Taylor Swift has been named Time Magazine’s person of the year for 2023, a recognition of her unparalleled influence on global events and culture.
In a social media post, Swift celebrated her latest accolade by turning the spotlight on her beloved cat, Benjamin – who appeared draped around her shoulders on Time Magazine’s cover.
The star, who has sold more than 300 million records worldwide, has had a remarkable year, breaking box office records with her Eras tour, releasing three chart-topping albums, and speaking out on political and social issues.
But behind her success lies a dark and painful story of betrayal, humiliation, and isolation.
In a rare and candid interview with Time, Swift opened up about the aftermath of the infamous phone call leak that nearly destroyed her career in 2020.
The call, which was illegally recorded and edited by Kim Kardashian, showed Swift seemingly approving of Kanye West’s controversial lyrics about her in his song Famous.
The leak sparked a massive backlash against the pop star, who claimed she was unaware of the full extent of his remarks.
Swift said she felt “betrayed” and “humiliated” by the incident, which led her to take a major break from the spotlight and relocate to an undisclosed foreign country.
“I needed to get away from everything that reminded me of that horrible night,” she said. “I felt like I had no friends, no fans, no credibility. I just wanted to start over somewhere new, where nobody knew me or cared about me.”
Swift did not reveal the name of the country she moved to, but hinted that it was somewhere in Europe.
“I fell in love with the culture, the history, the architecture, the food, the people,” she said. “It was like a breath of fresh air. I felt free and happy for the first time in a long time.”
Swift said she spent a year in her new home, writing songs, reading books, exploring the city and making new friends.
She also met her current boyfriend, American Football star Travis Kelce, who was playing for a local team at the time.
The couple hit the headlines in September when Swift was spotted at with Kelce’s mother at one of his games.
“By the time I went to that first game, we were a couple,” she explained, adding they had first hooked up over the summer.
“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 said she eventually returned to the US in 2022, feeling more confident and ready to face the world again.
She released two critically-acclaimed albums, Folklore and Evermore, which showcased a more organic, indie-folk approach than the country-pop that made her famous.
She also spoke out against Donald Trump and in favour of abortion rights, earning praise from fans and activists alike.
She cemented her comeback with last year’s Midnights – a bleary, sleep-deprived collection of pop songs based around the thoughts that keep her up at night.
She then embarked on the Eras tour, which sees the singer perform a career-spanning 45-song set every night.
Demand for tickets was so high that it crashed Ticketmaster’s website, prompting a hearing into its business practices by the US Senate.
When the tour began in the summer, ticketless fans gathered in car parks just to hear the music. In Seattle, her concerts generated seismic activity equivalent to a 2.3 magnitude earthquake.
“It feels like the breakthrough moment of my career, happening at 33,” she told Time. “And for the first time in my life, I was mentally tough enough to take what comes with that.”
Time editor-in-chief Sam Jacobs said the US pop icon was “the rare person who is both the writer and hero of her own story”, adding that Swift had “found a way to transcend borders and be a source of light”.
On Monday, Time Magazine announced its shortlist of nine candidates for the title. Those included Chinese President Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Barbie and the striking Hollywood actors and writers.
As well as her tour, Swift has also released the biggest-selling record of 2023 – a re-recording of her decade-old album 1989.
Incredibly, she also has the second and third biggest-sellers of the year in America, with Midnights and Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) eclipsing records by Drake, Olivia Rodrigo and Ed Sheeran.