By 7 a.m., Times Square was already packed: Young girls in their plaid school skirts and cheerleader uniforms were huddled across the Midtown hub, waiting to see Taylor Swift perform on Good Morning America and hoping that their first period teachers were also fans of the 24-year-old pop star.
Swift’s latest album, 1989, might be her most mature yet – a transition into pop, adulthood and independence – but clearly, the 16-and-under crowd remains as enthralled as ever. After soundcheck, the singer gave the earliest spectators a full performance of “Out of the Woods,” and a trio of her youngest fans – between the ages of 6 and 11 – were pulled onstage to sing their favorite Swift songs. Groups in the crowd danced and sang along – shook it off, even – building anticipation and staying warm on a cool fall morning.
Following a brief choreographed routine from a small squad of pre-teens outfitted in neon shirts and headbands, George Stephanopoulos and the rest of the Good Morning America anchor crew welcomed Swift onstage. “As far as the eye can see, the Swifties are out,” said co-host Robin Roberts, noting that with thousands of fans blocking traffic, this was the largest Times Square concert GMA had ever hosted.
“Good morning, America, and welcome to New York,” Swift said before diving into her synth-pop ode to her adopted home. As the sun rose, her sequined all-black ensemble glistened in the light, and their look was framed by fans holding gigantic Polaroid photo borders, emulating her album cover as she did her various note-holding power stances.
In a brief conversation with Roberts, Swift revealed that plans for an upcoming tour were being worked out – she is excited to announce more “when she can.” Graciously, she thanked the fans who had spent the night outside in order to get a good spot for the show and those who had been already to mastered her new lyrics. “Out of the Woods” followed, and she acted out its lyrics by dancing in front of Tumblr-like forest imagery.
The arrival of several horn players indicated that 1989‘s lead single, “Shake It Off,” would close out the concert, but the lovingly shrill screams of “I love you Taylor!” would have the final word. “I legitimately am completely in awe of how many people are here,” Swift said before taking selfies with the crowd. As industry expert debate whether the new record will sell 1 million first-week copies and those outside simply admire her onstage swagger, the early morning fervor surprised no one else.