Taylor Swift takes the top spot on our list. From an Album of the Year Grammy to the megahit Speak Now, our Entertainer of the Year earned a career’s worth of commercial and critical success—in just 12 short months.
2010 will go down in history as the year we all saw Taylor Swift differently. The 20 year-old kicked things off with a No. 2 single debut (“Today Was a Fairytale”), a hit movie (Valentine’s Day), and four Grammy wins, including Album of the Year for her 2008 CD, Fearless. She spent months headlining arena concerts and big-ticket awards shows. But there was one achievement—the Oct. 25 release of her third record, Speak Now—that topped everything. Buoyed by strong reviews and the radio-friendly hit “Mine,” Speak Now amassed a jaw-dropping 1,047,000 units in first-week sales, the highest tally for any release in five years. For all that, the confidently sweet woman who was only 2 months old when Entertainment Weekly launched in 1990 is now our youngest-ever Entertainer of the Year.
Most impressively, Swift single-handedly wrote all 14 songs on Speak Now—which makes sense considering how astonishingly personal each track is. Though she hasn’t confirmed the identities of any of her subjects, she’s widely believed to be singing about exes Taylor Lautner (“Back to December”), Joe Jonas (“Last Kiss”), and John Mayer (“Dear John”), as well as her MTV VMA spotlight thief Kanye West (“Innocent”), actress and romantic rival Camilla Belle (“Better Than Revenge”), and influential music blogger Bob Lefsetz (“Mean”). Over a late breakfast in Beverly Hills, Swift talked with EW about her record-setting sales and controversial lyrics—and even said a few words about Kanye West and her new boyfriend, Jake Gyllenhaal.
Here is a brief sneak peek of her interview with Entertainment Weekly, to read the whole thing pick up the current issue available on newsstands Now.
Taylor Swift: It was an emotional roller coaster leading up to releasing that record. I tend to live somewhere between hope and fear. I’ve never wavered so much in my life than I did in the weeks leading up to the record release.
EW: When you wrote “Innocent,” did you know immediately that you would sing it on the VMAs, where Kanye West had caused that ruckus last year?
Swift: I didn’t know that until about a week out. That woke me up in the middle of the night. Before I had gone to sleep I had decided that I didn’t want to perform on the show. Or even go. Then I woke up in the middle of the night and I realized that I had to, and that I wanted to perform that song.
Swift: Words are everything to me. Words can build me up and make me feel so good. And on the flip side, words can absolutely demolish me. I am nowhere close to being bulletproof when it comes to criticism. Feeling everything is part of being a songwriter. If I block out those feelings of pain and rejection, then I don’t know what I would write about. I’d rather feel pain when I read something terrible about me than feel nothing.
EW: So what’s it like to go away for a weekend with someone and have it end up on the cover of a magazine?
Swift: I write in great detail about my personal life, but I don’t talk about it.
EW: Is anyone in your life allowed to say, “You can’t write a song about me”?
Swift: Nothing is off-limits as far as writing. You can’t have parts of your life you don’t write about.