How Taylor Swift Has Transformed Music

The American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift has deftly traversed country, pop, adult alternative and more genres since she first burst onto the music scene as a 14-year-old. A multi-Grammy award winner, Swift’s songwriting and entrepreneurship have influenced the industry and popular culture, making her one of the most successful artists in history. The 25-year-old’s enduring popularity has made her the top-selling digital artist in music history, and her albums have sold over 100 million copies worldwide. She’s also a best-selling author, film producer, and entrepreneur with a multi-billion dollar empire.

Taylor Swift began her career performing local shows in Nashville. Her talents caught the eye of record executive Scott Borchetta, who signed her to his Big Machine label. Swift’s debut album, Fearless, was released in 2008 and went on to win a Grammy for Best Country Album.

With her second studio album, RED, in 2012, Swift took on new producers and songwriters including Max Martin and Shellback, who would go on to be some of her most frequent collaborators. The album was a huge success, topping the charts around the world and earning Taylor her first US number 1 record. The RED tour grossed over $150 million, the highest grossing country tour in history at the time.

For her eighth studio album, folklore, Swift enlisted a variety of producers and songwriters, including Jack Antonoff, Aaron Dessner and Bon Iver, who would work with her again on future projects. The album was a critical and commercial hit, reaching number one in the US, Canada, and the UK, selling over 3 million copies. It also became the longest-running #1 album of the year, spending 8 non-consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard 200.

In the year leading up to the release of the album, Swift made a series of controversial choices that left many of her fans wondering whether she’d lost her edge. However, folklore proved that Swift still had the goods to appeal to a wide audience of fans with diverse tastes. The album also featured collaborations with the likes of HAIM and The National, and Swift continued to explore nuanced relationship issues on an unapologetic pop record that opened new sonic vistas for her. It also featured one of the most polarizing singles in her career, “bad blood.”