Matt Stevens’ application for Taylor Swift’s biggest fan competition

Singer Taylor Swift brings her "1989" world tour to the Staples Center.

Singer Taylor Swift brings her “1989" world tour to the Staples Center.

(Associated Press)

In 2012, Times staff writer Matt Stevens entered a biggest fan contest for a chance to present Taylor Swift with an award. He was selected as a finalist but did not win.

To apply, Stevens answered multiple questions about why he liked Taylor Swift. Some of his answers are provided here:

If you’re looking for the fan who knows every single lyric and owns every Taylor t-shirt, is caught up on all her latest gossip and has created fan page, I’m probably not going to win. To me, Taylor is not an infatuation or obsession. Taylor’s a real person too. A poetic lyrist, that’s pretty and popular, yes; But I’ve been a T-Swift fan all these years because, from what I can glean from her music and her words, I think, if we met, I would think she’s really cool and smart, and who knows, we might just be friends.


It happened in a one-two punch I couldn’t have imagined. Back when Taylor had put out her first album, a friend of mine, knowing my taste, put on her CD when I was in her car and made me listen to “Tim McGraw.” It hit me immediately that I hadn’t heard anything quite this sincere before. It pulled at the heartstrings right away … and I was interested. Three days later, I got a burned custom CD from two other friends who knew I was going to have to commute from San Diego to LA once a weekend every weekend for the whole summer. They told me I had to listen to “Our Song.” And to this day, that song remains my favorite. Everyone who has ever had a significant other has a song – in fact, even best friends have songs. And when I heard Taylor sing about it being late and sneaking out, in her giggling southern voice, I was hooked.

You Belong With Me: There’s something about being someone’s friend that is truly special, that makes care and companionship the essential foundation to any relationship. On the one hand, I love this song because it speaks to me – it’s the fairytale ending I’ve always secretly hoped for.... But on the other hand, when I saw the video, the song really took flight. In the beginning of the video when Taylor holds up paper signs asking of the guy is doing alright, the video affirms that Taylor feels the same way I do about needing to REALLY care about someone first, before anything else can work in a relationship. …

Long Live: I roll my windows down and turn this is the song up as soon as I get on the little connector freeway that marks my home, and the end of a long drive from L.A. This has turned into my “song” with that best friend from home. … We’re not in a band, but we slayed dragons together in high school, running everything from our student newspaper to Peer Counseling, fighting for everything we thought was good for our school and our community. We held up national trophies for our little town when we were named the best newspaper in the country (nerdy, I know). And in so doing, the two of us helped change a culture at our school, to make the “band of thieves in ripped up jeans” – the coolest, most well-respected people in the school. … And no matter what the interpretation, Long Live is an upbeat song of triumph, and triumph deserves to be broadcast to the world on screen.

Like so many others, Taylor has of course helped me get through many a tough day. I won’t bother with the particulars. But more than that, my love for Taylor shapes my identity in an important way. As a 24-year-old male in a professional, high-stress job, liking Taylor, and not being ashamed to let people know it says something about my character immediately to anyone I meet. It’s not a leverage tool, and I don’t go around informing people that I like Taylor Swift unsolicited. But when people ask about music tastes or whatnot, telling folks I like Taylor tells them something about how secure I feel about myself, and what kind of down to earth person I hope I am. I’m a bit of a romantic that cares about speaking (and singing) from the heart. If they’re not OK with me singing Love Story aloud, then we might not be meant to be best friends. But hopefully I will have earned some respect.

I know it’s a bit cliché, but in a way that no other artist does, Taylor seems to me to speak truly from the heart, write from the heart, remain as genuine as possible under the bright lights, and carry the weight of her stardom with grace. Yes, I love her music, but Taylor is also a person I just want to chill with. As a creative mind, and lyrist she is unmatched, and a person I would want to learn from. And though many don’t often think of her this way, she’s a keen business woman running her own considerable empire. When I think about it, that mix of talent, compassion and smarts is exactly what I look for in a friend...

Yes, the northwest corner of my room has become something of an unintentional “shrine,” friends say. First it was a giant Taylor Swift poster I was given for my birthday. Then it was a signed Speak Now CD I was given for Christmas. Then it was a Taylor Swift framed photo I bought in a silent auction, then an old press pass given to me by a colleague. Finally last Christmas I was given a Taylor Swift calendar, and for my birthday, two friends and two editors collaborated to “bring Taylor to work.” They had scanned message boards and found a Taylor Swift life-size cut out and left it for me at my desk in the middle of the LA Times newsroom. So when I came back from a coffee break, there she was, for all to see. She spent the day in the office with me. And all of the above listed items now are hung/stand in a single corner in my room...

I once met Taylor’s dad at a concert, and as a nerdy English major, I asked him to simply tell his daughter that she writes poetry that sings. He told me “there are 300 more where those came from.” I can’t wait to ask Taylor what he meant and what she has in store.