One thousand nights ago, you might have been listening to Taylor Swift’s 1989 for the first time. You might have blasting “Blank Space,” learning how to sing along to “Style” and gearing up to dance along to “Shake It Off” on the inevitable 1989 tour. October 27, 2014 seems like a long time ago now — as of Sunday (July 23), it was 1000 days ago — and since the release of Swift’s fifth album, the pop superstar has stayed extremely busy.
Could we talk about her charity work, the Kanye West-Kim Kardashian West drama, the AT&T deal, the Tom Hiddleston? Of course. But let’s focus, as Taylor often does herself, on the music. As fans await Taylor Swift’s post-1989 full-length follow-up, let’s review the songs that she’s given us (or performed, or co-signed) since her last opus.
By the end of 2016, it had become clear that Taylor Swift was not going to continue her streak of releasing a full-length album every other year, as she had done from 2006 up to 1989 in 2014. Yet three weeks before the end of last year, Swift returned with her first post-1989 song: “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever,” a duet with Zayn that was part of the Fifty Shades Darker original soundtrack. Produced by Taylor’s pal Jack Antonoff and following in the success of Fifty Shades soundtrack songs like The Weeknd’s “Earned It” and Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do,” “Forever” became Swift’s second soundtrack hit (following “Safe and Sound” from The Hunger Games) and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song’s video, released last January, has a whopping 361 million YouTube views.
Swift has also spent the downtime between albums to collect a few songwriting credits: “Better Man,” Little Big Town’s latest country hit, was written by Swift… although it wasn’t revealed that the pop superstar had penned it until a few weeks after its October 2016 release. “Better Man” topped the Hot Country Songs chart, and has been performed by Swift exactly once (more on that later).
Meanwhile, Swift also sneakily co-wrote “This Is What You Came For,” Calvin Harris’ hit from last year featuring Rihanna, under the pseudonym “Nils Sjöberg.” She was eventually outed as having a hand in her ex’s Top 10 smash, and the song’s official credits now include Swift’s name. She has performed it exactly twice (more on that later).
Aside from those three songs, the big music news of Swift’s post-1989 run has been where her previous output has been available. After famously locking herself in a stalemate against Spotify and agreeing to have only Apple Music serve as her streaming host, Swift unleashed her catalog upon all streaming services — Spotify, Tidal and Amazon included — on June 9, 2017, the same day that Katy Perry just so happened to release her new album, Witness. Four of Swift’s albums, including 1989, returned to the Billboard 200 albums chart following the streaming free-for-all.
The entirety of the 1989 world tour was contained in 2015, and the 85 shows became that year’s biggest tour, taking in more than $200 million worldwide, per Billboard Boxscore. The big difference between 1989 and Swift’s previous tours, of course, was that she graduated to stadiums from arenas on her latest live run, and she’ll likely continue in that format whenever she goes back on the road. The tour was also captured in The 1989 World Tour Live, a concert film shot in Sydney and released in partnership with Apple Music in December 2015.
Ten months after her 1989 tour wrapped up, Swift decided to put on a one-off show last October at the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix in Austin — her only performance of 2016, and the first time she played “This Is What You Came For” herself (in a solo piano version, no less!). “As a songwriter, the most rewarding feeling in the world is writing something and then having the crowd sing it back to you because they know the words,” Swift said during the show.
Swift played the track again at a pre-Super Bowl performance in Houston earlier this year, in an event dubbed the AT&T Presents DIRECTV NOW Super Saturday Night. She also played “Better Man” and “This Is What You Came For” at the show, which has been Swift’s only performance of 2017… so far.
By now, we’ve all seen the seven music videos that came from the 1989 era. Some fun stats about them: the three biggest videos (“Shake It Off,” “Blank Space” and “Bad Blood”) have become Swift’s first to cross the 1 billion mark on YouTube, while the controversial “Wildest Dreams” clip is one of Swift’s five most-viewed videos ever at this point (“You Belong With Me,” from Fearless, rounds out that top tier). The live video for “New Romantics” was unveiled as an Apple Music exclusive, and has 66 million YouTube views to date. Joseph Kahn directed four of the videos, including “Out of the Woods,” which was filmed in New Zealand.
Essentially, Swift released 1989 in October 2014 and the accolades started pouring in almost immediately after. She was named Billboard’s Woman of the Year in 2014, and “Shake It Off” was nominated for record of the year and song of the year at the 2015 Grammys. The song didn’t take home either prize, but Swift nabbed the big one the following year, when 1989 won album of the year at the Grammys in 2016. After previously winning the award for Fearless, Swift became the first female solo performer to win multiple AOTYs at the Grammys.
The Grammy win (along with two others in 2016) was simply the crown jewel in a long list of major achievements in the past 1000 days. Swift also won Video of the Year at the MTV VMAs in 2015 for “Bad Blood,” was given the 50th Anniversary Milestone Award at the ACM Awards that year, and 1989 became only the fifth album ever to spend its entire first year in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart. All told, 1989 has sold 6.1 million copies one thousand days into its existence, according to Nielsen Music, and in June, the RIAA certified Swift for having moved 100 million song units, second only to Rihanna among all artists in their rankings.
It’s worth noting that, while never commercially released, the sound of Swift rapping along to Drake and Future’s “Jumpman” does exist in this fair world. In a popular Apple Music ad, Swift rhymes along with the song on a treadmill before face-planting in epic fashion; she also toasted Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle” and The Darkness’ “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” in separate Apple ads. Consider the homages a subtle co-sign of not just the songs in question, but of Apple’s playlist curation.
The cornerstone of Swift’s post-1989 music activity may very well be the role of “hypewoman” — that is, building up her pals and supporting their music online. She’s got mad love for squad members Lorde, Haim and Selena Gomez, and former tour mate Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” might have very well gotten a mini-bump due to an Instagram post in its favor. The biggest revelation for casual Swifies: Taylor’s still an enormous Kings of Leon fan! “I’ve been waiting for this album for SO LONG and it’s insane, you need it in your life,” she wrote of the rock band’s WALLS. Same with the 1989 follow-up, Taylor.
(Additional reporting by Sabrina Finkelstein)
PHOTO: John Shearer/LP5/Getty Images for TAS