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Barbi Martinez: Why I Love Pitchfork, Ryan Adams & Taylor Swift


Mainstream music site officially adopts pop superstar as its muse. Meanwhile, Ry-Ry goes shopping for a ring and a morning jacket… Above: perennial airbrush portrait of Swift that is apparently favored by Pitchfork.

By Barbi Martinez, Blurt Intern

I know, I know… we’ve all been teased by erstwhile indie rock supporter Pitchfork’s August-October love affair with erstwhile tween pop star Taylor Swift via their breathless coverage of Ryan Adams’ equally breathless COVERage of Taylor Swift (8 separate pieces in all posted during that time; no telling how many side comments occurred as well). Me, I love Ry, and our very own editor has sung the songwriter’s praises as well; although there’s probably no one here in the BLURT smoking tent right now that will ever admit to have listened to a #TayTay track all the way through unless they happened to be trapped in line at a Target or something.

Translation: Adams’ song-by-song cover of Swift’s 1989 did cause some dissonance along the lines of should-we-cover-should-we-dismiss dialogue, but luckily rational heads prevailed once the drugs wore off and the general consensus was that the newly-single Adams and the generally-at-loose-ends (so she says) Swift were just engaged in a ridiculously public mating dance via social media and there was no good reason to give ink to what’s ultimately destined to be a musical footnote to an otherwise respected artist’s career. (Adams’ career, not Swift’s, just in case you haven’t been following this.) This is not a genuine musical moment, in other words, but a sideshow.

Ry Ry

Anyway… getting back to the main point, as most folks know by now, back in mid-October Pitchfork sold out, er, completed what was a long, protracted process of selling out by being purchased by mainstream media conglomerate Condé Nast. The only surprise is that it took so long to happen; media wags had long speculated that Kanye West had bought a stake in the media outlet years earlier to coincide with its then-new all-Kanye/all-positive/all-the-time policy of urban music coverage. Subsequently, we sat back and awaited the inevitable.

It happened today (Nov. 1), as the following headline suggests: “Taylor Swift Performs ‘Here’ With Alessia Cara.” Putting aside the question of who is (and who cares about) 18-year old Canadian R&B pop tart Cara, this marks the first time in recent memory that the words “Taylor” and “Swift” have led off a header for Pitchfork. Previously, there was only the August 26 “Taylor Swift Brings Out Beck and St. Vincent in L.A.”, of course, but that put the spotlight squarely on the site’s acknowledged faves, Beck and St. Vincent, with Swift essentially just a sidebar.

Still… come to think of it, way back in June, during the big Swift-Apple dust-up over royalties, a pseudo-think piece about artists’ rights titled “Taylor Swift Fights For the Underdogs” was published, and in retrospect it now looks suspiciously like it was laying the groundwork for a full-on love fest between the site and the artist, with contributor Kathy Iandoli even using that excruciating “Tay-Tay” nickname of affection. (My little brother, who is in the 6th grade, told me recently about his principal using that yechh-y nickname at a school anti-bullying rally when quoting from “Shake It Off” lyrics. Keep that middle school reference in mind, as that is the context we are operating in when discussing Taylor Swift.)

Pitchfork hearts Taylor

Well, said love fest is complete.

Welcome to the (Big) Machine, Pitchfork. We get it. Everyone in your office will receive VIP tickets to the “1989-Redux” tour (plus invites to the presumably forthcoming Tay-Tay and Ry-Ry wedding), while we, your readership, will get wall-to-wall coverage of Taylor along with her BFFs Kanye, Ed, Lena and god knows who else. Maybe Mick?

Ms. Martinez is BLURT’s one and only official office intern. Keep this quiet: in the very near future we plan to send her out for coffee and Danish and, upon her return, give her a long-overdue promotion.