The Oct. 22 release of "Red," Taylor Swift's fourth album and another surefire hit, represents a watershed moment for the 22-year-old. After taking the music industry by storm as an upstart singer-songwriter with great tunes and an instantly relatable persona, Swift has now settled comfortably into the role of an ever-reliable megastar, perfectly capable of checking off the few career milestones that she hasn't yet achieved. Before this year, Swift was the youngest CMA Entertainer of the Year, the youngest artist to ever win the the Grammy for Album of the Year, the artist responsible for 2009's biggest album, and someone capable of rapping alongside Nicki Minaj or crooning next to James Taylor onstage. This year, Swift has become the creator of a Hot 100 chart-topper, and is about to guide a third album to the top of the Billboard 200 chart.
With a whopping 17.9 million career albums sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan, Swift's appeal is as impressive as her rapid ascent to stardom. On the eve of "Red's" release, Billboard takes a look back at the defining moments of Swift's career, from her first single to her biggest sales week. Whether she's launching a perfume or never ever getting back together with her ex, Swift has had a career full of unforgettable highlights -- here are 10 of the biggest.
Taylor Swift Scores Debut Hit with 'Tim McGraw' (June 2006)
"Tim McGraw," Taylor Swift's first single from her eponymous album, was released four months ahead of her debut full-length on Big Machine Records, and hinted at the songwriting prowess the teenager had already developed. The three minutes and 52 seconds of delicious country-pop represented Swift's first appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 and Country Songs chart, and in the six years since its release, "Tim McGraw" has sold 1.4 million downloads according to Nielsen SoundScan. The country singer-songwriter has had bigger (and arguably better) hit singles since, but watching her debut single become a breakout hit was something of a fairytale for the young star.