Taylor Swift’s country-tinged pop music may not be to everyone’s liking, but it’s hard to deny her influence over her peers. In 2011, she was the youthful face of Cover Girl, launched a fragrance, had the #2 album for the year (and #1 country album) on the Billboard charts with “Speak Now,” was nominated for a Grammy, won the Country Music Award for Entertainer of the Year and the American Music Award for Artist of the Year, and voiced a role for 2012’s “The Lorax.” Right before the year’s end, she released the first song from “The Hunger Games” soundtrack, which shot straight to the #1 download on iTunes, and already this year she’s landed a role in “Les Miserables.” All this while maintaining an “average girl” persona.
Her varied talents aside, it’s Taylor’s dedication to social causes that particularly resonates with Millennials. Her song “Mean” about being bullied was nominated for an MTV Music Award for Best Video with a Message. She turned a concert rehearsal into a benefit, raising nearly $1 million for disaster relief for the Southern U.S., earning her a 2011 Do Something Award. We’re sure that she’ll continue to spread the message of caring about others and taking action for social good in 2012.
Demi Lovato is another Millennial icon who has been an inspiration to young women — including those on our Youth Advisory Board. In early 2011, she emerged from rehab for emotional issues and an eating disorder. Rather than keeping quiet about her personal struggles, she decided to open up and share what she went through in hopes of informing and inspiring others. She joined Seventeen magazine as a Contributing Editor and speaks to teens as part of the “Love Is Louder than the Pressure to be Perfect” campaign. Taking a leave of absence from acting, she then topped off her year by releasing her album, “Unbroken,” which peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200 charts. She also issued the lead single “Skyscraper” in Spanish.
Demi’s imperfections and honesty are what resonate with her fans; she’s like every girl, which makes her an ideal role model for young Millennial women. They’re struggling with the very same issues she’s worked through. She’s the older, wiser cousin they can turn to when they need to be honest about their own issues.
Selena Gomez had a similar start to Demi Lovato, but her career has taken a slightly different direction. Like Demi, she was busy releasing hit songs this year with her band The Scene, and her latest album, “When The Sun Goes Down,” rose to #3 on the Billboard 200. But she also focused on her acting career in 2011, starring in the summer movie “Monte Carlo” and wrapped up her role on her Disney Channel show “Wizards Of Waverly Place.” She has her hands in a lot of projects, including continuing her Dream Out Loud fashion line at Kmart, serving as a UNICEF ambassador, and working on a fragrance that will be released in 2012. Oh yeah, and she’s Justin Bieber’s girlfriend.
Selena’s fans are a bit younger — tweens and teens — partly because of her years on the Disney Channel and partly because she’s managed to maintain a squeaky clean image despite her fame. Scanning the comments from her Twitter fans, they’re as likely to tweet inspirational quotes from her as they are to tweet their love of her acting and music. But Selena is growing up in 2012, leaving Disney behind and putting her efforts into her movie career. She’s starring in three pictures, including the film adaptation of the YA sensation “Thirteen Reasons Why.”
These are three women to keep watching in 2012!