In the wake of widespread criticism of Taylor Swift's erratic vocal performances Sunday night (Jan. 31) on the 52nd annual Grammy Awards, the CEO of Swift's record label, Big Machine Records, defended his artist.
Scott Borchetta told Nashville's The Tennessean newspaper on Tuesday (Feb. 3):
"The biggest message is [the critics] are not getting it," Borchetta said. "Because the facts say she is the undisputed best communicator that we've got. When she says something, when she sings something, when she feels something, it affects more people than anybody else.
"Maybe she's not the best technical singer, but she's probably the best emotional singer because everybody else who gets up there and is technically perfect, people don't seem to want more of it. ... I think [the critics] are missing the whole voice of a generation that is happening right in front of them. ... She's an extraordinary songwriter and her vocal performances are getting better. Everybody is not perfect on any given day. If you pick any of those artists that performed [on the Grammy Awards], I'm sure you can go online and find something where you go, 'Ew.' Maybe in that moment, we didn't have the best night. But in the same breath, maybe we did. And nobody is arguing with the awards.
"The critics are missing the bigger picture. This is what always happens and is the unfortunate part of the American dream, that we build these people up to watch the critics tear them down. Well, you better have more than what you've got now if you think you're going to get in the ring and fight with us. So, get in the ring."
In later press interviews, Borchetta had further remarks about the issue.
"She is the voice of this generation. She speaks directly to [her fans], and they speak directly back to her," Borchetta told the The Associated Press. "This is not American Idol. This is not a competition of getting up and seeing who can sing the highest note. This is about a true artist and writer and communicator. It's not about that technically perfect performance."
Borchetta said Swift's duet with Stevie Nicks sounded fine in rehearsal but that in the show's live performance, she had "a volume problem in the ear."
"So, she was concerned that she wasn't able to hear everything in the mix," Borchetta said. "That's just part of live TV. ... So you're going to have difficulties on occasion. Unfortunately, on one of the biggest stages, we did have a technical issue. She couldn't hear herself like she had in rehearsal."
Borchetta said the criticism was "just over the top."
"It's that classic thing that critics do of building something up and then wanting to tear it down," he said.
"If you haven't seen her live performance, you're welcome to come out as my guest to a Taylor Swift show and experience the whole thing, because it's amazing," he told the reporter. "You can see her in her element. There's a reason tickets are selling like they are."
In response to Borchetta's remarks about American Idol, one of that show's winners, Kelly Clarkson, posted the following message on her Web site on Thursday (Feb. 4):
"Wow .....Dear Scott Borchetta,
"I understand defending your artist obviously because I have done the same in the past for artists I like, including Taylor, so you might see why its upsetting to read you attacking American Idol for producing simply vocalists that hit 'the high notes'. Thank you for that 'Captain Obvious' sense of humor because you know what, we not only hit the high notes, you forgot to mention we generally hit the 'right' notes as well. Every artist has a bad performance or two and that is understandable, but throwing blame will not make the situation at hand any better.
"I have been criticized left and right for having shaky performances before (and they were shaky) and what my manager or label executives say to me and the public is "I'll kick butt next time" or "every performance isn't going to be perfect" ......I bring this up because you should take a lesson from these people and instead of lashing out at other artists (that in your 'humble' opinion lack true artistry), you should simply take a breath and realize that sometimes things won't go according to plan or work out and that's okay.
"One of those contestants from American Idol who only made it because of her high notes."