Taylor Swift (age: 28), a singer and actress known for singles We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, I Knew You Were Trouble, Shake It Off, Blank Space, Bad Blood.
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Taylor Swift Bio
Taylor Swift (born December 13, 1989) is an American Singer-songwriter and Actress. Raised in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 14 to pursue a career in Country Music. She signed with 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 self-titled debut album in 2006 marked the start of her career as a Country Music Singer. Her third single, “Our Song,” made her the youngest person to single-handedly write and perform a number-one song on the Hot Country Songs chart.
Swift’s second album, Fearless, was released in 2008. Buoyed by the pop crossover success of the singles “Love Story” and “You Belong with Me,” Fearless became the best-selling album of 2009 in the United States. The album won four Grammy Awards, making Swift the youngest ever Album of the Year winner. Swift’s third and fourth albums, 2010’s Speak Now and 2012’s Red, both sold more than one million copies within the first week of their U.S release. Speak Now’s “Mean” won two Grammy Awards, while Red’s singles “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “I Knew You Were Trouble” were successful worldwide. Swift’s fifth album, the pop-focused 1989, was released in 2014 and sold more copies in its opening week than any album in the previous 12 years, making Swift the first and only act to have three albums sell more than one million copies in the opening release week. Its singles “Shake It Off”, “Blank Space”, and “Bad Blood” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
Swift is known for narrative songs about her personal experiences. As a songwriter, she has been honored by the Nashville Songwriters Association and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Swift’s other achievements include seven Grammy Awards, one Emmy Award, 22 Billboard Music Awards, 11 Country Music Association Awards, eight Academy of Country Music Awards, and one Brit Award. She is one of the best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 40 million albums—including 27.1 million in the U.S.—and 130 million single downloads. Swift has also had supporting roles in feature films including Valentine’s Day (2010) and The Giver (2014). In 2015, Swift became the youngest woman ever to be included on Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women” list, ranking at number 64.
2004–08: Career beginnings and Taylor Swift
Swift moved to Nashville, Tennessee when she was 14 years old, having signed an artist development deal with RCA Records. Swift proceeded to work with experienced Music Row songwriters such as Troy Verges, Brett Beavers, Brett James, Mac McAnally and The Warren Brothers. She eventually formed a lasting working relationship with Liz Rose. Swift saw Rose performing at an RCA songwriter event and suggested that they write together. They began meeting for two-hour writing sessions every Tuesday afternoon after school. Rose 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.” Swift also began recording demos with producer Nathan Chapman.
After performing at a BMI Songwriter’s Circle showcase at The Bitter End, New York, in 2004, Swift became the youngest songwriter ever hired by the Sony/ATV Tree publishing House. Swift left RCA Records when she was 15—the company wanted her to record the work of other songwriters and wait until she was 18 to release an album, but she felt ready to launch her career with her own material. Swift later recalled: “I genuinely felt that I was running out of time. I wanted to capture these years of my life on an album while they still represented what I was going through.” She also parted ways with manager Dan Dymtrow, who later took legal action against Swift and her parents. In 2010, a judge nullified six of Dymtrow’s legal claims. The remaining unjust enrichment claim was settled out of court.
At an industry showcase at Nashville‘s Bluebird Cafe in 2005, Swift caught the attention of Scott Borchetta, a DreamWorks Records executive who was preparing to form his own independent record label, Big Machine Records. She became one of the label’s first signings, with her father purchasing a three per cent stake in the fledgling company at an estimated cost of $120,000. As an introduction to the Country Music business, Borchetta arranged for Swift to intern as an artist escort at the CMA Music Festival.
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. It was his first time recording a studio album but Swift felt they had the right “chemistry.” Swift wrote three of the album’s songs alone, including two singles, and co-wrote the remaining eight with writers Rose, Robert Ellis Orrall, Brian Maher and Angelo Petraglia. Musically, the album has been described as “a mix of trad-country instruments and spry rock guitars.”
Taylor Swift was released on October 24, 2006. Jon Caramanica of 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.” Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker described the 16-year-old Swift as a “prodigy.” He noted that “Our Song” “stop[ped] me in my tracks” and praised the lyrics: “He’s got a one-hand feel on the steering wheel, the other on my heart.” Rolling Stone’s reviewer 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.”
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.” 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.” Swift baked cookies and painted canvases to gift to radio station programmers who played her Music. She made many television appearances, including on the Grand Ole Opry, Good Morning America, and TRL. Swift, a self-described “kid of the internet,” used Myspace to build a fanbase. This was, at the time, “revolutionary in country Music.” Borchetta has said that his decision to sign a 16-year-old Singer-songwriter initially raised eyebrows among his record industry peers but Swift tapped into a previously unknown market: teenage girls who listen to Country Music.
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 person to single-handedly write and sing a number-one country song. “Teardrops on My Guitar” became a minor pop hit; it reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album sold 39,000 copies during its first week of release and, as of March 2011, had sold over 5.5 million copies worldwide. 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.
Swift toured extensively in support of Taylor Swift. In addition to her own material, Swift played covers of songs by Beyoncé, Rihanna, John Waite, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Eminem. She conducted meet-and-greet sessions with fans before and after her concerts—these lasted for up to four hours. As well as 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. 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.” In 2007, she served as the opening act on twenty dates for George Strait’s tour, several dates on Kenny Chesney’s Flip-Flop Summer Tour, selected dates on Brad Paisley’s Bonfires & Amplifiers Tour and several dates for Tim McGraw and Hill’s joint Soul2Soul II Tour. Swift again opened for Rascal Flatts on their Still Feels Good Tour in 2008.
Swift and Alan Jackson were jointly named the Nashville Songwriters Association’s Songwriter/Artist of the Year in 2007, with Swift becoming the youngest person ever to be honored with the title. She also won the Country Music Association’s Horizon Award for Best New Artist, the Academy of Music Country Music Awards’s Top New Female Vocalist award and the American Music Awards’s Favorite Country Female Artist honor. She was also nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award in the category of Best New Artist, but Lost to Amy Winehouse.
Swift’s second studio album, Fearless, was released on November 11, 2008. Swift wrote seven of the album’s songs alone, including two singles, and co-wrote the remaining six with songwriters Rose, John Rich, Colbie Caillat and Hillary Lindsey. She co-produced the album with Nathan Chapman. 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.”
Caramanica of 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.” Josh Love of The Village Voice felt she displayed “preternatural wisdom and inclusiveness,” “masterfully avoiding the typical diarist’s pitfalls of trite banality and pseudo-profound bullshit.” Jody Rosen of 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.” Music critic Robert Christgau characterized Swift as “an uncommonly-to-impossibly strong and gifted teenage girl.”
Swift, who now owned her own management company led by Robert Allen, promoted Fearless heavily upon its release. An episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show was dedicated to the album launch and Swift appeared on many other chat shows. She communicated with fans using social media platforms such as Twitter and personal video blogs and co-hosted the pre-show for the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards.
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. 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. 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. It was the top-selling album of 2009 and brought Swift much crossover success.
Swift went on her first headlining tour in support of Fearless. As part of the 105-date Fearless Tour, Swift played shows in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. Swift invited Hill, John Mayer, and Katy Perry to perform one-off duets with her at various dates during the North American tour, while support acts included Justin Bieber. The tour was attended by more than 1.1 million fans and grossed over $63 million. Taylor Swift: Journey to Fearless, a concert film, was aired on television and later released on DVD and Blu-ray. Swift also performed as a supporting act for Keith Urban’s Escape Together World Tour.
In addition to tour dates, the Singer paid tribute to a number of fellow artists in televised performances. She performed a cover of Alan Jackson’s “Drive” at the CMT Giants: Alan Jackson event, took part in a joint, televised concert with rock band Def Leppard in Nashville, and performed a cover of Strait’s “Run” at a televised ACM event honoring Strait as the Artist of the Decade. Swift sang her song “Fifteen” with Miley Cyrus at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards and performed a self-penned rap skit with T-Pain at the CMT Awards.
Swift also recorded a number of side-projects. She released a cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl” through Rhapsody in 2009, and made her stage entrance to Petty’s recording of the song until 2013. She contributed backing vocals to Mayer’s “Half of My Heart”, a single featured on his fourth album. She co-wrote and recorded “Best Days of Your Life” with Kellie Pickler and 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. Swift also provided vocals for Boys Like Girls’s “Two Is Better Than One”, written by Martin Johnson. She contributed two songs—including “Today Was a Fairytale”—to the Valentine’s Day soundtrack, and recorded a cover of Better Than Ezra’s “Breathless” for the Hope for Haiti Now album.
Swift became the first Country Music artist to win an MTV Video Music Award when “You Belong with Me” was named Best Female Video in 2009. Her acceptance speech was interrupted by rapper Kanye West, who had been involved in a number of other award show incidents. In the event’s press room, Swift, a fan of West’s Music, said that she did not have “any hard feelings” toward him. The incident received much media attention and inspired many Internet memes. A few days later, Swift told an interviewer that West offered her a personal apology, which she accepted: “He was very sincere.” 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.” It has been said that the incident and subsequent media attention turned Swift into “a bona-fide mainstream celebrity.”
Swift won four Grammy Awards in 2010, from a total of eight nominations. 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. She was the youngest ever artist to win Album of the Year.
During the 2010 Grammy Awards ceremony, Swift sang “You Belong with Me” and “Rhiannon” with Stevie Nicks. Her vocal performance received negative reviews and sparked a widespread media backlash. Her vocals were described variously as “badly off-key,” “strikingly bad” and “incredibly wretched.” While Caramanica of 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,” Music analyst Bob Lefsetz predicted that her career would end “overnight.” He publicly appealed to Swift’s father to hire a “crisis publicity agent” to manage the story because “Taylor’s too young and dumb to understand the mistake she made.” 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.
Fearless won many other accolades and has become the most-awarded album in Country Music history. Swift became the youngest ever artist and one of only six women to be named Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association. Fearless also won the Association’s Album of the Year award. Swift was the youngest ever artist to win the Academy of Country Music‘s Album of the Year honor. The American Music Awards honored Swift with Artist of the Year and Favorite Country Album plaudits. She was awarded the Hal David Starlight Award by the Songwriters Hall of Fame and was named Songwriter/Artist of the Year by the Nashville Songwriters Association. Billboard named her 2009’s Artist of the Year. Swift was included in Time ’s annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in 2010.
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. Musically, it has been said that the album “expands beyond country-pop to border both alternative rock and dirty bubblegum pop.”
Caramanica of The New York Times described the album as savage, musically diverse and “excellent too, possibly her best.” Theon Weber of 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.” 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.” R&B Sheffield of 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.”
Swift carried out an extensive promotional campaign prior to Speak Now’s release. 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. 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.
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”. 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. As of February 2012, Speak Now had sold over 5.7 million copies worldwide.
Swift toured throughout 2011 and early 2012 in support of Speak Now. As part of the 111-date world tour, Swift played shows in North America, Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. 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, Selena Gomez, Tal Bachman, 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. 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.” Swift also performed numerous acoustic cover versions during her North American tour. In each city, she paid tribute to a homegrown artist. She said the cover versions allowed her to be “spontaneous” in an otherwise well-rehearsed show. The tour was attended by over 1.6 million fans and grossed over $123 million. Swift’s first live album, Speak Now World Tour: Live, featuring all 17 performances from the North American leg of the tour, was released in November 2011.
At the 54th Annual Grammy Awards, Swift’s song “Mean” won Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance. 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. Lefsetz had previously been a supporter of the Singer‘s career, and Swift and Lefsetz had corresponded occasionally by email and telephone. Claire Suddath of Time felt she “delivered her comeback on-key and with a vengeance” while Jayme Deerwester of USA Today remarked that the criticism in 2010 seemed to have “made her a better songwriter and live performer.”
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. She was named Entertainer of the Year by the Academy of Country Music in both 2011 and 2012, and was named Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association in 2011. Swift was the American Music Awards’s Artist of the Year in 2011, while Speak Now was named Favorite Country Album. Billboard named Swift 2011’s Woman of the Year.
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. 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.”
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. John Paul White has said working with Swift was “a revelation … It truly was a collaboration.” 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. 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. Swift’s second contribution to the album, “Eyes Open”, was written solely by the Singer and produced by Chapman. In addition, Swift contributed vocals to “Both of Us”, a Dr. Luke-produced single from B.o.B’s second album Strange Clouds.
Swift’s fourth studio album, Red, was released on October 22, 2012. 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.” Musically, while there is experimentation with heartland rock, dubstep and dance-pop, it is “sprinkled among more recognisably Swiftian fare.”
Caramanica of The New York Times found Red “less detailed and more rushed than her usual fare” 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.” Lisa Verrico of The Times praised her “sublime” lyrics, particularly those on the “brooding” “All Too Well”. Jon Dolan of 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.”
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. She also appeared on many television chat shows and performed at award ceremonies in the U.S., the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Australia.
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. 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). “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “I Knew You Were Trouble” were both international hits. 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. As of May 2013, Red had sold over 6 million copies worldwide.
As part of The Red Tour, Swift played 86 dates in North America, New Zealand, Australia, Europe and Asia. Sheeran was the support act for the North American dates and sang “Everything Has Changed” with Swift nightly. She 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. The tour was attended by over 1.7 million fans and grossed over $150 million.
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. 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. She performed an acoustic version of “Red” with Vince Gill and Alison Krauss at the 2013 CMA Awards. Swift performed “As Tears Go By” with The Rolling Stones in Chicago as part of their 50 & Counting… tour. She also joined Florida Georgia Line on stage during their set at the 2013 Country Radio Seminar to sing “Cruise”.
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 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.”
Swift won three MTV Europe Music Awards in 2012, including the honors for Best Female and Best Live Act. “I Knew You Were Trouble” won Best Female Video at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. She was named Best Female Country Artist at the 2012 American Music Awards and was named Artist of the Year at the 2013 ceremony. The Nashville Songwriters Association’s Songwriter/Artist Award went to Swift for the fifth and sixth consecutive years in 2012 and 2013.
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.” 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. 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.” At the 2013 Golden Globes award ceremony, comediennes Tina Fey and Amy Poehler made a joke about Swift’s serial-dating reputation, with Fey warning her to “stay away” from young men in the audience: “She needs some ‘me’ time to learn about herself.” Swift was later asked about the incident in a Vanity Fair profile: “I can laugh at myself [but it added to] everyone jumping on the bandwagon of ‘Taylor dates too much.'” 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.”
Swift’s fifth studio album, 1989, was released on October 27, 2014. Swift wrote one song alone, and co-wrote the remaining 12 with Antonoff, Martin, Shellback, Imogen Heap, Ryan Tedder and Ali Payami. Martin and Swift served as executive co-producers while Chapman, Antonoff, Heap, Tedder, Payami and Greg Kurstin produced individual tracks. Musically, it has been described as an album “driven by synths and drums in lieu of guitar.” Swift herself described 1989 as her first “official” pop release and parted ways with some members of her longtime band.
The critical response to 1989 was frequently positive. Sheffield of Rolling Stone noted: “Deeply weird, feverishly emotional, wildly enthusiastic, 1989 sounds exactly like Taylor Swift, even when it sounds like nothing she’s ever tried before.” Molly Lambert of Grantland remarked that the “late-’80s album 1989 really resembles is Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love,” citing both artists’ change of musical direction, shift in public image and split with longtime band members. 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.”
As part of the 1989 promotional campaign, 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. Her “expert” use of various social media platforms was remarked upon by industry analysts. She also appeared on many chat shows, performed at award shows in the U.S. and England, and appeared as a contestant advisor for The Voice.
The album’s lead single, “Shake It Off,” was released in August 2014 and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Three further singles have been released; “Blank Space” and the remixed / single version of “Bad Blood” were released as the second and fourth singles, respectively, with both of them reaching number one in the United States. The third single, “Style”, was a top ten hit in the United States as well, reaching number 6. 1989 sold 1,287,000 copies in the U.S. during the first week of release, selling more copies in its opening week than any album in the previous 12 years. This has made Swift the first and only act to have three albums sell more than one million copies in the opening release week. It later became the best-selling album of 2014, selling 3.66 million copies. As of February 2015, 1989 had sold over 8.6 million copies worldwide. Prior to 1989’s release, Swift wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, emphasizing the ongoing importance of albums, and, in November 2014, she removed her entire catalog from Spotify, arguing that the streaming company’s ad-supported free service undermines the premium service, which provides higher royalties for songwriters. However, her back catalog remains available on non-Spotify streaming services. On June 21, 2015, Swift criticized Apple Music, the Music streaming service by Apple Inc., for not offering royalties to artists during the streaming service’s free three-month trial period. In an open letter, she called the arrangement “unfair”, saying, “Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. […]Please don’t ask us (recording artists) to provide you with our Music for no compensation”, and stated that she would pull the album 1989 from the catalog. A day later, Eddy Cue announced on Twitter that Apple was changing its policy, and will pay artists even during the free trial period. Also via Twitter, Swift wrote “After the events of this week, I’ve decided to put 1989 on Apple Music… And happily so”. She concluded saying that wasn’t an exclusive deal with Apple and it was “the first time it’s felt right in my gut to stream my album”.
As part of The 1989 World Tour, running from May to December 2015, Swift is scheduled to perform in Japan, the U.S., Canada, the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia. HAIM, Vance Joy, Shawn Mendes and James Bay are planned to appear as the support acts for various legs of the tour.
Swift collaborated with other artists during the 1989 era. She performed “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Shake It Off” with Paul McCartney at the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special after-party, and joined Kenny Chesney to sing “Big Star” on the opening night of his Big Revival Tour in Nashville. She also accompanied Madonna on guitar for an acoustic performance of “Ghosttown” at the iHeartRadio Music Awards.
Swift was named Billboard’s Woman Of Year in 2014; she is the only artist to be awarded this title twice. Also that year, she received the Dick Clark Award for Excellence at the American Music Awards. At the 2015 Grammy Awards, “Shake It Off” was nominated for three awards including Record of the Year and Song of the Year while, at the 2015 Brit Awards, Swift won the International Female Solo Artist category. Swift was named by Time magazine as one of the 2015 Time 100, in the “Icons” category. Swift was one of eight artists to receive a 50th Anniversary Milestone Award at the 2015 Academy of Country Music Awards.
On August 5, 2015, Swift announced “Wildest Dreams” will be released as the fifth single from 1989.
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