Monday, February 1, 2010
The good news: At 20, Taylor Swift has become the youngest-ever recording artist to win Grammy’s biggest prize, Album of the Year. She is now the only Nashville performer to win that prize with a solo album.
“Nashville is my favorite place in the world and to see it recognized in such a beautiful way makes me so happy,” Swift said backstage late Sunday night after being told that her big win came on the same night that Kings of Leon notched Nashville rock’s first best record win.
In all, Swift won four trophies at Sunday’s 52nd Annual Grammy Awards. After Fearless also won for Best Country Album, the singer-songwriter said, “I’m standing here accepting an impossible dream right now and I thank you so much for that.”
Now the bad news: The responses to that duet with Fleetwood Mac’s Steve Nicks have been harsh.
The genre-blending duet — on Nicks’ “Rhiannon” with Swift’s “You Belong With Me” — drew sharp reviews from critics, both professional and in the social networking and blogging world.
Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times wrote that “Swift gave a strikingly bad vocal performance at Staples Center on Sunday, sounding tinny and rhythmically flat-footed as she shared the microphone with the distinctive Stevie Nicks.”
Chris Richards of The Washington Post wrote a piece that started with “A night in the charmed life of Taylor Swift: Give an incredibly wretched vocal performance, go on to win the biggest Grammy of 2010, anyway.”
The Tennessean’s Dave Paulson chimed in on a live blog: “Maybe a smidge of Jamie Foxx’s autotune wouldn’t be such a bad idea for this duet.”
Respected music industry blogger Bob Lefsetz first wrote that Fearless deserved to win album of the year, but then proffered that Swift might have single-handledly imperiled her career with this one Grammy performance: “How awful was she? Dreadful.”
Scott Borchetta, president and CEO of Swift’s record label Big Machine Records, had this response late Monday night.
“The facts say she is the undisputed best communicator that we’ve got,” Borchetta said. “So when she says something or feels something it affects more people than anybody else. Maybe she’s not the best technical singer, but she is the best emotional singer. Everybody gets up there and is technically perfect people don’t seem to want more of it. There’s not an artist in any other format that people want more of than they want of Taylor. I think (the critics) are missing the whole voice of a generation that is happening right in front of them. Maybe they are jealous or can’t understand that. But obviously the people that she talks to are engaged with her. No one is perfect on any given day. Maybe in that moment we didn’t have the best night, but in the same breath, maybe we did.”
A midday release announcing Swift’s awards noted that immediately after the Sunday show, Swift and her band “left for LAX, headed to Australia and Japan, where she will perform several sold-out shows before returning to the States to launch her Fearless 2010 tour March 4th in Tampa.”