The Weekly Rant: The one about politics

You probably guessed this was coming, Taylor Nation.

style-video-woods
(Source: Big Machine Records)

The Sparkly Dressed is not a political figure. She does her civic duty, such as showing up for jury duty. She registers to vote, votes and encourages you to go vote on social media. She’s never disclosed her personal preference… In other words, she’s never hinted at favouring the Democrat or the Republican party. I’m also going to add she’s also not a supporter of the Nazi party either because… someone thought it was ok to accuse her of being a Nazi? Seriously?

Right after the 2008 presidential elections resulted in Barack Obama being elected, Taylor Swift seemed pleased with the result according to an interview with Rolling Stone published in March 5, 2009. “I’ve never seen this country so happy about a political decision in my entire time of being alive,” she told Rolling Stone. “I’m so glad this was my first election.” That was close as she ever got to endorsing a candidate, although you could argue she was just celebrating the electoral process.

But then we get to the 2016 elections and for some reason, a lot of people that do not identify themselves as fans of the singer-songwriter took issue with the fact that Taylor Swift never disclosed who she voted for. They also took issue when Taylor tweeted about the Woman’s Day march on January 21st, 2017: “So much love, pride, and respect for those who marched. I’m proud to be a woman today, and every day. #WomensMarch

She didn’t attend the march herself. I know she was chastised by some people (no, her fans didn’t turn against her) because of that. However, I wonder if those same people would have thought ill of her attending thinking she’d make it all about herself. You know what happens when Taylor Swift shows up in a crowd? Don’t tell me you don’t think that would be exactly what would happen here. People would freak, and a lot of critics would chastise her for making that day about herself. Taylor is damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t.

It’s no secret that Taylor remains politically neutral. Back in an interview with TIME magazine published on October 19, 2012 she said about politics:” I follow it, and I try to keep myself as educated and informed as possible. But I don’t talk about politics because it might influence other people. And I don’t think that I know enough yet in life to be telling people who to vote for.”

Taylor’s political silence has been taken in all the wrong ways by the internet. Websites have floated theories of Nazi affiliation or being secretly a Trump supporter by isolating lyrics or imagery from Taylor’s music videos.

I guess we’re in an era where the truth has taken a back seat to ‘I can totally get away with it’. Listen… I am both Canadian (that country up north with the ham and the maple syrup) and Ecuadorian (very small country that you could drive through in less than a day) so I don’t have anything to do with the U.S. of A, but to give you the full disclosure I am not a fan of Trump. I don’t really push that in this blog because that’s not its focus, I am making a brief exception today.

I want to give people the benefit of the doubt, not everyone fits the mold – specially when it’s the other side of the aisle setting the stereotype. I will say that lately there are really bad people that the president should distance himself from. I do condemn him for that (and a few other things). It’s problematic enough to hear other people praising him.

Taylor can attach her name to commercial enterprises and garner publicity and a boost in sales, which is the reason her name is carefully managed by her team. That’s because she’s attained a status of an icon, which means what she says carries weight. That weight can be positive or negative but most of the times it is both. Anything that Taylor says is taken negatively even when it’s meant to be positive. You can’t even use allegories, sarcasm or irony these days because everything needs to be dumbed down.

Note: By the way, I reserve the right to use allegory, sarcasm, irony, parody, mockery, wit and refuse to dumb down to anybody’s level because I have this crazy delusion to think of myself a writer and the luxury not to be a public person.

To add more to this fire, Taylor has decided to do something new for the reputation Era. She’s keeping silent. I am writing another blog on that one to spare you a longer rant, but other than scheduled appearances or a few performances, she’s not doing interviews. Not the best timing for this approach.

With a politically charged climate, this feels problematic. Taylor could straighten a lot of things with a statement, or even a tweet. This is where I am on the fence, because although I respect her right to silence, it’s just being interpreted by other people as lending credence to the baseless statements said about her. I know if Taylor made a statement they’d still hold it against her even harder than before. I know it all too well.

Silence will follow.

Coming soon on the Calendar:

  • May 8: The reputation Stadium Tour kicks off at the University of Phoenix Stadium. Glendale, AZ.

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

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

Taylor-Swift-Official-20171212
(Source: TaylorSwift.com)

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.

 

The Weekly Rant: Is this a stadium-only tour?

I see how this is gon’ go, Taylor Nation.

Or rather I don’t. Are we just going to get stadiums in this tour? Exhibit A:

reputation-stadium-tour

Looks like it. Even on Ticketmaster, the name of the tour includes the word “stadium” and that is a bit concerning to me… If the Queen of Your Heart is willing, I’m hoping for a first round of full stadium concerts and later on smaller venues, just like the previous tours.

But T. S. has already broken old patterns. This is the first album in which there are no secret messages. All bets are off.

She might just go for stadiums only this time. One thing that I feel inclined to remind you about is that Taylor Swift is also a very savvy business woman. In past tours, the stadiums have always gone out first. It’s taken a while to get the arenas and smaller venues right after.

Like I’ve been discussing with a lot of people, I will push for the idea of a second leg but odds are Taylor is not going to cover the same region again. The trucks rarely go back to the same area where they’ve already been (some exceptions stand, where she has had to cancel and reschedule, of course).

Myself, I can’t pile on costs and travel to another city. So when I say that I’m willing to risk it and wait, I really mean that I can’t really afford it unless she’s playing a local venue. The decision is really taken for me.

A lot of people grew up with Taylor. They’re now pursuing higher education, have gotten married, have a kid, lease a car, have a mortgage or whatever. Simply put, life happened. Things can’t happen at the drop of a hat. There’s a lot of things to balance and… Sorry, “Mine”, you’re literally the only song that says this accurately so I have to use you again: We got bills to pay. Sacrifices and compromises have to be made, but we’ll manage something. We hope.

Taylor Swift is not only the person and the artist. The name also represents a very lucrative business and a big machine (pun intented) of sorts. It’s an entertainment company as well. As such, it also seeks financial gain to keep running and maintain its people. That includes not only T-Swizzle herself but her management, PR, agents, representatives and various employees. A tour also requires a lot more people seasonally hired like The Agency.

Note: The Agency is Taylor’s touring band. She often uses them for other engagements but contrary to what you might think, they are not the ones that play in the studio albums (although they have in a few). Some of the fans (including yours truly) have been lucky to meet them over the years. As Taylor’s fame has grown, meeting them also happens less often. Now back to your regularly scheduled rant.

Let me state this: When you go to see Taylor in concert, you are on your free time. She’s at work. She will have more fun if you’re having fun, so she makes sure you will be entertained. It’s still an investment that must have a high ratio of revenue. For that reason, you must also be wise and not necessarily go for complete broke. For you, it must be enjoyable without breaking the bank.

So, smaller venues…? We can only hope. But don’t expect her to cover as much international locales as she did in previous tours. I don’t dare to hope she will consider visiting new countries this tour (a visit to South America would be nice, but seems to never be in the cards).

Ok, rant over. Best of luck to everyone hoping to grab some tickets in your neighborhood.

Remember all this information is subject to change, so keep checking TaylorSwift.com and Ticketmaster.

Coming up in the Calendar:

  • November 28: The account creation for Taylor Swift Tix closes at 12pm Eastern Time.
  • December 2, 2017: Taylor Swift is one of the acts for 997NOW’s POPTOPIA 2017 at the SAP Center in San Jose, California.
  • December 5-8: The pre-sale starts for the first stadium tours from Ticketmaster.
  • December 7, 2017: Taylor Swift plays at B96’s Jingle Bash at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois.

(Sources: Ticketmaster, TaylorSwift.com)

The Weekly Rant: Fandom thoughts

You’re in this one, Taylor Nation.

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(Source: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

This one’s definitely going to be a straight-out rant. I know it because even trying to describe it makes me go into a rant. Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy who knows his experience might differ from others, we’ll add a disclaimer here. This is a rant. There is nothing scientific or factual about what I’m presenting. This is just opinion.

A friend of mine once explained to me that being a fan is a weakness. You are forced to buy everything about the object of your affection, you’re forced to watch everything related to them, and you get nothing in return. My counter to this theory was that being a fan gives you a motivation that you can either apply or waste like any other resource. Being a fan of Star Wars got me into computers as a career. Being a fan of Taylor Swift keeps me writing.

The Taylor Nation, wait a minute… I guess I have to preface this for the recent citizens. I know we got re-branded as “Swifties” in most recent times. Back in the beginning of the Fearless Era we were known collectively as the Taylor Nation. Back then, I was the new fan.

Oh yes! We also tend to talk by “eras” which are the 2-3 years dominated by both the album release and the tour of the same name. The time before Fearless is usually known as the Pre-Fearless Era or the Pre-Headliner Era (referring to the fact that Taylor only got to tour as an opening act before Fearless). Current Taylor era is Post-1989 or Pre-TS6 (as in the yet unnamed Taylor Swift studio album #6). It’s a bit of a long era, and some fans are getting antsy. Err…

Okey, fine! I’m also hoping there’s some breaking news about the Sparkly Dressed soon. It’s just been too long.

But on the other hand, you have to accept that as part of a fandom, you’re one in several million. It’s hardly a fair relationship. For Taylor, she can say what she wants and the entire world is listening, but trying to get word back to her is… Well, unlikely. It does happen, but the odds are slim. You’re one in a million (several million actually) that are clamoring for her attention. So what happens here is a great amount of opportunity has to overlap a great amount of luck. There’s a lot to be said about location as well, the chances go up the moment you’re in the US. Then again, nowadays Tumblr and Instagram are your closer allies.

Okey, I know I’ve gone off track… But it’s a rant, so it comes with the territory.

The other thing about being part of a fandom nowadays is the immediate stereotype that you’re just automatically approving, encouraging and promoting anything that your idol (I hate that word – I don’t idolize anybody) does and says. That’s not always the case. You can see that for example in bands that have had a long discography. Some fans will like albums put out in the earlier years but would rather prefer to skip over certain albums done later. Nobody bats an eye when that happens.

Then again, “new” fandoms sometimes idolize their favorite performer so much that even when one dares mention they didn’t like a specific dress at a certain award they go mental (the romper at the MTV Awards of 2014 if you must know). To those fans, I say: chill. I’m certainly not going to turn anti-Swift over a dress. She’s made worst gaffes than that (not going into that again, go here if you want to recall that) and yet I remain a fan. That speaks to how much she’s grown as a performer and a professional artist.

Club Red_Nashville
The Last Club Red (Photo: TheSwiftAgency.com)

But I do think that as time has gone by, the fandom both shrinks and grows. Some people that have stuck around longer have a tendency to be a little too critical of the new blood (no, not the bad blood… not everything is a pun). I like to think that here in the Taylor Nation we’re mostly receptive (or we can learn to be). Sometimes it’s also life catching up with us. Or, age catching up with us (yeah that’s me). I remember when 1989 was coming out in 2014 because I was moving at the time. I’m sure I’m one of the few fans of Taylor that has a mortgage (no, not the only one – I’m sure).

(Yes, I know I’m overdoing the parenthesis thing now)

Quite a few Taylor fans have also gotten married, some even to each other (a little shoutout to Diane and Adam!). Plenty of others have kids now. Even the youngest ones will graduate and go to colleague or to university. Time just marches on. Because of that, some fans just phase out of a fandom and move to other things. Life takes over.

I guess the bottom line for me (again this is my opinion, not a fact) is just don’t worry about it. When Taylor puts out her new album, it will be automatic. You’ll either like it or you won’t. You’ll either want to follow up with her as she promotes it or not. You’ll find out the tour dates and see if any concerts are coming your way and…

And let’s be honest, you’d better start saving up. Chances are you won’t be able to put everything in your life on hold to follow Taylor around. But odds are really high that you will want to keep your options open to go and hear her one more time.

Enjoy your summer, Taylor Nation!

 

 

The Weekly Rant: When we have to agree to disagree with the ones we follow

I almost called this one “the fault in our stars” but I didn’t want to confuse people, Taylor Nation.

I’ve already ranted about how close we come to celebrity worship when we follow celebrities around. To be honest, we have an easy time with Taylor. She keeps herself clear of the political minefield. These days the most controversial thing she’s done is bleaching her hair, where the fandom jury has been divided. I’m not jumping into that one, T-Swizzle can do what she wants.

(Source: Stand Up To Cancer - Taylor Swift and Jaime Oliver's "Bake It Off" sketch)
(Source: Stand Up To Cancer – Taylor Swift and Jaime Oliver’s “Bake It Off” sketch)

But there are other figures in the entertaining spectrum that have strong opinions on a diverse number of issues. When your convictions don’t match theirs, there’s always some disappointment. Specially in the current political climate in the US (disclaimer: I’m Canadian, I don’t have a horse in this race), finding out your favorite movie star, the singer you love or the entertainer you always read up on has different political views than yours is always a bit of a letdown. Should you take it personally?

This is the part where I have to remind you that everything I write has a “In my humble opinion,” added before every statement.

I say it depends on what you can live with. Let me give you an example. There’s an ongoing debate of whether being a feminist means you must support the only feminine candidate in a political race. However, gender equality (sorry, sometimes I have to use this exact term to make a point) means both candidates have equal opportunity to become president. Yes, feminism also means female representation – but here’s where I might lose points (or win them depending who you ask): I believe that your personal opinion on who is more qualified should not be gender biased either way. And yes, even when you’re trying to make up for the gender bias that used to exist before. It’s one of the reasons I don’t use that label anymore. More on that on my previous rant. Still an ally though.

To argue the alternate outcome, there are things I can’t live with. Again, this is just an example. There’s a movement of people that are very vocal against vaccination. It’s disappointing for me to hear about celebrities who’ve subscribed to this opinion. So in this case I prefer to just admire their work from afar, but no longer follow them on social networking or read up on stuff they are doing in the media.

Of course it becomes more of a prickly subject when an actual crime has been committed. Sometimes not even the object of your admiration is not involved directly. We have a very recent example of this with the case of Kesha versus Sony and Dr. Luke. Several artists have have him as a producer, so should you listen to those albums anymore? Should you choose to do so, do you feel guilty? Do you have to put out a disclaimer explaining that you’re not endorsing any third parties involved with something you enjoy?

I’ll give you another one were the artist is directly related. Chris Brown was convicted and sentenced for felony abuse of his then girlfriend Rihanna. This is not alleged guilt – it’s admitted and convicted with all the evidence. What now? Should you listen to his albums anymore or rule his music right out? Again, can you live with it? Can you divorce the work from the author’s previous wrongdoings? Sometimes we can, and sometimes we can’t because we’re human. Some might think it’s not fair to judge someone’s work – but we are allowed to have opinions. Personally, I didn’t like his music to begin with so that’s an easy decision to make.

Bonus clip! In case that GIF at the beginning of the post make you yearn to watch the video where it comes from, here’s a treat for reading through this post:

Watch on YouTube

On other news, Taylor Swift and Idris Elba have been revealed as the two celebrity co-chairs alongside Vogue’s Anna Wintour for the 2016 Met Gala to be held on Monday, May 2. Taylor has already said she’s going to be dressed as a robot. And carry a sword. She might be kidding, because if that happens the internet might implode.

Coming up next in the Calendar:

  • May 2: The 2016 Met Gala. Taylor Swift and Idris Elba have been revealed as the two celebrity co-chairs alongside Vogue’s Anna Wintour.
  • May 10: The first-ever Taylor Swift Award will be given at the 64th annual BMI Pop Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.
  • May 22: The Billboard Music Awards are broadcast LIVE at 8pm ET on ABC from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Taylor Swift is nominated for eight awards.