American pop star Taylor Swift was voted person of the year by Time magazine. Does she really deserve it?

The US magazine chose the pop star for her ability to use the pop song to tell her story.

US magazine Time has chosen American Grammy-award winning artist Taylor Swift as its person of the year, beating out competition including the first-ever live-action Barbie movie and King Charles III of the United Kingdom.

The magazine awarded Swift on Wednesday for her “preternatural skill for finding the story”, making her the first woman to appear twice on a Person of the Year cover since the nominations began in 1927.

“Something unusual is happening with Swift, without a contemporary precedent. She deploys the most efficient medium of the day – the pop song – to tell her story,” the magazine wrote.

Taylor Swift performs during the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball concert at Madison Square Garden in the Manhattan borough of New York City

Taylor Swift performs during the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball concert at Madison Square Garden in the Manhattan borough of New York City, US [File: Caitlin Ochs/Reuters]

“Swift’s accomplishments as an artist – culturally, critically, and commercially – are so legion that to recount them seems almost beside the point,” it added, comparing her to the likes of Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Madonna.

“As a businesswoman, she has built an empire worth, by some estimates, over $1 billion,” the magazine continued. “And as a celebrity – who by dint of being a woman is scrutinised for everything from whom she dates to what she wears – she has long commanded constant attention and knows how to use it.”

Speaking on NBC’s “Today” programme, Time editor-in-chief Sam Jacobs said his team had “picked a choice that represents joy”. “Someone who’s bringing light to the world,” he said.

The singer collected a string of successes this year. Her third re-recorded album Speak Now had record-setting streams and her concert film, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, was one of the most successful in the history of the genre, as well as the highest-grossing global tour of all time.

Her concert in downtown Seattle in July shook the ground so hard that seismologists registered tremors equivalent to a magnitude 2.3 earthquake – the so-called Swift Quake.

She also “somehow made one of America’s most popular sports – football – even more popular” after she started dating Travis Kelce, the Kansas City Chief and two-time Super Bowl champion, and his games saw a massive increase in viewership.
Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift’s concert film, The Eras Tour, was one of the most successful concert films in history [Mario Anzuoni/Reuters]

“Over time, she has harnessed the power of the media, both traditional and new, to create something wholly unique – a narrative world, in which her music is just one piece in an interactive, shape-shifting story,” the magazine wrote.

In a tradition that dates back to 1927, Time dedicates one issue annually to featuring a person, group, idea or object that “for better or for worse … has done the most to influence the events of the year”.

Swift was also named Person of the Year in 2017 when she was recognised as one of the Silence Breakers who inspired women to speak out about sexual misconduct.

Fans have been drawn by the empowering feminist messages scattered across her discography and her openness to sharing her emotions.

In 2022, Time’s Person of the Year was Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the “spirit of Ukraine”. Previous selections include US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, Martin Luther King Jr, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Pope Francis and activist Greta Thunberg.

Other contenders this year included Russian President Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump’s prosecutors, and Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI which released the groundbreaking ChatGPT.

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