Taylor Swift (album)

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Taylor Swift
A female teen with blond hair and blue eyes faces forward from a tilted position. Behind her is what appears to be a body of water and green bushes. Patterns resembling flowers and butterflies are drawn in the left side of the background.
Studio album by Taylor Swift
Released October 24, 2006
Recorded June 2004–September 2006; The Castles Studios, Dark Horse Recording, Love Shack, Quad Studios-A, Sound Cottage, Sound Emporium[1]
Genre Country, country pop, country rock
Length 38:26
Label Big Machine
Producer Scott Borchetta (exec.), Nathan Chapman, Robert Ellis Orrall
Taylor Swift chronology
Taylor Swift
(2006)
Sounds of the Season
(2007)
Singles from Taylor Swift
  1. "Tim McGraw"
    Released: June 19, 2006
  2. "Teardrops on My Guitar"
    Released: February 19, 2007
  3. "Our Song"
    Released: September 9, 2007
  4. "Picture to Burn"
    Released: February 3, 2008
  5. "Should've Said No"
    Released: May 18, 2008

Taylor Swift is the eponymous debut studio album by American country pop singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. The album was released in late 2006 when Swift was just 16 years old, by Big Machine Records. Swift wrote songs for the album during her freshman year of high school and has writing credits on all of the albums' songs including those co-written with Liz Rose. Swift experimented to record the album with several album producers, ultimately choosing the producer of her demo album, Nathan Chapman. Musically, the album is country music styled and lyrically, it speaks of romantic relationships, a couple of which Swift wrote from observing relationships before being in one.

Taylor Swift was received positively by contemporary critics, who praised Swift's talent. The album enjoyed commercial success; in the United States, it rose to number five on the Billboard 200, topped the Top Country Albums Chart for twenty-four non-consecutive weeks, and was certified five times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Taylor Swift has logged 274 weeks on the Billboard Top 200 / Pop Albums chart as of early 2013, making it one of the 12 longest-running albums in the chart's fifty-seven year history. The album was also successful in Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

Five singles were released from the album, all of which were certified platinum by the RIAA. "Tim McGraw" was released as the lead single from Taylor Swift; it became a top ten on Billboard's Hot Country Songs. "Teardrops on My Guitar" was released as the second single from Taylor Swift, becoming the best-charting song from Taylor Swift on the Billboard Hot 100. "Our Song" was released as the third single from the album and became Swift's first number-one on Hot Country Songs. "Picture to Burn" and "Should've Said No" were released as the fourth single and fifth single from the album, respectively, both becoming a success on the country-genre charts in the United States and the latter peaking at number eighteen on the New Zealand Singles Chart. Swift promoted Taylor Swift by performing at several venues, which included her opening for Rascal Flatts, George Strait, Brad Paisley, and Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

Background[edit]

Swift is from Wyomissing, Pennsylvania and developed an early interest in country music and songwriting.[2] When she was eleven, she and her family made their first visit to Nashville, Tennessee in pursuit of a record deal, though nothing came out of it.[3] Swift was judged and neglected by record labels for being too young.[3] In regards to the labels which rejected her, she said,

"I can understand. They were afraid to put out a 13-year-old. They were afraid to put out a 14-year-old. Then they were afraid to put out a 15-year-old. Then they were nervous about putting out a 16-year-old. And I'm sure if I hadn't signed with Scott Borchetta [head of Big Machine Records], everybody would be afraid to put out a 17-year-old."[3]

Development and music[edit]

Swift wrote "Tim McGraw" during her freshman year, knowing that she and her senior boyfriend, Brandon Borello, would break up at the end of the year when he left for college. Rose said Swift showed up at her after school job writing songs for Sony/ATV "with the idea and the melody. She knew exactly what she wanted."[4] The nostalgic song describes a summer romance and Swift's hope that when Borello "think[s] Tim McGraw" he would "think [her] favorite song"  – McGraw's "Can't Tell Me Nothin"  – and remember her.[5] Conversely, "Picture to Burn" describes a girl furious after a break-up. Swift says that while the song is about "just being mad" and is "completely, brutally honest"; she gave it a comedic edge.[6] While at work after school, Swift "found [her]self just sitting there with [her] guitar going, 'I hate his stupid truck that he doesn't let me drive. He's such a redneck! Oh my God!'," a line which developed into the song's chorus.[7] The up-tempo song is heavy with banjos and drums, while the chorus is marked by distorted guitars and big vocals.[8]

The singer penned the autobiographical song "The Outside" as an outlet at age twelve, the year she began writing her own songs.[9] Like many of the other songs she wrote early on, the song describes the unhappiness and loneliness Swift felt when her love of country music alienated her from her peers.[10] Swift wrote "Tied Together with a Smile" the day she learned one of her best friends was bulimic, a fact which shocked her. She recalled, "How can somebody that seems so strong have such a horrible, horrible weakness? Something that is killing her."[7] The lyrics to "Tied Together with a Smile" describe a beautiful girl trying to hide her inner turbulence and mourn that "You're tied together with a smile/But you're coming undone".[11] Swift commented, "I always thought that one of the biggest overlooked problems American girls face is insecurity."[7] She wrote "Should've Said No" according to "something really, really dramatic and crazy happening to [her] and [her] needing to address it in the form of music".[12] The song was a last minute addition to Taylor Swift: Swift had written it two days before mastering was scheduled and booklets were about to be printed; she then called her producer and completed the song overnight.[12]

"Mary's Song (Oh My My My)" was actually inspired by her next-door neighbors' long lasting marriage, being the opposite of what tabloids fixate on.[11] Swift wrote "Our Song" for her freshman year of high school talent show with no intentions of including it on the album.[13] She claimed she "just knew there was something about it" and chose to include it on Taylor Swift. "I wrote it about this guy I was dating, and how we didn't have a song. So I went ahead and wrote us one."[14] The song is a narrative and describes a young couple who use the events in their lives in place of a regular song. The banjo-riddled song is placed at the end of the album due to its closing lyrics, a request to "play it again".[11] "Invisible" is ballad describing loneliness and heartache of going unnoticed. Sean Dooley of About.com writes, the "piano-driven song [...] perfectly captures the awkward teenage angst we all endure—or have endured—at one time or another."[8]

Recording[edit]

A young female with curly blond hair faces down at an acoustic guitar made of koa wood while a large microphone is placed close to her. She is wearing patterned, red dress.
Swift performing "Teardrops on My Guitar". The song became the best-charting single from Taylor Swift on the Billboard Hot 100.

While recording her demo album, Swift worked with demo producer Nathan Chapman, whom she met in a little shed behind a publishing company she was at.[3] Swift said, "I'd always go in there and play him some new songs, and the next week he would have this awesome track, on which he played every instrument, and it sounded like a record. We did this for a period of a year to two years before I got my record deal."[3]

To record Taylor Swift, she had to choose which album producer she would work with: "Then, all of a sudden, it was, 'OK, we're going to use this producer' or 'We're going to use that producer.'"[3] After experimenting with different producers, originating from Nashville, Swift chose Chapman because of the unique sound he put into songs.[3] Big Machine Records was skeptical about hiring Chapman because he had never done a studio album prior to Taylor Swift, only demos.[3] Swift described the songs he produced as "the right chemistry hit[ting]" and therefore, Big Machine Records accepted Chapman producing some of the album's songs.[3] In the end, Chapman produced all but one of the tracks on Taylor Swift.[3] Recording was executed during a four-month period before 2006 was over.[3]

Album packaging and release[edit]

Taylor Swift was released on October 24, 2006 with eleven tracks.[15] Swift was highly involved in the album packaging, designing doodle graphics herself. She also personally capitalized specific letters in the lyrics from each song to spell out hidden messages,[1] a feat she would also execute for her succeeding albums.[16][17] On November 6, 2007, the album was re-released under the title Taylor Swift Deluxe Edition for a limited time. The deluxe edition contained three new songs: "I'm Only Me When I'm with You", "Invisible" and "A Perfectly Good Heart", the radio edits for "Teardrops on My Guitar" and "Our Song", and Swift's first phone conversation with Tim McGraw. The re-release also bared a bonus DVD with all of Swift's music videos at the time ("Tim McGraw", "Teardrops on My Guitar", and "Our Song"), behind-the-scenes footage of "Teardrops on My Guitar" and "Our Song" music videos, and a performance of "Picture to Burn", among other material.[18] The American retail company Target released an exclusive version of Taylor Swift Deluxe Edition, with performances of Swift during McGraw and Hill's Soul2Soul II Tour.[19] A third and final re-release appeared on March 18, 2008 with the three new songs from the Taylor Swift Deluxe Edition and a pop version of "Teardrops on My Guitar".[20] A karaoke version of Taylor Swift was released on January 27, 2009, containing the first fourteen tracks from the album on both CD+G and DVD.[21]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
About.com 5/5 stars[11]
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[22]
Country Standard Time (favorable)[23]
Country Weekly 3.5/5 stars[24]
The Toledo Blade (favorable)[25]

Taylor Swift received positive reviews from contemporary critics. Shelly Fabian of About.com praised Swift as "one of the most talented, young performers on the country charts today" and for doing "a fabulous job of blending modern country with the traditional".[11] Jeff Tamarkin of Allmusic Swift as a "a fresh, still girlish voice, full of hope and naïveté, but it's also a confident and mature one".[22] He said her "talent to be reckoned" was portrayed through the songs "Tim McGraw", "The Outside", and "Mary's Song (Oh My My My)".[22] Tamarkin criticized producer Nathan Chapman for applying "a gloss that not all [songs] really require and in some cases would do better to shed".[22] Rick Bell of Country Standard Time gave a positive review, saying that Swift had "smart songwriting" and that "her deeply personal, self-penned songs, particularly 'The Outside' and 'Our Song'" were "stirring."[23] He compared her sound to Cyndi Thomson and Hilary Duff.[23] Chris Neal of Country Weekly said that Swift "demonstrat[es] an honesty, intelligence and idealism with which listeners of any age will be able to connect" and added that "the more thoughtful material suggests a talent poised to last well past high school."[24] Ken Rosenbaum of The Toledo Blade wrote Swift "deftly handles lyrics and subjects in that shadowy area between teenager and womanhood."[25]

Chart performance[edit]

A blond female, clothed by a white sundress and large sunglasses, in a semi-right profile view playing a wooden acoustic guitar. Behind her appears a window in daylight.
Swift performing "Tim McGraw". The song was written about a breakup with a senior boyfriend because he was attending college. Country singer Tim McGraw is one of the things used to remember her by.

On the week ending November 11, 2006, Taylor Swift debuted at number nineteen on the Billboard 200 due to sales of 40,000 copies.[26][27] It reached its highest sales week on the week ending January 5, 2008 with 187,000 copies sold. After sixty-three weeks on the Billboard 200, on the week ending January 19, 2008, the album reached its charting peak at number five due to sales of 47,000 copies.[28] Taylor Swift marked the longest stay on the Billboard 200 by any album released in the decade. So far the album has stayed on the chart for 267 weeks.[29] The album topped Billboard's Top Country Albums Chart for twenty-four non-consecutive weeks.[30] On the week ending August 2, 2008, Swift's EP Beautiful Eyes replaced Taylor Swift as the chart's number one album. With Taylor Swift charting at number two, Swift became the first artist to hold the first two positions on Top Country Albums since LeAnn Rimes charted in 1997 with Blue (1996) and Unchained Melody: The Early Years (1997).[31][32] On August 17, 2009, the album was certified five times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for the shipment and sales of 5,000,000 copies.[33] After six years of its release, Taylor Swift made debuted at number thirty-eight on the New Zealand Albums Chart.[34] Taylor Swift peaked at number fourteen on the Canadian Albums Chart and at number-one on the Canadian Country Albums Chart.[35][36] Taylor Swift was certified platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) for the shipment of 80,000 copies.[37] As of February 2013, the album had sold 5,324,000 copies in the United States.[38]

In Australia, Taylor Swift peaked at number thirty-three on the main chart and at number three on the country-genre chart.[39][40] On the week ending September 5, 2009, it entered the UK Albums Chart at number eighty-eight; the following week, it reached its peak at number eighty-one.[41] The album is certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for the shipment of 100,000 copies.[42] As of February 2013, Taylor Swift has sold over 5.5 million copies worldwide.[43]

Singles[edit]

"Tim McGraw" was released as the lead single from Taylor Swift on June 19, 2006.[44] The song was critically appreciated for Swift's delivery.[22] "Tim McGraw" enjoyed commercial success, peaking at number forty on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number six on Billboard's Hot Country Songs;[45] it was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for the shipment of 2,000,000 copies.[46]

"Teardrops on My Guitar" was released as the second single from Taylor Swift. "Teardrops on My Guitar" received critical success for its memorable chorus and crossover potential, as well as commercial success by becoming the best-charting single from Taylor Swift on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number thirteen.[47][48] It became Swift's first pop crossover hit, peaking at number eleven on the now-canceled Pop 100 chart. The song was certified double platinum by the RIAA for the shipment of 3,000,000 copies.[46] "Teardrops on My Guitar" peaked at number forty-five in Canada and at number fifty-one in the United Kingdom.[48][49]

"Our Song" was released as the third single from the album. The song was critically favored, being described as "gem".[50] "Our Song" peaked at number sixteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified quadraple platinum by the RIAA;[46] it also became Swift's first-number one on Hot Country Songs.[51] The song peaked at number thirty on the Canadian Hot 100, becoming the best-charting single from Taylor Swift in Canada.[51]

"Picture to Burn" was released as the fourth single from Taylor Swift. "Picture to Burn" was appreciated by contemporary critics for lyrics reflecting feminism.[11] It became a fourth consecutive top ten single for Swift on the United States' chart Hot Country Songs and was certified double platinum by the RIAA.[46][52]

"Should've Said No" was released as the fifth and final single from the album. In the United States, "Should've Said No" became Swift's second number-one on Hot Country Songs and was certified double platinum by the RIAA.[46][53] The song made its highest international peak in the New Zealand Singles Chart, at number eighteen.[54] As of December 2013, the best selling songs from the album are: Our Song 4,879,000; Teardrops on My Guitar 3,642,000; Picture to Burn 2,395,000; Tim McGraw 2,366,000; Should've Said No 2,255,000; I'm Only Me When I'm With You 2,174,000.[38]

Promotion[edit]

A female teen with blond hair and blue eyes, clothed by a sparkly silver dress, faces forward and plays a koa wood guitar.
Swift performing "Our Song" when opening for Rascal Flatts' Me and My Gang Tour. "Our Song" was released as a single and became her first number-one on Billboard's Hot Country Songs.

Swift's first broadcast performance of "Tim McGraw" was on October 24, 2006 on Good Morning America.[55] Other songs from Taylor Swift have been performed on television programs, award shows, and festivals such as The Megan Mullally Show,[55] the New Faces Show,[56] America's Got Talent,[57] TRL,[58] the 2008 CMT Music Awards,[59] and the Academy of Country Music.[60][61] Swift spent much of 2006 promoting "Tim McGraw" and Taylor Swift in a radio tour.[3] In regards to the extensive radio tour, Swift commented, "Radio tours for most artists last six weeks. Mine lasted six months. That's because I wanted it to. I wanted to meet every single one of the people that was helping me out."[3]

Swift also promoted the album by performing as an opening act for several country artists' concert tours. She opened for Rascal Flatts on several dates, from October 19 to November 3, 2006, included on the Me and My Gang Tour (2006–07), performing a total of five songs from the album.[55][62] She also served as opening act on twenty dates for George Strait's 2007 United States tour,[63] and selected dates for Brad Paisley's Bonfires & Amplifiers Tour (2007–08); Swift served as an opening act during all 2007 legs of the tour.[64][65] During mid-2007, Swift engaged as the opening act on several dates for Tim McGraw's and Faith Hill's joint tour, Soul2Soul II Tour (2006–07).[66] Swift again opened for Flatts for their Still Feels Good Tour in 2008.[67] In addition, Swift performed six songs from Taylor Swift on her first headlining tour, the Fearless Tour (2009–10).

Track listing[edit]

Official track listing[68][69]
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Tim McGraw"   Taylor Swift, Liz Rose 3:54
2. "Picture to Burn"   Swift, Rose 2:55
3. "Teardrops On My Guitar"   Swift, Rose 3:35
4. "A Place In This World"   Swift, Robert Ellis Orrall, Angelo 3:22
5. "Cold As You"   Swift, Rose 4:01
6. "The Outside"   Swift 3:29
7. "Tied Together With a Smile"   Swift, Rose 4:11
8. "Stay Beautiful"   Swift, Rose 3:58
9. "Should've Said No"   Swift 4:04
10. "Mary's Song (Oh My My My)"   Swift, Rose, Brian Maher 3:35
11. "Our Song"   Swift 3:24

Personnel[edit]

As listed in liner notes.[1]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Singles[edit]

Year Single Peak chart positions Certifications
US Country
[83]
US
[84]
US Pop Songs
[85]
US AC
[86]
US Adult
[87]
US Digital Songs
[88]
CAN
[89]
UK
[90]
2006 "Tim McGraw" 6 40  —  —  — 33  —  —
  • US: 2× Platinum[73]
2007 "Teardrops on My Guitar"[A] 2 13 7 5 6 11 45 51
  • US: 3× Platinum[73]
  • CAN: Platinum[91]
"Our Song" 1 16 18  —  — 15 30  —
  • US: 4× Platinum[73]
  • CAN: Platinum[91]
2008 "Picture to Burn" 3 28  —  —  — 30 48  —
"Should've Said No" 1 33  —  —  — 40 67  —
  • US: 2× Platinum[73]
  • A ^ "Teardrops on My Guitar" charted in the UK Singles Chart as the third single from Fearless in April 2009.[92]

Chart precession and succession[edit]

Order of precedence
Preceded by
5th Gear by Brad Paisley
Long Road Out Of Eden by Eagles
My Life's Been a Country Song by Chris Cagle
Good Time by Alan Jackson
Julianne Hough by Julianne Hough
Perfectly Clear by Jewel
U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums number-one album
August 4, 2007 – September 22, 2007
January 19, 2008 – March 1, 2008
March 15, 2008
April 5, 2008
June 14, 2008
June 28, 2008 – July 26, 2008
Succeeded by
Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates by Kenny Chesney
My Life's Been a Country Song by Chris Cagle
Good Time by Alan Jackson
Troubadour by George Strait
Perfectly Clear by Jewel
Beautiful Eyes by Taylor Swift

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