Prompting Apple Music to reverse its policy
In June, the world saw the true power of Taylor Swift after she convinced Apple to reverse a major policy simply by penning an open letter. Swift wrote that she planned to withhold her album 1989 from the company’s new streaming service because Apple Music did not plan to pay artists during the service’s three-month free trial. The very next day, Apple exec Eddy Cue announced on Twitter that the policy would be reversed, and artists would indeed get paid after all. It seemed like a major win-win for both sides: people praised Taylor Swift for her influence and Apple for seeming so open and progressive. But, because this all played out on the Internet, there were of course some skeptics, who suggested the whole incident was just one big PR stunt.
Debuting the "Bad Blood" video
Swift spent more than a week teasing this video on social media before debuting it at the the Billboard Music Awards. The elaborate, over-the-top clip featured all her famous pals, from Kendrick Lamar to Lena Dunham to Karlie Kloss. The Internet went nuts over the action-packed video, which racked up 20.1 million views in just 24 hours, setting a new Vevo record. (Adele managed to break this record in October, when her video for “Hello” hit 27.7. million views in the same timespan.) Months after the video debuted, Swift kept the fire alive by posting behind-the-scenes footage and reenacting the video onstage during her world tour. Five months later, the original video had logged more than 600 million views.
Briefly feuding with Nicki Minaj
It was a big year for Twitter beef. This particular spat began when Nicki Minaj’s popular “Anaconda” video didn’t receive a “Video of the Year” nomination from the VMAs. She tweeted, “If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year.” Swift interpreted this as a jab at her Bad Blood video, which did get nominated, and replied, “I’ve done nothing but love & support you. It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot..” Interest in the public disagreement between two superstars was, of course, massive. The plot thickened when Katy Perry — believed to be the subject of “Bad Blood” — chimed in too. Ed Sheeran also weighed in, but then said his comments were taken out of context. Things started to get confusing. Eventually, Swift apologized, Minaj accepted, and everything went back to normal. And once the VMAs rolled around in August, the two officially put their bad blood to rest by performing on stage together.
Donating $50,000 to young fan battling cancer
When 11-year-old Swiftie Naomi Oakes was diagnosed with cancer in June, she chose “Bad Blood” as her fight song. Her family soon posted a video on YouTube, explaining that because of her intensive treatment, she wouldn’t be able to attend Swift’s concert in Phoenix. Using the hashtag #TeamNaomi, they urged fellow fans to spread the word about Naomi’s journey, in the hopes of reaching Swift herself. Soon, Taylor saw the video and responded by donating $50,000 to the Go Fund Me page Oakes’ family set up to raise money for her treatment. She wrote, “To the beautiful and brave Naomi, I’m sorry you have to miss it, but there will always be more concerts. Let’s focus on getting you feeling better. I’m sending the biggest hugs to you and your family.”
Going Instagram official with Calvin Harris
Sometime in the spring, rumors began circulating that Swift was dating DJ Calvin Harris, so it was a major moment for fans when Swift made things Instagram official. On June 10, she posted a photo of herself and Harris at a pool, snuggled up in a giant floating swan. Fans wents nuts, and the photo racked up 2.1 million likes and 86,000 comments. Sure, Swift may not have explicitly announced the relationship, but the photo pretty much said, “Here is my boyfriend.” A few weeks later, she posted another cute, couple-y Instagram, and that one became one of the most-liked Instagrams of all time.
Giving her longtime BFF a birthday surprise
Swift may be known for her crew of ultra-famous pals, but she also maintains friendships with civilians. In April, Swift threw a 25th birthday bash for Abigail Anderson, the friend who got a shoutout on Swift’s early hit “Fifteen.” (Anderson was also Swift’s date to the Grammy’s this year.) At the party, Swift surprised Anderson with a pop-up concert by Chris Carrabba, the lead singer of her favorite band, Dashboard Confessional. Seeing the surprise, and subsequent joy, on Abigail’s face was a genuinely sweet moment. It was also a reminder that Swift knows how to use her music industry connections to do nice things for her friends, some of whom are not famous themselves.
Singing ‘Smelly Cat’ with Lisa Kudrow
Swift’s 1989 tour has featured an impressive roster of famous guests, from actors and athletes to models and musicians. But it felt like Swift had truly outdone herself when, at an August show in Los Angeles, she brought out Lisa Kudrow, who reprised her beloved role as Phoebe Buffay from Friends. Both clutching acoustic guitars, they sang a duet of “Smelly Cat,” Phoebe’s classic coffeeshop tune. The ’90s nostalgia was out in full force as the crowd sang along: “Smelly cat, smelly cat, it’s not your fault.” Clips of the performance quickly racked up millions of views. After the show, Kudrow tweeted, “So @taylorswift13 is THE best person I’ve ever met. That was fun. Thanks Taylor.”
Making amends with Kanye
At this year’s Grammy’s, Taylor Swift and Kanye West were photographed together, suggesting that the two musicians had settled their differences after the infamous 2009 VMAs incident. (In case you forgot: Kanye famously interrupted Taylor during her acceptance speech for Best Female Video.) But their newly fortified friendship really became official — and widely known around the Internet — when Swift posted an Instagram photo of a large bouquet West had sent her in September. (The bouquet came a few days after Swift presented West with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the VMAs.) Her Instagram racked up 2.6 million likes, becoming the second most popular Instagram ever.
Gracing the cover of every magazine ever
Tay-Tay may have graced the cover of TIME in 2014, but she became an even more ubiquitous cover girl in 2015. She appeared glammed up in front of a piano on Vanity Fair and bare-faced and serious on Maxim. She was a nightmare dressed like a daydream on Vogue Australia. She was extra sparkly on Elle and extra seductive on GQ. All these covers really seemed to drive home the point that Taylor Swift was everywhere this year. Even if you took a break from the Internet, you’d see her face on a newsstand pretty much every week.
Receiving the ACM Milestone Award
Back in April, Swift revealed that her mom, Andrea, had been diagnosed with cancer. “She wanted you to know because your parents may be too busy juggling everything they’ve got going on to go to the doctor, and maybe you reminding them to go get checked for cancer could possibly lead to an early diagnosis and an easier battle,” she wrote on Tumblr. Later that month, Swift’s mother presented the Milestone award to her daughter at the American Country Music Awards — and her speech felt especially poignant given the recent news. “I am a very proud mom,” she said. “I want to thank the entire music community for taking such good care of her. And to the fans: I know you love her as I love her. And for that, I thank you eternally.”