Taylor Swift is a household name (even for those who live under the pop culture rock). Swift, a phenomenon in the world of music, has impacted both the country and pop genres; but also, most prevalently, my life.
My love for Taylor Swift began when I was merely ten years old. Growing up in Fort Worth, Texas means that you’re subject to many country radio stations; thus, it was hard for me to listen to something other than country music when traveling in the car with my family. I remember the first time I heard “Tim McGraw,” Taylor’s first single, echoing through the speakers of my moms suburban – it was magical. I was finally listening to my kind of artist, singing about younger issues and I was hooked. Being used to listening to George Strait and Brooks and Dunn on country radio did not prepare me for this moment. There was a teenage country girl artist who I could idolize as I did Britney Spears (pre-2007 head shave, of course).
Taylor’s arrival to the country scene is what made her so immensely popular; she appealed to a completely different audience, bringing so many new ears to the country music genre. A much younger demographic was drawn to this new genre of music which is something that country music wasn’t ready for and that country music listeners are still hesitant to accept.
Whatever the issues that people have with her (I will never understand), she WAS country at the beginning of her career. Yes this revelation is coming from girl with a life-size cardboard cut-out of Taylor in her room and tickets to see her in concert next month, but also from someone who knows country music and appreciates it for everything that it offers.
Taylor’s dreams of becoming the next Faith Hill would be surpassed but her country roots are what would get her there. In the early days of her career, she opened for multiple country idols, including, Rascal Flatts, George Strait, Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley, just to name a few. Although she was a few decades behind her headliners, her music fit the country music bill. In her first single, Tim McGraw, Taylor describes heartache with a “boy in a Chevy truck that had a tendency of gettin’ stuck on backroads at night.” This song would plant her in the country world, which is exactly where she wanted to grow.
With constant success at country music award shows and sold-out tours, Taylor began to grow beyond country music with successful crossover hits like You Belong With Me on her second album Fearless, to which she won a VMA at the MTV Video Music Awards as the first country music artist to do so. Now, people who didn’t already love the curly, blonde country singer were starting to get more submersed in her music.
This is what I love about her; her music has never changed. All of her songs are the same kind of impactful. Her early sound made her a country artist, her later sound made her a pop artist, and her self made her a superstar. Taylor Swift should be listed under both country and pop, if you ask me. She has pushed the envelope and introduced so many listeners to country and pop music. For a fangirl like me, it’s difficult to remember a time where she wasn’t a world figure but impossible to forget where she started and what that sounded like.
“Taylor’s impact is huge on country music. She’s really helped broaden the perception of what’s intrinsic with a country song but you can present it in so many different ways,” said Keith Urban and I couldn’t agree more. I will forever be grateful for the girl who made me fall in love with country music and taught me what a good song and what good writing looks and sounds like.