Monday Open Thread: Taylor Swift “Box Set”

From CMT:

Taylor Swift will release her next album, Fearless, on Nov. 11 on Big Machine Records, the label announced Friday (Aug. 8). Swift wrote or co-wrote all 13 songs…

In addition, Swift will launch a new Web site,, on Aug. 22, where the album will be available for pre-sale. A limited-edition box set edition, featuring a CD, leather bracelet, T-shirt, picture book and decal, will also be available. The first 10,000 fans to purchase the boxed set and upload their photos will have their pictures included in a mosaic image in the album artwork and on the CD.

I’m at a loss for words, so I’ll just borrow some from Paul Krassner:

For years, reality has been nipping at the heels of satire. Now, it’s finally caught up.

This is an open thread. Tell us what’s on your mind.


  1. And she will sell a kajillion copies.
    I suppose this is what it’s all about… striking while the irons hot and knowing your audience, ie. kids with no bills to pay and nothing but disposable income.
    I would just prefer that Big Machine (whose name is becoming more apropos by the day) would stop before this turns into Taylor Montana / Hannah Swift part deux.
    While they are all making $$ hand over guitar these days, there is always that burn out factor so synonymous with the kid-o’s AND fans in general.

    In another couple of years, they’ll decide she needs to do a “grown up” cd and then sales tank… she goes away for awhile… then makes a comeback years later.
    Wait, that sounds kinda familiar….. ;-)

  2. I won’t be buying it but I have a feeling this record will be selling the 2nd most albums this year (as a debut week at least). I can see where it will sell like 500-600K its first week out. Only Lil’ Wayne will have sold more to open up.

  3. I hate to dump on artists, but seriously, shame on Swift and her handlers for capitalizing on kids (and their parents) like this. Those t-shirts better be spun from frickin’ silk.

  4. I’m just wondering what ever happened to buying stuff just because you like it, not because you might get 15 minutes of fame and a bracelet? Since when was buying it for the good music not enough?

  5. This is not that big of a deal. It’s 2008 – not 1988. To move albums, artists have to do something other than just offer the 10 song album. Thus, Sugarland releases the deluxe album FIRST. Thus, Taylor Swift packages some stuff together and sells it with her album. I wouldn’t blame her and her record company for trying to give people a reason to buy the record rather than download it for free.

    And anyway, I’ve seen the stuff artists like the Dixie Chicks, Vince Gill, and Miranda Lambert sell at their concerts. I would not fret for the future of country music just because Taylor Swift is putting that same stuff in a box with her album.

  6. Philly Jeff,

    Sure, it’s not that big of a deal. It is, however, ridiculous to include this stuff with a CD. Including merchandise at concerts is normal, including it with albums is a juvenile marketing scheme. I’m sure it’ll work, but it is still ridiculous. I much prefer my box sets to be full of music like, let’s say, Vince Gill’s These Days box set rather than useless merchandise.

  7. Even though this more closely parallels the Garth limited edition silliness (First 777,777 of Sevens have a gold stamp on the front!), it keeps reminding me of when Reba cut off her hair in 1996, then sent lockets of it on satin pillows to CMA voters.

    I’m with ya regarding extras: I’d rather they come in the form of music. But I’m so far from Taylor Swift’s target audience it’s not even funny.

  8. Sounds like Obama better watch his back.

    If the box set contains the cheat sheet for that killer chemistry exam tomorrow, then I’m sold.

  9. I don’t think it’s all that ridiculous, Leeann. All Taylor’s doing (or, more correctly, all her label’s doing) is acknowledging the business end of the music business.

    Tim McGraw had his Fritos. Loretta Lynn had her Crisco. Minnie Pearl had her fried chicken chain with Mahalia Jackson. In light of that, I’m not gonna’ begrudge Taylor some tchotchke boxes.

  10. OMG Journey! This is like when Disney released Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus, And they threw in a bracelet? No wait, not just a bracelet a leather bracelet? Another OMG!

  11. well i guess that’s one way of showing your fans you care. but seriously, how obsessed would you have to be to buy that? i wonder how many times they will re release this cd

  12. My first thought was: “Wow, what chutzpah starting a website called ‘The Taylor Nation’.” Not quite the Beatles comparing themselves to Jesus, but that girl knows she has fans and how to manipulate…I mean inspire them. She is a marketing genius. First, she’s making something exclusive, thereby putting a premium on it and practically guaranteeing that it flies off the shelves; but she’s also hyping the album up into something big and when something is perceived to be popular or huge, even the casual fan will check it out (e.g., Coldplay’s recent album).

    I’d say that I hope the music lives up to the hype, but I’m not holding my breath…

  13. It’s hard to believe that Taylor was able to achieve huge success from the age-appropriate songs she sings. I wouldn’t think that too many people would be drawn to her for that reason, but for some reason, they have.

    Cool website name. Was that taken from Raider Nation?

  14. paul krassner didn’t think it through to the end. actually, satire has been overtaking reality with more than twice the speed of light, it seems. can’t wait to get a chance to buy the next george strait album coming with a t-bone steak off his favourite steer. i don’t even want to think what my friend chesney will come up with – anything but flip-flops, please!

    yeah, cool new outfit – boldt on stuff!

  15. And don’t forget the Conway Twitty phone card included so you too can say, “Hell, Darlin'”.

    I have to admit, including that lump of coal in the new Kathy Mattea cd did make it hard to close the cover.

  16. I’ll concede that many artists employ marketing gimmicks to sell their albums. I do think, however, that this particular one kind of shows that Swift’s music isn’t really going to mature with the next album as I had hoped. While she’s by no means a good vocalist, I thought her songs had potential as she got older, but I guess they’re going to hold that off for awhile.

    By the way, hers isn’t the only one that I think is ridiculous. I think they all are, really. Including a bag of chips? Seriously. Am I going to be more inclined to pick up a McGraw album because I’ll get a free bag of chips if I do?

    LJ, funny about the coal!

  17. Actually, Rodney Atkins could have put quite a package together for “Watching You”…a Happy Meal, a Little Bear and, maybe, a Bible or something.

  18. I agree with Leanne…I guess I had hopes that her material would start to show traces of her maturing, not just as a writer, but with songs that aren’t all about the romances of high schoolers. She could surprise me though.

    She will be a huge seller no doubt, but I don’t foresee me liking any of these future songs any better than the ones she has…. (and honestly I still really have a problem with her vocals)

  19. I’m curious to see how many of the pictures in the mosaic thing are guys or girls.

    I heard the clip of her new song this morning on itunes, it actually sounds good with possibly more mature lyrics!

  20. Am I the only one who doesn’t think Taylor Swift sounds all that country? I point to her performance at the 2008 CMAs. The getting-wet-in-the-waterfall gimmick reminded me of a wet t-shirt contest (OK, OK, so that’s more redneck than country, and not very “pop”), and her vocals on “Should’ve Said No” reminded me of a very nervous Avril Lavigne–the repeated stamping of the foot, her movements onstage, her outfit when she began singing, the way she TORE! off the grunge/Sk8er Gurl outfit and had the sexy outfit on beneath it…sorry, she just reminds me of Britney-esque/Avril-esque cotton candy fluff. Where’s the twang in her vocals? It seems to come and go, but mostly go. And really–how “country” is a leather wrist cuff? Since when is country music about S&M-related adornments?

    One of my country music students told me he’d heard Swift had planned to “go pop” on her next album. Oh Jesus, please be a guiding light over to the Hot 100 Pop Charts.

    Yeah, I’m cranky today.

  21. I would much rather see someone have a hoodie torn off, throw a guitar away, and stand under a waterfall than watch George Strait or Alan Jackson pretend they’re statues on stage.

    I’ve got mixed feelings on this box set thing. It certainly does feel like a gimmick, and it takes away that special feeling of getting merch at a concert a little bit. But at the same time, I would be thrilled if my favorite band wrapped their CD up in a T-shirt.

  22. Miss Kitty….I’ve always thought Taylor was just like Avril Lavigne! If country music executives or promoters or whomever would not shove the newest thing down your throat, I for one don’t think you would get so many people turning against them as quick! Jimmy Carter reports something on Taylor Swift everyday on my radio station and they play her songs constantly! Enough to really make you sick of that artist. They turned me totally against Kenny Chesney treating him like he’s a god and the only one who can entertain. Oh yeah, I’m cranky too!!

  23. I agree, Kent. I’d also rather go see the Pussycat Dolls dance and lip-synch to their prerecorded tracks than watch the Dixie Chicks stand there and sing their songs live while playing their own instruments.

  24. Ahhh… to live in a world where a musician’s talent is no longer judged by the quality of the song they compose and their ability to sing it….Oh wait I guess now we do. Ladies get your ugly prom gowns out of moth balls and your sparkly halloween makeup…and let’s HIT THE ROAD ! We’re gonna be stars!

  25. I actually have to give Swift a little bit of credit here– knowing exactly how best to market yourself to the Makeup-and-Ponies-and-Stickers-and-Myspace-dot-com! demographic is a talent of sorts. In the same way I can’t fault Carrie Underwood’s people for knowing how to mobilize her base, I can’t fault Swift and Big Machine for knowing how to move a crapload of crap products.

    This is not to say, however, that I can’t fault her for not knowing how to write song lyrics that follow the natural meter of language (maybe she takes lessons from John Rich) and for being completely tone-deaf and shrill. And I’ll be quite impressed if she and Big Machine, given her current limitations as a performer, are as skilled at selling her to a more “mature” audience that is less susceptible to this kind of OMG! marketing in a few years’ time. If they are able to maintain her current levels of success, someone ought to nominate them for a MacArthur fellowship.

  26. I think this debate mirrors one that just happened in the hip-hop genre, when veteran Ice-T criticized the merits of teen phenom Soulja Boy.

    On that debate as well as this one, I have to say that I think the genre will be fine while still including Swift. She’s not a standard bearer, but she is something for kids/tweens/teens to listen to and enjoy. Some adults too.

    I think that its important for younger generations to have something of their own to claim within the genre. Unless you believe that an artist you like more will not get a chance to shine because labels will be looking for more Taylor Swifts, or that the integrity of the genre is being compromised by a teenager making songs for teenagers, why not give her credit for becoming popular?

  27. I give her credit for becoming popular, actually. I think her marketing is smart for her demographic and that she even has talent. I just wish that her label mate, Trisha Yearwood got this kind of push. I understand that Yearwood is considered passed her prime, but that doesn’t stop me from dreaming. I think Yearwood should get a Female Vocalist nomination over Swift, but I’m guessing that Big Machine’s vote will go to Swift, which is where one excellent artist suffers because of the popularity of a mediocre one.

  28. To Jonathan: Very well said. What are the folks at Big Machine going to do in the next couple albums to come? She is headed for the same hard nose-dive as Miley Cyrus in this popularity contest. Put on your helmets and keep watching the sky.

  29. I’m suspecting that most of those who are ragging on her on this thread never exactly built her up in the first place. I suppose *I* could be accused of having higher hopes for her than I do now, though.

  30. Matt B.,

    Not sure where you’re coming from there. Most of the commentary here has been on the marketing of Swift, and those who are vocalizing their criticisms of her talent have been doing so from the beginning, as Leeann said. They’re also doing it respectfully.

  31. Someone should buy the preorder and then send in a picture of a commenter on this site. I’m thinking Paul W. Dennis, or anyone else not in her target demographic.

  32. I wonder how many middle-aged men will have their photos in the album art?

    I’m in TS’s targeted age group (15), but I don’t like her pop-country.

    Enough said.

  33. What a joke country music has become to support this talent-less spoiled brat. Between her pop remixing, pandering to MTV and pop radio, barbie dolls, and shower scenes at teh ACMS that are better left for the mtv awards— I am convinced that the girl needs to go to pop and stay there. You don’t need to sing well in pop music anyway- look at britney spears! So taylor would fit in well there since it requires no vocal skills- just props and hair flicking, which is what taylor is all about.

    She is the hanna montana of country music- and I for one and sick of everything about her. If I hear her songs one more time on my radio– I will vomit.

  34. At least Carrie Underwood has exceptional talent so I didn’t mind when CMT used to over-promote her a little bit– because at least she can sing like the dickens. But the over-exposure and over-promotion of Taylor on CMT, GAC, and country radio as a whole is sickening. They act like she is then next Carrie or Shania– whenin reality, Taylor isn’t even that country, nor is she fit to wipe their boots vocally. I prefer Ashton Shephard or Danielle Peck for the new ladies crop.. At least they can sing. Taylor has gotten arrogant like Miley cyrus has– because too many people tell them how great they are, and they believe it… when in truth, both of them are mediocre at best. Coincidentally, taylor and miley are BFF’s. lol What ever happened to adult artists? Must we listen to jonas brothers, taylor and miley till we want to scratch our eyes and ears out? Why doesn’t Big machine every promote Trisha yearwood??? She sings circles around taylor.. It is an outrage to me that all they care about is making taylor the mileybritney of nashville.. Do we really need another miley cyrus?? at least miley can sing though- taylor can’t sing her way out of a paper bag.

  35. Is Taylor even country anyway?She is from PA not the south, and has no accent at all- nor does she seem to be or act country.. Her Dad is very rich- and helped buy her record deal.. and every other week she is on MTV or pop radio doing interviews. She remixed all her songs for pop radio– and re-released her album like 5 times already, with pop remixes, for her pop fans. Why doesn’t she just be a pop artist? Her new album has a duet with Colbie Coliat, a pop artist, and her song Change sounds pop to me… not country at all. Has anyone heard Taylor’s song Change that is on the olympic soundtrack? it is a copycat of Jeff Buckley’s hallelujia song– the whole thing repeats the words “revolution” and “hallelujia” over and over as if taylor is saying something profound and new.. The theme has been done before many many times, and better. Taylor mentioned that Hallelujia song as one of her favorites on her itunes celebrity playlist- so I think she copied most of it from him. Finally- she is pitchy as usual in the song- and I think it was sort of embarassing to hear that pitchy voice on the olympics yesterday– when much better country artists could have represented America on this soundtrack. Carrie Underwood, Faith, Martina, etc- all could have done country music and the USA proud with a great performance– but this mediocre singer somehow got the slot and did not do it justice.

  36. MAtt- believe me, I know her song went to number one and I don’t understand how it passed Keith Urban, who is amazing… his song is much better too. Something is seriously wrong with country radio if they let this crummy song beat out an established super star like Keith Urban. What is happening to the music industry anyway??

  37. Carrie Underwood sold 527k opening week– for her second album.. so I don’t think Taylor will be anywhere near that. But- since the jonas brothers are selling 750k this week, per Hits daily double- I suppose taylor could do almost as well as carrie. However- miley cyrus only sold 300k or so- and I can’t see taylor beating miley.

  38. Bridget- you rock. :) I have 8 ugly bridesmaid dresses I can donate to our band- so let’s get our hair done up big and hit the road. No matter if we can sing– talent is irrelevant these days. It is all about marketing and myspace.

  39. All you people that put her down I would like to see you get up and do what she does every day, I was just to her concert her in PA….yes PA is country so get over it, we may not have accents but its country…but she was AWESOME in concert, she was better then Rascal Flatts, after she was done singing and Rascal Flatts came on everyone, started to leave cause they wee so boring, she had everyone singing along to the point where if she stopped singing you didn’t even know it cause we were all singing so loud back. I would also like to see you all write that many truthfull songs your self and make your own music to go with them, I know I wish I could do it. I’m 22 I love her music, so before you start to judge people, try and put your self in there shoes for at least a day. What she does is not easy and she does it awesome.

  40. Kimberly, you are the only one who is right. I don’t listen to country radio enough to get sick of Taylor. But, I can’t get enough of her on the internet. I think that she does have talent and can sing well enough for fans of all ages to like her. I am sorry these people’s favs did not make it big like Taylor. And to those who really think they could just dig dresses out of their old Halloween stuff or bridemaid’s dresses and do what Taylor did, dream on!! LOL!! She is Reality! She is fresh, pure and true!! That’s why she’s huge!! How’s that for sattire?

  41. Kimberly, The only thing about your critique I did not like was putting down Rascal Flatts. It’s hard to believe with all their hits, they could ever be boring. But, considering all the contempt on these message about Taylor were upsetting to say the least. I did notice on a utube clip from a Flatts and Taylor live concert that the admiration seemed equal between the Flatt boys and Taylor.

  42. Wasn’t trying to put them down, was just stating what happened at the concert I was at, the Rascal Flatts part wasn’t that great, just my opinion, but alot of people were leaving, but im glad you agree with the Taylor part though.

  43. Taylor Swift will release her next album, Fearless, on Nov. 11 on Big Machine Records, the label announced Friday (Aug. 8). Swift wrote or co-wrote all 13 songs

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