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Taylor Swift hits it big

Lillian Civantos | Thursday, March 19, 2009

Most people on campus have heard of Taylor Swift. Swift’s two albums have gone multi-platinum. She was the biggest-selling American artist of 2008. Time Magazine described her as “one of pop’s finest songwriters, country’s foremost pragmatist and more in touch with her inner life than most adults.” Her hit music video, “Love Story,” is an Internet sensation (and the inspiration for a certain romantic on-campus proposal). But most college students don’t realize that this talented 19-year-old is younger than most of us. And even though she is famous, Taylor Swift is very easy to relate to. Let me tell you why.

After researching Taylor for this column, I came to one conclusion: the girl is adorable. If you want proof, read her MySpace journal entries, or check out the cute home videos she has posted, which are also on MySpace. The journal entries are funny, well-written and interesting. They have titles like, “While I was in L.A., my mom re-arranged my bathroom” and “Putting off packing by blogging,” making her seem very relatable. The videos, too, reveal her sarcastic sense of humor.

In short, Taylor Swift is an incredibly genuine and down-to-earth person – qualities that really come through in her albums.

For starters, Taylor Swift writes all of her own music. All of it. How many pop artists can say that? A few songs on her two albums are co-written, including a soulful collaboration with Colbie Caillat on her second album, “Fearless” that’s worth checking out. None of her songs are entirely written by someone else. What’s more, every one of Taylor Swift’s songs is based on her own life – really. She also doesn’t hesitate to use the actual names of friends and ex-boyfriends.

This honesty has generated a lot of drama. For instance, Taylor wrote the hit song “Teardrops on My Guitar” about a boy named Drew who she crushed on in high school. As the song says, he had a girlfriend at the time and never dated Taylor. But in one interview, Taylor Swift revealed that he showed up on her driveway – single – after the release of her first album. Unfortunately, their reunion didn’t work out. Too much time had passed, and they had grown apart. It’s still a crazy story, isn’t it?

A cuter story surrounds the fourth track on “Fearless,” called “Hey Stephen.” The song is about singer Stephen Barker Liles of the Nashville band Love and Theft. The band toured with Taylor last summer, and she developed a crush on Liles. But she did not tell him that she planned to write a song about him. Liles was reportedly quite surprised when the album came out.

The lyrics include such lines as, “Hey Stephen/ I could give you 50 reasons/ Why I should be the one you choose/ All those other girls are beautiful/ But would they write a song for you?”

No word yet on a developing romance between the two, but Liles did say in a past interview that, “I think everyone would agree she’s a total sweetheart and anyone would be lucky to go out with her.” Stay tuned.

And, of course, Taylor’s breakout single – 2006’s “Tim McGraw” – has its own story. She wrote this heart-rending tune in math class, during her freshman year. Yes, of high school. This kind of story makes me wish that I had used my high school math classes more productively – to write hit songs, for instance.

Other proof of Taylor Swift’s adorability? She encodes secret messages into her albums, which are fun to unravel. For instance, track three on “Fearless,” “Fifteen,” is a bittersweet take on her freshman year. Its secret message? “I cried while recording this.”

How’s that for honesty?

I could go on and on about how amazing this young star is, but I’ll wrap it up in Taylor’s own words. Here’s an excerpt from her recent interview with Philadelphia Magazine:

PM: When did you realize that you weren’t just successful – you were a humongous friggin’ deal?

Taylor: Um, I never came to that realization, actually. My biggest pet peeve is people who feel they’re entitled to success and fame. I haven’t reached the point where I’m like, “Hey, man, I’ve made it!” And I hope I never do get to that point.

We hope she doesn’t either. Taylor, stay just the way you are – adorable.

Contact Lillian Civantos at lcivanto@nd.edu