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7 Taylor Swift Songs to Inspire 'America's Got Talent' Winner Grace VanderWaal's Debut LP
At just 12 years old, Grace VanderWaal has become a musical sensation on the strength of her stunning original songwriting, earning her the win on this season’s America’s Got Talent.
She first captivated ears with her signature raspy voice and ukulele playing during her audition performance of original song “I Don’t Know My Name,” which landed her a Golden Buzzer hit from Howie Mandel.
VanderWaal will continue to show off her talents at Sony Music's Columbia Records -- where she signed a deal with Simon Cowell’s Syco Music -- and during upcoming headlining dates at the PH Showroom at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
Dubbed “the next Taylor Swift” by Cowell, she already has a viral following and even received a blessing from Swift herself, who congratulated the budding star with a bouquet of flowers. The Billboard 21 Under 21 star has stunning potential that is complemented by her humble attitude and uplifting songs.
According to Twitter, VanderWaal is already in the studio working on her debut LP:
Here are seven Swift anthems to inspire VanderWaal during that recording process, as she gets ready for Swift-level mega-stardom.
Swift also began songwriting around 12 years old, and “Lucky You” was the first one she wrote after a computer repairmen who came to her house taught her three chords on a guitar. This fun early cut embodies VanderWaal’s genuine youth that’s been at the heart of all her songs.
“The Best Day”
VanderWaal secretly wrote her AGT song “Beautiful Thing” for her sister, and we’d love to see more of these heartfelt family ballads in the future. Swift also surprised her mom with the ode “The Best Day” as a Christmas present. Imagine if these two teamed up for a Mother’s Day song? The waterworks.
“Mary’s Song (Oh My My My)”
Swift penned this song for a couple that lived next door to her, as she was inspired by their long happy marriage. Despite her young age, VanderWaal has shown strikingly mature songwriting abilities that could most definitely recognize a deep connection, as Swift observed.
“Tim McGraw” is best known as Swift’s first single -- inspired by the country singer’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothin’” -- and it was also the first song she performed for Big Machine Records exec Scott Borchetta, who insisted it be her first single after hearing it. Whether VanderWaal goes with “I Don’t Know My Name” as her first release, it will always be known as the impressionable tune that launched her to mass exposure. Just like Borchetta and Swift, we’ll have a hard time forgetting this tune that started it all.
Swift’s album title track told a story of a picture-perfect first date, and it went on to become a ukulele anthem when she performed it on the tiny instrument during her 2011 Speak Now World Tour. She rocked out Madison Square Garden, and VanderWaal will surely fill arenas one day with her own ukulele -- and maybe even perform a cover of “Fearless.”
The lyrics about finding inner-strength and following personal aspirations resonated strongly with listeners, so much that it was chosen as one of the theme songs for the 2008 Summer Olympics. VanderWaal expressed similar sentiments on “Light the Sky,” which she said was a song about letting herself shine, and harvested a positivity that related to listeners across the nation.
“State of Grace”
Firstly, there’s the obvious song-title pun -- because America is really in a state of Grace VanderWaal. But “State of Grace” also showed off an expansive rock ballad side of Swift that fans never saw before. This opening track of Red kicked off the album on cinematic notes that set high hopes for the rest of the project. Although the song is about the anticipation of love, it sparks a triumphant kind of feeling that’s perfect for VanderWaal’s newfound success.