With more than 5.3m copies sold in the year after its release, it’s just about easier to remember the actual events of 1989 than it is the world before Taylor Swift’s album.
But an end – or at least a reprieve – is in sight.
After more than six months on the road, Swift is now entering the final leg of the tour: seven dates in Australia, starting with her only Sydney show on Saturday. Her third Melbourne show, on December 12, will likely be her last for some time. She has told reporters she intends to take time off in 2016.
“I think people might need a break from me,” she said to NME. And to GQ: “I monitor what people say about me, and if I see a theme, I know what that means.”
While Swift was once ridiculed for writing songs about her experience of dating men her own age, the joke for 2015 has been her high-profile friendships. They often drop by the 1989 World Tour stage,including relatively obscure cameos: the Texan rapper Nelly, the US women’s national soccer team, Lakers basketballer Kobe Bryant, Chris Rock, Julia Roberts and Joan Baez, not one but two members of the central cast of Friends.
A viral video of a young woman parodying Swift’s celebrity guest spots (“Please welcome to the stage... the hologram of Maya Angelou! The fabulous 51 victims of Bill Cosby! The women survivors of Isis!”) and a subsequent SNL sketch reflected the opinion that there was something performative, if not outright calculating about Swift’s alliances.
Seven shows left of the 1989 World Tour means just seven more opportunities for Swift to cement new and public friendships – and, as she retreats from the spotlight for the first half of 2016 (and, god willing, perhaps a bit of the second), these are lasting impressions that she’ll leave in the year she dominated all media. Swift has established herself someone who pays close attention to the minutiae of her brand; she’ll know, at this crucial juncture, she can’t put a foot wrong.
So, who will Taylor Swift bring out on stage at her Australian shows? We assess the likely candidates – and a couple of curveballs.
The Perth pop star is a likely candidate given that he has already benefited from the coveted Swift co-sign. The two had a public love-in on Twitter in September, when Swift endorsed the 20-year-old’s Wild EP to her then-63 million followers as “STUNNING AND AWESOME”. (She now has 66.6m.)
But on Thursday night Sivan was performing in Berlin alongside fellow Australian Tkay Maidza – meaning that if he does put in an appearance on Swift’s stage, it won’t be in Sydney on Saturday.
Sheeran is a well-established member of the Swift stable, with documentation of their text exchanges, domestic hang-outs and mutual appreciation of cats often listed as the definition of “#friendshipgoals”. Swift (or a representative of Swift; no shade, it’s the thought that counts), made Sheeran a needlepoint referencing Drake’s Started From The Bottom; Sheeran describes Swift as a “brilliant wingman”. It’s either aspirational or nauseating, depending on how tough the week’s been, or where you’re at in your menstrual cycle.
Sheeran and Swift have collaborated in the past – first on a hit for her Red album, then he supported her for the North American leg of the subsequent tour. Plus, he has the advantage of being in Australia – at least as of Thursday night, when he attended the Aria awards.
According to Swift’s Instagram profile, the Scottish DJ has been her boyfriend since March. Though he has attended the 1989 World Tour, he has not appeared on stage. This could be construed one of three ways: he doesn’t want to; she doesn’t want him to; or that the couple are “on the rocks” – or even that they never existed outside of a contractual agreement to dethrone Beyoncé and Jay-Z as the highest-paid celebrity couple.
If Swift is keen to put the persistent latter strand to rest, an appearance on the 1989 World Tour stage would cement her relationship with Harris at least to the level that it did with Joan Baez and Chris Rock. We know that he is in the Antipodes; the two were apparently photographed having breakfast together in Queenstown, New Zealand, on Friday before Swift crossed the Tasman in her private jet.
American DJ and producer Diplo is one of the best-known antagonists of Taylor Swift, having likened her fandom to “an army that’s worse than North Korea” and started a tasteless Kickstarter campaign to raise her a “booty” (for which he was masterfully rebuked by Lorde).
But since the feud of 2014, he has expressed regret of sorts, stating in March: “one of the biggest mistakes of my career was definitely fucking with her”. At the same time, his star as both a producer and member of Major Lazer has definitely risen, the latter’s track Lean On breaking Spotify streaming records earlier this month.
Major Lazer is performing in Sydney on the same night as Swift; if they can work out the time clash, and if Swift can find forgiveness in her heart, an appearance on stage might serve to both bury the hatchet and align their rising stars.
Lee Lin Chin
SBS personality Lee Lin Chin on Tuesday volunteered to join Swift on stage, describing herself as Australia’s “premiere ‘bad bitch’”. Though the tweet received more than 2,000 favourites, Swift had yet to respond.
The veteran actors of Belvoir theatre company
In August, Taylor Swift granted an 11th-hour appeal to Sydney’s Belvoir theatre company, tweeting them permission to use her song Shake It Off in their production of Seventeen – about a group of 17-year-olds, played by veteran actors, on their last day of school. A music publisher had denied an earlier request, days before opening night.
But Belvoir had done Swift a favour as much as the other way around. The exchange helped to reaffirm her status as a benevolent and all-seeing presence, and distract from some unpleasantness two weeks prior – her public misunderstanding with Nicki Minaj over MTV Video Music award nominations.
Swift could invite the elderly cast of Seventeen to reprise their dance to Shake It Off – described by the director as “a brilliant thing to witness” – with her on stage. What’s a good deed if you can’t bring it up three months later?
Jeremy the koala
Taylor Swift loves to champion an underdog, and there have been few sights quite as pathetic in 2015 as a koala wearing mittens. Jeremy the koala became the face of the Adelaide Hills bushfires at the start of the year after a photo of him face down and with his scalded paws immersed in containers of sodium chloride was shared on social media. He might not be much help on stage, but he wouldn’t overshadow her, either.
Then again – in one of the stranger rumours around the celebrity this year – Taylor Swift’s legs are reportedly insured for $40m. Swift’s cat Meredith already infringed this earlier this year; now that he has been restored to full health, Jeremy could do some real damage.
The hologram of Maya Angelou
For her last performance of 2015, it would not be out of the question for Taylor Swift to reference that viral video of Lara Marie Schoenhals’. It would not be the first time she has explicitly referenced a joke about herself on the internet.
I’m not saying she’s going to introduce the hologram of Maya Angelou when she takes the stage in Melbourne. I’m saying it’s something she might try to do.
- I do not speak for Taylor Swift and cannot claim to know her mind.
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