Obsessiveness is a virtue for the young singer, who's taken the pop and country worlds by storm

By Tim Nudd
Updated June 03, 2010 05:00 PM

She might seem like the girl next door. But beneath Taylor Swift‘s sweet, unassuming veneer is a driven artist who has been obsessed with her achieving her goals since childhood.

“I have been singing randomly, obsessively, obnoxiously for as long as I can remember,” Swift, 20, tells Marie Claire in its July issue. “My parents have videos of me on the beach at, like, 3, going up to people and singing Lion King songs for them. I was literally going from towel to towel, saying, ‘Hi, I’m Taylor. I’m going to sing “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” for you now.’ ”

She has since moved on to her own material – winning four Grammy Awards in January, including Album of the Year for Fearless, the best-selling record in any genre in 2009. But her motivation and drive remain the same as before she was famous.

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“I love having a goal, feeling like I’m on a mission,” she says. “I love trying to beat what I’ve done so far I think about my next move 10 steps ahead. I’m always planning three award shows ahead. For me, planning is a productive way of stressing out about your life.”

And to de-stress? She writes songs, of course. “Everyone in my life knows,” Swift says, “whenever something happens, the only way it’s going to be over and finished and put to bed is if it’s written about.”