Label Defends Taylor Swift as 'Voice of a Generation'
By Marc Schneider Posted Feb 4th 2010 09:59AM
Taylor Swift was more than a little pitchy at the Grammys on Sunday, but the onslaught of criticism from viewers, fans and the media has ticked off the head of her record label. Scott Borchetta, CEO of Big Machine Records, went on a media offensive this week to respond to all the backlash over Swift's multi-song performance, which included a cringe-worthy duet with Stevie Nicks, the young singer's idol. But in defending Swift, did the label boss exacerbate the situation?
"Maybe she's not the best technical singer," he began in comments to The Tennessean, "but she's probably the best emotional singer because everybody else who gets up there and is technically perfect, people don't seem to want more of it."
Borchetta slammed critics, which included the New York Times and the Washington Post among others, but also may have overreached in his description of the pop-country singer.
"I think (the critics) are missing the whole voice of a generation that is happening right in front of them," he told the paper.
Voice of a generation? Borchetta used the same phrase in an interview with the Associated Press on Wednesday, and added that Swift "speaks directly to (her fans), and they speak directly back to her."
"This is not 'American Idol.' This is not a competition of getting up and seeing who can sing the highest note. This is about a true artist and writer and communicator. It's not about that technically perfect performance."
Borchetta appears to be trying to lower expectations for Swift's vocal abilities while at the same time raise her profile as the Bob Dylan or Kurt Cobain of Generation Y. (In a twisted way, it makes perfect sense: Dylan and Cobain are known more for their iconic songwriting than their actual vocals.)
Talk of Swift's sub-par performance nearly overshadowed the fact that she beat album of the year favorites Beyonce and Lady Gaga. PopEater readers, who by and large are huge Swift-backers, agreed it wasn't her best night. "Horrible ... embarrassing" wrote one commenter about Swift's live voice.
"It's that classic thing that critics do of building something up and then wanting to tear it down," Borchetta told the AP.
The label boss blamed a technical issue for throwing Swift off on Grammy night when singing 'Rhiannon' with Nicks, though The Recording Academy hasn't revealed any such problem.
"We had a volume problem in the ear. So, she was concerned that she wasn't able to hear everything in the mix," Borchetta said. "That's just part of live TV. ... So you're going to have difficulties on occasion. Unfortunately, on one of the biggest stages, we did have a technical issue. She couldn't hear herself like she had in rehearsal."
Swift's 'Fearless' has sold over 5 million copies and was the top selling album of 2009. She is the youngest artist to ever win the Grammys' top prize of album of the year.
Taylor Swift Snapshots
Taylor Swift drops one of her awards as she poses backstage with her awards for Album of the Year, Best Female Country Vocal Performance, Best Country Song and Best Country Album at the Grammy Awards on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010, in Los Angeles.
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