Taylor Swift – The Most Culturally Significant Artist of the 21st Century

Taylor Swift is perhaps the most culturally significant artist of the 21st century. The singer/songwriter has written dozens of songs and released 10 albums, all of which have debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 chart. She’s broken box office records for concert tickets and film premieres and is one of the most recognizable celebrities in the world. Her influence extends to fashion, activism and even the way we talk about mental health.

At 12 years old, Taylor Swift was writing songs and competing in local singing competitions. She won a talent show and signed her first record deal, with Big Machine Records’ Scott Borchetta. Initially, her focus was on country music but she later shifted to pop. She is an advocate for LGBT rights and has donated millions to charity. She also starred as Bombalurina in the movie version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination and a Grammy Award nod.

In 2022, she released the short film All Too Well starring Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien, which was based on her song of the same name. In the same year, she released her eighth studio album Folklore. The album debuted at number 1 and was her longest-running No. 1. Folklore was a collaboration with various artists including Jack Antonoff, Gary Lightbody and Aaron Dessner of The National.

It was during this time that she went head-to-head with two of the largest streaming services over how they paid artists. She pulled her entire back catalog from Spotify over its ad-supported free service and criticized Apple Music for not paying royalties to songwriters during the free trial period. She later returned to both services, but only after putting in place a more favorable contract for songwriters.

While taylor is an accomplished artist in multiple genres, she’s best known for her pop-driven work. On her fourth album, Red (2012), she wrote nine of the songs herself and co-wrote others with Liz Rose, Max Martin and Ed Sheeran. She took the songwriting process seriously and worked with a wide range of producers, from Butch Walker to Jeff Bhasker to Dann Huff.

This was a time of major changes in her personal life as she broke up with her long-term boyfriend at the time and was dealing with the fallout of the NSA leaks. She addressed the scandal in her song “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” – an exploration of the anxieties of being a public figure and the guilt of breaking trust.

The track’s production is a bit dated in some ways, but it’s still an anthemic bop with a memorable melody and lyrics that feel genuinely authentic. It’s the sound of a woman coming into her own and recognizing that she has the power to change herself for the better.

It’s a testament to Taylor’s power and talent that she can take a song about being stalked by an ex-boyfriend and turn it into a jubilant celebration of her independence.