My Complicated History With Taylor Swift

In 2007, I watched as a young aspiring country music star warmed up the crowd for Brad Paisley. This moment, over 10 years ago, was the first time I had ever heard of Taylor Swift. A part of Paisley’s Bonfires & Amplifiers tour, she shared the opening act stage with Jack Ingram and Kellie Pickler. After the concert, she literally had a small space out on the concourse where she went to meet fans, no meet and greet passes needed, face-to-face. Although I didn’t stand in line to meet her, I did walk past her. Swift had the largest grin spread across her face and her eyes conveyed genuine happiness. I thought, this girl might be special.

This is Taylor Swift in 2007 (not at the concert I was at). I remember her just like this when she performed in Spokane.

After you see someone in concert, you tend to take a little more stock in following their music and career. After that night in Spokane, I rooted for Taylor Swift to succeed. I like to think the positive vibes I sent her way played a small role in what was to follow.

Yeah, right.

With no help from me, Taylor Swift would take the country music world by storm. With hit after hit and award after award, she was the face of the industry. Through this stretch she remained humble almost to a fault. She would win accolades at these awards shows and go up to the stage with a look of bewilderment on her face, delivering an acceptance speech expressing surprise and astonishment over her latest honor. She was talented, young, and graceful.

Taylor would act shocked and humbled at award shows.

Taylor wasn’t done. She crossed over into mainstream and started dominating the Top 40 chart. She developed a passionate fanbase, a serious social media following, and a strong respect from the music world.

She hit her peak with me around November of 2014. Her latest album, 1989, was released to rave reviews. “Shake It Off” dominated in late summer and then one of my all-time favorite Swift songs, “Blank Space,” broke a couple weeks before Thanksgiving. In my mind, she had set herself apart from everyone else. She had mastered multiple genres of music, won every award possible, and conducted herself with class at all times.

But when you are at the top, there is only one way to go.

A present day photo of Taylor. She has changed over the course of 10 years.

My admiration for Taylor Swift started to wane a bit in 2015. She started to gravitate toward drama. She posted social media shade, engaged in feuds, and burned ex-boyfriends. She released music videos produced to shame others and wrote lyrics meant to confuse and generate controversy. This wasn’t the Taylor Swift I grew to admire.

This behavior has lasted the past three years. It isn’t just about her music anymore. Rather, it is about her feud with Katy Perry, her past relationship with Calvin Harris, her cryptic slights, and her demands she makes through her lawyers. It wasn’t a good look for Taylor this past week when the ACLU mocked her for issuing a cease-and-desist letter to a blogger. Swift’s attorneys attempted to take action against the person behind the blog for writing something that was, for all intents and purposes, false. However, most would agree that Swift has bigger fish to fry than to challenge the first amendment rights of a lowly blogger. When this story broke, my respect for Swift dropped to an all-time low.

Leave it to her to immediately get back into my good graces.

The 2017 CMA Awards took place last Wednesday. Taylor Swift was nowhere near Nashville but that didn’t stop here from stealing the show. When the category for Song of the Year came up, the melody performed by Little Big Town titled “Better Man” was a nominee. However, when it was introduced, there was no mention of Little Big Town. Rather, it was “Better Man” by Taylor Swift. Although it was no secret that Swift wrote the song, it felt funny that such a mega hit was being attributed to her rather than the group that performed it.

But it got better. The song actually won. Taylor Swift was introduced. She wasn’t there. Little Big Town went up to accept the award. An extremely popular country music band was giving an acceptance speech based on the work that a mainstream star, one who has been on earth almost as long as the group has been together, wrote for them. It was priceless.

It was also a testament. Specifically, it was a testament toward the talent of Taylor Swift. Sure, she has transformed from a down to earth country star to a celebrity drama queen. However, she still has unparalleled skill. Her life as a Nashville darling might be behind her but she can still have an incredible impact on the genre. No matter if the superstars of country are bitter at Taylor for turning her back on the music that provided her start, she can still capitalize from it.

Well played, Taylor.

I might not hold Swift in high regard anymore, but I do admire her talent. Don’t Blink.

Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2015

I mentioned last week that with the arrival of December I can start focusing on Christmas. December also means that I can start reflecting on the past year.

For my Sunday blog post I am giving you Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2015. It is something I seemingly do every three years. To be honest, I had to think quite a bit about the songs that would make up this list, and not because I had many to choose from. While I knew my top song, I was a little underwhelmed with the amount of singles that really impressed me in 2015. With that said, let’s do this countdown.

5. “Downtown” – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

When it comes to the music of Macklemore, it is definitely hit or miss for me. Some songs I enjoy (i.e. “Cant Hold Us) and then other songs annoy the hell out of me (i.e. “Thrift Shop”). In my opinion, he made a winner with “Downtown.”

In the song, I can deal with the rap verses even though they test my patience a little bit. Why would a song that doesn’t “wow” me throughout its duration make this list then? Because it is all about that chorus! I love the buildup to, and then the actual performing of, the main part of the song. It sounds so triumphant and glorious, something that is really nice to drive to. In fact, I will probably have the belting out of “Downtown” in my head for the rest of the day. This song had enough to sneak on the list because the music video was shot in my hometown of Spokane.

4. “Where Are You Now” – Skrillex and Diplo & Justin Bieber

For me, this song is all about the melody. Although I do like Bieber’s vocals, I enjoy the part in the song the most when the performers stop singing and it is just that signature beat. The way the song goes slow on vocals and then fast on the music is a pretty cool and impactful technique.

3. “Bad Blood” – Taylor Swift

I know I risk the chance of having my masculinity questioned by including this artist on my countdown but I can’t turn my back to Taylor Swift and “Bad Blood.” In my humble opinion, this song just brings attitude!

I love the chorus, I love when Taylor says “Ohhhhhhhhhh it’s so sad to….”, and I love the rap insert by Kendrick Lamar. The song just packs a punch and Taylor sings it with conviction. Also, as with “Downtown”, the music video left an impression on me that just adds to my enjoyment of the song. I know she has numerous #1 hits, but I think “Bad Blood” will go down as a Taylor Swift classic.

2. “Sangria” – Blake Shelton

Mr. Shelton delivered my top song of 2012 and he earns a spot on my 2015 countdown as well. The one word I use to describe “Sangria” is smooth.

I enjoy the low key nature and simplicity of the song. It just flows so well and then of course you have Blake’s one-of-a-kind vocals. My favorite part of the song is how he sings “Only thing I want to do tonight is drink you like a Spanish wine.” The way he hits that lyric is just on point. Not an anthem song for Blake by any means but definitely a solid one for easy listening.

1. “Shut Up and Dance” – Walk the Moon

While it took a lot of contemplating to come up with what songs I wanted to include on this list, my #1 song was never in doubt. I absolutely love “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon and I am actually listening to it right now.

I was immediately grabbed by the up tempo and retro nature sound of the song. It literally made me want to: 1. Shut up if I (or someone else) happened to be talking and 2. DANCE! It was an automatic energy boost for me.

But believe it or not, there is something else about the song that I like most of all…that guitar solo though!! If I was a professional baseball player, that snippet of musical genius would be my walk up song. I don’t jam out often, but when I do, that solo from “Shut Up and Dance” is playing. The song brings back many good memories from this past summer and I will always equate it with fun and joy.


There is my compilation of Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2015. Now please excuse me while I take “Shut Up and Dance” off of repeat and put on a certain Kenny Chesney song. Don’t Blink.