The girl who started out as a country cutie is now the queen of pop. Her albums, Fearless, Speak Now, Red and Reputation have sold more than a billion copies, earning her multiple Grammys and Billboard awards. Taylor has also been nominated for two Academy Awards and has starred in several films and TV shows. She is a social activist and has worked for a number of charitable organizations.
Taylor was born in December 1989, near the peak of the Millennial Baby Boom, and her music has shaped the lives of millions of young people. From the tween romances of her early career to the imperial pop of her twenties, her songs have reflected her life experiences. To follow her musical evolution is to chart the arc of an entire generation.
In 2005, at a Nashville industry showcase called the Bluebird Cafe, Taylor caught the attention of Scott Borchetta, a former Dreamworks Records executive who was preparing to form his own independent record label, Big Machine Records. He bought three percent of the company, and Taylor became one of its first signings.
With the release of her first album, Taylor shook up the country genre with her blend of high-fashion sensibilities and relatable themes. Her songwriting and production on this project were also groundbreaking for a female artist in the country world. She teamed up with a variety of talented songwriters and producers on the album, including Max Martin and Shellback, who would become some of her biggest collaborators in the future.
Despite the catchy pop tunes that propelled her to fame, Swift also wrote some heartwarming love songs. The sweet, uptempo vibe of this track is a perfect fit for its innocent lyrics, which describe a blossoming relationship that hasn’t quite gotten to the stage of full-blown love. Its slinky groove and solo saxophone riff add to the song’s appeal, making it a true earworm.
Coming out of a messy breakup, this tearjerker reflects the emotional exhaustion that caused Taylor to make some tough choices in her personal life. Amid the orchestral arrangements and pounding drums, Taylor’s voice is vulnerable but never maudlin.
When you hear Taylor sing “You owe me a new one/ I got a new song, but it’s the same old story/ It’s the same slow burn/ I’ve been burned before/ I know better than to trust my gut instinct.”
The final track on her acclaimed Red album is a dark and brooding reflection on the nature of addiction and self-destructive behavior. She worked with producer Imogen Heap on this one, and the result is a melancholy electronic ballad that references natural disasters as metaphors for emotional upheavals. In the end, Taylor’s wistful melodies prove that her harrowing personal experiences have given her an unusually powerful voice in popular music.