When Taylor Swift's fourth full-length album "Red" sold 1.2 million copies during its first week of release in the fall of 2012, it registered the biggest single-week sales since Eminem's "The Eminem Show" a full decade earlier. It was her second consecutive album to top a million in its debut week and confirmed the talented 22-year-old as one of America's biggest stars. Like Eminem, she moved from a cult figure to become nationally (and internationally) known -- but hers was far from a deprived childhood. The daughter of an investment banker, Swift emerged from a small town in Pennsylvania to become a star by sheer force of will. Her girl-next-door image was no pretense, but her most impressive achievement was crossing over from the country market, at which she'd originally been aimed, and making inroads on the mainstream charts. Her confessional brand of singer-songwriting has always been inspired by real life, so the fact she was dating Conor Kennedy from the famous political family in 2012 not only made headlines in the gossip columns but was also noted by fans as potential for future songs. This small-town girl with the big talent had become America's sweetheart -- and seemed set to remain so.
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