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All the things Taylor Swift made us care about this year

By Leah Asmelash, CNN

(CNN) — Every year seems to be Taylor Swift’s year.

Since the early stages of her career, Swift has consistently held the news cycle in the palm of her hands — making headlines for everything from her romantic interests to the sale of her masters and the resulting rereleases.

And yet 2023 feels like it was her biggest year yet. With a record-breaking world tour, an accompanying concert film, and a high-profile, gush-worthy relationship with one of the best players in the NFL, Swift is winning the year in a way most people could only dream.

To top it all off, she was named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” — a title reserved for cultural changemakers like former President Barack Obama (2008 and 2012), persecuted journalists like Jamal Khashoggi, murdered for disagreeing with the Saudi government (2018), and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (2022). Swift’s gravitational pull is so strong, it rivals that of world leaders.

In honor of one of Swift’s best years yet, here’s a look at all the things she made us care about this year.

The Kansas City Chiefs’ offense

When Swift started dating Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce, arguably one of the greatest players at his position, the internet seemingly imploded. Fresh off a break-up with actor Joe Alwyn, Swift’s new fling with Kelce quickly became delightful fan fodder, as Swifties dug up Kelce’s old posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, and analyzed their every movement.

Swift’s presence at Chiefs games also became an ongoing “Where’s Waldo?” as the star was frequently photographed cheering on her new boo alongside people like gymnast Simone Biles and Kelce’s mother Donna.

Her starpower was so intense that it brought a 400% spike in sales of Kelce jerseys and drove up prices of Chiefs’ tickets, as Swifties ran to the games in hopes of catching a glimpse. During broadcasts, Swift and her devotees became a regular part of NFL commentators’ discourse, to the chagrin of some NFL fans.

Not much can overshadow football in the US, but this year, Swift managed just that.

‘Seemingly Ranch’

Every detail of Swift’s presence at Chiefs’ games was scrutinized, including what she ate. In one instance, according to a fan account, her meal consisted of chicken tenders, ketchup and “seemingly ranch.”

The phrasing quickly became a meme, so much so that Heinz developed a limited edition “Ketchup and Seemingly Ranch” sauce, a wink to fans and also, frankly, a marketing ploy.

Having so much power that your preferred chicken tender accompaniments become adopted by a national brand? That’s just a regular Sunday for Swift.

Public transportation

Swift’s sold-out Eras Tour had fans relying on buses, subways and trains (oh my!) to travel to venues — revitalizing many cities’ public transportation system in the process.

In Chicago, the CTA provided 5.63 million rides the week of June 4 to 10, the highest number since the start of the pandemic. The CTA attributed the spike to Swift’s sold-out show that week. In Atlanta, almost 140,000 people swarmed the city’s Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority system, more than three times the number of riders during a usual weekend, CNN previously reported. Philadelphia and New Jersey had similar boosts.

Hotels and restaurants benefited, too, and Swift’s tour led to a boost in local economies across the country — a huge win for many as some continue to fear an oncoming recession. As the Wall Street Journal said, “It’s simple Taylornomics.”

Trendy Manhattan restaurants

Swift going out to eat may not seem significant to some. But, as Rachel Handler detailed in Vulture, Swift is not a regular celebrity, nor is she a regular middle class patron. And yet, for a period this past fall, Swift was regularly photographed going out to some of the trendiest Manhattan restaurants and bars, alongside a rotating star-studded group of friends.

Though one can’t say why Swift did this: Did she simply not have food at home? Did she want to grab a drink with the girls? Was her private chef on vacation? No matter the motivation, it did cause a brief stir in the Manhattan dining scene. Handler retraced Swift’s steps across the city, asking Emilio of Emilio’s Ballato what it’s like when Swift eats at your restaurant. His response was simple: “What can I tell you? She eats, she pays, she gets the f**k out.” Celebrities, they’re just like us.

The details of film distribution

Shot over three nights during her residency at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles in August, Swift’s “Eras” concert film broke records in its opening weekend. It raked in $96 million, making it the highest-grossing concert film domestically for an opening weekend, according to AMC.

But that’s not the only way Swift changed the game with her concert film. Swift produced the film herself and distributed the movie directly through AMC Theatres, instead of through a traditional Hollywood distributor. As a result, she cut out the usual big Hollywood studio middleman and was able to secure a much higher payday for herself and her team.

The route is definitely an unconventional one, and it could be a tactic employed by other big stars. Beyoncé made a similar move for her own Renaissance tour film, and though few have the starpower of Queen Bey and Swift, the trend may be one worth monitoring.

Summer camp core

In “You’re on Your Own, Kid,” Swift beckons listeners to “make the friendship bracelets” rather than yearning for love. The line is only said once, but once was enough: Friendship bracelets, suddenly, were everywhere, even though the track was released last year.

Swifties raided their local craft stores to carefully string together friendship bracelets as part of their Eras Tour look — making the bracelets a tour staple. Even celebrities sported the trend. Nicole Kidman received some bracelets while at Swift’s show, as did Jennifer Lawrence and, of course, Swift herself.

Even her security guard was not immune to the throwback mementos. If you see them on runways next year, don’t be surprised.

Monopolies and Ticketmaster

At the end of last year Live Nation, Ticketmaster’s parent company, faced heavy criticism for its botched handling of presales for Swift’s then-upcoming Eras Tour, which left millions of fans unable to both buy tickets or without tickets, despite purchasing.

Although Ticketmaster and Live Nation have long been scrutinized for having a monopoly power over ticket sales, the incident was a major catalyst in Congress looking into the company. Lawmakers grilled the CFO of Live Nation in January, and a Senate subcommittee issued a subpoena to the company just last month, requiring documents related to its “ticket pricing, fees, and resale practices.”

Getting the US government to kick into high gear after a company mishandles ticket sales to your upcoming tour is not a power many artists wield. No matter what happens, you’ll at least in part have Swift to thank.

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