Taylor Swift Leaving Country: The Deeper Impact
But this may have not been the only significant farewell the country music industry was bidding that night.
At the 2013 CMA’s, the association also bestowed Taylor Swift with a unique distinction called the Pinnacle Award. As an honor meant to recognize “an artist who has achieved both national and international prominence through concert performances and record sales at levels unique in Country Music,” the Pinnacle Award could be seen as the absolute “pinnacle”of recognition in the country music industry. Garth Brooks in 2005 is the only other performer in the history of country music to receive the award.
When Garth Brooks received his Pinnacle Award in 2005, it was in the midst of his retirement. 2005 was the year Garth insisted he would not be touring anymore or have any more significant releases, at least for another decade. Garth’s Pinnacle Award was almost like a period at the end of his historic, and commercially-dominating run in the industry. And looking back now, so was Taylor’s. The presentation of her Pinnacle Award at the CMA’s looked very much like either a retirement/bon voyage party, or a “please stay” presentation, with all of the performers Taylor Swift had opened for during her early country music career, including George Strait, coming out on stage to greet her while a lengthy video presentation chronicled Taylor Swift’s country career.
On Monday, August 18th, Taylor Swift announced that her next record, 1989, was going to be her “very first documented, official pop album.” Though the writing had been on the wall for a while (Saving Country Music predicted this outcome as early as April of 2013), the news still seemed to come as somewhat of a shock to the country music industry. Beyond the predictable naysayers in country music fandom and their chiding how Taylor Swift was never was country in the first place, there is an economic and logistical impact of no longer having Taylor Swift in country music that cannot be swept under the rug and forgotten. And though many classic country fans may be happy about Taylor Swift’s departure, fans hoping for more female representation or more performing songwriters in country music have just been dealt a big blow.
One of the most interesting parts about Taylor Swift’s decision is that in many ways it was completely unnecessary, and against the grain of the current popular music trends. With artists like Jerrod Niemann and Sam Hunt not just pushing the boundaries of country towards pop, but releasing songs that are clearly pop and pop only through country radio, it stands to reason that Taylor Swift could have released whatever she wanted, and country radio would have played it, and in great numbers. Taylor had already pushed the boundaries of her music with her last album, 2012’s Red, when she partnered with producers Max Martin and Shellback from the pop world and released purely pop songs to country radio like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”
Right now the big trend in American popular music is for pop artists to move towards country, not away from it. Country music is pop now. Country is the most popular, and economically-lucrative genre that exists. So the most economically-sound decision for Taylor Swift to make arguably would have been to stay put, especially considering her history is with the genre, and how she could benefit from the infrastructure pop music doesn’t have, like four major award shows.
But there’s something here that many country music industry types may be unwilling to admit. Of course Taylor Swift deserves credit for being honest about her music, and calling a spade a spade by saying her music is pop instead of country. But there may be more here at play than simple genre distinctions. Maybe Taylor Swift didn’t leave country music because she felt pop music would deliver her greener pastures. Maybe she left because she did not want to be identified with what country music has become in 2014. Maybe it’s because she feels no woman can be successful in country music in 2014, at least to the degree she hopes to be with her new album.
If the flight to country music by pop and rock artists is being stimulated by commercial forces, the flight of some mainstream country artists to pop might be stimulated by critical forces. As someone who has openly expressed wanting to be respected for her songwriting, Taylor Swift might be making this decision to create more space between her music and the current trends of country, while also satisfying the conflicts about whether her music is country or not. If this is the case, Taylor Swift would not be alone.
Another female songwriting country star in Kacey Musgraves has been openly courting the pop world, not with her music specifically, but with her collaborations with Katy Perry. As a songwriter, Kacey felt the need to look to the pop world to find a worthy peer. Though the differences may look subtle at the moment, pop music in 2014 is the more adult, and the more distinguishing crowd in popular music, while country is the home of the moronic masses who simply want to be entertained by mix beats and repetitive lyricism. Martina McBride’s latest album Everlasting breaks from her country mold to cover soul and R&B pop standards. This is another example of a critical female country star deciding to make pop in lieu of trying to battle Bro-Country. Instead of artists growing old in country as we saw in previous years with Lionel Richie, Darius Rucker, and Sheryl Crow gravitating to the format, some country artists may start gravitating towards pop, especially female ones.
As Saving Country Music pointed out in the article “Is Pop Music Now Trumping Pop Country in Substance?”:
The whole theorem that pop music is just an excuse to oogle at pretty people has a problem holding up when you look at some of the recent trends in much of the pop world. Of course there’s still exceptions, and the weighty nature of Lorde and Adele can be debated. But even when looking at other Top 10 artists like Pharrell, Justin Timberlake, and Ed Sheeran, these aren’t the customary pop specimens with zero substance that are solely based on image.
Meanwhile you take a look at country music’s leading artists, and what do you see? You see image-driven, shallow males with even shallower songs, squeezed into ultra-tight jeans that have become the spandex tights of our time. Maybe backwards baseball caps have replaced kinked hair, but the servitude to image has stayed the same. Trend-focused and willing to do anything for fame, not standing on principles or worried about the legacies they’re forging, popular country music has become the new bastion for the shallow performer and the sellout; the pop of our time, camouflaged in denim.
Of course one of the problems with this theory is that Taylor Swift’s first single from her solely pop album, “Shake It Off,” is arguably her most shallow to date. If Taylor move to pop was the find more substantive peers, it is not symbolized in this song.
But Taylor Swift’s move to pop is not just a rhetorical issue. Country music has just lost what many consider to be the biggest music star in the entire world right now, and the biggest music star of a generation. Though Taylor will still benefit her label Big Machine Records based in Nashville, her sales will no longer count towards the country music industry. Her voice will no longer draw people to country radio. And her performances will no longer get people excited for country music’s now four major award shows. At least, hypothetically.
Country music already has a severe problem rounding out worthy candidates for its Female Vocalist of the Year awards at the CMA’s and ACM’s. At one point they had to reach out to the pop world and nominate Kelly Clarkson. Now who will they get to fill that 5th spot? If they’re already having to rely on a pop stars to round out the field, it will probably be Taylor Swift again. And if she’s nominated, will she show up? And if she shows up, will she put on a performance? And if she is nominated and puts on a performance, has she really left country at all?
Taylor Swift has sold over 130 million records worldwide. In 2012 when she released her last album Red, she sold over 3,107,000 units in just over two months with her October release. This was nearly triple the amount of albums sold by her two closest country competitors—Carrie Underwood and Luke Bryan—and double over the artist just below her, One Direction. Only the cross-Atlantic colossus of Adele was able to outpace Taylor Swift in album sales the last time Taylor released a record. And now, all these sales for her new album 1989 will be tabulated outside of the country music fold.
How does the CMA feel about this? Where will this put country music in the rankings compared to other genres, including pop? Did the CMA reach out to Taylor Swift and try to keep her in the country music fold? Was that what Taylor’s Pinnacle Award was all about?
There will be great economic pressure to play Taylor Swift’s music on country radio, and to include her in country award show presentations because of the economic impact she could have on those mediums.
On Tuesday (8-19), The Country Music Association tweeted out this fairly blatant sign that they’re not ready to let go.
According to Billboard, Taylor Swift’s first single “Shake It Off” is receiving radio play in country, though it is not nearly what it is on pop formats, or what a lot of people expected. The Cumulus Media NASH flagship country station in New York played the song numerous times during its first day, and Clear Channel’s WSIX in Nashville has also given the song a few spins. “Shake It Off” already sits at #49 on Billboard’s building Country Airplay chart, despite not being serviced to country radio at all. Of course this would be a marginal showing if you were looking to make waves in country, but for a song purposely avoiding country radio, this symbolizes that some are unwilling to give Taylor Swift up so easily. We’re likely to see even more radio play if/when Taylor releases singles with more of a ballad, sentimental style.
Big Machine Records’ CEO Scott Borchetta said in a June Rolling Stone article, “Will country stations play a complete pop song just because it’s her? No.” But according to early reports, this answer is not completely correct. Sure, Big Machine may not be actively promoting Taylor Swift to country radio, but would they actually go out of their way to tell country radio not to play her?
Complicating the matter further is the idea that Taylor Swift could always come back to country. In fact there’s something very intuitive about her making this move in the future, when she grows older. Will country music accept her back?
Though Taylor Swift leaving country music could very much be seen as a victory from the Saving Country Music perspective, to the country music industry perspective, they just lost this generations biggest music star, and an money-making powerhouse. And the cultural and economic impact of this development cannot be overstated.
August 20, 2014 @ 9:51 am
We recently had a radio station change formats based on the blending genres. They are calling it “Tailgate”. All genres, whatever is popular. Taylor will be a perfect fit.
Part of the article on it:
On Friday, the company switched the Charleston station from classic rock to what it”™s calling “Tailgate FM,” which will feature every genre of popular music on one station. The company said it”™s the first FM station in America to play multiple formats of music ”” including country, pop, rock and all-time party classics ”” on a single station.
West Virginia Radio market manager Christian Miller said the time has come for radio to reinvent itself.
“The iPod generation has allowed our younger demographics to listen to all genres of music simultaneously, so we decided it was time give them that experience on the radio,” Miller said. “Tailgate is similar to your iPod on a 50,000-watt transmitter.”
Tailgate 107.3 plays “party songs for party people” and always a “Tailgate 12-pack” in a row. In addition to broadcasting on the radio, the station can be streamed online at Tailgate1073.com.
– See more at: http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140811/DM05/140819924#sthash.Dy4nxUVd.dpuf
August 20, 2014 @ 12:27 pm
August 20, 2014 @ 1:42 pm
All the crap on the radio you listen to the iPod to avoid, all on ONE STATION! Interesting.
August 20, 2014 @ 10:02 am
how the fuck is taylor swift country? “And the cultural and economic impact of this development cannot be overstated.” you’ve got to be fucking kidding me
August 20, 2014 @ 5:07 pm
“how the fuck is taylor swift country?”
She’s not, in either name or style. Hence this article.
““And the cultural and economic impact of this development cannot be overstated.” you”™ve got to be fucking kidding me.
Rage all you want. The simple fact is that this is true.
August 27, 2014 @ 4:01 pm
That’s hilarious. Also that makes no sense. If this has any impact on anything it’ll be so far removed from actual country music that we can continue not giving a fuck about Taylor Swift. Btw “rage” where I’m from is a lot more than dropping an F-bomb junior.
August 20, 2014 @ 10:52 am
As far as tabulating album sales, this is actually a good time for Taylor to leave country, in terms of the country market absorbing the hit. This year’s Q3/Q4 country release schedule is packed to the brim compared to last year’s. Last year, there was the Duck Dynasty Christmas album, the Garth Walmart exclusive plus Luke Bryan was a huge Q3 release.This year you have Brad Paisley, Lee Brice, George Strait’s Live CD, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum, Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Little Big Town, and Garth Brooks from late August through the end of the year. So despite the year to year decline in album sales (country’s Q1+Q2 album sales were down by 18.4% in 2014 compared to 2013, a higher rate of decline than the all genre rate of decline), country’s Q4 2014 will almost certainly outperform country’s Q4 2013. Cue narrative that country doesn’t miss Taylor Swift much…
Nielsen Soundscan codes albums is little strangely. Not so much country, but they have a catch-all “Rock” designation that appears to include pop albums, whose sales volume dwarfs country albums (in 2013, Nielsen Soundscan said country sold about 40 million albums compared to about 101 million units for “Rock”). Not included under “Rock” are “Metal” and “Alternative” albums, which have their own category. Anyway, based on Soundscan’s categories, country has been the #4 genre seller for a while, behind “Rock”, Alternative, & R&B. I don’t know where sales of a Beyonce album are counted.
Taylor going pop is not going to change where country lands compared to “Rock,” Alternative, or R&B, and it’s not likely to drop country to the #5 genre (the #5 genre is Metal, with about 30 million units sold in 2013) – even assuming Taylor’s next album sells 4 million this year (which it most likely won’t).
As far as country radio, let’s keep in mind Taylor’s Red era was her weakest at country radio. “We Are Never” went over like a lead balloon with country listeners and never got higher than its pre-arranged Clear Channel-hourly-debut dictated #13 peak on the Billboard Country Airplay charts, “Begin Again” needed a pretty big push to make the t5 and an even bigger, more ridiculous push to get a Mediabase-only #1 (its Billboard peak was #3) before promptly going recurrent the next week because country radio dropped it like a brick, and “Red” limped to a barely t5 Mediabase airplay peak after a 4 month gap between solo Taylor country radio singles (during which Taylor guested on Tim McGraw’s “The Highway Don’t Care”).
As far as people tuning in to country radio to hear Taylor, her singles were notorious for not testing well among country radio listeners. Too, back in 2010, the PD of Los Angeles’s country station Go Country 105, told Billboard that he’d noticed their ratings among younger audiences declining as Taylor’s pop airplay had grown. She was still created spikes when her concerts rolled into town and people wanted to win tickets, but as far as younger people tuning in to hear her music, the gains from Taylor’s presence at country radio dissipated as her presence on the pop formats grew.
That didn’t stop that particular station from at playing Eyes Wide Open and I Knew You Were Trouble for at least a few weeks. But I think it speaks to the issue that the Taylor Swift fan was more likely to find additional music that appealed to him/her on the pop formats than country, which says something about Taylor’s music but also about the current state of country. I’ve been saying for a while that Taylor’s musical breakup with country took place years ago and all that’s happening now is an image/branding break. I agree with Trigger that Taylor’s decision to rebrand has something to do with where country is today, but I also think it’s at least as much about setting new goalposts for Taylor – putting her up there with the Beyonces and Katy Perrys and other global pop culture megastars.
Radio ratings-wise and sales-wise, I don’t think Taylor’s “officially documented” departure is a big deal for country radio. Country radio had already spent the last few years chasing a new demo (the dudebros & the females who like them), and country radio’ll find a new demo to chase next. Maybe they think Maddie & Tae will reinvigorate the interest of young teenage girls who find the pop scene to be too outre in country. As far as TV, I’m sure Taylor drew some interest but surprisingly, she doesn’t have a great track record as a TV ratings draw.
I completely agree though that the major loss to country is the loss of 1 of the only 3 females who had consistently gotten t20 singles in a time when country radio’s had 6 years of doing a horrible job of cultivating new female voices. If Taylor’s departure puts more scrutiny on country radio’s woman problem, it could reinforce country radio and the country industry’s growing image problem in the mainstream media (as a place hostile to women, and not safe for families). That could discourage potential new fans in the long run. So IF (and it’s a big if) Taylor’s departure strengthens the commitment of corporate country radio to cultivate more female talent, then it may not be such a loss after all. But that’s a big IF. We do already see this raft of guys releasing more substantive singles to get away from the bro image, but it may be temporary – FGL is promising to bring the party back with its next single.
The country industry in general has an image issue to manage in the wake of Taylor’s departure. I’ve seen a few articles treating the country industry as the sad dumpee trying to hang on to somebody who’s just no longer interested, and that’s not a good look for the country industry. The official CMA account had actually originally tweeted more of a goodbye message on Monday, wishing Taylor well on her new venture and saying it’s been great watching her grow before deleting the message (because people thought it was passive-aggressive, apparently?). The tweet Trigger posted was more of a conciliatory message, but more because of the backlash to the original tweet. So, it would really behoove the country industry to show some strength in the coming months, in terms of song substance, in terms of females excelling (Miranda Lambert is going to do very well at the CMAs this year), in terms of TV ratings (for the CMAs, for example), and in terms of sales (like I said, the Q4 release schedule bodes well). It’ll be interesting to see what happens.
August 20, 2014 @ 11:20 am
Yeah you got to be careful with how they categorize these genres. They considered Lorde and fun to be rock somehow as well as that Gotye guy from a couple years back. Most semi serious music fans would not consider these rock acts but for they do.
As for the impact on sales you are correct that there are some big releases but it is still a major hit to the numbers to lose what will likely be the biggest first week of the year (unless Garth can top it). Also the digital songs loss will be huge because I imagine we will see the same parade of preview tracks that we have had with her last couple albums (some didn’t count for country purposes last time I know) and they sold hugely everytime. Her numbers in that area will dwarf all the others maybe with the exception of FGL and they have already got a big chunk from their first single.
So, yes, it may be a good time for her to leave comparatively speaking but it is still not a good thing.
Of course this is all business stuff what her loss will do for the music we shall see.
August 20, 2014 @ 12:00 pm
They considered Lorde and fun to be rock somehow as well as that Gotye guy from a couple years back.
I am not familiar with the works of Lorde and fun, but Gotye? Good grief. I heard his signature song and while it was kinda neat, calling it rock is the perfect example of the defining it down to “music made by white people” that has killed the genre.
August 20, 2014 @ 12:17 pm
Yeah the Billboard Hot Rock Songs and Top Rock Albums charts are a testimonial to the decline of what most would consider rock music. Lots of electronic pop type stuff by acts like fun and Bleachers and the like. Kongos did top that chart and they rock some I guess.
Further proof that the death of rock was the BIGGEST reason for the rise of bro country.
August 20, 2014 @ 12:09 pm
If Adele releases her album this year, she could top Taylor.
As far as track sales, those are declining everywhere as consumers shift to streaming. Country track sales were down 2% in 2013 even with Florida Georgia Line’s Cruise counting as country, and they were down nearly 21% year to year in Q1+Q2 2014 (take out the “Cruise” pop remix from 2013 sales and it’s more like a 17-18% decline).
Yes, country loses in absolute terms with Taylor’s sales counting towards another genre but not enough that it makes a major impact on its standing relative to other genres. In 2012 (the last time she released a new album), Red’s sales comprised 7.96% of “country”‘s total according to Nielsen Soundscan, and Taylor’s total album sales (across all albums) in 2012 comprised 9.1% of “country”‘s total according to Nielsen Soundscan. That’s significant. But my point was that Taylor’s departure isn’t going to make a huge difference in relative terms, both as far as country’s sales standing compared to other genres and as far as year to year comparisons between Q4 2014 and Q4 2013.
August 21, 2014 @ 3:13 pm
“I completely agree though that the major loss to country is the loss of 1 of the only 3 females who had consistently gotten t20 singles in a time when country radio”™s had 6 years of doing a horrible job of cultivating new female voices.”
The major loss to country music and radio is radio not consistently playing more solo females in the top 10-#1 no matter who they are. Taylor and Kellie Pickler’s debut albums released a week apart with the same high level of critical acclaim and they could and should have played both to the top in 2007. It’s beyond stupid that they didn’t. Radio not doing that and playing more solo females to the top and keeping them there is a major failure. Now what’s left? Mostly generic pop and bro-country.
August 20, 2014 @ 10:58 am
I just said on fb last night Martina had made a gorgeous album that’s in no way country–because she loved the music and sings it well. But Martina hasn’t had the blowback–as far as I know–that Taylor has had for so long now. No one is asking Martina to disavow her ties to country music. And they shouldn’t. Taylor had been criticized and called out so many times for her “crossover” music….While many of the same people are cheering for the “country” tribute album to Motley Crue. Maybe she was tired of the criticism. Most of us can only take so much. I’ve recognized the pop influence in many of her songs for quite a while, but she should have the freedom to write and sing songs she loves and believes in just as any artist should have freedom and not constraints. Frankly she’s been a great role model, hugely generous to charities and country music ie the Country Music Hall of Fame. She’s a talented songwriter, and I think it would be difficult to find another artist, with the exception of Garth, who had been as responsible for bringing new fans to the world of country music. I think we will feel the impact and more artists will choose this path, and though it won’t make me sad to see some of them go, sales have been very low in country the last couple weeks and this is probably going to make it worse.
August 20, 2014 @ 11:41 am
Of course Swift should have the freedom to write about what she feels like writing without constraints. And maybe she HAS brought a new crop of fans to country music. But in doing so, she has contributed to the devaluation of the term “country.”
Just because her music is popular doesn’t make it country. When you start labeling anything and everything as country music, than “country” loses all of its meaning. And this spreads to other genres as well.
The differences between Swift and McBride are this: 1) McBride has a long history of making country music that is actually country and 2) McBride isn’t promoting “Everlasting” as country in the way that Swift has promoted her last albums as country.
You can discus all you want how generous Taylor has been to the CMHoF, but that doesn’t make her music any more country.
And mainstream country is becoming less and less country by the day. There are more and more Luke Bryans and Cole Swindells and less and less George Straits and Alan Jacksons. There are more Taylor Swifts and Florida Georgia Lines and less Martina McBrides and Oak Ridge Boys.
If Taylor Swift leaving country music will contribute to raising the overall quality of music on country radio, maybe it will be the kick in the pants country needs to start returning to actually being country. Maybe that will draw back the listeners they’ve lost as country radio has done everything in its power to become pop. And in the long run, it will help country music.
August 20, 2014 @ 12:51 pm
I agree with almost everything you are saying…I am not commenting about Martina vs Taylor…just that there was no big deal when she made “Everlasting” — outside the realm of country, which happens to be one of my favorite albums this year…..It’s that I wish everybody hadn’t given Taylor such a hard time that she felt a line had to be drawn. I too wish the labels didn’t make such demands on the artist to record/produce their music based on a formula they think is working on radio….Martina never intended to release singles from this album, but the concerts are doing great and the majority of attendees are her country music fans, who give it rave reviews…..I love Martina…and you won’t find a bigger Oak Ridge Boys fan than me….their longevity in the music business is a testament in itself to their talent and legendary status. Martina, Patty L, Lee Ann, Trisha….those are the kinds of females in country I miss. I think Taylor has written some songs that fit well within “Country” — her first single “Tim McGraw” and then “Teardrops on my Guitar” are good songs. Maybe not for my demographic but there are many young people LISTENING to country radio — as adulterated as it may have become — who wouldn’t be were it not for her….I am not a fan of many of the artists you have listed, and for the most part I’m not a big fan of most Top 40 “country” artists. I am a #1 Merle then George Strait, John Anderston, Vern Gosdin, Mark Chesnutt, Aaron Tippin and that era of country music fan. But I do see her contribution to country music, both in songwriting and financially, as a positive, as well as the new audience she brought with her…..There aren’t two stations playing everything like there were when I was a kid….unless its Sirius and Willie’s Roadhouse or stations that play oldies, I’m probably listening to the songs I choose to listen to on my ipod and not “country” radio. We don’t disagree about the downward spiral of the country music we love…..we might disagree about a few things. Rarely do I find someone I agree with 100%…..But I wish her the best and support her right to make the kind of music she wants to make….And I am happy she finally has the freedom to just come out and say she knows her music is more pop than country and she’s ready to run with it…she should have been able to have that freedom long ago, but it’s not that easy when you’re married to a label and have many people to answer to…I hope this freedom gives her the chance to run with the abilities she does have and I hope she continues to be the generous, good example for our kids as she has been growing up before our very eyes.
August 20, 2014 @ 12:59 pm
We seem to be largely on the same page. I maintain that the majority of country fans wouldn’t be so irked by Taylor were it not for the mislabeling of her music. If she had been classified from the beginning as pop, I think that most country fans would have ignored her, or possibly even been able to enjoy her music, at least on some level. It’s more that it was continuing the devaluation of the term that irked so many country fans.
You are correct that she has brought a wealth of fans to country radio, but I honestly believe a lot of those people would stop listening to country radio if Taylor were not being played. Country radio is no longer exposing them to Merle Haggard or George Jones or Marty Robbins. It’s really giving a false impression to young people as to what country music is and all of the history behind it.
Anyway, that’s just my feelings on it. Take it for what it’s worth 🙂
August 20, 2014 @ 1:00 pm
Also, as I’m sure you’re aware, Trisha Yearwood has announced a new album. I would love to hear new music from Patty Loveless. And I’m also a huge Mary Chapin Carpenter fan.
August 20, 2014 @ 1:59 pm
Oh yes I’m all over that Trisha album. It’s called “Prize Fighter”. She had a great press party/conference yesterday. I’d go see Garth again but I’d go see Trisha any time I could. Getting ready to see Suzy Bogguss. Just saw Lee Ann Womack. Yep we like the same music. Just listened to Marty Robbins on vinyl this a.m.
August 22, 2014 @ 6:09 am
I’m very much looking forward to Trisha’s new music, but am disappointed it’s only 6 new songs.
August 20, 2014 @ 9:56 pm
You made some good points, but I disagree about some of the songs you mentioned. “Teardrops On My Guitar” was teen pop. Not only that, but it was one of the most manipulative songs ever recorded. It presented her to the public as this helpless little girl and triggered their protective instincts so that she could do no wrong in their eyes. I’ve heard morons make statements such as “Taylor Swift is a national treasure” in spite of her difficulty in carrying a note.
August 20, 2014 @ 11:15 am
As much as I don’t like some of her songs–this could prove unfortunate for country music, because by the time she’s 30 or 40, she could be releasing truly meaningful music to the entire population–not just teens and MAYBE young twenty-somethings.
At least in a cohesive sense, I mean. No matter how good some of her deeper tracks are, most of the singles had a pretty clear demographic. I’m interested in what she releases when she’s older.
August 20, 2014 @ 11:43 am
Taylor Swift is already in her mid-twenties. She should be beyond releasing teeny-bopper music targeted to thirteen-to-sixteen year-olds.
August 20, 2014 @ 10:01 pm
I’m not convinced she would release deep and mature music when she is older. What did Shania Twain release when she was in her 30s? She released bouncy pop songs like “Man I Feel Like a Woman”, “That Don’t Impress Me Much”, and “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!”, and teen girls sang along to them. I suppose some people think Taylor is really deep, just as some people believed that John Kennedy could read 10000 words per minute. It’s all about image and hype.
August 20, 2014 @ 10:27 pm
When I said “deeper tracks” I meant non-hits. She has some good songs, but they’re about as deep as a kiddie pool.
August 20, 2014 @ 11:39 am
Your thoughts on the whole “Taylor Swift is now a racist” shitstorm that hit Twitter today? I mean seriously? A racist? Because she has a boombox, big earrings, and a big gold chain… No, just no.
August 20, 2014 @ 8:50 pm
Well I think racist is too far but I remember back in 1990/91 when they gave Vanilla Ice HELL for faking like he was from the hood maybe it’s some of that. Though they give Aussie Iggy Azalea a pass for her fake accent and put on ghetto looks. So I don’t know anymore.
And they also gave Ice HELL for sampling Under Pressure and yet said nothing of MC Hammuh Sampling Prince and Rick James, bitch! Music listeners confound me as to what they will complain about and turn a blind eye too.
August 21, 2014 @ 5:02 am
When Taylor Swift dances ironically with black backing dancers in the “Shake It Off” video, it is _______.
When Nicki Minaj dances with her backing dancers in the “Anaconda” video, it is ________.
I’m not sure I see how one can finish those sentences differently.
August 20, 2014 @ 11:39 am
The very fact that Taylor Swift was considered country in the first place marks a low ebb in country music. And calling her a songwriter is like calling the Chipmunks a talented band. I have never understood how an adult industry could embrace a teen pop idol as a bona fide country star. It shows a disrespect that is so insulting that one wonders if the country music industry cares about country music, or just the money they can make off of labeling something country music. And it seems that audience for country is getting dumber and dumber so they will buy anything. As for Swift, once her audience turns 10, no matter what she is calling herself, she will be sinking. Unlike Garth Brooks, Swift’s music appeals to a limited group who are willing to buy any crap she puts out: country, pop, rap, heavy metal. I don’t know one adult who listens to her or likes her music. Let her go. She was blocking the way for real country females to come out and shine.
August 20, 2014 @ 11:51 am
August 20, 2014 @ 1:08 pm
Your statement about 10 year olds is ridiculous, Taylor has been around for quite some time now. Her audience has grown up with her, that is her allure, they identify with her. Having seen her live many times I can tell you her audience age, reaches into the 70 year olds. This thing about appealing only to children is a myth.
August 20, 2014 @ 1:15 pm
“Once her fans turn 10”
Yeah, this is really offensive to millions of people since Taylor Swift has one of the widest fan bases in music, a fan base that spans all demographics and all ages, regardless of what you think about the quality of her music, or her talent, or lack thereof.
August 20, 2014 @ 4:10 pm
“willing to buy any crap she puts out” – that just about says it all. I’ve said before it’s not about her talent, i.e. lack of………..she was marketed as a product for little girls to consume.
Unfortunately, I do know some adults who are fans; they are the type who follow any pop trend and get their news from ‘Awesomeness TV’ and Perez Hilton and live and die by the top 40.
August 21, 2014 @ 6:49 am
So according to you Karen any adult who does not agree with your opinion is wrong.
What ever music or news outlet they choose is not worthy of your standards, so it is to be dismissed? Typical closed mind.
August 21, 2014 @ 7:07 am
No, bamstrait, you put words in my mouth. I was stating facts. Those three adults I know who are big fans DO love the top 40 and listen to entertainment news and eagerly eat up stuff about T.S. They can listen to whatever they want to listen to and I do the same. I just prefer more substantial musical talent and not following whatever is popular or trending. (Admittedly I did some of that as a teen, didn’t we all)? That is why it is so easy to market a product to kids.
January 27, 2015 @ 6:56 pm
Taylor swift is now making better music then ever! My 12 yr old son and I both like her song Blank Space.She is growing into her own finally.
August 20, 2014 @ 11:42 am
“Country music already has a severe problem rounding out worthy candidates for its Female Vocalist of the Year awards at the CMA”™s and ACM”™s. At one point they had to reach out to the pop world and nominate Kelly Clarkson. Now who will they get to fill that 5th spot? If they”™re already having to rely on a pop stars to round out the field, it will probably be Taylor Swift again. And if she”™s nominated, will she show up? And if she shows up, will she put on a performance? And if she is nominated and puts on a performance, has she really left country at all?”
I think this is GREAT news, actually. You’re right… the CMAs and ACMs have had trouble finding a 5th spot … but not because they don’t exist. They’ve had trouble finding a 5th spot because they want to pander to radio instead of celebrating higher artistry. Perhaps with the commercial dominance that Taylor represents taking the fast train out of town, that will open space for the award shows to grant exposure to some mid-level artist whose work could have an impact on the greater Country landscape.
I’m not a huge fan of award shows, never have been. I’ve hit the red carpet of a number of them, been involved with them, and the majority are just political parties with too much heavy-handed back-patting. But from time to time, they do have a chance to make a difference. The Oscars, while the most political of all, do a pretty good job of making people aware of films that the commercial process skips. It’d be incredible if that could happen with more regularity in Country Music. But, it seems they’ve all just knelt at the altar of commercial radio for years now.
With Taylor’s exit, is it possible we’ll see a lady poet jump to stardom not through radio, but through critical acclaim and exposure? Most of the country music listeners had never heard of Jamey Johnson until he made so many critical waves with “That Lonesome Song”. At a time when Country Music needs a renaissance, perhaps the departure of the pop princess is the perfect starting place.
I just hope the awards shows take note.
August 20, 2014 @ 11:47 am
Also, Trisha Yearwood has just announced a new album is in the works. If she is making a return to the industry in the same way Garth Brooks is, perhaps she is poised to begin making an impact again. Maybe by the time 2015 rolls around, she has a shot at contenting for that 5th spot.
August 20, 2014 @ 8:58 pm
Trisha Yearwood has one of the most solid catalogs of any country star, male or female and certainly is in the top 3 of the nineties females. I am always astounded the each new album delivers. Her song choices, everything. That said I have a feeling country radio will ignore her and she’ll like many other play her cards at the Casino Americana. That seems to be where great country artists go to, not die, but carry on.
No, the female that could cause a storm would be Shaina Twain the biggest selling female artist of the 90s. But I haven’t heard a peep from and frankly I blame her for this mess. Once she released both “country” and “pop” versions of her album the executives said, “Hey we can just ditch the country sound and make pop and sell it as country”.
And I still don’t know what Americana actually is as a genre it seems to market itself as “roots music” for hipsters, at least the big annoying acts do.
August 20, 2014 @ 9:14 pm
There’s a good chance Trisha Yearwood’s new music will be played on the new “Nash Icon” radio format. She’s from the era they’re trying to revive, and so far those stations have been playing Lee Ann Womack’s new single on a fairly consistent basis.
Not that that will translate to widespread popularity or financial success, but I reckon it’s better than nothing.
Anyway, I think the problem with Americana is that it is both too narrow and too broadly ambiguous at the same time. (Whatever the heck that means.)
August 20, 2014 @ 9:27 pm
“Anyway, I think the problem with Americana is that it is both too narrow and too broadly ambiguous at the same time. (Whatever the heck that means.)”
A narrow range of artists with an overly broad range of sounds that do not fit together cohesively?
August 20, 2014 @ 10:22 pm
Yeah, that makes sense. Thanks for explaining what I meant, because I wasn’t actually sure myself. 🙂
I guess Americana does have a certain identifiable sound (think of Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings and you’re there,) but since it is sort of a contrived, catch-all umbrella genre with little history to look back upon, it is difficult to understand what the parameters of “Americana” are supposed to be.
Anyway, I’m mainly interested in how the Americana infrastructure can serve the country music cause. A lot of people perceive Americana to be a subgenge or sister genre to country music, but though it has grown to include sonic styles not specifically connected to country. Also, there are certain traditional country-oriented artists in need of support who are ignored by the Americana Association, presumably because they don’t fit the “roots music for NPR listeners” aesthetic.
I guess what I’m saying is that it’s cool that artists like Lee Ann Womack and Trisha Yearwood have a place to go when their mainstream country careers are over, but I’m becoming dissatisfied with Americana’s presumed status as the “alternative” to mainstream country.
August 21, 2014 @ 8:42 am
“…but I”™m becoming dissatisfied with Americana”™s presumed status as the “alternative” to mainstream country.”
I can relate to that. Alt.Country was the term used for Americana, after all. I have never liked either term and would not use them to describe what music I like, even though I love so, so many artists that have been tagged with these labels. My favorite comment about the term Americana came from a comment on the No Depression website. The commenter said that when he told people that he liked Americana music, it was as if he was lying about something, but he didn’t know what.
August 20, 2014 @ 11:45 am
Would Kellie Pickler, Kacey Musgraves or Gwen Sebastian be considered to take Taylor’s “spot”?
Kelly Clarkson’s nomination is a joke already. Not again, please. Fill it with some of country’s best.
But country music will never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever like forever… F*CK IT.
August 20, 2014 @ 12:57 pm
I think you could argue that Kacey has already inched her way into Taylor’s spot even before this announcement. When it came to the award show nominations, Kacey is clearly a staple among Carrie and Miranda for this year. (And rightfully earned herself nominations last year among the those 3 when Carrie and Taylor didn’t have any new music.) I’ll be interested to see who the shovel into the final two spots this year at the CMAs (that is, if they ignore Taylor…)
Regardless, Bro-Country marginalized women this past year, and I can’t see who would be considered alongside those three to round the nominations out at 5.
August 20, 2014 @ 1:20 pm
I believe when people watch the CMA or ACM they want to see nominees they know.
I don’t believe they should nominate just fill up slots.
As far as the two left I for one have had enough Lambert and Underwood, both on awards shows and radio. We don’t need another Miranda awards show.
August 20, 2014 @ 1:41 pm
I agree. I think it is almost disrespectful for them to even give out the female vocalist award at this point. It goes to Miranda by default (as Carrie is often overlooked and hasn’t even toured or produced an album this year to change their minds), which devalues it in my opinion. It is not fair to have Miranda recieve the award on behalf of women in country music when she does not accurately represent them. Her and Carrie are merely extreme outliers.
August 20, 2014 @ 2:09 pm
Exactly. The category is so weak right now. By default, Miranda will win. Simply because she’s still releasing new singles from Platinum. Kacey and Carrie don’t have new releases, and there’s no one else who mainstream fans will recognize that have a chance to.
Personally, I’d love to see Sunny Sweeney’s name thrown in the mix. Provoked was an excellent album, and she deserves to be in those talks. Hell, maybe a nomination for will open up more fans’ eyes to this still relatively unknown talent.
August 21, 2014 @ 6:53 am
Additionally when Miranda wins, she will most likely set the record for the most wins by a female! When this happens the award will lose any meaning. Are we supposed to believe she is a better vocalist than Reba, Martina, Loretta, Dolly, Trisha, Patty or the dozens who have never won?
August 21, 2014 @ 3:45 pm
“Would Kellie Pickler, Kacey Musgraves or Gwen Sebastian be considered to take Taylor”™s “spot”?
Kelly Clarkson”™s nomination is a joke already. Not again, please. Fill it with some of country”™s best.”
I agree 100%! Radio should fill any “slots” with more of the best female COUNTRY artists, Kellie AND Kacey AND more! Radio’s very limited “solo female slots” mentality is a big problem. Three solo female slots at the top isn’t even close to enough. And it’s not even 3 because when those 3 don’t have current singles out radio plays more men in their place, leaving near zero top 10 slots for solo females and as we’ve seen all too often the entire top 10 filled with men. All fans, labels, etc. of solo females, all-female duos and groups have to think and push for “country radio must make more room for solo females in the top 5, 10 and 20” instead of “will _______ get an empty solo female slot out of 3 total.” If you’re talking about awards, they follow radio so Gwen could get vocalist nominations based on her duet with Blake since it hit #1. It’s a shame that about the only way a solo female can get to #1 on country radio is with a duet with a man radio keeps at #1.
“Leslie Fram, senior VP of music strategy at Viacom-owned TV network CMT, remains “perplexed” about why a lack of successful female artists is a continuing problem, but the culture of Music Row makes her take heart. “I spent over 20 years in rock/alternative and pop radio and was fortunate to work for companies like Susquehanna and Emmis that hired and promoted based on qualified candidates,” she says. “Viacom is the same way . . . I’m encouraged to see the same on Music Row and hope that radio will continue to open its doors.”
Now, the challenge remains for that gender balance to be reflected on the charts, as Underwood and other artists noted in last week’s column. This week, just four female voices are heard in the top 30 songs on the Country Airplay chart.
Fram is on what she terms “a mission” to help break more female country stars with the network’s “Next Women of Country” initiative. Launched in January 2013, it has given added exposure across all CMT platforms to up-and-comers including Brandy Clark, Holly Williams, Kacey Musgraves, Lauren Alaina, Ashley Monroe, Cassadee Pope and Danielle Bradbery.
She calls the so-called “bro-country” themes of the current country music “a deep, dark hole we must get out of . . . Let’s not forget that this format targets women. We shouldn’t make this a male vs. female fight. Great songs/artists should be treated and considered equal. ” Fram adds, “We as an industry need to change the mentality of ‘a female slot’ or ‘female releases.’ Female country music fans relate to country female artists and what they are saying. Male country music fans aren’t turning off the radio when they hear a female vocalist. – Country Executives on the Lack Of Female Artists at Radio, Billboard, February 06, 2014
August 20, 2014 @ 11:49 am
I also feel like Taylor used country music in some ways. Not herself, but someone (scof, cof) behind knew what was doing. This is insane if we think how a 16-year-old person, with a debut single about some random Tim McGraw’s song, who debuted at NINETEEN on the overall charts has become what Swift is right now.
She doesn’t need country. She kinda has made it breakthrough. Now, she’s the reason for the Teardrops on CMA’s bank account.
August 20, 2014 @ 12:01 pm
One more comment: it is so funny how Taylor Swift’s behaviour has changed throughout her growth. I mean, she was friends with Kellie Pickler and Gloriana and now she doesn’t even talk about them – while they sometimes have to answer questions about her (I also remember the last CMA Awards, when Kellie was giving papers to some people on the audience and she talked with Taylor. The former was so surprised). She LOVED Justin Bieber, now hates him. She and Katy Perry were FRIEEEEEEEEEENDS. WTF.
Is her particular life controlled, too? This is so strange. Taylor Swift is kinda strange.
August 20, 2014 @ 7:04 pm
Kacey Musgraves and Katy Perry are friends too but that does not change your argument. I’d go as far to say when it comes to writing songs Katy is much better than Taylor. We may actually get a head to head comparison on that when Kacey’s next album comes out.
August 20, 2014 @ 8:43 pm
One person that she has consistently had as a friend for the last six years, even through their rough patches, is Selena Gomez.
August 21, 2014 @ 10:51 am
Although Selena is rumored to be back with Justin Bieber.
Who will be Taylor Swift’s new best friend?
August 21, 2014 @ 12:43 pm
What does Bieber getting back with Gomez have to do with Taylor? And why are you asking who will be her new friend as if Gomez’s reunion with Bieber is ruining their friendship? They are still friends, tweeting each other and inviting each other to that Ice Bucket Challenge. Don’t believe everything Hollywood Life says.
August 22, 2014 @ 9:28 pm
I actually use sarcasm as a third language. If you read between the lines, the question was regarding the possibility of a controlled private life or some kind of bipolar attitude of TS towards interpersonal relationships.
She was caught on camera making some bad faces while Selena was talking with Bieber. Each period of her life, we see her making some new friends and magically forgetting about others.
August 21, 2014 @ 1:37 pm
Who really gives a fat rat’s ass….
August 23, 2014 @ 2:04 pm
Eric, it appears that Taylor has been trying to re-brand herself over the past 2-3 years. Now it is true that great businesses are willing to disrupt themselves before a competitor can disrupt them. But in her case the re-branding effort seems quite strange. What is the need commercially to re-brand? If the problem was that her old persona was “too young”, the changes she’s made don’t make sense, because the new Max Martin influenced pop songs are just as immature as the old songs. She had a conservative public image in her early days, but considering that she was outselling just about everyone else in the industry, I don’t think that was the problem either. Why try to fix something that ain’t broke?
I’m guessing that either she’s been influenced by the people she hangs out with in the mainstream entertainment celebrity world, or she’s a perfectionist and she took the criticism of Taylor Swift version 1.0 (from feminists and cultural elites) personally and reacted by trying to prove the critics wrong.
August 20, 2014 @ 12:57 pm
Another question, Trigger … what’s with the line of thinking that losing her sales #s to Pop will be bad for country overall, from an economics perspective? Who cares if Country Fans aren’t spending their $$ on her? Is there some kind of communal account for Country Music that everyone pays into and pulls from, of which I’m unaware? I mean, as far as I know it, all the chest-thumping involved with Country being the dominant genre of music in the nation is a matter of pride more than anything else.
If anything, perhaps the country fans who would have spent money on her next offering will instead spend it on a true country artist. I just don’t know.
Big Machine will still be making $$ off this release, so the mechanism itself doesn’t really suffer, from what I can tell. Is there less $$ coming to “country” as a result? Sure, but there’s still the same amount of money coming to her and to BM. Are advertisers going to dive away from Country Radio because they don’t have new music from Taylor Swfit? Doubtful. Will ad sales for festivals, etc suffer simply because Tay Tay isn’t on the lineup? Doubtful.
I just don’t understand that angle of the conversation.
August 20, 2014 @ 1:25 pm
Good riddance. Hopefully the rest of the Madonna wannabes will follow suit.
August 20, 2014 @ 2:32 pm
I don’t personally think that country will let her go. As you say, she’s too important to the bottom line of the genre for the powers-that-be to lessen their grip. The fact that, obviously, her music has always been pop will just make it easier to spin her music on country radio and not bat an eye. Regardless, it really smacks of a no-win situation for Taylor. If she is nominated for country awards and doesn’t show up, she might offend people in the country world and start some feuds that might make her eventual return to the format harder if not impossible. On the other hand, if she’s nominated and show’s up, the CMA, etc. has effectively won and she’s back to square one.
As for the female awards nominations, perhaps Katy Perry will get one? After all, she toured with Kacey Musgraves and that’s probably enough to get her enough implicit country cred to help fill out the ballot, regardless of her chances of actually winning. Kacey will most certainly be nominated; I think the CMAs and ACMs were a bit surprised at her wins at the Grammys and no doubt looked like they had their heads up their asses to some for not giving her similar wins. I know I thought so and I don’t personally care for Kacey.
August 20, 2014 @ 7:07 pm
Katy may get one as a writer on Kacey’s next album.
August 20, 2014 @ 5:55 pm
if Lindi Ortega is made Taylor Swift’s heir apparent like she should be, country music will be just fine.
August 20, 2014 @ 6:16 pm
2014 CMA Awards
Best Female Vocalist
Lady GaGa (for the SMASHING country remix of BORN THIS WAY)
a sixth slot to KELLY CLARKSON, THE NEXT QUEEN OF COUNTRY.
(for real, Katy will get a CMA nomination for Crossroads)
August 20, 2014 @ 7:11 pm
Perhaps I missed something . Did T.S. actually SAY ” I’m leaving country music ….thanks everybody but goodbye “..?
OR did she simply say ” I’m releasing my first completely ‘pop’ album ” ?
Why all the hoopla ? She was never country …and she STILL isn’t country . What’s changed ?
One other question for the troops :
How many ‘artists’ currently receiving regular airplay on country radio would you say are bona fide country artists ? Just a number or a percentage will do .
August 20, 2014 @ 8:21 pm
I would say less than 5%.
August 20, 2014 @ 8:31 pm
Chris Young, sometimes.
Dierks Bentley, maybe.
A few others used to be, like Joe Nichols.
How about how many others would make country if they thought they could get it played on the radio?
August 21, 2014 @ 9:55 am
“How about how many others would make country if they thought they could get it played on the radio?”
This is really the better question. Blake Shelton did it when radio would still play it. Jake Owen makes no secret of his love for the classics, even though his own music only occasionally shows it. Billy Currington and Randy Houser have both shown they can do it when they choose to. They don’t simply because with a few exceptions that’s not really the path to major commercial success right now.
August 21, 2014 @ 4:01 pm
“They don”™t simply because with a few exceptions that”™s not really the path to major commercial success right now.”
Why isn’t it? Did all the men who went from making country to pop sell more country or pop? Or does “path to major commercial success” refer to country radio going pop? It’s interesting that Brad’s last album was poppy and based on what I’ve heard he’s returning to his more country sound with his new album.
August 21, 2014 @ 5:46 pm
“It”™s interesting that Brad”™s last album was poppy and based on what I”™ve heard he”™s returning to his more country sound with his new album. ”
There were actually some spectacular album cuts on “Wheelhouse,” such as “Tin Can On a String,” and “Those Crazy Christians.” Speaking completely honestly, it was his more country songs off of that album that actually failed to really build solid airplay on the radio, like “I Can’t Change the World,” which was much more solid and substantive that some of the singles he’s chosen to release in the more recent past.
Despite some of his single choices, largely, Brad puts out a relatively solid 3.5-4/5 star album. He does go more pop in some songs, but he does a solid job of mixing it up and actually having a good deal of variety packed in there. Truth is, I’ll probably end up buying “Moonshine in the Trunk.”
August 21, 2014 @ 6:32 pm
I thought I Can”™t Change the World was just too slow/dragging, long and odd sounding for radio. It’s a deep cut, not a great radio single, and released during a time radio plays mostly upbeat frat party songs. It’s similar to Bourbon in Kentucky.
August 20, 2014 @ 8:29 pm
Between this, the launch of the Nash Icon format, the return of Garth Brooks, “Girl In A Country Song” and the general bro-country backlash, and the recent string of country music concert catastrophes, this sure has been an eventful year in the history of country music. (And by eventful, I mean crazy and unstable.)
It seems like any of one of those events could have been the biggest story in country music in any given year. Oh, not to mention the retirement of George Strait, and the metamodern rise of Sturgill.
August 20, 2014 @ 11:17 pm
The reason I continue to cover these issue-based stories in country music is because what is happening this year very well may shape the future of country music for coming generations. Never has there been this much flux, this many big issues. And when it comes to these issues, it might be speak now, or forever hold your peace.
TX Music Jim
August 21, 2014 @ 1:26 pm
Trig, I am more convinced than ever that country music’s future has been shaped for quite awhile now. What most of think of as country music ceased to be comercially viable years ago. So Texas/Red Dirt as a movment arose in Texas and Oklahoma. Alt Country/Americana arose out of East Nashville and other places around the country and the older country acts that once were mainstream stars kept making music and putting people in clubs and venues all over the country. However, mainstream country radio and CMT, GAC country weekly etc and the labels walked away in favor of the Taylor swifts etc of the world. SO WHAT ! To heck with the country music establishment. Independent artists are still making good livings playing gigs, selling merch and marketing themselves to their fans via all kinds of alternative media sources.
August 22, 2014 @ 2:17 pm
Hey Trigger. Cool article. You should make an article on why pop radio needs to play Taylor Swift’s country songs in general. That would be awesome. Plus, her country music can appeal any listener. Even her pop listeners too. I made a parody called But When You Think MTV. It’s a parody of Tim McGraw (Taylor Swift’s first song from 2006) about why MTV needs to pay attention to music videos like Madonna music videos over reality shows. You might gonna love this one. It’s so funny. I posted my hilarious video on Vimeo. Here’s the link below to see it.
August 22, 2014 @ 3:05 pm
I have to be extremely selective with the Taylor Swift articles I write. The ones I’ve already posted have already led to a partial insurrection.
August 23, 2014 @ 4:10 pm
Oh, I understand. By the way, did you watch my But When You Think MTV video on Vimeo? If you do, you can make your comments about my parody video I uploaded on Vimeo. I also made articles on Taylor Swift regarding on pop stations needs to play her country hits like Mean. One of the articles I made on Fanpop is an article on why MTV needs a Taylor Swift marathon. There are also cool Taylor Swift articles I wrote on Fanpop. You can find my articles under PeterWMou (my account name). Here’s the link below to see it.
I hope you enjoy comments on this cool website, Trigger. 🙂
August 20, 2014 @ 10:22 pm
I think this is the best thing that has happened to country music in years.
Trigger likes to bemoan the lack of female representation in country music. But the solution is not to fill a quota by playing pop songs on country stations. If it were, why not invite Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Lorde, and Beyonce to release pop singles to country radio? Ok, the fourth one is obvious, because “country” has become a code word for white in mainstream popular culture, but my point still stands with the other pop artists.
Taylor’s departure from country is a good thing if it makes room on country radio for male or female artists producing good country music.
August 21, 2014 @ 7:27 pm
Trigger and others like to bemoan the lack of female representation in country music because females are making the best country music and severely lack representation. I agree about radio not playing more pop but disagree with filling radio with even more men since they play just 2 or 3 solo females and aren’t playing enough making equal or better country music than many men they play. Why would anyone want to hear more men when that’s about all they play already and too much of it sounds the same?
August 21, 2014 @ 4:39 am
Country music does not play women really. Look at kacey musgraves for example, I bet most agred that her music is country yet she get basically zero airplay so she needs to team up with a popstar in order for her music to be heard.
Next miranda’s lead single automatic struggled in downloads and radio play and this person is considered a top woman on country radio. Then her second single somethin bad teaming up with who is supposed to be the top woman played on country radio the song is an embarrassment on the charts in sales because of its extremely weak airplay. The song is clearly going to have to cheat its way up the country airplay charts because, honestly, it peaked months and letting this go on makes the look silly.
what is taylor to do? In order for her music to be heard, she has to go to someone willing to play it and country radio is not playing woman, those who do get played, still are not selling like the men. Jason aldean, luke bryan, florida georgia line, kenny chesney all are doing better then the country women. Do not blaim taylor swift, blaim country radio as their women are struggling, yes, that includes the top woman, carrie underwood, just look at the sales of her newest single “keep us safe”. Nobody bought. That is why carrie also releases pop leaning music because she wants the sales, honestly, I see carrie struggling with her lead lead single just as miranda did with automatic. Country is not here for the women at this time, if you ask me, taylor picked a great time to make her first official pop album.
August 21, 2014 @ 8:48 am
I see this differently. I think Taylor is leaving country because most of her music, and most of her fans, are not country. I don’t think the young aristocracy that she seems to aspire to be part of cares for country music either.
This could be a big opportunity for Kacey if she can write songs that connect with millions of female listeners. I think Carrie and Miranda’s music is starting to get long in the tooth, and there will be demand for a new female voice.
August 21, 2014 @ 5:27 pm
“country radio is not playing woman, those who do get played, still are not selling like the men. Jason aldean, luke bryan, florida georgia line, kenny chesney all are doing better then the country women.”
No, all of the few women country radio played much sold more than many men they gave equal or greater airplay. For about the past 9 years the top selling “new” solo females in order (may not be exactly correct) are:
Notice the sales order matches the amount of airplay order and all those women sold more than many men radio played more. They all have gold or platinum sales, yet radio stopped playing almost half of them anyway in favor of brand new male acts with zero or close sales. Gretchen Wilson also had great sales back when radio played her. The few older solo female artists radio played to #1 once or so during the past 10 years like Reba McEntire, Sara Evans, and Martina McBride also sold gold or platinum when they had enough airplay for it. Radio didn’t let other solo females hit top 20 and a few did just once so they can’t be expected to sell gold. If we add lead female groups like Lady A and Band Perry, they also sold more than many men. Why? Because all of these women made many better songs than many men radio played more. Most of the men you named have a lot more airplay than most of these women so of course they sell more. On one station’s top 30 playlist I looked at, Luke had 4 and a few other men had 2 or 3 songs each on it, and maybe 1 woman. FGL is the most played of 2013 and Luke is #4.
August 21, 2014 @ 5:06 am
” I”™ve heard morons make statements such as “Taylor Swift is a national treasure” in spite of her difficulty in carrying a note”
Not very bright are you?
Calling people names just because they have a different opinion than yours. It just show how naive and childish you are. Everyone is entitle to his own opinion…and when has a person’s voice anything to do with his or her worth or social status? And it’s ONLY your opinion. But then again what do you expect from people who are narrow minded and bitter? The song “Shake it off” is for you.
The truth is no matter what you say or I say here…it will not change a single bit what millions and millions of other people think about Taylor.
Live with that.
August 21, 2014 @ 7:58 am
Dear Taylor, I like to cordially invite you to go screw yourself. I’ve hated you from the very first moment I saw your arrogant face on TV some years ago. I hate your shitty, generic voice. I hate your crap-eating smile. And I hate every piece of crap excuse for a song you’ve ever written. I guess being a spoiled little rich girl living a charmed life wasn’t good enough for you, so you bought your way into the “country” music business, probably because it currently takes very little talent to get into. Then, instead of showing reverence to it, you proceeded to take it to new bastardized lows that the world has never heard before. I know helping to destroy an entire culture doesn’t mean much to you. And why should it? You’re living the best fantasy that your family’s money could buy. So your leaving “country” music huh? Good riddance. As abhorrent as “country” music was before you arrived, you just made it worse. I’ve seriously pondered it, and I guess wouldn’t endure one of your shows for a penny less than $10,000. And that’s only if the booze and transportation were free. Without earplugs, my fee would go to $50,000. You see Taylor, to you “country” music was merely a vessel for your little fairytale. It was the most convenient way for you to achieve your goal of singing pop songs to 13 year olds and calling yourself an “artist”. To people like me, Country music was heritage. It was part of a culture. It was even a religion. It was one of the few beautiful things in an otherwise stressful life. It was the voice of the poor and middle class. People could go to their crappy jobs, where they make less in a year than you make at one concert, and they could live their mundane lives, but Country music was always there to tell their stories, and ease the stress, even occasionally, to give a little hope. And it was always done in a familiar way that they could relate to. You wouldn’t know about that I guess. Yes I know. I’m taking the low road. But as far as I can see, that’s the only road left to take. The high road won’t lead anywhere, because it’s way too late to undo the damage that you and your kind have done. So all that’s really left is just to speak our minds; if nothing else, to relieve a little stress. One last thing Taylor, a lot of people who don’t like your music will say things like: “but, at least she’s hot”. But I don’t even find you physically attractive. So please Taylor, go screw yourself; cause I wouldn’t with a 10 foot pole and John Mayer pushing.
August 21, 2014 @ 9:02 am
I’m glad Taylor Swift will not be releasing her this year’s country music this year. I’m happy that Taylor Swift is releasing her first pop album. Country music hates Taylor Swift including her country music. Taylor Swift will no longer makes country music and hopefully Big Machine Records gets to make nothing but pop music and gets rid of country. Country is still suffer ending even with the success of modern country outputs like Luke Bryan. If Taylor Swift moved her country music to pop radio, then pop radio will have no problem playing Taylor Swift’s country music. Her country music works well on pop music stations. I want this to happen. Soon, Carrie Underwood will move to pop never year with her fifth album. Let’s hope Taylor Swift will retire her country music career and stopped making country music forever. I know Taylor Swift’s pop music won’t last very long because Taylor Swift will tackle new genres on her way after pop. By the way, I’m a huge Taylor fan and I loved her country music and I’m really exciting for 1989. 😀
August 21, 2014 @ 5:39 pm
“Soon, Carrie Underwood will move to pop never year with her fifth album.”
I hope not, where did you hear that? She refused to remix her songs for pop and is an Opry member. Taylor rarely performed there.
August 22, 2014 @ 6:21 am
Why can’t Carrie Underwood play her country songs on pop music stations? I’m glad she has no plans to remix her country songs for pop. But good lord, why can’t music public goes by popularity and internet? I’m sick of mainstreams and money. I want my music industry moved on to popularity and streaming. I guess the only way is inventions. But still, pop radio needs Carrie Underwood songs and Carrie Underwood needs pop songs next year. Why popular music hates country music and only wants other genres like pop? Let me guess, money. Man, I hate America’s music industry. Also, why pop radio doesn’t play Taylor Swift’s country songs like Sparks Fly? Her country songs like Ours would’ve been perfect for pop radio. As for you on why pop music music of country ruined country. I agree on you on why American music is ruining country by turning in country music into pop causing country music industry like Luke Bryan and Miranda Lambert to collapse. I guess popular music does not want to accept country music in general again. It seems that music only wants pop/rap and hip-hop/rock/dance and EDM/rnb non-stop and forgets country. Plus, music public hates country music like Chris Young and only wants nothing but mainstream populars like pop music and Britney Spears. Also, music in the internet like YouTube and Vevo don’t care about country music either. It looks like Big Machine Records has moved to pop music causing Big Machine Records to get rid of country music like Rascal Flatts and replace with pop music like Christina Aguilera because Big Machine Records can stand country music like Danielle Bradbury and demands pop music in Nashville like Demi Lovato. Well if that’s the case, I wish Taylor Swift moves all her country music to pop radio this year and have pop radio plays Taylor Swift’s country songs (Tim McGraw, Picture To Burn, White Horse, Mean, Sparks Fly, Ours, Begin Again, Red, etc.) non-stop so that way Taylor Swift will always remember her country music. Now, if only Carrie Underwood moves to pop by moving her country hits to pop radio too. That way, Carrie Underwood will be joining pop music for next year. Plus, Taylor Swift’s fifth album will be released before Carie Underwood’s fifth album released next year. So Carrie Underwood would be a good time working on her first pop album and her pop album will have strong emotions and heartwarming stories that can make pop music listeners cry. I hope you understand my comments, Chris.
August 21, 2014 @ 4:26 pm
“And the cultural and economic impact of this development cannot be overstated.”
What is the impact? Taylor is still with the same label. I wonder if the reason Nashville and radio suddenly decided to go pop in 2012 is because they knew she was leaving? Either way country going pop sucks, worst music ever.
August 22, 2014 @ 7:40 am
Just speculating here, but I’m doubtful that Taylor’s “eventual return to country music” will happen. I don’t see her crawling back to country like Faith Hill and LeAnn Rimes did. I don’t think she’s looking for a comfortable job in Nashville as a middle aged country singer selling 500,000 copies per album. I’d guess that she wants to do other things whether the next stage in her pop music career works out or not.
August 22, 2014 @ 9:27 am
Current Billboard article
August 22, 2014 @ 10:08 am
My favorite piece of that article is the quote from an unnamed country radio programmer about the “country mix” BMR did for We Are Never, which of course they did not do for Shake it Off.
“Sure, they put [more prominent] acoustic guitars on it, but the tone, the topic ”” nothing about it was a country record; nothing was aimed at 35-year-old women.”
With attitudes like that, especially considering the naively ignored audience that Taylor brought to country when she debuted, who would wanna stay in that world?
Also, the substance or lack thereof of the new single is not an edictal matter: I think that a certain beat and rap section may blind the biased to a substantive message in the song.
August 22, 2014 @ 11:54 am
Well it’s true. We Are Never is pure bubblegum pop and I’m talking about the version country radio played. It never should have been released to country radio and as I recall only one group played it as a promo and it didn’t research well. Scott said Red is a pop record, Taylor said she made We Are Never to be annoying, and now you don’t like radio programmers stating the obvious, that it isn’t country? Begin Again is country/pop, much better and more tolerable to those who love country music and don’t like or aren’t crazy about teen pop.
At least for awhile, most of Taylor’s audience came from country radio, not the other way around. In fact Kellie Pickler’s great debut album that released a week after Taylor’s sold more than Taylor’s each week until radio played Taylor’s debut single to #5 and her follow-ups to #1. Just like radio should have also done for Kellie and is now even more obvious than it has been for the past 8 years. Starting from when Gretchen Wilson debuted 10 years ago, county radio has tossed out half of its top 6 leading solo females in sales and everything, and now they are “disappointed” that 1 of the 3 they constantly played left even though it’s been obvious for years that pure pop is her direction. Well they should’ve played more country solo females and still should. Playing just 3 for 5-10 years is terrible.
Country radio has been catering to the teen and frat party crowd and screwing over adult listeners. I’m surprised a programmer mentioned a 35 year old today since they’ve been overplaying pure pop and frat party fare. We adults who love country music are the ignored audience, not the teens.
August 22, 2014 @ 2:12 pm
Actually, Red is country pop, not pop. Begin Again and Red are both country. Red should’ve done a better job if it didn’t have any country songs. Good thing 1989 will not have any county music at all. This can save Taylor Swift’s pop medium. So Chris, how would you feel if Taylor Swift plays all her country airplays that are for country radio only on pop radio. That would be something that Taylor Swift might want to try out. I want pop radio to play Tim McGraw, Picture To Burn, I’m Only Me When I’m With You, White Horse, The Best Day, Mean, Sparks Fly, Ours, Begin Again, Red. That would be awesome. Country radio exclusive Taylor Swift songs like Tim McGraw for pop radio please. I want this to happen. I made an article about a petition for Taylor Swift’s country songs on pop radio. Perfect for Taylor Swift Takeover on pop radio. Here’s the link below.
I hope you enjoy it. I hope every person who makes comments on Saving Country Music like Trigger will see this. 🙂
August 22, 2014 @ 4:38 pm
I was poking around on a general interest music website, and most of the people commenting there seemed genuinely surprised that this is the first Taylor Swift album being designated “pop” rather than country.
I’d say Taylor Swift’s first album was contemporary country-pop, but her status as a country artist since then has been dubious, as whatever mild country influences remained quickly diminished with each successive release.
August 22, 2014 @ 6:34 pm
“Red should”™ve done a better job if it didn”™t have any country songs.”
One of the key reasons for Taylor’s strong album sales has been her popularity with both pop fans and country fans. I do not understand how alienating her country fan base would improve her sales.
August 22, 2014 @ 11:05 am
August 22, 2014 @ 9:38 pm
It’s kinda funny how Swift is approaching her fans by saying that she’s used the 80s as influence for her new album. First of all, her heavily produced singles are mediocre (I mean, We are never ever like forever ever whatever and 22 were SINGLES while her Red album really has some great songs – Holy Ground, Red, Treacherous and All Too Well).
Shake it Off is clearly influenced by Toni Basil’s MICKEY which is a predictable influence if we pay attention to the power of 80s music – Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, Bowie, McCartney, U2, Dolly…
And where the heck is Nathan Chapman? I mean, really? He could take the best of Swift and transform into amazing songs.
August 24, 2014 @ 1:42 am
“Shake It Off” does not represent 80s pop at all. The pop music of the 80s was overwhelmingly based on rock, with clear melodies based on either guitar or guitar-like synths. Hip-hop was a small, nascent influence.
As some other music blogs have pointed out, “Shake It Off” essentially resembles mid-00s pop, including “Hollaback Girl” and Mariah Carey’s “Shake It Off”.
August 24, 2014 @ 1:47 am
Just to add: an example of an actual 80s-style pop song from Taylor is “Sweeter than Fiction”:
August 23, 2014 @ 6:11 am
Current article from The Guardian about Taylor….
August 23, 2014 @ 9:13 am
Interesting article describing the urban liberal perspective of Taylor. It sounds like the criticism she received from the feminists on the left a few years ago had gotten under her skin. She seems to be trying hard not to be thought of as culturally conservative.
On a different note I was very unimpressed by the comments about changing what you believe in every couple of years. It’s a mentality shared by marketers chasing the almighty dollar and by politicians who will say anything to get elected. Unfortunately the Nashville establishment seems to have the same attitude.
August 23, 2014 @ 8:59 am
I would like to share some thoughts from my perspective as a country fan from Europe ( Germany ). Even if you state that Taylor’s songs aren’t real country song, which I would agree with in most cases, she is still an artist who is extremly popular in parts of the world where country music normally isn’t popular at all.
And here the “country”-tag connected to her music has the power to make people interested in country music, making her kind of an embassador for millions of people and encouraging them to dig deeper into country music.
I would agree with the article’s tone that her leaving country music may not be a great loss on the musical side, but for the “industrie” or even for country music as such, it may become one.
August 23, 2014 @ 11:18 am
I tell you, I see TayTay on this site everytime her name comes up. I do. 😀
Sometimes it not as obvious as others. So long now.
August 24, 2014 @ 1:20 am
So do you think she is really a feminist? And which side you think she’s in….republican or democrat?
August 24, 2014 @ 11:24 am
Based on her actions from 2012 to today, she seems to be much less independent minded than we were previously led to believe. I do not know what her politics are. I would guess that she probably came from a culturally conservative upbringing and evolved her views to fit in. I’d guess that her views would be more similar to the Democrats these days.
I thought I read that she had attended a Christian home school academy as a teen. There is also a video of her covering Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” with Kellie Pickler early in her career (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nORjWa1fIE). She had been praised by conservative commentators and Republican politicians, mainly in 2010-2011 before she changed her style. More recently she seems to be trying to change her image to conform to the cultural elites. I suppose if you want to hang out with aristocrats like the Kennedy family there are certain cultural norms you are expected to follow …
August 24, 2014 @ 3:06 pm
As much as I disliked her music and her singing, one positive thing I thought she had accomplished a few years ago was to make it more socially acceptable to be a conservative girl, and to embrace traditional values. It seemed that she had an opportunity to make a real impact on shifting the mainstream of gender identity politics for young females. I think many people in the country music community would have respected her more if she had stuck to her guns and said, that the feminist don’t speak for women, that I’m my own person and I’m gonna stand by the values that I believe in.
But the marquee pop culture showdown between Taylor’s supporters and her detractors on the feminist left didn’t happen. I’m not surprised that she decided to go the pop route musically, but I didn’t think she would be this eager to please her critics. It is even more unfortunate because she appeared to be winning the pop culture debate with the feminist left a few years ago, while outselling just about everyone else. I think country fans are realizing that she isn’t the supremely self confident visionary that was portrayed in her “60 Minutes” interview.
August 24, 2014 @ 9:32 pm
I don’t think that Taylor’s transformation has been driven by a desire to please critics. If she were that desperate to appeal to the critics, she would not be deliberately dumbing down her lyrics when releasing pop songs.
Rather, I think that her musical tastes and cultural views have both fundamentally shifted. Years of living mostly in Manhattan and Beverly Hills and hanging out with Hollywood celebrities seems to have strongly affected her psyche.
August 24, 2014 @ 10:34 pm
Eric, I see your point. I did not mean that she was trying to please music critics with her new direction, but that she seemed to be reacting to criticism from feminists and other cultural elites on the left. Did you read the article from the Guardian that Annie posted above? Taylor does a lot of backpedaling in that article. I thought it was very defensive.
August 24, 2014 @ 9:21 pm
I seriously doubt Taylor Swift leaving country will be the nail in its coffin. The majority of today’s country is Pop Country. Some of it’s good a lot of it’s bad. And she didn’t start the trend. Shania Twain did that. People gasped because she wore a mid drift top. Bye Bye Taylor I will not miss you. Now if only we could find the new Loretta Lynn & Waylon Jennings! Ahhhhh I can only dream.
August 25, 2014 @ 7:50 am
We are all clearly interested. Her articles receive more comments than any of the others.
She’s made an impact whether we admit it to ourselves or not.
August 25, 2014 @ 8:22 am
Yes, Cami jo, I have been interested ever since I first heard her canned “sound” and saw her exploitative videos and mass marketing to the gullible reality show-trained crowd because she represents pretty much everything that is wrong with the music industry these days. I have two loved ones who are professionals (and many of their peers) in the music business. They are so incredibly talented and have worked long and hard for what they have and when someone like Swift comes along and contaminates the playing field with pure no-talent non-musical garbage, it’s difficult for the real talent to get beyond the stink and prove to the world that genuine music and musicians are out there and deserve a listen.
August 27, 2014 @ 8:53 am
“it”™s difficult for the real talent to get beyond the stink and prove to the world that genuine music and musicians are out there and deserve a listen.”
So why is that?
Yes, we all know she receives great PR and marketing.
Why doesn’t genuine talent rise to the top? I’m over the Blame Taylor for everything. What’s up with all of the great stand-outs?
Like a Band of Brothers/Sisters….why does their impact not impact country fans?
Blame it on the fans. The heart wants what the heart wants.
August 27, 2014 @ 9:08 am
True, but most can’t afford to pay Target on a national scale for entire end caps featuring their music or life size cutouts in thousands of music departments. Realty show trained masses gravitate to whatever is loudest and longest and brightest so if one’s marketing can spend millions on making the biggest splash……then……….. Little girls want to be the perfect princess and with her height, blond hair (including extensions), videos, makeup and MASSIVE exposure everywhere, she was a great product.
Not to mention that if people see someone who is speaking to their frailties, their secrets and the talent isn’t extraordinary, then they too, think that they can be special, “they can be a star.” Living the fantasy.
I’ve seen it in action. Kids will root for their peer who is average and floundering, while they are angrily envious of someone with standout serious gifted talent.
August 25, 2014 @ 5:48 pm
Golly gee, people sure have a lot of opinions about Taylor Swift. The current deluge of commentary about Ms. Swift, combined with Peter Cooper’s recent editorial which scolds Swift’s critics as “tacky” has me once again pondering the question of why she is such a freakin’ divisive figure in the first place.
Here is my crackpot theory: Psychological studies show that people tend to attribute positive qualities to other people who are physically attractive. If someone is attractive, people will also tend to assume that they have other socially desirable traits, such as intelligence, honesty, self-confidence and so on.
I think a similar phenomenon has happened with Taylor Swift, except the predominate feeling people have towards her (for the most part) is an emotional response along the lines of what I believe the Japanese call “Moe,” an strong emotional connection based on a sort of big brother / big sister impulse. In other words, people feel a connection to Taylor Swift partly because they see her as “adorable” and vulnerable, which makes them attribute all kinds of glowing, positive qualities to her, regardless of their accuracy. Rather than merely regarding Swift as a decent pop singer-songwriter, she is viewed as “a brilliant comic mind,” “fiercely witty,” “a great singer,” “highly intelligent,” “gorgeous,” “a national treasure,” and on and on. Thus, Peter Cooper feels the need to step in and defend her, even when she is rightly criticized for releasing a sub-par single which cuts against the grain of much of what people liked about her in the first place.
Even disregarding questions of genre, I believe several factors contribute to people’s resentment toward Taylor Swift, among them her exalted (and unearned) cultural position as the “the voice of a generation,” her utter ubiquity in pop culture (face on pizza boxes, etc,) her public personal choices, and of course the hyper-personal “LiveJournal” style of songwriting utilized on her most well known songs. I believe that she is at least partly responsible for all of these things, and that all are fair game for reasonable criticism. Above all these things, however, I think it’s the aforementioned “big brother” phenomenon, the sense that if you criticize Taylor Swift or her music, that you’re a bad person and a “Mean” bully, which especially rubs people the wrong way.
August 25, 2014 @ 6:23 pm
Well, Applejack, call me a mean hater bully, just don’t call me late for dinner. Lol, couldn’t resist! Proves that millions of people have piss poor judgement and are tone deaf too or maybe they just like being led along like lambs to the slaughter. Whatever……….. is popular and trending.
Articles about Ms. Swift always remind of this song called Popular, sung in Wicked by Kristen Chenoweth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4EtbRJw14E
August 25, 2014 @ 9:13 pm
“Well, Applejack, call me a mean hater bully, just don”™t call me late for dinner.”
Ha ha! Yeah, I agree with you, many people passively go along with whatever is popular at the time.
Personally, I wonder how certain other young singer-songwriters would fare in the mainstream if they had the massive marketing power behind them that Taylor Swift has.
August 27, 2014 @ 5:46 am
Some interesting reads and Reactions to “Shake It Off” From Some Prominent Music City Players.
September 28, 2014 @ 1:55 am
Country, a deep genre with substance? Give me a break. It never was and it never will.