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Taylor Swift cements her position as 2017’s most important pop artist

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Taylor Swift 2007 - FEATUREFLASH PHOTO AGENCY/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock.com
  • Taylor Swift 2007
In 2007, I interviewed a country artist on the rise who was coming to Colorado Springs for a concert at Cowboys (the old Palmer Park Boulevard location). She was 17 and comfortably chatty at the time, and during my phone conversation with her — easily scheduled through the Cowboys folks — we discussed texting, her pink and flowery MySpace page, and growing up on the Christmas tree farm that her parents owned.

At the end of that interview Taylor Swift told me, “In 10 years, I’ll be 27. I hope I’m still doing this. I’d love to be headlining.”

Well, she’s doing it, and more.

Only two months ago, it seemed all but certain that Ed Sheeran, Rihanna and Bruno Mars would have a lock on their positions as 2017’s most popular artists. That was before Taylor Swift changed the game with the Nov. 10 release of her sixth album Reputation.
In its first four days, Reputation blew through the 1 million sales mark in the U.S., which guaranteed its ranking as the year’s top-selling album. Its lead single “Look What You Made Me Do” earned 8 million streams within 24 hours of its Spotify release, and its video received 43.2 million views during its first day on YouTube, breaking records in both cases.

Meanwhile, 2017 finds Swift spending an ungodly amount of time ducking paparazzi, appearing on magazine covers, and sharing photos with her 105 million Instagram followers. A new app called The Swift Life, which will serve as a dedicated social network for her fans, was announced last week.

And while the artist’s crossover into the pop world is undeniable, the album closes on an unexpected note with “New Year’s Day,” a poignant ballad that marks Swift’s return to country radio playlists.
Taylor Swift 2017
  • Taylor Swift 2017
Ten years ago, you could have stood about 20 feet from the stage at Cowboys and seen her perform for $15. Today, tickets for her 2018 33-show Reputation tour range from $49.50 for “nosebleed” seats to $1,500 at the VIP level. (Probably one of the reasons that just this past year, Forbes estimated her net worth to be $280 million.)

As I watched last month when Swift was named a Time magazine Person of the Year as a part of the Silence Breakers, I wasn’t surprised. Even 10 years ago, I described her as having a “heartening maturity.” She wasn’t just riding on country love song themes in those early days; she was also using her guitar and her pen to work through issues like eating disorders and body image.

“The cool thing about songwriting,” she told me back then, is that “every experience in your life you can turn into a positive.”

My only regret from that decade ago with Taylor? I didn’t go to that concert at Cowboys.

But as the 17-year-old version of Swift might note, it gave me a great story to tell.

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