She has 11 Grammys, nine major-label albums, university courses studying her work and an unstoppable fandom... so how did Taylor Swift conquer the music industry? Ahead of her 10th record, ‘Midnights’, Zoya Raza-Sheikh explores how Swift’s songwriting is the secret to her success.

“Haters gonna hate...” but Taylor Swift’s influence over pop is undeniable. From her staggering back-catalogue to the public reclamation of her master recordings, the Grammy-winning US artist has, at 32, achieved an extraordinary level of success. Her songs have been compared to the revered works of artists as far apart as Beyoncé, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. And as she prepares to release her 10th studio album, Midnights, it seems as though she’s yet to reach the pinnacle of her songwriting prowess.

So how does she do it? Since the beginning of her career, she’s demonstrated her ability to balance the universal with the hyper-specific. Whether it’s the intensely detailed, semi-biographical ballad “the last great american dynasty” (addressing her unusual link to the late heiress, composer and poet Rebekah Harkness) or the thinly .....

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