Think to pop culture before Taylor Swift. For many Swift fans, who’ve come of age with her voice in their ears, that’s impossible to do. And even for casual Swift listeners, it may be a challenge to think about what music was like before her presence, whether in the form of the curly-haired Nashville star or the polished pop icon.
Ten years ago Monday, Swift released her self-titled debut, a collection of songs that the 16-year-old singer wrote during her freshman year of high school. Over the next decade, her stories matured and her sound evolved, from twangy country to stadium-ready pop, over the course of four subsequent albums: Fearless in 2008; Speak Now in 2010; Red in 2012; and 1989 in 2014.
But now, more people are listening — seemingly the entire American public, in fact. The numbers tracking her subsequent rise are staggering; beyond becoming the only artist to have three albums sell more than one million copies in a week, each of her studio albums has sold at least four million units, amounts that only megastars can reach in a time of slowing album sales. She’d become the youngest artist to win an Album of the Year Grammy, her trophy for Fearlessamong the 10 Grammys on her shelf. She's the only female artist to win that award twice.