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Taylor Swift.

Taylor Alison Swift (born December 13, 1989) is an American country pop singer–songwriter, guitarist and novice actress. In 2008, her albums sold a combined four million copies, making her the best-selling musician of the year in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

In 2006, she released her debut single "Tim McGraw", then her self-titled debut album, which was subsequently certified Platinum several times by the Recording Industry Association of America.

In November 2008, Swift released her second album, Fearless. Fearless and Taylor Swift finished 2008 at number three and number six respectively, with sales of 2.1 and 1.5 million.[1] Fearless has topped the Billboard 200 in 11 non-consecutive weeks,[2] no album has spent more time at No. 1 since 2000. Forbes, ranked Swift 2009's 69th-most powerful celebrity, earning $18 million.[3] Swift was named Artist of the Year by Billboard Magazine in 2009. [4]

Early life

Swift was born in the borough of Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. She is the daughter of Scott Swift, a stock broker, and his wife Andrea, a homemaker. She has a younger brother, Austin.[5] When she was in fourth grade, Swift won a national poetry contest with a three-page poem entitled "Monster In My Closet".[6][7]

At ten, Swift began writing songs and singing at karaoke contests, festivals, and fairs around her hometown. One summer, she devoted herself to writing a 350-page novel, which remains unpublished.[8]

She was a member of a local SNL-inspired kid's sketch comedy group, TheatreKids Live!, where she was a natural comedic talent. After seeing her karaoke performance at one of the cast parties, group founder Kirk Cremer's mother suggested that Swift seemed better poised to pursue a career in country music than theatrical performing. Cremer soon leased space at a local mall and began to showcase his young protégée in weeknight performances of country songs with karaoke backing tracks. Emboldened by her performances and growing audiences, she began to perform in other local open mike and karaoke nights. Her first major show was a well-received performance at the Bloomsburg Fair, arranged by local performer Pat Garrett.[9]

Songwriting interest

Swift began learning to play guitar from a computer repairman who showed her how to play three chords. After learning those three chords, she wrote her first song, "Lucky You".[10] She began writing songs regularly and used it as an outlet to help her with her pain from not fitting in at school. Other kids would react badly to her so she wrote songs about them.[11]

Early work

Swift's greatest musical influence is Shania Twain.[12] Her other influences include LeAnn Rimes, Tina Turner, Dolly Parton, and Swift's grandmother. Although her grandmother was a professional opera singer,[13] Taylor's tastes always ran more toward country and she developed a love for Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton at an early age.[14] She also credits the Dixie Chicks and Shania Twain for demonstrating how much impact can be made by "stretching boundaries".[15]

At age 11, Swift made her first trip to Nashville, hoping to obtain a record deal by distributing a demo tape of her singing with karaoke songs. She gave a copy to every label in town.[16] Swift was rejected by record labels and her peers.[17]

After Swift returned to Pennsylvania, she was asked to sing at the U.S. Open tennis tournament; her rendition of the national anthem received a lot of attention.[18] Swift started writing songs and playing 12-string guitar when she was 12. Swift began to regularly visit Nashville and wrote songs with local songwriters. By the time she was 14, her family decided to move to an outlying Nashville suburb.[19]

When Swift was fifteen, she rejected RCA Records because the company wanted to keep her on a development deal.[20] Swift then performed at Nashville's songwriters' venue, The Bluebird Café, catching the attention of Scott Borchetta[21] who signed her to his newly-formed record label, Big Machine Records. She also became the youngest staff songwriter ever hired by the Sony/ATV Tree publishing house at 14.[22]

Music career

2006–2008: Taylor Swift

Taylor-Swift

Taylor Swift

Swift released her debut single, "Tim McGraw", in mid-2006, reaching number 6 on Billboard magazine's Hot Country Songs chart.[23] Her self-titled debut album was later released on October 24, 2006.[24] Swift wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on the album, which debuted at number 19 on the Billboard 200 and sold 39,000 copies during its first week.[25] It later peaked at number one at Billboard Top Country Albums and number five on the Billboard 200.[26] It also spent eight consecutive weeks at the top of the Top Country Albums charts[27] and remained at the top for 24 out of 91 weeks.[28] The only other country artists this decade to achieve the number-one sales position for 20 weeks or more are The Dixie Chicks and Carrie Underwood.[29] As of November 2008, Taylor Swift has sold over three million copies and 7.5 million single downloads.[30]

Swift has surpassed the 200 million mark for music streams on MySpace. She is currently ranked in the Top 10 for the most MySpace visits for all genres of music, and is MySpace's current top-ranking Country artist.[31]Template:Dead link Swift is the most searched musical artist on MySpace in 2008.[32] The music video for "Tim McGraw" set a record by appearing for 30 consecutive weeks on GAC's fan-voted weekly Top 20 music countdown show, and reached number one on CMT's video charts. The video also won Swift an award for Breakthrough Video of the Year at the 2007 CMT Music Awards.[33] Her pursuit of country music stardom was the subject of "GAC Short Cuts", a part-documentary, part-music-video series airing since the summer of 2006 on the country music channel.[34] On May 15, 2007, Swift performed "Tim McGraw" at the Academy of Country Music Awards. She sang the song to Tim McGraw in the audience, and introduced herself for the first time to him. Swift has been an opening act for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill on their Soul2Soul 2007 tour. She has opened in the past for George Strait, Brad Paisley and Rascal Flatts as well.[35]

On August 21, 2007, Swift performed live on the season finale of America's Got Talent.[36] The second single from the Taylor Swift album, "Teardrops on My Guitar", was released February 24, 2007. The song originally made its peak positions in mid-2007, peaking at #2 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart and #33 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was re-released to the Hot 100 and Pop 100 in late 2007 with a pop remix that brought "Teardrops on My Guitar" to #13 on the Hot 100 and #11 on the Pop 100. In October 2007, Swift's songwriting peers at the Nashville Songwriters Association International honored her with their Songwriter/Artist of the Year Award, making her the youngest artist ever to win the award.[37]

On November 7, 2007, Swift won the 2007 CMA Horizon Award and also performed "Our Song," the third single from her album, which would go on to become her first #1 song the week of December 22, 2007, where it leaped up from the #6 spot. This was the biggest jump to Number One since January 1998, when Tim McGraw's "Just to See You Smile", also jumped from #6 to #1.[38] "Our Song" spent six weeks at #1 on the Country charts and also peaked at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #24 on the Billboard Pop 100. Swift also recorded a holiday album, Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection, which was released October 16, 2007, exclusively available at Target stores. The album, which was not as successful as her self-titled debut, featured both holiday classics such as "Last Christmas" and original songs written by Swift. Swift was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award in the category of Best New Artist, but lost to Amy Winehouse. Swift's successful single, "Picture to Burn" was the fourth single from her debut album. The song debuted early in 2008 and peaked at #3 on the Billboard Country Chart in the spring of 2008.

Big Machine Records announced the release of "Should've Said No" on Monday, May 19. The song is the fifth and final single from Swift's debut album. She performed it on the 43rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards.[39] The performance started off with her dressed in a hooded sweatshirt and jeans, but soon after a short black halter dress was revealed. In the last minute of the song, she went backstage to perform the final verse under a cascading waterfall. Swift had wanted to do that performance on stage with the water and the change of clothes since she was ten years old.[40]

"Should've Said No" became her second Number One single for the chart dated August 23, 2008. In June 2008, at the CMA Music Festival held in Nashville, Swift signed autographs for nearly eight straight hours. It was the longest autograph-signing session since Garth Brooks' 23-hour marathon in 1996.[41] In Summer 2008, Swift released Beautiful Eyes, an EP sold exclusively at Wal-Mart.[42] In its first week of release, the album sold 45,000 copies, debuting at #1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart and #9 on the Billboard 200. With her self-titled debut album at #2 the same week, Swift became the first artist to hold the Top 2 positions of the Top Country Albums chart since LeAnn Rimes did so in 1997.[43] Swift plays a custom-made Taylor acoustic guitar made of koa wood.[44]

2008–2010: Fearless and MTV VMA controversy

Swift's latest studio album, Fearless, was released in the United States on November 11, 2008.[45] The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart. Its sales of 592,304 were the highest debut of any country artist in 2008. This is also the largest opening U.S. sales week in 2008 by a female artist in all genres of music, and the fourth biggest overall behind Lil Wayne, AC/DC and Coldplay.[46] Its lead single "Love Story" became a hit on both the country and pop charts. During the first week of release, more than 129,000 of Swift's sales were sold digitally. This gives Swift the best online start for any country album in history.[47] It also makes Swift the fourth biggest week for a digital album since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking them in 2004.[48] Through its eighth week of release, Fearless has sold more than 338,467 paid downloads, making it the bestselling country album in digital history. In second place is Swift's debut Taylor Swift with sales of 236,046 downloads as of April 18, 2009.[49]

In its debut week, seven songs in total on Fearless were charted on Billboard Hot 100, tying Swift with Hannah Montana for the most by a female artist in a single week. With "White Horse" charted at #13, this gave Swift her sixth top 20 debut of 2008, a calendar year record for any artist in the history of the Billboard Hot 100. Of the 13 tracks on Fearless, 11 have already spent time on the Hot 100.[48] "Change", a song from the album, was selected as part of a soundtrack supporting Team USA's efforts in the 2008 Summer Olympics.[43] The song was also featured as part of the soundtrack of NBC's broadcast package of the Olympics.

She also released the lead single from the album, "Love Story", on September 12, 2008. The song is accompanied by a music video that is based on Romeo and Juliet. The song has reached number 2 on iTunes Store Top Downloaded Songs and number four on the Billboard Hot 100. It is also called as Taylor Swift's signature song. Fifteen weeks after being added to pop radio, "Love Story" also became the first country crossover recording to hit number one on the Nielsen BDS CHR/Top 40 chart in the 16-year-history of list, as well as number one on the Mediabase Top 40 Chart.[50]

The second single from Fearless, "White Horse", was released on December 8, 2008. The music video for the song premiered on CMT on February 7, 2009. Though it missed the #1 spot on Billboard's Hot Country Songs as of the week April 11, 2009, "White Horse" claimed the #1 spot atop the USA Today/Country Aircheck chart (powered by Mediabase) in that week.[51] "Forever & Always", another song from the album, was based on Swift's relationship with singer Joe Jonas.[52]

She was the first artist in the history of Nielsen SoundScan to have two different albums in the Top 10 on the year end album chart.[1] It also was the first album by a female artist in country music history to log eight weeks at #1 on The Billboard 200. In mid-January 2009, Swift became the first country artist to top the 2 million mark in paid downloads with three different songs.[53]

As of the week ending February 8, 2009, Swift's single "Love Story" became the country song with most paid downloads in history and the first country song to top the Mainstream Top 40 chart.[54][55] Swift then subsequently went onto replicate the feat, reaching number 1 again on the Mainstream Top 40 in September 2009 with "You Belong with Me", making it just the second country song in the chart's history to reach the top.

Swift is Billboard's Top Country Artist and Hot Country Songwriter of 2008; she is also country music's best-selling artist of 2008.[56] Swift ranked seventh on Nielsen SoundScan Canada's top-10 selling artists across all genres in 2008. Fearless and Taylor Swift took the #1 and #2 slots on 2008 Year-End Canadian Country Albums Chart.[57] Swift sang the Star-Spangled Banner at game three of the World Series in Philadelphia on October 25, 2008.

On January 10, 2009, Swift made her first musical guest appearance on Saturday Night Live, making her the youngest country singer to appear as a musical guest on the show in its 33-year run.[58][59] Swift's show achieved SNL’s highest adult 18-49 rating and overall viewer total since the November election (in 2008). It was tied for the #7 rating of that week among all broadcast and cable entertainment programs on all networks and outscored all its telecasts of last season in 18-49 and total viewers.[60] On February 8, 2009, Swift performed her song "Fifteen" with Miley Cyrus at the 51st Grammy Awards. Since the release of Swift's second album, Fearless, she has released one new song "Crazier" for the soundtrack of the feature film Hannah Montana: The Movie.

Swifterfield - 44th Annual ACM Awards

David Copperfield kisses Taylor Swift's hand after sawing her in half at the 2009 ACM Awards.

At the 44th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, Swift picked up Album of the Year honors as a performer and producer for Fearless. Swift is the youngest artist in history to win Album of the Year award. Swift was also awarded the Academy's Crystal Milestone Award, given for Outstanding Achievement in Country Music. The Academy lauded her for career achievements including selling more albums in 2008 than any other artist in any genre of music, the breakthrough success of her debut album (which spawned five Top 10 hits, more than any in history for a female artist's debut CD), and the worldwide crossover success of her #1 single "Love Story". The Academy also cited Swift's contribution to helping country music attract a younger audience.[61] During her appearance at the awards ceremony, Swift performed "You're Not Sorry", and also assisted magician David Copperfield with two illusions. In the first of these, Copperfield made her appear inside an apparently empty glass-sided elevator as it descended from the ceiling. In the second, called Clearly Impossible, he locked her inside another glass-sided box and sawed her in half with her body in full view of the audience at all times.

As of late April 2009, Swift had sold more than 14 million downloads, as well as three Gold Mobile Ringtones.[62]

In June 2009, Swift performed "Thug Story" with T-Pain at the CMT Music Awards. She went on to win two awards for Female Video of the Year and Video of the Year.[63] On July 14, 2009, it was confirmed Swift would perform at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. "I'm so excited that MTV and the VMAs have invited me to perform, because I think this year's show will be unlike anything they've ever done!" stated Swift. "I love incorporating theatrics into my performances, and the VMAs have always allowed artists to run with that," Swift says. "MTV has been so good to me, and I could not be more excited about this year's VMAs." This was Swift's first performance on the VMAs. The show aired September 13 on MTV, with British comedian Russell Brand hosting for the second year in a row.[64] In addition to having three of her songs featured, Swift will appear as a playable character in Band Hero.[65] Swift announced September 6 on her MySpace blog that Fearless will be re-released on October 27 with six new songs. It will also include a DVD with her tour footage and pictures.[66]

In January 2009, Swift announced her first headlining tour. Swift is taking her North American Fearless Tour 2009 to 52 cities in 38 states and provinces in the US and Canada over the span of 6 months. Opening acts include Kellie Pickler and Gloriana, a new group in country music. The tour features a theatrical presentation of graphics, sets and visual elements designed by Swift; Swift plays guitar as well as piano. Multiple costume changes and a fairy-tale castle are some of the elements of the three-act show.[67]

The tour kicked off April 23 in Evansville, Indiana. On February 6, 2009, tickets went on sale for the May 22 date at Los Angeles’ Staples Center and sold out in two minutes.[68] Tickets for several dates and venues, including Madison Square Garden, went on sale the following week and sold out in one minute.[69][70][71][72][73]

On April 28, 2009, Swift gave a free, private concert to students at Bishop Ireton High School, a small Catholic school in Alexandria, Virginia after the school won a national "TXT 2 WIN" contest from Verizon Wireless.[74] The students sent over 19,000 text messages to Verizon during a roughly one month long contest. Swift played for about an hour during the school's field day, an annual day-long recess with games and activities. On October 8, 2009 Swift's official website announced that her sold-out Fearless Tour would return to North America for 37 additional dates in 2010.

SwiftVMA

Kanye West interrupts Taylor Swift.

On September 13, 2009, during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, singer/rapper Kanye West came on stage and took the microphone from Swift during her acceptance speech for winning Best Female Video for "You Belong with Me", saying that Beyoncé's video for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)", nominated for the same award, was "one of the best videos of all time". This caused the audience in the venue to respond negatively.[75][76] He handed the microphone back to a stunned and reportedly upset Swift, who did not finish her acceptance speech.[75][77] West was removed from the remainder of the show for his actions.[75] When Beyoncé later won the award for Best Video of the Year for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)", she called Swift up on stage so that she could finish her acceptance speech.[75][78]

Following the awards show, West apologized for his verbal outburst in a blog entry (which was subsequently removed).[75] He was criticized by various celebrities for the outburst,[76][79][80][81][82] and by President Barack Obama in an "off the record" comment.[83][84][85][86] He later posted a second apology on his blog and appeared on The Jay Leno Show one day after the incident, apologizing publicly.[76]

On September 15, 2009, Swift talked about the matter on The View. Asked what she was thinking the moment it happened, she stated:

Well, I think my overall thought process was something like, 'Wow, I can't believe I won, this is awesome, don't trip and fall, I'm gonna get to thank the fans, this is so cool. Oh, Kanye West is here. Cool haircut. What are you doing there?' And then, 'Ouch.' And then, 'I guess I'm not gonna get to thank the fans.'[87][88]

Swift said West had not spoken to her following the incident.[88] Following her appearance on The View, West contacted her to apologize personally; Swift said she accepted his apology.[88][89] The night of the awards show, Swift became the first country music artist to win an MTV Video Music Award.[89]

On November 11, 2009, Swift won four CMA Awards: Album of the Year for "Fearless", Music Video of the Year for "Love Story" Female Vocalist of the Year, and Entertainer of the Year.[90] During the CMA ceremony, the incident with Kanye West was lampooned on stage by Brad Paisley and Little Jimmy Dickens, with Dickens stealing the microphone during Paisley's speech to say Swift's video was better.

On the chart week of November 14, 2009, Swift set a record for the most songs on the Billboard Hot 100 by a female artist at the same time with eight singles from the re-release of her 2008 album Fearless namely five debut new songs in the top 30: "Jump Then Fall" at #10, "Untouchable" at #19, "The Other Side of the Door" at #22, "Superstar" at #27 and "Come in With the Rain" at #30 and three already-charted songs that were released as singles — "You Belong with Me" (#14), "Forever & Always" which re-entered the chart at #34, and "Fifteen" (#46).[91] In addition, the song "Two Is Better Than One" by Boys Like Girls which features Swift, debuted at #80 in the same issue. This gives Swift six debuts in one week, the biggest number of debuts by any female artist of all time. It also lifts the number of her simultaneously-charting songs to nine, setting another record for the biggest number of charting songs by the same female artist in the same week.[92] When "Fifteen" reached #38 on the chart week of November 21, 2009, Swift became the female artist with most Top 40 singles this decade, surpassing Beyoncé Knowles, who currently has 19 Top 40 singles.[93][94] "Fifteen" became Swift's thirteenth Top 40 single from Fearless and her twentieth overall.[95][96] Taylor's historical moves continued as the December 5 issue of the Hot 100 was announced; "Two Is Better Than One" by Boys Like Girls progressed to #40, and John Mayer's "Half of My Heart" debuted at #25 where both of these songs featured Swift. This gives Swift her 21st and 22nd Top 40 singles.

Swift won five 2009 American Music Awards: Artist of The Year, Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist, Favorite Country Female Artist, Favorite Country Album for "Fearless", and Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist.[97]

On December 2, 2009, Swift received Grammy Award nominations for: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "You Belong with Me", Best Female Country Vocal Performance, Best Country Song for "White Horse", Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals for "Breathe", and Album of the Year and Best Country Album for "Fearless".[98]

2010–12: Speak Now

Swift released her third studio album, Speak Now, on October 25, 2010. She wrote all 14 songs alone and co-produced the record with longtime collaborator Chapman.[99] Musically, it has been said that the album "expands beyond country-pop to border both alternative rock and dirty bubblegum pop."[100]

The New York Times described the album as savage, musically diverse and "excellent too, possibly her best."[99] The Village Voice remarked 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."[101] Music critic Robert 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."[102] 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."[103]

Swift carried out an extensive promotional campaign prior to Speak Now's release.[104] 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.[105] She took part in a "guitar pull" alongside Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill and Lionel Richie at LA's Club Nokia. The musicians shared the stage and took turns introducing and playing acoustic versions of their songs to raise money for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.[106][107]

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".[108] Speak Now was a major commercial success, debuting at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart. Its opening sales of 1,047,000 copies made it the 16th album in U.S. history to sell one million copies in a single week.[109] As of February 2012, Speak Now had sold over 5.7 million copies worldwide.[110][111]

File:Taylor Swift 2011crop.jpg

Swift toured throughout 2011 and early 2012 in support of Speak Now. As part of the 13-month, 111-date world tour, Swift played seven shows in Asia, twelve shows in Europe, 80 shows in North America, and 12 shows in Oceania.[112]

Swift invited many musicians to join her for one-off duets during the North American tour. Appearances were made by Bieber, McGraw, James Taylor, Jason Mraz, Shawn Colvin, Johnny Rzeznik, Andy Grammer, Tal Bachman, 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, and Kenny Chesney.[113][114] During the North American tour leg, Swift wrote different song lyrics on her left arm for each performance, and said that the lyrics should be viewed as a nightly "mood ring."[115][116] Swift performed many acoustic cover versions during her North American tour. In each city, she paid tribute to a homegrown artist.[117] She said the cover versions allowed her to be "spontaneous" in an otherwise well-rehearsed show.[118] The tour was attended by over 1.6 million fans and grossed over $123 million.[112] 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.[119]

File:Taylor Swift Sydney.jpg

At the 54th Annual Grammy Awards, Swift's song "Mean" won Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance.[120] She also performed the song during the ceremony. Lefsetz, one of the most vocal critics of her 2010 Grammy performance, believes the song is addressed to him.[121][122] Lefsetz had previously been a supporter of the singer's career,[123] and Swift and Lefsetz had corresponded occasionally by email and telephone.[121] Time felt she "delivered her comeback on-key and with a vengeance"[124] while USA Today remarked that the criticism in 2010 seemed to have "made her a better songwriter and live performer."[125]

Swift won various other awards for Speak Now. She was named Songwriter/Artist of the Year by the Nashville Songwriters Association in both 2010 and 2011.[126][127] She was named Entertainer of the Year by the Academy of Country Music in both 2011 and 2012,[128] and was named Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association in 2011.[129] Swift was the American Music Awards's Artist of the Year in 2011, while Speak Now was named Favorite Country Album.[130] Billboard named Swift 2011's Woman of the Year.[131]

While Swift was completing her fourth album in the summer of 2012, Taylor invited her to appear as a special guest during his Tanglewood set—they performed "Fire and Rain", "Love Story" and "Ours" together.[132] Taylor, who first met Swift when she was 18, has said that, "we just hit it off. I loved her songs, and her presence on stage was so great."[133][134]

During this period, Swift also contributed two original songs to The Hunger Games soundtrack album. "Safe & Sound" was co-written and recorded with The Civil Wars and T-Bone Burnett.[135] John Paul White has said working with Swift was "a revelation ... It truly was a collaboration."[136] It was released as the album's lead single and, as of January 2013, has sold over 1.4 million copies in the U.S.[137] It won Best Song Written For Visual Media at the 2013 Grammy Awards and was nominated for Best Original Song at the 70th Golden Globe Awards.[138] Swift's second contribution to the album, "Eyes Open", was written solely by the singer and produced by Chapman.[139] In addition, Swift contributed vocals to "Both of Us", a Dr. Luke-produced single from B.o.B's second album Strange Clouds.[140]

2012–14: Red

Swift's fourth studio album, Red, was released on October 22, 2012.[141] She wrote nine of the album's 16 songs alone, while the remaining seven were co-written with Rose, Max Martin, Dan Wilson, Ed Sheeran, and Gary Lightbody. Chapman served as the album's lead producer but Jeff Bhasker, Butch Walker, Jacknife Lee, Dann Huff and Shellback also produced individual tracks. Chapman said he encouraged Swift "to branch out and to test herself in other situations."[142]

Musically, while there is experimentation with heartland rock, dubstep and dance-pop, it is "sprinkled among more recognisably Swiftian fare."[143][144] Jon Caramanica of The New York Times found Red "less detailed and more rushed than her usual fare"[145] but placed it at number two on his end-of-year list, characterizing it as the album on which Swift "stops pretending she's anything but a pop megastar, one with grown-up concerns, like how two bodies speak to each other and how taste in records can be a stand-in for moral turpitude."[146] The Times praised her "sublime" lyrics, particularly those on the "brooding" "All Too Well".[147] Rolling Stone enjoyed "watching Swift find her pony-footing on Great Songwriter Mountain. She often succeeds in joining the Joni/Carole King tradition of stark-relief emotional mapping ... Her self-discovery project is one of the best stories in pop."[148]

File:RedStLouis.png

As part of the Red promotional campaign, representatives from 72 worldwide radio stations were flown to Nashville during release week for individual interviews with Swift.[149] She also appeared on many television chat shows and performed at award ceremonies in the U.S., the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Australia.[150]

The album's lead single, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together", became Swift's first number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.[151] Six further singles were released: "Begin Again" (for country radio), "I Knew You Were Trouble", "22", "Everything Has Changed", "The Last Time" (all for pop and international radio) and "Red" (for country radio). Red debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 1.21 million copies—this marked the highest opening sales in a decade and made Swift the first female to have two million-selling album openings.[152] As of May 2013, Red had sold over 6 million copies worldwide.[153] As of November 2012, she had sold in excess of 26 million albums and 75 million song downloads.[154]

The North American leg of Swift's Red Tour ran from March to September 2013. She played 66 dates across North America, including 13 stadium shows. The Red Tour visited stadiums across New Zealand and Australia in December 2013, visited England and Germany in February 2014, and finished with a six-date Asian leg in June 2014.[155] Swift invited special guests such as Carly Simon, Tegan and Sara, Jennifer Lopez, Luke Bryan, Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, Ellie Goulding, Nelly, Sara Bareilles, Cher Lloyd, B.o.B, Lightbody, Train, Neon Trees, Flatts, Hunter Hayes, Emeli Sandé and Sam Smith to duet with her on various nights of the tour.[156]

Swift collaborated with a number of other artists during the Red era. She co-wrote "Sweeter Than Fiction" with Jack Antonoff for the One Chance movie soundtrack, and received a Best Original Song nomination at the 71st Golden Globe Awards.[157][158] She provided guest vocals for a McGraw song titled "Highway Don't Care", featuring guitar work by Urban—the trio performed the song live on three occasions.[159] She performed an acoustic version of "Red" with Vince Gill and Alison Krauss at the 2013 CMA Awards.[160] Swift performed "As Tears Go By" with The Rolling Stones in Chicago as part of their 50 & Counting... tour.[161] She also joined Florida Georgia Line on stage during their set at the 2013 Country Radio Seminar to sing "Cruise".[162]

File:StaplesLA.jpg

Red did not win any Grammy Awards, but was nominated in a total of four categories. "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" was a Record of the Year nominee at the 2013 Grammy Awards, while Red was an Album of the Year nominee at the 2014 Grammy Awards. Similarly, Swift's fourth album did not win any awards at the Country Music Association's annual ceremony. However, Swift was honored by the Association with a special Pinnacle Award for "unique" levels of success; Garth Brooks is the only other recipient. McGraw, Hill, Urban, Flatts, Strait and Brad Paisley presented Swift with the award, while Mick Jagger, Simon, Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon, Ethel Kennedy and Justin Timberlake recorded video messages. The New York Times considered it an attempt to persuade "country music's cash cow, its creative engine, its ambassador to the wider world" to remain within the genre[163] while The New Yorker wondered whether "it may have been the moment when Swift and the genre that helped steer her toward pop domination said goodbye."[164]

Swift won three MTV Europe Music Awards in 2012, including the honors for Best Female and Best Live Act.[165] "I Knew You Were Trouble" won Best Female Video at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.[166] She was named Best Female Country Artist at the 2012 American Music Awards and was named Artist of the Year at the 2013 ceremony.[167] The Nashville Songwriters Association's Songwriter/Artist Award went to Swift for the fifth and sixth consecutive years in 2012 and 2013.[168]

In the Red era, Swift's romantic life became the subject of intense media scrutiny. Gawker remarked that Swift had dated "every man in the universe."[169] The Westboro Baptist Church protested Swift's concerts, labelling her "the whorish face of doomed America," while Abercrombie & Fitch marketed a slogan T-shirt with a "slut-shaming" Swift reference.[170] The New York Times asserted that her "dating history has begun to stir what feels like the beginning of a backlash" and questioned whether Swift was in the midst of a "quarter-life crisis."[171] The Village Voice suggested that Swift's embrace of "traditional femininity" was the cause of the backlash: "She's young, she can be contentiously dramatic, she puts herself in the center of her stories, and obviously she's dated a lot of famous people in a relatively short amount of time. But none of that is exceptionally rare."[172]

The dating issue emerged at the 2013 Golden Globes award ceremony, where comediennes Tina Fey and Amy Poehler made a joke about Swift's serial-dating reputation, with Fey warning her to "stay away from Michael J. Fox's son."[173] Swift was later asked about the incident in a Vanity Fair profile:

I was just sort of like, Oh well, you know, I can laugh at myself. But what it ended up adding to was this whole kind of everyone jumping on the bandwagon of "Taylor dates too much"—which, you know, if you want some big revelation, since 2010 I have dated exactly two people.

Elsewhere in the article, while discussing what the journalist describes as "the Golden Globes, and mean girls in general," Swift approvingly quoted Madeline Albright's remark that "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women."[174]

2014–present: 1989

Swift's fifth studio album, 1989, was released on October 27, 2014.[175] During the composition period, Swift was inspired by the music of Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Annie Lennox, Madonna and Fine Young Cannibals.[176][177] She wrote one song alone, and co-wrote the remaining 12 with Antonoff, Martin, Shellback, Imogen Heap, Ryan Tedder and Ali Payami.[178] TIME magazine explained that, musically, the album is "driven by synths and drums in lieu of guitar."[179] Swift described 1989 as her first "official" pop release and parted ways with members of her longtime band.[180][181][182]

As part of the 1989 promotional campaign in September, Swift invited fans to secret album-listening sessions, called the "1989 Secret Sessions," at her houses in New York, Nashville, Los Angeles and Rhode Island.[183] Her "expert" use of various social media platforms was remarked upon by industry analysts.[184] She also visited many talk shows and advised contestants on The Voice.[185]

1989 sold 1.287 million copies in its first week of U.S. release, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200, making Swift the first and only act to release three albums that sold more than one million copies in a week.[186] The singles, "Shake It Off" and "Blank Space", both reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100.[175] 1989 later became the best-selling album of 2014, selling 3.66 million copies, despite only being on sale for nine weeks.[187]

The critical response to 1989 was frequently positive, with TIME's Sam Lansky describing the album as a "paradigm shift."[179] Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone remarked: "Deeply weird, feverishly emotional, wildly enthusiastic, 1989 sounds exactly like Taylor Swift, even when it sounds like nothing she's ever tried before."[188] Alexis Petridis of The Guardian praised the album's "Springsteenesque narratives of escape and the kind of doomed romantic fatalism in which 60s girl groups dealt … On 1989 the reasons she's afforded the kind of respect denied to her peers are abundantly obvious."[189]

The 1989 World Tour will run from May to December 2015, visiting the US, Canada, the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Germany, Holland, Japan and Australia. Swift's support act for the North American and Australian dates is Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy, while Shawn Mendes will appear at select shows.[190][191][192]

Songwriting style

Swift's lyrics are highly autobiographical; she has said that "If you listen to my albums, it’s like reading my diary."[193] For instance the song "Forever & Always" was inspired by her relationship with Joe Jonas,[194] while the song "Hey Stephen" was written about a guy who opened some shows for her.[193] It has been said that her lyrics "can be tinged with acid: the quiet loner girl getting one over on the cheerleaders, or a caustic payback for the boy who dumped her."[195] She's also indicated that she tries to write so her fans can relate to the lyrics, saying "My goal is to never write songs that my fans can't relate to."[196]

The intently personal nature of the songs have drawn her the most attention. Swift once said, "I thought people might find them hard to relate to, but it turned out that the more personal my songs were, the more closely people could relate to them."[197]

The fact that her songs are so clearly autobiographical has led to her fans researching them. Swift once said, "Every single one of the guys that I’ve written songs about has been tracked down on MySpace by my fans."[198]

Acting career

In 2008, Swift made her acting debut in Brad Paisley's music video "Online". In that same year Swift filmed a documentary for MTV entitled MTV's Once Upon a Prom and a documentary with Def Leppard for CMT entitled CMT Crossroads, which was premiered on November 7, 2008, drew more than 4.5 million viewers for its four initial airings.[199] Swift collaborated with the Jonas Brothers in their 3D Concert Film, Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience. The film was released on February 27, 2009 in North America. The concert film brought in $12,700,000 on its opening weekend.[200] Swift made her primetime television acting debut on CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Turn, Turn, Turn on March 5, 2009 in the U.S. and Canada. The episode was watched by 20.8 million viewers.[201] Swift made a cameo appearance in Kellie Pickler's music video "Best Days of Your Life". Swift also appeared in Hannah Montana: The Movie as "woman singing in the barn". The film was released on April 10, 2009 in North America.[202] The television show Dateline NBC showcased an hour to Swift on May 31, 2009. The episode titled Dateline NBC: On Tour With Taylor Swift included scenes from her tour bus, concert footage, and rehearsals. She was also interviewed for the show and some of her exclusive video diaries were shown.[203] Taylor both hosted and performed as the musical guest for the November 7, 2009 episode of Saturday Night Live.[204]

Swift made her feature film acting debut in the 2010 ensemble comedy Valentine's Day, playing the ditzy Valley girlfriend of a high school jock.[205] The Los Angeles Times felt the performance suggested "serious comedic potential"[206] while the San Francisco Chronicle found her "very funny."[207] Time remarked that Swift portrayed her character "rather charmingly";[208] The Boston Globe described her as "adorably dorky."[209] Salon asserted that she was "one of the few actors not wasted in "Valentine's Day". Her overgrown-pixie look and odd, widely set eyes lend her a little bit of Marilyn and a little bit of Lucille Ball: She's Taylor-made for comic greatness."[210] However, Variety found her "entirely undirected ... she needs to find a skilled director to tamp her down and channel her obviously abundant energy."[211] The Daily News described her performance as "painfully clunky" while Slant Magazine found her "unwatchable."[212][213] In 2012, Swift voiced the character of Audrey, a tree lover, in the animated film The Lorax. In 2013, Swift made a brief cameo on the sitcom New Girl. In 2014, she will co-star in the film adaptation of The Giver alongside Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep.[214]

Philanthropy

On September 21, 2007, Swift launched a campaign to protect children from online predators.[215] She has teamed up with Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen to combat internet sex crimes.[215] The year-long campaign, launched in partnership with the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police, will distribute Internet safety information and materials to parents and students across the state.[215] In early 2008, Swift donated the pink Chevy pick-up truck given to her by her record label to children’s charity, the Victory Junction Gang; in June, 2008, Swift donated all the proceeds she got from her merchandise sales at the 2008 Country Music Festival to Red Cross, the Nashville Area Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund and the National American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.[216] Swift donated $10,000, funded by CMT ONE COUNTRY, to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital by winning the "Video of the Year" and "Female Video of the Year" awards at the 2008 CMT Music Awards.[217] In 2009, Swift won "Video of the Year and "Female Video of the Year" awards at the 2009 CMT Music Awards. She donated $5,000, funded by CMT, to American Red Cross.[218]

Swift donated $100,000 to the Red Cross in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to help the victims of the Iowa flood of 2008.[219] Swift has teamed up with Sound Matters to make listeners aware of listening "responsibly".[220] 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. Swift's song, "Fifteen", is featured in this campaign.[221] Swift has lent her support to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal by joining the lineup at Sydney's Sound Relief concert,[222] reportedly making the biggest contribution of any artist playing at Sound Relief to the Australian Red Cross.[223] Swift donated her prom dress, which raised $1,200 for charity, to DonateMyDress.org.[224] On November 20, 2009 after a live performance on BBC's Children in Need night Swift announced to Sir Terry Wogan she would donate £13,000 of her own money to the cause.[225]

On December 13th, Swift's own birthday, she donated $250,000 to various schools around the country which she either has attended or been involved with.[226]

Public image and other work

In the early years of her career, Swift's signature look consisted of sundresses, cowboy boots and large hoop earrings.[227][228] This fashion style is still copied by many of the young fans who attend her concerts.[227][229] At formal events, Swift became known for "sparkly, beaded dresses."[227] 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."[229] She was asked by Vogue to cut bangs for a cover shoot in late 2011, and now straightens her hair.[230]

Swift favors retro style, and it has been said that she has the look of "a nineteen-thirties movie siren ... red lipstick, thick mascara."[231][232]

Swift has been featured on the cover of a number of magazines. In 2008, the list includes Blender, Seventeen,[233] Billboard,[234] Girls' Life,[235][236] Women's Health and CosmoGirl.[237] In 2009, Swift graced the cover of Teen Vogue,[238] Self Magazine,[239] Rolling Stone,[240] Allure,[241] Glamour,[242] and Bliss.[243] She has been a cover girl for Blender, for which she was one of two country artists during the magazine’s fifteen year run to be a cover subject.[244] Additionally, she was named number fifty-seven on Maxim's sexiest women of 2008.[245] CosmoGirl voted Swift as the "2008 Girl of the Year".[246] Swift was named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of "The RS 100: Agents of Change".[247] She was nominated as a candidate for TIME's "2009 The Time 100 Finalists" list, which is determined by online voting.[248]

Jakks Pacific released a celebrity doll of Swift in late 2008.[249] Taylor Swift is the face of L.E.I. Jeans (Life Energy Intelligence) since 2008.[250] Swift and the L.e.i. Clothing Line made a deal to create a line based on Swift's style of dressing. It will appear in Wal-Mart in the coming months.[251] However, Swift said she does not want to be called a designer. Instead, she says she will inspire the clothing company's dress line based on her own style. "I don't look at it like I'm branching out as a designer... It's not the Taylor Swift designer line."[252] In 2009, Swift became the National Hockey League's newest celebrity spokesperson. She appears in commercials for the Nashville Predators.[253]

Taylor Swift sawing outfit

Taylor posing in her "Slice-Her" costume.

In early 2012, Swift assisted magician Franz Harary with the premiere performance of a new version of the sawing a woman in half illusion called "Slice-Her". This illusion required Swift to dress in a tight-fitting catsuit incorporating an integral corset designed to cinch her waist down to just 18 inches. In the illusion, Harary fastened Swift into an open frame into which she was restrained by a narrow wooden stock around her waist, wrist and ankle cuffs, and a chain attached to the neck of the catsuit costume. Without covering Swift's body to hide it from view, he then moved the two ends of the frame apart, stretching Swift to a height of almost eight feet. Having returned her to her original height, and still without covering her body, he then thrust two metal blades through the stock around her waist, cutting her in half. A chain hoist was then used to lift Swift's upper half onto a stand next to the main frame, and the audience were then invited onto the stage to inspect the illusion and confirm that Swift really had been divided in two. The hoist was then used to reunite Swift's halves, the restraints removed, and Swift released from the illusion.

While promoting her fourth album Red, Swift offered exclusive album promotions through Target,[254] Papa John's Pizza[149] and Walgreens.[255] She became a spokesmodel for Diet Coke and Keds sneakers,[256] released her third Elizabeth Arden fragrance titled Taylor by Taylor Swift, and continued her partnerships with Sony Electronics and American Greetings. Swift also partnered with a number of companies during the Red Tour; AirAsia and Qantas acted as the official airlines for the Australian and Asian legs respectively, while Cornetto sponsored the Asian leg of the tour.

In June 2016, Swift made a special appearance at Magic Con 2016 in Las Vegas, acting as the guest assistant of keynote performer John Spencer, who performs as Spencer the Superb. During the performance, Swift was levitated, stretched, impaled by the Drill of Death, sawed in half by a buzz saw in the Impossible Sawing, and finally decapitated in the Block Beheading.

Personal life

In 2008, Swift was in a high-profile relationship with pop singer Joe Jonas. On November 11, 2008, in an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Swift claimed that Jonas broke up with her in a 27-second phone call.[257] In explanation, Jonas wrote on his MySpace blog (in a post that has since been removed): "I called to discuss feelings with the other person, and obviously these feelings were not well received. I did not end the phone call. Someone else ended it for me. Phone calls only last as long as the person on the other end is willing to talk." Furthermore, Jonas says that he has tried to call her since the breakup, in an attempt at reconciliation, but received no response.[258][259] During the same interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Swift revealed that the heartbreak song "Forever & Always" on her album Fearless, recorded in late September/early October 2008, was inspired by Jonas.[260] She then dated Taylor Lautner from October to December 2009.[261][262] She was romantically linked to John Mayer from late 2009 until early 2010.[263][264][265][266]

She dated Jake Gyllenhaal from October to December 2010.[267][268] Following their break-up, they were seen together in January and February 2011.[269][270] Swift dated political heir Conor Kennedy from July to September 2012.[271][272] She dated One Direction singer Harry Styles from October 2012 to January 2013.[273][274]

Swift's best friend has been Abigail Anderson, whom she has known since ninth grade. During a discussion of Shakespeare in an English class they learned what they had in common. "We were the ones in the back of the class saying negative things about Romeo and Juliet because we were so bitter toward that emotion at the time," said Anderson. "We just really connected ... and ever since then we have been inseparable."[275] Anderson also appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to surprise Swift. Anderson was mentioned in Swift's single Fifteen.

Swift is also close friends with Kellie Pickler, with whom she co-wrote Pickler's second single "Best Days of Your Life" from her self-titled album Kellie Pickler.[276] In July 2008, Swift graduated from the Aaron Academy, a Christian school in Hendersonville, Tennessee, which offers a home-schooling program.[277] Prior to this, she attended Hendersonville High School.[278]

Trivia

  • She had her ears pierced when she was 13.
  • Despite having said that she was saving her virginity for her wedding night, it was later alleged that she lost it at the age of 20 to her then-boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal.[279]

Quotes

  • I'm not that complicated. My complications come out in my songs. All you need to do to be my friend is like me.
  • What I've learned is not to change who you are, because eventually you're going to run out of new things to become.
  • (On her win at the 2007 CMT Music Awards) I cannot believe this is happening right now. This is for my MySpace people and everybody who voted. The fans, y'all, I'm going out on tour with Brad Paisley and this is coming with me to every single [autograph] signing line so you can get a picture of the award you won for me. Thank you so much.
  • I love it when people say things to me in public and want to meet me, because I want to meet them! Early on, my manager told me, "If you want to sell 500,000 records, then go out there and meet 500,000 people."
  • I'm so excited, but really nervous, too! I've never been nominated for anything before. I've sat in the nosebleed section watching the CMT Awards for two years in a row now, looking down and hoping that maybe if I worked hard enough, I'd get to sit in the awesome seats the nominees get to sit in. And it looks like that's going down this year!
  • Fans are my favorite thing in the world. I've never been the type of artist who has that line drawn between their friends and their fans. The line's always been really blurred for me. I'll hang out with them after the show. I'll hang out with them before the show. If I see them in the mall, I'll stand there and talk to them for 10 minutes. I don't care. I'm just a senior in high school who has a better job. Who am I to think I'm better than talking to people?
  • Clubs are just not where I want to be photographed. For everything I do, I think about a 6-year-old girl and her mom that I saw at my concert last night. I think about what those two individuals would think if I were at a club last night. I never want to be arrested, and I never want to get a DUI, those are my moral values. I am an over-achiever, and I want to be known for the good things in my life.
  • (On working with David Copperfield at the 2009 CMA awards) Working with David was a lot of fun, especially being sawed in half. A couple of my friends were there watching us rehearse the sawing. After David had cut me in two and pushed my halves apart, he invited them up on stage to take a closer look at me and they were totally blown away, because they could see right inside the boxes and see that I wasn't curled up inside the top one. One of them looked at me laying there in two pieces in front of them and said "Whoa, Taylor - He really has sawn you in half, hasn't he??!!"
  • I’m intimidated by the fear of being average.
  • You only get so many firsts, Every one is a blessing.
  • (referring to her music career) Everything about this business is exciting to me.
  • There's a special place in Hell for women who don't help other women.
  • No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.
  • Almost every time I put something out, there's the word 'too' put in front of it - too pop, too country, too rock. So I've kinda stopped worrying about it. I'd rather be too something than not enough something.
  • (On assisting magician Franz Harary with the premiere of his new "Slice-Her" illusion) As I'd already been sawed in half before, I wasn't too concerned about that part of it because I knew it didn't hurt. What did worry me a little was squeezing myself into the special costume with the corset that took my waist down to 18 inches, and that did hurt a bit. Compared to that, actually being in the illusion was easy. I didn't feel anything at all as I was being stretched and, while I did feel the blades go through my waist to cut me in half, it wasn't actually painful. Seeing people's reactions when my halves were separated was great, and I really enjoyed chatting to everyone when they came up on stage to have a closer look at me. It's a really cool illusion, and I enjoyed taking part in it - In fact, I hope I can do it again sometime, because it was a lot of fun to do.
  • I see myself as kind of this girl who writes songs in her bedroom. You can dress it up all you want and you can put together an amazing theatrical production; you can become a better performer as time goes by, and you can try to excite people. But I'm always going to be a girl who writes songs in her bedroom in my own personal perception of myself.

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