this little girl has managed to break all these records, becoming the best-selling artist in '08, the only artist ever to have two albums in the end-of-year top ten, tied in second place with mariah carey and the beatles for the most singles in the billboard top 20, spending all this time at number one on different charts across different genres, all because she makes good music. yes, it's the music of young girls, but it's not like the music of other young girls. yes, while most of what she talks about is boys, she imagines that interaction as abstractly romanticised (romeo and juliet), but while using mundane imagery (throwing rocks at the window). one is forced, by the coherence of her lyrics, to leave aside the moralising concerns of a society that legitimates the prioritization of romantic ideas for young girls. one is forced, by the variety and excitement of her musical prowess, to forget that she's a young girl. this is her most intriguing and intoxicating feat: she's managed to marry honest, personal, interesting lyrics with powerful, evocative, and emotional music. the production of her work is rather unbelievably magical, mostly because it's entirely unexpected. but, despite the fallacy of expectation, what we are left with is a genius who knows how to create songs that are both meaningful and popular, who began writing at age ten, made her first multi-platinum album at age sixteen, and by age eighteen, with only her second album, has reached the sorts of financial and artistic peaks that almost no one ever does.