As expected, Taylor Swift won Song Of The Year for Better Man last night at the CMAs. She wrote the song for Little Big Town. It was obvious the minute Karlie Kloss came out on stage as one of the presenters. No matter how you feel about her, what’s undisputed is Taylor’s talent as a songwriter. She began her career as a songwriter, with a publishing deal. She has always said that she’s wants to be known and remembered as a songwriter. Which makes me think about Nils Sjoberg. You’ll recall, Nils Sjoberg was the name that was initially used as songwriting credit for Calvin Harris’s This Is What You Came For. They were dating at the time. And when they broke up and he started talking out of his ass about whether or not she helped him with the track, she decided to blow it open that Nils Sjoberg was a name she created, originally as a way of satirising the sexism in songwriting (she couldn’t possibly have written her own songs without help from X,Y,Z Swedish musician) and then as a way of shutting down her ex who refused to acknowledge her participation. It was one of her most masterful plays, Taylor at the height of her professional gossip powers. Because, of course, that’s what she is. A gossip power player. Who, a few months later, went up against another gossip power player, Kim Kardashian, and lost that battle. So she went underground for a year and, now that she’s emerged, she seems to be telling us that she’s out of the gossip game because she’s in love. Per the opening lyrics to Call It What You Want:
My castle crumbled overnight
I brought a knife to a gunfight
They took the crown, but it's alright
All the liars are calling me one
Nobody's heard from me for months
I'm doin' better than I ever was, 'cause...
Is she though? Is she really out of the gossip game? If she was really out of the gossip game, would she be telling us that she was the weaker amateur opponent (her knife to their gun) taken down by a black belt gossip? Taylor hasn’t been, in any confrontation, the weaker amateur opponent in years. She was just, very recently, the formidable goliath attempting to stomp on a David blogger who ended up enlisting the support of the ACLU. This is why every song on reputation has felt so hollow. Because she’s still writing from the perspective of David. When it’s so obvious, to anyone who’s not a superfan, that she’s far, far from meek.
Here’s her reaction last night to winning Song of the Year at the CMAs:
It’s not the aw-shucks, open-mouth, “me, really!?” that we used to see at award shows. We now have an updated version. The mouth is closed. The eyes are drawn together, almost angrily. We see this a lot in athletes when a great play is made – intensity and competition all at once. Only on Taylor, the intended emotional takeaway is still… disbelief.
Oh, come on. For someone as tapped in as she is, who oversees every detail of her career and in doing so has made herself an expert music industry strategist, she would have known that she was not an underdog in that category. Please. The song is certified platinum. It was country music’s most played song at the beginning of the year. Again, Taylor Swift hasn’t been an underdog in a long, long time.
She definitely isn’t an underdog this week. As you know, reputation drops tonight. She will perform the last track from the album, New Year’s Day, during ABC’s TGIT. Here’s a teaser:
You see the corporate tag at the end of that preview? It’s AT&T. No f-cking underdog is sponsored by AT&T, Jesus! But this is what we might be watching for the next few weeks as Taylor starts performing live in support of reputation. Taylor Swift coming back into the spotlight, pretending that she doesn’t literally own it.