Acclaimed songwriter Taylor Swift has the entire country music community lingering on her every self-penned lyric. As evidenced by the massive multi-platinum success of "Red," released last October on Big Machine, Swift was able to achieve 14 hits in the Top 30 at radio over the past year. This impressive milestone earned the singer her sixth award as the songwriter-artist of the year by the Nashville Songwriters Association International, eclipsing such legends as Alan Jackson and Vince Gill. While her train of success steamrolls on, Swift hasn't slowed down since the album's lead single, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," hit airwaves last summer. In fact, she is already six months deep into the new record.
"I think the goal for the next album is to continue to change, and never change in the same way twice," she told The Associated Press over the weekend at the opening of the Taylor Swift Education Center at Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. "How do I write these figurative diary entries in ways that I've never written them before and to a sonic backdrop that I've never explored before? It's my fifth album, which is crazy to think about, but I think what I'm noticing about it so far is it's definitely taking a different turn than anything I've done before."
Next month, Swift takes her outrageously popular tour down-under to Australia, the first solo performer to tour the country since Madonna 20 years ago. On if she perceives herself as pop star of similar caliber, she is rather humble, "I would never see myself that way. I see myself as kind of this girl who writes songs in her bedroom. You can kind of dress it up all you want and you can put together an amazing theatrical production, you can become a better performer as time goes by, and you can try to excite people, but I'm always going to be a girl who writes songs in her bedroom in my own personal perception of myself. And I think it's important that I don't necessarily think too hard about what everybody else's perception of me is or else I'd just get completely lost in it. It's just easier to think of myself that way."
In light of the sold-out success of her nationwide Red Tour, Swift earned yet another nod for Entertainer of the Year at this year's 47th Annual CMA Awards. If the starlet wins, she'll become the first woman to win the distinction three times, beating out Barbara Mandrell. She describes her gratitude with unconditional credit to her fans, "I think winning entertainer of the year would be an unbelievable thing to happen in my life because I still sometimes can't believe I've gotten to win that twice. So a third time, what I think it would mean for my fans, would be the biggest feeling I would have. Just knowing the, I think, 1.3 million people we saw this year in the U.S. would get to know that they contributed to that and that they being frenzied and covering themselves in Christmas lights and making signs and learning the lyrics and screaming at the top of their lungs and dancing for two hours straight at my show somehow moved the needle and impacted my life in a way that I'll remember when I'm 85 if I get to be 85."
On "Red," Swift broke down the boundaries between her pop and country fan base, mixing the two very distinct styles into her own unique brand of music. The 23-year-old promises to keep challenging herself, musically, and might have a few new collaborators in mind. She explains, "It's too early to tell who are going to be my predominant collaborators, but I do know that my absolute dream collaborators were Shellback and Max Martin on the last project. I've never been so challenged as a songwriter. I've never learned so much. I've never just been so excited to show up to the studio every day, just because you never know what we're going to put together. I'll bring in ideas and they'll take such a different turn than where I thought they were going to go, and that level of unexpected spontaneity is something that really thrills me in the process of making music. ... What if we did this? What if we made it weirder? What if we took it darker? I love people who have endless strange and exciting ideas about where music can go."
Of course, with "Red," Swift came under fire for seemingly abandoning her country roots. She sets the record straight, noting Nashville as the king pen of a diverse collection of sounds. "I definitely think that with music my favorite thing about Nashville is that it's a music hub that accepts and allows all genres to be present, and I think there's been a kind of fusing of genres lately that for me makes me really happy and excited," she gushes. "I am blown away at getting six CMA nominations in a year that I pushed the boundaries of what a genre is more than ever before. I'm so happy that people understood what I was doing conceptually."
She adds, "Getting those six CMA nominations to me signified that this community knew that I was not running from where I come from. I was exploring, and I think the more people who know what country music is, the more people will gravitate toward Nashville."