Over the past few months, Taylor Swift has toured North America in support of her fourth album, Red. For her four shows in Los Angeles, some of the biggest of her tour, Swift brought out guest artists to duet with on stage. Cher Lloyd, Sara Bareilles, Tegan and Sara, Ellie Goulding, and Jennifer Lopez joined the singer to sing their biggest hits, and in a behind-the-scenes video Swift just released, everyone who wasn't lucky enough to get a ticket to the Red Tour can get a glimpse at the collaborations.
The video is fascinating, for more than just the fact that we get to see J-Lo in sweatpants. It shows the enormous, unparalleled star power that Swift possesses, something that even the biggest names in music, like Beyoncé or Kanye West, have never quite achieved. When each artist that performed on stage with Swift talks to the camera about the experience, they express nothing but immense gratitude for getting the opportunity.
They thank Swift profusely for inviting them to join her, and all of them — Lopez included — seem dazed post-performance, as if they've never had an experience like this in their lives, and probably never will again. They're aware that performing with Swift will likely be one of the biggest moments of their careers, and that by her inviting them to spend five minutes onstage with her, they might have just gained 55,000 new fans.
From Cher Lloyd, who dueted with Swift on "Want U Back:"
"I'm the silly British girl that came to America and just performed with Taylor Swift ... I can't wait to show my mom."
From Sara Bareilles, who dueted with Swift on "Brave:"
"Taylor invited me to come sing my song "Brave" with her, and I'm really excited, and there's a lot of people out there."
From Tegan and Sara, who dueted with Swift on "Closer:"
"She was like, be prepared, there's going to be lots of screaming, lots of excitement. She has this way, this ease... she corrals them."
From Ellie Goulding, who dueted with Swift on "Anything Could Happen:"
"I just performed my song "Anything Could Happen" with Taylor Swift. Yep, just a normal day ... she's an inspiration, and I can't thank her enough."
From Jennifer Lopez, who dueted with Swift on "Jenny From the Block":
To Swift: "This is your family, your world ... thank you so much for allowing our family to come and be part of yours ... I feel blessed to be able to share the stage with you."
Even Lopez, who has performed to many a sold-out arena before, appears genuine in her thanks to Swift, and acutely aware of the fact that this will likely be the biggest crowd she'll play for the remainder of her career. It's not an insult to Lopez, or to any of the other artists Swift chose to duet with — it's simply a fact.
Swift is the biggest thing in music out there, and performing onstage with her is a once-in-a-lifetime privilege. Just in the North American leg of her tour alone, Swift's played 57 shows since March, to audiences ranging from 10,000 to 100,000. Her concerts earn rave reviews, with attendees and reviewers marveling over the audacity and originality of her performances. She's a bona-fide superstar, with seven Grammys, 26 million albums sold, and more magazine covers and news headlines than anyone can count.
She's as big a star as they come, and if she continues to produce blockbuster, critically acclaimed albums as successfully as she is now, we'll likely be hearing about her for a long, long time. Her fans are primarily teen- and tween-age girls, yes, but her reach is massive. Everyone knows who she is, and everyone's heard her music. She's a phenomenon unlike anyone else out there.
For Bareilles, Goulding, Lloyd, and Tegan & Sara, performing with Swift possibly changed the course of their careers. They're all established artists, but playing to 55,000 people was likely not a major possibility before Swift invited them onstage. For Lopez, it's not the stadium crowd that's so incredible, but the fact that an entirely new generation of fans have now been introduced to her music.
Who would've thought that an audience mostly born after "Jenny From the Block" was released would be singing along to its lyrics? Yet thanks to Swift and her enormous star power, it's entirely possible that Lopez's 2002 hit will be making a comeback on the Billboard charts before long.