How Taylor Swift Broke Her Own Rules and Redefined Her Reputation in 2018

In 2017, Taylor Swift sang that her "reputation's never been worse," but as we've seen this year, that couldn't be further from the truth. After taking a brief hiatus from the spotlight, the singer came back stronger than ever in 2018; she outdid herself with her stadium tour, she broke her political silence for the first time, and, most importantly, she took back the narrative and completely redefined her reputation. Long live our snake queen! While we're more than excited for the next chapter of her career, let's take a moment to look back on some of her biggest moments from 2018.

01
She Proved the Old Taylor Isn't "Dead" and Returned to Her Roots
Getty | John Shearer

She Proved the Old Taylor Isn't "Dead" and Returned to Her Roots

In 2017, Taylor figuratively and literally gave herself a clean slate when she wiped her social media, unfollowed all of her famous friends, and let everyone know that the old Taylor Swift was officially dead. While Taylor certainly created a whole new "reputation" for herself when she released her sixth album at the end of 2017, we began to see a few glimmers of "her old self" this year. In April 2018, Taylor gave a surprise performance at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, where she was first discovered by Scott Borchetta in 2004.

Getty | Matt Winkelmeyer/TAS18

In addition to returning to the famed Nashville cafe, she also briefly returned to her country roots when she appeared on Sugarland's song "Babe" in April. The song, which she cowrote with Train's Patrick Monahan, was originally going to be featured on her Red album, but she later decided to give it to the country band. She also appeared in the Mad Men-esque music video.

Getty | John Shearer/TAS18

During Taylor's stadium tour, the singer made fans extra nostalgic when she sang a surprise song during each concert. In addition to singing throwbacks like "All Too Well" and "Fearless" on the B stage, she also gave a special rendition of "Tim McGraw" during her Nashville concert in August when she was joined by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill on stage.

02
She Broke Records With Her Reputation Stadium Tour
Getty | Christopher Polk/TAS18

She Broke Records With Her Reputation Stadium Tour

While Taylor is known for putting on a good show, she took things to a whole new level with her Reputation stadium tour. The tour included eight costume changes, massive inflatable snakes, her biggest stage yet, and so much more.

Getty | Kevin Mazur

In addition to blowing us away with her incredible performances, Taylor's tour also broke a ton of records. *Deeply inhales* In August, the Reputation stadium tour became the highest-grossing US tour by a woman, a record she previously held for her 1989 world tour. She also broke the attendance record for her first show at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ, and became the first female artist to play three consecutive shows at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. In December, Taylor's Reputation stadium tour broke the record for highest-grossing US tour with $266.1 million. Whew! *Deeply exhales*

Getty | Kevin Mazur/TAS18

On top of all that, Taylor also received tour of the year at the American Music Awards, which was voted by fans.

03
She Took Back the Narrative and Owned Her "Snake" Persona
Getty | Kevin Mazur/TAS18

She Took Back the Narrative and Owned Her "Snake" Persona

Following Taylor's feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West in 2016, the singer was called a snake, and her Instagram account was flooded with the reptile emoji. While the name was meant to be derogatory, Taylor decided to take control of the narrative when she released her sixth album. Not only did she use a snake to announce her return to music in 2017, but the imagery also continued long into her Reputation era. In addition to deeming herself the "snake queen" in her "Look What You Made Me Do" music video, she also sold snake merchandise and had huge inflatable snakes during her concerts this year.

Getty | Dave Hogan/TAS18

During her concert in May, Taylor briefly opened up about her feud with Kim and Kanye and how she learned to embrace her snake image and turn it into something positive. "I wanted to send a message to you guys that if someone uses name-calling to bully you on social media, and even if a lot of people jump on board with it, that doesn't have to defeat you," she told her fans. "It can strengthen you instead." Ugh, her mind.

04
She Ditched Her Infamous Squad and Kept Her Real Friends Close
Getty | Christopher Polk/TAS18

She Ditched Her Infamous Squad and Kept Her Real Friends Close

During her 1989 era, Taylor often flaunted her famous friends at public events and on social media, but this year, the singer took a step back from her infamous squad. In a poem titled "Why She Disappeared" from her Reputation album, the singer opened up about saying goodbye to her "fair-weather friends" following her feud with Kim and Kanye.

Getty | Kevin Mazur/AMA2018

This year, Taylor had a handful of special guests during her tour, she didn't host her annual Fourth of July bash, and she only brought a few close friends to award shows, including her tour opener Camila Cabello. During Taylor's concert in Pasadena, CA, in May, Selena Gomez opened up about her longtime friendship with the singer when she made a surprise cameo. "The reason why she has been one of my best friends is because this person has never, ever judged a single decision I've made," she told the crowd. "But honestly, thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting someone that I know that is the most beautiful, strong, independent woman I've ever met. So thank you for supporting my best friend." Honestly, 2018 only made us want to be BFFs with Taylor even more!

05
She Was Super Private About Her Love Life
Getty | Jackson Lee

She Was Super Private About Her Love Life

Over the years, Taylor has become known for her whirlwind romances, but her relationship with British actor Joe Alwyn is very different. As the singer mentions in her lyrics for ". . . Ready For It?," she's "so very tame now" when it comes to publicising her relationship. In fact, we've only gotten a handful of glimpses of their love this year. In addition to their under-the-radar date nights, Joe has attended a few of Taylor's concerts, and Taylor recently stepped out to support Joe at the New York Film Festival premiere of his movie The Favourite. When it comes to the love department, Taylor's doing better than she ever was.

06
She Broke Her Political Silence
Getty | Jeff Kravitz

She Broke Her Political Silence

Taylor has often kept her political opinions to herself, but that all changed this year. In October, the singer broke her political silence for the very first time in a passionate Instagram post about voting. In addition to encouraging her followers to register to vote, she also endorsed two Democratic candidates running in Tennessee. Following her post, Vote.org reported a massive spike in voter registration, proving just how big Taylor's influence really is.

07
She Made History at the American Music Awards
Getty | Kevin Winter

She Made History at the American Music Awards

Since releasing her sixth album last year, Taylor's award show appearances have been few and far between. While she made a surprise appearance at the Billboard Music Awards in May, it was her appearance at the American Music Awards in October that really blew everyone away. In addition to working the red carpet in a disco-ball-themed outfit, she also sang her hit "I Did Something Bad," marking her first AMAs performance since 2014.

Getty | Rich Fury/AMA2018

Of course, her fiery performance wasn't the only highlight of the night. After accepting her 22nd AMA, Taylor made history as the show's most decorated female artist, a record previously held by the late Whitney Houston.

08
She Started a New Chapter in Her Career by Switching Record Labels
Getty | Kevin Mazur/TAS18

She Started a New Chapter in Her Career by Switching Record Labels

Following her tremendous success this year, Taylor decided to take her career in a brand-new direction for 2019. After teasing her seventh album during the American Music Awards, the singer announced that she was leaving Big Machine Records after almost 13 years in November. In a lengthy Instagram post, Taylor revealed that her new musical home would be Republic Records and Universal Music Group. The new deal will give Taylor ownership of any future masters as well as ensure that any sale of the label's shares in Spotify "will result in a distribution of money to their artists."