My favorite performance by country music's new "It" girl, Taylor Swift, is one she most certainly won't duplicate during her two-night concert stay in Houston. It was not her 2006 debut single, "Tim McGraw", from her multi-platinum, self-titled first album, nor any of the country chart-topping country singles (take your pick, "Love Story", "You Belong With Me") from the follow-up album Fearless.
That album has arguably been the most successful album of the last two years, settling in for an 11-week stay atop the Billboard 200 album charts when it was released near the end of 2008 and breaking sales and radio play records for a female solo country artist that were once only thought possible for Shania Twain.
In addition to selling over six million copies of Fearless in the United States, Swift sold about 15 or 20 million more internationally and took the album to the top of the country charts in countries from Canada to Turkey.
(Sidenote: I would love to get a hold of an extended version of the Turkish country album chart and see who Swift's competition was for that accolade.)
Perhaps most amazing was that 13 songs from Fearless charted on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart ... out of a possible 13 songs.
Take that Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles and — especially, Garth Brooks.
(After all the positioning Brooks did in the '90s to cement himself as the pre-eminent county star of all-time and Nashville's equivalent to Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley rolled into ... I like to believe that every time a young talent like Swift knocks him down a peg an angel gets their wings.)
So what, pray tell, could Swift have done to surpass this magnificent climb to the top of Music Row Mountain at the ripe old age of 20 years-old?
It was her guest starring role in a 2009 episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigations in which Swift plays Haley Jones, a troubled teen who, through a complicated butterfly effect watches the people around her die and eventually completes the dark, forensic circle through her own demise.
Her acting was nuanced, subtle and memorable which told me a couple things about Taylor Swift:
1) Unlike Shania Twain, she is not going be a lyrical Frankenstein created in a lab by a team of producers, session players and makeup assistants.
2) Don't expect Swift to fade away like so many "It" girls after reaching the pinnacle. My guess is that she will continue to surprise with every album and a variety of other projects.
In other words, enjoy this early pop ride while it lasts. Much like that CSI performance, her career is about to get much more nuanced, complicated and interesting.
Pop stardom should only be the tip of the top.
Taylor Swift, 7p.m. at the Toyota Center tonight & Wednesday
Tickets: $25 - $59.50.