The Weekly Rant: Fandom thoughts

You’re in this one, Taylor Nation.

Hi-2015
(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.

The Weekly Rant: When it’s not about Taylor. A hack, a countdown and some actual news.

(Source: Taylor Swift via Instagram - this one's actually a pic from Tay)
(Source: Taylor Swift via Instagram – this one’s actually a pic from Tay)

Ain’t it funny, rumors fly, Taylor Nation.

Here at the Swift Agency, we’re trying not to get down about the the liars and the dirty, dirty cheats of the world… but sometimes we do have to rant about them. Someone decided it would be a good idea to hack Taylor Swift’s Twitter and Instagram account. Oh, kids. Talk about trying to get their five minutes of nameless fame. Anyhow, not a big deal of harm done. Twenty minutes later Twitter was erasing tweets and suspending accounts. Taylor has regained control.

At least we got the chance to hear some sass as Taylor rejected another rumor that nudes of her could appear. As if.

On other news that even have less to do about T-Swizzle, Triple J in Australia has disqualified Taylor Swift’s entry into the Hottest 100 countdown contest. Here’s the deal. Buzzfeed and KFC both supported a #Tay4Hottest100 hashtag. The poll is public, but supposedly based on what Triple J plays during the year. According to them, they’ve never played Taylor Swift and the people voting for the Blonde With The Sparkly Guitar were just trying to teach who they perceived as “music snobs” a lesson by voting something mainstream in the countdown. Bottom line? It seems that there has been quite a few examples of people trolling the list with entries that are not valid. So for all that jazz, Triple J made a list of reasons why they disqualified Taylor Swift as an entry. Not as a person. They don’t have any beef with Taylor Swift.

And this is just another example of someone putting Tay’s name in the middle of something she never asked to be a part of in the first place.

On news that actually involve Taylor Swift at all, she made an appearance at the Grammy’s party for Nashville nominees. How did she show up? Discreetly. She never walked the red carpet. Once inside, she got pictures with the people who wanted a picture. There’s a time for modesty and Taylor let the other Nashville residents have a go. We all know she moved to NYC, but still know that she never forgets Nashville is where she sharpened her skills. There will always be a place for Music Town in the hearts and minds of the citizens of the Taylor Nation. You can read the original story at The Tennessean.

And finally, Canada’s JUNO Awards have announced their nominees for 2015 and I’m proud to announce that 1989 has received a nomination for International Album of the Year. The show airs on March 15.

Coming up on the Calendar!

  • February 8: The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Taylor Swift is nominated for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance for “Shake It Off”.
  • February 25: Taylor Swift is nominated for International Female Solo Artist for the BRIT Awards 2015. She is scheduled to perform.

(Sources: TripleJFeed, The TennesseanJUNO Awards)

The Weekly Rant: branding, disparities, growing pains and The Agency

(Source: Taylor Swift)
(Source: Taylor Swift)

I’ll keep it short, Taylor Nation.

And if you believe that… I’ve got some bridges to sell you. Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy that realized a long time ago he can’t please everyone, we’re doing a bit of a shift in focus. While during the past eras I would try not to call attention to any negative press and focus just on the happy stuff, nowadays I’m going in a more critical direction. I still shy away of the scandal and rumor, but Taylor doesn’t get a free pass.

I know that with fame, the Sparkly Dressed has become the more sought after brand to promote a product. However, just because Taylor endorses Diet Coke doesn’t mean that you or me are suddenly fans of the beverage. On the other hand, I do like her sponsoring things like Keds which seem to have a positive and empowering image for young girls. In the end, it’s up to you to choose regardless of who is on the poster. You’ll notice that I tend to dodge certain news, and in that aspect I’ve become more of a curator. That’s the reason for the lack of news regarding her upcoming new perfume. Although I might revise that if there’s a video of her attached to the promotion.

I know the Enchantress is taking steps in a more mature direction embracing feminism as both a label and an ideology. We can thank Lena Dunham for exposing her to the real definition. However, she will soon have to address the apparent contradiction of her support for every female and her calling out another pop artist on allegedly taking her tour members. Although both things are not necessarily contradictory the fact that the other party is another female artist does seem like a disparity. Don’t worry, I’m not going into my Words Like Knives rant again. I don’t believe Taylor necessarily harbors ill feelings, but the backstory is a bit of a thorn. One thing that I’ve recently considered is that the song might just turn out to be cathartic in nature. In other words, there’s a chance that “Bad Blood” is a way for Taylor to let go of any grudges in the same style that “Innocent” did. If so, I do welcome the song. Of course, to be known as the angriest song in the album doesn’t necessarily bode well. We shall see.

Taylor Swift is both the name of a person and the copyrighted name of a brand. If you think this is selling out, I have some heartbreaking news for you. Every single one of the artists you see on a CD or in concert is a brand or aspiring to become one. Everyone of them is trying to achieve the status where their face and their persona can endorse products. Marketing is a part of the game, and some will say the one of the most lucrative parts of the music business. When you market a product, they pay you for using it and showing it off while they at the same time promote your face and your name. You probably have heard Brad Paisley congratulating Taylor Swift about becoming a product – she is. Guess what, so is Brad. So is Carrie. So is Katy. So is Miley. So is Madonna. So was Michael Jackson. So is every single artist that has her or his name in lights.

But with growth comes growing pains… and people that you work with change. It’s a marvel that The Agency stayed relatively unchanged as long as it did. The touring band, which name has never been official, has gone from a backup band to becoming part of the main feature. But after the Speak Now tour, the band has a more background role. Although during the Red tour they had their shining moments like David Cook and Mike Meadows’s instrumental before “Treacherous”, the focus is now more than ever on Taylor. I’ll always wonder if someone in her management perceived The Agency was getting too much exposure (between you and me, I’ll always fear that was my fault – but I am not that well known).

Now we have two more missing members, lead guitarist Grant Mickelson and fiddle player and background vocalist Caitlin Evanson. Grant has been touring and playing with Taylor for so long that it’s heart breaking to think his contract would not be renewed. Alas, he’s been absent so far and apparently has the time to give guitar lessons via Skype. Caitlin has been unusually quiet online, and hardly posts anything anymore. As it has been pointed out, both of them have said nothing about 1989 or the last single.

I’m not going to speculate here, we will simply never know the story of what happened. Even if you think you know, and even if you have some private insight in the matter please don’t share it with me. Insider information is impossible to confirm, it may be biased and it can’t be printed. I will miss seeing Grant and Caitlin playing along the Blonde With The Sparkly Guitar. I hope they remain active in the music field and the future holds great things for both. When that happens, I will make sure to post about it. You can read more about them in their own pages, Agency Profile: Grant Mickelson and Agency Profile: Caitlin Evanson.

The X-Factor Australia’s official Twitter account confirmed that Taylor will be performing on the show’s grand finale in October. Taylor will probably do a lightning trip to Australia to promote her album 1989 out on October 27. The Sparkly Dressed is nominated for Best Female and Best Look at the 2014 MTV EMA on November 9. You can vote here.

Coming up on the Calendar!

(Sources: TheSwiftAgency.com)

The Weekly Rant: Words like knives

(Source: Taylor Swift via Tumblr)
(Source: Taylor Swift via Tumblr)

I don’t say this often enough, Taylor Nation. Thanks for reading.

Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy who believes this won’t be the last time I write about Taylor Swift, we also are aware that this might be the last time you want to read something I write. Or perhaps not. Depends how you take criticism – or more precisely how you’re going to take me criticizing Taylor. This is a risk, but like someone once said the only risk is the one you don’t take.

This has been bugging me a lot. After the rush I got from the Guardian’s article where Taylor finally accepted the label of feminism, I was happy. Then she had to give a little too many clues regarding the backstory of “Bad Blood”, a yet to be released track from her upcoming album 1989, on the latest interview with Rolling Stone:

She did something so horrible. I was like, ‘Oh, we’re just straight-up enemies.’ And it wasn’t even about a guy! It had to do with business. She basically tried to sabotage an entire arena tour. She tried to hire a bunch of people out from under me. And I’m surprisingly non-confrontational – you would not believe how much I hate conflict. So now I have to avoid her. It’s awkward, and I don’t like it.

– Taylor Swift via Rolling Stone.

Every update account who followed the Red Tour knows there were a few dancers that had at one time worked with another female artist and went back to her in the middle of Taylor’s Red Tour. That’s known. The thing is it’s not the song, I repeat, it’s NOT THE SONG, that will cause controversy. It’s THAT STATEMENT. The song might turn out to be amazing or not, but this statement stands alone in pointing to the other party and that’s why this is more bad blood than the song itself.

So this is me swallowing my pride as fan. She should’ve just let the song speak for itself and not give out that statement. It was business, but not really our business to know. Mature fans (realize the distinction, I’m not saying old nor young, I’m saying mature) will survive. We expect musical artists to be human and have flaws. Most of us come to love and expect some of those. I love a lot of songs from legendary artists, well-established over decades, but I know they’re flawed. So is Taylor. Making that statement is a mistake that will divide a lot of fans. It will specially be hard on impressionable fans whom are easily influenced.

I know this plea will fall, for the most part, on deaf ears. But just in case there’s one person out there listening, I still want to make it. If you like someone’s music, there is no reason to stop liking it because that artist are having a feud with another artist you like. I know for a lot of fans, artists are like idols and a lot of them feel like friends. Taylor specially has that closeness with her fans. If you can’t think of it differently, think of it the same way that when two of your friends are fighting. Stay friends with both, do not pick sides, do not become a hate troll, do not go over and taunt other fans for their choices. Artists can be brilliant at their craft but still say the wrong thing. We all do. That doesn’t mean people love you any less, and it doesn’t mean you have to love them less either.

If you want to take sides and enjoy spreading hostility, I won’t judge you. But just so we’re clear, not in my comment section. You want free speech, go make your own blog. I’ve done the hate thing way too many times to know it gets you nowhere fast. Feel free to unfollow me and feel free to unsubscribe. Thanks for reading and I hope the sun shines for you and you have a beautiful day.

As for the song itself… I’m kind of looking forward to hearing it. Is that strange?

The X-Factor Australia’s official Twitter account confirmed that Taylor will be performing on the show’s grand finale in October. Taylor will probably do a lightning trip to Australia to promote her album 1989 out on October 27. The Sparkly Dressed is nominated for Best Female and Best Look at the 2014 MTV EMA on November 9. You can vote here.

Coming up on the Calendar!

  • September 19: Taylor Swift performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • September 22: Taylor Swift will be one of the advisors on the new season of NBC’s The Voice according to US Weekly.
  • October 27: Taylor Swift’s 1989 is released.

(Sources:Rolling Stone)