1989 in Wyomissing, Pa.
Sounds like: Avril Lavigne's smarter, soulful, slightly southern gal pal
For fans of: Radio Disney Emo Hour
Latest release: 2010's Speak Now, her third album, which expands the platinum template of richly textured portraits of shallower emotions through hook-laden New Country balladeering to embrace pre-ripped pop-punkishness and, on "Dear, John," acid-washed blues.
Why you care: Despite somewhat desperate reports to the contrary, Taylor Swift is not the last best hope of a beleaguered music industry. She may be about the only newly minted artist to move product comparable to the dinosaurs that hawked best-ofs in those pre-millennial glory days, but she's also sold the most digital downloads by some stretch. Rather more impressively, she's done so without even the slightest hint of a public persona. Beyond a somewhat forced casualness midst album asides and genuinely amusing self-deprecation through stunts like her T-Pain collaboration, there's a certain steely eyed careerism lurking behind any such rapid coronation. In retrospect, even the startled embarrassment after Kanye West—like numerous other Swift targets, he earns a dig on her new album with "Innocent"—interrupted her 2009 VMA acceptance speech seems perfectly choreographed, if only by the pop gods, to emphasize a supposed fragility. On this tour, sure to be the summer's most lucrative, she'll be cranking up the Broadway fantasia, fleshing out the most personal of songs with fireworks, acrobats and show-stopping set pieces. There are technicolor confections to fulfill the dearest wishes (revenge or romance) and Disney-fied dreams of princesses of all ages, but one can't help but wonder how her subjects will respond as she ascends the throne.
SEE IT: Taylor Swift plays the Rose Garden on Tuesday, Sept. 6. 7 pm. Sold out. All ages.