To honor Taylor Swift’s latest addition, we celebrate Week 1989 (Taylor’s version). at The daily beast is possessed. That said, we’re taking a look back at 2014 to relive everything Taylor – and the rest of pop culture – was up to.
For me it’s Taylor Swift’s 1989 era had two key takeaways: First, Swift was capable of making an iconic, pure pop album. And secondly, she had a seemingly endless string of famous friends.
In 2014, there was hardly an outing where Swift wasn’t photographed with a Victoria’s Secret Angel or another, usually less popular, musician by her side. This is how the infamous “squad” was born. She even finished the year a star-studded 25th birthday partywhich included guests like Justin Timberlake, the Haim sisters, Sam Smith and, most shockingly, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, who hadn’t bothered to attend Kimye’s wedding a few months earlier.
Then there was Swift’s mammoth 1989 World Travel the following year, where she really expanded her industry contacts. On each evening of the US leg there was an illustrious guest – to varying degrees. Swift claimed she wanted to add an element of surprise to a show that fans would otherwise spoil on social media. “You know the set list,” she said in one Better than 1 interview after the tour. “You know the costumes. You looked it up. That presented me with an interesting topic.”
And boy, did she go through everyone in her contact list to solve the problem. Some of the tour’s honored guests were Models. Somewhere athlete. Some were Swift’s favorites TV detectives. Somewhere randomly Artist topped the Billboard Hot 100. Some were Chris Rock. And Swift, who introduced each of her guests in an overly sentimental way, claimed to admire them all.
Considering how active I was on Tumblr at the time, I think my memory of that tour is still pretty fresh. I remember it clearly All about Swift’s MetLife show, where she invited Martha Hunt, Lily Aldridge, Hailee Steinfeld, Gigi Hadid and Lena Dunham to the stage during her performance of “Bad Blood.” It’s worth noting that Dunham, not a 6-foot-tall, rail-thin model (and a target for her average-sized figure at the time), stood out in the photo and carried on say she felt “chubby” next to the other women. The oddity also resulted from the gag of the creator of Girl She looked like she had just left a meeting at HBO headquarters and strutted onto the stage of a major pop concert.
But Dunham’s cameo wasn’t nearly as bizarre as that wild tour. Looking back at the random selection of celebrities who took to Swift’s stage, whether to sing a duet or simply strut down the runway, is a little overwhelming. What was Matt LeBlanc do at a Swift show? Did anyone in the audience know who Joan Baez was? What made Taylor think of Avril Lavigne in 2015? (Same with Leona Lewis.) Remember Andy Grammer?!
Other unlikely guests – although some of them appropriate for the city she was visiting – were among them Mary J. Blige, Ricky Martin, Alison Krauss, Nelly, Wiz Khalifa, Mick Jagger, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay and Uzo AdubaLuckily not as Crazy Eyes.
When it comes to musical guests, however, Swift truly captured the zeitgeist before Spotify conquered FM radio and divided every musical taste. She invited numerous smaller artists responsible for the previous year’s biggest hits, including Nico & Vinz, OMI, MKTO, Rachel Platten, Echosmith’s Sydney Sierota, Alessia CaraAnd Walk on the moon. She also brought out Idina Menzeldressed as Elsa to perform the biggest song in the world at the time, “Let It Go.” Frozen. Swift, ever the clown, was, as expected, dressed as Olaf.
This particular list of pop acts – many of whom are now considered one-hit wonders – reads like a historical record, representing the last gasp of monoculture. (Remember when we all knew the same cheesy songs before “prestige” pop took over?) It also marked Swift’s rise from a country genius to a high-profile mainstream musician with enough credibility to attract other artists to sign her – even if she got her seal of approval, she didn’t really stick around for long.
In 2023, Swift doesn’t need extra star power on her tours to gain publicity. Your loyal Swifties have spent the last year clogging up our social media feeds with footage from the Eras Tour. And all the celebrities who have attended their concerts so far – except Ice Spice – have been cooped up under a tent or rocking out in their own suites. Additionally, the opening act for their Eras Tour consists of a more curated group of friends and respected musicians, including HAIM, Phoebe Bridgers and Paramore. Regardless, Swfities will never forget all the PR efforts she put in to get to this point, including her heart and soul efforts Pit bull.