Dec 6, 2023 - Business

Taylor Swift is Time's person of the year

Photo: Courtesy of Time

Taylor Swift's record-setting year just got a little bit bigger: She was named Time magazine's person of the year, the first entertainer ever to be a solo honoree.

The big picture: Swift's Eras Tour was a national phenomenon, she dominated the charts, had multiple albums hit No. 1 in a single year, and released a blockbuster concert film to boot.

  • Swift's year ranks with the likes of the Beatles, which released three No. 1 albums in 1966, and Michael Jackson, who ruled over 1983 with "Thriller," Axios' Troy Smith notes.

Driving the news: Time's Sam Lansky describes Swift in the person of the year cover story as "the last monoculture left in our stratified world."

  • "This was the year she perfected her craft — not just with her music, but in her position as the master storyteller of the modern era. The world, in turn, watched, clicked, cried, danced, sang along, swooned, caravanned to stadiums and movie theaters, let her work soundtrack their lives."
  • Swift also sat for a rare interview, telling Lansky: "I realized every record label was actively working to try to replace me," she said, referencing the time around the 2009 VMAs when Kanye West interrupted her on stage during an award speech. "I thought instead, I'd replace myself first with a new me. It's harder to hit a moving target."

Swift, 33, called her momentous year a "breakthrough moment," while reflecting on the ever-shifting public perceptions of her — including major setbacks — across two decades in music.

  • "[F]or the first time in my life, I was mentally tough enough to take what comes with that" success.
  • "This is the proudest and happiest I've ever felt, and the most creatively fulfilled and free I've ever been," she said.
  • Swift also spoke about her relationship with Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce, which has captured the attention of the sports and entertainment worlds and sent merch sales for the Chiefs skyrocketing.

Zoom out: Time typically selects titans of politics or industry as person of the year.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky won in 2022, Elon Musk in 2021, and President Biden and Vice President Harris in 2020.
  • Swift was also among the 2017 honorees — "the Silence Breakers" — for speaking out about sexual abuse and harassment in their industries during the #MeToo movement. U2 frontman Bono was a co-honoree in 2005, alongside other "Good Samaritans."
  • This is the first time an entertainer has been chosen primarily for their artistic output.

What to watch: Swift has been mindful of overexposure in the past. She took a two-year breather following her "1989" album cycle, whose tour concluded in late 2015, Smith notes.

  • Still, Swift's bound to stay in the public eye with Grammy nominations, dating an NFL star and outings in New York with friends.
  • With all that in mind, 2024 could belong to Swift as well.
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