It's December 13 and somewhere in the world Taylor's blowing out 30 candles and basically winning at life. So how's about a Swift masterclass in how to #bemoreliketaylor
Words by Michelle Davies
1. Happiness is in her genes
No wonder she’s always perky – Taylor spent her formative years living on a Christmas tree farm in Reading, Pennsylvania, and anyone raised around a constant reminder of the jolliest time of year is bound to grow up with a positive outlook. ‘[It’s] why I’m sort of obsessed with Christmas,’ she has said. ‘I wish it was all year round, for the happy feeling it gives people.’
2. She keeps it real
While most pre-graduate students do their damndest to sneak out of lectures, Taylor did the opposite by gatecrashing her best friend’s college classes. Already a household name by the time she was 18 following the release of her first two albums, Taylor craved a normal life and would visit her high school best friend Abigail Lauren at Kansas University to hang out in her dorm room and sneak into classes.
3. Fights for her rights
The music industry was stunned when, in 2014, when Taylor pulled her music from Spotify to protest at the way artists were compensated. It was the first of many stands she’s taken to protect her music, the most recent being her fight to retain the songs from her first five albums after the master tapes were sold by her former label. Taylor will now re-record every track to create new master tapes that will remain under her control. ‘Artists deserve to own their own work,’ she said. Well, there’s no arguing with 2019’s best-selling female artist, earning $185m in 12 months.
4. Bounces back from the bad times
Remember when Kanye West reignited their feud back in 2016 when he released his track Famous with the lines, ‘I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. Why? I made that bitch famous’ and claimed she’d given her blessing to it. Taylor denied doing so, but then backing her man, Kim Kardashian released an audio recording of Taylor seemingly approving it and suddenly she was branded a liar. She copped even more flak over her Tom Hiddleston ‘showmance’. ‘Every domino fell,’ is how she described 2016 to the Guardian.
5. She learns from others’ mistakes
In the same interview Taylor told the Guardian how, as a teenager, she was obsessed with VH1’s Behind The Music series, which chronicled the rise and fall of famous musicians. Taylor would scrutinise each episode pinpointing the moment the star’s career faltered – no wonder she’s had very few missteps in her own.
6. Now she keeps her love life private
Although her new album, Lover, features tracks about her boyfriend of one year, British actor Joe Alwyn, they’re less attention grabbing than the previous tracks she wrote about her exes Harry Styles and Jake Gyllenhaal – and deliberately so. ‘Our relationship isn’t up for discussion,’ she has said. They were first introduced at the Met Gala in 2016 and her friends love him, including Ed Sheeran, who described Joe during a radio interview as ‘really nice. Really, really friendly, [a] really good dude’.
7. She’s embraced her political clout
For years Taylor kept schtum about her political leanings and in doing so was attacked for not using her profile to greater effect. In 2018, however, she openly endorsed the Democrats in her adopted state of Tennessee for the US mid-term elections as they campaigned against a Republican candidate who said gay couples shouldn’t be allowed to marry or even be served in stores. Since then she’s donated £85,000 to the Tennessee Equality Project, which advocates for LGBTQ Rights. ‘I didn’t realise until recently that I could advocate for a community that I’m not a part of,’ she said.
8. When all else fails, she lets her music do the talking
When Reputation was released in 2017 Taylor became the first artist in history to have four consecutive albums sell one million copies in their first week of release. It was the perfect validation to bookend her feud with West, which began when he stormed the stage at the 2009 MTV to protest at her winning an award over Beyonce. ‘Never believe anyone who tells you that you don’t deserve want you want,’ said Taylor. You hearing that, Kanye?
Taylor is headlining London’s British Summertime Hyde Park 2020 on 11 July. For tickets, see bst-hydepark.com/events/detail/taylor-swift-1