The Unfortunate Situation That Is Taylor Swift’s Singing

by dovetailedlife

Look,

I didn’t watch the VMA’s last night. I was too busy doing school work.  In fact, I forgot all about it.

I happened to get tipped off by Twitter that Kanye was ending the show.  I figured that because of last year, this might be interesting.

It was terrible.  Kanye didn’t apologize, he “toasted” his poor judgement in a way of saying, “Everyone is like this a bit…”

Whatever.

But, I went back this morning to find Taylor Swift‘s performance.  You can watch it below.  Hurry up before Viacom pulls it down. You may have to click through as YouTube has tried to disable the embedding of it.

Everyone commented just like they do every time she sings live. She’s just not a good singer.

There are a few things that play here.

Anyone who has either sung (live) into a microphone that is recorded and listened back later knows that there is no way to make the sound sound like it did live.  For those of you willing to argue about live concerts recorded professionally, YES, they sound good.  But they don’t sound exactly like they did live.  They’re close…but no quite there.

If you’ve ever watched a live concert on television, you know this to be the case too.  Every singer sounds a little off. A little out of tune, a little under supported.

Taylor is certainly not an exception to this.

She’s young. She’s 20.

She sings on tour quite a bit. (This is rough on your voice)

She’s mainly a songwriter.

The instruments and sound in the room are loud.

She has in ear monitors that essentially plug her ears and feed her what she needs.

And here’s my theory: She’s awkward.

Watch her on stage.  She’s very pretty, but she’s a tall lanky girl, who just seems out of place at times on stage. Many of us who primarily play an instrument and sing often feel that way when we are without an instrument and just a microphone.

Something about all this tells me that she may be personally aware of this. And…because of this, she is less confident.  In watching the clip several times back, I seem to think that this affects the way she sings. Without this confidence, she doesn’t have the breath support  to back up some of the phrases she writes.

Nor the range.

Moving along with that theory, she doesn’t have the control that many other singers her age have. Listen to Hayley Williams. She gets that control through confidence and breath support control.

I commented on Facebook earlier today that she ought to sing with some sort of pitch correction. After all, you’d be hard pressed to find a pop artist these days that doesn’t sing with some effects and pitch control. It’s simply a necessity in those situations. Sometimes in live tv performances, those effects are fed to the TV.  Sometimes they’re not. I guarantee that you know which ones are which.

The underlying reason that Taylor’s performances are not bearable is because the entire song is sung under pitch. Even someone who might be considered “tone deaf” knows when they hear bad singing.

Which leads to my last conclusion, she just doesn’t have a very good ear. My guess is that the record company (rightly) picked her up because she was a phenomenal country/pop song writer and she was sellable.  Nothing better than a young, pretty, blonde girl who writes songs (and catchy ones at that) about all the guys that screwed with her. Don’t cross Taylor or she’ll write a song about you. However, she’s not a singer. She’s not terrible…we’ve all heard much worse…but she’s not great. Unfortunately for her, that’s a large part of being an artist. Musical artists get called on to sing at events live. So you have to be good. People have to enjoy listening to you sing. We just don’t with her.

Taylor is great.  She’s a better song writer than I’ll ever be.

She’s got a great heart, as evidenced by the song that she wrote for Kanye and about the experience.

She’s got a great story and has only more to look forward to.

She has kept to being a good girl, in a world full of young stars who aren’t.

But she can’t sing.

She doesn’t have the breath support.  She doesn’t have the confidence. She doesn’t have the ear.  She doesn’t have the control.

These are all things that singers consider good and desirable qualities.

Most listeners desire for the artist to posses them as well.

Here’s to hoping it gets better.

-B

UPDATE: You can also find the performance here

Lyrics to the song are below:

I guess you really did it this time
Left yourself in your warpath
Lost your balance on a tightrope
Lost your mind tryin’ to get it back

Wasn’t it easier in your lunchbox days?
Always a bigger bed to crawl into
Wasn’t it beautiful when you believed in everything?
And everybody believed in you?

It’s all right, just wait and see
Your string of lights is still bright to me
Oh, who you are is not where you’ve been
You’re still an innocent
You’re still an innocent

There’s some things you can’t speak of
But tonight you’ll live it all again
You wouldn’t be shattered on the floor now
If only you would sing what you know now then

Wasn’t it easier in your firefly-catchin’ days?
And everything out of reach, someone bigger brought down to you
Wasn’t it beautiful runnin’ wild ’til you fell asleep?
Before the monsters caught up to you?

It’s all right, just wait and see
Your string of lights is still bright to me
Oh, who you are is not where you’ve been
You’re still an innocent

It’s okay, life is a tough crowd
32, and still growin’ up now
Who you are is not what you did
You’re still an innocent

Time turns flames to embers
You’ll have new Septembers
Every one of us has messed up too

Lives change like the weather
I hope you remember
Today is never to late to
Be brand new

It’s all right, just wait and see
Your string of lights are still bright to me
Oh, who you are is not where you’ve been
You’re still an innocent

It’s okay, life is a tough crowd
32, and still growin’ up now
Who you are is not what you did
You’re still an innocent

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