Taylor Swift and Over Exposure
Tabloids have chronicled her every casual date. Now, with Sunday’s top-album win for Fearless and three other Grammys, Swift’s handlers are concerned that the young singer could be overexposed.
Heading to Australia for a tour that starts Thursday might help.
“The Australian dates had been planned all along, but it actually worked out great,” says Scott Borchetta, who runs Big Machine Records, Swift’s label, and co-manages her career.
“The next time you see her will likely be on the ACM (Academy of Country Music) awards show” in April, Borchetta says. “During that time, we’re going to have a new video, but as far as the talking head of Taylor Swift, that one’s gone into hiding for a little bit, at least on this continent.”
Avoiding overexposure isn’t the only issue the 20-year-old faces. Critics have panned her recent live TV performances as pitchy. The Grammy duet with Stevie Nicks was no exception. “Now, everybody knows that Taylor Swift can’t sing,” influential blogger Bob Lefsetz wrote after the performance.
“They’ve got to figure out how to get this girl to sing on TV and sound right,” says former Spin magazine editor Alan Light. “That’s becoming more of a limitation as she’s flying at that altitude.”
Borchetta says Swift is working on her live TV performances.
“She’s a very intelligent girl,” he says. “She’s going to keep addressing it and keep getting better.”
But Light also points out that in an era when many stars lip-sync, Swift’s less-than-pitch-perfect television performances humanize her. “The fact that it’s not perfect, in some ways, has been an asset,” he says. “That makes it all the more believable, to a certain point.”
But, Light says, “she’s going to have to deliver a little stronger.”
Swift intentionally kept a low profile from mid-December until the Grammys. During that time, she stayed off the red carpet and in the recording studio, cutting an album’s worth of material.
The first single from Swift’s third album will go to radio in late summer or early fall, and the album will follow late in the year. “She was on an amazing writing spree through December and January, and we were able to go in and cut all those things,” Borchetta says. “If she writes something great between now and July, it will go on the record. She’s been extraordinarily prolific the last six months.”
Swift’s fans seem to have an insatiable appetite for her music right now. Two weeks ago, a new track, Today Was a Fairytale, sold 325,000 copies, the best download debut for any female act ever. The song appears on the soundtrack for the Feb. 12 film Valentine’s Day, in which Swift has a small role.
Swift’s sold-out North American tour begins March 4 in Tampa and runs into June.
Though Team Taylor is trying to limit her national appearances, Borchetta says, “as much as you try to pull back, there are some things you can’t stop. We can’t stop Us Weekly from snapping a picture of her and putting it on the cover.”
Ultimately, losing song of the year to Beyoncé and record of the year to Kings of Leon at the Grammys might have been one of the best things that could have happened to Swift.
“I think she benefited from not having a sweep,” says Los Angeles-based music journalist Chris Willman, who covered the Grammys for Yahoo! Music. “The media backlash would have been considerable. It’s tough to rule from the perch of that kind of coronation.”