Singing for Grammy redemption.
WINNING two awards for her song Mean and performing it live for an audience of millions at the Grammy Awards last month was sweet revenge for Taylor Swift.
The 22- year- old country- pop darling had written the song in response to a critic who had blasted her admittedly dodgy duet with Stevie Nicks at the 2010 Grammys, at which she won four awards including Album of the Year for Fearless, becoming the youngest artist to do so.
So when she got up to flawlessly perform the jangly country gem last month, she tweaked the words to sing ‘‘ some day I’ll be singing this at the Grammys’’, a pointed riposte to the haters who had claimed she couldn’t cut it live.
‘‘ Performing Mean at the Grammys and getting a standing ovation for it really felt like something came full circle,’’ she says.
‘‘ Winning two Grammys for that song felt strangely like things happen the way they are supposed to.
‘‘ You look back on the struggles you go through and the lessons you learn in life and the hard times that you face. If I hadn’t gone through a really tough time I would never have written that song, and it’s one of my favourites on the record so it was really a magical night.’’
The critic in question was widely believed to be blogger Bob Lefsetz but as is her wont, Swift ( pictured) isn’t saying.
Just as she is coy about revealing whether Dear John and The Story of Us were about ex- beau John Mayer, or Forever and Always and Last Kiss were about Joe Jonas, or that Innocent was about the man who ruined her VMA Awards in 2009, Kanye West. Swift would much rather her fans read into her lyrics what they will.
‘‘ At this point the song has become so much bigger than something I wrote about a critic,’’ Swift says of Mean. ‘‘ It then went out into the world and became something that kids listen to to help them deal with a bully at school or a girl listens to when she is leaving her abusive boyfriend or something like that.’’
The personal- becoming- universal approach is integral to Swift’s creative process and is also very much what endears her to her legions of fans.
With six Grammys and more than 22 million albums sold, she is one of the brightest stars in the pop firmament, with a wisdom and presence that belie her tender years and largely teenage audience.
Swift is in Australia performing the final leg of her Speak Now tour. She played nearly 100 shows in 17 countries last year but says she’s saved the best for last.
The highly visual show is inspired by her love of music theatre pieces such as Wicked and she treats each of her songs as though they were part of a musical.
‘‘ Australia is one of my favourite places to go and especially to tour,’’ says Swift, who counts Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman among her Nashville neighbours and friends. She also invited Aussie country star Adam Brand to support some of her US shows last year.
Having also appeared in CSI and the starstudded rom- com Valentine’s Day, Swift is adding yet another string to her fiddle with a voice performance in The Lorax, the animated big- screen treatment of the beloved Dr Seuss book, which opens here next month.
Swift, who has donated time and money generously to disaster relief funds, including the Victoria Bushfire Appeal, and has lent her celebrity to a range of good causes, says she was attracted as much by the movie’s message of preservation and conservation as the opportunity to be in a fun film with Zac Efron, Danny Devito and Ed Helms.
‘‘ I really loved The Lorax when I was growing up because it taught me the lesson ‘ don’t be one of those people who doesn’t know what they have until it’s gone’,’’ she says.
‘‘ I carry that lesson with me through life because it really resonated with me to be grateful for what you have and really understand how valuable it is. If you have a family that you love and a job that you love and happiness and contentment, don’t waste it away.’’