Taylor Swift's Major 2019
Taylor Swift has had quite the year. From an ongoing public feud over the rights to her music catalogue to being honored as artist of the year and decade at the American Music Awards, 2019 “has been a lot,” she admitted during her AMAs acceptance speech. “It’s been a lot of good, it’s been a lot of really complicated, and so on behalf of my family and me — thank you so much for being there and for caring.”
Here, we’re looking back at why 2019 has been Swift’s biggest year yet, and why we’ve named her one of PEOPLE’s four People of the Year.
She's Named Most Influential
Swift was honored as one of TIME magazine’s annual 100 Most Influential People in April of this year, and was chosen as one of five honorees to grace the magazine’s cover. Longtime pal and former tourmate Shawn Mendes wrote the essay paying tribute to the “Shake It Off” singer, focusing on her “electrifying” ability to connect with her audience.
“Taylor makes anyone older feel young again and anyone young feel they can do anything. It’s so rare and so special. If there is one thing I want to achieve in my career and life, it’s that,” he wrote in part.
She Had 2019's Best-Selling Album within Two Days
Real Swifties know that Taylor has long sprinkled clues about upcoming music in her social media, her outfits — basically everywhere. This spring saw her dropping several pastel-themed easter eggs before dropping “ME!” and “You Need to Calm Down,” the lead singles off Lover, her seventh studio album.
The songs went on to peak at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and all 18 tracks on the album went on to chart simultaneously.
Lover, released on Aug. 23, debuted at No. 1 and became the year’s top-selling album within two days, according to Billboard.
She Takes 'Speak Now' Seriously
Another awards show, another reason to add more space to her trophy shelf! In August, Swift took home three Moon Men from the MTV Video Music Awards, including video of the year for “You Need to Calm Down.” During her acceptance speech, she thanked her fans for supporting the pro-LGBTQ Equality Act, which she encouraged people to sign at the end of the star-studded music video and continued to promote during her onstage performance.
She's Making Major Bank
Taylor has had to deal with her fair share of drama this year, but hopefully she’s able to shake it off a bit when she checks her bank account and remembers that she’s the world’s highest-paid celebrity in 2019.
Sure, a seemingly endless string of awards is nice — but so is topping the Forbes Celebrity 100 list for the second time (she previously landed the No. 1 spot in 2016). Largely thanks to her ultra-successful Reputation Stadium Tour, which beat out her 1989 World Tour’s previous record as the highest-grossing domestic tour, Swift took home a pretax income of $185 million this year.
She's Angling for Independence
After leaving Big Machine Label Group — her label since she first started out in the industry at age 14 — at the end of last year and joining Universal Music Group, things were at first looking up for Taylor: going forward, she shared, she would own all of her master recordings.
But when it was announced in July 2019 that Big Machine (and Swift’s music catalogue) had been sold to music manager Scooter Braun, Swift was quick to speak out against the decision, and things seemed to decline from there. While the feud between Swift, Braun and former BMLG CEO Scott Borchetta is still ongoing, Swift earned a major victory when she fought to perform a medley of her past hits at the AMAs.
She Makes a Style Statement, Literally
The “Fearless” singer went on to take the stage in typical tongue-in-cheek Swift fashion, wearing a black-and-white getup that resembled a prison jumpsuit. Seemingly a wink to the feud, the shirt was emblazoned with the names of several of her earlier songs — meaning those still owned by Big Machine.
She's Got the Gold
In addition to being honored as artist of the decade at the AMAs, Swift made history as the highest-awarded artist in the show’s history, beating out Michael Jackson’s 24 wins after she took home the awards for artist of the year, best female artist and best album in the pop/rock category, best adult contemporary artist, best music video, putting her own AMA count at a whopping 29. That would put us in the mood to dance too, if we were her.
She's as Into Her Fans as Ever
In November, Swift was named the 2019 American Music Awards artist of the decade. After performing a mix of her new songs and classic hits, she was presented with the honor by legendary singer-songwriter Carole King, who Swift shared profoundly inspired her growing up.
During her acceptance speech, the singer thanked her fans for “being the reason why I am on this stage.” She added, “All any of the artists, or really anyone in this room wants, is to create something that will last. Whatever it is in life. And the fact that this is an award that celebrates a decade of hard work and of art and of fun and memories, all that matters to me is the memories that I have had with you guys, with you the fans over the years.”
And She's Getting Even More Musical
While winning artist of the decade may feel like a fitting end to Swift’s big year, there’s one more major milestone ahead: the upcoming release of Cats on Dec. 20. The highly anticipated film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical features Swift as Bombalurina, alongside several other A-list cast members (including Idris Elba, who makes a brief cameo at the start of her song “London Boy”). She even wrote a new song for the film!
If there’s one thing anyone knows about Swift beyond the fact that she’s a mega-popstar, it’s that she’s a diehard cat lover. “I really had an amazing time with Cats,” the singer said in her new cover interview for British Vogue. “I think I loved the weirdness of it. I loved how I felt I’d never get another opportunity to be like this in my life.”