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How Taylor Swift has Maintained her Audience.

Taylor Swift, an international superstar with twelve Grammys, recently started her United States Era tour.  Swift began to make music when she was just 16 years old; her first album, Taylor Swift, was produced as a country album with some pop flare.  Her debut album did so well on the charts, and people started to take notice of Swift.  This album is drastically different from her most recent album: Midnights. I have been a fan of Taylor Swift since I was ten years old, and in this article, I want to go into how Swift has grown with her audience, in addition to how different she has made all of her albums to connect to diverse audiences.  

            After her debut album, Swift started to get more serious and got to writing her second album, Fearless, which put her on the charts and showcased her skills to the world.  She won a Grammy for Album of the Year with this album.  With this album, she slowly emerged as a pop artist, as opposed to a country.  This album had two songs that skyrocketed Swift’s fame: “Love Story” and “You Belong with Me.”  With “Love Story” has over 500 million watches on YouTube, and “You Belong with Me” racking in more than 1.4 billion.  These two songs cemented the world’s view of Taylor Swift.  After this album came out, I wondered how, after dropping arguably some of the greatest songs ever, Swift could continue to grow upward.

            Her next album, Speak Now, showed that she was not a one-hit-wonder but, instead, someone who knew how to appeal to her audience directly.  This album highlighted some of Swift’s heartbreaks and love over the years with hits like “Mean” (which won two Grammys, one for Best Country Song and one for Best Country Solo Performance), “Back to December,” and “Sparks Fly.”  This album is specifically what made the younger me start to listen to Swift.  I remember first hearing the titular song “Speak Now” and creating an entire story about it.  Swift’s music, in my opinion, can have someone feel every emotion possible: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, love, peace, etc.  She has been building her fan base for most of her early adult life, and with the addition of the Red album, she became one of the most famous people in the world. 

            The album Red was her next release in 2012, and it is also one of the two albums Swift has recently rerecorded.  This album features hit songs like “All Too Well,” “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” and “I Knew You Were Trouble.”  These three songs would win many awards, further cementing Swift’s career and ability.  This album will always have a special place in my heart because it was the first time I could see Taylor Swift in concert.  I was just ten years old and went with my mother and had the best time ever.  Swift shows her fans that she loves them by putting on these performances week after week.    

            When 1989, released in 2014, it contained hit singles like “Shake it Off,” “Blank Space,” and “Wildest Dreams,” all of which have surpassed 500 million views on YouTube, with the latter two gaining over 3.1 billion views.  “Shake it Off” had three nominations at the 2015 Grammys: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance.  Although Swift did not take home any Grammys for these songs, the album itself won Album of the Year in addition to Best Pop Vocal Album.  This album was a significant success for Swift, and she rode this success for a long time until the Kardashian/West drama unfolded.   

            This scandal had many people turn their backs on Swift, and if you are unfamiliar,  this article highlights precisely what happened and how Swift recovered.  It was not until two years later that Swift dropped her album Reputation, in which she details how so many people blamed her for what happened.  This album took a drastic turn from her soft-spoken 1989 album.  Swift showed the world that she was not somebody to be messed with, both personally and professionally, and that she would always come out on top.  This album featured hard-core hits like “Look What You Made Me Do” and “Endgame.”  The latter features well-known artists Ed Sheeran and Future.  Although this album is not my favorite, I must hand it to Swift for creating something so different from her usual style.  

            Despite the hard-coreness of their Reputation, in 2019, Swift dropped one of the most loving and sweet albums: Lover.  This album detailed how falling in love was a beautiful thing, as opposed to Reputation, whose central message was not to trust anyone.  Lover showed listeners that true love is out there, and it is lovely.  This album has such a light and airy feel to it, as opposed to the previous one, and it took a lot of listeners by shock. Despite this shock, it became the global best-selling album by a solo artist in 2019.  I love this album and everything it represents.  Although Swift has toured her last five albums, because of COVID, she was unable to go on tour.  

            During COVID in 2020, Swift surprised fans by releasing two albums: Folklore and Evermore.  These two albums are another shift from pop sounds, shifting to mellow ballads driven by neo-classical instruments.  Folklore won album of the year at the 2021 Grammys, and Evermore was the number one song in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Greece, New Zealand, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.  These two albums were considered sister albums, with many of their songs containing the same instruments and meaning.  These two albums are the exact type of music I like to listen to, and they hold an extraordinary place in my heart; Evermore is my favorite album of all time, with my favorite songs being “Right Where You Left Me” and “Champagne Problems.”  What differs from most previous albums is that these two albums have a more mature feel to cater to an older audience.  Swift has shown that she can venture into so many different genres of music to allow all listeners to enjoy her music. 

            Her latest album, Midnights, was released in 2022 with disco sounds and rhythmic pop-flare.  This album reminded me of 1989 and Red because of the strong pop sound that flowed through it.  This album took me by surprise, but after about a month of listening, I fell in love with it.  It is just fun and fresh and suitable for all ages.  These songs explore serious themes (like anxiety, insecurity, and self-criticism) but with an uplifting and enjoyable tune.  This tenth album is a testament to Swift’s songwriting ability, as well as her power not to be burned out.  After writing and singing for more than half her life, it is impressive that she can still produce a new and exciting album with concepts she has not explored.

            Taylor Swift went from singing her little country songs to her family to selling out stadiums with 70,000 people.  She has done this through the progression of her songwriting and themes in her albums.  Each album has its flavor and tune, which allows her audience to relate to certain ones.  Swift has been one of the best-selling artists of all time, and it will be exciting to see what she does in the next ten years. 

Edited by: Whitney

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