- The Washington Times - Friday, February 5, 2010

NASHVILLE, Tenn. | The head of Taylor Swift’s record label is fired up and defending his superstar against critical comments about her Grammy-night performance.

“She is the voice of this generation. She speaks directly to [her fans], and they speak directly back to her,” said Big Machine Records CEO Scott Borchetta in a phone interview. “This is not ‘American Idol.’ This is not a competition of getting up and seeing who can sing the highest note. This is about a true artist and writer and communicator. It’s not about that technically perfect performance.”

Mr. Borchetta first responded to the backlash in an interview with the Tennessean. Asked by the Associated Press why he felt the need to defend Miss Swift, he said because the criticism was “just over the top.”

“It’s that classic thing that critics do of building something up and then wanting to tear it down,” he said.

Miss Swift rehearsed her performance and duet with Stevie Nicks twice at the Staples Center in Los Angeles in front of an audience. Entertainment Weekly wrote of the rehearsal, “The two women’s voices complemented each other nicely on the harmonies of ‘Rhiannon.’ ”

But on Sunday night’s Grammy show, Mr. Borchetta said Miss Swift had a technical issue that made her worry about her performance.

“We had a volume problem in the ear. So, she was concerned that she wasn’t able to hear everything in the mix,” Mr. Borchetta said. “That’s just part of live TV. … So you’re going to have difficulties on occasion. Unfortunately, on one of the biggest stages, we did have a technical issue. She couldn’t hear herself like she had in rehearsal.”

The chatter at times overshadowed the four Grammys Miss Swift had won, including album of the year.

It’s doubtful her fans will abandon Miss Swift anytime soon, judging by positive comments on her Facebook and MySpace pages, or shun the second leg of her sold-out “Fearless” tour, which resumes March 4 in Tampa, Fla.

And with that, Mr. Borchetta has a message to all of her critics.

“If you haven’t seen her live performance, you’re welcome to come out as my guest to a Taylor Swift show and experience the whole thing, because it’s amazing,” he said. “There’s a reason tickets are selling like they are.”

Miss Swift’s “Fearless” album has sold more than 5 million copies and was last year’s top-selling album.

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