Taylor Swift is one of the biggest pop icons in the world. She first rose to fame in 2005, and has since released over 10 albums, or 13 if you include the re-recorded ‘Taylor’s Versions’.
At the age of 14, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift began her career professionally. She was signed with Big Machine Records and at the time was very much known as a country singer. So how on earth did the country girl from Pennsylvania become such a pop princess? We explore her incredible transition:
She released her first album, self-titled Taylor Swift, in 2006. She worked on the album during her first year at high school, co-writing all of the album’s 11 tracks, including three by herself. The album drew on her outlook on life as a teenager, reflecting on her personal life, romantic relationships, friendships, and insecurity. Without a doubt it is a country record with pop and pop rock elements, including acoustic instructions from guitars, fiddles, and banjos.
The album spent 24 weeks at No.1 in the Top Country Albums and peaked at No.5 on the Billboard 200. It certified seven times platinum making Taylor the first solo female country articles to write and co-write every song on a platinum debut album.
Taylor’s second studio album was released across the US and Canada in November 2008 before being released internationally in March 2009. Taylor began writing this album during promotion of her self-titled debut album, writing seven of the 13 tracks alone, with all others then being co-written. This was also Taylor’s debut as a record producer.
Some of her biggest hits off Fearless included Love Story, and You Belong With Me. Both tracks performed well and set records in both country and pop radio. In fact, she won Best Country Album at the Grammy Awards. Became diamond certified and peaked in the top five albums in charts across Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK, selling 12 million copies worldwide.
Taylor’s third album was release in October 2010. She wrote the album entirely by herself within the two years she was touring to promote Fearless. The songs were inspired by her transition from adolescence into adulthood. She said it felt her a confession of her love, and heartbreak, exploring past relationships, and was a departure from the youthful optimism of her past albums.
Whilst the roots of the music were still country, it too combined pop and rock stylings. It peaked yet again globally, selling a million records in the US alone during its first week receiving multiple-platinum certifications. At the 54th Annual Grammy Awards, the song ‘Mean’ won Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance.
Taylor self-identified as a country musician until 2012 when she released her fourth studio album Red. The songs here discuss the complex and conflicting feelings Taylor experience from a fading romance. She also wanted this to be a moment to experiment with new sounds, and this it did - combining pop, country, and rock with elements of dance and dubstep. Her biggest hits from this release included We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, and I Knew Your Were Trouble.
Inspired by 1980s synth-pop, and titled after the year of her birth, the album symbolised an artistic rebirth. The songs explored failed romances but from a light-hearted perspective, given many media outlets had previously called out her ‘hostile attitude’ from her previous albums. It won Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album at the 2016 Grammy Awards.
This was Taylor’s final release under Big Machine Records. It was one she had written as a result of the brutal scrutiny she was receiving from the press on her private life. The songs covered the downsides of fam and resultant anger, and also on love amidst and tumult.