Taylor Swift just can’t sing.
Or at least that seems to be the case whenever she performs live. Swift’s off-key duet with Stevie Nicks at this year’s Grammys is an example, as is almost every recorded concert series I catch her on.
Out of the recording studio, Swift’s voice quality takes a noticeable nose-dive. But before you Swift fans start sending me hate mail, know that I still hold the curly blonde on a country music pedestal.
Considering Swift is a multi-million-dollar singer, she should be pretty close to flawless when she performs live. But she isn’t — and she doesn’t have to be.
Swift is a country music phenomenon. Little girls drag their mothers to concerts in flocks, and grown men can be seen waving “I Love Taylor” posters in the front row seats they paid a whole week’s pay check for. The truth is, Swift has that special touch. The unexplainable something that makes her different from the powerful singer that gets stuck singing on the cruise ship or at dive bars don’t have.
It might sound cruel, but you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s like Simon Cowell’s beloved “X-factor” he talks so much about — either you have it or you don’t. Plain and simple.
But that isn’t the only thing that keeps Swift at the top of country’s bestselling chart week after week. She got there on more than just charisma.
Swift works harder than any other when it comes to her fans. At the CMA Music Festival in Nashville in June, Swift stood at a booth for more than 14 hours to sign autographs and take pictures with anyone who would wait in line. Most artists who have reached Swift’s level of success stay at the event, called Fan Fair, for about an hour or two — if they even accept the invitation to come at all.
Swift also took fans into consideration when announcing the release date of her newest album, “Speak Now.” On July 20, Swift sat in front of a webcam to talk about her music and take questions from webcast viewers, who at one point numbered almost 60,000 — a much more thoughtful and effective approach than a press announcement.
The reasons to love Swift extend beyond that unexplainable quality she possesses and the respect she pays to her fans — the 20-year-old can write.
Probably because it was played every 15 seconds on country radio after it came out, I can’t stand to listen to Swift’s “Tim McGraw” anymore. But when I heard it for the first time, I knew the artist would stick around. There’s no denying it was cleverly written. And that’s a theme Swift has been able to stick to.
The Broadcast Music Incorporated Awards is an annual award show that recognizes songwriting. Swift won her first award in 2007 for “Tim McGraw,” two awards in 2008 and five awards in 2009 for songs off of her first two albums.
The BMI isn’t alone in honoring Swift’s songwriting skills — the Nashville Songwriters Association International named her Songwriter of the Year in both 2007 and 2009.
You might want to grab some earplugs when Swift is about to take the stage at a live event. But keep those earplugs handy because she isn’t going anywhere. Those screaming teenage girls and songwriting enthusiasts won’t let her.