Billboard Year in Music 2014: Taylor Swift on How Following Her 'Gut Instinct' Led to No. 1 Album '1989'

Miller Mobley
Taylor Swift photographed by Miller Mobley on November 18th at Siren Studios in Los Angeles

The Pop Princess
1989
5 Weeks on Billboard 200

With the largest first-week sales of any album in 12 years, the triumph of Taylor Swift’s 1989 was so overwhelming that it instantly schooled any skeptics who doubted her ability to transition from the ­country-pop of her previous four albums to a more pure-pop sound. Swift, 25, set up the release by going directly to her fans through social media and even hosting surprise playbacks at her home.

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Scott Borchetta, president/CEO, Big Machine Label Group: I knew the album was going to be pop. We had many mini-dance parties in my office and at her mom’s place. Selfishly for her, I didn’t want to give up eight years of country radio investment.

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Taylor Swift: I followed my gut instinct and tried not to think about how hard it would be to break it to country radio. I love those people -- I didn’t want to break anyone’s heart.

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Jack Antonoff, producer: We talked a lot about John Hughes films and how in the ’80s, people like Prince, Yaz, Erasure and Annie Lennox were all making albums that sounded better than anything else and were also huge. Big can be brilliant -- it doesn’t have to be compromised or dumbed down.

 

 


Swift:I put more thought into 
how to unveil this album because I knew we were shifting gears creatively. It was a more word-of-mouth way of setting it up. My fans went out and proved to the world that they still believe in investing 
in an album.

2014's No. 1's: J Balvin & Farruko  | Idina Menzel & the 'Frozen' SoundtrackTove Lo, Kiesza, & Nick Jonas | Taylor Swift | Barbra Streisand | Weird Al Yankovic | Ed Sheeran & Charli XCX | Nicki Minaj | 'Guardians of the Galaxy' SoundtrackEnrique Iglesias | Kacey Musgraves | Santana | Sam SmithIggy Azalea | Jason Derulo | Meghan Trainor, Nico & Vinz

This article first appeared in the Dec. 20 issue of Billboard.


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