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by Nick Murray

May 7, 2013

Artist Spotlight: Taylor Swift

by Nick Murray  |  May 7, 2013

If you have watched the Grammys, follow any gossip blogs, or are one of the millions who've bought a ticket to watch Taylor Swift perform live, then you're probably familiar with the face she makes -- the Taylor Swift face -- when she steps onstage. Whether preparing to accept an award or perform any of her seven No. 1 singles, she always pauses to look out on the crowd with childlike wonder, as if it's the first adoring crowd she's ever seen.

Of course, at 23 years old, Swift has written more irresistible melodies, sung more moving lyrics, sold more records and seen more crowds than just about anyone living. Back in 2007, the then-17-year-old became the youngest person ever to write and record a country chart-topper when "Our Song," a bouncy banjo track she first performed at her freshman-year talent show, helped her debut album, Taylor Swift, sell over 5 million copies.

While the rest of us wrapped our heads around the album's personal lyrics and generational politics -- its opener, "Tim McGraw," inadvertently announced a changing of the guard -- Swift kept working, touring with established stars like George Strait and Brad Paisley while continuing to write the songs that would appear on 2008's Fearless, the record that would give the singer (now 18, if you're keeping count) her first taste of mainstream success. Where the record's first single, "Love Story," which retells Romeo & Juliet with a happy ending, topped the Hot 100, the third, "You Belong With Me," was her true crossover moment, its banjo-stripped radio remix even more popular than the country original.

Of course, with crossover success comes crossover drama, and 2010's Speak Now was full of it. One song, "Innocent," was famously about Kanye West, and another, "Dear John," was famously about John Mayer; others were said to be about teen-pop peers like Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas. Its best song, "Mean," was just about making it out of a small town where ambition is treated with hostility. But after the release of her latest LP, 2012's chart-smashing Red, it seems that Swift has few heights left to reach and few small towns left to leave, its 16 tracks ranging expertly from bluegrass to pop to dubstep. Then again, should the singer have any goals still unrealized, she has plenty of time left to check them off. Browse through her albums and enjoy our greatest-hits playlist to see what Taylor Swift has accomplished so far.

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