On March 17 at 6:30 p.m., Taylor Swift kicked off night one of The Eras Tour in Glendale, Arizona. This is Swift’s sixth tour and her longest, with her performing 44 songs each night, after one or two openers. As the name suggests, this tour covers each of Swift’s ten eras of artistry –– one for each album she’s released.
Each era is its own, with different music, styles, highs and lows. Buckle in everyone, we’re going through each.
The “Taylor Swift” Era
This era often is called the debut era, given that it follows Swift’s self-titled first album.” Released in 2006, the album was a strictly country effort. She released five singles for this album, including “Tim McGraw,” which spent 8 months on the Billboard country singles chart. The album was later certified platinum in 2007.
During this time, Swift was known for her curly hair, innocent style and guitar. Instead of a dedicated tour, she opened for multiple country artists. Her performances were simple, comprised of Swift singing on stage with her guitar in some cowboy boots.
By the end of the first era, Swift had made her mark on the country music industry, winning CMA’s best new artist award in Nov. 2007.
The “Fearless” Era
“Fearless” was released on Nov. 11, 2008, marking the beginning of her second era. Unlike her first album, “Fearless” was a country-pop album. However, her success was even bigger this time. “Fearless” was number one on the Billboard 200 chart, and won album of the year at the Grammys in 2010.
This era had its own tour, which started in April of 2009 and ended over a year later. Swift still had her curly hair; though her guitar was now completely covered in rhinestones.. The tour was a full production, featuring complex staging and costumes that would change during a performance. This tour marked the beginning of Swift drawing her lucky number, 13, on her hand before every show and her signature red lip.
At the 2009 VMAs, Swift won best female video for “You Belong With Me.” During her speech, Kanye West jumped on stage, took the microphone and said that Beyoncé should have won the award. This situation would only mark her first experience with West’s antics.
In April 2021, Swift re-released “Fearless” as “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” in order to own the master recordings of her first six albums, which Big Machine Records currently owns. Swifties now only listen to Taylor’s Version – often asking “is this Taylor’s Version?” whenever someone plays a song from “Fearless” – in an effort to support their favorite artist.
The “Speak Now” Era
“Speak Now” was released on Oct. 25, 2010, beginning Swift’s third era. This album included songs alluding to Swift’s public relationships, starting the stereotype that she only writes about her exes. The album sold a million copies within its first week and spent six weeks at number one on the Billboard 200.
This era also had its own tour starting in Feb. 2011 and ending in March 2012. Like the “Fearless” tour, the “Speak Now” tour was a full production. Nonetheless, Swift’s curly hair and guitar remained a staple of the tour, as did Swift’s hand-drawn 13 for every show.
“Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” has yet to be released, but Swifties are theorizing that it will be the next re-recorded album to be dropped.
The “Red” Era
“Red” was released on Oct. 22, 2012, kicking off her fourth era. Here, the country artist label began to fade into pop.
Seven singles were released for this album, including “Red,” “I Knew You Were Trouble,” “22” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” After its release, the album spent seven weeks at the top of the Billboard 200. That achievement made Swift the first female to have three consecutive albums each spend six weeks at number one.
Swift’s third tour, the “Red” tour, started in March 2013 and ended in June 2014. This tour was different; the curls were gone, the guitar appeared less, the 13 on her hand was nowhere to be seen and red was the featured color. By this point, Swift’s tours had developed into full-scale productions, and they would stay that way.
On Nov. 12, 2021, Swift re-released “Red” as “Red (Taylor’s Version).” This album boasted nine “From the Vault” tracks, including: “All Too Well (10 minute version) [Taylor’s Version],” an emotionally charged, Swiftie-beloved song thought to be detailing Swift’s relationship with Jake Gyllenhall. “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is the most recent re-recorded album to be released; four remain.
The “1989” Era
Swift’s fifth era,“1989,” started on Oct. 27, 2014 with the release of “1989.” This album solidified Swift’s move from country to pop and spent 11 weeks at the top of the Billboard 200. “1989” also won album of the year at the Grammys, making Swift the first female solo artist to win the award twice.
The “1989” tour went from May-Dec. 2015. Given that Swift was now a pop artist, her curls and guitar were replaced with a long bob, crop tops, jackets, bodysuits and high-waisted bottoms – all covered in sparkles. A new feature of the tour was the unannounced guests; including Selena Gomez, John Legend and Idina Menzel.
“1989 (Taylor’s Version)” as an album has yet to be released; the single “Wildest Dreams” is the only song to have been re-released.
By the end of this era, Swift had disappeared from the public eye. Due to her personal songs, media scrutiny was increasing. Then, the second Kanye drama occurred.
A lyric in West’s song “Famous” directly named Swift, with West rapping “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/I made that bitch famous.”
Swift came out and said that West never asked her if she was okay with that lyric. Kim Kardashian, West’s wife at the time, posted a clip of a phone conversation between West and Swift in which Swift seemed to agree to the lyric. After more back and forth, the media started portraying Swift as the snake in the situation.
In her Netflix documentary “Miss Americana,” Swift revealed that she disappeared between 2016 and 2017, saying “nobody physically saw me for a year and that’s what I thought they wanted.”
On Aug. 18, 2017 the singer deleted all of her social media. Swifties took it as a sign that she might be returning.
The “Reputation” Era
Swift’s sixth album was released on Nov. 10, 2017. It was her sixth era and return to the public eye. “Look What You Made Me Do,” the lead single, was the first single Swift had dropped in three years. The album spent four weeks at the top of the Billboard 200 and sold over a million copies in its first week. Although “Reputation” is still a pop album, Swift took a darker turn than usual for both sound and lyrics.
The “Reputation” Stadium Tour started in May 2018 and ended in Nov. Compared to her other tours, the “Reputation” tour matched the darkness of the album in Swift’s costumes, lipstick and snake imagery. The costumes were still covered in sparkles, of course. Swift’s hair was wavy this time around.
“Reputation” was Swift’s last record with Big Machine Records. The singer has made it clear that she will only be re-recording her first six albums, meaning any albums after “Reputation” will not need to be re-recorded. “Reputation (Taylor’s Version)” has not been released.
The “Lover” Era
“Lover” was released on Aug. 23, 2018, starting Swift’s seventh era. Only four singles were released before the album: “Lover,” “The Man,” “You Need to Calm Down” and “Me!” The album debuted at the top of the Billboard 200, making it Swift’s sixth consecutive album to do so. “Lover” was also 2019’s best-selling studio album.
The “Lover” tour was scheduled but never happened. Swift had announced a handful of dates and was ready to announce more when COVID-19 hit. This tour, affectionately known by Swifties as “Lover” fest, was canceled due to the global pandemic. On Sept. 9, 2019, Swift held a concert in Paris, titled City of Lover, making it the only live performance. Nevertheless, the era was full of pastel colors and Swift’s pink hair.
The “Folklore” Era
On July 24, 2020, Swift surprised fans everywhere by releasing “Folklore,” which began her eighth era. There were no singles released before the album. Instead, three singles were released after the album dropped: “Cardigan,” “Exile (feat. Bon Iver)” and “Betty.” The album performed fantastically, debuting number one on the Billboard 200, earning Album of the Year at the Grammys and selling more than any other album in 2020.
This album has a trilogy within the 16 tracks. “Cardigan,” “Betty” and “August” make up the trilogy and tell the story of a teenage love triangle, with each song from a different person’s perspective. In summary, “Cardigan” is from Betty’s point-of-view and explains her feelings about being cheated on by her boyfriend, James. “Betty” is from James’s point of view and chronicles why he cheated and how badly he wants Betty back. Finally, “August” is from the unnamed lover’s point-of-view and shows how much she loved James even though he was never hers to lose.
A tour was not possible for Swift’s seventh album and instead, the artist released a special with Disney+ discussing and performing the album. This era saw Swift foray into a more indie style.
The “Evermore” Era
“Evermore” was released on Dec. 11, 2020 and was a surprise release, just like “Folklore.” The album started Swift’s ninth era and once again, had no singles until after the release. These singles were “Willow,” “No Body, No Crime” and “Coney Island.” As usual, the album performed well. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and was 2021’s best selling alternative music album in the US.
This album followed in “Folklore’s” footsteps and produced more character studies from Swift. “Evermore” is often considered “Folklore’s” sister album, due to the similar style of writing and production, the surprise release and proximity to one another.
The “Midnights” Era
On Oct. 21, 2022 the Swifties got “Midnights,” Swift’s tenth album and the start of her tenth era. No singles were released before the album but two were released after, “Lavender Haze” and “Anti-Hero.” The album debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 and was the best-selling album of 2022.
“Midnights” is composed of Swift’s nocturnal musings, essentially her experiences with midnights. The era uses an abundance of night imagery and marks Swift’s return to pop.
That’s a brief history of each Taylor Swift era. So….are you going to the Eras tour?
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