Why Taylor Swift Won That Grammy (And Lady Gaga Didn’t). ALSO: Grammy Gallery!

GRAMMYS: As noted in our Grammy live-blog, last night was our first Grammy-watching experience [as newly minted members of the “media,” it is now our “responsibility” to do so] and although there were some fantastic performances and some super-cute children, we’re not sure if we’ll bother tuning in next year. For example; the night took a very sour turn at approximately 11:25 PM. Prior to that moment, Beyoncè had already cemented her spot as the first woman ever to take home six Grammy awards, and that’s a beautiful thing. Lady Gaga had changed outfits several times. Rihanna brought Solange Knowles’ kid up on stage and he was adorbs. Even the Dave Matthews Band made us feel warm and stoned inside, just like in college.

Let’s relish in those moments for a bit. Here’s Gaga’s performance:

Here’s our gallery with funny captions!

But then, once again America felt it necessary to balance the impact of our Socialist President by electing another Republican to the House of Representatives I MEAN giving Best Album to Taylor Swift.

Following the announcement of Taylor’s win we shut off the teevee, unable to bear another “oh gee you like me even though I sing country music?” speech. Yes, yes, we know: Taylor is a very nice girl, she’s got a “good head on her shoulders,” she plays an instrument and she writes her own songs. (Frankly we’d be concerned if anyone over the age of 21 was responsible for “She’s cheer captain and I’m on the bleachers.”) That’s fantastic, good work Taylor. Unfortunately this is not the Good Head on Her Shoulders contest or the Nicest Contest, this is a Good Music Contest. (Or is it? More on that in a bit) Yes, she’s young. But honestly, Gaga’s only 23. Taylor is not a puppy, as the entire nation seemed to think she was when Kanye West interrupted her VMA speech last year and the entire world gathered around to crown her martyr of the week.

But ok really — does it even matter that Swift won? Well, sorta. It sorta matters ’cause when Taylor Fucking Swift wins Album of the Year, that means the Idiot Populists Have Won.  It means the people favored Digestable over Daring in a major way.  It’s a familiar feeling for us queer weirdos: Kris Allen wins American Idol, Two and a Half Men snags repeat Emmys, George W. Bush wins the presidency, Utah needs another year to decide if illegalizing discrimination against gays is a good idea and My So-Called Life gets canceled. It means that our people are not in charge of the world, which annoys us, because we want to get our way. Perhaps it’s not an honorable emotion, but it is what it is.

Or maybe we’re just irritated by her seemingly shameless persistence in claiming she succeeded against all odds simply because of her musical genre of choice/geographical headquarters (Nashville, in case you missed it). I’ve only seen the girl speak three times and every time I’ve been inspired to immediately wikipedia her ass to find out what tragic narrative has inspired such platitudes. I’ve come up short.

Taylor grew up white and well-off in America with supportive parents who, following Taylor’s one-and-only Life Complaint that, “junior high was actually sort of hard because I got dumped by this group of popular girls” for “liking country music” and “not being pretty enough,” swooped her out of Pennsylvania and took her to Nashville for a recording contract and Christian home-schooling. Unimpeded by hard knocks, financial troubles or discrimination, Taylor has been successfully performing since she was a pre-teen. Sounds pretty awesome.

We’re not faulting her for a privileged life; many deserving performers share similarly blessed narratives. I’m sure many of us here and many of you have had great lives that don’t diminish your achievements.

But these similarly privileged stars certainly don’t label their rise to fame a “fairy tale,” (a rags-to-riches archetype is intrinsic to that genre) and Swift’s entitlement to a story far more dramatic than her actual tale is just kinda grating. But she is, I suppose, only 19, and a lot of things seem dramatic when you’re 19.

Or maybe we’re just pissed because Taylor Swift performed at the 2008 Republican Convention! Or maybe because we honestly still wonder why, unlike the Undeserved Winners of Award Shows Past, Taylor did not acknowledge in her eventual MTV VMAs speech that Beyoncè DID indeed deserve that award, just like Kanye said. Although it’s practically par for the course to mention & celebrate your other nominees when a performer wins any award, Taylor never has. Furthermore when you win an award you clearly don’t deserve, it’s proper to attribute your surprise at winning to your achievements relative to the quality of your fellow nominees. However, it’s kind of grossly indulgent to chalk up your surprise to the alleged “story for the grandchildren” that you claim your life has suddenly, just this moment, become. It is this persistent entitlement and lack of humility that ultimately pisses me off the most.

Okay — yes, Taylor has worked hard, yes she deserves all the success in the world, and she’s gotten it! But does she also need the Grammy?

Let’s talk to Gaga’s Number One fan, Autostraddle’s design director Alex Vega:

Fuck Taylor Swift. Maybe if she gave a great live performance like Grammy-nominated artists are supposed to, I could’ve lived with her win for album of the year… maybe. Well, we should’ve done our research: Grammy experts bet on Taylor Swift for the win before the event even started.

It’s not surprising I guess to realize the world revolves around money (honey):

“The Grammy’s are a grand televised celebration of mediocrity. Whatever is putting the most money into the recording industry’s coffers is what’s going to win. Artistic excellence has nothing to do with it what so ever…. Artistry + monster sales – plausible threat from low-selling record by member of music’s old guard = Taylor’s biggest win of the night.”

I’m angry not because Gaga should’ve won necessarily, but that Taylor Swift shouldn’t have won! But since we’re talking about Gaga, I’d like to add that she’s earned four consecutive #1 Billboard hits from “The Fame,” and her 5th is “Bad Romance” from The Fame Monster. If she solidifies a 6th consecutive #1 song with her next Fame Monster single release, she will have tied only the Bee Gees and The Beatles for that record. Whitney Houston had 7. JUST. FUCKING. SAYING.

It’s a conspiracy, is what I’m saying.

Jezebel’s Dodai in Lady Gaga was Robbed, regarding Taylor’s positive financial impact on the music industry, which many are crediting for her win:

But I’ll argue that Lady Gaga has done something Taylor Swift has not — in an era of dwindling attention spans, she’s made music interesting. By pairing outrageous fashion with relentless dance beats, she energized pop music and kept people guessing what she’d do, wear, sing — and wear — next. She is heavily influenced by other artists, yet has a unique vision. Unlike Swift, Gaga seamlessly transitions between genres — tackling both dancefloor anthems and ballads — and her voice is incredibly strong when she sings live, despite the fact that she’s also keeping up with choreography. Swift’s out of tune duet with Stevie Nicks as was painful as Gaga’s dueling piano number with Elton John was glorious.

When Taylor Swift won Country Music Association’s Entertainer Of The Year, Wynonna Judd said it was “too soon.” She got shit for it, but she was right. Lady Gaga was still a brunette recovering Catholic school girl playing tiny, urine-scented clubs at that age, and she’s shown a lot of growth and determination. So why didn’t Lady Gaga win? Maybe the members of the academy find Swift’s unoffensive, friendly tunes truly exquisite. Or perhaps pop music politics mirror that of American society — Gaga the liberal versus Taylor the conservative — and “conservative” makes the Academy feel more comfortable.

At Black Book, Rohin Guha makes an argument that hits a bit close to home:

There’s no way that the telecast, which aired on CBS, was going to hand an Album of the Year honor to a performer who has come out as such an unequivocal gay rights activist and tends to smash bottles of vodka against grand pianos over someone as Wonderbread as Taylor Swift.

Jacob Bernstein at The Daily Beast:

Pop/country crossover sensation Taylor Swift took home the award for Album of the Year, and it’s probably not a total coincidence that at 5.4 million copies sold, it’s also the most successful collection of material released since January 2009.

Ann Powers from the LA Times, “On the 2010 Grammy Awards”:

… as well-crafted as her platinum-selling tales of suburban high school life are, it’s Swift’s persona that really sells. This smart young woman comes across as a perky, living American Girl doll, and that appealing version of traditional young womanhood, not her music, is at the heart of her stardom.

Her singing certainly can’t be credited. Appealing enough on record, it always seems to let her down live. Swift gave a strikingly bad vocal performance at Staples Center on Sunday, sounding tinny and rhythmically flat-footed as she shared the microphone with the distinctive Stevie Nicks. Swift’s inability to match or support Nicks as they worked through a medley of each woman’s hits stood in stark contrast to the evening’s other pairings, particularly soul man Maxwell’s sensitive response to Roberta Flack and Lady Gaga’s bravado turn with Elton John.

So there you have it. Moving on!

3-D: Last night when they did that 3-D thing at the Grammys I remembered a 3-D stunt from the 80’s, back when 3-D was reserved for theme park rides and Imax theaters and still considered relatively novel and unlike this time, we all had our glasses. I tracked down the event I recalled, here it is:

The 1989 Superbowl Half-Time Show:

NBC‘s Bob Costas introduced the halftime show on air, which included a 3-D commercial for Diet Coke, and computer generated 3-D effects during the show itself. In the days leading up to the game, Coca-Cola distributed special 3-D glasses to be worn during the performance. The set list included several 1950s doo wop style songs, but despite an Elvis impersonator as the star, no Elvis Presley songs were included.

Defamer – OK Hollywood, Please Slow it Down With the 3-D Funny Business:

Last night, one of the many atrocities committed at the Grammys was a poorly conceived Michael Jackson 3-D video. Nothing says “the future” like 3-D. The only problem is we’re not quite ready for it on this level.

ON DIRECTING: At the Directors Guild of America Awards, “Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman EVER to win the DGA top honors for feature filmmaking [for The Hurt Locker].”

SKINS: EMILY’S relationship with lesbian lover Naomi is under threat in this week’s Skins – when her mum gets involved on this week’s episode of Skins.

Meanwhile we learn that “Skins beauty Kaya Scodelario wishes she could have been part of the show’s racy lesbian plot. The actress said she was disappointed she did not get to join in the action between characters Naomi Campbell (Lily Loveless) and Emily Fitch (Kathryn Prescott).”

TILA: Tila’s quitting twitter: “Twitter, by FAR as THE MOST HATEFUL, DEVIL WORSHIPPERS, RACIST, AND VIOLENT COMMUNITY THAT I HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED! TWITTER IS BAD . . . My true fans know where to find me.” (@celebnewswire)

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2675 articles for us.

58 Comments

  1. to add to the tayswift discussion…this facebook status update comes from my old roommate who did in fact attend junior highschool with taylor swift. ” 4 grammys? you still had an ugly backpack…” that is all.

    • Thank you Megan! I agree with Jezebel too, as Dodai expresses herself in the written word much better than I do. ALSO, Riese did a great job with the rest of the synopsis:
      “It means that our people are not in charge of the world, which annoys us, because we want to get our way.” That is very much how I feel!

  2. i still can’t figure out what lady gaga looks like. and i contend that rather than being a person, she is actually a construct being performed by a number of people with great success. because honest to god she never looks the same. and i don’t just mean that she’s being orbited by different moons in her interplanetary outfits. her face changes! it’s confusing! are there multiple physical manifestations of her? help!

    i didn’t know there was even the remote possibility that the grammys reward actual talent. though maybe i am just transferring my increasing oscar disillusionment over to a different genre of award show. but i don’t think so.

    also…is taylor swift saying that she’s at a disadvantage because she’s located in nashville? because…er…that’s like where the country music industry IS. like…that’s what nashville is for.

    • “i didn’t know there was even the remote possibility that the grammys reward actual talent.”

      You did yourself a favor here, Taylor. I should’ve listen to Stef when she told me last year that the Grammys were a sham.

  3. I just watched the Taylor Swift/Stevie Nicks duet and Taylor’s performance was more embarrassing than anything Kanye could have ever done to her. I could see the thought bubble over Stevie’s head and it said “WTF? HAS IT REALLY COME TO THIS?!”

  4. We can at least always hope for the winning straights to turn.

    Personally, I hear Swift’s “You Belong With Me” as a dyke anthem, butch v. femme (notice she never identifies the recipient of the message as a dude).

    And Kris Allen? I think he discovered some stuff about himself when he was sharing a room with Adam Lambert on AI, if you know what I mean. Lately he’s been gaying it up every time the label isn’t standing behind him and making him talk about his wife. Have you seen this gif?

    http://i46.tinypic.com/2wda5hk.jpg

    Yeah. Straight as an arrow.

  5. I’m just glad I’m not the only one who thinks Taylor Swift looks like an American Girl.

    If I’ve learned anything from my life, it’s that the music industry is fucked up beyond belief. In so many ways, and my dear father has often warned me that getting involved in it is one of the stupidest and most pointless things a human being can do. It IS pretty much all about palatability and profitability, and has nothing to do with innovation or interest. So I’m truly not surprised Gaga was robbed.

  6. I don’t know if you guys have looked up the winners from last night, but we saw hardly ANY awards! And it wasn’t just the obscure “Best Instrumental by a Duo/Group with Animals, but not Felines, Recorded Somewhere Between May and July”, it was big awards. We could have done without some of the performances and seen a few more awards and “I want to thank God” acceptance speeches.

  7. I feel so naive for expecting any other outcome in Taylor Swift v. Lady Gaga. Like, of course the Taylor Swifts of the world are always going to win over the Lady Gagas. This is what happens to us, right? It’s fucking annoying. Also, I really just wanted to see gaga navigate her way to the stage, in those crazypants shoes and that awesome icicle headdress, and give the most kickass acceptance speech ever.

    ps. did y’all see that picture where t-swift actually dropped one of her Grammys? She was trying to hold all four of them at once and one of them jumped ship. I think we all know which one.

  8. I haven’t heard Taylor Swift’s album. Has anyone? Regardless, I’m quietly confident that she did not write the best album of the year. It’s made me a little curious though, I think I’d like to listen to both Gaga and Swift’s albums and do a comparative analysis.

    I think what I’ve learned here is that music awards are bullshit in every country. Except when Green Day wins.

    I wish they’d included Effy in the Skins lesbian storyline as well. In my head, they did.

  9. This is all Kanye’s fault.

    If he hadn’t of spoken the (ill-timed) time truth way back in September, then Taylor Swift couldn’t have destroyed the legitimacy of the golden statue known as a Grammy award.

    Nobody really knew about Tay Swizz before that whole debacle, dare i say even cared. Sure she had a couple good songs that annoyed the shit out of most people who found themselves humming them at random moments (in the shower/waiting), but they don’t add up to “Album of the Year” good.

    Like someone said before, Tay Swizz is Wonderbread, but not even though! Wonderbread is good all the time (and all the time, Wonderbread is good). How does one win “Album of the Year” and also give the worst live performance of the year, and probably the year to come, all in one night? Clearly, this girl is ambitious.

    Tay Swizz can be likened more to tofu than Wonderbread.

    Grammy fail.

    On a lighter note, Rihanna and the kid = tres cute.

    • Unfortunately, people did know about her. I’ve never noticed a more aggressive marketing push (there probs have been, but they were just better at more subtee mind control and I now own whatever they sold me). There were Taylor swift ads up on random community message boards all over my college town. It freaked me out ’cause I went to the website it gave expecting some new local act and got… well her. I was also asked to be her Myspace fan like 4 times (which was the total number of log ins I had last year). That song was on the radio every goddamn ten minutes. But sales =/= best art or even talent.

      And while I do love Wonderbread more that Tay Swizz (I could tell it apart from other breads as a kid and refused anything else), I don’t think the Repubs had much tofu at their convention. 😛 What do Republicans eat? Chicken wings? Babies? I don’t even know.

  10. I am going to protest this travesty by listening to gaga all day because this morning I heard telephone early in the grocery store and I started singing while waiting to check out. TAYLOR SWIFT CANNOT DO THIS TO PEOPLE AT 8 AM. that is all.

    • Haa I hadn’t noticed. Thanks for pointing that out.

      I’ve moved on from my Wonderbread youth to a near obsession with Ozark Mountain Bread Co. (who only distribute locally since their stuff has no preservatices) 10 Grain Cracked bread. I think that’s it… anyway it has 10 grains and each slice weighs about a pound and has a million carbs and is basically magic. Hopefully young Swift fans will have a similar taste progression from mass manufactured to skillfully crafted, complex world of win.

    • I wasn’t allowed to eat Wonderbread as a child and so I wanted it really badly. Now I can eat whatever I want and I hate Wonderbread, I like 12-grain or rye nonsense. That progression of taste probs applies to most things in my life.

  11. re: taylor swift: defo read the “she has a good head on her shoulders” sentence as “gives good head.” sorry taylor. also, maybe i’m just confused on this topic, but is what she does actually country music? it sounds to me like “pop done by someone who happens to be from the south.” linda ronstadt is rolling over in her grave.

    re: tila: she is not quitting twitter. let’s be real.

    • Rachel, she’s actually not even from the south. she’s from pennsylvania. THAT’S THE ADVERSITY SHE FACED RACHEL, SHE LIKED COUNTRY MUSIC BUT SHE’S ACTUALLY FROM THE NORTH! Do you understand how hard that must have been for her to overcome for the first 11 years of her life? It’s like slavery in reverse!

    • No, this really isn’t country music!

      Johnny Cash/Patsy Cline/Roy Clark, that was country music. Garth Brooks/George Strait/Trisha Yearwood/The Judds, that was country music. This is something else, and it’s terrible. Taylor Swift is to country what Avril Lavigne is to pop music, a terrible stain on the genre.

      The Dixie Chicks (god love ’em) fucking nailed it in Long Time Gone…

      “Now they sound tired but they don’t sound Haggard. They’ve got money but they don’t have Cash. They got Junior but they don’t have Hank, I think, I think, I think. The rest is a long time gone.”

      This is fucking depressing, really.

  12. I’m not sure I even understand award shows anymore. I mean I get that they’re supposed to award talent, but really all they’re doing is awarding wealth. Like congratulations, a bunch of rich famous people get to dress up and hang out with each other while we all drool in front of our TVs? I just think it’s an unnecessary display of decadence that we don’t need anymore, especially since the people who deserve to win don’t. Then it comes to the point that we actually care about who received a piece of plastic or gold or whatever that thing is made of.

    I’m don’t listen to Taylor Swift and I probably wouldn’t care enough to punch her in the face if I ever saw her. I don’t care if she wins a hundred million Grammys; they’ll never take away from the talent Lady Gaga has. Because when I listen to my ipod, I’m listening by myself. And when I hang out in Riese’s bedroom with Alex we listen to Lady Gaga and no one fucking cares about Taylor Swift.

    The point that I’m trying to make here is that award shows are no longer relevant and they don’t add to the personal experience of listening to an album or watching a movie or tv show. Tegan and Sara are never gonna win a grammy, yet so many of readers put The Con as one of the albums they can’t live without. Award shows are just a bunch of rich people congratulating themselves on being rich.

    Ps. I didn’t watch the Grammys so it’s possible I have no idea what I’m talking about.

  13. I wish Effy had been part of the “racy, lesbian plot” as well. There’s still time for a threesome, isn’t there? Skins hasn’t done ~that yet!

    Also, this is probably one of my favourite posts in all of AS history. Because you’re right, it’s not even so much about the fact that GaGa didn’t win, it’s the fact that Swifty absolutely didn’t deserve that many freaking awards. Plus, I find it so irritating when one artist/thing/movie/etc sweeps EVERYthing (lookin at you slumdog millionaire), especially when there’s other nominees who deserve it so, so very much more. I don’t care how nice she is, either.

    Can we also talk for a second about how it’s bullshit that Kanye wasn’t invited and 808’s and Heartbreaks wasn’t nominated at all.

  14. Tonight, I introduced my kids to Lady Gaga and I am regretting it already because they are now both upstairs in bed singing “Ra Ra Ro Ma Ma” on what appears to be an infinite loop. Damn Autostraddle and your Lady Gaga love! I’ve finally capitulated.

  15. Can we also just say that Lady GaGa was Swiftboated? Because that’s what I want to call it.

    Also all Taylor Swift means is fast seamstress and Lady GaGa’s name comes from a Queen song, HOW CAN THAT BE A COMPETITION?

    Of course, my name means ‘hot sheep’, so maybe I don’t want to play this game.

  16. taylor swift should of thanked beyonce and lady gaga and beyonce were both robbed, that little fairytale girl did not deserve that award, her performance was so annoying it was like watching an episode of sesame street #getthefucouttaheretaylorswift

  17. I just wanted to tell someone and you ladies are just the someones that would care:
    TOMORROW AT 7PM I WILL BE SEEING MIA KRISHNER IN PERSON.
    I go to Ball State and she’s coming to talk about the book she’s collaborating on, I Live Here.

    Secretly I hope we kiss, because she kissed Shane who kissed Helena who kissed Tina who kissed Bette Porter, yes please.

  18. Pingback: Lez-BeHonest Press » Check out Lady Gaga, Beyonce, & Taylor Swifts Grammy Performance, & Then Get Even More Pissed That Taylor Swift Won Album Of The Year

  19. OK so when Taylor came on with Stevie Nicks(witch by the way i am a huge fan of and cant believe shes sunk that low) i turned of my tv and just walked away… so i went to go look up the performance on youtube because i heard how painful it was and had to see this train wreck in action, well i came across this 9yr. old girl doing covers of ms. swifts songs and can i just say A NINE YEAR OLD SINGS(and plays) HER SONG BETTER THEN SHE DOES!! heres the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7CF-ZuLYF4&feature=PlayList&p=9B7B954B49F73D93&index=52

    anyway i did end up finding the duet and can i just say, the previously mentioned train was full of adorable puppies and along with killing them she also ruined my favorite Fleetwood Mac song.
    so thanks Taylor, and the next time you win anything make sure you thank kanye west because you owe so much to that man for making you look like a victim

  20. The Grammys are the suck. Gaga should be happy in the knowledge that she doesn’t need her career/art/music ‘validated’ by a bunch of lame idiots desperately trying to maintain any semblance of relevance to actual music that they may have once had. What a sham. Also, STEVIE NICKS NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

  21. I just have a funny story. I see a physical therapist/massage therapist regularly.. this was our conversation today. She’s a straight (theoretically) mom of 2, but young and so cool.

    her: “Did you watch the Grammy’s?”
    me: “Most of it”
    her: “Did you stop at the part where Taylor Swift sang her own song flat the whole way through and forced Stevie to sing backup, or the part where she stole the Album of the Year Award?”
    me: “Dude, Gaga so deserved that. and Taylor sang so bad!!”
    her: “We turned it off after that performance. Is that even country? If I were Stevie I would have probably shot myself when they asked me.”
    me: “Seriously. and Lady Gaga got robbed.. 4 number one hits!!”
    her: “She’s awesome. Did you see Pink’s performance? Oh my god”
    me: “Oh my god, so good!! She should be in Cirque di Solei or something”
    her: “I know, right? My husband was like, ‘I have to record this so I can watch it later. Is she lip-syncing?’ and I was like ‘Even if she is, it’s still amazing because A) you can’t tell ’cause she’s so good, and B) she’s doing those circus acts.”

    love her! There was a lot more Gaga/Pink gushing in that convo… but it was nothing new.

  22. Ehh this is kinda like OBAMA WINNING THE FUCKING NOBEL PEACE PRIZE.

    Just saying.. Im a lil monster til I die, but fuck people, chill out. wheres all the shit about that monkey winning the nobel peace prize and he hasnt DONE SHIT… for us gays or anyone else.

    hmmmm.

  23. Pingback: Grammys 2010 – Feminisim, backlash and everything in between. at I’m Wide Awake, It’s Caitlin

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