Since its inception in 1927, TIME has annually selected a Person of the Year, an individual whose impact on the preceding 12 months is deemed significant, for better or worse. Rooted in the Great Man Theory of history, this tradition typically leans towards figures of authority like political leaders or industry titans, with fourteen U.S. Presidents, five Russian or Soviet leaders, and three Popes among those recognized.
However, in 2023, the Person of the Year deviated from these conventional roles. In a year marked by both light and darkness, Taylor Swift emerged as a transcendent force, bridging divides in a world where many institutions falter. Swift, at 33, defied traditional categorizations, proving herself as a luminary capable of moving multitudes like no other. Her unique ability to connect with people became apparent in 2023, a year marred by global divisions.
Swift’s trajectory, as both the author and protagonist of her own narrative, is unparalleled. Despite the challenges, she embraced her distinctive path, becoming a beacon of light amid societal uncertainties. Over her career, Swift has fused art and commerce in unexpected ways, utilizing her unparalleled talent for entertaining and crafting songs that resonate with people. Notably, she became the first Person of the Year acknowledged for accomplishments in the arts, symbolizing generational change as the fourth solo recipient born in the past 50 years.
Over her 17-year career, Swift has claimed more No. 1 albums than any other woman in history, with three in 2023 alone. Her omnipresence is undeniable, filling stadiums and shattering records. The impact of her influence was measured in novel ways, from seismograms reflecting fan fervor to countries’ GDPs as indicators of her financial contributions. Swift’s success extends beyond quantifiable metrics; universities announced classes dedicated to studying her contributions to literature, business, and law.
In 2023, global leaders vied to host her immensely successful Eras Tour, solidifying Swift’s role as a facet of American soft power. Her Midas touch elevated the fortunes of every locale she visited, evidenced by the NFL’s surge in new fans and increased voter registrations after her encouragement on Instagram. Swift’s commitment to being vocal and political resonated, furthering her impact on societal issues.
Beyond measurable achievements, Swift’s influence in 2023 transcended boundaries. She shared her journey, validating the dreams and experiences of those, especially women, who felt overlooked. By embracing her past and imperfections, Swift encouraged others to do the same, holding up a mirror to help people better understand themselves.
While Swift’s success challenges traditional power structures, the essence of her mastery lies in her ability to craft her own narrative rooted in her personal journey. Her epic story has provided solace to those disillusioned by societal narratives, especially those perpetuated by the Great Man Theory.
This isn’t Swift’s first TIME Person of the Year recognition; in 2017, she was part of the “Silence Breakers” for speaking out against discrimination and harassment.
In 2023, Swift continued to be both avatar and author of shifting narratives, creating a world that accommodated many and turning her story into a global legend. Her influence, showcased in nightly gatherings of 70,000 people, offered moments of joy, especially as the world emerged from a pandemic.
For building a world that accommodates multitudes, spinning her story into a global legend, and bringing joy to a society in need, Taylor Swift rightfully earns the title of TIME’s 2023 Person of the Year.
PHOTO CREDIT – Title: Taylor Swift (6966830273). Author: Eva Rinaldi. Source: Wikimedia