Taylor Swift: Critic’s Pick
Sat., August 13, 7:00pm, Sun., August 14, 7:00pm, Scottrade Center
Taylor Swift is a pop powerhouse masquerading as a young country music heroine. With Grammys, American Music Awards and countless other accolades behind her, Swift has experienced unprecedented crossover success, conquering multiple genres and enchanting both tweens and their parents. And while her image is sweet and lovable and parent-approved, Swift’s songwriting is the main reason that she has sold more than twenty million albums. She was hired by Sony/ATV publishing as a staff songwriter at age fourteen, and she’s been writing hits ever since. Her music ranges from simple folk songs to dark, orchestral ballads, but her lyrics concentrate on the universal subjects of love and heartbreak. And if there’s one thing that unites her young fan base, it’s boy problems. Preach on, sister Swift.
“Pazz & Jop is an annual poll of musical releases compiled by American newspaper The Village Voice. The poll is tabulated from the submitted year-end top ten lists of hundreds of music critics. Pazz & Jop was introduced by The Village Voice in 1974 as an album-only poll, but was expanded to include votes for singles in 1979.”
My favorite thing in 2009 has been teenage country cutie Taylor Swift. Normally my music radar sweeps shamefully closer to the underground, but it only took one encounter for me to fall in love with Swift’s undeniably hooky, magnetically charged songs.
Swift was hired by Sony/ATV at age fourteen as a staff songwriter, and since then her accomplishments and accolades have just kept on multiplying. The willowy powerhouse with blond tendrils has become the hottest thing to hit country music since Garth Brooks. True, the majority of Swift’s songs are hardly “traditional” country: Except for the occasional fiddle or lilt in her singing, she almost exclusively plays pop songs. And although her image is that of a young Faith Hill or Shania Twain, her talent is on par with classic artists such as Lucinda, Reba and Dolly.
Her stadium tours sell out months in advance, and she’s been nominated (and won) pretty much every music award possible. But don’t hate the playa, children. Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s bad. (See: Nirvana, the Beatles.) Homegirl’s self-titled debut is the longest-charting record of this decade, and to date she’s sold more than 10 million albums. (Swifty even outsold Michael Jackson this year. Dang.) Songs such as “You Belong With Me,” “White Horse,” “Love Story,” “Teardrops on My Guitar” and “Our Song” are freakin’ scary-good. Not good for a country star. Not good for a girl. Not good for someone her age. Just plain good.
Swift is also at least partially responsible for the greatest pop-culture moment of 2009: the Kanye West Interruption Incident from the MTV Video Music Awards. This misdirected outburst of attention-whoring introduced Taylor to a whole new group of fans she wouldn’t have reached otherwise. Miss Swift’s composure, grace and subsequent roof-blowing song performance was more than enough to silence any haters. Oh, snap. Don’t mess with her; I think she’s in it for the long haul. — Jaime Lees
Greatest Taylor Swift pop culture moments captured on video:
— TS and T-Pain, “Thug Story” – link
— TS speech, hugging Dave Grohl (start at 5:45) – link
— TS SNL musical monologue (La La La) – link
— TS pranked by Ellen DeGeneres – link — TS being awesome (see 1:30) – link
— TS as Ace Frehley from KISS – link and link
— TS with Def Leppard, “Pour Some Sugar on Me” – link
— TS music video, “You Belong With Me” – link
— TS vs. Kanye West on MTV – link