Taylor Swift Named Person of the Year by Time
New York (AP) — Is the year of Taylor Swift over now? Not yet. Time magazine named Swift its person of the year on Wednesday, a week after Spotify announced she was the most-played artist on the streaming platform. Swift was picked from a group of nine finalists that included Barbie, King Charles III, and OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman, among others.
“While her popularity has grown across the decades, this is the year that Swift, 33, achieved a kind of nuclear fusion: shooting art and commerce together to release an energy of historic force,” Time said about her selection. Her year included the wildly popular Eras Tour and concert movie, the release of her reimagined ‘1989’ album, and her closely watched relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. She’s even the subject of college courses. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was Time’s 2022 person of the year.
The US magazine chose the pop star for her ability to use the pop song to tell her story. US magazine Time has chosen American Grammy-award winning artist Taylor Swift as its person of the year, beating out competition including the first-ever live-action Barbie movie and King Charles III of the United Kingdom. The magazine awarded Swift on Wednesday for her “preternatural skill for finding the story”, making her the first woman to appear twice on a Person of the Year cover since the nominations began in 1927.
“Something unusual is happening with Swift, without a contemporary precedent. She deploys the most efficient medium of the day – the pop song – to tell her story,” the magazine wrote. “Swift’s accomplishments as an artist – culturally, critically, and commercially – are so legion that to recount them seems almost beside the point,” it added, comparing her to the likes of Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and Madonna. “As a businesswoman, she has built an empire worth, by some estimates, over $1 billion,” the magazine continued. “And as a celebrity – who by dint of being a woman is scrutinized for everything from whom she dates to what she wears – she has long commanded constant attention and knows how to use it.”
Speaking on NBC’s “Today” program, Time editor-in-chief Sam Jacobs said his team had “picked a choice that represents joy”. “Someone who’s bringing light to the world,” he said. The singer collected a string of successes this year. Her third re-recorded album Speak Now had record-setting streams and her concert film, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, was one of the most successful in the history of the genre, as well as the highest-grossing global tour of all time.
Her concert in downtown Seattle in July shook the ground so hard that seismologists registered tremors equivalent to a magnitude 2.3 earthquake – the so-called Swift Quake. She also “somehow made one of America’s most popular sports – football – even more popular” after she started dating Travis Kelce, the Kansas City Chief and two-time Super Bowl champion, and his games saw a massive increase in viewership. “Over time, she has harnessed the power of the media, both traditional and new, to create something wholly unique – a narrative world, in which her music is just one piece in an interactive, shape-shifting story,” the magazine wrote.
In a tradition that dates back to 1927, Time dedicates one issue annually to featuring a person, group, idea, or object that “for better or for worse … has done the most to influence the events of the year”. Swift was also named Person of the Year in 2017 when she was recognized as one of the Silence Breakers who inspired women to speak out about sexual misconduct. Fans have been drawn by the empowering feminist messages scattered across her discography and her openness to sharing her emotions. In 2022, Time’s Person of the Year was Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the “spirit of Ukraine”. Previous selections include US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, Martin Luther King Jr, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Pope Francis, and activist Greta Thunberg. Other contenders this year included Russian President Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump’s prosecutors, and Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI which released the groundbreaking ChatGPT.
Taylor Swift has capped off a stellar 2023 by being named Time Magazine’s person of the year. The star, whose Eras tour broke box office records and provoked an inquiry into Ticketmaster’s sales practices, follows the likes of Barack Obama, Greta Thunberg, and Volodymyr Zelensky. She told the magazine that she is “the proudest and happiest I’ve ever felt”. The award goes to an event or person deemed to have had the most influence on global events over the past year. The singer also admitted to the magazine that the toll of her 180-minute Eras concerts often left her feeling physically exhausted. After a run of shows, “I do not leave my bed except to get food and take it back to my bed and eat it there,” she said. “I can barely speak because I’ve been singing for three shows straight. Every time I take a step my feet go crunch, crunch, crunch from dancing in heels.” The star also talked about her blossoming romance with American Football star Travis Kelce. The couple hit the headlines in September when Swift was spotted at with Kelce’s mother at one of his games. “By the time I went to that first game, we were a couple,” she explained, adding they had first hooked up over the summer. “I think some people think that they saw our first date at that game? We would never be psychotic enough to hard-launch a first date.” Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift have become the biggest celebrity couple of the year. But Swift’s love life is small beans compared to her cultural impact. Already a superstar before 2023, her career has reached new heights thanks to the Eras tour – which sees the singer perform a career-spanning 45-song set every night. Demand for tickets was so high that it crashed Ticketmaster’s website, prompting a hearing into its business practices by the US Senate. When the tour began in the summer, ticketless fans gathered in car parks just to hear the music. In Seattle, her concerts generated seismic activity equivalent to a 2.3 magnitude earthquake. “It feels like the breakthrough moment of my career, happening at 33,” she told Time. “And for the first time in my life, I was mentally tough enough to take what comes with that.” Swift’s imperial phase comes after a period where she was vilified for her positions on feminism and politics – although her silence on those issues stemmed from nothing more sinister than a lack of confidence. After speaking out against Donald Trump and in favor of abortion rights, she hit a creative purple patch with the pandemic-era albums Folklore and Evermore. Showcasing a more organic, indie-folk approach than the country-pop that made her famous, the records confirmed her status as a generational songwriting talent. She cemented her comeback with last year’s Midnights – a bleary, sleep-deprived collection of pop songs based around the thoughts that keep her up at night. Swift is due to bring her Eras tour to Europe in May 2024. Time editor-in-chief Sam Jacobs said the US pop icon was “the rare person who is both the writer and hero of her own story”, adding that Swift had “found a way to transcend borders and be a source of light”. On Monday, Time Magazine announced its shortlist of nine candidates for the title. Those included Chinese President Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Barbie, and the striking Hollywood actors and writers. As well as her tour, Swift has also released the biggest-selling record of 2023 – a re-recording of her decade-old album 1989. Incredibly, she also has the second and third biggest-sellers of the year in America, with Midnights and Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) eclipsing records by Drake, Olivia Rodrigo, and Ed Sheeran. Amongst her other achievements this year: The Eras tour film became the biggest concert movie of all time, taking $249m (£197m) at the global box office. Swift became the first living artist to have five albums in the US Top 10 simultaneously, with 1989, Midnights, Folklore, Lover, and Speak Now. She broke the record for the most number one albums by a woman in US chart history – 13 in total – overtaking Barbara Streisand. Swift became the first songwriter to score seven Grammy nominations for song of the year, overtaking Sir Paul McCartney and Lionel Richie. With eight sold-out nights at Wembley Stadium, Swift equals a UK touring record set by Take That. Boosted by her tour, Swift was named the most-streamed female artist in the history of Spotify and Apple Music. Last month, the star was declared a billionaire by business publication Bloomberg, which estimated her net worth to be $1.1bn (£907m). Only three other musicians have achieved billionaire status – Rihanna, Beyoncé, and Jay-Z. However, Swift is the first to reach the milestone based on music alone, as her rivals’ fortunes incorporate business ventures in fashion, beauty products, and hi-fi equipment. In a social media post, Swift celebrated her latest accolade by turning the spotlight on her beloved cat, Benjamin – who appeared draped around her shoulders on Time Magazine’s cover. Swift is currently on a break before launching the Asian and Australian legs of her Eras tour in February. The shows come to Europe in May, and Swift is also expected to release a re-recorded version of her Reputation album in the new year. Her decision to re-make all of her first six albums came after her old record label, Big Machine, sold her master tapes to music mogul Scooter Braun in 2019. He later sold them to an investment company. Speaking to Time, she said she had initially recoiled at the idea, which had been suggested by both her father and fellow pop star Kelly Clarkson. “I’d look at them and go, ‘How can I possibly do that?’ Nobody wants to redo their homework if on the way to school, the wind blows your book report away.” In the end, she went ahead with the project as an act of rebellion. “It’s all in how you deal with loss,” she says. “I respond to extreme pain with defiance.”
Taylor Swift’s influence on the music industry and popular culture has been undeniable. Her achievements as an artist, businesswoman, and cultural icon have solidified her status as one of the most influential figures of our time. From her record-breaking tours to her groundbreaking re-recordings, Swift continues to push boundaries and redefine success in the music industry. Time’s recognition of her as the Person of the Year for 2023 is a testament to her enduring impact and relevance in today’s world.