Home Celebrity Why Taylor Swift Is Not Going to Find a Happy Relationship Anytime...

Yes, I went to a Taylor Swift show last night. Judging by the audience of preteen girls at the Prudential Center in Newark, I doubt many of my colleagues have had this experience. My twin nieces, Hannah and Charlotte, turning 13 on Tuesday, wanted to see opening act Ed Sheeran. They had no interest in Swift, but since i paid for the tickets, I told them we had to do the whole thing.

Now, having seen her in arena, I can tell you why Taylor Swift will never find a happy relationship. In a minute. First the show: I don’t know who wrote it, directed, choreographed it, scripted it in within an inch of its life. But the Red tour show is not about rock and roll or even pop. It’s a humongous Broadway spectacle. Or a series of them.

There are 18 songs including a duet with Sheeran and a guest spot. Last night that went to Pat Monahan of Train, whom Swift called “my favorite singer from my favorite band.” I know, I am an old curmudgeon, but I did do a spit take. “Special guests” in my day meant Eric Clapton, Or Elvis Costello. And they sang a song from a Ford commercial. Eeee.

Anyway.

Most of the 18 numbers have total costume and lighting specifics on the scale of, say, “Les Miseables.” Or more. Swift makes countless costume changes, all stunning. The dancers- there are many– and singers– lots of them too– never sit down for more than two hours. They are very talented. The band is bland, and I’m not even convinced they were all playing their instruments live. They’re so incidental that Swift never introduces them. Whatever was country about Swift is gone. Her music has been rearranged into institutional 80s New Wave pop. The arrangements are clunky. Her own songs from older albums sound better solo, on acoustic guitar. But that’s just a small segment now.

Swift comes across like a QVC hostess. She is endlessly self promoting, listing all her awards for the audience, her so called accomplishments, her many successes. At one point she says that she and the audience have “a lot in common”– but she doesn’t mean several homes, celebrity boyfriends, and millions of dollars. She means that the audience, like her, is obsessed with Taylor Swift. She is disingenuous even to the eye of a New York 13 year old. And she often stands on stage, backlit, flirting with the large video screens.

But: the show is almost overly entertaining. It’s sort of brilliant in its nonstop, ceaseless attack. The detail work and the production are superb. Swift comes off like an actress playing Taylor Swift in a musical. You get the sense there is no there “there.” At what, 23, she is already beyond the pale. But the thousands of girls in the audience love her. I mean, love her. They adore her. They are transfixed. She is the realization of all their fantasies.

It’s the physicality of the show that made me realize, she cannot go back. Taylor Swift is now the G rated Madonna. She flies across the arena suspended from the ceiling on an open platform. She walks out in the middle of the audience sort of on a crane, barefoot. She swings around on a cherry picker (the same one Tina Turner used about 10 years ago in her mid 60s.)

By the time she reaches the end of this extravaganza, Swift is standing at the top of a huge staircase. She is wearing a top hat and is dressed like Sergeant Pepper’s cheerleader in red and gold. Some 20,000 people are speady before her screaming so loudly that you cannot hear anything. Imagine the adrenaline at this point pulsating through her. She tells the audience– it’s scripted but true –“I can’t believe you know all the words to all the songs.” They do, they really do, even though the songs are largely meaningless.

She is not Joni or Carly or Carole. She plays guitar well enough, but fakes piano miserably (like Justin Timberlake). She is a brand, and there is tons of merchandise. But she is also an entertainer.  And she’s superb at it. You know movies are next. This is inevitable. She’s so ready for her closeup she’s already taking it. But a boyfriend who can measure up to the rush of being Taylor Swift? She’s asking too much. I think she will realize that soon.

Ed Sheeran? I like him. He’s sort of this year’s James Blunt or Jason Mraz. He plays amplified acoustic guitar really well, and is a good, athletic singer. He sort of sing-raps. One thing I didn’t understand: he put down the guitar mid-song and the music kept playing. Who was playing it? Compared to Swift’s show, Sheeran’s is like something from Folk City. The two acts complement each other.

22 replies to this post
  1. It is probably late for feedback here, but I think this article deserves some response.

    First, ironically, this article raises very deep questions, much deeper than the shallower drivel that gets written in gossip magazines. But you really don’t examine the questions you ask in enough detail to take your answers seriously. And in some cases you just haven’t done homework or thought through the answer.

    The most egregious falsehood in this article is that Taylor does not write good lyrics. As someone who writes poetry and inspects the words in songs closely, I think you do her a great disservice by your statement. Taylor has an extraordinary gift for communicating emotions in words. Her lyrics are both clear in meaning and extremely clever. Even from the beginning of her career, she was writing lyrics like “One hand feel on the steering wheel, the other on my heart.” How she communicates so much feeling in that one sentence, so clearly, and with such clever turns of phrase. You read enough of her lyrics and you realize that she is a serially creative and intelligent poet. It is really the strength of her words that pulls up her songs. And honestly after reading the body of her work I am of the opinion that Taylor Swift is a seriously intelligent human being. Perhaps the songwriting is more a savant-like capability, but it doesn’t really matter. Her lyricism is outstanding. The fact that she then sings those words with pure emotional authenticity binds her very closely to her target market segment, which I would describe as sub-20 females who are highly romantic. You saw the level of adoration she receives from those fans, and it isn’t about her stage presentation; it is about the quality and meaning of her lyrics, and her emotional authenticity in delivering those words. She connects directly to the hearts of those little girls she sings to.

    The second misunderstanding in your article is about why Taylor creates a large stage spectacle instead of an intimate concert experience. The answer there is pretty obvious as well: money. She’s also a hugely competent business person, and the fact is that she is making obscene amounts of cash singing to stadiums with 50K people in them. To fill a stadium that large, consistently, you have to have top-notch production values and put on a spectacle. You cannot blame anyone for being economically rational. What is striking to me is that someone that young is able to create, direct, and produce a broadway spectacle. For someone that young to be both musically and visually creative on that level is freakishly unusual (freakish in the best possible way).

    The most interesting assertion in your article is the question you ask: ” But a boyfriend who can measure up to the rush of being Taylor Swift? She’s asking too much. I think she will realize that soon.” This is really a major topic change and should be a completely separate article from a review of her tour production. But I think you are asking a very thoughtful and probably profoundly true question. How can *any* human being – exposed to so much constant love and attention of fans – possibly find a mate any kind of adequate substitute for – as you correctly say – that “rush” of emotion? How does anyone in that position avoid developing a “God complex”? These are thoughtful questions – and not specific to Taylor – about any person who is ultra-famous. Ironically, you spend no time to elaborate the question or think through the problem. I think if anyone can beat those challenges probably Taylor can, because in interviews she comes across as thoughtful and tries to take a real view on life and her fame. But these issues would pose huge challenges for anyone, and you have to think fame ultimately eats everyone who achieves it. And you have to look at someone like Joni Mitchell – who basically ran from fame and lives in a house on a cliff by the ocean painting and chain-smoking – and wonder if that wasn’t a really good decision. I assume Joni is the subject of Taylor’s song “The Lucky One”, so that seems to suggest Taylor seems to understand the dilemma of her situation better than you think.

  2. I went to Taylor’s concert last weekend in a sold out arena of 55,000. She never did mention her “accomplishments” as you say, she mentioned the fact she was playing at a sold out stadium. That was it. She isn’t “obsessed with herself” that would make her be like justin bieber.. She puts on a great show, it is somewhat like a broadway show but it’s define you entertaining and her singing is amazing as well. And by the way, Ed Sheeran uses a loop pedal when he performs. He uses it basically to make a live back track for himself, that’s why the guitar kept going when he put it down.

  3. So you can write paragraphs about how much you hate Taylor but write a paragraph of how you like Ed? “They do. They really do, even if the sons are largely meaningless”. Yo Cunt, Lemme extract the shit out of your brain. From her RED album , you’re probably talking about I knew you were trouble, We are never… and 22. Those THREE songs, have silly lyrics , but you still exergerate making up crap about how her lyrics are shit. She has 7 grammys son, yes, you have began the process of extracting the shit out of your brain. Secondly, You stated that she wasn’t country anymore. Like in the first part, there are only three songs out of the whole mother-fucking album that are poppy. Re-examine your fucking facts and do your research. Just cause: you attended a concert of hers you can rant shit about how she sucks? And when you wrote that she was self-promoting herself with all her awards made you sound idiotic. Who in the actual fucking universe would self-promote herself? And if so, shouldn’t Taylor be proud of her work and broadcasting her genuine love towards her fans? Cunt.

  4. “Taylor Swift is a Legend because from the age of 16 she wrote some of the most profound lyrics of her generation” oh, sweet jeezus. Did this commenter work on the cringeworthy 60 Minutes profile of TS?

  5. Why are some of you are saying this review isn’t true? Were you there last night too? The writer was there. I’m so tired of Taylor’s fans acting like they know her so well, so they trash others about their opinions. Last year, Taylor gave a concert here in my town and I went to help out a friend who was bringing her daughter’s birthday guest to the concert. The girls were from 9 to 12 years of age. It was more like a broadway show than a concert. With all that was going on while Taylor was singing, it was hard to pay attention to her singing. I think that was planned to cover her missed notes. Before Taylor sung her first song, she did tell the crowd of her awards. We left the show before it ended because most of the girls complained that they couldn’t hear her because of the noise and they were getting bored. Taylor is a fake. How long is she going to ride the coat tails of these young girls? How old is she going to be before she stops writing songs that sounds like she is 15?

  6. I think you would have hated Taylor regardless of what she would have done during her performance. If she would have done a simple set you would have bitched about it being boring. Sorry you have nothing better to do then critize a 23 year old who is a great role model to young people everywhere. Let’s see your write 4 albums worth of songs & sell out arenas and stadiums ALL over the world. Get over yourself.

  7. What it means is, it’s Easter Sunday and no one was around to read your email. I don’t like that you tell me to “shut up.” I am also not a “pretentions” person, nor am I pretentious. I do think lots of pop musicians are writing better, smarter, lyrics than Taylor. You are welcome to your opinion on that.

  8. I think I wrote a reasonable response exposing your write as someone who doesn’t even know Taylor’s music. And I get a message that a moderator is viewing what I wrote. Could you write back and explain what that means. Chatham5555@Yahoo.com I hope it isn’t censorship Chatham Sebastian.

  9. Who ever wrote this shouldn’t be allowed to. You don’t even know what your talking about. Meaningless lyrics. Taylor Swift is a Legend because from the age of 16 she wrote some of the most profound lyrics of her generation. You don’t even know this girl. How dare they let an arrogant pretensions person write here. I suggest you shut up, put on RED listen to All to Well, State of Grace. No one is writing better, smarter lyrics then Taylor. Chatham Sebastian

  10. you don’t know anything about Taylor!! please know more about her past (since she started her career and writing music) and then speak. most of your saying isn’t true. I’ve seen her too in concert and she isnt like you’re saying. if you don’t like Taylor, don’t go to see her in HER Concert, go and see Ed Sheeran’s instead! beacuse you were seeing things that didn’t happen!!!!! I repeat I have also seen her in concert and doesn’t seem like your saying.
    and don’t compare her to anyone! beacuse they have nothing in common!! She’s a great singer and she’s very talented and she knows how to play 5 different intruments, and she plays the piano very well, she started to play it when she was 4 years old, yeah 4 years old,
    So try to get to know her better and then speak! Stay Strong Taylor!!

  11. Furthermore I do t see how a concert is going to stop her fro. Having a happy relationship.To be honest the title of this article has nothing to do with the actual article and was obviously yet another “journalist” looking for a way to attract readers by making digs. At A young successful role model.

  12. I think that the show is just a production of her own imagination ,when we’re younger we dream of the things we would so if we were in control of our own concert and what we would’ve loved to seen when we were younger or what we would still like to see know.from reviews and videos. I think it will be an amazing show when I do go and her songs are not meaningless at all if you take the time to listen or read the lyrics

  13. Village Voice: “Taylor Swift was born to entertain.” Rolling Stone: “massively excellent show” and “Seeing Taylor Swift in 2013 is seeing a maestro at the top of her or anyone else’s game. No other pop auteur can touch her right now for emotional excess or musical reach–her punk is so punk, her disco is so disco.” And so forth. The Rolling Stone quotes are only part of their rave review.

    Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello. Carole, Joni, Carly. (Carly? Really?) Cool. Lucky you, but they don’t perform much anymore. “New York 13 year old.” Is the “New York” something significant? And your nieces were there for Ed Sheeran. Maybe they should know Sheeran admires and respects Swift’s songwriting so much, he sat down with her recently and played all the songs from his next album for her. Tween audience? Her original fans have grown up with her, and still listen to her music. There are adults who like her songwriting, too. Start with Kris Kristofferson, Stevie Nicks and James Taylor.

    But how can you convince us of how cool you are– and then use a snarky, torn from the tabloids title like “Why Taylor Swift Is Not Going to Find a Happy Relationship Anytime Soon”? Maybe if Carly, Joni and Carole were stars today, living in a nasty 24/7 tabloid, gossip rich world, they’d have the same snarky headlines written about them. By cool writers who thought stars that came decades before them were way cooler.

    Taylor Swift has had more hits in Billboard’s Top 100 than any woman except Aretha Franklin. She’s done that in just 6 or 7 years. Give her 20 or 30 years. In the meantime, maybe you should ride with the tide and go with the flow.

  14. Really? “Her music has been rearranged into institutional 80s New Wave pop.” How dare you sir?

    I grew up in the 80s. How dare you insult New Wave that way?

    Seriously, we knew Taylor Swift was going to be a joke when she performed on a televised country music awards show and came out dancing in a “hoodie” with a bunch of other dancers and then got drenched by a downpour of water a la Flashdance.

    We immediately thought “what does this have to do with country” and “she thinks she’s good…really?”

    Another “artist” who was good for about five minutes and then got so full of themselves that they just jumped the shark and stayed over it for the next couple of decades trying to milk it, like Timberlake or Madonna.

  15. Taylor Swift is like eating chocolate candy. When you eat too many chocolates out of the bag, you might get sick of it. T.S. is becoming nauseatingly ubiquitous.

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