The Weekly Rant: Why I dread the album’s first singles

This wasn’t the post that I was writing, Taylor Nation.


Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy who always have his mind a little too busy with thoughts, I often will start writing something and get stuck. The solution usually ends up being writing something else which hopefully I can write all the way to a conclusion. In case this was not evident, this one’s the latter.

I have a complicated relationship with Taylor’s singles. More often than not the first singles released from her albums didn’t turn into favourites. I wasn’t a big fan of “You Belong With Me” from Fearless (*). I didn’t like “Mine” from Speak Now. I could barely stand “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. I first hated “Shake It Off” from 1989. I still cringe when I hear “Look What You Made Me Do” from reputation.

(*) Update: My mistake. “You Belong With Me” wasn’t the first single from Fearless. “Love Story” and “White Horse” came out first.

Now for the casual listener, that sounds like I don’t really like Taylor Swift’s music, doesn’t it? Those are not the songs that make a fan out of me, though. Some have grown on me, some I’d rather skip.

All those are the first singles that came out from each album. The only exception remains “Tim McGraw” from her self-titled album (that song is a timeless favourite). Every other first released single was made for radio play, and more than likely has a bit of an earworm quality to it. That doesn’t necessarily make them the best that Taylor has to offer.

And that’s for me the unfortunate truth. Casual listeners will listen to the first single and tune off. How many casual listeners have listened to Fearless’ excellent “White Horse” winner of two of Taylor’s first Grammies? What about Speak Now with amazing tracks like “Dear John”, “Last Kiss” and the anthem of anthems “Long Live”? What hardcore fan doesn’t know Red‘s fan favourite “All Too Well”? 1989 literally is full of hits.

Thankfully, nothing else in reputation sounds like “Look What You Made Me Do”. Sorry, I do know that sounds harsh! But for me it was a welcome relief when I started to listen to the album and the tracks kept getting better and better.

So, why I’m not a fan of her first singles? Is it the earworm quality? Is it the radio-friendly pop melodies? I’m not sure. It’s very frustrating to me since I can empathize with the casual listener who believes they have a firm grip on what Taylor “sounds like” but have never heard a deep cut like “All Too Well”. I really hope one day you’ll give them a listen.

Coming up next year! The 60th Annual Grammy Awards. Taylor Swift has two nominations. No, no, no, chill! Taylor’s reputation is not eligible yet. It will be eligible for 2019’s (wow that is a long time to wait). She is nominated for Best Song Written for Visual Media with Zayn for “I Don’t Want To Live Forever”. She also gets a nod for writing the Best Country Song for “Better Man” as performed by Little Big Town.

Coming up in the Calendar:

  • January 28: The 60th Annual Grammy Awards. Taylor Swift is nominated for Best Song Written for Visual Media with Zayn for “I Don’t Want To Live Forever” and Best Country Song for “Better Man” as performed by Little Big Town.


Video Showcase: Taylor’s GRAMMY moments

(Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
(Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Too much seriousness, let’s put some clips up, Taylor Nation!

Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy who has to send a shoutout to the Ninja Department because they’re complaining about not getting enough shoutouts lately, we swore we had some leftover cake on the fridge. Anyhow, let’s get to some clips – starting with an official clip with Taylor’s win for Album of the Year. I love that it took a moment to hit her that she had won. Legit surprise there. Also, how adorable was Taylor’s handshake with Jack Antonoff? And finally, I did love how she walks over to Kendrick Lamar to give him a hug. And yes, of course the speech which I could write a hundred more editorials about 🙂

Watch on YouTube

Here’s the Eternal Overachiever (I can’t claim this one, Reba came up with it) with her new three GRAMMYs for a photoshoot at the Press Room. Keep in mind, those are not hers, they’re just props for the photos. The real ones are delivered to her after the show. Yes, they take the GRAMMY after you receive it on stage… Still, Taylor wanted to make sure she didn’t have a repeat of 2010 when she dropped one.

Watch on YouTube

And this is actually an Ed Sheeran moment, where he wins Song of the Year. I was going to use the audience cam for Taylor’s reaction, but it’s actually closer on the official clip and then you also see Ed accepting the award. It sucks that Amy Wadge, who co-wrote the song “Thinking Out Loud” didn’t get her time on the microphone. She got cut off as the show immediately cut to the Glenn Frey tribute.

Watch on YouTube

Here’s more. I wanted a longer clip, but here’s a part of the official GRAMMY portrait made by photographer Danny Clinch. And yes, those GRAMMYs are for the portrait only as well. I’ve shared one longer version on Facebook via Taylor Swift Videos if you care to look, including the takes with Joseph Kahn, Selena Gomez and Serayah McNeill.

Watch on YouTube

Oh and one more thing! Taylor won a NME award for International Solo Artist of the Year. You can watch the acceptance speech (pre-recorded before the GRAMMYs) via @TaylorSwiftVid. Just a word of warning here, be aware the design of the NME award is a bit interesting. Don’t play this at work or if you’re easily offended.

Watch on YouTube

Coming up next… A big ball of nothing 😦 Holy crap, what are we going to do with ourselves? Well… I suggest you don’t despair because the chances of the Sparkly Dressed being away for too long are slim. Although, we’re always missing her. Chances are we’ll get to see her again collecting a few more awards before her big break. That’s of course if it doesn’t turn into a songwriting spree for the next album.

(Sources: YouTube)

The greatest feeling in the world. An Editorial.

(Source: @TheGRAMMYs)
(Source: @TheGRAMMYs)

When you get to where you’re going, Taylor Nation.

It’s easy to think that the Blonde With The Sparkly 1989 Microphone just used her acceptance speech to deliver a comeback to a recent slight, but dig deeper. Taylor did much more than that and made it a reference to more than herself. She does that often. As Scott Borchetta once tried to define it, she can be the “great communicator.” That needs more spark, but he’s on the right path.

Basically, the Sparkly Dressed turned a reference to her diss into a lesson. A lesson against people who believe it’s ok to tell a career woman -any career- that she owes them her success. In life, we’re all striving to get somewhere. We all have our goals and reaching a milestone is not something you do alone. You get help from every little thing.

You can even say that a detractor that early on put you down or slighted you became a challenge to keep going.

However, that’s fucking light years away to be considered supportive. Overcoming a small hurdle might have prepared you to face a bigger obstacle, but the pebble in your shoe did not get you up the hill. It’s your determination that got you there. It would be the recourse of a hypocrite to think that because you cause someone strife you owe them the success that came afterwards. The credit goes to the people that supported you in a lesser degree. It goes to you for hanging in there and making it all the way to that milestone.

Unfortunately, this is even harder for women and it’s because of men more often than not. That made Taylor’s speech a hundred times better because it wasn’t really about the rapper whose name I often forget, but about men that trip all over their ego. Which is a shame, because even people with egos can be talented. They are bound to become their own greatest enemy. They didn’t learn the lesson the first time around, so now they have to learn it all over again. Taylor didn’t diss anybody but people who try to take credit for your work.

And finally, shifting gears, I wanted to address what the GRAMMY win means, and what it doesn’t.

It’s an award voted on by peers in the music industry. However, I truly believe the selection of your work (a nomination) is already a distinction. Specially when it goes beyond a genre nomination and into a “Best of the Year”. I am glad though, that there isn’t an Artist of the Year. It’s about the performance or the body of work, but not the person itself. That also means, it isn’t about the meaning – it’s literally about the music.

I think 1989, To Pimp A Butterfly, Sound and Color, Traveller and Beauty Behind The Madness were all winners in the Album of the Year category. It was anybody’s game, albeit 1989 and To Pimp A Butterfly felt (in my opinion) like they could earn some distinction. And that’s all it comes down to, a popularity contest – not one done by the general public, but by the Recording Academy. It comes down to them liking what they like.

We’re all biased here. You can tell me that Kendrick Lamar’s music sounds better to you that Taylor Swift’s craft, and should’ve won. You would be on your right, since they were both nominated. For that reason, Alabama Shakes had also a hell of a night and could’ve taken it with Sound and Color. But when it comes down to the meaning behind the music, then we’re no longer talking the GRAMMYs. Each artist puts all their effort to create music. Their motivations and their feelings behind the work might be differently invested. Significance however, is not weighted at the GRAMMYs. It’s all about the music. That means in the end listeners, and GRAMMY voters can’t help but be those, like what they hear. Choosing one doesn’t make the rest of the nominees’ works any lesser.

Thanks for reading if you got this far. I’ll add some ninjas next time 😉

Taylor Swift at the 58th GRAMMY Awards: 1989 wins Album of the Year!

(Photo: Kevork Djansezian/GRAMMY)
(Photo: Kevork Djansezian/GRAMMY)

Don’t believe me just watch, Taylor Nation.

The 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards took place last night, Monday February 15 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Taylor took home three of her seven nominations. She took home Album of the Year for 1989, Best Pop Vocal Album for 1989 and Best Music Video for “Bad Blood”. She also opened the show with “Out of the Woods”.

Only one of her awards was part of the broadcast, the Album of the Year for 1989.

“I want to thank the fans for the last 10 years and the recording academy for giving us this unbelievable honor,” said the Sparkly Dressed Although It Was A Little More Pink. “I want to thank all of my collaborators who you see on this stage. Mostly I want to thank my co-executive producer Max Martin who has deserved to be up here for 25 years.”

(I’d like to think she took a pause here)

“And as the first woman to win Album of the Year at the GRAMMYs twice I want to say all the young women out there: there are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame. But if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people side track you, someday when you get to where you’re going you’ll look around you’ll know that it was you and the people who love you that put you there and that will be the greatest feeling in the world. Thank you for this moment.”

Here are Taylor and Selena on the red carpet earlier that day.

Watch on YouTube

And here’s Jack Antonoff accepting in Taylor’s name for Best Pop Vocal Album for 1989 and calling the Enchantress on the phone. Who had a little bit of a fangirl moment thinking James Taylor was there.

Watch on YouTube

Here’s her win and ending of her acceptance speech. When she wins, after hugging Selena and her fist bump with Jack, she actually goes over to the side to hug Kendrick Lamar before walking up the stage.

Watch on YouTube

Other highlights of the show were Lady Gaga’s tribute to David Bowie’s music, Chris Stapleton with Bonnie Raitt and Gary Clark Jr. paying tribute to BB King, the tribute to Glenn Frey by the Eagles and the tribute to Lionel Richie with John Legend, Demi Lovato, Meghan Trainor and Luke Bryan.

Taylor now becomes the first woman to win Album of the Year twice, as well as the first one to have won both Best Country Album and Best Pop Vocal Album. She is also now a ten-GRAMMY award winner. I’m going to have a few thoughts later, but for now I need to get some sleep.

Dream impossible dreams, Taylor Nation 🙂

(Sources: GRAMMY)

The GRAMMY Swiftlist: Everything you need to know tonight!

Taylor opens the show, Taylor Nation! Be there early! (8pm ET / 7pm CT / 5pm PT).

The 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards start tonight! Taylor Swift is performing as the opening act and is nominated for seven awards.

(Photo: Danny Clinch / GRAMMY)
(Photo: Danny Clinch / GRAMMY)
  • Album of the Year for 1989 WIN!
  • Record of the Year for “Blank Space”
  • Song of the Year for “Blank Space”
  • Best Pop Solo Performance for “Blank Space”
  • Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Bad Blood”
  • Best Pop Vocal Album for 1989. WIN!
  • Best Music Video for “Bad Blood” WIN!

The red carpet and side stage live feeds (no, not the main show) will be available online: Update! The GRAMMY Premiere (sounds so much better than the technical awards, doesn’t it) is done.

The show includes first-time GRAMMY performances, a satellite performance by the Broadway cast of “Hamilton,” a tribute performance by Lady Gaga in honor of the late David Bowie and performances by Adele, Alabama Shakes, Joey Alexander, James Bay and Tori Kelly, Justin Bieber and Jack Ü (Diplo and Skrillex), Luke Bryan, John Legend, Demi Lovato, and Meghan Trainor with Lionel Richie, Andra Day and Ellie Goulding, Eagles (Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, Timothy B. Schmit, and Joe Walsh) with Jackson Browne in tribute to Glenn Frey, Hollywood Vampires (Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry), Sam Hunt and Carrie Underwood, Kendrick Lamar, Little Big Town, Miguel, Pitbull, Travis Barker and Robin Thicke, Rihanna, Chris Stapleton, Gary Clark Jr. and Bonnie Raitt in tribute to B.B. King, Taylor Swift and The Weeknd .

LL Cool J returns as host for the fifth consecutive year and will be joined by a stellar lineup of presenters: Cam, Stephen Colbert, Common, James Corden, Kaley Cuoco, Earth, Wind & Fire, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Ice Cube, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Anna Kendrick, Seth MacFarlane, Ryan Seacrest, Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith.

The 58th GRAMMY awards are this Monday, February 15 at Staples Center in Los Angeles and will broadcast live in high-definition TV and 5.1 surround sound on CBS at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT/5 p.m. PT. To my fellow Canadians, the show will be broadcast on CityTV.

Coming up in the Calendar:

(Sources: GRAMMY)