Taylor Swift was nominated for six awards at the MTV EMAs, but received none. So has her latest album, Reputation, backfired?
It’s as hard for me to talk about Taylor Swift’s reputation as it is to admit she has a legacy to protect. But she does.
By winning Grammys and other accolades, leading an annoying “squad” of beautiful A-listers and sparking “bad blood” with anyone (or anything) who steps in her way, TayTay has certainly made a place for herself in the pantheon of mainstream songwriting.
On Instagram, she has more than 100 million followers; on Spotify, she’s back to breaking records; and her album out on Friday is still making headlines for how “personal” it is.
But at the MTV Europe Music Awards she arrived with six nominations and left empty handed.
Even in a ceremony presented by a bathrobe-wearing Rita Ora, this was still the biggest surprise of the night.
Only made stranger by the fact that Eminem was crowned best hip-hop act before even releasing an album.
“I’m not really sure how I got this, ’cause I haven’t had an album out in a few years’,” he said, awkwardly, on stage.
“I got one coming though”.
But even in a clumsy awards ceremony featuring the very worst that modern music has to offer, I still find it satisfying to see Taylor Swift getting snubbed.
Especially, since her latest album – conveniently titled Reputation – is, in my opinion, the single most self-centred and hateful mix-tape ever released.
From the first song to the last, her sixth studio outing is an attempt to – in her own lyrics – kill the “old Taylor” and come out as the “bad reputation” girl. But hasn’t she already?
For years, the public image of Taylor Swift has arguably been one of feuds and grudges and blacklists.
On the industry front she went to war with Spotify over royalties, after stopping the streaming service from releasing her 2012 album Red.
Two years after saying “valuable things should be paid for” – the rich singer’s version of “it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to” – she pulled all her music from Spotify.
This year, she admitted defeat. But even after making peace with Spotify, fans will still have to wait for one week to stream her whole album in any platform.
With her previous record 1989, she withheld it from streaming for eight months.
And it’s not just streaming… Taylor’s not crazy about journalists either.
Earlier this month, her team of lawyers tried to silence a small-time blogger who criticised the singer for not addressing political issues.
The blog post titled “Swiftly to the alt-right: Taylor subtly gets the lower case kkk in formation” also compared Swift’s following to that of Adolf Hitler.
The letter from Swift’s lawyers, which threatened to sue the blogger if the post was not retracted, was criticised by the American Civil Liberties Union for an “attempt to suppress constitutionally protected speech”.
“Intimidation tactics like these are unacceptable,” ACLU said. Taylor’s stand had backfired.
On a personal level, the list is ever-growing. From Nicki Minaj to Kanye West and Katy Perry, from Calvin Harris to Harry Styles, TayTay’s list of so-called haters is nearly as long as her legion of fans.
And that’s where her problem truly lies: The fans. The MTV EMAs differ from other industry awards, because they are voted on by fans.
The mechanism allows mediocre acts to flourish, but it also mirrors the artist’s true fan power – a much more accurate measure of success than the ever-fading charts.
By snubbing her music, her fans could be showing they are over her attacks on her enemies and score-settling with former boyfriends.
Even in the charts, her album is witnessing a sub-par performance in both the UK and the US.
By evolving from sweet country icon to the wicked witch of pop, TayTay might have felt empowered and cool. By fighting with everyone and everything, she might have felt like a vigilante.
Her huge fanbase might have helped enable all this, tweeting “you go girl” when she acted wrongly with others. They believed the sweet girl from Texas was standing up to abuse.
Now it seems her fans are no longer buying it.