10 in Canada,[94] and the last two reached number one on Hot Country Songs.[78] Swift promoted Speak Now with the Speak Now World Tour from February 2011 to March 2012[104] and the live album Speak Now World Tour – Live.[105]

At the 54th Annual Grammy Awards in 2012, Swift performed "Mean", which won Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance.[106] She was named Songwriter/Artist of the Year by the Nashville Songwriters Association (2010 and 2011),[107][108] Woman of the Year by Billboard (2011),[109] and Entertainer of the Year by the Academy of Country Music (2011 and 2012)[110] and the Country Music Association in 2011.[111] At the American Music Awards of 2011, Swift won Artist of the Year and Favorite Country Album.[112] Rolling Stone named Speak Now on its list of "50 Best Female Albums of All Time" (2012).[113]

Swift in a red marching-band outfit holding a mic
Swift on the Red Tour in 2013

Britrock, dubstep, and dance-pop.[115][116] The album opened at number one on the Billboard 200 with 1.21 million sales[117] and was Swift's first number-one album in the UK.[118] Its lead single, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together", was her first number one on the Billboard Hot 100,[119] and its third single, "I Knew You Were Trouble", reached the top five on charts worldwide.[120] Other singles from Red were "Begin Again", "22", "Everything Has Changed", "The Last Time", and "Red".[121]

Red and its single "Begin Again" received three nominations at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards (2014).[122] Swift received American Music Awards for Best Female Country Artist in 2012, Artist of the Year in 2013,[123][124] and the Nashville Songwriters Association's Songwriter/Artist Award for the fifth and sixth consecutive years.[125] At the 2014 Country Music Association Awards, Swift was honored with the Pinnacle Award, making her the second recipient in history after Garth Brooks.[126] The Red Tour ran from March 2013 to June 2014 and became the highest-grossing country tour upon completion.[127]

Swift continued writing songs for films and featuring on other artists' releases. On the

T-Bone Burnett. "Safe & Sound" won the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media.[128] She wrote and produced "Sweeter than Fiction" with Jack Antonoff for the soundtrack to One Chance (2013).[129] Swift featured on B.o.B's "Both of Us" (2012)[130] and provided vocals for Tim McGraw's "Highway Don't Care" (2013), also featuring Keith Urban.[131] She was a voice actress in The Lorax (2012),[132] made a cameo in the sitcom New Girl (2013),[133] and had a supporting role in the dystopian film The Giver (2014).[134] From 2010 to 2013, Swift was romantically involved with the actor Jake Gyllenhaal, the political heir Conor Kennedy, and the singer Harry Styles.[88]

2014–2018: 1989 and Reputation

Swift performing on a mic, dressed in a blue skirt
Swift at the 1989 World Tour, the highest-grossing tour of 2015

In March 2014, Swift began living in New York City, which she credited as a creative influence on her fifth studio album,

Out of the Woods", and "New Romantics".[140] The 1989 World Tour (2015) was the highest-grossing tour of the year with $250 million in total revenue.[141]

After publishing an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal stressing the importance of albums as a creative medium for artists,[142] in November 2014, Swift removed her catalog from ad-supported, free music streaming platforms such as Spotify.[143] In a June 2015 open letter, Swift criticized Apple Music for not offering royalties to artists during its free three-month trial period and threatened to withdraw her music from the platform,[144] which prompted Apple Inc. to announce that it would pay artists during the free trial period.[145] Swift then agreed to keep 1989 and her catalog on Apple Music.[146] Big Machine Records returned Swift's catalog to Spotify among other free streaming platforms in June 2017.[147]

Swift was named Billboard's Woman of the Year in 2014, becoming the first artist to win the award twice.

58th Grammy Awards (2016), 1989 won Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album, making Swift the first woman to win Album of the Year twice.[154]

Swift in a snake-embroiled bodysuit
Swift on her Reputation Stadium Tour (2018), the highest-grossing North American tour

Swift dated the DJ Calvin Harris from March 2015 to June 2016.[155] They co-wrote the song "This Is What You Came For", featuring vocals from Rihanna; Swift was initially credited under the pseudonym Nils Sjöberg.[156] She recorded "I Don't Wanna Live Forever" with Zayn Malik for the soundtrack to Fifty Shades Darker (2017)[157] and won a Country Music Association Award for Song of the Year with "Better Man", which she wrote for the band Little Big Town.[158] In April 2016, Kanye West released the single "Famous", in which he references Swift in the line, "I made that bitch famous." Swift criticized West and said she never consented to the lyric, but West claimed that he had received her approval and his then-wife Kim Kardashian released video clips of Swift and West discussing the song amicably over the phone. The controversy made Swift a subject of an online "cancel" movement.[159] In late 2016, after briefly dating Tom Hiddleston, Swift began a six-year relationship with Joe Alwyn and retreated herself from the public spotlight.[160][161]

In August 2017, Swift

urban styles of hip hop and R&B.[163] Released in November 2017,[164] Reputation opened atop the Billboard 200 with 1.21 million US sales[165] and topped the charts in the UK, Australia, and Canada.[166] The album's lead single, "Look What You Made Me Do", was Swift's first UK number-one single[167] and topped charts in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and the US.[168] Its singles "...Ready for It?", "End Game", and "Delicate" were released to pop radio.[169] Reputation was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album.[170] Swift featured on the country duo Sugarland's "Babe" (2018).[171]

At the 2018 American Music Awards, Swift won four awards, which made her accumulate 23 trophies in total and become the AMAs' most awarded female musician, surpassing Whitney Houston.[172] The same year, she embarked on her Reputation Stadium Tour,[173] which became the highest-grossing North American concert tour in history and grossed $345.7 million worldwide.[174]

2018–2021: Lover, Folklore, and Evermore

In November 2018, Swift signed a new deal with Universal Music Group, which promoted her subsequent albums under Republic Records' imprint.[175] The contract included a provision for Swift to maintain ownership of her masters. In addition, in the event that Universal sold any part of its stake in Spotify, it agreed to distribute a non-recoupable portion of the proceeds among its artists.[176][177]

A portrait of Swift
Swift at the American Music Awards of 2019, where she was named Artist of the Decade

Swift's first album with Republic Records, Lover, was released in August 2019.[178] She produced the album with Antonoff, Louis Bell, Frank Dukes, and Joel Little.[179] Lover peaked atop the charts of such territories as Australia, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, the UK, and the US.[180] The album spawned five singles: "Me!", "You Need to Calm Down", "Lover", "The Man", and "Cruel Summer"; the first two singles peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, and the lattermost single became a resurgent success in 2023, reaching number one.[181] Lover was 2019's best-selling album in the US and best-selling album by a solo artist worldwide.[182] The album and its singles earned three nominations at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards in 2020.[183] At the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards, Swift won three awards including Video of the Year for "You Need to Calm Down", becoming the first female and second artist overall to win the category for a self-directed video.[184]

While promoting Lover in 2019, Swift became embroiled in a public dispute with the talent manager Scooter Braun after he purchased Big Machine Records, including the masters of her albums that the label had released.[185] Swift said she had been trying to buy the masters, but Big Machine would only allow her to do so if she exchanged one new album for each older one under a new contract, which she refused to sign.[185] In November 2020, Swift began re-recording her back catalog, which enabled her to own the new masters and the licensing of her songs for commercial use, substituting the Big Machine-owned masters.[186]

In February 2020, Swift signed a global publishing deal with

Exile" from Folklore, and "Willow", "No Body, No Crime", and "Coney Island" from Evermore.[191] Folklore was the best-selling album of 2020 in the US[192] and, together with "Cardigan", made Swift the first artist to debut a US number-one album and a number-one song in the same week; she achieved the feat again with Evermore and "Willow".[193]

According to Billboard, Swift was the highest-paid musician in the US and highest-paid solo musician worldwide of 2020.

Bombalurina in the film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats (2019), for which she co-wrote and recorded the Golden Globe-nominated original song "Beautiful Ghosts".[198][199] The documentary Miss Americana, which chronicled parts of Swift's life and career, premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.[200]

2021–2023: Re-recordings and Midnights

Swift's

All Too Well (10 Minute Version)", which became the longest song in history to top the Hot 100.[203]

Swift performing in 2022

Swift's tenth studio album, Midnights, was released in October 2022.[204] The album incorporates a restrained electropop[205] and synth-pop sound[206] with elements of hip hop, R&B, and electronica.[204][207] In the US, Midnights was her fifth to open atop the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of over one million copies, and its tracks, led by the single "Anti-Hero", made Swift the first artist to monopolize the top 10 of the Hot 100.[208] Globally, the album broke the record for the most single-day streams and most single-week streams on Spotify and peaked atop the charts of at least 14 countries.[209] The album's two further singles, "Lavender Haze" and "Karma", both peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100.[210]

According to Billboard, Swift was the top-earning solo artist in the US and the top-earning musician worldwide of 2021.[211][212] She won six American Music Awards including Artist of the Year in 2022.[213] At the MTV Video Music Awards, Swift won her third and fourth trophies for Video of the Year with All Too Well: The Short Film, her self-directed short film that accompanies "All Too Well (10 Minute Version)", in 2022[214] and "Anti-Hero" in 2023.[215] At the Grammy Awards, All Too Well: The Short Film won Best Music Video at the 65th annual ceremony (2023)[216] and Midnights won Best Pop Vocal Album and Swift's record fourth Album of the Year at the 66th annual ceremony. Swift became the artist with the most Album of the Year wins in Grammy history.[217]

Swift's next two re-recorded albums, Speak Now (Taylor's Version) and 1989 (Taylor's Version), were released in July and October 2023. The former made Swift the woman with the most number-one albums (12) in Billboard 200 history, surpassing Barbra Streisand,[218] and the latter was her sixth album to sell one million copies in a single week in the US, claiming her career's largest album sales week.[219] 1989 (Taylor's Version)'s single "Is It Over Now?" peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100.[220] Swift featured on Big Red Machine's "Renegade" and "Birch" (2021),[221] Haim's "Gasoline" (2021),[222] Ed Sheeran's "The Joker and the Queen" (2022),[223] and the National's "The Alcott" (2023).[224] For the soundtrack of Where the Crawdads Sing (2022), she wrote and recorded "Carolina", which received nominations for Best Original Song at the Golden Globes and Best Song Written for Visual Media at the Grammy Awards.[225]

Swift was 2023's most streamed artist on Spotify,[226] Apple Music,[227] and Amazon Music;[228] and the first act to place number one on the year-end Billboard top artists list in three different decades (2009, 2015 and 2023).[229] She had five out of the 10 best-selling albums of 2023 in the US, a record since Luminate began tracking US music sales in 1991.[230] Besides music, Swift had a supporting role in the period comedy film Amsterdam (2022)[231] and began writing an original script for her directorial feature film debut with Searchlight Pictures.[232]

2023–present: The Eras Tour and The Tortured Poets Department

Swift singing into a mic
Swift on the Eras Tour in 2023

In March 2023, Swift embarked on

most tickets sold in a day.[208] Ticketmaster received public and political criticisms for mishandling the tour's ticket sales.[234] The Eras Tour became the highest-grossing tour in history, collecting over $1 billion.[235] Its concert film, released to theaters worldwide on October 13, 2023, grossed over $250 million to become the highest-grossing concert film, and was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Cinematic and Box Office Achievement.[236][237] Swift's music releases, touring, and related activities culminated in an unprecedented height of popularity post-pandemic.[238] Music Business Worldwide remarked that she entered a "new stratosphere of global career success" in 2023.[239]

Swift began dating the football player Travis Kelce in 2023.[240] In January 2024, AI-generated fake pornographic images portraying Swift were posted to X (formerly Twitter) and spread to other social media platforms, spurring criticism and demands for legal reform.[241] At the 66th Grammy Awards, Swift announced her eleventh studio album, The Tortured Poets Department, set for release on April 19, 2024.[217]

Artistry

Genres

Swift has reinvented her musical identity with each album release,[242] earning descriptions as a musical "chameleon" from Time and the BBC.[243][244] In her early career, her musical influences were 1990s female country musicians such as Shania Twain, Faith Hill, LeAnn Rimes, and the Dixie Chicks,[245] and the country crossover music incorporating rock, pop, and blues of Keith Urban.[246] She self-identified as a country musician and achieved prominence as a country pop singer with her first four studio albums, from Taylor Swift (2006) to Red (2012).[247][248] The albums featured country signifiers such as banjo, mandolin, fiddle, and a slight vocal twang, but music critics said they incorporated pop melodies and rock influences;[249][250] Speak Now (2010) drew on rock styles such as pop rock, pop-punk, and 1980s arena rock.[100][251][252] Swift's country-music identity received contrarian commentary; critics argued that country was an indicator of her narrative songwriting rather than musical direction[253][254] and accused her of causing mainstream country music to stray from its roots.[255][256] The music journalist Jody Rosen commented that by originating her career in Nashville, Swift made a "bait-and-switch maneuver, planting roots in loamy country soil, then pivoting to pop".[257]

After the critical debate around Red's eclectic pop, rock, and

poptimism.[264][265]

Her 2020 pandemic albums Folklore and Evermore explored

indie styles of rock and folk, which resulted in a subtle, stripped-back soundscape with orchestration, synthesizers, and drum pads.[266][267] The latter further experimented with varied song structures, time signatures, and instruments.[268] Critics deemed the indie styles a mature representation of Swift's artistry as a singer-songwriter.[267]

Voice

Swift possesses a mezzo-soprano vocal range,[273] and a generally soft but versatile timbre.[274][275] As a country singer, her vocals were criticized by some as weak and strained compared to those of her contemporaries.[276] Swift admitted her vocal ability often concerned her in her early career and has worked hard to improve.[277] Reviews of her vocals remained mixed after she transitioned to pop music with 1989; critics complained that she lacked proper technique but appreciated her usage of her voice to communicate her feelings to the audience, prioritizing "intimacy over power and nuance".[278] They also praised her for refraining from correcting her pitch with Auto-Tune.[279]

The Los Angeles Times remarked that Swift's defining vocal feature is her attention to detail to convey an exact feeling—"the line that slides down like a contented sigh or up like a raised eyebrow".[280] With Reputation, critics noted she was "learning how to use her voice as a percussion instrument of its own",[281] swapping her "signature" expressive vocals for "cool, conversational, detached" cadences and rhythms similar to hip hop and R&B styles.[282][163][283] Alternative Press stated that her "evocative" vocal stylings are more reminiscent of pop-punk and emo genres.[284]

Reviews of Swift's later albums and performances were more appreciative of her vocals, finding them less nasal, richer, more resonant, and more powerful.

musicologist Alyssa Barna said that Swift's timbre is "breathy and bright" in her upper register and "full and dark" in the lower.[299]

Songwriting

Swift's fascination with songwriting began in her childhood. She credited her mother with igniting confidence and early songwriting interests by helping her prepare for class presentations.[300][301] She enjoyed Disney film soundtracks and would make up lyrics once she had run out of words singing them.[302] Her lyrical influences include female country songwriters such as Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, and Dolly Parton;[22][109] 1990s songwriters such as Melissa Etheridge, Sarah McLachlan, and Alanis Morissette;[303] Joni Mitchell;[304] and Fall Out Boy.[305] She listed Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Emmylou Harris, and Kris Kristofferson as career role models, citing their both evolving and consistent songwriting outputs.[12][306]

In The New Yorker in 2011, Swift said she identifies as a songwriter first: "I write songs, and my voice is just a way to get those lyrics across".[12] Her personal experiences were a common inspiration for her early songs, which helped her navigate life.[307][308] Her "diaristic" technique began with identifying an emotion, followed by a corresponding melody.[309][310] On her first three studio albums, love, heartbreak, and insecurities, from an adolescent perspective, were dominant themes.[100][311] She delved into the tumult of toxic relationships on Red,[312] and embraced nostalgia and post-romance positivity on 1989.[258] Reputation was inspired by the downsides of Swift's fame,[313] and Lover detailed her realization of the "full spectrum of love".[314] Other themes in Swift's music include family dynamics, friendship,[315][316] alienation, self-awareness, and tackling vitriol, especially sexism.[301][317]

Her confessional lyrics received positive reviews from critics,[318][12][319] who highlighted their vivid details and emotional engagement, which they found uncommon in pop music.[320][321][322] Critics also praised her melodic compositions; Rolling Stone described Swift as "a songwriting savant with an intuitive gift for verse-chorus-bridge architecture".[323][324] NPR dubbed Swift "a master of the vernacular in her lyrics",[163] remarking that her songs offer emotional engagement because "the wit and clarity of her arrangements turn them from standard fare to heartfelt disclosures".[324] Despite the positive reception, The New Yorker stated she was generally portrayed "more as a skilled technician than as a Dylanesque visionary".[12] Tabloid media often speculated and linked the subjects of her songs with her ex-lovers, a practice reviewers and Swift herself criticized as sexist.[325][326][327] Aside from clues in album liner notes, Swift avoided talking about the subjects of her songs.[328]

On her 2020 albums Folklore and Evermore, Swift was inspired by escapism and romanticism to explore fictional narratives.[329] She imposed emotions onto imagined characters and story arcs, which liberated her from tabloid attention and suggested new paths for her artistry.[309] Swift explained that she welcomed the new songwriting direction after she stopped worrying about commercial success.[329] According to Spin, she explored complex emotions with "precision and devastation" on Evermore.[330] Consequence stated her 2020 albums convinced skeptics of her songwriting prowess, noting her transformation from "teenage wunderkind to a confident and careful adult".[331]

Swift divides her writing into three types: "quill lyrics", songs rooted in antiquated poeticism; "fountain pen lyrics", based on modern and vivid storylines; and "glitter gel pen lyrics", which are lively and frivolous.[332] Critics note the fifth track of every Swift album as the most "emotionally vulnerable" of the album.[333] Awarding her with the Songwriter Icon Award in 2021, the National Music Publishers' Association remarked that "no one is more influential when it comes to writing music today".[334] The Week deemed her the foremost female songwriter of modern times,[335] and the Nashville Songwriters Association International named her Songwriter-Artist of the Decade in 2022.[208] Swift has also published two original poems: "Why She Disappeared" and "If You're Anything Like Me".[336]

Swift has been referred to as one of the greatest songwriters ever by several publications.[337][338][339] Literature scholars like Jonathan Bate and Stephanie Burt have noted that her literary and melodic sensibility and writing style are rare amongst her peers.[340][341] Swift's bridges are often noted as one of the best aspects of her songs,[342][331] earning her the title "Queen of Bridges" from Time.[343] Mojo described her as "a sharp narrator with a gift for the extended metaphor".[344]

Performances

Swift singing while playing a piano
Swift performing on the Reputation Stadium Tour in Seattle in May 2018

Journalists have described Swift as one of the best live performers. Often praised for her showmanship and stage presence,[345][346][347][348][349] Swift commands large audiences,[350][351][352] without having to rely on dance like her contemporaries do.[353] According to V magazine's Greg Krelenstein, she possesses "a rare gift of turning a stadium spectacle into an intimate setting", irrespective of whether she is "plucking a guitar or leading an army of dancers".[354] In a 2008 review of Swift's early performances, Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker called Swift a "preternaturally skilled" entertainer with a vibrant stage presence, adding "she returned the crowd's energy with the professionalism she has shown since the age of fourteen."[355] In 2023, Adrian Horton of The Guardian noted her "seemingly endless stamina" on the Eras Tour,[356] and i critic Ilana Kaplan called her showmanship "unparalleled".[357]

Critics have highlighted Swift's versatility as an entertainer, praising her ability to switch onstage personas and performance styles depending on the varying themes and aesthetics of her albums.[358][359] Her concert productions have been characterized by elaborate Broadway theatricality and high technology,[360] and her performances frequently incorporate a live band, with whom she has played and toured since 2007.[361] Swift also often accompanies herself with musical instruments such as electric guitar;[362] acoustic guitar; piano;[363] and sometimes twelve-string guitar,[364][365] banjo,[366] or ukulele.[367] Interacting frequently with the audience, her solo acoustic performances are considered intimate and emotionally resonant, complementing her story-based lyrics and fan connection.[298][368] Lydia Burgham of The Spinoff opined that this intimacy remains "integral to her singer-songwriter origins".[369][363] Chris Willman of Variety called Swift "pop's most approachable superstar",[370] and the 21st century's most popular performer.[371]

Video and film

Swift emphasizes visuals as a key creative component of her music-making process.[372] She has collaborated with different directors to produce her music videos, and over time she has become more involved with writing and directing. She developed the concept and treatment for "Mean" in 2011[373] and co-directed the music video for "Mine" with Roman White the year before.[374] In an interview, White said that Swift "was keenly involved in writing the treatment, casting and wardrobe. And she stayed for both the 15-hour shooting days, even when she wasn't in the scenes."[375]

From 2014 to 2018, Swift collaborated with director

Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Interactive Program in 2015.[377] Swift produced the music video for "Bad Blood" and won a Grammy Award for Best Music Video in 2016.[378]

Her production company, Taylor Swift Productions, is credited with producing all of her visual media starting with the 2018 concert documentary Reputation Stadium Tour.[379] She continued to co-direct music videos for the Lover singles "Me!" with Dave Meyers, and "You Need to Calm Down" (also serving as a co-executive producer) and "Lover" with Drew Kirsch,[380] but first ventured into sole direction with the video for "The Man" (which won her the MTV Video Music Award for Best Direction).[381] After Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions, Swift debuted as a filmmaker with All Too Well: The Short Film,[208] which made her the first artist to win the Grammy Award for Best Music Video as a sole director.[382] Swift has cited Chloé Zhao, Greta Gerwig, Nora Ephron, Guillermo del Toro, John Cassavetes, and Noah Baumbach as filmmaking influences.[372]

Accolades and achievements

In 2009, Swift became the first country singer to win an MTV Video Music Award.

Swift's discography is a "critically hailed songbook", as per Time's

BMI Awards in 2016, Swift was the first woman to be honored with an award named after its recipient.[394]

Commercially, from available data, Swift has amassed over 50 million album sales and 150 million single sales as of 2019,[395][396][397] and 114 million units globally, including 78 billion streams as of 2021.[398][399] The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry ranked her as the Global Recording Artist of the Year for a record four times (2014, 2019, 2022, and 2023).[400] Swift has the most number-one albums in the United Kingdom and Ireland for a female artist this millennium,[401][402] earned the highest income for an artist on Chinese digital music platforms (RMB 159,000,000 as of 2021),[403] and is the first artist to occupy the entire top five[note 2] of the Australian albums chart.[406][407] Swift remains the world's highest-grossing female touring act ever, with cumulative ticket sales at $1.96 billion as of November 2023, per Pollstar.[408] The Eras Tour is the highest-grossing tour of all time and the first to surpass $1 billion in revenue.[409] Beginning with Fearless, each of her studio albums have opened with over one million global units.[410][411] Swift is the most streamed female act on Spotify and Apple Music.[209][412] On Spotify, she is the only artist to have received more than 250 million streams in one day (260 million on October 27, 2023) and the only female act to reach 100 million monthly listeners.[413][203] The most entries and the most simultaneous entries for an artist on the Billboard Global 200, with 143 and 31 songs, respectively, are among her feats.[414][415]

In the US, Swift has sold over 37.3 million albums as of 2019,

six albums sell over a million copies in a week.[432]

Swift has appeared in various power listings. Time included her on its annual list of the

100 most powerful women in 2015, ranked at number 64.[438] In 2023, she was ranked by Forbes as the fifth-most powerful woman in the world, the first entertainer to place in the top five.[439] Swift received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from New York University and served as its commencement speaker on May 18, 2022.[208]

Cultural status

Swift at the 2010 Time 100 Gala

Swift has been credited with making a profound impact on the music industry, popular culture and the economy.[440][441] She dominates cultural conversations,[442][443] which has led publications to describe her as a cultural "vitality" or zeitgeist.[444][445][446] Her music, life and public image are points of attention in global celebrity culture.[242] Initially a teen idol,[447] she has been referred to as a pop icon;[261][448] publications describe her immense popularity and longevity as unwitnessed since the 20th century.[449][450] In 2013, New York magazine's Jody Rosen dubbed Swift the "world's biggest pop star" and opined that the trajectory of her stardom has defied established patterns. Rosen added that Swift "falls between genres, eras, demographics, paradigms, trends", leaving her contemporaries "vying for second place".[257] Critics regard Swift as a rare yet successful combination of the pop star and singer-songwriter archetypes.[451]

Her fans are known as Swifties.[234] Billboard noted only few artists have had her chart success, critical acclaim, and fan support.[452] Swift's million-selling albums are considered an anomaly in the streaming-dominated industry following the end of the album era in the 2010s.[453][454] Economist Alan Krueger described Swift as an "economic genius".[455]

Although labeled by the media in her early career as "America's Sweetheart" for her girl next door persona,[456][457] Swift has been accused by detractors of being "calculated" and manipulative of her image, a narrative bolstered by her 2016 dispute with West.[458][459] Critics have also noted that her personal life and career have been subject to intense misogyny and "slut-shaming",[460][461] as well as rampant media scrutiny and tabloid speculation.[462]

Swift's private jet use has drawn scrutiny for its carbon emissions.[463][464] In 2023, a spokesperson for Swift stated that she had purchased more than double the required carbon credits to offset all tour travel and personal flights.[465][466] In December 2023, Swift's lawyers sent a cease and desist letter to American programmer Jack Sweeney over tracking her private jet, citing safety concerns and stalking despite that information already being publicly accessible.[467][468] Swift has been a victim of numerous house break-ins and stalkers, some of whom were armed.[469][470]

Legacy

"You have different artists dominating different sectors of the industry: Some are huge at streaming, some are big draws on the road. But we're at this moment where there's no one better than Taylor Swift, whether that's on the radio, with streaming, ticket sales or just cultural impact."

– Jason Lipshutz, Billboard executive director, 2023[471]

Swift helped shape the modern country music scene,[472] having extended her success beyond the Anglosphere,[257][472] pioneered the use of internet (Myspace) as a marketing tool,[33][52] and introduced the genre to a younger generation.[473][257] Country labels have since become interested in signing young singers who write their own music;[474] her guitar performances contributed to the "Taylor Swift factor", a phenomenon to which an upsurge in guitar sales to women, a previously ignored demographic, is attributed.[475][476]

According to publications, Swift changed the music landscape with her genre transitions, a discography that accommodates cultural shifts,[477] and her ability to popularize any sound in mainstream music.[478] Lyrically, in being personal and vulnerable in her songs, music journalist Nick Catucci opined Swift helped make space for later singers like Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, and Halsey to do the same.[479] Scholars have highlighted the literary sensibility and poptimist implications of Swift.[340][480] She has been credited with legitimizing and popularizing the concept of album "eras".[481][482] Swift is a subject of academic study and scholarly media research.[242] Various educational institutions offer courses on Swift in literary, cultural and sociopolitical contexts.[483][242]

Swift has influenced numerous music artists, and her albums have inspired a generation of singer-songwriters.[473][266][484] Journalists praise her ability to reform industry practices, noting how her actions changed streaming policies, prompted awareness of intellectual property in new musicians,[485][486] and reshaped ticketing models.[487] Various sources deem Swift's music a paradigm representing the millennial generation;[488] Vox called her the "millennial Bruce Springsteen",[489] and The Times named her "the Bob Dylan of our age".[490] Swift earned the title Woman of the Decade (2010s) from Billboard,[491] Artist of the Decade (2010s) at the American Music Awards,[492] and Global Icon at the Brit Awards for her impact.[399] Senior artists such as Paul McCartney,[493] Mick Jagger,[494] Madonna,[495] and Dolly Parton have praised her musicianship.[496] Carole King regards Swift her "professional grand daughter" and thanked Swift for "carrying the torch forward".[497] Springsteen called her a "tremendous" writer,[498] while Ringo Starr and Billy Joel considered Swift the Beatles' successor.[499][500] Britney Spears labeled Swift "the most iconic pop woman of our generation".[501]

Entrepreneurship

Media outlets describe Swift as a savvy businesswoman;[502][503] in 2024, she topped Billboard's annual Power 100 ranking of the top music industry executives.[504] Swift is known for her traditional album rollouts, consisting of a variety of promotional activities that Rolling Stone termed as an inescapable "multimedia bonanza".[505][506] Easter eggs and cryptic teasers became a common practice in contemporary pop music because of Swift.[507] Publications describe her discography as a music "universe" subject to analyses by fans, critics and journalists.[508][509][510] Swift maintains an active presence on social media and a close relationship with fans, to which many journalists attribute her success.[511][441][512] Her in-house management team is called 13 Management.[513]

Swift has endorsed many brands and businesses, having launched clothing lines with L.E.I. and Stella McCartney,[514][515] designed American Greetings cards and Jakks Pacific dolls,[516][517] released a number of fragrances with Elizabeth Arden,[518] and signed multi-year deals with AT&T and Capital One.[519][520] She was a spokesperson for the National Hockey League's Nashville Predators and Sony Cyber-shot digital cameras,[521][522] and became the global ambassador for New York City in 2014 and Record Store Day in 2022.[523][524]

Social activism

Swift identifies as a

gay rights monument, and has donated to the LGBT organizations Tennessee Equality Project and GLAAD.[531][532][533]

A supporter of the March for Our Lives movement and gun control reform in the US,[534] Swift is a vocal critic of white supremacy, racism, and police brutality.[535][525] Following the George Floyd protests, she donated to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Black Lives Matter movement,[536] called for the removal of Confederate monuments in Tennessee,[537] and advocated for Juneteenth to become a national holiday.[538] In 2020, Swift urged her fans to check their voter registration ahead of elections, which resulted in 65,000 people registering to vote within one day of her post,[539] and endorsed Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the US presidential election.[540] She has openly criticized former president Donald Trump.[541]

Wealth

Swift's net worth is estimated by

Tribeca, Manhattan; Los Angeles (Samuel Goldwyn Estate); and Rhode Island (High Watch).[548]

Philanthropy

Swift is known for her philanthropic efforts.

again in 2023.[564][565] In February 2024, she donated $100,000 to the family of a woman who died in a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs' Super Bowl parade.[566][567]

She is a supporter of the arts. A benefactor of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame,[568] Swift has donated $75,000 to Nashville's Hendersonville High School to help refurbish the school auditorium,[569] $4 million to build a new education center at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville,[570] $60,000 to the music departments of six US colleges,[571] and $100,000 to the Nashville Symphony.[572] Also a promoter of children's literacy, she has donated money and books to schools around the country.[573][574] In 2007, Swift partnered with the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police to launch a campaign to protect children from online predators.[575] She has donated items to several charities for auction, including the UNICEF Tap Project and MusiCares.[576] As recipient of the Academy of Country Music's Entertainer of the Year in 2011, Swift donated $25,000 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Tennessee.[577] In 2012, Swift participated in the Stand Up to Cancer telethon, performing the charity single "Ronan", which she wrote in memory of a four-year-old boy who died of neuroblastoma.[578] She has also donated $100,000 to the V Foundation for Cancer Research[579] and $50,000 to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.[580] Swift has encouraged young people to volunteer in their local communities as part of Global Youth Service Day.[581]

Swift donated to fellow singer-songwriter

Global Citizen to raise funds for the World Health Organization's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.[586] In 2018 and 2021, Swift donated to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.[549][587] She has made donations to her fans several times for their medical or academic expenses.[588]
]

Discography

Studio albums

Re-recorded albums

Filmography

Documentary and concert films

Tours

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Though Swift has properties throughout the US, she identifies Nashville as her home.[135][136]
  2. ARIA Albums Chart twice. She achieved this feat first on the issue published on July 7, 2023,[404] followed by a second time on the issue published on February 9, 2024.[405]
  3. ^ Swift co-holds this record with American singer Ariana Grande.[420]
  4. ^ Swift has charted seven titles in the top 10 of the Top Album Sales chart twice—on the issues dated January 6, 2024, and January 20, 2024.[427]

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