There are more important things in the world than the Kanye West/Taylor Swift feud, but you wouldn”t know it from tonight”s MTV Video Music Awards. If West highjacked the spotlight from Swift last night, she got the final say tonight with an incredibly classy introduction of a new song inspired by his jackass antics. Did anyone really think that she was going to come out and blast him?
“Innocent” appears on her Oct. 25 album, “Speak Now.” When Swift announced the new album”s release earlier this summer, she stressed that each song is about a specific incident in her life, but gave no hint that one song was about West.
The ballad is a letter of forgiveness to West, and, in some ways, a fan letter (We’re thinking about the line “Your string of lights is still bright to me”). “Who you are is not what you did/You”re still an innocent,” she sings. She could be speaking to herself when she talks about how it was easier in those “lunch box days”; they’ve both been kicked around a bit as artists. But the line about “lost your balance on a tightrope” is all about West: Swift is one of the most controlled artists in recent memory. As willing as she is to forgive (and by doing so, ensure her continued role as America”s Sweetheart), I”m sure that it is still inconceivable to her that someone could exhibit the lack of control that West did last year.
A true artist has to find some way to make the transition so that the songs have a universal appeal rather that apply only to the two people involved. In some ways, the song succeeds on that front because we”ve all done things we regret and we long for someone”s forgiveness; although the line about being 32 prevents this from wholly being the case.
In terms of her performance, Swift was terrifically composed in what had to be nerve wracking circumstances. She”s never looked more beautiful, dressed like a gorgeous doll from the ’50s with wavy hair pinned back, a gorgeous, flared skirt and red lipstick. Her poise was striking– made all the more so by the fact that she”s only 20.
And here”s the part that pains me. I want to give Swift nothing but praise tonight, but her voice keeps me from being able to do so. She was out of tune a number of times, which is easier to excuse when a singer is bouncing around (like Hayley Williams, who clearly hit a few clams tonight) than when someone is simply sitting and singing. The song, which we”re sure her label Big Machine will find a way to service to radio overnight, has some beautiful lyrics, including this one we particularly like: “Time turns flames to embers/You”ll have new Septembers.”
The song receives a B. The performance is an A. Her singing is a C.
What do you think?