Taylor: Swift Boat or Love Boat

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Last week was a convenient window for Taylor Swift haters to come out. She pulled her songs from Spotify and now has the only debut album of 2014 to go platinum in one week. This decision received both praise and criticism. Is she a music creator advocate or a savvy business woman? Perhaps she is both.

There are those who say she wanted to reach a sales goal. (If you can't stream it, and you want to hear it, you have to buy it.) For some fans, this was a bit of an inconvenience and burned a negligible hole in their allowance. But let's be real. The same could be said if they went to the movies and had to buy a ticket.

Others say it was all for publicity; that boycotting the under-compensating streaming service will gain her kudos, respect, (leading to even more fans) and make her the darling of the news cycle. Well, all I have to say is if that's the case, at least she isn't dancing on a pole, tweeting topless selfies or driving intoxicated on the PCH in order to trigger a surge in record sales which is often the result of (or reward for) bad behavior these days. She pulled her songs from Spotify. Good girl. Even if she did let them have their way with her first single in order to get the party started. Maybe what us non-superstars need are more Big Machines like Taylor spreading the word that music has (or should have) value. Hail to the messenger.

Hearing myself say this is terrifying. I never thought I'd be defending Taylor Swift. Here are the reasons why she is the girl I (used to) love to hate:

  1. "Love Story": It really bothered me. As much as I wish I wrote it and as hooky as I admit it is, it doesn't speak to my inner hot mess. Because it's... umm, so tidy. Let me add, I don't believe that all hooks are good. There is such a thing as an annoying hook which is just as hard to shake off as a good one. And speaking of shaking it off, am I the only one who cringed from all the pseudo swagger on her recent hit, "Shake It Off"? I'm sorry. Some white girls have it. She doesn't. You can't fake swagger. You just can't.

  • That 2010 regrettable Grammy moment: The duet malfunction when she sang "Rhiannon" with Stevie Nicks. Her performance was described as "something resembling singing." (To be fair, my pitch would be out of the park if I were on stage with Stevie Nicks.) Her label blamed it on a technical issue. We all know what that's code for. Why couldn't they have just said, "Girl was nervous."
  • Murmurings: That her Dad invested in the label that brought her to fame. My Dad was never in a financial position to invest in my career nor would he if he could have. So maybe I'm...
  • Jealous?: I was a young girl with a guitar too -- one who couldn't stop writing songs. I never got to make a record. ( I'm not saying it's Taylor's fault. I take full responsibility.) But the clincher was:
  • Valentines Day (The movie): Whenever she was on the screen all I could think of was, "That's Taylor Swift trying to act."
  • All that being said, last week as I was driving down Lookout Mountain a song I had never heard before came on the radio. "Ooh, what's this? Nice!" At first the hook had me thinking it was a cover of "Dancing In The Dark" with different words. Then I saw her name next to the song title, "Blank Space". Oh no, please don't let me like it. But I did. Damn. I felt like I stepped right out of that SNL skit where all the Taylor haters try the new over-the-counter-medication, "Swiftamine," and are suddenly turned around. Indeed, my Taylor allergy seemed to subside.

    Whatever she's doing seems to be working although Lefsetz suggests that Spotify will trump Taylor Swift in the end. That it will outlive her news cycle. He's probably right. However, little old me? I can't just get on the bandwagon because of this unfortunate reality. I can't go with that flow just because the flow is a whole lot stronger than me. If Spotify is here to stay, as it appears it is, I will deal but I stand with improving the current streaming models, music licensing laws, pay structures, subscriptions tiers.

    Lastly, have we considered that Taylor's agenda just might have been pure of heart? Maybe she's the girl who has everything, wants more, and also wants to do what she feels is right just because it's right. I don't know. But when it comes to educating the public on the side effects of streaming I don't care so much about what someone's motives are. The important thing is she got tongues wagging. The conversation is on. I have never seen my community as fired up.

    For these reasons, and because I give her kudos for positive role modeling, for opting out of auto tune on her Grammy feed, for "Blank Space" and for staying off the pole, I am officially behind Taylor Swift. I won't go as far as saying I'm a diehard fan but I'm not a hater anymore. I drank the Swiftamine. I did. I might have to buy her new album. But I'll fast forward past "Shake it off".

    Please visit my Serial Songwriter Facebook Page and my website, ShellyPeiken.com