As has now been well documented in the news, Taylor Swift is leaving country music and making her first “officially documented pop album.”
I know some will disagree with this, but Taylor Swift has never been country to begin with, so “leaving” country music really is an impossibility. You could easily name more songs of hers that are pop than are country. Sure, some of her albums have featured a song or two that have been kind of country. But, let’s face it, the only real reason Swift has been country was because her first single name-dropped Tim McGraw. But “Should’ve Said No”? “Picture to Burn”? “Love Story”? “”You Belong With Me”? “Mine”? Every single off of Red except maybe “Begin Again”? They’re all pure pop.
I spent some time searching recently played lists on websites of country radio stations from various cities, searching for the country station websites for various cities. The song is already gathering country airplay in various markets across the country.
Anyone who thought this wouldn’t happen was only fooling themselves. Swift has been a mainstay on country radio stations since 2006. She’s had 17 songs crack the Top 10 on country radio with 14 of them cracking the Top 5. 7 of those have gone to Number 1. The idea that country radio would all of a sudden simply stop playing her music is ludicrous. In fact, I’m willing to wager that at least one single off of her “debut pop album” cracks Top 5 on country radio on one of the relevant charts.
I will give Swift credit for finally stating that she’s a pop artist, or at least admitting that her new album will be pop. I suppose I can’t really criticize her if country radio chooses to play it and devalue the name of the genre even more. Her label may make the decision to ship copies to country radio, or the radio stations may play the song unsolicited. Blame for that can’t fairly be placed on Swift, even if she has tried to pass herself off as a country artist for almost a decade now.
Another interesting aspect to see is how record stores will classify her new album. Record stores are not likely to classify an artist in two separate categories. They will prefer to keep all of an artist’s music together. Especially in a current climate with sales of hard-copy CDs dwindling every day, record stores will be even more unlikely to be willing to split up an artist’s albums between two different genres. Will they file 1989 under Country? Will they move her other music to Pop? I’d be willing to bet on the former, given that that’s where people are already familiar with finding her.
From the beginning the question should have always been why being a pop singer should have been considered a bad thing. Fans of country music would never have complained about Taylor Swift had she been classified as pop to begin with. Why was Taylor never willing to embrace her pop roots until now?