This year in popular country music, there were some glimmers of hope. Kacey Musgraves’ “Merry Go ‘Round” found some surprising traction and success, and Kellie Pickler’s 100 Proof may go down as one of the best mainstream country albums in years. But of course this was all counter-balanced by a gaggle of the worst songs “country” music has ever seen.
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
On New Years Eve, Taylor Swift was one of the exclusive, marquee performers for ABC’s Dick Clark’s New Years Rockin’ Eve hosted by Ryan Seacrest. And for a performer who has a history of off-key performances, Taylor delivered what might have been her worst live performance since her now notorious duet with Stevie Nicks at the 2010 Grammy Awards.
Ever since I first christened Big Machine Records owner Scott Borchetta as the “Country Music Anti-Christ” I have gone out of my way to stipulate one important positive, that he extends his artists creative control over their music. But all of that might have just changed, and that change may change the way the whole country music business conducts itself.
So here are some specific thoughts on the songs of Taylor Swift’s album Red. This is meant to be an addendum to the more broad album review posted, so please read that first or in addition to this for the context of these reviews. As a general thought on the songs overall, I thought there were too many of them. If you are going to release an album of 16 tracks, they need to be solid. Instead, Red has some fat.
22, All Too Well, Begin Again, Everything Has Changed, Gary Lightbody, Holy Ground, I Almost Do, I Knew You Were Trouble, Jason Aldean, Max Martin, Red, Sad Beautiful Tragic, Shellback, Snow Patrol, song review, Starlight, State of Grace, Stay Stay Stay, Taylor Swift, The Last Time, The Lucky One, Tim McGraw, Treacherous, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
The long running, incessant debate about what is country and what is not can get so bogged down in manusha and rehashed arguments that even I get tired of it. Where the situation has become exceptional though surrounds the Billboard Hot 100 Country Charts and their newly-implemented rules. The only entity that appears to be calling “We Are Never…” a country song, is Billboard.
The hints of what Taylor Swift had in store for her new album were subtle, but seemed to be leaning towards a maturing of her music. She talked openly about how her next album would be a “darker” album. And then she premiered the first single from the album “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and even the most devout Taylor Swift apologists were reminded very starkly that Taylor Swift is just a pop star.