Homegrown sweetheart, two-faced snake, self-aware songwriter: Taylor Swift has been called many names over the course of her career. One of the most popular female recording artists ever, Swift has won millions of fans with achingly honest songs about her dramatic love life and her uneasy relationship with the dark side of fame.
No matter the subject, Swift’s songs are irresistibly catchy and at times, startlingly poetic. If you’re a hater, prepare to see the light. If you’re a “Lover” (the title of Swift’s 2019 album), grab your headphones and jam out to these 46 melodious facts about America’s country bumpkin turned pop princess.
1. Law and Order: Special Cats Unit
There are cat people and there are dog people. Taylor Swift is a cat person. While the pop star coos over pretty much any kitty, like any cat mom, she has an especially soft spot for her own fur babies: Olivia Benson and Meredith Grey. Yup, Swift’s cats are named after Ellen Pompeo’s Grey’s Anatomy character, Meredith Grey, and Mariska Hargitay’s character, Olivia, from Law and Order: SVU.
In 2015, Swift invited her name-spiration TV idols Mariska Hargitay and Ellen Pompeo to join her in the award-winning music video for “Bad Blood.”
2. It’s a Boy!
In 2019, Swift filmed the music video for her song “ME!” As she danced in pastel outfits and dramatically spoke in French, something very special happened behind-the-scenes: Swift fell in love. No, not with her male collaborator, Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco, but with a tiny, adorable, furry extra that Swift would name Benjamin Button.
Swift recently gushed about the white and grey kitten, saying “He’s just the best boy. He’s the best little guy.”
3. Unlikely Inspiration
Ever wonder who taught Swift to play guitar? Funnily enough, it was a computer repairman. He taught Swift to play three chords on the guitar when she was 12, which inspired her to write her very first song, “Lucky You.”
In Swift’s magical version of the story, Ronnie Kremer was fixing her computer when he noticed a guitar in the corner of her room. According to Kremer, the reality was a little less poetic. He was her guitar teacher first and her computer repairman months later. Either way, he gets credit for teaching Swift the basics of guitar!
4. No Place Like Homes
Since leaving her childhood home in Reading, Pennsylvania, Swift has acquired homes from coast to coast. Most of Swift’s homes are down to earth, New England-chic with beachy exteriors and wood floors. She moved to Nashville, Tennessee when she was 14-years-old where she purchased two homes: a modern penthouse condo in the downtown area and a large brick estate.
In 2011, Swift moved on from Nashville to reside in Beverly Hills, California. She picked a four-bedroom Cape-Cod aesthetic for a casual $3.97 million. She went on to get homes in Barnstable, Massachusetts; Westerly, Rhode Island; and in 2014 she settled down in New York, New York.
5. Runs in the Family
When Swift sang her first note, she followed in the footsteps of her grandmother, a professional opera singer. Clearly, talent runs in the family–soon enough, a preteen Swift was performing at local events and sports games in Reading, Pennsylvania. By age 12, Swift began guitar lessons and started writing her own songs.
6. Things to Come
Swift signed her first contract with Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Records after an amazing performance at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. From there, she went on to release her first single, “Tim McGraw” in 2006. The song was a major sign of things to come: a lovelorn, nostalgic ballad about lost love, the song made the Top 10 on the country charts and was a major part of her breakthrough debut album.
7. Bad Blood
In recent years, though, Swift and Borchetta’s relationship has become more complicated. In 2019, Big Machine was bought by Scooter Braun. This meant that Swift’s master recordings (i.e., original recordings) of her first six albums now belong to Braun. Swift took to Tumblr to break down the legalese and tell fans why losing her own back catalog felt like her “worst case scenario.”
After completing her 13-year deal with Big Machine, Swift has signed with Republic Records and Universal Music Group. Who wants to bet that part of the terms allow Swift to retain the masters for all her upcoming albums?
8. Who Am I?
Fun fact about Swift’s name: the reason Swift’s mom, Andrea, wanted to name her daughter “Taylor” was because she thought that if you saw her name on a business card you would not know if it referred to a girl or a boy. Swift has also given interviews saying that she was named after the Scottish singer-songwriter James Taylor. As Zoidberg might say, “Why not both?”
9. A Warm Welcome
Swift wrote “Welcome to New York” after moving to the Big Apple and purchasing a seven-bedroom penthouse that was previously owned by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. The 20 million dollar penthouse has a cool warehouse-loft aesthetic with exposed brick and beams.
10. Social Media Maven
If her pop career ever derails, Swift has a future in social media strategy. The pop icon has millions of followers on multiple platforms, using Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to tweet promos for her new songs, send messages to her fans, and increasingly, send cryptic clues about upcoming music. Swift calls these hints Easter Eggs and they are the Number 23 of the music world. Once you start to see them, you realize that they are absolutely everywhere.
11. Sherlock Holmes and the Curious Case of the “Lover” Album
Swift has always enjoyed giving her fans sneak peeks into her latest music, but she’s dialled up the clues and hints to 11 in the promotional materials for her latest album “Lover.” Swift wore a denim jacket covered in pins on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, claiming that every pin referenced a secret about the new album.
In the video for “ME!”, for example, eagle-eyed fans figured out the album title (“Lover” is spelled out on a neon sign in the background of an aerial view) and surmised that the record might feature a collaboration with country music legends The Dixie Chicks (their picture is on a gallery wall in the background of a shot).
Taylor Swift: every song, tweet, and gram are like miniature DaVinci Code puzzles.
12. From Light to Dark
In 2017, Swift and Zayn Malik teamed up for the song, “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” for the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack. Recorded after Swift’s public feud with Kim Kardashian (more on this later), the video inaugurated a new era for the pop star’s image and sound. In the months leading up to the release of her sixth album Reputation, Swift moved from bouncy, innocent, and coy to dark, brooding, and sexy. You know Sandy’s makeover at the end of Grease? Picture that.
13. The Beginning of Taylor’s Dark Days
“Imma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time”: anyone who was alive in 2009 knows that these iconic words marked the beginning of an epic celebrity feud. At the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, a 19-year-old Swift won Best Female Video for “You Belong with Me.” As she approached the podium to make her acceptance speech, Kanye West instead took the microphone and proclaimed that Beyonce should have won.
Swift explained the thoughts that ran through her head on The View: “‘Wow, I can’t believe I won, this is awesome, don’t trip and fall, I’m gonna get to thank the fans, this is so cool. Oh, Kanye West is here. Cool haircut. What are you doing there?’ And then, ‘Ouch.’ And then, ‘I guess I’m not gonna get to thank the fans.’”
14. They’re Cool…For Now
By 2015, it appeared that Kanye and Swift had cleared the air. Six years after the interruption, Swift presented Kanye with the Video Vanguard Award, which confirmed their newfound alliance. After he, we hope, jokingly announced his plans to run for President in 2020, Swift even volunteered to be his running mate.
15. Who Made Taylor Famous?
Just as the Swift/West feud seemed to be over, Kanye released a song called “Famous” with a line about how he and Taylor Swift “might have sex” because he “made that [witch] famous.” While accepting one of her many Grammys, Swift made a sly remark about the lyric, suggesting that someone would always try to say that they’re responsible for her success.
16. Kim Enters the Arena
In August 2016, Kanye West’s wife Kim Kardashian West released a video of West and Swift discussing the song on the phone. In the clip, Swift confirms that she is okay with the lyrics, “Me and Taylor might still have sex.” Swift responded to the video, explaining that the lyric that really upset her rhymed with “witch” and was not approved by her in the video–or in real life.
The public did not agree. Swift was attacked in the presses, seen as a liar, and believed to have manipulated a complicated situation into a ploy for sympathy.
17. Rise and Fall
Fame is cyclical: for a while, a star is the It Girl of the year. She graces every magazine cover, receives glowing notices, and is the toast of the town. But when the novelty wears off, the backlash begins. Swift hit rock bottom after Kim Kardashian released the infamous phone call video.
Swift was swarmed with comments calling her a snake (whether in words or emoji form) and in a few months, went silent on her usually active social media channels. While recording her album Reputation (which, surprise, surprise, dealt with the scandal and its destructive effect on Swift’s reputation), Swift unfollowed everyone on Instagram and Twitter, only returning in August 2017 with a curious clip: ten seconds of a slithering snake.
18. Obligatory Rebellious Phase
When a broody Swift was writing and recording Reputation, she consistently made the news for her dramatic behaviour. After dying her hair platinum blonde (we’ve all been there: getting an extreme hair-do can be cathartic when you’re having a tough time), Swift left her long-term boyfriend, DJ Calvin Harris, for dapper British actor Tom Hiddleston.
Swift and Hiddleston went on a series of dates that the press considered sweet and then strangely public, leading some gossip columnists to wonder whether it was a staged relationship. Two episodes that received especially intense scrutiny: Hiddleston wore a shirt that said “I [heart] T.S.” and Swift met Hiddleston’s mother after only a few months of dating.
19. Heartbroken Hiddleston
The fiery relationship fizzled out fairly quickly. Apparently, Swift pulled the plug and devastated Hiddleston. In a tearful interview with GQ, he urged the reporter to believe that he was seriously in love and that the relationship was not fake, though vicious gossip suggested otherwise. Swift never released an official comment to the press, but in lyrics to “Getaway Car,” she chastises Hiddleston for thinking they could ever last. Considering how she leapt from Harris to Hiddleston, the couple would “never get far.”
20. Comedic Chops
Taylor Swift made history as the first Saturday Night Live host to write his or her own monologue. She chose to write a song called “My Monologue Song” that included jokes about Kanye West and Joe Jonas, plus a special kiss from ex-boyfriend, Taylor Lautner. Kudos to Taylor for being able to shake it off.
Swift loves reading and writing poetry. She was particularly drawn to the works of Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein growing up, and continues to cite To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee as one of her favorite books. On Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at Scholastic headquarters in New York, Swift spoke to children about the power of reading and writing. She informed the listeners that at age 13 or 14 she wrote a 400-page book about her life and friends.
22. Triple Threat
Not all singers can transition to film. Jennifer Lopez: yes. Mariah Carey: maybe not. But the jury is still out on Taylor Swift. Her acting roles have been quite limited so far. She’s appeared in episodes of CSI and New Girl, made cameos in Hannah Montana: The Movie, Valentine’s Day and The Giver, and voiced a character in The Lorax.
In 2019, Swift is set to finally make her mark, portraying Bombalurina in the big-screen adaptation of the musical Cats.
23. Onwards, Upwards, Furwards?
Cats will see Swift work with director Tom Hooper, who she has admired for quite some time. Swift auditioned for the role of Eponine in his previous film Les Misérables. While the role ultimately went to Amanda Seyfried, Swift apparently made it quite far in the audition process. Eddie Redmayne (who starred in the film) said the duo sang together, praising Swift’s performance as “amazing” and “extraordinary.”
Remember Myspace? Swift used Myspace to develop her fanbase. As always, Swift was ahead of the social media game. Apparently, Myspace was virtually unheard of in country music at the time. No wonder she became the first woman to receive Country Music Association’s Pinnacle Award in 2013.
25. Loose Lips Sink Ships (and Sell Records)
Swift is known for kissing and telling, as the chanteuse famously sings about her past relationships. Swift’s first celebrity beaux was Joe Jonas in 2008. It was the beginning of their careers and ended badly, with Jonas breaking up with Swift over the phone (ouch).
A year later she sparked with Taylor Lautner on the set of Valentine’s Day. This relationship ended because one Taylor was more serious than the other. In this case, Swift pulled the plug on Lautner.
Within the same month of her breakup with Lautner, Swift fell for John Mayer. Although it’s not confirmed, fans feel confident that “Dear John” is about him. One of the song’s more scandalous lines reads, “Don’t you think 19 is too young?”, referencing the couple’s significant age gap. If they dated when Swift was 19, Mayer would have been 30.
26. She’s Got a Blank Space, Baby…and She’ll Write Your Name
After calling it quits with Mayer, Swift dated a bevy of hunky Hollywood men. She had an intense relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal (whom she dated between 2010-2011) that may have inspired what many critics believe to be her best song, “All Too Well.” In 2012, she had a summer fling with Conor Kennedy. Swift took the relationship more seriously than Kennedy; she even bought a house near him, which she sold after the breakup.
She went on to date Harry Styles in 2012, with their time inspiring the song “Style,” before beginning a long-term relationship with DJ Calvin Harris. After over a year with Harris, Swift moved on with Tom Hiddleston, and then settled down with young British actor Joe Alwyn. As of this article’s release, Swift and Alwyn are still happily together.
For a peak inside the beginning of their relationship, listen to “Delicate,” where Swift reminisces about how the duo went on dates in a “dive bar on the east side” of New York City. To learn about their current state, check out the calm, sweet ballad, “New Year’s Day.”
27. Double Standards
Over the years, Taylor Swift has received a significant amount of shade for writing songs about her love life. But as Swift herself remarked in 2014, it’s a little rich for the media to say nothing when men like Bruno Mars and Adam Levine make careers out of songs about their girlfriends, and then slam Swift for writing about her own relationships. Fair point!
28. Master and Padawan
It’s no secret that Swift admires her friend, co-writer and fellow singer, Ed Sheeran. She explained to E!: “I lived for the moments he would burst into my dressing room with a new song to play me.” Sheeran played most of his songs for Swift first. She went on to gush about how much it meant to her that, “he wanted me to hear his songs first. I don’t think he ever knew how inspired I was by his drive and passion to constantly create new art.”
29. Using Her Powers For Good
In 2012, First Lady Michelle Obama presented Swift with The Big Help Award. She won this award for her dedication to helping others and her ability to inspire her fans to take action. She received the award specifically for her efforts assisting American tornado and flood survivors, and for her experiences with Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The First Lady described Swift as “someone who has rocketed to the top of the music industry but still keeps feet on the ground,” and as “someone who has shattered every expectation of what a 22-year-old can accomplish.”
Swift has famously been besties with Selena Gomez since Gomez’s Disney days. In an interview with People Magazine, Gomez explained that Swift has always been there for her and is “one of the greatest people.” During Gomez’s split from Justin Bieber, Swift made Gomez homemade cookies and brought over a bunch of junk food.
31. The Girl Squad
Gomez is Swift’s ride or die, but for a time, Swift cultivated a posse of enviable celebrity friends. Swift’s “squad” included a breathtaking crew of models, actresses, and singers like Cara Delevingne, Martha Hunt, Karlie Kloss, Gigi Hadid, Selena Gomez, Lena Dunham, Lily Aldridge, Ellie Goulding, Zendaya, and the HAIM sisters.
32. Disbanding the Gang
Swift is still close to many of the people who formed her “squad” back in the day, but the girl gang is not as central to her life as it used to be. In a recent interview, Swift described how, “never being popular as a kid was always an insecurity for me,” suggesting that her eagerness to form a “girl squad” may have stemmed from deep-seated insecurity.
Swift clarified that these days, she’s happy to have more low-key, steady friendships instead of needing all-out bashes documented by dozens of Instagram posts.
33. Taylor Swift: Country, Pop, Emo?
True Swift fans know that the pop princess is truly a secret emo kid. She loves Paramore, Panic! at the Disco, Korn, and more. So it’s not a huge surprise that her love of dark music extends into dystopian novels like The Hunger Games. Swift adores the novels, so when the movies were in development, she was thrilled to contribute two songs.
“Safe & Sound” is a haunting lullaby that reminds listeners of Swift’s bluegrass roots while “Eyes Open” is a pump-up rock ballad.
34. RIP #Kaylor
Between 2012 and 2017, Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss were the best of friends. The gal pals went on road trips, appeared in dozens of Instagram posts, walked the Victoria’s Secret runway, and even appeared together on the cover of Vogue. But when Swift’s reputation tanked in 2017, her relationship with Kloss also hit the rocks.
Aside from a few comments that they’re still friends from Kloss–and a selfie from the Reputation tour in 2018–it’s reported that the two are not nearly as close anymore. Swift didn’t attend either of Kloss’ two weddings and Kloss was recently seen on vacation with Scooter Braun, one of Swift’s music industry enemies.
35. A Lover, Not A Fighter
In the pro-LGBTQ+ music video for “You Need To Calm Down,” Swift is surrounded by queer icons like the Fab Five, Ellen Degeneres, and RuPaul Charles. But some commentators have speculated that Swift may herself be bisexual, lending a slightly different tone to her intense friendship with Kloss. In the video for “You Need To Calm Down,” critics noticed that Swift’s hair runs the spectrum from pink to purple to blue: the colours of the bisexual pride flag.
36. Silence is Not Neutral
For years, Swift took her cues from fellow country legend Dolly Parton. When reporters asked about the singer’s political beliefs, she declined to comment. That changed in 2018 when Swift urged her Instagram followers not to vote for a candidate who voted against equal pay for women and opposed gay marriage, among other stances.
At the end of the video for “You Need To Calm Down,” Swift also linked her petition imploring the Senate to support the Equality Act.
37. Where to Put Them All?
As of August 2019, Swift has won 10 Grammy Awards and is the youngest person to win the Album of the Year award. She was also the first woman to win Album of the Year more than once at the Grammys.
38. Happy Accidents
In 2012, Swift told Rolling Stone that she has a memento of the infamous VMAs moment in her Nashville home. Above her fireplace, she has a photo of the moment Kanye stole the stage with the caption “Life is full of little interruptions” right next to the actual award.
39. Friends in High Places
Swift’s “1989” tour was a team effort. Swift invited various special guests to join her on stage including Alessia Cara, Pitbull, Ricky Martin, Tove Lo, Miranda Lambert, Ellie Goulding, Keith Urban, Nelly, Steven Tyler, Leona Lewis, Mick Jagger, Alison Krauss, Dierks Bentley, Wiz Khalifa, Avril Lavigne, Selena Gomez, Justin Timberlake, Lisa Kudrow, Beck & St. Vincent, and John Legend.
40. Megawatt Star, Megabig Bucks
As of August 2019, Taylor Swift is worth $360 million.
41. Her Anaconda Don’t Want None
In August 2015, the MTV Music Video Awards announced its nominees for Video of the Year. While Swift was thrilled to be nominated for “Bad Blood,” Nicki Minaj was unimpressed that “Anaconda” (which was a huge hit at the time) hadn’t been recognized. Minaj took to Twitter to express her disappointment, arguing that institutional racism and widespread ideas about thinness and beauty likely played a role in her snub.
In Minaj’s own words, “if your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year.” Swift, whose video starred several Victoria’s Secret Angels, thought she was being targeted, accusing Minaj of “pit[ting] women against each other.”
The exchange launched a major debate over mainstream awards shows, race, and body size. Happily, it ended well. Swift apologized, Minaj accepted her apology, and the two performed together at the VMAs.
42. A Change For the Better
Since 2017, Swift has been in a relationship with the British actor Joe Alwyn. In many ways, their partnership is unlike Swift’s previous relationships. While Swift could usually be seen out on the town with her man, snapped either by the paparazzi or posted by Swift herself on Instagram, Swift and Alwyn are notoriously private. They’ve never appeared together on a red carpet or explicitly acknowledged their relationship on social media (the closest fans have got? Swift praising one of Alwyn’s movies, The Favourite).
Another curious difference? Swift usually dates older men (Gyllenhaal, Hiddleston, Mayer) while Alwyn is two years her junior. Whatever they’re doing, it seems to be working. This is Swift’s longest relationship to date.
43. The Track 5 Theory
Over the years, Swift’s fans have consistently gravitated to the fifth song on each of the singer’s albums. Noticing that Swift tends to put a more sombre, reflective, personal track in the fifth slot of each record (“White Horse,” “Dear John,” “All Too Well,” and “Delicate”), fans have called the phenomenon “Track 5” and eagerly awaited the next lovelorn ballad.
According to Swift, she didn’t even realize that she had this pattern but once it was pointed out, she saw the light. She admitted that she had indeed been putting “very vulnerable, personal, emotional, song[s] as Track 5” on her albums and chose to continue the tradition. She even released the fifth track of her newest album Lover ahead of schedule as a special treat to fans. It’s called “The Archer” and guys, it delivers.
44. Kid Wonder
When Swift was in fourth grade, she won a national poetry contest for an adorably weird piece titled “The Monster In My Closet.”
45. Lucky Number 13
For most people, 13 is an unlucky number. Swift would disagree: it’s her personal lucky number. Her Twitter account is @taylorswift13, two of her albums have 13 tracks each, and eagle-eyed viewers will spot the number in several music videos like “…Ready For It” and “You Need To Calm Down.” It’s also a mainstay in Swift’s album and single release dates.
Fans have made much of the fact that Lover‘s release date is August 23, 2019 or numerically, 8/23. Add 8 + 2 + 3 and what do you get? Lucky number 13.
In 2013, Swift attended a meet-and-greet event in Denver. It should have been like any other day for Swift, but things took a dark turn when a local radio host named David Mueller groped the pop star. Swift took Mueller to court where he proceeded to counter-sue her for defamation, requesting $3 million dollars of damages. Swift requested the symbolic amount of $1 for her own damages.
In the end, a jury unanimously declared that Mueller was guilty. When Swift spoke about her experiences in the courtroom, she reflected on “all the people that weren’t believed” and wondered “what turn my life would have taken if people hadn’t believed me.” Swift believes that “we have so, so, so much further to go” and is grateful to her fans “for being there for [her] during what was a really, really horrible part of my life.”