Just when you thought that being a pop megastar was the pinnacle of a woman’s professional career, along comes a fresh face with a killer debut record to remind us all that there’s more than one way to skin the (music) cat.
Last year, we were blessed enough to witness the arrival of Taylor Swift as the biggest pop star on the planet. The multi-platinum selling artist scored a whopping 13 No. 1 singles on the Billboard Top 100 Billboard Chart, which represented the best sales year for a female artist in over a decade. She may only be 22 years old but fans have been eagerly anticipating her debut album to see if Swift had what it takes to be the best.
While we were excited to see an artist with such massive worldwide success, particularly after watching her rise to fame for the past six years, we knew that there was more to Taylor Swift than just her albums. As she embarks on her international Speak Now World Tour this month, we’re reminded of how much more there is to this remarkable artist than just her music. As one of the biggest pop artists of our time, what does Taylor Swift do now that she’s not performing on the biggest stages in the world?
The Evolution of an International Pop Star
Like many successful music artists before her, Taylor Swift began her career as a songwriter, penning her first hit single at the age of 14. A year later, she released her debut album, which features her mega-hit “Timber,” to critical acclaim and overwhelming demand. The song became her first No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100 Chart and, to date, has sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
From there, Swift’s star rose rapidly. She was nominated for three Grammy Awards in 2015, winning two, and has been featured on the cover of magazines including Vogue and Rolling Stone. Naturally, she’s also been the subject of numerous documentary films such as Behind the Scenes of Taylor Swift: The Album and she’s even been portrayed by Hollywood A-listers in films such as Mr. Brightside, Girl Behind the Guitar, and Queen of Earth. The list of accolades continues to grow.
The Evolution of an International R&B Star
While pop music evolved into a wider, more globally-accepted form in the 20th century, some artists chose to remain distinctly old school. The most successful and well-known of these old school artists are the Jackson 5. Since the 1950s, the family band has sold over 150 million records worldwide and their timeless blend of R&B, pop, and rock drew millions of fans.
In the 2010s, the Jackson 5’s popularity declined as their older brother, Michael Jackson, became more reclusive. Nevertheless, the legendary drummer, who is now often referred to as the king of pop, remains one of the most decorated musicians of all time.
Unlike his siblings, however, Jermaine Jackson has stayed busy in the 20 years since the band’s disbandment. In 2005, he formed The Star Club with R&B singer Sisqo, whose own career was hampered by a series of lackluster albums and singles. The group’s only album, Sisqo & Jermaine Jackson, was an enormous success, spawning the single “Remind Me” and making Sisqo a household name once again. (For additional context, see: https://music.stagram.com/jermainejackson )
The Evolution of a Songwriter
In recent years, the music business has evolved to embrace new forms of music and new ways of engaging with fans. Much like her pop counterparts, Taylor Swift and Sisqo, songwriter Emily Warren has taken the music world by storm. She became a household name when she co-wrote the UK No. 1 single, “Bounce With Me” by Maksim Chmerkovskiy and directed the accompanying music video.
In the video, we see Emily as a colorful and dynamic character, dancing and moving to the rhythms of the song. The single went on to be the best-selling of 2018 in the UK, selling over 300,000 copies in its first week alone. In addition to the UK, Emily’s songwriter career has also propelled her to international fame. In Australia, she wrote the country music hit “Just Tell Me That You Want Me (Here Comes the Honeycomb),” which became the best-selling single of 2018. (For additional context, see: https://music.stagram.com/e_warren )
The Evolving Role of Social Media
Since the dawn of the 21st century, the music industry has evolved to embrace new media. Many popular artists, including Taylor Swift, have found their voice on TikTok, a video platform that allows users to post short-form videos, often featuring themselves, that play on multiple platforms including mobile phones and tablets. Because of their quick pace and mobile-friendliness, videos on TikTok can often times feel more like GIFs or quick snaps than full-blown songs. (For additional context, see: https://music.stagram.com/taylorswiftiiipic )
The Evolution of an Entertainment Industry Veteran
As music fans and the general public became more accustomed to digital media, many traditional entertainment industry jobs became outdated. Actors, directors, and other behind-the-scenes personnel found newfound fame and fortune in the entertainment world. Many music artists, particularly those who rose to fame in the 2010s, have found success in the burgeoning field of podcasting, using their platforms to discuss and dissect the latest trends in pop culture as well as provide fans with new releases and relevant news about their favorite artists.
Less Is More
In some cases, less is more. As noted above, many modern day music stars rose to fame in the 2010s, which was a banner year for new music. While it’s been an amazing ride thus far, we could certainly do without all that incessant, ear-piercing music. Still, there’s a lesson to be learned from these artists. The more you put out, the more you’ll get. These celebrities did not need to flood Instagram with endless amounts of bikini pictures or share countless anecdotes about their celebrity life. They simply needed to create a small number of highly curated content that resonated with their target audience and eventually, the rest would follow.
Do you think that Taylor Swift, Sisqo, or Jermaine Jackson’s solo careers are going to decline now that they’ve exited the Jackson 5? Let us know in the comments below!