Taylor Swift. That name seems to ring a bell everywhere. We all know the name from her well-known music videos 'You Belong With Me’ and ‘Love Story’ to her most recent top number one album, ‘Midnights’. Not only that, but her genre is constantly changing, fitting multiple audiences, having begun initially as a country singer.
Throughout the years that Taylor Swift has been an active songwriter, she has released a whopping 12 albums, out of which 2 are re-recorded versions of her older albums, and it looks like we're going to get more! Not only was it her songs that led to her success in the music industry, but her phenomenal songwriting, in which each song has a story that people can relate to, and how she has faced her challenges in this rising industry - one which everyone is so immersed in.
Everyone recognises the name Taylor Swift everywhere as she has become a worldwide sensation. But how has she done that?
Are you a new Taylor Swift fan or "swiftie"? No problem! Click here for a complete guide to Taylor's discography.
Below is the 12-year difference between Taylor Swift's first Grammy Awards in 2010 and her most recent one in 2022.
Grammy Awards 2010
Grammy Awards 2022
She did it all by herself
Some haters may argue that Kanye West, a well-known American rapper, gave Taylor her fame. But they also forget that she earned her success from her debut album ‘Taylor Swift’ all by herself at only 16. After all, she started her stellar music career at a young age.
As a 17-year-old, I can confirm that having the courage and talent at such a young age is impressive - something I could only dream about! The debut album was an immediate success, spending eight months on the Billboard country singles chart, where she was finally awarded the prize for the best music video of the year with ‘You Belong With Me’ from her album ‘Fearless’. This was released after her debut album.
But now you may be wondering - what about the Kanye drama? The drama with Kanye started because of an award that she won. He interrupted her, saying that Beyoncé had “one of the best videos of all time”, humiliating her in front of thousands of people, both in person and on live television.
I think this was childish of Kanye, as he was 32 while Taylor was only 19. Moreover, new talent should always be welcomed and praised. To the haters of Taylor: if Kanye had helped with her career's success, how would she have won that award before he was in the picture?
A new era with every new album
Taylor has a clever way of hiding Easter eggs in her songs and is mainly known for that. I will talk later about the marketing of ‘Midnights’ and how her easter eggs allowed her to hit number one on Billboard.
Because of the backlash that she received during the drama between her and Kanye and her private life being put under a magnifying glass by the media, she did not have any public appearances for months and finally released the album ‘Reputation’. This album was a powerful comeback, with songs such as 'Look What You Made Me Do' and 'Don't Blame Me' gaining popularity - even now! Let’s not lie; we all loved Taylor in her revenge era. She does have an iconic way of expressing her different eras of life throughout her albums.
Reputation tour 2018
What I also find clever about her is how she wears the same dress she wore for her ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ music video for the VMAs in 2022. The dress from the 2022 VMAs is also strikingly similar to that from the 2009 VMAs, 13 years later. Could there be a meaning behind all of this?
Small details like these signify her return, proving to us that she is “the man”. You can also find so many more clues in her songs, posts, and music videos - Taylor is the queen of clues. Leave it to her fans to unpack these!
Taylor has a way of shaping each album into different eras of her life. Examples of these are: ‘Fearless’, which is about being a teenager; ‘Red’, which is about an agonising break-up; '1989’, which is about moving to a new city; and ‘Lover’, which is about discovering not only romantic love but love for herself. Most of her albums consist of her personal experiences, which is how Taylor has made a name for herself with her cleverly crafted albums and songwriting.
Not only are Taylor's albums based on her own life, but two of her albums, ‘folklore’ and ‘evermore’, are fictional stories about the love triangle between Betty, Augustine, and James. She has an uncanny way of story writing - which we all live to love!
What makes these albums even more iconic are the looks that go with them. Her style seems to change for each of her albums. Everyone remembers her bangs and red sunglasses look with the red lipstick - her ‘Red’ era. Creating a famous appearance makes her recognisable in the world.
The iconic 'Red' look
If the music industry changes genres, so does her music
Although Taylor doesn’t write as much country music as she used to in the past, such as in her debut album ‘Taylor Swift’, where her interest in music began within the country genre, she doesn’t lose her country roots in albums such as ‘Fearless’. Popular songs from this album include 'Love Story', 'Fifteen', 'White Horse', 'Forever & Always', and many more.
After releasing her first two or three albums, she realised that adding pop to her music would engage a broader audience of mainstream pop fans - a large young fan base. By varying her genre of music, she has become a living sensation. Her music is clearly for all and has grown in trend, following the music industry.
Since Taylor released her album ‘1989’, she has slowly strayed away from pop and moved to the genres of indie, folk music, and alternative pop, as these genres have grown popular over the past two years.
This proves that she IS the music industry; her music and the music industry are growing together. We see all these genres added to her latest album ‘Midnights’. As we have grown up with Taylor over the years, she comprehensively summarises her incredible journey through her different eras.
Taylor Swift performed 'Anti-Hero' for the first time at 'The 1975' concert opening
Two albums were released in only ONE year
During the lockdown in 2020, Taylor managed to release TWO albums. This shows just how talented she is, being able to release so many songs in just a year during the devastating time of Covid-19. During this time, many people were working from home and struggling financially.
However, Taylor was busy writing these two albums at home, 'folklore' and 'evermore'. Because of this, she was able to spark many new fans as they grew an interest in her new change in style, switching to a more indie folk approach to her music. Not only did she release two albums in a year, but she dropped them with no warning whatsoever, taking people by surprise, and fans couldn't contain their excitement!
'folklore' album cover
'evermore' album cover
The rebirth of her older albums
In 2018, a considerable controversy occurred - her old record label Big Machine sold her master tapes, taking away her rights to her songs so that she no longer owned them.
Of course, Taylor always has a way of solving problems like that. Thankfully, she still owns the original mixtape. That was when she began rerecording all her songs and renaming them with "(Taylor’s Version)" added to their song titles so that no one could ever take them away from her again. As a result, this brought her old songs back onto the billboards as they began trending everywhere all over again.
Because she was rereleasing all her older albums, she also used the opportunity to add the unreleased songs from those albums, sparking the popularity of her extended 10-minute song ‘All Too Well’ from ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’, which was also made into a short film, catching the eyes of new fans along the way. The film had fans going wild as they analysed each aspect that Taylor led down for them to find.
She grew her Swiftie fanbase by collaborating with well-known actors Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien. Who doesn’t love Sadie Sink AND Dylan O’Brien? In a film directed by Taylor Swift?
Yes, please! In fact, she created such a special bond with them that it was later revealed that Dylan actually played the drums for Snow On The Beach ft. Lana Del Rey on Midnights, her tenth album.
The 2021 'All Too Well 10 Minute Version' film premiere
'Midnights' reaching top number one worldwide
In October 2022, Taylor released the album ‘Midnights’, which instantly became popular as fans, known as swifties, shared her songs worldwide on social media platforms such as Tik Tok and Instagram.
Taylor describes her ‘Midnights’ album as “the story of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout (her) life”. What makes this album stand out is the fact that the genres from her previous albums, ‘folklore’ and ‘evermore’, have completely changed from indie folk to indie pop as she explores this new way of showing off her music and development in life overall.
Some fans may even notice the similarity that some of these songs hold within her older albums, as each song may represent a different musical genre or era of her songwriting career.
Songs from the album that were popular in particular were 'Anti-Hero', 'Snow On The Beach (feat. Lana Del Rey)', 'Bejeweled', 'Karma', and 'You're On Your Own, Kid'. By collaborating with Lana Del Rey, Taylor shifted Lana's fanbase to her new album as the song 'Snow On The Beach (feat. Lana Del Rey)' was written by both Taylor and Lana.
From the 'Bejeweled' music video
2022 VMAs afterparty
Maybe those high-priced Era's Tour tickets were worth it...
As we all know, Taylor Swift released tickets for her Era's Tour in November 2022 in the United States. This had fans going wild, resulting in the tickets getting sold out almost immediately. Why were fans wilder this time?
Well, you see, Taylor hadn't gone on tour since long before the lockdown in 2017, when she held her Reputation Tour. Knowing a friend that went to see the Reputation Tour, I've learned that Taylor's concerts are so much different than any other concert. My friend described the concert as one with an amazing atmosphere, where the crowd wanting to be there made it a spectacular experience for all.
To me, that comes as no surprise, as anyone and everyone can find a love for her music in terms of the everchanging genres. This has created an enormous and incredible fan base, as fans have come together to celebrate Taylor's music.
Having released six albums ('Lover', 'folklore', 'evermore', 'Fearless (Taylor's Version)', 'Red (Taylor's Version)', and now 'Midnights') since then, fans have more than desperately wanted to see her perform those new songs live. The Era's Tour's first concert was a huge success as Taylor performed with multiple clothing changes alongside her iconic one-liners before each song. She performed a total of 44 songs from each of her albums as part of this Era's Tour, out of which 42 are on the set list for every concert and 2 surprise songs, different every time.
She chose to perform songs from each of her albums as a way of remembering her different eras within the music industry and her self-growth. Fingers crossed that she brings the tour to Europe!
The Eras Tour
So, what's next for Taylor?
Taylor may have released 12 albums now, but nothing's stopping her from releasing new music. She still has yet to rerelease her earlier albums (she has dropped massive Easter eggs suggesting that 'Speak Now (Taylor's Version)' is next!), alongside some long-awaited music videos from her new album 'Midnights' as well as some unreleased music that fans have been desperately waiting for, such as her surprise drop of three re-recorded songs and one unreleased song a day before her tour started.
To go back to where we started, Taylor Swift has become a worldwide spectacle in the music industry as a result of the way that she writes her songs and shares them in the media, as new clues and trends are being made. Taylor seems to always fit with the trends, even creating her ones such as those from Tik Tok. As a big swiftie myself, I can't wait to see what's next in store for the future of Taylor Swift's songwriting!