At age sixteen, Emma Watson was famous for being a witch and Harry Potter’s sidekick, while Taylor Swift rode shotgun with her hair undone and wrote about it. Since then, their fame has spread beyond Hogwarts and country back roads. They both sit atop the charts of global fame and celebrity, but Taylor Swift’s newest album has skyrocketed her influence to levels that no one, not even Emma, can touch.
The album, titled 1989 after Swift’s birth year, broke records left and right. The week it was released, it monopolized charts and sold over 1 million copies. As of this week, 1989 has sold over 4 million copies and topped Billboard charts for nine weeks straight. Swift has joined the legendary record-selling ranks of artists like Eminem and Whitney Houston, and she’s only twenty-five.
While the success of Swift’s 1989 album has brought her a whole new level of wealth and popularity, her Billboard topping songs weren’t even her biggest hits of 2014. Billboard also awarded her title of “Woman of the Year” for the second time, she won the Dick Clark Award for Excellence at AMA’s, and graced the cover of TIME Magazine in honor of producing the biggest-selling album of 2014.
Her voice doesn’t just resonate with teenage girls anymore. She’s also outspoken about social justice issues such as gender equality and public education. She donated all proceeds of her No. 1 hit single “Welcome to New York” to the New York City public schools systems, in addition to supporting organizations like Feeding America and UNICEF. Her generosity landed her the Award of “Most Charitable Celeb” from dosomething.org for the third year in a row. The higher Swift climbs on the Forbes Top 100 list of wealthiest celebrities (ranking 18th as of June 2014), the more she gives away.
Taylor Swift may have the golden touch when it comes to selling magazines, music, and anything else she puts her mind to, but her personality is what shines the brightest. Her 51.7 million Twitter followers ranks 4th in the world, behind Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and Barack Obama. Unlike the other Twitter celebrities, however, Swift pours time into social media to make her fans feel known and loved. She is known for commenting on Instagram and re-blogging fan posts in a personal tone. She even accepted an invitation to the bridal shower of superfan Gena Camerlengo, who says “Her ability to write and perform is incredible, but it’s her impact beyond music where she really shines…I found Taylor because of her music, but I stayed because of her character”.
Swift’s charity even made the news around Christmastime, when she spent thousands of dollars giving gifts to her biggest fans. She picked out gifts for them based on their likes on social media, and then sent them off with personal notes. To Swift, treating her fans like BFFs is just a small way she shows them how much they mean to her. “It’s honestly the most amazing feeling knowing that there’s this group of people that has my back and that they always show up. I try to figure out ways all the time to thank them for doing that for me.”
Taylor Swift is simultaneously the biggest name in entertainment and the quirky girl down the street, splitting her time between partying with Beyonce and Friday nights in with her cats. She gracefully ascended from teenage country star to global icon. It’s been almost ten years since the debut of her first album, and she shows no signs of slowing down. When her latest album 1989 was released, many people doubted her ability to successfully crossover to pop. But if they’ve learned anything over the past decade, they should know that Taylor Swift never goes out of style.
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