For all the speculation and rumouring ahead of Taylor Swift’s appearance at the American Music Awards last night related to her ongoing dispute with Big Machine Label Group, Scott Borchetta, and Scooter Braun, the end result wasn’t dramatic at all. Taylor hinted at going through some difficult times during her acceptance speech but I don’t know that you can say that that was what she was referring to. The only acknowledgment of the situation was at the beginning of her performance when she opened with “The Man” in a white shirt with the titles of her previous six albums emblazoned in black lettering (some say it’s like prison font) across the garment. She then takes off the shirt to perform in gold. My mind didn’t go to prison font though; it went to the Dixie Chicks and their Entertainment Weekly cover. The Dixie Chicks were taking on their critics, the people who told them to shut the f-ck up and sing, the men who run country radio who refused to play their music. Taylor’s taking on the men who’ve acquired her masters and mean to control her access to her own work.
It was enough of a message, a clear enough message without detracting from celebrating her achievement and reminding people of what a hitmaker she’s been. It was a fun performance, all of those songs are classics, and no feud, no revenge should overshadow that which she created, the songs she wrote, her talent. She made the right call – because it’s not like there’s any doubt about how she feels now, about where she stands. She’s already made her case. And, also, on a night like this, on broadcast, the goal here is FUN. When you’ve just been named the Artist of the Decade, and an entire industry is watching you run through a list of hits that everyone knows the lyrics to, that have become as familiar as any songs released in her time, that in itself is a middle finger.
That was what I liked most about seeing Taylor last night: she was having a good time, she was enjoying her own music, I was enjoying her music, I was singing along to “Trouble” and “Blank Space”, saying to myself, again, holy f-ck that’s a great song, holy f-ck, again, I love that album. I listened to 1989 in the car on the way to work today, played “Style” on repeat three times.
And then it occurred to me…
Taylor Swift turns 30 in less than a month. 30. Where has the time gone? Does it seem like it’s been this long? Next year marks the 15th anniversary of her major break, when Scott Borchetta saw her perform at the legendary Bluebird Café and signed her just as he was starting Big Machine Label Group. Her debut album would come a year after that. Which means she’s been famous for half her life, that we have known her half her life.
For a year now Taylor’s been building to a new era, in more ways than one. So far it hasn’t been a clean break, not on paper or in spirit. A large part of that is because Scott and Scooter keep f-cking with her but as we approach a new decade for her personally and in general, Taylor in her 30s starting in 2020, what are we looking at from one of music’s global superstars? Do you think, um, her style will be different? Because this dress…
I hate the boots with the dress. The boots are supposed to make the dress more exciting but the dress is still not all that exciting. The dress is very, very, very boring. And you know, YOU KNOW, Taylor Swift had access to a better dress.