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Taylor Swift and award show losses are not two thoughts that often go together, but in a recent sit down with the Grammy offices, the country-turned-pop singer reveals that losing Album of the Year for Red was a low point.
“When they announced the album of the year winner, it was like, ‘and the album of the year goes to Reeeeandom Access Memories, Daft Punk’,” recalls Swift. “They really dragged out the ‘Reeee’. And I was like, for a second there I kind of thought we had it and we didn’t. I remember not going to after parties. I went home and I cried a little bit. I got In And Out Burger and I ate a lot.”
Before there was Red, there was Swift’s self-titled debut album. Taylor explains how the record and working with new producer Nathan Chatham came about. “I had been working with this demo producer named Nathan Chatham. He worked in, it was actually a shack, and I’m not exaggerating.” Swift says that after trying to write with other producers, her label finally agreed to Chatham being added to the project and has since work with Taylor on all five of her albums.
Swift talks about the first time she won a Grammy for her work on 2008’s Fearless, saying “It was the first time I ever got to hold a Grammy in my hand…and then drop it in the press room, which was really embarrassing.”
In addition to earning her a Grammy win, Fearless acted as a time capsule to the young singer’s life at the moment. “It (Fearless) was simple, to the point, and a really accurate snapshot of my life at that time. It was exactly what I was going through and it was said very simply, it was sonically cohesive, and that’s my favourite thing looking back on that album.”
After losing out on Album of the Year with Red, Swift was inspired to write her next album. “We don’t make music so we can win a lot of awards, but you have to take your cues from somewhere if you’re going to continue to evolve.”
Intent on making a cohesive record, Taylor woke up the morning after the Grammy loss at 4 am, immediately knowing she would call the record 1989 and make it an 80s synth pop album. Over a dozen sit-downs with the label later, she had successfully convinced the big bosses that it was time to be a pop star.
Swift also explains where some of the ideas for the new album started, including how her dating life had become tabloid fodder. “You’re sitting at an award show and you know there’s going to be a joke about you being a serial dater in the monologue. You’re sitting there, and it’s like, I’m 22 and this is rude.” Swift decided to become the crazed, clingy serial dater that the media had created for one song, writing Blank Space.
Watch as Swift shares the first version she recorded of Blank Space, which includes gibberish lyrics and as she describes and some early 2000 Nelly sounds, giving listeners an insight into the evolution of a song.