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.


Long Live: Happy Birthday Claire Callaway!

(Source: Claire Callaway via Twitter)

Don’t mess with The Bride, Taylor Nation.

Claire Callaway was a dancer for both the Fearless Tour and the Speak Now Tour. She was born in Huntsville, Alabama on December 21, 1987. She has one daughter, Maddie Laine, affectionally known to everyone as Lulu. She also has appeared in Taylor’s videos for Love Story, You Belong With Me, Fearless, Story of Us and  Sparks Fly. She had two moments while on tour. One, her appearance as a ballerina before Love Story, along with dancer Dominique Kelley and her appearance as The Bride on stage for the Speak Now performance.

Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy who was lucky enough to say hello to her during the RED Tour (she was not dancing, just attending), we’d like to wish Claire all the best and the best birthday ever! Claire is currently in a relationship with The Agency’s guitar player Grant Mickelson.

You can see Claire’s own profile here at Agency Profile: Claire Callaway.

The RED Tour goes on hiatus during the holiday season. It returns to the stage on February 1st in London, UK.

Coming up on the Calendar!

  • January 8, 2014: The 40th Annual People’s Choice Awards will be broadcast LIVE from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/delayed PT), on CBS.
  • January 26: The 56th Annual Grammy Awards will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The show will be broadcast live on CBS from 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT). Taylor Swift has four nominations:
    • Album of the Year for RED.
    • Best Country Album for RED.
    • Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “Highway Don’t Care” along with Tim McGraw and Keith Urban.
    • Best Country Song for “Begin Again”.


News Update: Women Who Rock and Both of Us video premiere

Speak Now cover
(Source: Big Machine Records)

Hello Taylor Nation,

Thanks for all the nice comments from the 1000th post! Time to go back to business as usual and give you the news.

The Blonde With The Sparkly Guitar – a guitar that’s on loan to the Country Hall of Fame and Museum during the Taylor Swift: Speak Now – Treasures of the World Tour exhibit but don’t worry, they will give it back soon – had her last album Speak Now featured at #45 on Rolling Stone‘s Women Who Rock: The 50 greatest albums of all time. This what they had to say about the Queen of Sparks and Speak Now:

She might get played on the country station, but she’s one of the few genuine rock stars we’ve got these days, with a flawless ear for what makes a song click.

Essential moment: “Long Live,” the best Bon Jovi song Bon Jovi never wrote.

The premiere for B.o.B’s video featuring T-Swizzle, Both Of Us, has been moved to June 27 on Access Hollywood‘s site. No official word from MTV. Update! B.o.B just cleared it up. Both Of Us is indeed tomorrow, June 27.

The video should premiere at 6am CDT and be shown between shows throughout the day.

Here’s an interview with Ed Sheeran. He speaks just a bit about the collaboration with the Sparkly Dressed at the 3:35 mark.

Watch on YouTube

“I’ve never really met acts like [her], ” Ed told PopCrush. “You meet people like Elton [John] who have been in the game for 30-40 years who are wise and old and been it for a long time — and Taylor’s been in it for six years and she’s 22. And you hear horror stories about younger musicians who kind of go a bit off the rails, but she’s so together and so kind of professional and knows what she wants, but at the same isn’t too harsh — she’s just a really sweet gentle person — so yeah, that’s what surprised me, is that she was sound.” You can read the entire article at PopCrush.

Coming up in the Calendar!

  • June 27: B.o.B premieres his video for Both Of Us featuring Taylor Swift on MTV. The video should premiere at 6am CDT and be shown between shows throughout the day.
  • July 2: James Taylor performs at Tanglewood with a surprise and possibly Sparkly Dressed guest.
  • July 22: The Teen Choice Awards 2012 air live (8:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX. Taylor Swift is nominated for Choice Female ArtistChoice Single by a Female Artist for Eyes OpenChoice Female Country Artist and Choice Country Song for Sparks Fly. You can vote here.

(Sources: Rolling StoneAccess HollywoodPopCrush)

News Update & Rumor Control: Where everybody stands and keeps score

(Source: AKM Images/GSI Media)

Hello Taylor Nation,

Here at the Swift Agency, one guy who often says he’s not really keen on talking about rumors because it tends to spread them further, we’re going to do a rumor control because some news coming out are actually true, but some aspects are rumor. Sometimes, you just need to clear the air. Also, it’s not a bad time for a general news update.

Access Hollywood has done a very revealing behind the scenes piece on Both Of Us even revealing the exact release date. The video will be released on June 27, 2012 on MTV. You can watch the behind the scenes that features both B.o.B and the Queen of Sparks here.

Big shoutout to @SmilesForTaylor for the tip!

John Mayer is being his usual self, and while talking to Rolling Stone he uttered his objections to the Sparkly Dressed’s track Dear John from her third studio album, Speak Now. Whether he’s picking the timing based on self-promotion or not (he’s got a new album coming out, Speak Now has been out since 2010) is something I can’t really decide. Anyway, mostly his criticism is on the motive behind the song and what he considers “cheap songwriting” is on the intent behind the choice of lyrics. I don’t believe he means it’s actually bad, but mostly cheap meaning -no pun intended- mean. Either way, that’s Mayer and you can read his comments on Rolling Stone.

(Source: AKM Images/GSI Media)

The rumor is their supposed encounter (of which I’ve yet to see a photo) at the Tower Bar on Sunset Hotel in West Hollywood on June 5. The origin of the rumor was Page Six of the New York Post. Very much a tabloid, but other media sources picked it up because it seemed tied to the John Mayer comments.

Another rumor that started on a fact is the possible connection between the Blonde With the Sparkly Guitar and Ed Sheeran. According to, Ed Sheeran is collaborating with the Enchantress on a project for her, meaning this is one of the possible collaborations that might make T-Swizzle’s yet-to-be-named fourth album. That’s all what that relationship is, but some media hubs play the romantic angle to get more hits. Both Tay and Ed tweeted about working with each other and were spotted leaving a studio in Santa Monica back in May 28. Eventually the Outspoken One posted a Viddy of herself and Ed singing Lego House.

On other news, Fox Nashville did a piece on Taylor Swift’s Speak Now – Treasures from the World Tour exhibit. Let’s go to the video!

Watch on YouTube

According to The Berkshire Eagle, the Blonde With The Sparkly Guitar will be James Taylor’s surprise guest on July 2 when he performs at Tanglewood. That remains unofficial, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Coming up in the Calendar!

  • June 27: B.o.B premieres his video for Both Of Us featuring Taylor Swift on MTV.
  • July 2: James Taylor performs at Tanglewood with a surprise and possibly Sparkly Dressed guest.
  • July 22: The Teen Choice Awards 2012 air live (8:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX. Taylor Swift is nominated for Choice Female ArtistChoice Single by a Female Artist for Eyes OpenChoice Female Country Artist and Choice Country Song for Sparks Fly. You can vote here.

(Sources: Access HollywoodRolling StoneCapitalFM.comFox NashvilleNew York Post)

Coming June 6: Revisit Speak Now, Treasures from the World Tour!


Hello Taylor Nation,

Here at the Swift Agency, still one guy who’s getting excited as the CMA Fest closes in, we’re hoping to bring back a lot of stories from Nashville like last year. The Queen of Sparks is not announced to perform or show up, but there’s one activity you might want to check out.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has announced a new exhibit opening on June 6, the day before the CMA Fest, titled Taylor Swift: Speak Now – Treasures from the World Tour. The exhibit will run from June 6 to November 4, 2012. To quote the press release, “The exhibition will include dozens of costumes, instruments, set pieces and props from the six-time Grammy winner’s acclaimed 2011-12 Speak Now World Tour, which entertained more than 1.5 million fans over 111 shows in 19 countries spanning four continents.”

Here’s the announced contents of the exhibit:

The Speak Now exhibition will recreate 10 vignettes from the tour, including the following artifacts:

  • Taylor’s Roberto Cavalli ombre gold bugle-beaded dress and shimmering red Gibson Les Paul model electric guitar, featured during Swift’s performance of “The Story of Us”
  • Taylor’s vintage ecru lace dress and Deering six-string banjo with rolled steel drum; fiddle player’s Marc by Marc Jacobs moss green crepe dress; male dancer’s soft-shoe costume including Brixton tartan plaid newsboy cap, shirt, pants, vest and oxfords; and numerous props including the 6′ x 8′ switchboard
  • Taylor’s pale blue silk Marchesa gown with rhinestone bodice; and a white piano bench with tufted leather upholstery, both featured in “Back to December”
  • Taylor’s red, sequined Jenny Packham slip dress and knee-high leather boots, worn during “Better Than Revenge”
  • Taylor’s vintage purple silk halter dress; dancers’ costumes including a chiffon bridal gown with pearl- and bead-encrusted bodice, tulle veil and silk rose bouquet; two cotton-candy pink bridesmaids’ dresses with lace bodices and ruffled tulle skirts, and bouquets; groom’s ivory tuxedo and black pants; cleric’s vestments; and props including retro microphone, all featured during “Speak Now”
  • Taylor brand koa wood ukulele with mother-of-pearl inlay, whose “happy sounds” Swift elicited during her acoustic performance of “Fearless”
  • Taylor’s sleeveless, flesh-colored Reem Acra gown with sequin overlay; female dancer’s ballerina costume, comprised of a gold and ivory brocade bodice and pastel tulle tutu, embellished with pastel tulle flowers, seed pearls and beading; male dancer’s tunic and leggings; and prop trees; all featured in “Enchanted”
  • Taylor’s re-worked vintage dress, featuring leather corsetry; and the mallet she used to ring the bells during her performance of “Haunted”
  • Taylor’s black Jenny Packham flapper-style slip dress with rhinestone embellishments; black knee-high leather boots; and Taylor brand “sparkle” guitar encrusted with Swarovski crystals and featuring a headstock outlined in crystals and embellished with a crystal “13,” featured during “Long Live”
  • Taylor’s golden Valentino ball gown, featuring layers of tulle and a sequin overlay; dancers’ and aerialists’ costumes; and the “Juliet balcony” in which Swift soared above the crowd during each performance of “Love Story.”

Yes, since I will be in town, I will go take a look 🙂

Don’t forget to VOTE for Taylor Swift for the 2012 CMT Music Awards! She is nominated for Video of the Year and Collaborative Video of the Year both along with the Civil Wars for Safe And Sound and Female Video of the Year for Ours. If it keeps saying you already voted, log off and clear you cache.

Tickets are on sale NOW for Tequila SunrisePaul Sidoti‘s tribute band to the Eagles, once again taking the stage at the House of Blues Cleveland on Friday, June 15. Get your tickets on You can also RSVP to the event on Facebook.

Coming up in the Calendar!

  • May 28: The CMA Fest online entry form period to win tickets to meet and greet lines at Fan Fair Hall closes at
  • June 1: The notification of the passes to the Fan Fair Hall meet and greet lines are sent out. The passes are picked up at the CMA Fest.
  • June 4: Last chance to vote for the 2012 CMT Music Awards.
  • June 6: The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum opens the exhibit Taylor Swift: Speak Now – Treasures from the World Tour. It will include dozens of costumes, instruments, set pieces and props from the Speak Now World Tour. The exhibit runs from June 6 through November 4, 2012.
  • June 6: The 2012 CMT Music Awards will air live from Nashville on CMT. Taylor Swift is nominated for Video of the Year and Collaborative Video of the Year both along with the Civil Wars for Safe And Sound and Female Video of the Year for Ours. You can vote now.

(Sources: Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum)