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The Legacy of Taylor Swift (Amelia’s Version)

Taylor+in+her+blue+folklore+dress
Taylor in her blue “folklore” dress

Taylor Swift is arguably one of the most famous artists ever. Breaking records literally everywhere she goes, she’s made such an impact on people’s lives. With 15 studio albums, including the Taylor’s Version [TV] albums, and over 200 songs in her catalog, Taylor is one of the most influential artists of our time.

First, some of the records she’s broken. She recently became the first artist ever to receive the Album of the Year Grammy award 4 times in a row. Her recent and ongoing tour, the Eras Tour, quickly became the highest grossing tour of all time. She’s won the most American Music Awards in history, with 40 awards! She broke Elvis Presley’s long-standing record of the most weeks spent at the Billboard No. 1 as a solo artist. She is the only artist to get 200 million streams in a single day, and on October 27, 2023, she demolished her own record and got 260 million streams! She’s made music history by claiming all top ten spots on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart at once. And according to Billboard, no other artist has ever held all ten spots at the same time! She’s also become the first female artist with 10 solo songs over 1 billion streams on Spotify, those songs being Cruel Summer, Blank Space, Anti-Hero, Shake It Off, Lover, cardigan, Style, Look What You Made Me Do, Don’t Blame Me, and august. Although she has some songs that are approaching 1 billion, so pretty soon, Taylor’s gonna be unbeatable!

She tied with Ariana Grande with five singles that debuted number one on the Billboard chart, second only to Drake, who has seven number one debuts, but it seems Taylor’s nearing that! She’s also broken several records previously held by the Beatles, including having the fastest run of three number-one albums. The Beatles had this record set for having three chart-topping albums in a span of 364 days. Taylor obliterated that record with three chart-topping albums in 259 days! She also tied with them on another one twice! And while the Beatles may also have the most number one songs in history, with 20, Taylor’s coming right up on that one with 11!

Taylor recently made history in the Billboard charts. She’s reached 18 years as a BIllboard charting artist, meaning she’s been somewhere on the charts for her entire singing career! She’s achieved 232 Hot 100 entries, she has 11 hits on the Hot 100, and on the Billboard 200, she has 13 number one albums. She’s reached the longest consecutive stretch at number one on the Artist 100. She attained 21 weeks and counting, spanning from October 28, 2023 to March 16, 2024. She now has the most cumulative weeks in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 at 384 weeks and counting, surpassing any other artist!

Some of the Billboard ‘mosts’ achieved by Taylor include 12 number ones on vinyl, 28 number one digital song sales, 10 entries in the Top 10 in a single week, and she has the longest number one song, which is All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault]. That song rests at a runtime of 10 minutes and 13 seconds.

Now, some of her firsts. Her first entry on any Billboard chart is Tim McGraw, debuting at number 86, and it peaked at number 40 on January 13, 2007. Her first number one on any Billboard chart is Our Song, on Hot Country Songs, on December 22, 2007. Her first number one on the Billboard 200 is Fearless, which reached number one on November 29, 2008. Her first number one on the Hot 100 was We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, which received number one on September 1, 2012. Her first week on number one of the Artist 100 was the debut week of Shake It Off, which was in the week of September 6, 2014. Taylor’s first song is called Lucky You. She has yet to release it. Hopefully it becomes a Debut Vault Track!

After around 18 years of music from Taylor, we can truly see how far she’s come with all the challenges thrown at her. Some include the ‘Kanye West incident’. This took place in 2009: shortly after Taylor won a VMA for her song Love Story, he went up on stage and interrupted Taylor’s speech, telling her she didn’t deserve the award, and that Beyonce did instead. Later, after Beyonce actually did win an award, she pulled Taylor back up onto the stage to finish her speech.

Another challenge that Taylor dealt with was her sexual assault case: during a photo with a male fan during her Red Tour. The fan touched her in an inappropriate and non-consensual way. Taylor took him to court, using the photo and several witnesses as evidence, and during the acoustic set of her reputation Stadium Tour, she announced that after 2 years, she finally won her case against him, he sued Taylor for roughly $3 million, and she countersued for one dollar. In honor of her victory, she performed her song Clean.

Another challenge Taylor faced was a feud with her record executive, Scooter Braun. For 13 years, she had a deal with Big Machine Records, and in 2017, Scooter decided to buy the rights to her master recordings. The way Taylor retaliated was to re-record those masters. She’s recorded four out of six albums so far, and the only ones she hasn’t re-done yet are reputation and her self-titled album Taylor Swift. Everything else (Fearless, Red, Speak Now, and 1989), she’s already completed, plus she decided to add (Taylor’s Version) to the end of each song, and the albums themselves, for example, 1989 (Taylor’s Version).

Another fun thing about these Taylor’s Version albums is the ‘Vault Tracks’. When releasing a Taylor’s Version album, she’ll also release five to seven previously unreleased songs written in that ‘era.’ For example, Message in a Bottle (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault] or Suburban Legends (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault]. There’s also a certain significance in the ‘track 5’ of each album. In each album, the fifth track is supposed to resemble the most emotional or vulnerable track, such as Cold As You on Debut, tolerate it on evermore, or White Horse on Fearless. Taylor has also featured several different artists on her songs, including Lana Del Rey in Snow on the Beach, Kendrick Lamar in a remix of Bad Blood, now-ex John Mayer in Half Of My Heart, Shawn Mendes in a remix of Lover, Hayley Williams of Paramore in Castles Crumbling, Fall Out Boy in Electric Touch, HAIM in no body, no crime, Gary Ligthbody of Snow Patrol in The Last Time, and Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco in ME!.

She’s also written original songs for soundtracks for several movies, such as Beautiful Ghosts for Cats, Carolina for Where The Crawdads Sing, both Safe And Sound and Eyes Open for The Hunger Games, I Don’t Wanna Live Forever for Fifty Shades Darker, Sweeter Than Fiction for One Chance, Crazier for Hannah Montana, and both Jump Then Fall and Today Was A Fairytale for Valentine’s Day.

An interesting thing is Taylor’s ‘ghostwritten’ some other songs for some other artists under the name Nils Sjoberg because “those are two of the most popular names for Swedish males.” She wrote This Is What You Came For for Rihanna and now-ex Calvin Harris, Better Man for Little Big Town, Two Is Better Than One for Boys Like Girls, Renegade for Big Red Machine, which she featured on, she wrote You’ll Always Find Your Way Back Home for Miley Cyrus, Both Of Us for B.O.B, Best Days of Your Life for Kellie Pickler, and Babe for Sugarland. The two songs Better Man and Babe, she later released in the Red (Taylor’s Version) album as ‘From The Vault’ tracks in 2021.

She’s also featured in several TV productions, including Cats, The Giver, Valentine’s Day, Hannah Montana, Amsterdam and Bluebird. She’s done a voice role for The Lorax, and she featured in the season two finale of New Girl.

Some of Taylor’s most iconic performances of her singing career are the Eras Tour performances of my tears ricochet, Cruel Summer, august, willow, Enchanted, and Look What You Made Me Do. Some other iconic performances are the Out of the Woods performance during the 1989 World Tour, her This Love performance on the 1989 World Tour, the Don’t Blame Me performance for the reputation Stadium Tour and her performance of Dear John on the Speak Now World Tour. Another really interesting performance of hers was when she performed at the 2019 American Music Awards wearing a white overcoat with the names of her stolen masters on it. Something else she performed at an awards event was at the Academy of Country Music Awards in May of 2008, she performed Should’ve Said No.

Here’s some interesting facts about Taylor’s music! First, in the song London Boy, the spoken intro is voiced by none other than her Cats co-star, Idris Elba! He speaks in the intro of the song, saying “We can go driving in, on my scooter, uh, you know, just ‘round London.” Speaking of London Boy, she mentions Stella McCartney in the bridge, Stella is the daughter of legendary Beatle Paul McCartney. Next, the child’s voice in the intro to Gorgeous, is voiced by Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively’s child, James Reynolds! For any Elvis fans, in the song champagne problems, one of the lyrics, saying “one for the money, two for the show”, is also from the Elvis Presley hit Blue Suede Shoes

The song Mary’s Song (Oh My My My) is about her next-door neighbor’s love story! In its debut week, Red sold approximately two albums every second! Taylor wrote the song Tied Together With A Smile when she found out her best friend was battling bulimia. Our Song was written for Taylor’s high school talent show as a freshman, and she decided to include it in her debut album on a whim. That song ended up winning her Female Video of the Year and Video of the Year at the 2008 Country Music Television Awards. The song Hey Stephen was about Taylor’s crush on Stephen Barker Liles, the lead singer of one of her opening acts, Love and Theft. Taylor said she texted him the night Fearless was released and said “Hey, track five.” Coincidentally, Stephen wrote a song about Taylor, called Try to Make It Anyway

Taylor wrote the song Speak Now after one of her friends revealed her childhood crush was marrying a mean girl that cut him off from his friends and family. Taylor jokingly offered to go with her friend to the ceremony to interrupt the wedding, with her guitar, of course. Taylor later stated she had a dream where her boyfriend married someone else and then she was inspired to write the song. The song White Horse almost didn’t make the Fearless album. The reason it did was because Shonda Rhimes wanted to put the song in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, they recorded it for the show and for the album. In the song Picture To Burn, Taylor originally had the lyrics as “that’s fine, I’ll tell mine you’re gay” but to avoid backlash on the topic, changed it to “that’s fine, you won’t mind if I say.” 

When writing Should’ve Said No, the first thing that came to her was the title, and she wrote the chorus in five minutes. Taylor’s song Change was one of the official theme songs for the 2008 Summer Olympics. Taylor is the first Saturday Night Live host to write their own monologue song, and she called it The Monologue Song (because of course she did) and it mentioned both Joe Jonas and Taylor Lautner. And finally, Our Song was intentionally placed at the end of her Debut album, because the last line of the chorus is “play it again” and Taylor thought that would be a little nudge for fans to play the album all over again.

Next, let’s talk about the heavy influence Taylor has on popular culture. Because Taylor is dating the tight end on the Kansas City Chiefs, Travis Kelce, the revenue for the National Football League has skyrocketed 400 percent since September 2023 according to Apex Marketing. She has a following of around 53 percent of the world according to Rolling Stone. The reason she’s so influential to other people is because her lyrics are relatable: they’re written so people can connect to them. She also doesn’t put her body on show, and she doesn’t dress in provocative ways. She dresses in modest dresses (for example, the outfit she wears for the folklore section of the Eras Tour, or the beautiful ball gown she wears in the Speak Now section of the Tour) and she looks absolutely stunning in them!

Let’s go through each of Taylor’s ‘eras’, and why they were so significant. First, Debut (2006-2008). This era perfectly captures the essence of teenage experiences, including first loves, friendships, and insecurities. Debut was released October 24, 2006. We saw a young Taylor with tightly curled hair, and a fondness for cowboy boots in this era. Standout songs from this era are Our Song, Teardrops on My Guitar, Tim McGraw, and Should’ve Said No.

Next, Fearless (2008-2010). This album marked the shift between country and pop. This album also delved into themes of fear and the courage to overcome challenges. Fearless was released November 11, 2008. Taylor’s Version was released April 9, 2021. Her style during this era was evolving into a more bohemian look, characterized by headbands, necklaces, and hats. But however, during the Fearless Tour, she was often in dresses adorned with sparkles and sequins. Notable songs during this era include Love Story, Hey Stephen, You Belong With Me, and Fifteen. Taylor’s Version later released Mr Perfectly Fine (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault] and featured Keith Urban on That’s When (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault].

Next, Speak Now (2010-2012). Taylor wrote every song herself, drawing inspiration from the transition from adolescence to adulthood. The themes are honesty and melancholy, with love and heartbreak at the core. Speak Now was released October 25, 2010. Taylor’s Version was released July 7, 2023. Her style shifted from the bohemian look to more contemporary trends, embracing dresses, velvet suits, and layered clothing. Standout songs include Dear John, Enchanted, and Back to December. I Can See You (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault] is a notable song on the re-recorded version of this album.

Next, Red (2012-2014). This era officially marked Taylor’s departure from the country genre that initially catapulted her to stardom. She described this album as belonging to ‘a person with a broken heart’. Red came out October 22, 2012. Taylor’s Version came out November 12, 2021.This aesthetic was characterized by elements such as bold red lips and a retro fashion sense. This era explored a wide spectrum of emotions, as seen in songs like I Knew You Were Trouble, All Too Well, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, and 22. Taylor’s Version later released some hits such as I Bet You Think About Me (ft Chris Stapleton) (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault], and All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault].

Next, 1989 (2014-2017). This era marked her full transition into the pop genre. The title, 1989, pays tribute to her birth-year. The opening track, an ode to New York City, symbolizing her move to the city. 1989 came out October 27, 2014. Taylor’s Version was released October 27, 2023. Taylor adopted a glamorous look featuring crop-tops, short skirts, and dazzling outfits. This was also quite the era for Taylor mentally, during her 1989 World Tour, she went through a period of starving herself completely, and then gave one of the most iconic performances of Out of the Woods of the entire tour, and maybe one of the most iconic of all her performances. 1989 gave birth to some of her biggest hits, like Shake It Off, Out of the Woods, Style, Bad Blood, Blank Space, I Know Places, and Wildest Dreams. Taylor’s Version released one of the most popular Taylor Swift songs as of 2024, which is Is It Over Now? (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault].

Next, reputation (2017-2019). This era was characterized by a dramatic transformation, as Taylor shed her shy and innocent image for a bolder, empowered persona. Prior to this, during 1989, her private life was constantly under the spotlight, subject to criticism and rumors. Taylor then retreated from the public eye, only to re-emerge with a new unapologetic stance. reputation was released November 10, 2017. Taylor’s Version has yet to be announced, though she has put clips of some re-recorded songs in movie trailers. She’s put Look What You Made Me Do (Taylor’s Version) in the trailer for Wilderness, and Delicate (Taylor’s Version) in season three of The Summer I Turned Pretty. This era captured a much darker aesthetic, with black as its primary color and its prominent imagery of snakes. Iconic tracks include …Ready For It?, Look What You Made Me Do, Delicate, and Getaway Car.

Next, Lover (2019-2020). This era marked a significant departure from reputation. This era had a more romantic vibe, featuring a sweet, pastel-colored aesthetic. Lover was released August 23, 2019. This album is the first album after leaving Big Machine Records for Republic Records. Some standout songs are Cruel Summer, The Archer, and You Need to Calm Down.

Next, folklore/evermore (2020-2022). These two albums were released around the same time, they’re classified as ‘sister albums’. folklore shifted away from pop to explore more indie, folk, and electro-acoustic music. folklore was released July 24, 2020. This album’s aesthetic conveyed nostalgia, melancholy, and solitude, reflecting the global mood at the time. Taylor’s style aligned with the folk genre, emphasizing a natural and authentic look. This album gave us cherished tracks like cardigan, my tears ricochet, betty, mirrorball, and exile (ft. Bon Iver)

Both evermore and folklore were announced as a surprise just hours before their launch. This album continued in the same musical vein as folklore. evermore was released shortly after folklore on December 11, 2020. In her evermore era, Taylor took advantage of the pandemic by continuously treating us to new songs, such as willow, champagne problems, cowboy like me, no body no crime (ft. HAIM), and coney island (ft. The National).

Next, Midnights (2022-2024). Taylor herself explained that the songs delve into the thoughts that keep her awake well past midnight. She described it as ‘a journey through the realms of both terrors and sweet dreams’ as she shared on her Instagram. This album came out October 21, 2022. Her style has matured in line with her age, featuring an abundance of shimmer and sparkle that reflects her musical career. This album brought us songs like Bejeweled, Lavender Haze, Karma, You’re On Your Own, Kid, and Anti-Hero.

And finally, The Tortured Poets Department (present). The common theme of the album is love and heartbreak, with touches of depression. The album was officially released April 19, 2024. We’ve gotten four variants of the album, titled The Manuscript, The Bolter, and The Albatross and The Black Dog. Each of these variants has a bonus track related to its ‘file name’ or variant title. Standouts are Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me, Fortnight (ft Post Malone), I Can Do It With A Broken Heart, and Down Bad. It’s rumored that the song So Long, London is about Taylor’s most recent ex-boyfriend, Joe Alwyn, who the song London Boy is about. Plus, it’s a ‘track 5’.

Taylor Swift has taken us a long way with her music, given amazing and iconic performances, made such an impact on so many people’s lives, and is just a great person in general! She’s done so much for us in the past 18 years, and she’s still got a long way to go.

 

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