Taylor Swift: Artist of the Decade
Taylor Swift burst onto the music scene in 2006 with her debut single “Tim McGraw” and has been steadily topping the charts ever since. From playing local shows for a small handful of onlookers to selling out arenas in a matter of minutes, it seems like she’s achieved her wildest dreams over the last 13 years.
Within the last decade alone, she’s had five No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as 20 top 10 hits, with more than 70 songs making the chart. According to Billboard, the country darling-turned-mega-popstar is also the highest-grossing artist of the decade, bringing in $687.7 million from her U.S. tours alone — a whopping $140 million more than runner-up Kenny Chesney.
In honor of Swift being awarded artist of the decade at the American Music Awards on Nov. 24, we’re looking back at the “You Belong with Me” singer’s record-breaking career over the last 10 years … ready for it?
118 shows, 4 Grammy Awards and 1 new album: Swift kicked off the new decade with an armful of awards — including Grammys for album of the year and best country album for 2008’s Fearless, as well as best country song and female country vocal performance for “White Horse” — and wrapped up her first headlining tour, The Fearless Tour, in July 2010. According to Billboard, the tour grossed more than $63 million and racked up an impressive 1,138,977 attendees.
In October of that year, she released Speak Now, her third studio album, which became her second album to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Notably, it was the first and only album Swift wrote entirely herself.
110 shows, 11 Billboard Hot 100 songs and 1 American Music Award: In addition to taking home the AMA artist of the year award for the second time (she’d previously won in 2009), the singer began her Speak Now World Tour, which lasted through 2012 and took her to 19 countries over the course of 110 shows. The tour grossed nearly double that of the Fearless tour, bringing in $123.7 million and 1.6 million attendees.
Swift broke numerous records with Speak Now, which marked the biggest country studio album debut in history and had 11 songs off the album simultaneously charting on the Billboard Hot 100 in a single week.
1 No. 1 single, 1 Grammy nomination and 1 No. 1 album: After being nominated for best country album at the Grammys and ultimately taking home the awards for best country song and best country solo performance for her single “Mean,” Swift finished the Speak Now World Tour in March of 2012 and went on to release her fourth studio album, Red, in October of that year. The album marked the beginning of her departure from the crossroads of country and pop, with synth-heavy singles like “I Knew You Were Trouble” and catchy pop hits like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” The latter marked Swift’s first No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, and Red’s release achieved another record: her first album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
$150 million gross tour sales, 582,000 digital sales in one week and 4 album nominations: Swift’s 15-month Red tour became the highest-grossing single tour by a country artist, beating out — in a twist that 2006 Taylor couldn’t have imagined — none other than Tim McGraw and his wife Faith Hill’s double-headliner tour, which had grossed $141 million between 2006-2007.
The singer also led the pack during the largest digital song sales week in history at the time, with 582,000 downloads of “I Knew You Were Trouble” during the last week of the year — beating out Justin Bieber and Rihanna, among others.
Red garnered four album of the year nominations in 2013 (and would go on to get three more in 2014) from various major music award shows, including the Juno Award, the American Music Award, the Academy of Country Music Award and the Country Music Association Award.
1 CMA award, 1 AMA all-time record and lucky number 13: In addition to taking home the second-ever Country Music Association Awards’ pinnacle award, which was effectively a lifetime achievement award for a then-23-year-old Swift, the “Mean” singer was also honored with a third AMA artist of the year title, making history as the award’s all-time winner.
“My lucky number is thirteen and you have made 2013 the most magical year of my life so far,” Swift said during her acceptance speech at the AMAs.
1989’s release, 1.287 million copies sold in its debut week and 2 No. 1 singles: Making history had already become a pattern for Swift by 2014. Her fifth studio album, 1989, sold 1.287 million copies in its first week — making her the first artist to have three albums that sold more than 1 million copies in a single week. The album went on to become the best-selling digital album of the year, totaling 1.41 million downloads.
While 1989 was climbing the charts, Red was still garnering major nominations, including best country album and album of the year at the Grammys as well as album of the year at the World Music Awards.
$181.5 million gross tour sales, 8 Billboard awards and 1 No. 1 song: No bad blood here! Swift premiered her star-studded music video for her No. 1 single featuring Kendrick Lamar, “Bad Blood,” at the Billboard Music Awards. The singer led the night, sweeping up a whopping eight awards — including top artist, top female artist, top Billboard 200 artist, top Billboard 200 album for 1989, top Hot 100 artist, top digital songs artist, top streaming song (video) for “Shake It Off” and the Billboard Chart achievement award (whew)!
While she was busy clearing off shelf space to make room for her newest spate of trophies, Swift’s 1989 tour — which ran from May to December — became the highest-grossing domestic tour for a woman.
$170 million income, 3 Grammy awards and No. 1 on Forbes Celebrity 100 list: In addition to climbing the music charts, Swift also topped the Forbes Celebrity 100 list in 2016, raking in a pretax income of $170 million thanks to her mega-successful 1989 tour.
Her annual awards sweep didn’t slow down, either: the singer took home Grammys for album of the year and best pop vocal album for 1989, as well as best music video for “Bad Blood.”
1 No. 1 song, 6 months out of the spotlight and 1 new Reputation: “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ‘cause she’s dead!” With that iconic line, Swift broke from her bubbly pop past and embraced a new persona, reclaiming the emblem of the snake in order to satirize her public persona and fight back at her haters. After a messy and highly public feud with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West, Swift had stepped back from the spotlight for most of 2017 before returning with her first solo single in three years: the scathing “Look What You Made Me Do,” which was the ultimate clapback. The song skyrocketed to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking her fifth single to do so.
In November, Swift dropped her highly anticipated sixth studio album, Reputation, which once again became the best-selling album of the year in the U.S.
$345.7 million gross tour sales, 53 shows and 1 AMA award: While Swift may sing about not being able to have nice things, her record-shattering tour sales say otherwise: the 53-show Reputation tour became the highest-grossing tour in U.S. history according to Billboard Boxscore, raking in $345.7 million.
To top it off, Swift broke her own record for all-time winner of the AMA artist of the year award, taking home her fourth at that year’s show.
$185 million income, 2 No. 2 singles and 1 new album: In case the awards weren’t enough, Forbes once again named the singer the world’s highest-paid celebrity, with a pretax income of $185 million — $100 million more than her 2018 income. She was also named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of the Year.
While Swift continues to cash in and clap back at her detractors, she’s also churning out a seemingly endless string of hits: Her seventh studio album, Lover, dropped earlier this year and saw its two lead singles, “You Need to Calm Down” and “ME!” peak at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
1 artist of the decade award, 1 public feud, 5 AMA awards and 1 Golden Globe nomination: After a decade of shattering records, repeatedly reinventing herself and never straying far from the top of the charts, Swift was honored as artist of the decade at this year’s AMAs. While fans were eager to see the singer perform a medley of her past and present hits, there was one major obstacle: a public feud with her previous label, Big Machine Label Group, and Scooter Braun, who purchased the group and her back catalogue earlier this year, over being able to perform the songs that Braun now owns. Lucky for Swifties, the singer was officially given permission to “Shake it Off” and was able to perform as planned.
Swift made history yet again at the AMAs: with 28 wins under her belt, she became the highest-awarded person in the show’s history, beating a record set by Michael Jackson.
She ended the year on a sweet note, scoring a Golden Globe nomination for best original song — motion picture for her tune “Beautiful Ghosts” from her upcoming movie Cats.