By Elizabeth Barfoot Christian
Taylor Swift’s not superstitious.
The gorgeous yet gangly 20-year-old queen of crossover country, continues to show that only those who screw her over need fear her favorite number, 13, which she famously marks on her right hand before each performance.
But do her wrong, and you’ll wish you’d never crossed her path. She will live to sing about it---and make millions off your shame with a sweet smile on her face.
Swift has definitely lived up to her name with the speed at which she has smashed music records, becoming the youngest artist ever to win album of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2009 for Fearless, her second album. It was the best-selling album of 2008 and 2009 and has become the most-awarded album in country music history.
She repeated the win in 2010 at the Grammys, also becoming the youngest artist ever to win Album of the Year.
Thus far, Swift has won more than 70 awards in a career not yet five years old.
So what’s her formula for success? This former teen angel has proven she’s a music marketing powerhouse. And the grown-up Taylor’s menu includes songs served up with a spoonful of sugar-coated revenge! Her latest album, 2010’s Speak Now, debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 100, selling more than 1 million its first week, a feat not done since 2005—and only achieved by three female artists before her.
Here’s a brief run-down of how this nice girl can do nasty—and why her fans love her for it.
Humiliated in front of millions by Kanye West upon her win at the VMAs, she acted like a lady, then later offered her forgiveness in lyrics. Result: hit song “Innocent.”
Wronged by player John Mayer, Swift wrote him a “Dear John” letter neither he nor we shall ever forget.
After losing the love of her life, Joe Jonas, to a looser lady, Taylor memorialized the bad behavior. Result: hit song “Better Than Revenge.”
Writers are always taught to write what they know, and no one tells her tales better than Taylor. The world just rarely gets access to one’s diary so creatively delivered. Swift seems to genuinely want to engage her audience in her life. She spends hours with fans after each show and is involved in every aspect of her image. She values what her fans think of her, and she has the kind of wholesomeness that attracts little girls, teenage boys and moms, alike. Something about her songs resonates with all of us.
Taylor, the victim, knows how to do vicious better than anyone since the angry Alanis Morissette of the ‘90s. Now, we can all sit back and wait for the jilted-by-Jake Gyllenhaal ditty.
Elizabeth Barfoot Christian is assistant professor of journalism at Louisiana Tech University and the editor of Rock Brands: Selling Sound in a Media Saturated Culture.
Next blog: The publicly profane Odd Future of the music industry