The Complete History of Taylor Swift at the Grammys

From buzz-worthy performances to red carpet moments to that iconic album of the year speech

Taylor Swift has made a triumphant return to the Grammys! While the singer hadn't attended the awards ceremony since 2016, she took the stage on Sunday, performing a medley of "Cardigan," "August" and "Willow" from both Folklore and Evermore before taking home album of the year for Folklore. 

Swift has an impressive 41 nominations to her name (including six nods this year) and 11 wins since first walking the red carpet 13 (!) years ago, making her one seriously decorated artist. From ballgowns to iconic head-banging performances to that album of the year speech, here’s Taylor’s complete Grammys journey.

Be sure to check out PEOPLE’s full Grammys coverage to get the latest news on music’s big night.

If 2008 feels like it was a long time ago, that’s because it was. It was an era in which Taylor received her first Grammy nomination (for best new artist) and was introducing the world to her girl-next-door image.

- Gregg DeGuire/WireImage
Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

By the following year, she was already turning up the star power. First, there was this black gown, a departure from the pastels and neutrals she tended to favor on the red carpet.

And then, of course, there was her now-iconic duet of “Fifteen” with Miley Cyrus.

By 2010, Taylor was back in the nomination game. (She scored eight nods that year!) Appropriately, she dazzled on the red carpet.

Taylor performed Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” alongside Stevie Nicks (though the performance got mixed reviews ... but more on that later).

She ended the night on a very high note, winning four Grammys, including her first album of the year trophy.

Casual, right?

Taylor didn’t attend the 2011 Grammys, but came back in 2012 ready to win. She was nominated for three awards that year.

And she ended up winning two Grammys, both for her song “Mean.” Remember when viewers panned Taylor’s performance of “Rhiannon”? “Mean” is rumored to be a response to a particularly harsh critic. As with most of her songs, she’ll likely never confirm the inspiration — but she dropped a major hint in her acceptance speech for best country solo performance.

Here’s Taylor chilling with her pair of Grammys.

Oh, and she performed the song that scored her the wins. A Swift mic drop for the ages.

How do you top a year like 2012? No worries, Taylor had it covered in 2013. First step, slaying the red carpet.

- Kevin Mazur/WireImage
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Next, she gave the Grammys a delightfully over-the-top performance of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”

- Kevin Winter/WireImage
Kevin Winter/WireImage

Seriously, this was Red era AF.

And, of course, “Safe & Sound” scooped up a Grammy for best song written for visual media.

Taylor didn’t slow down in 2014. She scored four more nominations that year, including a nod for album of the year.

- Larry Busacca/WireImage
Larry Busacca/WireImage

She also gave fans a jaw-dropping performance of “All Too Well” …

- Michael Tran/FilmMagic
Michael Tran/FilmMagic

… complete with her famous interlude head bang.

While Taylor lost out on the coveted album of the year Grammy, she later said that the loss inspired the direction for her Red follow-up, 1989. “I was just thinking a lot before bed about what I had made so far for the next album that was to become 1989, but I didn’t know that then,” she told Grammy Pro. “We don’t make music so we can win a lot of awards, but you have to take your cues from somewhere if you’re going to continue to evolve.”

And evolve she did. In 2015, she scored three nominations (and walked the red carpet with her shorter, straighter hair).

While “Shake It Off” failed to snag an award, we had officially entered the 1989 era.

No amount of wins could have prepared us for Taylor’s 2016 Grammys appearance. She scored seven nominations for 1989, and before the show even started she had us buzzing with her newly shorn bob and that crop top moment.

Oh, and she casually opened up the show with “Out of the Woods.” (Hi, Jack Antonoff!)

- Kevin Winter/WireImage
Kevin Winter/WireImage

SLAY.

But nothing would compare to what was arguably Taylor’s most iconic Grammys moment of all time: Her album of the year acceptance speech.

Taylor ended the night with three wins total, as one does. 2016 marked her last Grammys appearance, until now.

Despite being nominated for best country song for “Better Man” and for best song written for visual media with “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” in 2018, Swift skipped the Grammys that year after Reputation — her mega-successful clapback album influenced by electro and R&B — was snubbed from the major categories. But that only fueled her drive to come back with something even better.

“I just need to make a better record. I’m making a better record,” she vowed in her 2019 Netflix documentary Miss Americana.

In 2019, Reputation did earn a best pop vocal album nod, but Swift skipped the ceremony once again as she was busy filming Cats in London at the time.

2020 saw her opting out once again, although she earned three nominations: best pop solo performance for “You Need to Calm Down" and best pop vocal album, as well as song of the year for “Lover.”

This year, Swift returned to the stage, bringing collaborators Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner with her on a dreamy, cabin-inspired set.

Taylor Swift - TAS Rights Management 2021 via Getty
Taylor Swift TAS Rights Management 2021 via Getty

Later in the telecast, the singer won album of the year, taking the stage with Antonoff and Dessner and thanking many, including boyfriend Joe Alwyn and friends Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively's daughters, James, Inez and Betty.

"[Thank you to] Joe, who is the first person that I play every single song that I write," she said. "I had the best time writing songs with you in quarantine."

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