Taylor Who?

Apr 21, 2024
Source: Getty Images.

Surely, I am mistaken. Is anyone really suggesting that Taylor Swift is bigger than The Beatles? Well, as illogical as it seems to me, yes, they are.

Nobody can deny that Taylor Swift is BIG. Dominating headlines before, during and after her performances in Melbourne and Sydney, Taylor Swift and her adoring fans have become impossible to ignore. The media is saturated with countless images and footage of Swift’s performances and the hundreds of thousands who have been mesmerised by them. Suddenly, friendship bracelets, cowgirl hats and boots are back in fashion and the word ‘Swiftie’ has a new meaning.

Where once it referred to a deceptive act, as in pulling a swifty, it’s now been adopted (albeit with a slightly different spelling) into pop culture to describe a mad keen Taylor Swift fan. Taylor Swift is a phenomenal success, a multi award-winning American singer-songwriter, who has become a global superstar.

However, The Beatles can claim the same accolades – both as a band (or group) and as individuals. Everyone can agree that Taylor Swift and the Beatles are both BIG, but is one bigger than the other and how is that to be decided?

Consider the incredible technological advances in the production, formatting and distribution of music and, of course, the huge increases in population (potential audience numbers) that have occurred over the past six decades since the emergence of Beatlemania. Regardless of the statistics used (e.g. record and/or ticket sales), they make comparing the success of a contemporary solo artist with the success of a group of four that debuted over sixty years ago like comparing one apple with four pears.

When the two acts visited Australia, Taylor Swift and The Beatles both performed for capacity crowds and attracted hordes of devoted fans. However, in 1964 the Beatles played Sydney Stadium, the city’s only large-capacity concert venue, where the capacity audience was 12,000 seats. A Taylor Swift performance in 2024 at Accor Stadium, on the other hand, was able to accommodate a capacity crowd of 83,500 fans. The absolute best that can be said about these decades- apart concerts is that each was the BIGGEST of its time.

Ultimately, it’s longevity that will settle the argument. Fourteen years ago, at the age of twenty, Taylor Swift became the youngest recording artist to win a Grammy award for Album of the Year. She is no flash in the pan, but to match (or become bigger than) The Beatles, her star will need to shine brightly for another fifty years. After all, The Beatles’ music and their fame have survived and thrived for sixty years.

Recording artists worldwide continue to produce cover versions from the vast catalogue of songs written and recorded by The Beatles. One can only speculate on the numbers a live Beatles concert would attract today (if that were even possible), but it is worth noting that 81 year old Paul McCartney (one of the four Beatles) was able to fill Sydney’s Alliance Stadium to its full capacity when he performed there earlier this year.

If audiences are queuing for tickets to see octogenarian Taylor Swift perform in fifty years or so, then she can claim to be as big (if not bigger) than The Beatles. However, I predict that in fifty years, people will be asking “Taylor who”?

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