Music News & Reviews

Can Taylor Swift actually sing? That and other pressing questions

Taylor Swift performs in concert at the Prudential Center on Friday, March 29, 2013 in Newark, N.J. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Taylor Swift performs in concert at the Prudential Center on Friday, March 29, 2013 in Newark, N.J. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP) Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Taylor Swift is on the rebound — yet again — picking up the pieces in the wake of a breakup with One Direction boy-band member Harry Styles. So expect more hits soon.

Whatever toll the singer's always-fragile love life takes on her emotions, of course, it always has been balanced by songs that spin those heartaches into gold — or, in the case of record sales, platinum. Swift, set to perform a sold-out concert Saturday at Rupp Arena in Lexington, worked magic again with her album Red, which shattered records when it arrived in October.

Red sold 1.2 million copies in its first week, logging the highest weekly sales total since Eminem's The Eminem Show in 2002. The feat made Swift, 23, the only female artist — and only the fourth act ever — to sell that many albums in an opening week twice: Her 2010 album, Speak Now, also broke the million mark in its debut week.

So that's two record-breaking weeks and, well, a lot more boyfriends than that. Styles can now be added to an honor roll that also includes American royalty Conor Kennedy (yes, of those Kennedys), musicians John Mayer and Joe Jonas, and actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Taylor Lautner.

Plenty of inspiration for such subtle anti-love songs as We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together. No doubt, there will be more.

While we're waiting, it's worth considering what kind of a song all those jilted exes might create: Is it too much to secretly wish such a collaboration might yield a We Are the World of Taylor Swift's romantic history? At the least, this pop-culture Algonquin Round Table would have good stories.

To get them started, here's a list of potential topics. Discuss!

Can she sing? Inquiring minds — and anyone with average hearing — still want to know. On TV, at least, Swift's vocals are invariably off-key. She had a particularly rough time in 2010, a stretch that included a ghastly Rhiannon duet with Stevie Nicks on the Grammys and a tonally challenged performance at the NFL's season kickoff concert in New Orleans. In concert, the voice is more assured and — no matter what it sounds like — the lady is utterly confident.

Is she a good correspondent? Hundreds of unopened pieces of Swift's fan mail were discovered recently in a Dumpster behind an elementary school in Nashville, an embarrassing incident for a star known for her devotion to her followers. The unopened mail was delivered to Swift's Nashville office by a local TV station, where the publicists said the singer would be made aware of them. In the fantasy visual, imagine a parade of postal workers dumping the enormous stack on Swift's desk, a la letters to Santa in Miracle on 34th Street.

Is she hurt by the mean things people say? After hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler jokingly told Swift to "stay away from Michael J. Fox's son" at the Golden Globes in January, the singer told Vanity Fair: "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." A cynic might wonder: Is there Taylor Swift's music on the sound system?

Will she ever find true love? In a recent interview, Swift contemplated a scenario that she wants to avoid: "I don't wanna end up being awful and intolerable," she said in the April issue of the British edition of InStyle. "Laying in a marble bathtub by myself, like sad, with a glass of wine just complaining that my life ended up alone because I pushed everyone away because I thought I was too good to hang out with anybody."

It would be interesting to hear the exes take on that possibility, but it would be better if the singer found a way to avoid the unhappy ending. Maybe there's a song in that.


Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran

When: 7 p.m. April 27

Where: Rupp Arena, 430 W. Vine St.

Tickets: Sold out

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