Browsing articles tagged with " Bob Lefsetz"
Dec
3

Once And For All, Does Taylor Swift Use Auto-Tune?

December 3, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  33 Comments

Over the years, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a topic more beset with assumption, conjecture, and sometimes, idiocracy. Whether Taylor Swift uses Auto-Tune in either the live or recorded formats is not an opinion. Either she does, or she doesn’t, and the evidence we have to make those conclusions in many cases is obvious.

The most confounding, and unfortunately, one of the most common arguments I’ve seen made is that Taylor Swift must use Auto-Tune because she can’t sing. Unfortunately though, a symptom of using Auto-Tune would be that your pitch is perfect. That is the point of the program. So Taylor Swift singing out-of-tune would point to Taylor Swift not using Auto-Tune, not vice versa.

And some folks so willing to disbelieve all evidence even go as far as to say she purposely includes mistakes in her live routines to throw our Auto-Tune noses off the scent, or say that maybe she uses an alternative pitch correction program that allows her to officially say she doesn’t use Auto-Tune, when she still relies on pitch correcting software. But that’s the great thing about conspiracy theories. You don’t have to prove anything, you just have to create doubt.

The first thing you need to understand is that Taylor Swift has denied for years using any pitch correcting aids. These days, the battle to keep the use of Auto-Tune as a stigma in American music has been completely lost. If you are listening to an album meant for mass consumption, it very likely includes pitch correction. At the same time it’s probably not fair to assume that all artists use it. Taylor Swift has spent her career adhering to and articulating certain principals that allow her to be portrayed as “real,” and her stance of refusing to use Auto-Tune has been steadfast.

Taylor Swift is the “good girl,” and using Auto-Tune would not fit in in the “real” persona she portrays to the public. If she was ever caught using it, the facade around her persona would crumble, just like it did when Tiger Woods was caught cheating on his wife, instantly and dramatically devaluing Taylor’s name as a brand. The risk/reward is not worth it for Taylor to lie about it. Auto-Tune is socially acceptable in 2012. People would forgive Taylor for using it. But they probably wouldn’t forgive her for lying about it.

But you came here for a simple yes or no answer to if Taylor Swift uses Auto-Tune. So what is it?

Does Taylor Swift Use Auto-Tune live?

Absolutely not. And there’s such an overwhelming, insurmountable mountain of evidence pointing to that as being the truth, and that mountain continues to grow with every live Taylor Swift performance.

Aside from hundreds of live performances where Taylor Swift clearly sang out-of-tune, the other major piece of evidence we have is a personal exchange she had with music industry guru/critic Bob Lefsetz back in November of 2009. At that point, Bob Lefsetz was mostly known only by music industry insiders. When Lefsetz became the frontrunner for who Taylor Swift’s song “Mean” was about, that is when he became more of a pop culture figure. The legacy of Taylor Swift’s “Mean” actually didn’t start with her singing out-of-tune on the 2010 Grammy’s like many people think. It actually started a few months before, when Bob Lefsetz accused Taylor Swift of using Auto-Tune.

Bob Lefsetz

Appreciating the influence of Bob Lefsetz, Taylor Swift called him up personally, twice, from London, to vehemently deny her use of any pitch-correcting software. Swift went to great lengths to explain herself, and even invited Lefsetz to come to one of her live shows and inspect her gear to confirm it. Then Taylor had the head of her gear and lighting setup personally email Lefsetz and explain further. Here was Taylor, already having to deal with the criticism that she couldn’t sing, and at the same time having to fight off an Auto-Tune controversy. As Bob Lefsetz said at the time:

Said she could handle being criticized for having a bad voice, for missing notes.  But she couldn’t live with being criticized for being inauthentic.

In short, there has never been one credible shred of evidence pointing to Taylor Swift using Auto-Tune live. And in fact all evidence points to the contrary.

Does Taylor Swift Use Auto-Tune recorded?

Ah ha. This is where it gets a little tricky. And if we are to believe the same Bob Lefsetz / Taylor Swift exchange that helped corroborate that Taylor does not use Auto-Tune live, the answer would be, “Yes.” In Lefsetz’s portrayal of his phone calls with Swift, he says:

Taylor got into it.  How she didn’t even know how to use auto-tune, had never used it.  Then again, she admitted to fixing some mistakes in the studio.

In other words, though Taylor has never and would never use Auto-Tune in the live context, in the studio, she’s admitted that she has used it, however sparingly.

Does this make Taylor Swift a liar? Seeing how the biggest piece of evidence that she does use Auto-tune in recordings is when she was fessing up to it to Lefsetz back in 2009, it’s pretty hard to call that a lie. The reason that pitch and Auto-Tune are such a constant thread of discussion around Taylor Swift is because of her issues singing in concert, so maybe this is the context that is most important. But then again, denying its use without being more specific may have not been the most forthright way for Taylor to handle the issue.

And then you can get bogged down in discussions on the use of Auto-Tune as an “effect.” Taylor clearly does this on numerous songs on her newest album Red. Is this breaking the no Auto-Tune rules, or no different than using reverb or a bullhorn to augment vocals?

The Real Issue

All of this talk is completely missing the point about what makes Taylor Swift so appealing to the American public. It’s what the people on the outside looking in don’t get, and the thing that I admittedly didn’t get for years. Taylor Swift detractors can talk until they’re blue in the face about how she can’t sing, or how she uses Auto-Tune, but they’ll never change a mind because people don’t love Taylor Swift despite her flaws, they love Taylor Swift because of her flaws. She personifies the beauty of American imperfection. Though some of her loyal fans will never admit it, we all know deep in our hearts Taylor is an average singer at best. Taylor Swift is flawed, clumsy, and in many ways, uncool. She’s a flat-chested, pencil-thin, pale and awkward little girl with perpetual neurotic love drama brought on by self-esteem issues.

In other words, she’s fucked up, just like the rest of us, which makes her real. And in a world where the food we eat is fake, the stuff we buy is fake, the jobs we work are fake, and most of the people we meet are fake, “refreshing” is not a strong enough word to describe the reason why the Taylor Swift phenomenon has transpired in popular culture. Little girls and their mothers look at Taylor Swift and they see themselves, and that trumps all concerns about singing or genre.

And that’s why Taylor Swift’s biggest problem is not singing. It’s Max Martin, Shellbeck, and The Country Music Anti-Christ, Scott Borchetta. Because they are the ones getting in the way of Taylor being herself by trying to make her perfect.

May
15

Who Is Taylor Swift’s Song “Mean” About?

May 15, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  46 Comments

To say the song “Mean” by Taylor Swift has legs is a the grossest of all understatements.

Tonight the double Grammy Award-winning song will be featured in the series finale of “Glee” on Fox. In 2011, and over the last 18 month period, more people have come to Saving Country Music trying to find out who Taylor Swift’s “Mean” is about than have come here for any other topic, partly because of the outside chance the song is about me, The Triggerman, writer for Saving Country Music, and partly because some are dissatisfied with the answer of Bob Lefsetz, the far and away frontrunner in pop culture for the subject of “Mean”.

Since the song has become an international anti-bullying rallying cry, thousands of students have come here looking to research the song on mandatory school assignments. College students have written theses on the song. It has created its own cultural phenomenon and environment and mythos intermixed with our society’s most intimate struggles with criticism and bullying, as the almost daily stories of suicides and assaults remind us the significance and seriousness of the issue.

Since Saving Country Music’s coverage of the song has been limited to the context of criticism and conjecture, I though I would lay out all the facts about the song once and for all to see if we can discern who “Mean” is about. Please feel free to leave your feelings on how this is a fruitless, egotistical endeavor below, punctuated by your best Carly Simon jokes.

The Two Top Candidates:

Bob Lefsetz:

This music lawyer turned critic/guru is by far the most recognized inspiration for “Mean” by popular culture. Bob was a big proponent of Taylor Swift over the years, specifically for her savvyness with social media, and her ability to connect with her fans, and her willingness to give free songs away to entice new fans and created loyalty throughout her fan base. Bob Lefsetz has been around for many years, and is most famous for publishing The Lefsetz Letter, an industry periodical that talks about the music business and trends. He came into more notable, public prominence for being on the right side of the issue dealing with the digitization of music and MP3′s. For years he warned the industry that digitization was the direction music was going, and the industry’s slow response and subsequent revenue losses made him look like a genius.

In February of 2010, after Taylor Swift famously bombed a performance on The Grammy’s with Steve Nicks, Bob Lefsetz came out against Taylor, saying:

…did Taylor Swift kill her career overnight? I’ll argue she did…In one fell swoop, Taylor Swift consigned herself to the dustbin of teen phenoms.

In many ways, Bob Lefsetz took the point for the post-2010 Grammy criticism of Taylor. When confronted with whether “Mean” was about him, Lefsetz seemed dismissive and not committal when analyzing the lyrics:

Doesn’t sound like me. Then again, didn’t I ultimately lead the charge about her vocal flaws after her Grammy appearance? …Well “Mean” isn’t quite “You’re So Vain” and I’m not quite Warren Beatty, not by a long shot…  And only insiders would know who I am.

The Triggerman of Saving Country Music:

(And yes, admittedly it’s dumb I’m writing this about myself. Get over it.)

The very distant runner up to Bob Lefsetz in the public consciousness, the sole proprietor of Saving Country Music has challenged Taylor Swift very hard over the years, writing many negative reviews about the up and-coming country star for not being country, and not being able to sing. After the CMA Awards in 2009, he declared that country music was dead at the hands of Taylor Swift, and that “She won Female Vocalist of the Year, and she can’t even sing.”

This opinion was backed up after Taylor’s 2010 Grammy performance with Stevie Nicks in an article entitled “I Told You Taylor Swift Can’t Sing”.

In November of 2011, right before the CMA Awards, The Triggerman publicly reversed course on Taylor Swift, saying “We Were Wrong About Taylor Swift” partially from the success of “Mean” and her resiliency for taking criticism:

We were wrong about Taylor Swift. I was wrong about Taylor Swift. We were blinded by our prejudices. When Taylor Swift first came on to the scene, she sang cheesy teenage pop songs, and we chastised her for it, when in truth, she was doing what all the great songwriters did over the years: write what they knew about, what inspired them.

He continues to assert that Taylor Swift is not country and continues to have pitch issues, but recognizes her impact on music, and her role as a positive role model.

What We Know:

The Lyrics:

The lyrics to “Mean” seem to leave one very inconclusive on whom the song might be about. At times it seems to be about me, at other times about Bob Lefsetz, but as Bob Lefsetz points out, the lyrics seem to jump all over the place, to possibly talk about high school bullies or love interests. The same could be said for the “Mean” video (see bottom). In all likelihood, though the song may have a singular inspiration, it was written to touch on the bullying and criticism issue in general, and like many songs, may have lyrics written to flow with the pentameter and rhyming of the song instead of to be hints to its target.

READ THE COMPLETE LYRICS TO “MEAN”

Interviews:

The two most in-depth interviews with Taylor about the song dispel many of the rumors and urban myths that “Mean” is about a high school bully, a friend or family member, or some other close associate of Taylor’s, or Kanye West who famously interrupted her MTV Awards speech. In the EPK preview for the song, she clearly lays out that it is about a critic, and specifically a male critic, and specifically one that “crossed the line over and over again.”

…there is a line that you cross when you start to attack everything about a person. And there’s one guy man, who just crossed the line over and over again, and just being mean, and just saying things that would ruin my day.

In an interview with Jay Leno in January, she re-iterated these points, and went on further to make the very important point that she came in contact with this critic through “Google Alerts.”

A lot of people think that I wrote it about being bullied in high school, and when the song went out in the world it kind of became that. But I actually wrote the song about a critic that kept giving me really bad reviews…And then there’s like the scathing review, that’s kind of past constructive criticism and is more into “I hate you” territory.

…and I don’t read any of my Google alerts any more.

For those that may not know, Google Alerts emails users when a certain list of keywords comes up on the internet. For example, many artists and their publicists will tag their names in Google Alerts to monitor for new reviews and news. Taylor is notorious for being a tech savvy, socially engaged artist.

From its inception, Saving Country Music has been dedicated, if not obsessed with optimizing its Google exposure as a way to find new readers. We don’t know for sure if the negative reviews Saving Country Music was publishing were the ones crossing the line “over and over again”, but make no mistake, if Taylor had Google Alerts activated, SCM’s Taylor Swift articles would have shown up prominently in her inbox. And up to this date, no other critic has been found that consistently criticized Taylor enough to be characterized as “over and over”, or one that behaved in a manner to be characterized as “crossing the line” consistently.

The information in these interviews seems to significantly discredit Bob Lefsetz as the inspiration for “Mean”. First, Bob did not criticize Taylor Swift over and over. He only criticized her heavily once after the 2010 Grammy’s and in subsequent follow up, and then it is questionable to characterized that he “crossed the line” at any point. Also, since Bob Lefsetz lets his thoughts be known through an email mailing list (though now there is a WordPress outlet as well), and since Taylor and Bob did have somewhat of a professional relationship beforehand, it is very difficult to see how Taylor would be alerted to Bob’s criticism through Google Alerts.

“I Thought You Got Me”

Supposedly most or all of Taylor Swift’s songs are about somebody, and in the liner notes of her album Speak Now she highlighted certain letters in the song lyrics to gives clues about who her songs were about. The hint for “Mean” spells out “I Thought You Got Me.” This, along with the line “with your switching sides” from the song itself seem to point squarely at Bob Lefsetz as the “Mean” muse with little or now wiggle room, and contrary to the information Taylor has conveyed in interviews.

Since Bob Lefsetz had been a big proponent of Taylor Swift for years and then switched to a harsh critic after the Grammy debacle, only he is in the unique position to “switch sides.” The “switch sides” lyric could be explained away as simply word play to put together a rhyming lyric, but “I thought you got me” is pretty definitive.

“But the cycle ends right now.”

When Taylor Swift bombed her vocal performances on the 2010 Grammys, I wrote the article“I Told You Taylor Swift Can’t Sing”. If any one SCM article inspired “Mean”, it was this one, but instead of just being outright mean, the intention of the article was to humanize Taylor and offer sympathy. The article was about what I characterized as the “vicious pop cycle,” where average talents are built up by the pop industry, only to be torn down:

People across the board are now tearing down Taylor because she can’t sing, but this is the same public that made her the biggest artist in country this year, and now in ALL of music with her “Album of the Year” Grammy win. This is the vicious pop cycle, and sorry, but FUCK YOU, I won’t participate.

…the mass public overly glorifies an otherwise average talent to make themselves feel “inspired,” and then when the fall starts for their starlet, it is meteoric, and fueled by the jealous, narcissistic hunger of the pop public, tearing that person down with all their spite, sinking their nails into their flesh and feeding like animals off their destruction to fill their vacuous egos. It is a sick, pathetic, and all too predictable cycle that I will not participate in.

Well the pop cycle has started, and soon the words “Taylor Swift” will be a punch line to jokes, uttered by those same “fans,” while Taylor the person is onset with personal demons.

The line in “Mean” that goes “But the cycle ends right now” sticks out in the thematic pentameter of the song, and seems to fit more as an answer to my post-Grammy article.

About Both Bob Lefsetz and The Triggerman?

In the end, both Bob Lefsetz and I were wrong about Taylor Swift. Bob opined that Taylor Swift’s career was over after the 2010 Grammy’s, and after reading Bob Lefsetz’s prognosis, I concurred. Since then Taylor has gone to become one of the biggest things in music in the last decade.

As for “Mean”, in my heart of hearts, after stepping back and looking at all the evidence, I truly believe it is about both Bob Lefsetz and I. That is the only way the conflicting evidence can be resolved. It is Bob’s “switching sides” and my “crossing the line over and over again” that combined to inspire the song.

Of course, since Carly Simon once wrote a song about how thinking a song was written about you is being vain, (whether doing this is truly vain or not, especially if it is true), it is always a difficult slope to walk when trying to convince yourself or others that a song is or is not about you. I will admit, there is a little egotistical part of me that is somewhat proud that something I did potentially went to inspire a song that has made a massive cultural impact and won two Grammys.

However that is countered in great measure by the realization that if it is true, I am a de-facto poster boy for the modern American bully, am blamed by proxy whenever bully incidents and suicides get brought up in the news, am a cultural pariah for being an antagonistic asshole, and the asshole millions of little girls envision when they sing “Mean”into their shampoo bottles in front of their full-length mirrors in the morning. These are things no right-minded person who be proud of or willing to embrace.

It is especially unnerving since I feel my take on Taylor Swift was completely mischaracterized. I never called Taylor Swift a “bitch”, I never crossed a line of calling her out on a personal level, though admittedly, everybody’s lines are in a different place. And specific to my post 2010 Grammy blog, I was invoking the very first principle of Saving Country Music, “People First, Then Music,” in an honest concern for Taylor Swift as a person, anticipating a downward cycle that never occurred.

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This all speaks to the greater dialogue in society about bullies. Laws are being passed, schools are being put on lock down, children are killing themselves and each other because of the perceived actions of bullies in modern culture. However the lesson from Taylor Swift’s “Mean” is how criticism, pain, bullying, bad days and bad feelings can be the inspiration for some of mankind’s greatest achievements. Criticism and bulling can motivate us, and make us better people. It may not be the bullying that is causing the problems, but how we are willing for that bullying to be perceived. Can anyone truly say a world without bullying would be a better place?

If you are being criticized or bullied, take that criticism and learn from it, be inspired from it and make something good out of it. That is the lesson of Taylor Swift’s “Mean”, regardless of whom it is about.

Apr
15

A Critical Response to Taylor Swift’s “Mean”

April 15, 2011 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  165 Comments

One of the singles on country radio right now is Taylor Swift’s “Mean”. As Taylor says in the preview of the song, it is about “…one guy…who just crossed the line over and over again of just being mean.” Prompted by numerous people saying the song was about me, I dared ask the question, which apparently since Carly Simon wrote a song about this subject matter, you’re “vain” for even broaching the subject, though I would counter by asking if someone asks the simple question and the answer is “yes”, are you being vain, or just perceptive?

The popular belief is that “Mean” is about music industry guru Bob Lefsetz. Problem is, even according to Bob, he does not fit the criteria Taylor lays out in her song. Bob really didn’t cross any lines “over and over”, he simply took the point after her bad performance on The Grammy’s with Stevie Nicks to say that now that we all knew Taylor Swift couldn’t sing, it was over for her.

The one big piece of evidence pointing to Bob as the subject of “Mean” is that in the liner notes, Taylor CAPS certain letters to hint who songs are about. In “Mean” they spell out “I THOUGHT YOU GOT ME.” Taylor & Bob were close until his post-Grammy premature epitaph. Though this goes against the grain of someone criticizing her “over and over”. Taylor may have one primary person in mind for the subject of “Mean”, but I think she drew inspiration from multiple sources, and because of the tone and exposure of my post-Grammy rant, I do feel like she read it, and pulled out parallel launguage (ex. “The cycle ends right now”) for the song.

Go ahead, call me vain. I’ve been called worse.

But both Bob and I were wrong in saying she would flame out. I still say she is not country and that her voice is weak, but unlike 80% of the stuff coming out of Nashville right now, Taylor Swift is doing what she wants to do. The 80% is doing what they think will sell. Taylor is leading, while everyone else is following. When she won CMA for Entertainer of the Year, she symbolized the worst of country music. Six months ago, she symbolized the median. Now she may be one of the standard bearers for mainstream country music, as sad as that may be.

Taylor and her handlers must be at least slightly disappointed in the performance of the album’s singles. There’s been no blockbuster #1′s, not even close. “Mean” peaked at #6, and now sits at #17. Maybe it’s because a lot of these songs are too long, and some too good for the demographics they target. As the rest of country music is dumbing down, mistakenly thinking this is Taylor Swift’s appeal, Taylor is maturing, and though her talents might be minimal and her perspective pallid and shallow, someone making art honestly will always trump something made to mimic something else. As country songs, tracks from Speak Now are a joke. But as pop songs, they carry some weight in a mainstream music world where little else does.

But “Mean” might be the worst track on her Speak Now album. It is the most “country” song on the album, but it is not catchy like “Enchanted” or “Sparks Fly”, or clever, or well-crafted.

Calling someone “Mean” is just such a base accusation. This isn’t punditry, it’s name calling. Maybe this song would have worked if she delved into the psychology of why people are mean, or even created some sympathy and understanding for her bullies. But instead she descends into the same “Mean” mentality herself, calling her detractor(s) “…pathetic, and alone in life”. Think about it: If someone truly is alone in life, then that is a pretty harsh mean-ism.

Then she tries to use envy against her critics, talking about “living in a big old city”. “Big ol’ city” has connotations of wealth and stature. It also has some anti-country connotations, as if not living in a big ol’ city is something to be looked down upon, or something to be ashamed of.

There’s certain ways you can handle criticism. You can ignore it, deflect it, debate it, or you can absorb it and attempt to learn from it. Or you can try to avenge it, which Taylor seems to be doing with “Mean”. Some more insight on how Taylor deals with her adversaries can be found in the song “Better Than Revenge”. Revenge is anger that is personalized. Good music uplifts the soul, or nurtures it by providing camaraderie through pain. Revenge brings down the soul, to a carnal, reactionary state. Revenge is also a sign of a young soul. “Dear John” from Speak Now did a surprisingly good job humanizing Taylor Swift. “Mean” just makes her come across as spiteful, immature, if not hypocritical.

It goes without saying that when you’re in the public eye, there will be people who will use your persona to vent anger. I can tell you with certitude, whoever the next President of the US is, regardless if he’s the greatest humanitarian who ever lived, there will be people painting Hitler mustaches on his image before he even signs one piece of legislation. Hating Taylor Swift is the new world sport, evidenced by this Hater’s Guide to Taylor Swift published on of all things, a sport’s site. This type of anger venting is not only unfair to Taylor, but unfair to critics who are trying to fight for the integrity of a form of music they love, by painting all Taylor critics as just “Mean”.

But it goes without saying that Taylor Swift will have the last laugh between her and her critics. She’s a millionaire, going on billionaire, and showered with accolades and awards beyond belief. So who cares if a few music nerds pick fun at her?

Or is the last laugh hers? What is more valuable, wealth that will be gone the moment her heart stops ticking, or a life full of learning and humility and giving that is nurtured by attempting to build understanding through conflict with other humans?

Taylor Swift has come a long way in my estimation over the past couple of years. But if she wants to go farther, she must understanding that some of her critics are not simply being “Mean”, they are simply “right”, and understanding and admitting to her limitations and shortcomings is the only way she will ever get past them. I still assert that in the end, I will look like Taylor Swift’s best friend. The people who were “Mean” to her were the ones that told her she was country. Without that simple designation to her music, I and many others would have never raised our poisoned pens against her.

There are a lot of songs on Speak Now that are good…as POP SONGS. But “Mean” is not one of them.

Two guns down.

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Joe Buck about Taylor Swift: “I think she’s got talent”, from September 2010 interview.

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Mar
10

Gwyneth Paltrow Signing A Celebration of Mediocrity

March 10, 2011 - By Trigger  //  Down with Pop Country  //  187 Comments

And an act of quiet desperation from the music industry.

On Tuesday it was reported that Academy Award winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow was fielding offers for a record deal to record a “country pop” album, and later that she had signed a $900,000 deal with Atlantic Records.

I am quite astonished with this in so many different ways I don’t even know where to start. Actually I do. How about with the fact that Gwyneth, across multiple platforms, including movie, radio, and performance, and from a critical and commercial standpoint, has already failed in country music.

The movie “Country Strong”, which is the impetus for this whole country music career, was a colossal critical and commercial failure. Though the soundtrack of the movie made it all the way to #2 on Billboard’s country charts, the sountrack’s lead “Country Strong” single recorded by Paltrow charted a paltry #30. The latest single “Me and Tennessee”, a duet with Tim McGraw, is being universally panned by critics, and sits at #41 on the charts, while the “Country Strong” movie can’t be found in a theater near you.

The Gwyneth signing is like a “go down gambling” move from a dying industry that is incapable of developing real talent, but they’re laying their bet on a table they know is rigged. And when will this album come out at the best estimate? 6 months? Christmas? 2012? Will there even be a music industry left to release this when the release date comes? Is there any chance that unless this is a top 5 country album that Atlantic would come even close to recouping their investment? I would have given her 20 grand and some singing lessons.

One surprising thing about all this is that Nashville has little to do with it. I’m sure they’ll use Nashville studios, songwriters, and session players, but Atlantic is not a top Music Row label. The closest thing they have to a country superstar is Kid Rock. Though maybe this is a symptom of another problem, that being the creation of a mono-genre.

And I don’t mean this to be a knock on Gwyneth, I will get her album when it comes out, and do my best to listen it it honestly and fairly, but the model right now for new country stars is to find, well, models, and push them out on stage with fingers crossed they can hold a tune. As much as I hate that mold, at 38 and rising, Gwyneth doesn’t fit that at all. By today’s pop standards, she’s tore up and irrelevant. It doesn’t make sense from pop country’s own perspective.

How about giving $100,000 respectively to Ruby Jane, Rachel Brooke, and Caitlin Rose, three young, beautiful, and talented singers that could actually offer a sustainable future for the industry instead of “the fat get fatter” focus that has put the industry in this position. $100 Grand a piece is fine. Gwyneth can keep the rest. Oh, and those girls can also write their own songs, though another alarming thing about this story is that some are reporting that Gwyneth will be doing her own writing. This smacks of a celebrity coming in to offer a “third for a word”, as I highlighted in this article, robbing more deserving songwriters of revenue.

I know what the thought is here though: take a name that is already a international franchise, and attach music to it, and cross market it through movies and television. Ironically though, after Gwyneth’s last performance on Glee earlier this week, I was flooded with comments and emails about how her Glee character “insulted” Tennessee:

I just read in the newspaper that 90 high school girls in a Memphis school district got pregnant within three months. I mean, it is Tennessee, but still!” said Paltrow’s character, subbing as a sex-ed teacher.

As pliable and gullible as the country music consumer is, they rejected Jessica Simpson, they rejected Trace Adkins’ awful “Brown Chicken, Brown Cow”, and they rejected the Dixie Chicks after making what in the end were very very innocuous political statements. Oh, and they rejected “Country Strong” as well. I don’t think a passing comment on Glee could affect her, but the Hollywood persona most certainly will. Taylor Swift has more country cred than Gwyneth Paltrow.

And then there is Gwyneth’s performance at The Oscars. She was introduced as a “Singing sensation” and “Country music’s newest star”, but then came out, and by the look on her own face, which showed frustration, and by the end absolute embarrassment, she delivered a performance that was somewhere between flat and flat-out awful. By the end she looked like she had swallowed a razor blade. How many times have we replayed this scenario out over and over from these recent, stupid award shows and Super Bowl performances, and Star Spangled Banner renditions. She can’t sing. Gwyneth Paltrow can’t sing.

Taylor Swift is about to release her song “Mean” as her next single. It is about an unnamed music critic, that some think might be me. The leading candidate though is a cat named Bob Lefsetz, a music industry writer, who famously said after Taylor bombed her performance at The Grammy’s with Stevie Nicks, that, “Now the whole world knows that Taylor Swift can’t sing,” and that it was over for her. Well Bob Lefsetz was wrong. Just like Taylor’s CMA for Entertainer of the Year proved that a pop star could make it in country, and spurned acts like Sugarland and Lady Antebellum to follow that mold, Taylor Swift’s recovery after her Grammy performance proves that you don’t even have to be able to sing to be a massive star in music.

Our singers can’t sing. No wonder our leaders can’t lead, your food gives you Cancer, the shit you buy at Wal-Mart breaks after a week, and oil is $100/barrel even though we’ve got so much of it glutting the system, they can’t build silos in Cushing, OK quick enough to deal with how quickly it is piling up.

I know you may think this is grandstanding, but read the quote at the top of the page, and every Saving Country Music page. When you take mediocrity, put it up on a marble pedestal, shine a hot spotlight on it, shower it with money, and command the masses to come worship in it’s shadow, this is the kind of shit you get.

Congratulations America, a new country music idol is born!

George Miguel
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