What's better than having a piece of man candy by your side during awards season? Having nine dates — bonus points if they're your girlfriends, have mega-watt smiles, and are easy on the eye.
That's exactly what Taylor Swift did with at the 2015 MTV VMAs last August. Can we say #squadgoals? Sure, we can say anything we want (well, almost anything), but rest assured critics will come a-knocking. Heck, any mention of Swift invites criticism, and whenever she gathers the entertainment industry's "It" girls, it's an opportune feast for journo vultures. The country-turned-pop star's group of friends — affectionately called her "girl squad" — has been met with backlash for simply being together and having a good time. Their publicised friendship has even been called "disturbing", with some critics showing concern that such squads promote exclusivity instead of inclusivity.
Excuse us, but do you know Swift or her friends personally? Celebrities are people too (or so we think), and if you haven't been invited to be a guest on her 1989 World Tour, it's mostly because: (a) you don't actually know Swifty; and (b) she has a right to hang out with whomever she wants. They ain't hatin' and they ain't misbehavin'. Besides, if you've felt personally victimised by a group of women having fun together and telling the world about it, you just might be the one with the issues.
Looking forward, we're excited to see who Swift recruits next. Because like a well-oiled talent agency, her girl squad is bang on the money — Swift has a knack for drafting women who are attractive, individualistic, and on the rise. We chart next year's top 10 contenders.
1. ALESSIA CARA
Scene-stealer: The Canadian debuted her single, Hero, last April, and quickly rose up the charts after being recognised by music publications Spin, Billboard and Rolling Stone. The singer-songwriter will be performing in Coachella this April.
Most likely to: Duet with Swift — which they've actually done during the Florida leg of Swift's 1989 tour last year. The duo performed Cara's breakout hit Here to a 55,000-strong show. Max Martin, it's time to fix these two up in your studio.
2. TAVI GEVINSON
Scene-stealer: The founder of Rookie magazine has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld, spoke at TEDxTeen, and will soon be featured in Seth Bogart's (of punk outfit Hunx and His Punx) solo album. She's been called a teen queen and publishing phenomenon, having grown Rookie from a style blog to what it is now.
Most likely to: Host a television show with Swift. With her journo chops, she'll be great as a PR aide as well. The two are apparently besties, although they're hardly photographed together.
3. NEELAM GILL
Scene-stealer: The first Indian model to walk for Burberry, she also walked Kanye West's first Adidas show, and was recently announced as the new star of Abercrombie & Fitch's campaign.
Most likely to: Paint old London town red with Swift; both sporting Burberry lace trench coats and rouge-stained lips, of course.
4. LIANNE LA HAVAS
Scene-stealer: Londoner Lianne La Havas' voice is a fluid dream, and one that's about to be celebrated even more at this year's Grammy Awards — her second studio album, Blood, has been nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album.
Most likely to: Have a fashion collaboration with Swift. Known for her bold and effortless style, Lianne La Havas shares the Bad Blood singer's love for loud and proud colours.
5. KRYSTEN RITTER
Scene-stealer: Ritter's a former model who's seen a mediocre career in television with roles in Breaking Bad and Don't Trust the B- in Apartment 23 (which was eventually cancelled), but the actor's titular role in Marvel's Jessica Jones has the industry sitting up and taking notice.
Most likely to: Invite Swift to be a guest star on Marvel's Jessica Jones. Cue Instagram snaps of backstage action, dressing room selfies and blooper reels.
6. JUSTINE SKYE
Scene-stealer: This up and coming R&B singer has already made waves with Collide, her track with Tyga. But her most exciting release yet is the music video for the single, I'm Yours, which features friends Kylie and Kendall Jenner lip-synching in the karaoke-themed story.
Most likely to: Include Swift in her next video, along with the rest of the squad.
Scene-stealer: 2015's breakout artist Halsey doesn't really need an introduction — she's under Forbes' list of 30 under 30, with New Americana the definitive millennial anthem of the year. Colors, another single off her debut LP Badlands is set for release in February.
Most likely to: Be 'frenemies' with Swift — Halsey famously gained attention for a parody of Trouble, calling it The Haylor Song back in 2012.
8. GAL GADOT
Scene-stealer: Come on, she's Wonder Woman. Enough said.
Most likely to: Spam us with countless selfies of her and Swift on the red carpet. The relative newbie to Hollywood has had her fair share of fangirl moments, which she endearingly documents on her Instagram.
9. DAISY RIDLEY
Scene-stealer: Before the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December last year, you probably went, "Daisy who?" Not anymore — the Brit is poised for stardom, having acted in the first out of three installments for the successful franchise. With her winsome looks, she reminds us of a younger Keira Knightley (who, interestingly, played Amidala's decoy, Sabé, in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace).
Most likely to: Be instant BFFs with Swift. We're talking baking parties, karaoke jams and intense movie marathons. Not to forget gymming — Ridley has developed an appetite for keeping fit from her rigorous training during the making of Star Wars.
10. BEL POWLEY
Scene-stealer: Powley's had quite a year in movie-making in 2015, appearing in A Royal Night Out (alongside Emily Watson and Rupert Everett) and The Diary of a Teenage Girl (alongside Alexander Skarsgård and Kristen Wiig). She's recently been shortlisted for the 2016 BAFTA Rising Star Award.
Most likely to: Star in an ad campaign with Swift. Fashion's always banking on breakout stars, and Powley will be no exception. Add the singer in the mix, and you've landed upon a gold mine.