Taylor Swift: with a little help from my friends
It seems anyone who is anyone has appeared onstage on Taylor Swift's 1989 World Tour
Easily the most important pop star of today, Swift’s star power has reached even greater heights and stretched beyond music, thanks to her highly successful, star-studded 1989 World Tour.
In typical Swift fashion, she has invited fellow radio-friendly singers to join her onstage, including Nick Jonas, Jason Derulo, John Legend and close gal pals Selena Gomez and Lorde. Swift, 25, has also shared her stage with iconic folk singer Joan Baez and breakthrough acts like The Weeknd and Fetty Wap, who sang his hit Trap Queen, a contemporary love song about cooking cocaine – among other things – with a lover.
And then there were the tour’s unorthodox moments: Ellen DeGeneres appeared onstage, Lisa Kudrow sang the memorable Smelly Cat from TV show Friends at one show, and Kudrow’s former co-star, Matt LeBlanc, hit the stage at a show with Chris Rock. Julia Roberts even walked the stage like a runway as Swift performed her hit Style.
The pop star also invited athletes to join in the fun, from Kobe Bryant to Serena Williams to the US women’s soccer team, days after they won the World Cup.
“Interviewers always ask me how we ‘get’ these people to come to the shows, and the truth is that everyone who has walked the catwalk onstage was already there to see the show. Usually I ask them in my pre-show meet and greet if they want to come onstage, then I’ll explain to them how the stage/elevator lift works and we just wing it,” Swift says.
Many of her surprise guests have children who are die-hard Swifties.
“Joan Baez and Julia Roberts were both at my show in Santa Clara, and they were in my meet-and-greet room together. Julia is such a huge Joan fan and they were really hitting it off. I asked them if they wanted to walk out onstage together and Julia’s kids exploded into ‘Please!’ So that’s how that happened.”
Other guests on the tour have included Justin Timberlake, Alanis Morissette, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, Sam Hunt, Wiz Khalifa and Beck.
“A lot of stars you can see maybe don’t want to share the spotlight and have other people up there with her, but Taylor’s thrilled to do that,” says Josh Duboff, who interviewed Swift for Vanity Fair.
Mary J. Blige, who sang Family Affair and Doubt in Los Angeles with Swift, said the singer “was someone I always loved way before she invited me to her show. It’s amazing. She deserves it. She’s a giver. She’s a real sweetheart, big heart – so she’s getting back everything that she is,” says Blige. “People support her.”
At the same show, Swift performed a duet with Emmy winner and Orange is the New Black star Uzo Aduba, marking her second appearance on the singer’s tour.
Girl group Fifth Harmony said Swift learned the choreography for their latest hit, Worth It, in 20 minutes backstage before they performed in front of 60,000 screaming fans.
“I was actually crying while we were performing. I really was and I couldn’t even sing my words correctly, especially when she came and stood right next to us,” band member Dinah-Jane Hansen says. “I mean, come on. It’s Taylor Swift.”
Models also have been a part of the tour, which wraps up on December 12 in Melbourne. They include Gigi Hadid, Karlie Kloss, Heidi Klum, Kendall Jenner, Lily Donaldson and Andreja Pejic. And there are Swift’s close friends, like Lena Dunham and Hailee Steinfeld, who helped recreate her action-packed Bad Blood music video at live shows alongside Kloss and Hadid.
“She’s a big inspiration to me. She knows that. We started our friendship because she was a really big fan of my music before anyone else. That’s a really cool thing,” says singer Ellie Goulding, who appears in the Bad Blood video. “I think she’s an inspiration to a lot of other female artists.”
Goulding has yet to join Swift onstage on her latest tour, but she’s ready: “That would be so much. Anything that involves a catwalk I would be into because I know I’ll never do a real catwalk.”
Swift has been a longtime supporter of her musical peers, and her approval can help launch or boost a career. Ed Sheeran’s star power rose after Swift declared she loved his music on social media, introducing him to her fan base. (She’s the most followed person on Instagram with 46.5 million followers and she has 63.5 million followers on Twitter.) They later became friends and collaborators, and she continues to tweet about new artists she loves, most recently 19-year-old R&B singer Alessia Cara.
“I think it’s amazing that she has an attitude that she can bring all these new artists who are her competition,” says Nicholas Petricca, the Walk the Moon lead singer who performed his band’s massive hit Shut up and Dance with Swift on her tour.
“Like, if they succeed, she succeeds. We all succeed together,” he said.