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News Update & Commentary: AT&T announces Taylor Swift NOW

November 28, 2016
(Source: AT&T)

(Source: AT&T)

You can bet your ass I have some commentary, Taylor Nation.

Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy who hangs by where the cooler should be and then thinks he should get a cooler, we are not big fans of the adjective exclusive. One would say, with grounds to be right one hundred percent of the time, it’s definitely not listed in our top ten. However, even I have to use it when it applies and it applies here.

Taylor Swift’s image is after all an intellectual property that seeks profit. This is business. Taylor’s time, name and fame (which again we should reaffirm is not owed to anybody but herself and her fandom) are a precious commodity. Taylor Swift is a brand – yes, she’s a person too, I don’t forget that – but as a brand she has to seek out the better deal.

According to Billboard, AT&T has announced the new streaming service DirecTV Now. This comes after the news that AT&T has acquired Time Warner and its cable service DirecTV. You might be thinking that I’m advertising for them, but within its original content was Taylor Swift NOW which was dubbed “a new video experience only on AT&T”. AT&T Entertainment & Internet Services executive vp and chief marketing officer Brad Bentley mentioned that it will consist of 13 episodes. Unfortunately, this is only available to users of this service.

Watch on YouTube

Okey so it’s not my idea for a Taylor Swift TV (my motto would be “all Taylor, all the time”) but I guess it comes close? Sounds more like a mini-series TV special than a channel but remember that Taylor has signed onto a deal with AT&T to create new content. This is the first we hear on how that’s going to take shape. Too bad this probably won’t reach us in Canada, but I’m sure a few ninjas I know will find a way.

oming up next, on next year’s calendar:

(Sources: Billboard, AT&T via YouTube)

A Place in this World. An Editorial.

November 23, 2016

I’m still trying to figure it out, Taylor Nation.

Regular readers of this blog know that I often use Taylor’s lyrics as an inspiration to talk about real world issues. This one is going to be a stretch. The world is a small place and the recent US elections have brought up a lot of radicalized opinions front and center. Suddenly everyone is supposed to pick a side. Political affiliations are now associated with extreme opinions for just about every social aspect.

(Photo: Duncan Hull)

(Photo: Duncan Hull)

But it the real world, I have found people have more diverse opinions that just one extreme or the other. A lot of people criticize movements because of what they do, or the way they do it, more than for their ideology. Criticism and tolerance should not be complete opposites. However constructive criticism has been replaced with vitriol and insults fly all the time. Trolling the other side, that is saying something offensive for the purposes of triggering people, seems to be everyone’s pastime. On the other hand, being oversensitive to the point of becoming irate at the touch of a feather should not be your modus operandi. There has to be some tolerance – and common sense – applied when someone is trying to get a rise out of you. Rule of thumb, if you can tell there’s nothing to gain from making the other person see your point of view, then move on.

Contrary to what people say, you can have a tolerant point of view in which your opinion might lean to either side without needing to put down everyone who disagrees. Being right does not require you to shame people who you believe are wrong. Can we stop this “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” thing? I am saying you should conform to every situation. You can very well dissent if that is your choice. But I do strongly recommend dropping the hostility out of your rhetoric. There’s a moment in which civil disobedience turns into public violence. Can attention be brought to a cause without insulting statements? Perhaps not in this day and age. Perhaps I’m completely off the mark. But I’ll always have the right to my own opinion.

Your opinion doesn’t have to match what people think of you. Don’t let people box you into a particular standpoint. You are allowed to doubt, analize and criticize everything. Every. Thing. That doesn’t make you a bad person, that doesn’t mean you’re a traitor to the cause you follow. Chances are that you are not alone. You just admit there’s always room for improvement. Make sure you join groups out of your own initiative, and keep your mind open to other points of view. And if you’re not sure, I suggest you lower the volume, seek quiet and peace and then listen or read the same ideas again. Do they retain their strength? Or did they only seemed to shine because of the tone and the loudness?

Coming up next, on next year’s calendar:

The 50th CMA Awards: Taylor Swift presents Garth Brooks with Entertainer of the Year!

November 3, 2016

A little advance warning would be nice, Taylor Nation.

(Photo: Erika Goldring/Filmmagic)

(Photo: Erika Goldring/Filmmagic)

I was watching the 50th Annual CMA Awards last night on a whim. It was a great show. The performers were going back to the old country classics. Even Beyonce’s appearance, accompanied by the Dixie Chicks, was a decent country performance. Hall of famers and past winners were singing their old hits and every now and then we’d see a clip from the CMA Awards from past years. I enjoyed the comedy chemistry of Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood. Little Big Town performed their new single “Better Man”, and I thought that was as close as we’d get to have Taylor for this giant anniversary.

Sometime halfway into the show, we heard it. Taylor Swift was going to be presenting Entertainer of the Year. Flashbacks were now a very real thing. Was Taylor’s appearance unconfirmed until the last minute? Is that why it wasn’t possible to announce it with the promos? Regardless, we did get the very same Forever and Always Fearless One presenting the Entertainer of the Year award to Garth Brooks. Wish you would’ve seen it. Short and sweet, but she was warmly received.

Watch on YouTube

It was an all out tribute to classic Country while still honouring Country’s current best. I’m glad the Enchantress got to participate, even in a small but bright moment. Check out Maren Morris singing “My Church” if you can, she really seemed like the rising star last night. She won New Artist of the Year. Also, congratulations to Eric Church for winning Album of the Year for Mr. Misunderstood.

Coming up next, on next year’s calendar:

(Sources: 50th Annual CMA Awards)

News Update: Little Big Town’s Better Man mystery songwriter revealed. It’s Deadpool.

November 1, 2016

Boo, Taylor Nation.

(Source: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

(Source: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy wishing y’all had a happy and safe Halloween. The former Princess in Red actually wore a different red costume for the festivities. Obtained via the man himself, actor Ryan Reynolds, the Sparkly Dressed became the Merc With A Mouth. That’s Deadpool for all you non-geeky people that somehow ended up here.

That’s not the only mystery that was cleared up today. Little Big Town released the video for their latest single “Better Man” and with it, the identity of the songwriter. Previously to this reveal, the only hint had been, “a young girl in Nashville who wrote it by herself”. According to Rolling Stone magazine, “both parties were rewarded with the biggest day of radio adds in the band’s history – before anyone knew the track was written by Swift.”

That’s a compliment for the band AND the song since it stood on its own upon release without using Taylor’s pop-star-power. Says a lot of the amazing vocals and arrangements used and the raw quality of the Enchantress’ songwriting prowess. However, as much as I enjoy knowing the Blonde With The Sparkly 1989 Microphone can still write a country song, I want to issue a small reminder. Or actually… A little big one. The song might be great, but its execution and consequence success are all the work of the members of Little Big Town, Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook, and Phillip Sweet. It’s their personalities, their performance and their vocal talent that brings about excellence. Yes, the song has to be good to be able to become a hit, but it doesn’t go anywhere without the singers. LBT had to make this song their own in order to shine and they deserve the credit. It’s their hit and nobody can take it away from them.

Watch on YouTube

Coming up next, on next year’s calendar:

(Sources: Taylor Swift’s Instagram, Rolling Stone)

The 10 Year Anniversary of Taylor Swift, the album

October 29, 2016
(Source: Big Machine Records)

(Source: Big Machine Records)

Sometimes I’m out of words, Taylor Nation.

Taylor Swift released her self-titled debut album back in October 24, 2006. Her name was starting to sound familiar in country music channels. Back then I was not yet a fan. I had arrived in Canada a year before. A friend of mine who was a Rascal Flatts fan had turned me onto country music. It wouldn’t be until the year of Fearless of 2009 that I would start watching her video blogs and become a fan. The blog was born on November 10, 2009.

Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy that knows he’s late writing this, we started as a new fan. We missed the years of Taylor Swift making a name for herself in local town fairs. She was a rarity, a teenager that would spend her free time writing songs and playing small venues. A teenage country singer? Who would’ve bet on that? Much has been written about Taylor going for the untapped country music teenage market. What record label would take that risk back in 2005? Enter Scott Borchetta, and the birth of Big Machine Records (now a label group) and the Spark – wait, I can’t call her that yet – and Taylor had a record deal. Let’s be honest, even back then Scott was a force to be reckoned with but Big Machine was in its infancy. Taylor was taking a huge risk too.

By the way, it was Taylor who brought Nathan Chapman, the producer who had made her demo CD, to Big Machine Records.

Taylor’s first studio album was going to be the make-or-break for both Taylor Swift and Big Machine in late 2006. “Tim McGraw” was already a single since June of the same year. Her name was starting to sound. So many things were riding on this album. It wasn’t an overnight chart-topper but it was received positively, debuting on the Billboard 200 on the nineteenth spot with 40,000 copies sold. The sales would rise to a peak number of 187,000 in January 2008. The album peaked at number 5 on January 19, 2008. Here in Canada, Taylor Swift reached the 14th spot on the Canadian Albums Chart and number one on the Canadian Country Albums Chart.

The album was certified five times platinum by the RIAA on February 2014. In Billboard’s Greatest Albums of All Time it comes in at number 18. Fearless comes in at number 4.

That’s all well for numbers and figures, but what do you remember and love about T’s first foray studio album? I remember seeing the video for “Picture to Burn”. I also remember first loving the song “I’m Only Me When I’m With You”, which was a track only available in the deluxe edition. I remember I didn’t discover “Tim McGraw”, meaning really, really listening to it, until later and realizing how amazing that song is. I remember realizing that “Our Song” is kind of a favourite for Taylor Swift. If she’s doing an acoustic segment for her classic songs and nobody has any suggestions, she’ll play it first.

Well… Those acoustic moments are now scarce. When they do, there’s more chance we’ll hear something newer or more popular. Taylor Swift was after all, her first album and a country album at that. It was the times in which she had a twang in her voice, she was never caught anywhere without her boots and her hair was always in curls. She was also a fan of the sundress, which is the reason you still see the littlest fans in sundress and boots. Nowadays, her boots have heels and she’s the one wearing short skirts.

Perhaps that’s one thing Taylor didn’t have back then and the one skill she’s had to develop. She’s learned to evolve and grow and experiment. That is a part of anybody’s life but in the world of music, specially of pop music, the Sparkly Dressed can’t keep the same look twice. She’s also moved on to pop music, something that has taken her audience some time to accept. For that reason, we always have this album to remind us of the country times. The way we’ve learned to see it, Taylor Swift has become her own genre and her own style. And yes, she’s always trying to rehearse and prepare for all her performances. It comes with the territory, but improvisation is a luxury that she doesn’t take on her big concerts.

So if you’re not doing anything special for this 10th anniversary, I invite you to pop the old album in the record play- I mean, pop the CD in the – I mean, just bring up the album in your iTunes playlist and listen to some old Taylor for a while. Better times? Too raw? I think there’s one or two songs that can still make you sing along in there.

Coming up next, on next year’s calendar:

(Sources: Big Machine RecordsWikipedia, CMT News)

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