Taylor Swift‘s 2009? Not too shabby. The singer-songwriter became a massive pop icon last year, scoring the bestselling album (her second record, Fearless, sold 3.2 million copies), winning the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year award and appearing twice on Saturday Night Live. And come January 31st, Swift will be in the running for eight Grammy Awards, including Album, Record and Song of the Year. (“I’m not going to lie, that makes me happy,” she says.) Then in March, Swift will kick off a sold-out, 39-date run through American stadiums and arenas before she shifts into finishing her third album, which should be out this year.
Swift’s biggest event of 2010, however, will be the 20-year-old’s move from her parents’ house into a spiffy new penthouse condo in Nashville. “I’ll be moving out, living on my own, experiencing relationships,” she says. “All of that will be documented in sort of a photo-album-slash-diary, which will be this next record.” To prepare for living on her own, her dad got her a tool chest for Christmas. “All of his presents were in one genre: hardware,” she says. “At some point in my life on my own, I guess I’ll need a screwdriver.”
Were you sad or happy to see 2009 end?
I’m looking forward to 2010 like I can’t even tell you. It’s going to be a chance to get back into the studio. I’m always looking forward to topping what I’ve already done – that’s the ultimate challenge: “Can I make something I’m even more proud of?”
I imagine your third album is mostly done.
You know me too well! I’ve written so much for this next record and recorded a bunch of songs already, but I don’t want to give away any of the titles – it’s still too early in the process. I don’t really write for albums as much as I just write for my life and process what I feel, whether that feeling is resentment or hope or happiness or a crush — writing songs helps me get through those moments. I like to have two years between albums, so there’s enough to cover. My first record is my diary until I was 16, Fearless covered 16 to 18, and the next album will cover 18 to 20.
On New Year’s Eve, you tweeted that you were working on a mixtape. What’s on it?
All Keith Urban songs. He has a new song called “If Ever I Could Love” that’s totally on repeat for me.
Where did you watch the ball drop?
It was a low-key night. I went to dinner with my friend Hayley [Williams, from Paramore] and drove home, where my brother was having a party. I was hiding in my room listening to the dynamics of a senior-class party. There was the loud girl screaming that it was her birthday like 400 times, then there was drama when a kid got pushed into the lake and almost got hypothermia.
What was the most ridiculous thing that happened to you in 2009?
Probably rapping with T-Pain on the CMT awards. Since then, a lot of people have been calling me T-Swizzle and T-Sweezy, and I accept those nicknames with open arms.
Do you ever listen to “old” music?
I was just re-loving “The Tracks of My Tears,” by Smokey Robinson. That’s a perfect song. My dad used to play lots of Motown songs on our summer vacations in New Jersey. And I just dug up Linda Ronstadt‘s version, which is amazing.
On SNL, you did a spot-on impersonation of Shakira. Who else can you impersonate?
I’ve been singing Shakira songs in front of my bathroom mirror into my hairbrush forever. It’s like a daily routine. I also think my Reba McEntire is pretty spot-on.
In June you’ll play a sold-out show at Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts, which holds 68,000-plus.
I’m out of my mind, wrapping my head around the fact that it sold out in 20 minutes. I was present for the meetings, and I pulled the trigger, but I never imagined that it could be a sellout, with my name on the ticket at a stadium. I’m a ridiculous overanalyzer and overplanner, so I’ve already started thinking about coming up with something special for that show.
You’re about to move into your dream condo in downtown Nashville. It’ll be tricked out, I imagine.
It’s going to be my fantasy world. There’s a pond in the living room, every cabinet in the kitchen is a different color, and today they’re delivering a human-size bird cage, which I’ll put a brass telescope in. The ceiling of my living room is painted like the night sky.
There’s a pond inside the apartment?
The pond is a moat around the fireplace and may possibly have koi fish in it, depending on my commitment. You step on a steppingstone in the pond in order to get on a spiral staircase, which takes you up to the human-size bird cage observatory.
Was this idea hatched in your brain?
My imagination is a twisted place.
This story is from the February 4, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone.