Taylor’s Version of Country Edition

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S1: Welcome to Hit Parade, a podcast of pop chart history from Slate magazine about the hits from coast to coast. I’m Chris Melaniphy, chart analyst, pop critic and writer of Slate’s Why Is This Song No. One series on today’s show? You’re listening to one of the biggest hits from a woman who has been far and away the top album seller of the last 15 years. And I feel I need to say this. This is the original version of this song recorded in 2008. Let’s add some vocals.

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S2: There you go, you are

S3: throwing pebbles and my daddy said,

S1: stay away from Julie. A Love Story is one of the top selling singles by Taylor Swift. It’s certified a stunning eight times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. And by the way, those eight million copies are mostly dollar downloads, not street. Yes. However, if it were up to Taylor, this single won’t go nine or 10 times platinum. She hopes we never buy or stream it again. She’d rather we consume this version, which she’s even titled Love Story, Taylor’s version. As you may have heard, Swift has begun rerecording all of her early albums as part of a dispute over ownership of her master recordings. However, inside baseball, her reasons for this gambit. It’s a fascinating artistic exercise to hear a 31 year old Swift retake songs she wrote and recorded as a teenager. But there’s something else that’s notable to hear on a Taylor Swift recording in twenty twenty one. Yes. Hear that that’s a banjo, generally, an instrument that indicates you’re listening to a country song, which indeed you are. This is not just a reminder of what a great songwriter Taylor Swift was from her very earliest days. It’s a reminder that she was a country megastar back then.

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S2: Song Islamise. Because it’s late and your momma don’t.

S1: Singles like our song sounded true to the country format, and they topped the country charts for weeks there, what made Swift a star in the first half decade of her career? It’s been easy to forget this as over most of the last decade, Taylor’s hits have come to sound more like this.

S2: You got 17 days.

S1: Taylor Swift’s career is basically unprecedented now, a chart topping pop star, she is the only artist to not only cross over from country music, but also a teen pop success commensurate with her country’s success, in some ways bigger. But to this day, most of Taylor Swift’s All-Time Best Sellers remain the CDs she released during her early years when she was topping Billboard’s hot country songs on the regular scoring hits that were twangy before she turned 20 Baby. You have to go back to country legends like Wynonna Judd, Brenda Leigh or Tanya Tucker to find a teenager who broke that big on the charts that early. But even within Taylor Swift’s own lifetime, there were young country stars who crossed Pop in a major way. At. But then found it hard to stay atop either the pop or country charts, which might explain why Swift was so careful and so deliberate in her crossover to Pop doing it by degrees over several albums and many hits until the lines between her pop and country hits have really blurred. Even before she made these final moves toward pop in the tens back in the aughts when she still sounded like a country star, Swift was already infiltrating the world of pop, hanging out with fellow teen starlets, making mainstream TV appearances, even winning awards on shows that don’t normally give prizes to country stars, although that came with pitfalls. Taylor Yeah, we’ll talk about that moment, but more about what Taylor was achieving than what that boorish gentleman was saying. What’s gotten lost in over a decade of headlines about Taylor Swift are the cultural milestones she was achieving, finding a place in the hearts of young people who weren’t necessarily tuning in to country radio.

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S2: He’s a reason for the teardrops some. The.

S1: Today on Hit Parade, just like the star herself, we are revisiting Taylor Swift’s country years and asking, how’d she pull it off? How does she make that pivot from country to pop? Seems so effortless. Hint it wasn’t effortless. And how did she bring pop fans to her before she traveled to them? There were many hints early on that Taylor was going to pull this off, but the biggest one in her first half decade was a hit that dominated both country and pop radio in the final year of the aughts.

S2: No one wants to spend. So I guess his.

S1: And that’s where your hit parade marches today, the week ending October 3rd, 2009, When You Belong with me by Taylor Swift. A number two hot 100 hits topped Billboard’s radio songs, a chart encompassing all radio formats, including Country and Pop Belongs. Achievement was a big deal unprecedented in billboard history, and it was a sign that Taylor came to play. She was going to dominate all corners of the music world, all the charts and all stations on the radio dial.

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S2: See? High heels, I wear ski season tickets.

S1: About two months ago, right after Taylor Swift began releasing the first of her rerecorded material, Billboard revealed a remarkable chart statistic, and it involved a recording icon of much longer standing than Swift Miss Dolly Parton with.

S3: Should stay on. You.

S1: I will always love you, quite possibly the most famous song Dolly Parton ever wrote, although there is competition for that title, holds a unique distinction in hot country songs chart history. It’s the first song to be taken to number one twice by the same artist, Dolly herself. This recording is the original I Will Always Love You, written by Parton. In the wake of her emotional parting from longtime TV show mentor and duet partner Porter Wagoner, Parton took this version of I Will Always Love You to number one in 1974. And then just eight years later, it’s. You know. Dolly recorded this second version of I Will Always Love You in 1982 for the soundtrack of her movie The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, it also topped the hot country. This is a remarkable feat on any chart, country or otherwise, though quite a few songs have topped the Hot 100 twice, that second version has always been a cover by a different artist like, say, Mariah Carey’s 1992 cover of the Jackson Five’s I’ll Be There, or the 1986 Bananarama cover of the shocking blues Venus. For a long time, Parton’s I Will Always Love You was the only song to pull off this rare country chart feat. But that changed in February of this year when the song we led off our show with Matched In.

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S2: Wondering if you have come here, right?

S1: Taylor Swift’s new version of Love Story entered Billboard’s hot country songs at number one, instantly becoming Taylor’s second chart topping version of the same song. Her original version of Love Story topped the Hot Country chart back in 2008,

S2: flattering and said.

S1: The new love story managed to debut so high thanks to heavy streaming and digital sales chart factors that didn’t exist in Dolly Parton’s heyday. So the comparison between Dolly and Taylor is a bit of apples and pears. Still, the fact that both women wrote their repeat hits each by herself is also remarkable. But there are other distinctions between these two chart titans.

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S2: Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene.

S3: I’m begging you, please don’t take my.

S1: If you’re like most Americans, me included, you have tremendous affection and admiration for Dolly Parton and if you’re a long time country fan, you can probably rattle off at least a dozen. Dolly Parton hits a staggering 25 of them, went to number one on the hot country chart, including this one, her masterpiece, Jolie’s smile is like a breath of spring.

S3: Your voice is soft,

S2: like summer rain. And I cannot compete with you, Jolene.

S1: For the record, Joline, now well known to the general public, including pop fans, was only a number 60 hit on the Hot 100 in 1974. Parton had remarkably few pop crossover hits, in fact. Here’s a quick quiz and country fans sit this one out. It’ll be way too easy for you, my fellow pop chart fans. How many more Dolly Parton hits can you name? Besides, I will always love you or Joline. Could you even get to five? I’ll bet it’s harder than you think.

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S3: Working.

S1: Never. OK, nine to five, everybody knows this one, it’s Dollis only solo song to top both the country chart and the Hot 100. I say solo because she had one other hot 100, number one. But it was a duet, of course. I’m talking about her 1983 smash with Kenny Rogers Islands in the Stream. Partying didn’t write that one, as we discussed in our BJ’s episode of Hit Parade Islands in the Stream is a composition by Barry Gibb and his brothers written for Kenny, who then brought in his friend Dolly. Here’s one more Dolly crossover. She didn’t write. And it’s probably best known by people my age or older because it doesn’t get as much oldies radio airplay as it used to her 1977 number one country number three pop hit. Here you come again. What? This one was penned by the classic Brill Building songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia White. And by the way, we’re now already out of major pop hits for Dolly Parton. Nothing else she did cracked the hot 100, top 10. Very little of her work even made the pop top 40. And as for the aforementioned, I will always love you unless you’re a country radio listener or your Kevin Costner. Likely the first version of that song you knew is the legendary cover by Costner’s bodyguard co-star, Whitney Houston. Perhaps blue staters like me who downloaded the acclaimed Dolly Parton’s America podcast might now be acquainted with other Dolly country smashes like her tear-jerker coat of many colors or her on spiring cover of Mule Skinner Blues, or even one or two of her deep country classics like Joshua or Dumb Blonde Jessica.

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S2: This dumb blonde girl.

S1: But let’s be real, even if you’re one of those Americans now demanding that statues of Dolly Parton be erected in town squares to replace toppled Confederate monuments, unless you’re a serious country fan, you’ll have a hard time naming more than maybe five or six Dolly hits. I say all this not to throw even a bit of shade at the mighty Miss Parton or to discourage new fans from getting to know more of her amazing body of work. My point is this true, abiding and long lasting crossover from country music to pop music is extraordinarily rare and devilishly hard to maintain, even for a country icon. And speaking of icons, fellow pop fans, I’ll bet you can rattle off a half dozen or more Taylor Swift hits.

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S2: Shake six, shake.

S1: Taylor still has a way to go before she has attained the cultural sainthood, Hadley, but to reiterate what I said at the top of our show, what Swift pulled off really has very few parallels in country to pop crossover history. You have to look beyond legendary figures like Parton, Kenny Rogers, Loretta Lynn or Johnny Cash, or later legends like Garth Brooks, who, as I noted in our November episode of Hit Parade, strenuously avoided pop crossover for the bulk of his career.

S3: If tomorrow never.

S1: By the way, Taylor Swift was born just a week after this song, If Tomorrow Never Comes, became Garth’s first country number one in December 1989.

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S2: And she’s my only one.

S1: To find real parallels to Swift’s singular career, you have to consider some more improbable hitmakers folks who maybe weren’t obvious candidates for country stardom before Taylor was born, the 70s and 80s spawned several young female country stars who broke into country from outside of the American south, sometimes far outside. These included Utah born Marie Osmond, sister to the all brother Osman’s family band, who was nudged toward country by her family and scored an instant country number one in 1973, when Marie was all of 14 years old with Paper Roses.

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S2: Sam. They plus.

S1: Osman’s Paper Roses even scored a 1974 Grammy nomination for best country vocal performance female, but she lost that Grammy to a country singer from an even more improbable place.

S2: Let me. And let me be there, you know,

S1: we talked about the British born Australia, raised Olivia Newton John in our prior country hit parade episode last November. Newton John is a much closer model for Taylor Swift because she crossed over in a big way to pop, but did so gradually by degrees. She was a pop and country double threat on Smash’s like I honestly love you. I, Mr.. And then in 1978, after Olivia’s hit movie musical, Grease with John Travolta pulled her further away from country. She committed more fully to pop after scoring her final top 30 country hit in 1979. Olivia’s hits came to sound more like this, her sultry 1980 number one post disco smash Majeur Captivity in. Constantin. Years later, Taylor Swift would claim inspiration for her foray into country by three major 90s acts who experienced pop peaks and valleys. The first of these acts to break big on the charts was Shania Twain, who pulled a stunning eight singles from her 1995 album, The Woman in Me, four of them country number once.

S2: As you in my.

S1: But is Uber, Blockbuster was her 1997 follow up. Come on over, one of the best selling albums in chart history certified for sales of 20 million copies in America alone, equal to Fleetwood Mac’s rumours. Come on over. Spent nearly three years spinning off hits not only to country radio, where it generated the expected string of number ones like Love Gets Me Every Time the.

S2: My heart changed my mind and I’ve all

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S3: done gone and done it.

S1: Down and down, but to the pop charts where Twain scored an unprecedented number of top 40 hits, including the top 10 ballads, you’re still the one. And from this moment on, this lonely.

S2: I promise you.

S1: Spunky man tweaking shit, talkers like that don’t impress me much.

S3: OK, so you’re Brad Pitt. That don’t impress me much.

S2: So you got. I got to tell you, that

S1: stadium rocker’s a specialty of her then husband, producer and songwriter Robert John Mutt Lange, these were disguised as country music, like the fist pumping, exclamation point slinging man. I feel like a dead. Grayback. Shotgun’s. Young Taylor Swift, growing up in Pennsylvania, regarded Shania Twain as a primary influence for her budding interest in country music, Swift later told The Guardian that Twain’s songs, quote, make you want to just run around the block four times and daydream about everything, unquote. Arguably, an even bigger influence on Swift was LeAnn Rimes, who, like Twain, spent the late 90s trying to prove she could do it all new.

S3: So so you,

S1: like swift rhymes, broke into the business at a precociously young age, her debut hit came at age 13 with Blue, a recording that echoed the 50s 60s Countrypolitan Sound of Patsy Cline. Blue cracked the country top 10 in the summer of 96 and made an instant impression on a young Taylor Swift quote. One of my first memories of country music was when I was six years old and my parents took me to see LeAnn Rimes in concert. Swift would later tell her own concert audience.

S2: We love. Those We Love You is back

S1: by 1997, LeAnn Rimes was one of the biggest acts in music, country or pop, as she scored back to back number one albums. One CD was filled with her childhood recordings like The Standard Unchained Melody, the other themed around Christian or inspirational songs such as her hit cover of Debbie Bunz. You Light Up

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S2: My Life and. That.

S1: But what made LeAnn Rimes go supernova was a track she recorded for the soundtrack to the summer blockbuster Con Air, the Diane Warren penned How Do I Live? This more pop than Country Ballad debuted on the Hot 100 in the summer of 97 and stayed there most of 98. A staggering 69 weeks, a record for the hot 100 that would stand for more than a decade. Within just two years of her country breakthrough, LeAnn Rimes was now a full blown pop star and still in her teens, she moved quickly to build upon that stardom. She recorded tracks with the likes of pop elder statesman Elton John and.

S2: I’ll be back on Friday.

S1: And she scored another soundtrack hit Can’t Fight the Moonlight from 2000s Coyote Ugly.

S2: You get shot to death by in. The government’s. Again, the.

S1: Here, young Taylor Swift was taking mental notes of Shanaya, of LeAnn and of a harmonizing trio who broke big on the charts at the end of the 90s.

S2: The Chicks. See me after the

S1: multi instrumentalist sisters, Martie and Emily Irwin, later, Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer added the powerhouse Texas vocalist Natalie Maines to their combo. The Chicks became the biggest group in country music and one of the biggest groups in Pop, both their 1998 album, Wide Open Spaces and its 1999 follow up fly. We’re certified diamond for 10 million and says Fly topped the country and pop album charts and generated nine country hits, about half of which made the pop top 40 by 2002. They even cracked the pop top 10 with their string band style cover of Fleetwood Mac Landslide.

S2: And so. My reflection in the

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S3: snow covered hills

S2: with a landslide brought down.

S1: By the early 2000s, these three female acts, Twain Rhymes and the chicks, all nurtured by country music, seem to be having their pop cake and eating it, too. But one by one, they ran into career trouble. By the middle of the decade, Shania Twain and her then husband, Mutt Lang, may simply have overreached. Now one of the biggest global music stars, period. Twain had even scored hits across the UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. She and Mutt tripled down with her 2002 CD up. It was issued in three versions color coded by Genre, a Green Country CD, Red Pop CD and Blue International Disc. Any given track such as the lead single I’m Going to Get You Good was remixed or rerecorded for each audience. Whether country I’m gonna get you.

S3: I got you in your pocket even.

S1: Or international, which had a specifically South Asian Bollywood style flavor. Sold quickly and strongly, but its total sales were less than half those of come on over and IT singles did nowhere near as well on the charts, no country, no ones, and no pop top tens for personal as much as professional reasons. Shanaya and Mutt had a bitter divorce in 2008. Twain would wind up sidelined from the music business for the better part of a decade. LeAnn Rimes managed to keep working, but her pop crossover foundered pretty quickly after How Do I Live? Rymes never returned to the pop top 10, and by the mid aughts she had reverted back to pure country music. Fortunately, her original audience welcomed her back, giving her a number two country hit in 2006 with Something’s Got to Give.

S2: My name is Pamela.

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S1: And the chicks, they were not as lucky when it came to the country on its infamously they were blacklisted by country radio in 2003 when Natalie Maines expressed her disdain for the Iraq war and President George W. Bush in front of a London concert audience, their then current country hit the number one travelin soldier.

S2: Never. And another.

S1: LUMIGAN off of Billboard’s hot country songs in just two weeks, the Chicks would never score a top 10 country radio hit on their own again when they returned with their Grammy winning 2006 album, Taking the Long Way and its wounded single Not Ready to Make Nice. ChiX appeared primarily on the pop charts, not the country, Charles Taylor Swift observed all of these goings on watchfully more than a decade later, long after she’d become a star, Swift revealed that her early wariness at even discussing politics was motivated by what happened to the chicks. And she couldn’t help but notice that all of her heroes rapid moves toward the pop charts, especially Shenise and Leeann’s, led to pushback from the Nashville establishment that might help explain why Taylor Swift’s very first single was not only pure country, it was even named after a country superstar willing think.

S2: I hope you think my favorite son. The one we danced to.

S1: The story of Taylor Swift’s upbringing has been exhaustively told mostly by Taylor herself, who would later title one of her albums after the year of her birth, 1989, born to a stockbroker father and a mutual fund marketer, turned homemaker mother and named after singer songwriter James Taylor Swift wrote her first songs by age 12 and after watching a VH1 behind the music special about country megastar Faith Hill, Jackie. Taylor convinced her parents to take her down to Nashville so she could make the rounds on Music Row to try to get herself signed,

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S4: and I had this little demo CD of me singing songs by Dolly Parton and the Dixie Chicks and LeAnn Rimes marched up and down Music Row with these messages and a walk in and hand them to the receptionist while my mom and little brother were parked outside in a rental car. You went in all by yourself? Yeah. That is so brave. Thank you. I don’t think I knew any better.

S1: Eventually, around 2004, Swift’s family relocated to a Nashville suburb. She signed a publishing contract at age 14, and after a performance at the famed Bluebird Cafe scene by Nashville record executive Scott Borchetta, she signed a recording contract at age 15 with Borchetta upstart country label Big Machine Records. Taylor’s first single, written during her freshman year of high school, could not have been more Nashville friendly. It was named after this guy, Gabe.

S2: andI. And he said, someday I’ll hope you.

S1: Tim McGraw, one of the top artists in country and incidentally, one half of Nashville’s ultimate recording power couple with his wife, Faith Hill, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw was a sharp eyed entre into the world of country. A wistful song about a summer romance now ended that the singer will always conjure up when hearing her favorite song by McGraw Thinks. Swift toiled for her first hit touring and glad handing country radio programs released in the summer of 2006. Tailers Tim McGraw took six months to climb the charts, peaking in January 2007 at number six on hot country songs and number 40 on the Hot 100. Swift emerged at a promising moment for young female country singers, just as a small wave of young voices was breaking the two most prominent, both coincidentally discovered via televised singing competitions where singer songwriter and Nashville Star contestant Miranda Lambert. And thousand five American Idol competitor Carrie Underwood, who won the Fox TV juggernauts fourth season and became the show’s first country winner right

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S3: now is Barbasol Dancing with the lead

S1: Underwoods Before He Cheats, a sharp tongued revenge song. And Carrie’s third single was an especially well-timed breakthrough after a long run on the country charts in 2006, culminating in a month that no one before he cheats very gradually crossed to pop radio by the spring of 2007 and L.A.. But will it eventually reach number eight on the hot 100, notably in its twangy original version, without any kind of pop remix? It was a signal to Teen Taylor that pop crossover was possible without losing a country audience just hours before he cheats was peaking. Swift released her second single. The very pop friendly ballad Teardrops on My Guitar.

S2: He’s a reason for the teardrops. The only.

S1: By August, two thousand seven Teardrops was a number two country hit six months later, following the Before He Cheats playbook, teardrops reach number 13 on the hot 100 during those intervening months. Swift issued a third single that finally made her a chart topper. The jaunty our songs on.

S2: Guys, it’s late, and your mom, I don’t know,

S1: unlike Tim McGraw and Teardrops on my guitar, both of which Swift co-wrote with Nashville songwriter Liz Rose, Swift composed our song Alone when it reached number one on hot country songs in December 2007, a week after Swift’s 18th birthday, she became the youngest artist ever to both write and sing a country number one single by herself. This was part of Swift’s plan all along to prove country music had all kinds of fans and would embrace a teen star. She said as much in an interview with Country Music Television.

S4: The thing that I heard the most is country music does not have a young demographic. So you, being a teenager, are not going to fit into your music because the only people that listen to country music and country radio are thirty five year old females. And I just kept thinking that can’t be accurate because I listen to country music and I know there have to be other girls who listen to country music and want some some music that is maybe directed more towards them

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S1: quietly and gradually. Swift’s 2006 self-titled debut album kept selling. Deep into 2007, the Taylor Swift CD reached number one on the country albums chart in its thirty ninth week, went double platinum by Christmas and cracked the top five on the Billboard 200 pop chart in January 2008 in its 60 third week. It was still spinning off hits deep into that year. Its final single should have said No Reach Number one on the country chart in August 2008 and number three on the Hot 100.

S4: You sort of said no.

S2: That’s why you let it all go.

S1: It was around this time in September 08 that MTV started taking notice of Swift even after Carrie Underwood’s American Idol win and her pop crossover with Before He Cheats, the youth oriented channel had never had much interaction with a country star before. But after Swift Single started crossing over to teen pop fans and with expectations for Swift’s forthcoming second album, Sky High, Big Machine got MTV to invite Taylor to work the red carpet at the 2008 Video Music Awards. At one point, she even interviewed her new best, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus,

S3: her on the red carpet Fashion Central.

S4: We’ve got two beautiful ladies who actually showed up together. We got Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry high. And the cool thing about being here is that all three of us are actually nominated for the best new artist, BMA. And I think that if we weren’t all, like, crazy about each other, that would be awkward. But it’s not because I love Katy Perry and I love Miley Cyrus. We love to said

S1: the layers of irony here are fairly delicious. Years before Swift got into a long feud with Katy Perry, without question at this moment in 2008, both Perry and Cyrus were the bigger stars. Perry was enjoying her first wave of big hits like I Kissed a Girl and Hot and Cold

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S2: Because You’re Hot.

S1: Dan and Cyrus, whom we discussed in depth in our May 20 18 episode of Hit Parade, was defining her own lane. The daughter of country star Billy Ray Cyrus. Miley broke through as a TV character Hannah Montana, and had her first wave of hits as that teen rock singer character. Right now, pivoting to recording under her own name, Miley had just scored her first big hit as Miley Cyrus. See you again. But she was also trying to pull Taylor Swift’s crossover trick from the opposite direction, reaching the top five on the country chart in a duet with her dad called Ready, Set, Don’t Go.

S2: She’s with no one listens. She said.

S1: Three months after the 2008 VMAs, Miley would even score a pop and country hit of her own with a song from the Hannah Montana movie, The Clive. Taylor Swift would never be a sideshow at the VMAs again, and as she interviewed other celebrities on MTV’s red carpet, she was already quietly infiltrating the charts with her next wave of hits, not just the country chart, the hot 100,

S3: because these things

S2: went so. Now. The father found out,

S1: though not remembered as one of Swift’s big hits, was her first pop top 10 debuting at number 10 on the hot one hundred in August 2008, fueled by 99 cent downloads. Anticipation for her next CD was so high, fans bought one hundred and thirty one thousand copies of its first single. Even without significant radio airplay on the country chart, where downloads still didn’t count, change peaked at number 57, an indication that Swift’s fan base was going younger and more mainstream. Swift’s sophomore album would be called Fearless, and she spent the fall dropping advance tracks to build anticipation, including its title track, which entered the pop charts at number nine and. We’re not sorry, a number 11 hit, you

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S3: don’t have to. Stan.

S1: And White Horse, which entered at number 13

S3: that honored Prince.

S2: The same ferry. I’m not

S3: one either, either the

S1: leader of the stairwells, the same week White Horse arrived, so did the Fearless album, and it was a monster opening to 590 2000 copies, including a record number of album downloads. The first radio single from Fearless Love Story was already number one on the country. The album’s opening sales number was much higher than any debut ever from Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, even Carrie Underwood. This was a Garth and Shania level. No. The same week the CD arrived on the Hot 100, Swift debuted six new singles and seven total tracks, including the future number twenty three hit 15. As 2008 turned to 2009, Taylor Swift was now one of the biggest artists in current music of any genre. Fearless spent 11 weeks at number one on the Billboard 200. To this day, that’s still the longest run by any of Swift’s albums. Over the next 18 months, the album would be certified Sex Topal Platinum. A decade later, Fearless would be certified diamond for 10 million in sales plus streams. Swift’s new status was affirmed by the pop crossover by the album’s lead single Love Story. Three months after it topped the country chart in the winter of 2009, Love Story reached number four on the Hot 100 and more remarkably, number one on Billboard’s mainstream pop chart, a radio chart devoted to airplay at Top 40 pop stations. We were both young

S3: when I first saw you. I close my eyes and the flashback starts. I’m standing there

S1: to this day. Love Story remains the only single by anybody to be number one in country airplay. One week pop airplay another. Its follow up single did in a way

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S2: even better see where short skirts. DNC chair Captain Blitzers,

S1: first issued in the fall of 08 as one of the teaser singles ahead of Fearless You Belong With Me, would spend nearly a year on the Hot 100. Unsurprisingly, the sprightly single, a deeply relatable tale of a high school crush on a boy distracted by another girl followed a love story to number one on hot country songs in August 2009. That same week, You Belong With Me peaked at number two on the Hot 100 and just over a month later. The song reached number one on Billboard’s radio songs chart, which tracks airplay across all radio formats for the first time probably since Islands in the Stream in 1983, the most played song on American radio was a country tunes in the middle of this remarkable run. In September 2009, Swift traveled to New York City to perform her smash crossover hit on the 2009 MTV Venice. So. As both a show of how game she was and a gesture of welcome to New York, Taylor performed You Belong with Me live in the New York City subway system, accompanied by an army of fans following her as she sang through a station onto a train out at another station and onto the street in front of Radio City Music Hall. It was a Broadway level extravaganza that added pizzazz to the Video Music Awards. Taylor Swift was having a pretty great night.

S2: I need to get down in the bleachers.

S1: When we come back, Taylor Swift follows her triumphant VMAs live performance with a win in a major category. But neither the performance nor the win is what’s still remembered about the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. A dozen years later, if the song You Belong With Me was spunky, its video was more so a fully realized depiction of its high school story, with Taylor playing both the mousy nerd pining for her handsome male friend and the bitchy brunette Queen Bee, whom he’s currently dating. It was nominated for best female video at the 2009 VMAs, and Swift’s competition was heavy clips by Kelly Clarkson, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Pink, and of course, famously Beyonce and Taylor won. And that’s when the incident, the one that immortalized the phrase I’ma let you finish, happened. Now, most articles and video recaps that recount the Kanye West Taylor Swift run in at the 2009 VMAs. Zoom in on the moment that West takes the stage and takes the microphone away from Swift. I want to play Taylor’s whole speech. Well, what there was of it before Kanye showed up, because it captures what the stakes were for Swift and for country music. That night, the best female video goes to.

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S3: Taylor Swift.

S2: Thank you so much. I was dreaming about what it would be

S4: like to maybe win one of these someday, but I never actually thought it would happen. I think country music. So thank you so much for giving me a chance to win a BNA award at.

S3: The film. I’m really happy for you and let you finish, but we actually have one of the best videos of all time. Put it in this video, Dalton.

S1: Before I go further, I should say that I am on record at a prior live hit parade event, agreeing with Kanye West on one thing, Beyonce, whose video for single ladies was the one Kanye was coming to the defense of, was one of the best videos of all time. I’d even agree with that. Single Ladies is a better, more iconic video than you belong with me.

S2: You sort of put a ramp up

S1: over the past dozen years, this incident has spawned reams of online debate with smart commentators making arguments that favor both Kanye and Taylor. Even as most everybody agrees, West’s gesture was unbelievably discourteous, including Beyonce, who gasped from the audience and later let Taylor finish her speech. And days later, in a hot mic moment, President Barack Obama, who famously called West, quote, a jackass. I’ll just add a few specific points to this very chewed over intersectional debate over an incident that not only started a decade of Swift vs. West hostilities, but even indirectly led to Taylor rerecording her catalog this year.

S2: I’m in my room. Tuesday night, I’m listening to the kind

S3: of music she doesn’t

S1: like. First off, this was the only category Swift’s video was competing in. She had defeated Beyonce for best female video, not video of the year, which, by the way, was one that year by single ladies. Less than an hour later, Beyonce was not going home empty handed. Single ladies had already won best choreography and best editing. For another thing, Swift’s look of shock when she won a slack jawed look that she exhibited at multiple award shows in her early years for which she was often teased and pilloried, might have been actual shock. The win was an upset As You Belong With Me was the first country video in MTV’s history to take any VMAs prize. Prior to this, only one other country clip had been so much as nominated. Shania tweens. You’re still the one a full decade earlier

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S2: this year on.

S1: Even if the You Belong With Me video is more high school than hayride, this was a moment for country and for genre breath on MTV, a channel that, by the way, had once ignored most black music, but by 2009 had played even less country music. So at worst, you could call Taylor’s win yet another example of a white person taking a prize that could have gone to a black artist. Certainly many later did call it that. At best, MTV was sharing the night’s wealth among fans of multiple genres. The narrative coming out of the Kanye Taylor VMAs incident was that Swift was an Oscar shucks bystander from country music, mystified by the new pop world she was stepping into. But the nuanced truth was that Swift had been savagely putting her music at the center of the pop conversation for months. As critic Jody Rosen later said in his profile of Swift for New York magazine, quote, Swift’s relationship to country is not merely a matter of careerist calculation. Nashville is a song town, and Swift is first and foremost a song writer. If you ask Swift to reconcile her musical impulses, she gives an answer that has the virtue of being both true and politically savvy. I love country and I love Pop, she told me. I love them both, unquote.

S3: I know my.

S1: Swift rebounded quickly from the VMAs and took several more victory laps in the months to come. In late October, she issued a so-called platinum edition of the Fearless CD that came packed with a half dozen new songs. Thanks to heavy track downloads, all six new songs debuted within the Top 40 in a single week. The biggest track Jump Then Fall even cracked the top 10. Two months later, in late January 2010, Swift took the biggest prize of all at the Grammy Awards, not just in the country categories, but in the top category of the night.

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S3: And the Grammy goes to Taylor Swift.

S2: Oh, wow. Well, thank you so much.

S4: I just I just hope that you know how much this means to me and to Nathan, my producer and to all these musicians you see on the stage that we get to take this back to Nashville. All of us, when we’re 80 years old, this is the story we’re going to be telling over and over again in 2010 that we got to win album of the year, the Grammys. Thank you.

S1: The same week that Swift won the big Grammy, a new song of hers made a massive Hot 100 debut. Today was a fairy tale which felt to many fans like a sequel to Love Story entered the chart all the way up at number two, fueled by opening sales of three hundred and twenty five thousand digital downloads.

S2: Today was a fairy tale. You are the friends I used to be a. Hamza and.

S4: To me, by the hand

S1: and fairy tale was notable for a couple of reasons. For starters, it was more embraced by Swift’s young pop fan base than by country radio listeners on the country chart. It peaked at number 41, the first single Swift released that charted better on the Hot 100 than on hot country songs.

S2: The. For another thing,

S1: today was a fairy tale was a soundtrack song from a frothy new Garry Marshall romantic comedy called Valentine’s Day, in which Swift played a small comedic part. It was her first time acting outside of a music video.

S3: So how did you guys meet?

S4: It’s really funny, actually. Like I was not into him at first. He used to shoot. It was at me in Spanish class, which is like so junior high. Then one night I was brushing up my hair when I got home and I found the spit wad. But it was really a note and it said, What’s up? And I was like, That is so cute. And then I like to.

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S1: Swift’s co-star in the film was heartthrob Taylor Lautner of Twilight fame. Taylor and Taylor wound up dating for a couple of months around the filming of the movie, which provided fodder for a Diddy Swift composed for her first stint hosting NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

S4: And if you’re wondering if I might be dating the werewolf from Twilight.

S2: I’m not going to comment on that. My monologue.

S1: By the time Swift hosted SNL, the general public had cottoned on to the in-joke that many of Swift’s songs, including some of her hits, were thinly veiled romance, a clef to both current and former love interests. Taylor Lautner was a current boyfriend, so he came off well in her monologue song after they amicably broke up. Swift would later write about Laettner again a year later in the hit back to December.

S2: Freedom means nothing, but. Do not realize what a. Go back to the turnaround and change the.

S1: Taylor Lautner got off lucky what fans noticed more prominently was that Swift’s true life, romantic tales were mostly kiss offs, sometimes vicious ones. Country music has a long tradition of the wounded kiss off song from George Jones. Thanks. Spillcam. To Travis Tritt Well, here’s a quarter

S3: call someone who came.

S1: Swift blended this country tradition with the guided missile specificity of a rap era beef record, her kiss offs were targeted and they dated all the way back to her 2006 debut album. Her number three country hit Picture to Burn contained a now regrettable lyric about outing a faithless ex-boyfriend.

S2: Go and tell your friends I’m obsessive and crazy.

S1: That high school bow was someone unfamous from Taylor’s profane days, Swift was much more openly rough toward her first post fame power more

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S4: you might think I’d bring up Joe, that guy who broke up with me on the phone,

S2: but I’m not going to mention him in my monologue. Hey, Joe, I’m doing very well tonight. I’m. In my monologue

S1: that Joe was Joe Jonas, lead singer of boy band The Jonas Brothers.

S3: Is. The new baby.

S1: And Swift dispatched with him on her fearless platinum edition track forever and always

S3: was out of line. This is something we, too honest made you run and hide like a scared little boy.

S1: Swift’s kiss off songs were a twofer. They were a classic songwriters trope, as they say. Write what you know as well as a clever, snarky way to spur fan involvement in the social media era. Taylor kept the tradition going in 2010 as she began writing her next album, which included a heart rending tale of an age inappropriate romance, whose unsubtle title was Dear John.

S2: A on sugar. Don’t you think I was too young to be? With the girl in the dress cried.

S1: No one mistook who that song was about, least of all its target guitarist and songwriter John Mayer, who dated Swift when he was 31 and she was 19. He felt wounded enough by the song that a couple of years later, he wrote his own response to Taylor Paper doll.

S2: You’re like 22. And none of them know what they’re running from.

S1: Swift was also capable of firing back more generally at bullies and her own critics, as she did on a single from her next album, Speak Now, not mincing words. The song was simply called Mean Song.

S2: I’ve been living in a big city. And are you ever gonna be is mean

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S1: feminists and cultural critics lambasted Swift for perennially centering men in her narrative and for portraying herself as a damsel in distress. But even when she wasn’t singing about a crush or a love gone wrong, giving voice to those who felt belittled by others was a powerful theme. Swift’s youngest fans especially loved it.

S3: I love love. I don’t already see that

S2: out of my head down trying to block you out because it never ends.

S1: That theme didn’t always work. At the 2010 MTV VMAs, both Swift and Kanye West performed one year after the incident. Swift’s new song, Innocent, was a gentle ballad clearly aimed at Kanye. She opened the performance by playing back his interruption of her acceptance speech from the year before. And even Taylor’s most supportive critics found the song Wanne and Patronise.

S2: So Springsteen. A.M..

S1: For his part, West took the stage with his own brash response to the incident, a song called Runaway, whose unapologetic chorus went, quote, Let’s have a toast for the douchebags. Let’s have a toast for the assholes, unquote. Unrepentantly rude or defiantly resilient. Critics said it was both

S2: good and bad, good and bad.

S1: But yet again, on the charts, Taylor was the ultimate victor. While Carney’s next album, The Critically Hailed My Beautiful, Dark Twisted Fantasy, opened at number one on the Billboard 200, with nearly half a million in first week sales tailers new disc speak now more than double that.

S2: For the first time, speak

S1: now opened to over a million copies in its first week, the first country album to do so since Garth Brooks is double live in 1998. The music industry was stunned by this feat. Billboard reported, quote, Who said it couldn’t be done? Don’t feel bad if you were one of the many naysayers who had assumed the days of millions selling weeks were over. Considering how album sales have dropped off a cliff since the early 2000s, huge sales frames are rare. But as we’ve seen with Taylor Swift, if you have crossover appeal to pop and country audiences, the wide age range of her fans, teens, tweens and moms among them, it can happen, unquote. Kindergarten. Swift was now bigger than any one genre, but remarkably unlike Shania Twain or the Chicks, she wasn’t being spurned by the country audience even after her massive crossover, both mine the lead single and mean the follow up reached number two on hot country songs back to December. Her Taylor Lautner memento reached number three as late as the fall of 2011 and the winter of 2012. Speak now was still generating country hits, sparks fly, reached number

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S3: one, chops everything.

S1: And ours is a track from the albums deluxe edition also topped the country chart the six.

S2: But this is also

S1: even amid these victories, Team Taylor could tell country radio was going to become an ever greater challenge. Country had long been a male driven format, but by the early 2010s, women artists were becoming positively scarce. In 2011, women or woman fronted bands topped the country chart less than one quarter of the year in 2012, just over 10 percent of the year. Worse, not only were more of country’s hit makers male, the hits themselves were male centric, with cookie cutter lyrics about trucks, boozy lake parties and pretty women in cut off shorts. Welcome to the Bro Country era.

S2: Now you can find. I want to know these three things,

S1: whether the chart toppers were by Jason Aldine or Jake Owen, good girl

S3: smile when we rolled by the up in the back and we cruised to the riverside.

S1: Never going to grow or by the so-called king of the brose, Luke Bryan.

S2: Jane’s on money on a money maker got to be used,

S1: testosterone fueled hits were becoming interchangeable even if Bro Country hadn’t taken over, Taylor Swift’s own songwriting was evolving in an ever more pop driven direction. Increasingly, Taylor’s new material demanded Top 40 savvy production. But in the early Ten’s pop was mostly electronic, not acoustic. Whether it sounded like this Taio Cruz hit.

S2: Hands up in the air sometimes you. Gotta go

S1: for this Britney Spears hit to. Or this Maroon five chart topper.

S2: Look at me and look at making me you using my hand, using my.

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S1: For all of the string of blockbuster singles by pop queen Katy Perry. Don. What do all of these hits I just played have in common, all of them were either produced or co-written by a man from Stockholm, Sweden. We’ve discussed plenty here on hit parade, the guy who was going to take Taylor the last mile in her genre evolution. For her part, Swift was going to give as good as she got, delivering songs that fit the sound of modern electropop. But we’re all Taylor

S3: the kinds of mistakes I was going to say, you got me, me, me.

S1: After all, her success with her clout at a new peak coming out of speak now, Taylor Swift’s next album could have sounded like anything. She was still writing sturdy acoustic style material like the Future No. Three country hit begin again this time.

S2: I think it’s strange to think sleekest.

S1: By contrast, the album’s lead track, State of Grace, sounded like arena rock in the style of U2.

S2: Someplace else, say.

S1: Swift’s long time producer, the versatile Nathan Chapman, produced both of these songs, but it was while he and Swift were working on what became the album’s title track, simply titled Red

S3: Loving is Like. Steve. And then so suddenly.

S1: That they realized, even though the song sounded good with banjos on it and that it had the bones and chord changes of country music, it still needed something extra. It needed that kind of punch that was the specialty of a maker of big top 40 pop hits. In other words, it needed a lift, a saw. So Chapman and Swift agreed that Big Machine label president Scott Borchetta should call in the biggest pop hit maker of the past 15 years, Carl Martin Sandburg, a.k.a. Max Martin. Like. Max Martin had already defined multiple eras of pop, as we discussed in our Britney Spears episode. Martin was largely responsible for the teen pop boom of the late 90s. He wrote and produced for Spears, Backstreet Boys and N Sync half a decade after that wave died out. Max came back with another wave of Potente pop production defined by artists like Pink, a revived Britney and Katy Perry and kicked off by Kelly Clarkson’s seminal Since You’ve Been Gone. Got. By the early tenso, Max and his stable of Stockholm songwriters were at the top of their game, having produced a wave of hits for everyone from Usher to Adam Lambert to Avril Levine. The knock on Martin was that many of his hits sounded like they could be sung by anybody. Indeed, that was what made his brand of maximalist pop such a chart juggernaut. But in Taylor Swift, Max Martin met a formidable songwriter in her own right whose personality infused her compositions. Swift Martin and his co-star, songwriter Johan Schuster, better known as Shellback, wound up writing three songs together for the Red Album. Martin and Shellback also produced them. I Knew You Were Trouble was a classic Swift Romana Clef. A Kiss and tell song about it is widely rumored her relationship with One Direction singer Harry Styles. But this kiss and tell sounded like no swift song in history to date because I knew

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S3: you were trouble when you walked in.

S1: Martin and Shellback threw everything at the track as vulture critic Nate Jones aptly put it, quote, from Kelly Clarkson verses to a roller coaster chorus to a dubstep breakdown. It shouldn’t hang together, but it does.

S2: And on the call, hot.

S1: Then the thumping 20 to a kind of sequel to Swift’s earlier hit 15, celebrating a year she called the favorite of her adulthood, was similarly eclectic over Taylor’s guitar strumming Martin and Shellback layered dance pop beats and swirling production on her vocals.

S2: But I’ll be honest with you, I will be next.

S1: But the standout of the Swift Martin Shellback tracks was one they wrote together after a conversation about Swift’s many breakups. Taylor described one particular relationship to the two producers as, quote, breakup. Get back together, break up, get back together. Just the worst, unquote. Max Martin suggested they write about it and he encouraged Taylor to make the verses conversational as much talking as singing. We hadn’t seen each other

S3: in a month when you said you needed space.

S1: What’s what Martin Shellback and Swift ultimately delivered sounded like what critic Ann Powers would later call pop punk a fist pumping, snarky girl power anthem with a very wordy title. We are never, ever getting back together. Sonically, it was totally new for Swift, yet lyrically it couldn’t have sounded more like Taylor and it would become her first ever number one pop hit.

S2: Your friends. Getting back together,

S1: we are never, ever getting back together, arrived as the first single from Red in August of 2012, the summer of huge lovelorn pop hits like Call Me Maybe and somebody that I used to know. It entered the hot 100 at number seventy two, fueled by just two days of airplay, the fastest a swift single had ever been adopted by Top 40 radio. One week later, after selling a stunning six hundred and twenty three thousand downloads, a record for a female artist never ever hurtled from number 72 to number one. And within a few weeks, the Red Album would arrive to one point two million copies sold in its first week, two hundred thousand more than speak now had opened to we are never, ever getting back together. The nation’s number one song made Taylor Swift even bigger than she’d been before. And how did country radio, the format that had broken Taylor Swift feel about her pop song to date? At first they were excited. Many country program directors told Billboard magazine Swift was important to their format and had connected them with an impassioned young fan base to ensure country acceptance. Big Machine put out a remix of We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together Just for country radio. It replaced Max Martin and Shellback synthesizers and drum machines with mandolin, steel guitar and snare drums really

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S3: going to keep picking fights and the calling for a screaming that I’m right

S2: and you would hide away and find your peace of mind. Some indie record this.

S1: Out of the box in late August 2012, never, ever made a big splash on hot country songs all the way up at number 13, one of the highest debuts in the charts history. But it appeared the country audience wasn’t as enamored as programmers were hoping. A week later, rather than climbing into the top 10, the song fell on the country charts to number 19 by mid-October. A month after never, ever had finished its three week run at number one on the Hot 100. The song had never topped its number 13 country debut, and it had slipped out of the top 20 entirely. It was Swift’s first ever officially promoted single, not to reach the top 10 in country airplay. This was when Billboard gave Swift’s song an unexpected lifeline in the issue. Dated October 20th, 2012, the magazine announced a controversial change to its genre charts R and B, Latin and country, turning them into miniature versions of the Hot 100. This was driven by the industry’s wholesale shift to digital consumption, both downloads and streams. Now, as long as a song qualified for one of those formats, its position on the Hot 100 would determine its ranking on the genre chart. And so, because we are never, ever getting back together, technically qualified as a country song and still ranked high on the Hot 100 on the rebooted hot country songs, it shot from number twenty one all the way to number one. It wound up spending 10 weeks at number one on the revamped country chart, even though country radio wasn’t playing it all that much.

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S3: Used to think we were forever, ever. I used to say never say never.

S1: No matter what the charts said, country radio was now being much more choosy about which swift songs it would play. Her follow up single, The Max Martin Shellback production I Knew You Were Trouble was a number two pop hit. That billboard defined as ineligible for the hot country chart since so few country stations were playing it.

S3: A never loved me or her or anyone or anything.

S1: Other tracks from the Red Album like Begin Again and the title track were embraced by country audiences and did make the country airplay top 10. But organically, as the songs from Red took their turns on the charts, it couldn’t help but feel like Swift was quietly, gradually breaking up with the genre that had launched her career. However, she did give country music one more for the road. In the spring of twenty thirteen, Swift appeared on Highway Don’t Care, a duet with Tim McGraw. It was from Tim McGraw’s new album and one of the most acclaimed country singles of the year Highway Don’t Care, reached number four on Billboard’s main digital fueled hot country songs chart and on the Country Airplay chart, which tracked the songs country radio stations were actually playing. It reached no one

S3: to argue with that.

S1: Tim McGraw, the veteran country superstar that Taylor Swift had named her very first single after way back in 2006 when she was 16 years old, he gave her one last victory lap on the country charts. It would be Swift’s last country airplay number one song. And after twenty thirteen no solo Taylor Swift song would appear in the country top 10 for the rest of the decade. If you’re a follower of pop music, you probably know where the story goes from here. In 2014, Taylor Swift announced her next project would be her, quote, first documented official pop album. In her words, she went back into the studio with Max Martin, this time as her executive producer, as well as other new collaborators like indie and power pop producer Jack Antonoff. The album would be called Nineteen Eighty Nine after the year of her birth, symbolizing her genre Rebirth and the album. Yeah, it did OK.

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S2: Hey. Six to. Sit down.

S1: Taylor Swift spent the rest of the 2010s as one of the biggest artists in Pop, the 1989 album, which, by the way, opened to one point three million in sales, even bigger than Red generated three hot one hundred number one hits, including Shake It Off and the witty follow up single, a satire of her string of well chronicled romances, blank space starlets.

S2: Tell you I’m insane. Not a blank space baby,

S3: and I’ll write your

S1: name and her brief song against Katy Perry, Bad Blood Baby. Now we got bad, but, you know, it used to be. Taylor wound up in a new round of beefs with her old nemesis, Kanye West, who, recapping that drama, would take a whole other podcast episode. And so she, of course, referenced Kanye in her 2017 chart topper. Look what you made me do.

S3: I don’t like your little games. Don’t like your tilted stage.

S1: Taylor kind of started rapping herself on hits like Ready for It.

S2: I see nothing, but. That. Rhonda.

S1: And she went in deep into digital pop on kinetic hits like Dellec.

S2: My reputation will be so. He was like this.

S1: Taylor also came out as an unabashed LGBTQ plus supporter, finally moving past her fear of being too political like her friends and forebears, the Chicks, and she sang about it on her 20 19 bop. You need to calm down.

S3: She never made anybody less.

S1: On our country, radio stations would play these pop songs very sparingly, usually not at all, but the country audience never quite forgot Swift’s country heyday as these stations continued to play her old hits in recurrent rotation. And when Taylor occasionally recorded something quieter and more contemplative, country stations embraced it. New Year’s Day, a piano ballad that closed her otherwise hip hop fueled twenty seventeen album Reputation Cracked the Country Top 40.

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S3: I want you midnight. I’ll be cleaning up bottles with you on New Year’s Day.

S1: As a songwriter, Swift also penned songs for other country acts, including Better Man for the Group, Little Big Town and Babe for country duo Sugarland. The Sugarland hit featured vocals from Taylor herself, bringing her momentarily back to the country top ten in 2018.

S3: How could you do this?

S2: You really feel this

S1: back, and in twenty nineteen, a tender ballad, Swift wrote and performed with the chicks, soon you’ll get better brought both her and the trio briefly back to the country charts. It was the Chicks first country hit in more than a dozen years.

S2: So you’ll get back. So when you get men

S1: speaking of featured guests, Swift has a long standing concert tradition of surprising her fans by bringing out very starry visitors from whatever city she’s touring. The last time Taylor played Nashville, she brought out Faith Hill and Tim McGraw to sing well, naturally, Tim McGraw. But of course, Swift has not been able to tour since 2019, thanks to the covid-19 pandemic, while she was locked down at home in twenty twenty, the ever industrious singer songwriter made very good use of her time. She recorded two albums in a single year, a radical change from her normal schedule of a new album every two years titled Folklore and Evermore. The two discs were yet another sonic departure for Swift, a wash in the rustic sounds of Americana and indie pop. And perhaps by happenstance, each album generated a song that would bring Taylor back to country radio on her own for the first time since the early tense from folklore, the song Betty reached the Country Radio, Top 40 and the Hot Country Charts Top 10. Betty, I know

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S3: it all went wrong. Your favorite song was playing from the far side of the Jimmy.

S1: And from evermore, the song No Body, No Crime, Swift’s collaboration with the L.A. sister trio Haim also made the hot country top 10. It was still riding the country airplay chart just a couple of weeks ago, she says. This gradual, quiet return to country music without trying hard at all to sound country has, one might say, brought Taylor’s career full circle. It makes her new rerecording of her 2008 album Fearless, that much more poignant fearless. Taylor’s version arrived less than a week before we finished this episode of Hit Parade. And it’s rare that we play a song from the current number one album in the country. Actually, as I record this, it hasn’t even been announced yet, but I am quite confident that by the end of this weekend, Billboard will reveal that Taylor Swift’s rerecording of Fearless is the new number one album in America. I mean, why wouldn’t it be literally every album Swift has released since the original Fearless has topped the charts?

S2: You sit in class next to red. But soon enough. Fred.

S1: Taylor Swift is now nearly a decade and a half past when she wrote and recorded these songs, and she’s more than twice the age she sings about in 15, a song that she’s now recreated in her early 30s in the song’s lyrics. Taylor talks about the wisdom that comes with age, quote, when all you wanted was to be wanted. Wish you could go back and tell yourself what you know now, unquote. Maybe the adult Taylor is telling the kid, Taylor, the one who marched up and down Nashville’s music row trying to fulfill her dream, that she would indeed do that and so much more. I hope you enjoyed this episode of Hit Parade. It’s dedicated to the biggest Taylor Swift fans I know my wife Liz and my stepkids, Honore and Tom, who will undoubtedly be singing something by Swift in the car this weekend. Our show was written, edited and narrated by Chris Melaniphy. That’s me. My producer is Asha Solutia, and we also had help from Rosemary Bellson. June Thomas is the senior managing producer, and Gabriel Roth, the editorial director of Slate podcasts. Check out their roster of shows at Slate dot com slash podcasts. You can subscribe to Hit Parade wherever you get your podcasts. In addition to finding it in the Slate Culture Feed, if you’re subscribing on Apple podcasts, please rate and review us while you’re there. It helps other listeners find the show. Thanks for listening and I look forward to leading the hit parade back your way. Until then, keep on marching on the one. I’m Chris Molana.

S2: And you just might find some.