Think back to what you did when you were 19. Maybe you just finished your freshman year in college, came home a few fudge sundaes heavier than when you left and spent the summer sleeping until noon at your parents’ place while waiting for the next party to start up.
But if your name is [artist id="2389485"]Taylor Swift[/artist], 19 was the year you catapulted from country cutie to international megastar. Swift was already a very popular singer before last year, releasing a self-titled debut album in 2006 that has sold more than 3 million copies.
But 2009 was the year she went supernova, all thanks to an album called Fearless. Released at the tail end of 2008, Fearless dominated the charts in 2009, spinning off a string of hit singles such as “Love Story,” “White Horse,” “Fifteen” and “You Belong With Me” and racking up eight Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year, while selling more than 3 million copies.
She’s a country star pop fans love and a pop star whose humble roots and strong songwriting chops appeal to country fans. It helps that Swift is also incredibly talented, co-producing the album with Nathan Chapman and writing or co-writing every one of its 13 songs. Like many country crossover artists before her, Swift often leans heavily on the pop end of the spectrum, offering hints of the sounds heard on albums from other teen girl singers, but without the assist of Auto-Tune, corny hip-hop-inspired beats or party-till-you-drop lyrics. Fearless is a true singer/songwriter album, with affecting, timeless stories of teen heartache and longing that feel decades ahead of the singer’s chronological age.
That honesty comes through loud and clear on songs like “Forever & Always,” which fans immediately recognized as a kiss-off to former flame Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers. “With this situation, I feel like I owed it to my fans to be like, ‘Look, it happened, you weren’t crazy,’ and address it,” she told MTV News the week the album was released. “And I addressed it, and, you know, that’s a chapter in my life that’s closed now.”
Swift admitted that she went a bit more general in her songwriting on the album, unlike her VMA-nominated “Teardrops on My Guitar,” in which she called out one ex by name. “I like to write personal songs,” she explained. “I like to write songs that are very obviously about people. It’s kind of hard to change your stripes. I like to write songs about love, and I like to write songs about relationships, and I like to write songs about boys.”
It helps that Swift has a megawatt smile and is a serious double threat, writing and performing great songs, but also showing up on “CSI” and cooking up some serious laughs as the musical guest/ host on “Saturday Night Live.” MTV News’ #2 Woman of the Year not only set digital download records for a country artist, she landed all but two of the tracks from Fearless in the Billboard Hot 100 at some point over the past year, became the first female country artist to log eight weeks at #1 on the Billboard and the youngest artist to win the Entertainer of the Year award at the Country Music Association Awards, just one of the dozens of major honors she took home in 2009.
In addition to debuting at #1 when it was released, Fearless spent 53 non-consecutive weeks in the top 10, tying it for the longest run near the top since Shania Twain did it with Come On Over from 1997-1999. Amid all that, the preternaturally sweet and grounded singer also unintentionally scored one of the top pop-culture memes of the millennium when Kanye West bum-rushed her at September’s VMAs , uttering the phrase that became an instant sensation and punch line, “I’m sorry, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.”
Her stunned, emotional reaction only made Swift even more relatable and lovable, as evidenced by the spike in sales for Fearless and the subsequent Platinum Edition re-release in October, which kept Swift in the top 10 through the end of the year and into 2010.
Swift continues to tour the album and will play a sold-out show in front of 68,000-plus fans at Gillette Stadium in June. With a third CD already in the works and Fearless showing no signs of slowing down, a Grammy for Album of the Year would be yet another sign that Swift shouldn’t worry about her rocket ride ending any time soon.
Stick with MTV News all week for our coverage of the 2010 Grammy Awards. We’ll have reports on your favorite nominees, party photos, behind-the-scenes video and much more leading up to and during the big show Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.