Point: Taylor Swift Can Always Come Back to Country Music
Taylor Swift may not be singing country music anymore, but she certainly hasn't left the genre or her career roots in Nashville behind all together. A "country comeback" would not only be easy, it'd be welcome; she's still got one foot (or at least a few toes) in anyway.
Although Swift's first pure-pop album, 2014's 1989, did not officially have a country radio single, stations still played its first single, "Shake It Off," enough for it to chart on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart (at No. 58) shortly after its release. Perhaps we weren't quite ready to let her go just yet back then ... but Swift found a spot on the country charts even more recently, with a track from her second pop project, 2017's Reputation. "New Year's Day" charted at No. 41 on the Country Airplay chart, and landed at No. 33 on the Hot Country Songs chart.
A 'country comeback' would not only be easy, it'd be welcome.
"New Year's Day," in fact, was officially released as a country single, partially due to requests from at least one country station, Billboard reports. Although some of the radio programmers interviewed for the story said they wouldn't be playing the song -- or at least not right away -- others noted that the song's piano-driven melody fits well on current country playlists, and that they still often play Swift's older material.
Even if Swift's newer music is heard more often on pop-focused radio stations, country fans are still hearing her voice ... and her lyrics. Little Big Town's "Better Man," penned solely by Swift, became a No. 1, platinum-selling hit, and earned Swift, as the song's writer, a country Grammy Awards nod and a CMA Awards Song of the Year win (though she didn't attend the November ceremony to claim her prize in person). Sugarland, no doubt, are hoping for similar smashing success with their new single "Babe," co-written by Swift and Train's Pat Monahan, and featuring Swift on harmonies in the chorus.
"[S]he was excited we were getting back together and reached out, and said, 'Hey, I have a song,'" Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles explains of how the song came to be. "And that is a short list, ladies and gentleman, of people to whom she has said, 'Hey, I have a song. Wanna sing it?' So we said yes."
Indeed, an invitation to record a Swift-penned song is not something you turn down (and, Swift being Swift, isn't likely to be offering up a track unless she knows she'll get a yes). While the superstar's detractors may criticize her relationship-focused lyrics, Swift is an incredible lyricist: She's able to write lines that are universal, that speak to a massive amount of people, whether they're sung by her or not -- and it's the "or not" that's especially important here. Having another artist turn your words into a hit lends quite a bit of credibility.
Swift may not be singing country music anymore, but she certainly hasn't left her Nashville roots behind all together.
Little Big Town's and Sugarland's Swift-penned cuts -- not to mention her continued country radio airplay -- also prove that (no surprise here), even though she's "gone pop," Swift is still welcome in the country music community. If anything, the musical climate is more ready for Swift than before: Bebe Rexha is earning a No. 1 song with Florida Georgia Line (and so did the Backstreet Boys), Julia Michaels is guesting on a Keith Urban song, Maren Morris' collaboration with Zedd and Grey is a Top 40 and dance chart hit, and Sam Hunt's "Body Like a Back Road" took over the pop and country charts.
The Boot and Taste of Country’s collaborative Point / Counterpoint series features staff members from the two sites debating topics of interest within country music once per month. Check back on May 23 for another installment.
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