Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

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Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift, wearing a gold, sleeveless dress, sings into a hand-held microphone
Swift performing on the Speak Now Tour in 2012
Background information
Birth nameTaylor Alison Swift
Born(1989-12-13) December 13, 1989 (age 22)
Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.
GenresCountry pop, pop, pop rock, country[1]
OccupationsSinger-songwriter, actress
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, ganjo, ukulele, piano
Years active2006–present
LabelsBig Machine
Taylor Alison Swift (born December 13, 1989) is an American singer-songwriter and occasional actress. Raised in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, Swift moved to Nashville, Tennessee at the age of fourteen to pursue a career in country music. She signed to the independent label Big Machine Records and became the youngest songwriter ever hired by the Sony/ATV Music publishing house. The release of Swift's eponymous debut album in 2006 established her as a country music star. "Our Song", her third single, made her the youngest sole writer and singer to have a number one song on the country chart. She received a Best New Artist nomination at the 2008 Grammy Awards.
Swift's second album, Fearless, was released in late 2008. Buoyed by the chart success of the singles "Love Story" and "You Belong with Me", Fearless attracted a crossover audience and became the top-selling album of 2009. The record won four Grammy Awards, with Swift becoming the youngest ever Album of the Year winner. Fearless also received Album of the Year plaudits at the American Music Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards and Country Music Association Awards, making it the most awarded album in country music history. In 2010, Swift released her third album, Speak Now, which sold over one million copies in its first week. She then embarked on the 111-date Speak Now World Tour, which included eight stadium dates and was attended by over 1.6 million fans. The album's third single, "Mean", won two Grammy Awards for Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance. Swift's fourth studio album is due for release in October 2012.
Often described as America's Sweetheart, Swift is known for her hook-laden, narrative songs about her experiences as a teenager and young adult. As a songwriter, she has been honored by the Nashville Songwriters Association and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Swift's other achievements include six Grammy Awards, ten American Music Awards, seven Country Music Association Awards, six Academy of Country Music Awards and 13 BMI Awards. She has sold over 22 million albums and 50 million song downloads worldwide. In addition to her music career, Swift has appeared as an actress in the crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2009), the romantic comedy Valentine's Day (2010), and the animated film The Lorax (2012). As a philanthropist, Swift has supported arts education, children's literacy, and natural disaster relief funds.



Early life

Taylor Swift was born on December 13, 1989 in Reading, Pennsylvania.[2] Her father, Scott Swift, is a Merrill Lynch financial adviser.[3][4] He was raised in Pennsylvania and is the descendant of three generations of bank presidents.[5][2] Her mother, Andrea (née Gardner), is a homemaker who previously worked as a mutual fund marketing executive.[2][6] Andrea spent the first ten years of her life in Singapore, before settling in Texas; her parents were American and her father was an oil rig engineer who worked throughout Southeast Asia.[5][7] Swift was named after singer James Taylor; her mother believed a gender-neutral name would help her forge a successful business career.[8][9] She has a younger brother, Austin, who attends Vanderbilt University.[10] She spent the early years of her life on an eleven-acre Christmas tree farm in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania and was educated at the fee-paying Wyndcroft School.[11] When Swift was nine years old, the family moved to Wyomissing, Pennsylvania,[12][13] where she attended West Reading Elementary Center and Wyomissing Area Junior/Senior High School.[14] She spent her summers at her parent's vacation home in Stone Harbor, New Jersey[15] and has described it as the place "where most of my childhood memories were formed".[13]
Swift's first hobby was English horse riding. Her mother put her in a saddle when she was nine months old and Swift later competed in horse shows.[16][17] Her family owned several Quarter horses and a Shetland pony.[17] At the age of nine, Swift turned her attention to musical theatre and performed in Berks Youth Theatre Academy productions of Grease, Annie, Bye Bye Birdie and The Sound of Music.[18][11] She travelled regularly to Broadway, New York for vocal and acting lessons. However, "after a few years of auditioning in New York and not getting anything”, Swift became interested in country music.[19] She spent her weekends performing at local festivals, fairs, coffeehouses, karaoke contests, garden clubs, Boy Scout meetings and hospitals.[20][6][21] At the age of eleven, after many attempts,[22] Swift won a local talent competition by singing a rendition of LeAnn Rimes’s “Big Deal”, and was given the opportunity to appear as the opening act for Charlie Daniels at a Strausstown amphitheater.[18] This interest in country music isolated Swift from her middle school peers.[23][24]
After watching a Behind the Music episode about Faith Hill, Swift felt sure that "there was this magical land called Nashville where dreams come true and that’s where I needed to go."[25][26] She travelled with her mother to Nashville for spring break to leave a demo of Dolly Parton and Dixie Chicks karaoke covers with record labels along Music Row.[27] She received label rejections and realized that "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 began performing the "The Star Spangled Banner" at sporting events because it was an opportunity to "get in front of 20,000 people without even having a record deal".[5] On one occasion, an eleven-year-old Swift high-fived Jay-Z after singing the national anthem at a 76ers game in Philadelphia.[28] At the age of twelve, Swift was shown by a computer repairman how to play three chords on a guitar, inspiring her to write her first song, "Lucky You".[29][30] She had previously won a national poetry contest with a poem entitled "Monster in My Closet" but now began to focus on songwriting.[31] In 2003, Swift and her parents started working with New York-based music manager Dan Dymtrow.[32] With Dymtrow's help, Swift modelled for Abercrombie and Fitch as part of their "Rising Stars" campaign, had an original song included in a Maybelline Cosmetics compilation CD and took meetings with major record labels.[33] After performing original songs at an RCA Records showcase, the eight-grader was given an artist development deal and began making frequent trips to Nashville.[34][35]
When Swift was fourteen, her father transferred to the Nashville office of Merrill Lynch and the family relocated to a lake-shore house in Hendersonville, Tennessee.[27][2] Swift later described this as "an incredible sacrifice" for her family to make.[27] Her parents "presented it as a move to a nice community" rather than as her chance to become a star,[36] and her mother has said, "We've always told her that this is not about putting food on our table or making our dreams come true."[37] In Tennessee, Swift attended Hendersonville High School for her freshman and sophomore years.[38] Later, to accommodate her touring schedule, Swift transferred to the Aaron Academy, a private Christian school which offered homeschooling services. A straight-A student, Swift earned her high school diploma in 2008.[39][40]

Music career

2004–08: Career beginnings and Taylor Swift

At the age of fourteen, Swift moved to Nashville having secured an artist development deal with RCA Records. She had writing sessions with experienced songwriters such as Troy Verges, Brett Beavers, Brett James, Mac McAnally and The Warren Brothers,[41][42] but eventually formed a lasting working relationship with Liz Rose.[43] Swift saw Rose performing at an RCA songwriter event and suggested that they write together.[44] They began meeting for two-hour writing sessions every Tuesday afternoon after school.[45] Rose has said that the sessions were "some of the easiest I've ever done. Basically, I was just her editor. She'd write about what happened in school that day. She had such a clear vision of what she was trying to say. And she'd come in with the most incredible hooks".[46][45] Swift also began recording demos with producer Nathan Chapman.[44] After performing at a BMI Songwriter's Circle showcase at The Bitter End, New York,[42] Swift became the youngest songwriter ever hired by the Sony/ATV Tree publishing house.[47] Swift left RCA Records when she was fifteen; the company wanted her to record the work of other songwriters and wait until she was eighteen to release an album, but she felt ready to launch her career with her own material.[48][22] She also parted ways with manager Dan Dymtrow, who later took legal action against Swift and her parents.[49] At an industry showcase at Nashville's The Bluebird Café in 2005, Swift caught the attention of Scott Borchetta, a Dreamworks Records executive who was preparing to form his own independent record label, Big Machine Records.[43] Swift was one of the new label's first signings.[43] As an introduction to the country music business, Borchetta arranged for Swift to intern as an artist escort at the CMA Music Festival.[50][51]
Taylor Swift sits and leans over her oak guitar while picking a string
Swift performing at the Maverick Saloon & Grill in Santa Maria, California in 2006
Swift began working on her eponymous debut album shortly after signing her record deal. After experimenting with veteran Nashville producers, Swift persuaded Big Machine to hire her demo producer Nathan Chapman.[22] It was his first time to record a studio album but Swift felt they had the right "chemistry".[22] In the end, Chapman produced all but one of the tracks on Taylor Swift.[22] She has described the album as the "diary" of her early teens[52] and most songs were written during her freshman year of high school.[22] As a result, the songs describe coming of age experiences such as young love and teenage angst.[22] She has said that, although "it sounds like I've had 500 boyfriends", a lot of the songs are observational.[22] Swift wrote three of the album's songs alone, including two singles, and co-wrote the remaining eight with writers such as Liz Rose, Robert Ellis Orrall and Angelo Petraglia.[53] Musically, the album has been described as "a mix of trad-country instruments and spry rock guitars".[54] Taylor Swift was released in October 2006 and received generally positive reviews from music critics.[55] The New York Times described it as "a small masterpiece of pop-minded country, both wide-eyed and cynical, held together by Ms. Swift’s firm, pleading voice."[56] PopMatters hoped Swift would be "able to find an accomodation between the country tradition and her very obvious pop sensibilities, because Taylor Swift suggests she has much to offer".[57] The New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones described Swift as a "prodigy". He noted that "Our Song" "stop[ed] me in my tracks" and praised the lyrics: “He’s got a one-hand feel on the steering wheel, the other on my heart".[58] Country Weekly felt that "the more thoughtful material suggests a talent poised to last well past high school".[59] Rolling Stone described Swift as "bright-eyed but remarkably seasoned", and admired "Our Song"'s "insanely hooky sing-song melody that's as Britney as it is Patsy".[54]
Taylor Swift, wearing a white dress and sunglasses, plays an acoustic guitar while standing at a microphone stand
Swift performing at Yahoo HQ in Sunnyvale, California in 2007
Big Machine Records was still in its infancy upon the release of the lead single "Tim McGraw" in June 2006, and Swift and her mother helped "stuff the CD singles into envelopes to send to radio".[37] She spent much of 2006 promoting Taylor Swift in a radio tour and later commented, "Radio tours for most artists last six weeks. Mine lasted six months."[22] Swift painted canvases (inspired by Jackson Pollock) to gift to radio station programmers who played her music.[60] She also made many television appearances, including on GAC Short Cuts,[61][62] Good Morning America,[63] and TRL.[64] Swift, a self-described "kid of the internet", used MySpace to build a fanbase.[65] She wrote her own blog posts, left comments on her fans' accounts and personally respond to the messages that were sent to her.[66] This was, at the time, "revolutionary in country music".[67][61] Borchetta has said that his decision to sign a sixteen year old singer-songwriter initially raised eyebrows among his record industry peers[61] but Swift tapped into a previously unknown market: teenage girls who listen to country music.[2][61] Following "Tim McGraw", four further singles were released throughout 2007 and 2008: "Teardrops on My Guitar", "Our Song", "Picture to Burn" and "Should've Said No". All were highly successful on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, with "Our Song" and "Should've Said No" both reaching number one. "Our Song" made Swift the youngest sole writer and singer of a number one country song.[68] "Teardrops on My Guitar" became a minor pop hit; it reached number thirteen on the Billboard Hot 100.[69][70] The album sold 39,000 copies during its first week[71] and, as of March 2011, has sold over 5.5 million copies worldwide.[72] Swift also released a holiday album, Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection, in October 2007 and an EP, Beautiful Eyes, in July 2008.[73][74]
Swift toured extensively in support of Taylor Swift. In addition to festival and theater dates, Swift performed as an opening act for several country artists' concert tours. In late 2006, she opened for Rascal Flatts on the final nine dates of their Me & My Gang Tour, after the previous supporting act Eric Church was fired.[63][75] Swift later sent Church her first gold record with a note: "Thanks for playing too long and too loud on the Flatts tour. I sincerely appreciate it. Taylor".[76] In 2007, she served as the opening act on twenty dates for George Strait's tour,[77] several dates on Kenny Chesney's Flip-Flop Summer Tour,[78] selected dates on Brad Paisley's Bonfires & Amplifiers Tour[79][80] and several dates for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's joint Soul2Soul II Tour.[81] Swift again opened for Rascal Flatts on their Still Feels Good Tour in 2008.[82] In addition to performing her own material, Swift played covers of songs by Beyoncé, Rihanna, John Waite, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Eminem.[83][84][28] She conducted meet-and-greet sessions with fans before and after her concerts; these lasted for up to four hours.[85][86]
In 2007, Swift and Alan Jackson were jointly named the Nashville Songwriters Association's Songwriter/Artist of the Year. Swift was the youngest person ever to be honored with the title.[87] She also won the Country Music Association’s Horizon Award for Best New Artist.[88] In 2008, she was named Top New Female Vocalist at the Academy of Country Music Awards[89] and Favorite Country Female Artist at the American Music Awards.[90] She received seven BMI Awards for songs featured on Taylor Swift.[91] Swift was also nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award in the category of Best New Artist, but lost to Amy Winehouse.[92]

2008–10: Fearless, MTV VMA controversy and media backlash

Swift's second studio album, Fearless, was released in November 2008.[93] While Swift wrote many of the songs on tour, she made a conscious effort not to include "road songs": "As a 16-year-old girl, I could never relate to those songs about playing a different city every night. I want to write about feelings and love and the lack of love".[94] She has said that the album title "means you’re afraid of a lot of things, but you jump anyway".[95] Swift wrote seven of the album's songs alone, including two singles, and co-wrote the remaining six with songwriters Liz Rose, John Rich, Colbie Caillat and Hillary Lindsey.[96] She co-produced the album with Nathan Chapman.[96] Musically, it has been said that the record is characterized by "loud, lean guitars and rousing choruses", with the occasional "bit of fiddle and banjo tucked into the mix".[97] Fearless received generally positive reviews from music critics.[98] The New York Times described Swift as "one of pop's finest songwriters, country’s foremost pragmatist and more in touch with her inner life than most adults".[99] The Village Voice felt she displayed "preternatural wisdom and inclusiveness", "masterfully avoiding the typical diarist's pitfalls of trite banality and pseudo-profound bullshit".[100] Rolling Stone described her as "a songwriting savant with an intuitive gift for verse-chorus-bridge architecture" whose "squirmingly intimate and true" songs seemed to be "literally ripped from a suburban girl's diary".[101] USA Today found it "a pleasure to hear a gifted teenager who sounds like a gifted teenager, rather than a mouthpiece for a bunch of older pros' collective notion of adolescent yearning."[102] The New Yorker described it as an album "without a bad track", adding that "the album’s finest effort, "Fifteen", will feature in yearbook quotes for years".[103] Entertainment Weekly noted that the album would appeal mainly to young girls – "she sounds like a real teen, not some manufactured vixen-Lolita" – but predicted it would be "exciting to watch her precocious talent grow".[104] Music critic Robert Christgau described Swift as "an uncommonly-to-impossibly strong and gifted teenage girl".[105]
Swift promoted Fearless heavily upon its release. An episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show was dedicated to the album launch[61] and Swift appeared on many other chat shows.[106] She communicated with fans using social media platforms such as twitter and personal video blogs.[61] She paid tribute to a number of fellow artists in televised performances: she performed a cover of Alan Jackson's "Drive (For Daddy Gene)" at the CMT Giants: Alan Jackson event,[107] took part in a joint, televised concert with rock band Def Leppard in Nashville.[108][109] and performed a cover of George Strait's "Run" at a televised ACM event honoring Strait as the Artist of the Decade.[110] Swift performed her song "Fifteen" with Miley Cyrus at the 51st Grammy Awards in February 2009,[111] performed a self-penned rap skit with T-Pain at the CMT awards in June 2009[112] and hosted Saturday Night Live in November 2009.[113] The lead single from the album, "Love Story", was released in September 2008 and became the second best-selling country single of all time, peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[114][115] Four more singles were released throughout 2008 and 2009: "White Horse", "You Belong with Me", "Fifteen" and "Fearless". "You Belong with Me" was the album's highest-charting single, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100.[116] The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 Album Chart with sales of 592,304 and has since sold over 8.6 million copies worldwide.[117][118] It was the top-selling album of 2009 and brought Swift much crossover success.[119]
Swift carried out her first headlining tour from April 2009 to June 2010. As part of the 105-date Fearless Tour, Swift played 90 dates in North America, six dates in Europe, eight dates in Australia and one date in Asia.[120] The elaborate stage set included a fairy-tale castle and a junior high school bandstand.[121] She sang a cover of Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around... Comes Around" nightly, intertwined with her own "You're Not Sorry".[122] Swift invited John Mayer, Faith Hill and Katy Perry to perform one-off duets with her at various dates during the North American tour.[123][124][125] Justin Bieber, Kelly Pickler and Gloriana were the support acts.[126] The tour was attended by more than 1.1 million fans and has grossed over $63 million.[127] Taylor Swift: Journey to Fearless, a concert film, was aired on television and later released on DVD and Blu-ray.[128] Also in 2009, Swift performed as a supporting act for Keith Urban's Escape Together World Tour.[129]
In September 2009, Swift became the first country music artist to win an MTV Video Music Award when "You Belong with Me" was named Best Female Video.[130] Her acceptance speech was interrupted by rapper Kanye West, who had been involved in a number of other award show incidents.[131] West declared Beyoncé's video for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)", nominated in the same category, to be "one of the best videos of all time." Many audience members booed West,[132][133] prompting him to flip off the crowd.[134][135] He then handed the microphone back to a speechless Swift.[132][136] Backstage, Swift was seen "hysterically crying".[137] According to Rolling Stone, when Swift's mother confronted West, he gave "a half-hearted apology in which he added he still thought Beyoncé's video was superior".[138] West was removed from the event.[137][139][140] When Beyoncé later won the award for Video of the Year, she invited Swift onstage to finish her speech.[132][141] In the event's press room, Swift, who in 2008 had expressed a desire to sing a hook on a Kanye West rap song,[142] was asked if she had "any hard feelings" towards West: "I don’t know him, and I’ve never met him, so... I don’t want to start anything because I had a great night tonight."[138][143] The incident received much media attention and inspired many Internet memes.[144] President Barack Obama, in an off the record comment, called West a "jackass".[145] Former US President Jimmy Carter said West's interruption was "completely uncalled for".[146] West's behavior was criticized by celebrities, including Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Lady Gaga and Madonna.[134][147][148][138][149] West apologized for his verbal outburst in two blog entries and during an appearance on The Jay Leno Show.[132][133] He maintained that, while Swift was "very talented", "Beyoncé's video was the best of this decade!!!! ... I gave my awards to Outkast when they deserved it over me ... I'm not crazy y'all, I'm just real."[150] Two days after the VMAs, Swift told an interviewer that West had not spoken to her since the ceremony.[151] West then contacted her to offer a personal apology, which Swift accepted: "Kanye did call me, and he was very sincere in his apology."[130][151] She refused to discuss the incident in subsequent interviews so as not to make a "bigger deal" of it: "It happened on TV, so everybody saw what happened ... It's not something I feel like we need to keep talking about."[152] It has been said that the incident and subsequent media attention turned Swift into "a bona-fide mainstream celebrity".[153]
Swift released a cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl" through Rhapsody in June 2009[154] and continues to make her stage entrance to Petty's recording of the song.[155][156][157][158] She contributed backing vocals to John Mayer's "Half of My Heart", featured on his fourth album, in November 2009.[159] Mayer wrote the song as a tribute to Tom Petty and Fleetwood Mac: "I thought, 'Well, if this is going to be my love letter to that style of music, who's going to be the Stevie Nicks in this equation?' And I thought, 'This Taylor Swift girl is going to be around for a long time."[160] The song received positive reviews from music critics.[161][162][163] Swift and Mayer performed the song live at Madison Square Garden, New York in December 2009.[164] It was released as the album's third single in June 2010 and peaked at number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100.[165] Swift collaborated with a number of other artists in 2008 and 2009. She co-wrote and recorded "Best Days of Your Life" with Kelly Pickler.[166] She co-wrote two songs for the Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack – "You'll Always Find Your Way Back Home" and "Crazier" – with Martin Johnson and Robert Ellis Orrall, respectively.[167] Swift also provided vocals for Boys Like Girls's "Two Is Better Than One", written by Martin Johnson.[168][169][170][171] In January 2010, Swift contributed two songs – including "Today Was a Fairytale" – to the Valentine's Day soundtrack[172] and recorded a cover of Better Than Ezra's "Breathless" for the Hope for Haiti Now album.[173]
Taylor Swift stands in a Time press area, wearing a black, strapless dress and curled hair
Swift at the 2010 Time 100 Gala, where she was honored
In November 2009, Swift became the youngest ever artist and one of only six women to be named Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association.[174] Fearless also won the Association's Album of the Year award.[174] The album won many other accolades and has become the most awarded album in country music history.[175] Swift was the youngest ever artist to win the Academy of Country Music's Album of the Year honor.[176] The American Music Awards honored Swift with Artist of the Year and Favorite Country Album plaudits.[177] She was awarded the Hal David Starlight Award by the Songwriters Hall of Fame[178] and was named Songwriter/Artists of the Year by the Nashville Songwriters Association.[179] She won four BMI Awards.[180] Billboard named her 2009's Artist of the Year.[181] Swift was included in Time's annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in 2010.[182]
In January 2010, Swift won four Grammy Awards, from a total of eight nominations.[183] Fearless was named Album of the Year and Best Country Album, while "White Horse" was named Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance.[184] She was the youngest ever artist to win Album of the Year.[185] During the ceremony, Swift sang "Rhiannon" and "You Belong with Me" with Stevie Nicks. Her vocal performance received negative reviews and sparked a widespread media backlash.[153][186] Her vocals were described variously as "badly off-key", "strikingly bad" and "incredibly wretched".[187][188] While The New York Times found it "refreshing to see someone so gifted make the occasional flub" and described Swift as "the most important new pop star of the past few years",[185] music analyst Bob Lefsetz predicted that her career would end "overnight" and publicly appealed to Swift's father to hire a "crisis publicity agent" to manage the story.[189][190] In April 2010, Stevie Nicks, writing in Time, defended the singer: "Taylor reminds me of myself in her determination and her childlike nature. It's an innocence that's so special and so rare. This girl writes the songs that make the whole world sing, like Neil Diamond or Elton John ... The female rock-'n'-roll-country-pop songwriter is back, and her name is Taylor Swift. And it's women like her who are going to save the music business."[182]

2010–12: Speak Now, world tour and collaborations

Swift released her third studio album, Speak Now, in October 2010.[191] She wrote all twelve songs alone: "I'd get my best ideas at 3 a.m. in Arkansas and I didn't have a co-writer around."[192] Album recording sessions took place in California, Tennessee and Kentucky over a two year period.[193][194] Swift, who co-produced the record with longtime collaborator Nathan Chapman,[195] has described it as "a collection of confessions—things I wish I had said when I was in the moment".[196] She originally intended to call the album Enchanted but Scott Borchetta, her record label's CEO, felt the title did not reflect the album's more adult themes: "She had played me a bunch of the new songs. I looked at her and I'm like, 'Taylor, this record isn't about fairy tales and high school anymore. That's not where you're at'".[197] Musically, it has been said that the album "expands beyond country-pop to border both alternative rock and dirty bubblegum pop".[198] Speak Now received generally positive reviews from music critics.[199] USA Today felt that Swift's songwriting skills would remind listeners "what all the fuss was about in the first place", with the album capturing "the sweet ache of becoming an adult".[200] The Los Angeles Times praised her ability as a songwriter to "hit on common experiences that feel unique".[198] The New York Times described the album as savage, musically diverse and "excellent too, possibly her best".[195] The Village Voice found that the album demanded "a true appreciation of Swift's talent, which is not confessional, but dramatic: Like a procession of country songwriters before her, she creates characters and situations—some from life—and finds potent ways to describe them."[201] Entertainment Weekly noted that, while love may confound her, "the art of expert songcraft clearly doesn't".[202] Music critic John Christgau found the album's songs "overlong and overworked" but remarked that "they evince an effort that bears a remarkable resemblance to care—that is, to caring in the best, broadest, and most emotional sense".[105] Rolling Stone described Swift as one of the best songwriters in "pop, rock or country": "Swift might be a clever Nashville pro who knows all the hitmaking tricks, but she's also a high-strung, hyper-romantic gal with a melodramatic streak the size of the Atchafalaya Swamp".[203]
Taylor Swift, wearing a purple dress, plays a blue acoustic guitar while sitting on a stool
Swift performing during the Speak Now World Tour in 2011
Swift carried out an extensive promotional campaign prior to Speak Now's release.[204] She appeared on various talk shows and morning shows, and gave free mini-concerts in unusual locations, including an open-decker bus on Hollywood Boulevard and a departure lounge at JFK airport.[205][206] She took part in a "guitar pull" alongside Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill and Lionel Ritchie at LA's Club Nokia; the musicians shared the stage and took turns introducing and playing acoutic versions of their songs to raise money for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.[207][208] The album's lead single, "Mine", was released in August 2010 and five further singles were released throughout 2010 and 2011: "Back to December", "Mean", "The Story of Us", "Sparks Fly" and "Ours".[209] Speak Now was a major commercial success, debuting at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart. Its sales of 1,047,000 copies made it the sixteenth album in US history to sell one million copies in a single week.[210] As of February 2012, Speak Now has sold over 5.7 million copies worldwide.[211][212] In her career, as of May 2012, Swift has sold over 22 million albums[213] and 50 million digital tracks worldwide.[214]
In September 2010, Kanye West used his twitter account to apologize to Swift for his 2009 VMA interruption, referring to her as "just a lil girl with dreams like the rest of us": "I wrote a song for Taylor Swift that's so beautiful and I want her to have it. If she won't take it then I'll perform it for her."[215] At the 2010 VMAs later that month, Swift sang "Innocent", a song widely believed to be about West, which The Washington Post has described as "a small masterpiece of passive aggressiveness, a vivisection dressed up as a peace offering".[216] Music critics found Swift's performance overly serious and "petty".[217][218] In October 2010, West remarked that it was "inaccurate" for Swift's Fearless to have been named Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards.[219] Speaking in November 2010, West said he failed to see what was "so arrogant" about his VMA interruption and described his actions as "selfless".[220][221] He argued it was "just disrespectful" and "retarded" for Swift to be included in the same award category as Beyoncé.[222] He added that "if it was the other way around" and Swift were an established artist who had "made the video of her career, do you think she would have lost to a brand new artist? Hell no!"[220][221] He claimed that his interruption caused Swift to "have 100 magazine covers and sell a million first week".[222] Also that month, he claimed that, "If I wasn't drunk, I would have been on stage longer ... Taylor never came to my defense at any interview. And rode the waves and rode it and rode it".[223][224] At the Costume Institute Gala in May 2011, Swift and West came face-to-face on the red carpet. West was observed to hold "a hand out, and the two exchanged a studiedly casual, “down low” high five".[2]
Swift toured throughout 2011 and early 2012 in support of Speak Now. As part of the thirteen-month, 111-date world tour, Swift played seven shows in Asia, twelve shows in Europe, 80 shows in North America and twelve shows in Australasia.[225] Eight US shows were held in stadium venues.[226] Three dates on the US tour were rescheduled after Swift fell ill with bronchitis.[227] The stage show was inspired by Broadway musical theatre, with choreographed routines, elaborate set-pieces, pyrotechnics and numerous costume changes.[228][229] Swift invited many musicians to join her for one-off duets during the North American tour. Appearances were made by James Taylor, Jason Mraz, Shawn Colvin, Johnny Rzeznik, Andy Grammer, Tal Bachman, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Nicki Minaj, Nelly, B.o.B., Usher, Flo Rida, T.I., Jon Foreman, Jim Adkins, Hayley Williams, Hot Chelle Rae, Ronnie Dunn, Darius Rucker, Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney.[230][231] During the North American tour leg, Swift wrote different song lyrics on her left arm for each performance and she has said that the lyrics should be viewed as a nightly "mood ring".[232][233] Deciphering the lyrics became a fan activity and The New Yorker remarked that "Swift’s ability to hold her audience’s interest reflects, in part, a keen understanding of what fuels fan obsession in the first place: a desire for intimacy between singer and listener".[2] Swift performed many acoustic cover versions during her North American tour. In each city, she paid tribute to a homegrown artist.[234] She has said the cover versions allowed her to be "spontaneous" in an otherwise well-rehearsed show: "You'll have a lot of people who will come to more than one show, and I want them to get a different experience every time."[235] The tour was attended by over 1.6 million fans and has grossed over $123 million.[225] Swift's first live album, Speak Now World Tour: Live, featuring all seventeen performances from the North American leg of the tour, was released in November 2011.[236] In July 2012, James Taylor invited Swift to appear as a special guest during his Tanglewood set; they performed "Fire and Rain", "Love Story" and "Ours" together.[237] Taylor, who first met Swift when she was eighteen, has said that, "we just hit it off. I loved her songs, and her presence on stage was so great".[238][239]
Taylor Swift speaks into a microphone, wearing a navy polka-dot dress and red heels
Swift speaking during a YouTube interview in 2011
At the 54th Grammy Awards in February 2012, Swift's song "Mean" won Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance.[240] She also performed the song during the ceremony. Bob Lefsetz, one of the most vocal critics of her 2010 Grammy performance, believes the song is addressed to him.[241][242] Lefsetz had previously been a supporter of the singer's career,[243] and Swift and Lefsetz had corresponded occasionally by email and telephone.[241] Time felt she "delivered her comeback on-key and with a vengeance"[244] while USA Today remarked that the criticism in 2010 seemed to have "made her a better songwriter and live performer".[245] Swift was named Songwriter/Artist of the Year by the Nashville Songwriters Association in both 2010 and 2011. During the 2011 ceremony, she played an acoustic version of "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" in honor of Alan Jackson, a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee,[246] who later thanked Swift in his speech for "the prettiest version I've ever heard".[247] Swift won various other awards for Speak Now. She was named Entertainer of the Year by the Academy of Country Music in both 2011 and 2012[248] and was named Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association in 2011.[249] Swift was the American Music Awards's Artist of the Year in 2011, and Speak Now was named Favorite Country Album.[250] She was also the recipient of three BMI Awards.[251] Billboard named Swift 2011's Woman of the Year.[252] Also that year, Billboard ranked her at number 15 in a list of the Top 20 Hot 100 Songwriters 2000–2011; she was the second highest ranking woman.[253] Swift was ranked second on Rolling Stone's list of the Top 16 "Queen Of Pops" of the decade.[254]
Swift contributed two original songs to The Hunger Games soundtrack album in March 2012. "Safe & Sound" was co-written and recorded with The Civil Wars and T-Bone Burnett.[255] John Paul White has said working with Swift was "a revelation. She had some great ideas. We had complete freedom. It truly was a collaboration. We brought the melancholy and the darker angle. Taylor was bringing the melody and the chords."[256] Rolling Stone described the song as "Swift's prettiest ballad" and wondered whether the alt-country folk song was "a one-off novelty, a trial balloon cred-move, or the stirrings of a "grown-up" style".[257] Swift and The Civil Wars debuted a live version of the song at the Ryman Auditorium, Nashville in January 2012.[258] It was released as the album's lead single and, as of July 2012, has sold over one million copies in the United States.[259] Swift's second contribution to the album, "Eyes Open", was written solely by the singer and produced by Nathan Chapman.[260] In May 2012, Swift contributed vocals to "Both of Us", a Dr. Luke-produced single from B.o.B's second album Strange Clouds.[261][262][263][264]

2012: Upcoming fourth studio album

Swift's fourth album is tentatively scheduled for release in October 2012.[265][266] While Nathan Chapman will serve as the lead producer, Swift has recorded songs with a variety of producers.[267][265] After writing her third album alone, Swift made the decision to co-write her fourth album with people "from all different places in music".[268] Album collaborators include Dan Wilson,[269] Butch Walker,[270][271] Lori McKenna,[272][273] Ed Sheeran[274] and Mark Foster of Foster the People.[275] The album will detail "the rise and fall of a relationship",[276] as well as the resulting "heartbreak".[277] She has described the record's mood as "sad".[278]



One of Swift's earliest musical memories is listening to her maternal grandmother, Marjorie Finlay, perform as an opera singer.[27][11][279] In her youth, Finlay was a recording star in Puerto Rico and performed in operas in Singapore: "She was in The Bartered Bride, The Barber of Seville and musicals like West Side Story. I have these gorgeous, glamorous pictures of her all in black and white. She was just so beautiful".[5] As a very young child, Swift enjoyed Disney movie soundtracks: "My parents noticed that, once I had run out of words, I would just make up my own".[279][27] Later, her parents exposed her to artists including Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor and Def Leppard.[280][281] Swift has said she owes her confidence to her mother, who helped her prepare for class presentations as a child: "We would stay up that whole night before, just practicing different things to say."[282] She enjoyed reading and writing poetry - "I noticed early on that poetry was something that just stuck in my head and I was replaying those rhymes" - and was particularly drawn to the works of Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss.[5][283] Swift remains interested "in any writing from a child's perspective" and has cited To Kill a Mockingbird as one of her favorite books.[60]
Shania Twain wearing a black and white dress and earrings holds an award statuette in both hands
Shania Twain was Swift's greatest musical influence
Swift was introduced to country music by "the great female country artists of the '90s ... Shania, Faith, the Dixie Chicks".[284][36] Those three artists "really sealed the deal" for Swift and she became "infatuated with the sound, with the storytelling" of country music.[285][11] Shania Twain was her biggest musical influence: "She was just so strong and so independent and wrote all her own songs".[286] As an artist, Swift has said she "can only aspire to be like her" and, in 2009, she named Twain's Come On Over as her favorite album.[287][288] She has spent time with Twain, who later remarked that "it took me back being with her. It was almost surreal".[289] Faith Hill was Swift's childhood role model and she tried to copy "everything she said, did, wore".[290][291] She admired Hill for "taking country music to bigger audiences, and her grace in the spotlight".[290] Hill has become a "welcoming and warm presence" in Swift's life since her rise to fame.[290] On one occasion, Hill and her husband Tim McGraw gave Swift the use of their Los Angeles house while she was working in the area.[292] "Cowboy Take Me Away" by the Dixie Chicks was the first song Swift learned to play on the guitar.[293] She admired the band's "we don’t care what you think" attitude.[5] LeAnn Rimes served as another introduction to country music.[5] Swift found it "motivating" to observe another young artist find success.[294] She then began to explore the music of older country stars, including Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton.[295][5] Lynn's "Fist City" is Swift's favorite country song.[5] She has said Parton is "an amazing example to every female songwriter out there ... There's so much about Dolly Parton that every female artist should look to, whether it's reading her quotes or reading her interviews or going to one of her live shows".[291] She admires Alan Jackson as a songwriter because "he hasn't tried to be anything but a guy who sings about his life": "That's my goal. That's all I want to do".[5] She respects Kenny Chesney, particularly from "a business standpoint": "He's one of the only artists playing stadiums ... He's always been a huge hero of mine".[291][290] Other country influences include George Strait, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Martina McBride and Brad Paisley.[5][296][284][297][298]
Swift has been influenced by many artists outside the country genre: "I don't ever not listen to something because it's a certain genre. I try not to put those fences up as a listener".[299] Tom Petty, she has said, "is on a pedestal for me".[300] Shawn Colvin inspires Swift because "her writing has been consistently great and thoughtful and wistful and beautiful". She is "obsessed with Fifties and Sixties music like The Shirelles and The Beach Boys",[301] and admires Bon Jovi because "there's just a melodic stickiness to their songs that I've always been drawn to".[301] Swift's influences also include Stevie Nicks, Pat Benatar, Melissa Etheridge and Sheryl Crow.[302][303] Swift is "fascinated" by hip hop music, particularly the rhyming patterns used by artists such as Eminem: "Country and hip-hop are two of the most honest genres because we just like to sing about our lifestyle ... Pride is something that both country and hip-hop share".[5]
Swift lists Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Emmylou Harris and Kris Kristofferson as her career role models: "They've taken chances, but they've also been the same artist for their entire careers."[304][305][306] McCartney, both as a Beatle and a solo artist, makes Swift feel "as if I've been let into his heart and his mind": "Any musician could only dream of a legacy like that."[307] She admires Springsteen because he is "so musically relevant after such a long period of time".[308] Swift says of Kristofferson: "He shines in songwriting, shines in his solo career, shines in movies and does it all so tastefully. I got to meet him last year, and he’s just one of those people who has been in this business for years but you can tell it hasn’t chewed him up and spat him out".[309]

Songwriting style

Thematically, The Guardian notes that Swift is "fantastically good at regarding teenage life with a kind of wistful, sepia-toned nostalgia".[310] New York Magazine has remarked that few singer-songwriters have written "great records so explicitly about their teens ... Her nearest antecedent might be sixties-era Brian Wilson, the one true adolescent auteur before she came along".[311] Comparisons have also been drawn with Janis Ian.[304] Fairytale imagery featured heavily on Swift's second album, Fearless; she explored the disconnect "between fairy tales and the reality of love". "We're raised as little girls to think that we're a princess and that Prince Charming is going to sweep us off our feet".[312][313] Speak Now, her third album, addresses more adult relationships.[305] Swift "has a tendency to use the same images over and over again - she spends so much time kissin' in the rain that it seems a miracle she hasn't developed trenchfoot". [310] Her defining quality as a songwriter, it has been said, is "a determination to register and hang onto fleeting feelings and impressions, a pre-emptive nostalgia for a present (and sometimes even a future) that she knows will some day be in the past".[314] Structurally, The Village Voice has noted that "Swift likes to attribute the first few choruses of a song to the narrator, and the last one to someone else—like, she'll say she loves someone, and then at the end, someone will use the same words to say they love her".[315] She frequently includes "a tossed-off phrase to suggest large and serious things that won't fit in the song, things that enhance or subvert the surface narrative".[315] The New Yorker has said that Swift’s songs, "though they are not subversive, have a certain sophistication ... Sentimental songs are laced with intimations of future disillusionment".[316] The Guardian has said that Swift "cranks melodies out with the pitiless efficiency of a Scandinavian pop factory".[310] Similarly, Rolling Stone has described her as "a songwriting savant with an intuitive gift for verse-chorus-bridge architecture that . . . calls to mind Swedish pop gods Dr. Luke and Max Martin".[317] While reviews of Swift's work are "almost uniformly positive", The New Yorker has said she is generally portrayed "more as a skilled technician than as a Dylanesque visionary".[304]
Swift has said she writes songs as an "open letter" and that "my perspective is very one-on-one when I’m writing. It’s just about me and the person who inspired the song."[318][319] She has said songwriting is "is a way of verbalizing those things that I feel that I can’t say"[51] and revealed that she finds it harder to communicate when there is no "first verse, second verse and bridge".[320] "Lyrics and melody are married," she has said. "Hand in hand, synchronic, I write it all together."[321] "I constantly edit and change things around and work with a song until I have a gut feeling and I know it’s right".[322] When she finishes writing a song, she imagines the production in her head.[323] She has said that, "I absolutely can't stop writing songs. It's funny because sometimes you'll hear artists talking about how they have to hurry up and write this next record and it's like, I can't stop writing. I can't turn it off ... It's like breathing."[5]
The New York Times has said that "righting wrongs is Ms. Swift’s raison d’être".[320] In her songs, Swift addresses the "anonymous crushes of her high school years" and, more recently, fellow celebrities.[320] Entertainment Weekly remarked that Speak Now was sometimes "an exercise in name-that-celebrity Whac-a-Mole".[324] John Mayer, the presumed subject of "Dear John", has said the song "humiliated" him: "I will say as a songwriter that I think it's kind of cheap songwriting. I know she's the biggest thing in the world, and I'm not trying to sink anybody's ship, but I think it's abusing your talent to rub your hands together and go, 'Wait till he gets a load of this!'"[325] The Village Voice has downplayed this aspect of Swift's songwriting: "Being told What Songs Mean is like having a really pushy professor. And it imperils a true appreciation of Swift's talent, which is not confessional, but dramatic."[326] The singer herself has said that all her songs are not factual; she sometimes creates "an entire scenario" around a "dirty look" or a "casual" conversation: "You can draw inspiration from anything ... You don't have to date people or be married to people to write songs about them."[327]
Neil Young has described Swift as "a great writer": "I like listening to her. I kind of like watching her respond to all the attacks. I like the ways she's defining herself. So I keep my eye on it".[328][329] Kris Kristofferson has said that "she blows me away. It's amazing to me that someone so young is writing such great songs. She's got a great career ahead of her".[330][331] Dolly Parton has said she is "extremely impressed with her, especially with her songwriting .... I'm real impressed with the depth of her sometimes": "She's got the qualities that could last a long time".[332][333] Stevie Nicks has said Swift writes "songs that make the whole world sing, like Neil Diamond or Elton John".[182] However, Merle Haggard, while comparing Swift's audience reaction with that of "a female Elvis", admits that he "can't understand a word she says, but she's pretty and she's got a good band. And I don't know what she's singing about, but I'm sure it's important."[334]

Musical style

Swift's music contains elements of country-pop, bubblegum pop, pop rock and alternative rock.[335][336][337] She self-identifies as a country artist.[338] This categorization has been questioned by fellow musicians such as Miranda Lambert and George Jones,[339][340] while Rolling Stone asserts that, "she might get played on the country station, but she's one of the few genuine rock stars we've got these days".[341] Swift's own definition of country music "is really pretty simple. It's when someone sings about their life and what they know, from an authentic place ... One guy will write about how he grew up on a farm and fell in love and raised kids on that same farm. Some people sing about how, when they get sad, they go to the bar and drink whiskey. I write songs about how I can't seem to figure out relationships and how I'm fascinated by love".[342] She has said there will be "a huge temptation" to make an alt-country record as her career progresses.[56] The New York Times notes that, "There isn’t much in Ms. Swift’s music to indicate country — a few banjo strums, a pair of cowboy boots worn onstage, a bedazzled guitar — but there’s something in her winsome, vulnerable delivery that’s unique to Nashville."[343] The New Yorker believes she is "considered part of Nashville’s country-pop tradition only because she writes narrative songs with melodic clarity and dramatic shape—Nashville’s stock-in-trade."[344]

Vocal abilities

Swift's voice has been described as "sweet but soft".[345] In studio recordings, the Los Angeles Times identifies Swift's "defining" vocal gesture as "the line that slides down like a contented sigh or up like a raised eyebrow, giving her beloved girl-time hits their air of easy intimacy".[198] Rolling Stone, in a Speak Now review, remarked: "Swift's voice is unaffected enough to mask how masterful she has become as a singer; she lowers her voice for the payoff lines in the classic mode of a shy girl trying to talk tough".[346] In another review of Speak Now, The Village Voice noted that her phrasing was previously "bland and muddled, but that's changed. She can still sound strained and thin, and often strays into a pitch that drives some people crazy; but she's learned how to make words sound like what they mean".[201] Slate, reviewing Speak Now, described Swift as "a technically poor singer": "Though she does vary her phrasing in ways that attempt to mask her limited voice (the way she sneers, "She looks at me like I'm a trend/And she's so over it," on "Better Than Revenge" is especially effective), Swift is still noticeably off-pitch at least once on every song on the album".[347] In a live setting, Swift, according to The Hollywood Reporter, "does her best, but certainly doesn't have the pipes to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Christina Aguilera or Carrie Underwood".[345] Her live vocals have been described as "flat", “thin, and sometimes as wobbly as a newborn colt”.[348][349] However, Swift has received praise for refusing to correct her pitch with Auto-Tune.[350][351][352]
In an interview with The New Yorker, Swift characterized herself primarily as a songwriter: “I write songs, and my voice is just a way to get those lyrics across”.[2][353] Scott Borchetta of Big Machine Records has conceded that Swift is "not the best technical singer" but describes her as the "best communicator that we’ve got".[354] Swift's vocal presence is something that concerns her and she has "put a lot of work" into improving it.[355] It was reported in 2010 that Swift continues to take vocal lessons.[356][357] She has said that she only feels nervous performing "if I'm not sure what the audience thinks of me, like at award shows".[358]

Public image

Swift has been described as "America's sweetheart" and "a role model".[359][360] The singer considers it her "responsibility" to be conscious of her influence on young fans.[361] However, she insists that "I don't live by all these rigid, weird rules that make me feel all fenced in. I just like the way that I feel like, and that makes me feel very free".[362] Swift does not drink alcohol because she worries that "I might come off in a way that I can't control. Maybe I should just lighten up!" "It's not like I judge people who [drink] or that I don't hang out with people who drink".[362] She refuses to take part in overly sexualised photo-shoots.[12] The lyrical content of her songs is regarded as appropriate for young audiences. A New Yorker journalist who attended a Swift concert recounted watching "sixteen-year-old girls holding hands and swaying, and a girl in a hijab sobbing as she sang the words. It was hard not to be a little moved, and not to feel relieved that the words being sung were, more or less, safe ... One can attend a concert by Katy Perry and listen to a stadium full of thirteen-year-olds chant along with the song “Peacock” which goes, “I want to see your peacock-cock-cock! Your peacock-cock!""[2] A Rolling Stone journalist who profiled Swift in 2009 remarked upon her polite manners: "If this is Swift's game face, it must be tattooed on because it never drops".[363][364] A 2012 Vogue cover story described Swift as "clever and funny and occasionally downright bawdy" in person, but noted that she "asks if her cursing can be off the record".[365] Grantland describes Swift as "dorky" and "openly neurotic in a way you'd never see from a blonde country princess like Faith Hill or Carrie Underwood. She is more like Diane Keaton in Annie Hall: overly gracious and eager to please but full of a nonstop, nervous, fluttering energy".[366]
In the early years of her career, Swift's signature look consisted of sundresses and cowboy boots.[367][368] This fashion style is still copied by many of the young fans who attend her concerts.[369][367] At formal events, Swift became known for "sparkly, beaded dresses".[367] Her naturally curly hairstyle is replicated by fans, and Swift has remarked: "I remember straightening my hair because I wanted to be like everybody else, and now the fact that anybody would emulate what I do? It’s just funny."[369] She was asked by Vogue to cut bangs for a cover shoot in late 2011, and now straightens her hair.[370] Swift currently favours retro style[371] and it has been said that she has the look of "a nineteen-thirties movie siren ... She loves to wear makeup, but it tends to resemble stage makeup: red lipstick, thick mascara."[372] She was named an Icon of American Style by Vogue in 2011.[373]
There has been much media commentary about Swift's reactions when she is recognized at award ceremonies.[374][375] In 2011, The Hollywood Reporter remarked that Swift "seems to be consistently shocked and wonderstruck by each awards win, despite racking up an ever-growing collection of Grammys, CMAs, MTV Moonmen and AMAs".[374] Kristen Wiig parodied Swift's surprised facial expressions during a Saturday Night Live sketch in February 2012.[376] Swift later said she had seen the sketch: “I was laughing the entire time and then I realized that, as I was watching it, I was making the face she was making”.[377] At the Academy of Country Music Awards in April 2012, the ceremony's host Blake Shelton joked in his opening monologue that Swift should release a perfume called "I can't believe I smell this good". When Swift later presented Shelton with the Academy's Best Male Vocalist award, "the two faced off, showing each other their ultra-surprised looks".[378][379]

Feminist discussion

Taylor Swift, wearing a strapless dress, looks directly at the camera. Her hair is tied back, with a few curly tendrils loose
Swift at the premiere of Hannah Montana: The Movie in 2009
The merits of Swift as a feminist have been widely discussed.[380] She has been described by Jezebel as "a feminist's nightmare": "Her image of being good and pure plays right into how much the patriarchy fetishizes virginity, loves purity, and celebrates women who know their place as delicate flowers".[381] A Village Voice music critic, using supporting evidence from Swift's body of work, dismissed such criticisms as "shallow and gross, in that special way that things get gross when you cram shaded and living work through an ideological sieve like you're mechanically separating chicken".[382] It has been said that anti-Swift feminists "criticize Taylor for being repressive and perpetuating a patriarchal virgin/whore dichotomy by being repressive and perpetuating a virgin/whore dichotomy ... When people dismiss the stories that Taylor Swift writes as unrealistic, unfeminist pap or dismiss Taylor Swift herself as a sexist figure — even if we take them at face value, even if we pretend that Taylor Swift is indeed a virgin who thinks having sex is a bad thing and falling in love and having babies is the best experience a girl can have, they’re still wrong. They’re still wrong to dismiss her. Because by dismissing her, they’re saying that [her] experiences and [her] beliefs are invalid and girls shouldn’t have them — and that if girls do have them, then they’re inferior in some way (unfeminist, unintelligent, uncool, whatever) ... It’s the opposite of slut-shaming. It’s prude-shaming, and it’s no better or more enlightened or more feminist than slut-shaming, because it’s still shaming."[383] "The point of feminism is that we all get to be our own kind of woman, and we shouldn’t say Taylor is anti-feminist because she’s not “our” kind of woman."[384]
The song "Fifteen" has been the subject of particular scrutiny. It has been said that the song contains a "feminist message" in the lyrics "Back then I swore I was gonna marry him some day, but I realized some bigger dreams of mine” and "In your life, you'll do things greater than dating the boy on the football team".[385] Feminist critics claim the use of the word "everything" in the lyric "Abigail gave everything she had to a boy, who changed his mind, and we both cried" is a reference to virginity: "Songs like "Fifteen" dig up the ancient Puritan ideal that girls can only access power by confidently and heterosexually denying access to their pants."[386] However, others interpret "everything" as trust: "Abigail trusted and opened up to a boy for the first time, only to be let down. Maybe that includes sex, maybe it doesn’t."[385]
When asked by The New York Times in 2010 whether she considered herself a feminist, Swift replied, "I have never really thought about that".[387] In December 2011, Billboard's Tom Roland asked Swift whether the marginalization of women in country music, prevalent in the 1950s, was still an issue: "I was fortunate enough to come about in a time when I didn't feel that kind of energy at all, and it was always my theory that if you want to play in the same ballgame as the boys, you've got to work as hard as them. I was always playing just as many shows as they were and playing on the same shows as they were. I was willing to pay my dues as an opening act, playing in clubs and bars and playing in tiny venues. The new male artists were doing the same thing, so I never saw an issue there."[388]


Arts education

In September 2010, Swift donated $75,000 to Nashville's Hendersonville High School to help refurbish the school auditorium's sound and lighting systems.[389] In May 2012, she pledged $4 million to fund a new education center at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.[390] The 7,500-square-foot building is scheduled to open in 2014 and will house youth and senior citizen education programs and workshops.[391][392] Museum officials have decided to name it The Taylor Swift Education Center and the singer will be involved in an advisory capacity.[393]

Children's literacy

In December 2009, Swift donated $250,000 to various schools around the country that she had either attended or had other associations with. The money was used to buy books, fund educational programs and pay teachers' salaries.[394] In October 2010, she took part in a live webcast, Read Now! with Taylor Swift, broadcast exclusively in US schools to celebrate Scholastic's Read Every Day campaign.[395][396] In October 2011, Swift donated 6,000 Scholastic books to Reading Public Library, Pennsylvania[397] and, in February 2012, she donated 14,000 books to Nashville Public Library, Tennessee.[398] Most of the books were placed in circulation; the rest were gifted to children from low-income families, preschools and daycare centers.[398] In March 2012, she co-chaired the National Education Association's Read Across America campaign and recorded a PSA encouraging children to read.[399][400]

Natural disaster relief funds

In June 2008, Swift donated all the proceeds from her merchandise sales at the 2008 Country Music Festival to the Red Cross's disaster relief fund.[401] Swift donated $100,000 to the Red Cross in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to help the victims of the Iowa flood of 2008.[402] Swift lent her support to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal by joining the lineup at Sydney's Sound Relief concert,[403] reportedly making the biggest contribution of any artist playing at Sound Relief to the Australian Red Cross.[404]
In response to the May 2010 Tennessee floods, Swift donated $500,000 during a flood relief telethon hosted by WSMV, a Nashville television station.[405] In August 2010, she donated $100,000 to help rebuild a playground in Hendersonville, Tennessee, which was damaged by floodwater.[406] In May 2011, Swift transformed what was to have been the final dress rehearsal for the North American leg of her Speak Now tour into a benefit concert for victims of recent tornadoes in the United States southeast region, raising more than $750,000 from proceeds from ticket sales, merchandise and other facets of the show.[407] The benefit concert for tornado relief was subsequently honored at the 2011 Do Something Awards.[408] In July 2011, Swift further aided the cause by donating $250,000 to Alabama football coach Nick Saban's charity Nick's Kids to aid in the tornado relief efforts of West Alabama.[409] In April 2012, Swift donated $1,500 to a fund to help a man left permanently paralyzed by the tornado to make his house wheelchair-accessible.[410]

Other charitable endeavors

In 2007, Swift helped raise awareness about Global Youth Service Day, and launched a campaign to protect children from online predators, in partnership with the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police.[411] Following the 2008 murder of Larry King, she recorded a Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network PSA.[412] Also in 2008, she donated a pink Chevy pick-up truck to the Victory Junction Gang Camp.[413][414] Swift has teamed up with Sound Matters to make listeners aware of listening "responsibly".[415] Swift supports @15, a teen-led social change platform underwritten by Best Buy to give teens opportunities to direct the company's philanthropy through the newly-created @15 Fund.[416] She appeared in a Got Milk campaign in July 2010.[417]
Swift donated her prom dress, which raised $1,200 for charity, to DonateMyDress.org.[418] In November 2009, after a live performance on BBC's Children in Need night, she donated $20,000 to the cause.[419] Swift donated a pair of her shoes to the Wish Upon a Hero Foundation's Hero in Heels fundraiser for auction to raise money to benefit women with cancer. In June 2011, as the Academy of Country Music's Entertainer of the Year, Swift donated $25,000 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Tennessee. This figure was matched by the Academy.[420]

Other work


Swift made her acting debut in a 2009 episode of CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, playing a rebellious teenager.[421] The New York Times noted that the character allowed Swift to be "a little bit naughty, and credibly so".[422] Rolling Stone felt she "held her own" and "does a good job with the script"[423] while the Chicago Tribune said she "acquits herself well".[424] Later that year, Swift both hosted and performed as the musical guest for an episode of Saturday Night Live.[425] Entertainment Weekly described her as "this season’s best Saturday Night Live host so far", noting that she "was always up for the challenge, seemed to be having fun, and helped the rest of the cast nail the punchlines". Proving "admirably resilient in a wide variety of sketch roles", "Swift inspired more of a female, girly-in-the-best-sense sensibility in SNL than it’s shown since the Tina Fey-Amy Poehler days".[426]
In 2010, Swift made her feature film acting debut in the romantic comedy Valentine's Day and won the Teen Choice Award for Movie Female Breakout.[427] In 2012, she voiced the character of Audrey in the animated film The Lorax.[428]

Product endorsements

Jakks Pacific released a celebrity doll of Swift in late 2008.[429] Swift was the face of L.E.I. jeans in 2008.[430] In 2007, Swift launched a line of sundresses at Wal-Mart.[431][432] Also in 2007, she was the face of Verizon Wireless' Mobile Music campaign. Her image was used in print and in-store advertising, and on 500,000 bags of popcorn in multiple movie theaters.[433] In 2009, Swift became the National Hockey League's newest celebrity spokesperson and appears in commercials for the Nashville Predators.[434] In 2011, Swift partnered with Elizabeth Arden to launch a fragrance, Wonderstruck.[435] Swift works with American Greetings, Inc.[436] She also has endorsement deals with companies including Target, CoverGirl and Sony.[437]
In May 2009, Swift filed a lawsuit (kept sealed until August 2010) against numerous sellers of unauthorized counterfeit merchandise bearing her name, likeness, and trademarks, where she demanded a trial by jury, sought a judgement for compensatory damages, punitive damages, three times the actual damages sustained, and statutory damages, and sought for recovery of her attorney's fees and prejudgement interest.[438] Nashville's U.S. District Court granted an injunction and judgment against the sellers, who had been identified at Swift's concerts in several states. The court ordered merchandise seized from the defendants to be destroyed.[439][440][441]

Personal life

Swift's main residence is a duplex penthouse in Midtown Nashville, Tennessee.[2][442] She also owns a house in Beverly Hills, California.[443][444] According to Forbes, Swift earned $18 million in 2009,[445] $45 million in 2010,[446] $45 million in 2011[447] and $57 million in 2012 as of May.[448]


Swift writes autobiographical songs and has said that, "I've never been shy or secretive with the fact that if you walk into my life, you may be walking onto a record".[449][450] Listening to music as a child, Swift felt confused "when I knew something was going on in someone’s personal life and they didn’t address it in their music".[451] She dated singer Joe Jonas from July to October 2008,[452][453] and actor Taylor Lautner from October to December 2009.[454][455] She was romantically linked to musician John Mayer from late 2009 until early 2010.[456][457] They first met in 2008 and recorded a duet, "Half of My Heart", in late 2009.[458][459] Swift dated actor Jake Gyllenhaal from October to December 2010.[460][461][462][463][464] On December 9, 2010, Gyllenhaal called the LAPD for assistance, after a large number of photographers followed the couple's car in Los Angeles.[465] Following their break-up, they were seen together in January and February 2011.[466][467]


On her eighteenth birthday, "the first thing" Swift did was register to vote.[468][469] During the 2008 presidential campaign, she supported the Every Woman Counts campaign, aimed at engaging women in the political process, and was one of many country stars to record a public service announcement for the Vote (For Your) Country campaign.[470] However, she stressed that, "I don’t think it's my job to try and influence people which way they should vote."[5] Following President Obama's inauguration, she told Rolling Stone: "I've never seen this country so happy about a political decision in my entire time of being alive. I'm so glad this was my first election."[471] In 2009, after Swift's MTV VMA acceptance speech was interrupted by Kanye West, President Obama described West's behaviour as "really inappropriate. The young lady seems like a perfectly nice person. She’s getting her award. What is he doing up there? He’s a jackass."[472] Former US President Jimmy Carter said West's interruption was "completely uncalled for".[473]
In 2010, former U.S. President George H. W. Bush attended the taping of a Swift television special in Kennebunkport, Maine,[474] and later described Swift as "unspoiled" and "very nice".[475] In 2012, Swift was presented with a Kids' Choice Award in recognition of her charitable work by Michelle Obama, who praised her as someone who "has rocketed to the top of the music industry but still keeps her feet on the ground, someone who has shattered every expectation of what a 22-year old can accomplish".[476] Swift later described the First Lady as "a role model".[477] In a 2012 interview, Swift remarked that she was "very cautious" about using her public profile to address political issues, adding that she hoped to "gradually" become more outspoken: "I don't know enough at this point".[478]
Swift is an acquaintance of the Kennedy family and has spoken of her admiration for Ethel Kennedy.[479] When asked about her friendship with Swift, Ethel replied, "Oh, she is amazing! Such good company."[480] Rory Kennedy has said, "There is a mutual admiration society between my mother and Taylor Swift and I just love it! I think it says so much about Taylor – she has that ability to connect and cross generations ... She's terrific and such a great role model for young girls, as well as for all women, really ... She's just so curious and interested".[480] Swift travelled to Utah in January 2012 to attend the Sundance premiere of the HBO documentary Ethel.[481] Later that year, she celebrated the Fourth of July holiday with the extended Kennedy family in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.[482][483] The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights will honor Swift with the Ripple of Hope Award at a gala event in December 2012. [484][485]

Awards and nominations

Swift has won 109 awards from a total of 162 nominations. She has been the recipient of ten American Music Awards, six Grammy Awards, seven Country Music Association Awards, six Academy of Country Music Awards and 13 BMI Awards. She has also won many other awards. At the end of 2009, the Associated Press named Swift "Entertainer of the Year", while Swift was named ranked #12 on Forbes' List of Most Powerful People in Entertainment.[486] Billboard magazine named her Woman of the Year in 2011, and the same magazine ranked her at #1 on list of top money makers inn the same year. On March 31, 2012, she received the Big Help Award at the 2012 Kids' Choice Awards for her work with natural disaster survivors.[487] Swift also won five awards at the 2012 Teen Choice Awards.[488]



2009CSI: Crime Scene InvestigationHaley JonesEpisode: "Turn, Turn, Turn"
2009Saturday Night LiveHostAlso appeared as the Musical Guest


2009Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert ExperienceHerselfCameo
2009Hannah Montana: The MovieHerselfCameo
2010Valentine's DayFeliciaFilm debut
Teen Choice Awards for Choice Breakout Female
Nominated—Teen Choice Awards for Choice Chemistry (with Taylor Lautner)
Nominated—Teen Choice Awards for Choice Liplock (with Taylor Lautner)
Nominated—MTV Movie Awards for Best Kiss (with Taylor Lautner)
2012Lorax, TheThe LoraxAudreyVoice
Teen Choice Awards for Choice Voice


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