On Wednesday 6 December, the magazine announced Swift had earned the honour after an “editors’ assessment of the individual who most shaped the headlines over the previous 12 months, for better or for worse”.
The recognition of Swift comes on the heels of a whirlwind year for the popstar, whose Eras Tour dominated ticket sales in 2023. “This is the proudest and happiest I’ve ever felt, and the most creatively fulfilled and free I’ve ever been,” Swift told Time. “Ultimately, we can convolute it all we want, or try to overcomplicate it, but there’s only one question... Are you not entertained?”
Swift was chosen among a strong list of contenders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, King Charles III, the live-action Barbie movie, and Vladimir Putin. “While her popularity has grown across the decades, this is the year that Swift, 33, achieved a kind of nuclear fusion: shooting art and commerce together to release an energy of historic force,” the magazine said about its selection.
This year alone, Swift has broken records with her career-spanning Eras Tour, which is estimated to have grossed over $1.4bn. Her concert film, the Eras Tour movie, has surpassed $250m at the global box office since its opening weekend in October. Not to mention her rumoured relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce caused a 400 per cent spike in NFL jersey sales.
Since her first NFL appearance in September, Swift’s occasional attendance at Kelce’s games has received pushback from NFL fans who believe her presence is distracting from the game itself. “I’m just there to support Travis,” Swift admitted. “I have no awareness of if I’m being shown too much and pissing off a few dads, Brads, and Chads.”
She playfully added: “Football is awesome, it turns out. I’ve been missing out my whole life.”
The “Bad Blood” singer revealed that their romance began when Kelce gave her shoutout on his podcast, admitting he attempted to give Swift his phone number after one of her Eras Tour shows. The pair immediately began “hanging out” and by the time she attended her first Chiefs game in September, they were already a couple. “I think some people think that they saw our first date at that game? We would never be psychotic enough to hard launch a first date,” Swift joked.
Back in April, it was revealed that Swift and British actor Joe Alwyn had broken up after six years of dating. The former couple were notoriously private, as the Conversations with Friends star previously expressed he didn’t want to discuss their relationship because it “feeds into a weird part of the culture”.
Now, Swift has shared that she has nothing to hide in her new relationship with Kelce. “When you say a relationship is public, that means I’m going to see him do what he loves, we’re showing up for each other, other people are there and we don’t care,” she said. “The opposite of that is you have to go to an extreme amount of effort to make sure no one knows that you’re seeing someone. And we’re just proud of each other.”
Speaking to Time, Swift detailed exactly how much work went into preparing for her Eras Tour - where each concert spans over 180 minutes, with more than 40 songs from at least nine albums and 16 costume changes. “Every day I would run on the treadmill, singing the entire set list out loud,” she told the outlet. “Fast for fast songs, and a jog or a fast walk for slow songs.”
She also stopped drinking and underwent three months of dance training, something that she admitted is “not my strong suit”. After she plays a run of shows, Swift said she takes a day to rest and recover before taking the stage once again. “I do not leave my bed except to get food and take it back to my bed and eat it there,” she revealed. “It’s a dream scenario.”
Most recently, a heat wave in Brazil forced Swift to postpone the second night of her Eras Tour shows in Rio de Janeiro. The decision came after one of the singer’s fans, 23-year-old Ana Clara Benevides, died from a cardiac arrest during Swift’s first performance in the country. Swift explained to Time that “part of my identity as a human” is putting on a show for her fans, no matter the circumstances. “I know I’m going on that stage whether I’m sick, injured, heartbroken, uncomfortable, or stressed,” she said. “That’s part of my identity as a human being now. If someone buys a ticket to my show, I’m going to play it unless we have some sort of force majeure.”
Perhaps it was her decision to re-record her music catalogue that catapulted Swift into such success. When music mogul Scooter Braun aquired Swift’s longtime label, Big Machine Records, in 2019, he also gained the rights to the master recordings of Swift’s first six studio albums. In November 2020, Braun sold the masters to an investment fund in a deal that was believed to be over $300 million. Since then, Swift has released four “Taylor’s Version” albums: Fearless (Taylor’s Version) in April 2021, Red (Taylor’s Version) in November 2021, Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) in July 2023, and 1989 (Taylor’s Version) in October 2023.
“It’s not lost on me that the two great catalysts for this happening were two horrendous things that happened to me,” Swift said, when asked about the success of her tour. “The first was getting cancelled within an inch of my life and sanity. The second was having my life’s work taken away from me by someone who hates me.”
While Swift is arguably more famous now than ever before, the Grammy winner revealed that the constant attention and swarms of paparazzi won’t stop her from living her life. There’s also constant rumours surrounding her personal life, specifically rumours about her relationship with Alwyn that her publicist, Tree Paine, was forced to publicly deny.
“Over the years, I’ve learned I don’t have the time or bandwidth to get pressed about things that don’t matter,” Swift told Time. “Yes, if I go out to dinner, there’s going to be a whole chaotic situation outside the restaurant. But I still want to go to dinner with my friends.
“Life is short. Have adventures. Me locking myself away in my house for a lot of years - I’ll never get that time back,” she added. “I’m more trusting now than I was six years ago.”
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies