The Gorgeous Taylor Swift and Her Many Eras
16th September, 2021
Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock | John Angelillo/UPI/Shutterstock
We were all young when we first saw her. From cowboy boots to stilettos and local gigs to stadium tours, Taylor Swift has definitely come a long way. Ever since the release of her first hit single “Tim McGraw,” have seen tinger-songwriter perform music across various genres, like country, pop, and even alternative rock. And each album reminds us of a completely different aesthetic—a theme that reflects her evolution in her personal life. We absolutely love that! Let’s take a look at Swift and her transformation through the years.
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we? Taylor Swift was an adorable blue-eyed girl with voluminous curly blonde hair. She was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on December 13, 1989, to parents Andrea and Scott Swift. She had an ordinary childhood and grew up on a Christmas tree farm, which later served as an inspiration for her Christmas single “Christmas Tree Farm.” Her father was a stockbroker and worked with different clients to help them invest their money in lucrative stocks. He bought this house after one of his clients showed it to him. Swift’s mother worked as a marketing executive for an investment fund. Swift has always been fond of horses and learned horseback riding as a child. By the time she was seven years old, Swift was already participating in riding competitions. She also has a brother named Austin, who is only a couple of years younger than her.
A “Fearless” Taylor
Fearless (2008), Swift’s second studio album, was probably one of the most important albums of her career, and it opened at the number one spot on the Billboard charts. The album was at the top of that chart and was beating all the other albums in that decade. Swift won four Grammys for this album, including the largely courted Album of the Year, making her the youngest artist to win in that category at the time. In the Fearless era, Swift stepped out of her comfort zone and was seen in sparkly sequined dresses. Whenever Swift performed the title track, she would make it rain (literally!). And as the lyrics go, she used to dance “in her best dress, fearless” for her fans. This era was also when she introduced the legendary bejeweled guitar, which became as iconic as her album. The album featured some of Swift’s all-time hit singles like the iconic “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me” that continue to be fan-favorites even after all these years. Many believe that
cemented Swift’s original sound and singing style in the minds of the listeners.
Making a debut
After Swift was signed to the Big Machine Records, she released her first single “Tim McGraw” in 2006, which made it to the Top 10 hits on the Billboard charts. The song was so good that it stayed in the Top 10 for over eight months! She then released her self-titled debut album Taylor Swift (2006), which featured some of her other popular single tracks like “Our Song,” “Teardrops on My Guitar,” “Picture to Burn,” and “Should've Said No.” During this debut era, Swift gained fame and was seen touring and opening for artists like Rascal Flatts, George Strait, Kenny Chesney, and the muse to her debut single, Tim McGraw. Although this was only her debut album, her music and songwriting were largely praised by critics. The singer was also honored with the Horizon Award from the Country Music Association (CMA) and won the award for Top New Female Vocalist from the Academy of Country Music (ACM) in 2007.
As Swift grew older, she developed an affinity for the performing arts and was actively participating in children’s theatre at school and other theatre groups. When she was eight years old, Swift’s parents gifted her a guitar on Christmas. Until then, she wasn’t exposed to music and songwriting. At the age of 11, Swift got the opportunity to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before a Philadelphia 76ers basketball game. After performing at the game, she started showing more interest in music and was taking professional guitar lessons at the age of 12. Eventually, she began writing songs as a way of expressing her emotions and was using her guitar to de-stress. Since we grew up in Pennsylvania, Swift was naturally drawn towards country music and wrote songs that fit that style. The singer even claims that she drew inspiration from iconic artists like Shania Twain and the Dixie Chicks in the beginning.
No explanation, only “reputation”
With a lot of success comes a whole lot of controversy. After 1989, the Kim and Kanye drama blew out of proportion, and tabloids started ripping apart Swift’s reputation to shreds. However, the artist announced her new album reputation (2017) by archiving her Instagram page. She also coined the phrase, “There will be no further explanation. There will just be reputation.” This implied that Swift would not be doing any public appearances or interviews for the album. The move was considered a bold one by the industry. The first single released, “Look What You Made Me Do,” shocked the audience because of how different it was from her old style. Her entire aesthetic for the reputation era featured dark, edgy looks and a lot of snakes everywhere, including a huge prosthetic cobra named “Karyn.” Despite people being skeptical about how successful her tour would be without any publicity and promotion, it broke several records in terms of ticket sales and became her most successful project yet.
Born in “1989”
Even though Red was a massive success, Swift did not win Album of the Year at the Grammys. This inspired her to make a new album that featured a complete genre shift. This album was christened 1989 (2014), a pop album that would have modern themes and production styles. This album featured several of her most iconic hit singles, including “Blank Space,” “Style,” and the party anthem “Shake It Off.” As was her goal with this album, Swift did end up winning Album of the Year at the Grammys. Fans still consider 1989 to be one of the most defining pieces of work in pop music history. Swift collaborated with Jack Antonoff for the first time, who continued to be a part of Swift’s songs for the coming albums as well. The 1989 era saw Taylor Swift with her hair straightened and cut into a short bob. The red lipstick stayed, and in came crop tops, shorts, and stunning bodysuits that made her look different.
Taylor Swift’s fourth studio album Red (2012) was a turning point in Swift’s career and is considered to feature some of her best lyrical work. Taylor, for the first time, rocked a red lip and bangs, which went on to become her signature look. She ditched her curls for this era and went for a straight hair look that also stuck around for years. This look that started with the Red era continued to be a part of Taylor Swift’s aesthetic for several years. For this album, Swift tried to experiment a lot with her sound and added distinctive pop elements to some of her singles. Fans seemed to love this change in her sound, and her singles “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” did incredibly well on the Billboard charts. The latter also gave Swift her first #1 hit on the Billboard pop singles chart. The album featured the hit single “22.” Let’s just say that the song didn’t just become everyone’s 22nd birthday anthem just like that.
Even though Swift’s second album broke records, her work attracted a lot of criticism. Critics started to claim that the only reason her songs were doing well was because they were being written by experienced songwriters and not Swift herself. In response to this, Swift made a bold creative decision to write her entire next album, Speak Now (2010), all by herself. The album referenced her past relationships with John Mayer, Joe Jonas, and Taylor Lautner. The first single, “Mean,” was said to be indirectly addressed to an online critic who made some really “mean” comments. The song earned her even more Grammys: one for best country solo performance and the other for the best country song. For the Speak Now era, Swift stuck to a fairytale-like aesthetic. Her concert stage was decorated like the insides of a castle, and she was performing in dreamy ball gowns all night. This album featured a lot of purple and pink hues, and even her signature outfit featured these colors, with her curls pulled back in a bun or a ponytail.
The sister album, “evermore”
Apparently, despite writing 17 songs, Swift’s creative brain was still running on overdrive. Just five months after releasing folklore, Taylor Swift announced a surprise release of her ninth studio album evermore at the end of 2020. Swift described this album as a sister album of folklore with a similar sonic style to it. The album featured fifteen tracks and two deluxe tracks. It also displayed a cottage core aesthetic but was a bit more colorful and vibrant in terms of the shades used. The album cover showed Swift with her back to the camera and her hair braided at the back. She wore a long plaid coat, and the color palette that was used in this album was mainly in neutral colors like brown, cream, and burnt red. The first single, “willow,” was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and was also released as several remixed versions in collaboration with Swift’s favorite female artists.
The fantasy of “folklore”
While we were all holed up at home, complaining about being quarantined and not getting to be productive, Ms. Swift was working hard on her eighth studio album, folklore (2020). What began as a way to kill time while being isolated at home, ended up being a 16-track record with one deluxe track. The album was made in collaboration with Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner and was entirely recorded while in isolation. Swift built an at-home recording studio which she named the “Kitty Committee Studio,” where she recorded all of her vocals. With this album, Swift embraced the cottage core aesthetic, and the photographs taken for the album were fully retro-styled black-and-white and sepia-themed. Swift ditched her regular style of writing songs about her life and instead adopted a narrative style as she wrote songs about made-up stories. Singles like “cardigan” and “betty” became largely popular, and the latter was charting high on country music charts. folklore won Album of the Year at the Grammys, making her the only female artist to win this accolade three times.
“Lover” in technicolor
After 14 years, Swift’s contract with the Big Machine Records ended with the release of reputation. She then signed with the Universal Music Group record label, Republic Records. Her previous label refused to let her own her master recordings or buy her catalog, which is why it was important for Swift to sign with a label that would let her own her future projects. Unlike reputation, the aesthetic of the Lover (2019) was mellowed down to pastel colors. The music videos of the first two singles, “ME!” and “You Need to Calm Down,” had happy tones that made it feel like a modern rendition of In Living Color. Moreover, “You Need To Calm Down” quickly became a popular gay anthem, which also featured a call-to-action at the end of the video, encouraging viewers to sign the petition in support of the Equality Act. During the era, Swift also released a Netflix documentary called Miss Americana that shed light on the hidden aspects of her life and career.