Taylor Swift may have been the big winner at the Grammy Awards last Sunday, picking up six trophies in total, but her live performance at the ceremony hasn’t gone down well with critics. In fact, it’s gone down so badly Scott Borchetta, the CEO of Swift’s record label, Big Machine Records, has spoken out to defend the singer’s performance. Which just goes to show how awful it was.
Things started okay. Swift’s voice sounded a little shaky, maybe not entirely in tune, but she made it through her first song without coming across too badly. Well, her performance did cause my girlfriend to shout from another room: “Who’s that singing out of tune?” But reviews from people not actually watching don’t count. If she’d stopped there, maybe it would have been okay. The problems really started when Stevie Nicks came out to perform a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rhiannon’ with Taylor. It was, I’m sure, supposed to be a great meeting of country-tinged singers past and present. Actually, it was a reminder that Stevie Nicks is very good at singing, and would sound much better without someone singing off key next to her. It was awful.
But criticism like that, says Borchetta, is “just over the top”. He told Associated Press that there had been a technical issue, meaning that Taylor couldn’t hear herself properly, adding: “She is the voice of this generation. She speaks directly to [her fans], and they speak directly back to her. This is not ‘American Idol’. This is not a competition of getting up and seeing who can sing the highest note. This is about a true artist and writer and communicator. It’s not about that technically perfect performance”.
That little comment got former ‘American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson’s back up. She responded on her blog thus: “I understand defending your artist obviously because I have done the same in the past for artists I like, including Taylor, so you might see why its upsetting to read you attacking ‘American Idol’ for producing simply vocalists that hit ‘the high notes’. Thank you for that ‘Captain Obvious’ sense of humour because you know what, we not only hit the high notes, you forgot to mention we generally hit the ‘right’ notes as well”.
In other Taylor Swift performance news, a primary school in Merseyside cancelled a performance by lesser-known singer Taylor Bright after local paper The Liverpool Echo incorrectly announced that Swift was coming to perform to the children (the paper heard the wrong Taylor, see). Interest in the show stepped up further when it was announced to 40,000 football fans at Anfield Stadium on Saturday. The Echo has apologised and offered to make a donation to the school.
Meanwhile, the paper’s music correspondent Peter Guy has compiled a list of things that have been learnt from this incident, here.