Pop & Hiss

The L.A. Times music blog

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On the Taylor Swift defensive

February 4, 2010 | 11:25 am


Taylor Swift's Grammy appearance continues to provoke debate, this time with her label manager chiming in to defend the vocal talents of the young star. "Maybe she's not the best technical singer, but she's probably the best emotional singer," Big Machine head Scott Borchetta told the Tennessean late Wednesday night.

Pop & Hiss was especially critical of Swift's duet with Stevie Nicks, noting in our live blog that pairing Swift's good-natured charm with the distinct Nicks wasn't the best showcase for the young star. Times critic Ann Powers went further, writing that "Swift gave a strikingly bad vocal performance at Staples Center on Sunday, sounding tinny and rhythmically flat-footed."

The Tennessean asked Borchetta to respond to such criticisms. He told the paper, "The biggest message is (the critics) are not getting it. Because the facts say she is the undisputed best communicator that we've got. When she says something, when she sings something, when she feels something, it affects more people than anybody else." 

Borchetta's Taylor-as-punk-rock defense would hold a little more weight if she didn't sound relatively perfect on record. Yet anyone who was surprised hasn't been paying attention. In hindsight, Swift's Grammy appearance wasn't all that different from all her other live television performances, as the video below should prove.

Yet when Grammy voters gave her the gift of album of the year, Swift was no longer just a genial country-pop star with a penchant for crafting arena hooks. Overnight, the star now represents the highest class of the industry.

Swift has torn down the boys club that has been mainstream country the last few years, and become the genre's biggest female star since Shania Twain, if not the biggest female pop star in the universe. At such a young age, and with only two albums of teenage tales of heartbreak under her belt, Swift may now have the misfortune of having to defend the trophy, and the artistry it supposedly represents.

-- Todd Martens. 

Read the Tennessean: Taylor Swift's label chief responds to Grammy criticism

Photo: Taylor Swift and  Stevie Nicks. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times