Feature

The Taylor Swift phenomenon

Why the country-pop star continues to buck music industry trends

How does Taylor Smith do it? asked Rashod D. Ollison in the Baltimore Sun online. The teen country-pop singer came “seemingly out of nowhere in 2006” to sell “more than 3 million copies of her first album”—an “almost impossible” feat in “today's crumbling music industry.” And on Fearless, her “hotly anticipated” new sophomore release, the 18-year-old “basically sticks with what worked on the debut”—yet this one looks like it’s going to be huge, too.

That’s because Swift’s music has tremendous crossover appeal, said Sasha Frere-Jones in The New Yorker online, it defies “category or genre.” She’s considered “part of Nashville’s country-pop tradition,” but her songs also “crop up in R&B and rap and rock.” Fearless will most likely sell “truly astonishing numbers” because it’s “a streamlined machine without a bad track, appropriate for all ages and demographics.”

Part of Swift’s success also has to do with the fact that she knows how to smile for “all the different digital cameras,” said Jon Caramanica in The New York Times, and “all the different camera phones.” She “erases barriers between her and her fans,” and “has aggressively used online social networks to stay connected with her young audience”—and that’s helped establish her as “the most remarkable country music breakthrough artist of the decade.”

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