Found the video of Swift at the Grammys on Sunday, where she does her own "Today Was a Fairytale" with a vocal that was clearly off the mark, and then brings Stevie Nicks out to duet on "Rhiannon." And Swift killed it. No, I don't mean as in knockin' them dead. It was absolutely dreadful.
As some of Swift's apologists have noted, "Rhiannon" is a song not written for her. But since she was out of key on the previous song, too, I just have to cringe.
Disappointing performances do happen. When the Rolling Stones made a solid comeback in 1978 and were hot again with Some Girls, eveyone was stoked about seeing them on "Saturday Night Live." But that night, Mick Jagger had no voice. They had either been rehearsing too much, or maybe they were just being the Stones too much in the week leading up to the telecast. It was one sad night for me (wow, I was only in my 20s then) while the band, obviously, rebounded.
However, I've been reading these kind of horror stories about Taylor Swift for weeks, and I finally got to hear one. Her records are fun and even excellent, but how is the fallout from the live show going to affect what she does next? Usually a young musician has a few hurdles to overcome: perhaps their music is overly verbose, or simplistic, or just a show and not the personal statement that our best artists and bands--those with longevity--eventually acquire.
Unfortunately, I don't see how someone who can't stay on-key can evolve into a better singer technically. Here's hoping.