QJ Pop: A Swift ascension

This year Taylor Swift became an icon — and she’s ready for it.

Icons are rarely created accidentally. They’re manufactured through a slow deliberate project of branding, creation and intuitive marketing. In other words, you have to be smart.

Much of pop iconicism is about embodying “the times” and Swift, with her cat-filled Instagram, trendy wardrobe and — though I hate the word — adorkable persona feels emblematic of the self-conscious Internet era in which we live.

She’s awkward in a relatable way (as opposed to a cringe-inducing-I-can’t-watch way) and she’s approachable without seeming overly smarmy.

Rolling Stone even said that she was so personable that “it’s not hard to imagine her running for office someday”.

She’s got a signature style and best friends you recognize from TV — it’s almost as if she’s the big sister you never had.

The singer-songwriter has finally come into her own, no longer the 16-year-old girlish country star giggling in her cowboy boots.

Red, her fourth and most recent studio album, was a breakthrough that opened the door for Swift to fully emerge into the pop scene and, more generally, womanhood.

Her new album 1989 isn’t out until Oct. 27, but it’s almost guaranteed to open at number one and break numerous sales records. This has been made possible by relentless campaigning by Swift.

She’s rocked the cover of Rolling Stone, appeared on The Tonight Show and performed at the VMAs, not to mention topped every best-dressed celebrity fashion list for weeks.

While her printed blue jumpsuit at the VMAs raised a few eyebrows, her old Hollywood ensemble at the premiere of her upcoming feature film The Giver was perfection and earned her the title of “Must See Look of the Week” on ET!’s Fashion Police. Either way, Swift had people talking. She’s also made headlines for her feud with another pop star — allegedly Katy Perry — for “trying to sabotage her entire arena tour”.

Swift mentioned the rift as motivation behind her 1989 track “Bad Blood” in her Rolling Stone cover story. Every tabloid desperate for gossip about Swift after her departure from the dating world is ecstatic, and ultimately the story just further promotes 1989.

Most importantly, Swift has cleverly used almost every online format available to connect with fans and hype her album’s release.

Before the Aug. 18 release of “Shake it Off”, Swift posted teasers on her Instagram, including a clip of a skywriting that read “Taylor Swift 8/18 5 p.m. Yahoo”.

On the 18th, she appeared in a Yahoo live stream from the Empire State building where she announced “Shake it Off” and the release of her album.

By 5:30 that day there were an average of 2,400 tweets per minute that included #taylorswift and similar tags. The fun, memorable and oh-so Taylor Swift video for “Shake it Off” currently stands at around 90 million views.

With each media spotlight, her brand continues to solidify the sense of Taylor Swift’s as a truly accomplished business woman and artist.

1989 promises to be a less “boy-centric” album and more about Swift herself, and it’s high time — icons are so much more interesting than bad boyfriends.

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