Taylor Swift, the last planetary pop star

American singer Taylor Swift poses with her award for

An output that causes a worldwide Spotify outage. 1.5 million copies sold on American soil in one week. The first ten places of the ranking of the most popular songs in the United States, the Billboard Hot 100, occupied by a single artist. Taylor Swift’s latest album, Midnights, is that of all records. The presale of his next tour even caused a giant breakdown of the Ticketmaster platform, which eventually canceled the opening of the ticket office Friday. And on Sunday November 20, the 32-year-old singer, ranked among the most powerful women in the world by the magazine Forbes in 2021, won the American Music Awards, winning in all the categories in which she was nominated. What are the reasons for its success?

Singer Taylor Swift poses with her six awards after the American Music Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, California, November 20, 2022.

Prolific and versatile

For Romain Burrel, independent music journalist, the ” secret ” by Taylor Swift“is not to stay in place”. The artist is prolific. Since 2019, she has released no less than six albums. Only five months separate Folklore and Evermoreher two opuses of 2020. She even tried her hand at directinga short film.

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From a Nashville product that conquered the country scene to today’s pop icon, Taylor Swift has steadily moved on to tame an industry where women “are thrown […] before reaching their 35th birthday.she regrets in the documentary Miss Americana. “There is something a little different musically and visually with each release”explain to World Hugh McIntyre, journalist for Forbes specializing in entertainment. The singer thus abandons the cowboy boots and the sequined dresses of her debut for leotards and thigh high bootsthen married a more rural aesthetic donning tartan-patterned shirts and woolen cardigans welcome at a time of planetary confinement.

Taylor Swift at a benefit concert bringing together country artists on May 14, 2007 in Las Vegas.
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“Girl next door”

Taylor Swift sings the US national anthem before a baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies on April 9, 2007 in Los Angeles.

By polishing the “country pop” of its beginnings, it opens the genre to a new audience, younger and more feminine. High school hallways to prom where she takes the stage, the young Taylor Swift cultivates an image with which many American teenage girls can identify. The blonde, long smiling and polite behind her guitar and her princess dresseswhose repertoire borrows for a long time from the clichés of romantic comedies or Disney films, also has everything to please conservative parents.

This character meticulously sculpted over his words and his clips, maintained on his social networks where she regularly shares the adventures of her cats with more than 335 million cumulative subscribers, helps to give a feeling of closeness.

Cultivating her image of “girl next door” remained accessible, the singer comes several times helping her fans, such as when she finances their higher education. She organizes preview sessions of her albums during which she receives her admirers at her home and cooks cookies for them. “Lady Gaga cannot be described as someone who is easy to identify with. She is from another world. […] Taylor, you can imagine meeting her, you want to be like her. She’s not out of reach.” Hugh McIntyre analysis.

A well-oiled hitting machine

The singer also knows how to surround herself. His fourth album Red signs the start of a collaboration with Swedish producers Max Martin and Shellback, known in particular for being the architects of several Britney Spears hits. The duo guide Taylor Swift’s first steps in a genre he masters to perfection with titles like 22 Where I Knew You Were Trouble. She also enlists Jeff Bhasker, who has helped produce hits like We Are Young of Fun or Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars, but also the musician Dan Wilson who co-wrote Someone Like You from Adele. She continues her transition to a more accessible pop with her fifth opus, 1989, which allows him to reach new heights. Recently, she has worked almost exclusively with producer and musician Jack Antonoff, who has also crafted hits with Lana Del Rey and Lorde.

On the visual side, Joseph Kahn, who has already made clips for Britney Spears and Lady Gaga, stages it in Blank Space, Bad Blood and Wildest Dreams. The clip of Bad Blood deploys a handpicked cast with appearances by singer Selena Gomez, top models Gigi Hadid, Cara Delevigne, Cindy Crawford, and actresses Zendaya and Ellen Pompeo.

Sole queen of her empire

The pop star has above all established herself as the sole storyteller of her legend and the sole patroness of her empire. At 14, the ambitious Taylor Swift refuses to renew her contract with RCA Records, for fear of lacking artistic freedom. At 16, she promotes her self-titled debut album, saying she wrote 150 songs for it. Wiping many remarks suggesting that she does not really write her songs, she returned in 2009 with her third opus. Speak Now that she claims to have written entirely alone.

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The singer signs in 2016 an open letter to Apple Music regarding artist compensation on digital platforms. Apple gives in to his demands after a few hours. “She moves the industry from the inside”emphasizes Romain Burrel. At war with the boss of his ex-label Scott Borchetta who sold his masters to Scooter Braun, manager of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande among others, Taylor Swift is re-recording Fearless and Red in 2021 to recover the rights. She encourages her fans to listen to the new releases. “If it is followed by the mention “Taylor’s version” (Taylor’s version) in parentheses, it means that I own the rights “, she hammers in promotional appearances.

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Much less present on social networks, granting interviews in dribs and drabs, more and more discreet about her private life, Taylor Swift falls into the category of artists who, “like Selena Gomez or Orelsan”, favorite “a documentary on their life where they master the story from A to Z”without “go through the box ‘journalist who will ask them awkward questions'”explains Romain Burrel.

For years, his political silence enabled him to seduce in the Democratic camps as Republicans. But while the United States is torn apart during the 2016 election campaign, she is one of the few Hollywood pop stars who does not publicly disavow Donald Trump. His silence is problematic. Especially since it is celebrated by figures of the American alt-right who see in her a “Aryan Goddess”.

The star finally came out of his silence during the 2018 midterm election campaign. his support for the Democratic candidate of Tennessee, the number of registered voters jumps. She continues to politicize herself by castigating homophobes in her song “You Need To Calm Down” and launches simultaneously a petition addressed to the Senate in support of a bill for the protection of LGBTQIA + people. “She wanted to be more successful […]. The Scrapbook Red illustrates this desire to conquer a new audience”, analyzes Romain Burrel. This politicization according to him, “She couldn’t escape it. She had to show that she contrasted with the country music where she came from, which is taxed as very white and rather on the right. »

France, bastion of resistance to the phenomenon

With more than 200 million records sold worldwide and 84 million regular listeners on Spotify, “Miss Americana” has transformed the essay beyond its borders. Popular in the UK, nine of her albums have topped the UK charts in ten years. The promotional tour of his sixth album Reputation remains to this day the third highest-grossing world tour for a female artist, behind Madonna and Pink.

France has long remained hermetic to the aura of the star. The last time the American stopped in front of the French public, in 2011, she played in front of a Zénith far from being full. “Taylor landed under the country banner, an aesthetic almost non-existent in French culture. Then for years we talked more about his high-profile romances than about his music.analysis for the World Hédia Charni, MTV host and entertainment entrepreneur. The French discover her with her pop adventures, especially her hit Shake It Off »first single from 1989 which she promotes on the sets of Big Newspaper and of It’s up to you. “It’s hard to know in which box to put itbelieves Romain Burrel. France hardly had time to realize that she could make music between Rihanna and Ed Sheeran that she was already moving on. »

The pop star, however, is beginning to find its audience in the territory. Midnights ranked at the top of French album sales the week of its release, the best start for the artist on the national market. If the American wants to consolidate her success in France, there is “no secrets”believes Mr. Burrel: “She will have to come. » The singer, who has already announced a US stadium tour, teased European dates at the MTV Europe Music Awards in Düsseldorf on November 13. If she decides to put her luggage in Paris, the scale of the room where she could perform will confirm, or not, her rise on French soil.

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