The 2014 MTV Video Music Awards were basically a magic wonderland of epic performances. (Yes, I'm talking about Beyoncé, but the other not-Beyoncés who performed were good, too.) Chief among them was Taylor Swift, who performed her new single, "Shake It Off", a glittering rendition thereof which was introduced by her BFF Lorde and made everyone in the audience want to get up and dance. Swift's performance might have been overshadowed by Jessie J, Nicki Minaj, and Ariana Grande performing "Anaconda" before her and Beyoncé performing every single song off her last album after her, but it was still a good show. Unless, of course, you listen to Swift's VMAs performance with the vocals isolated. Then it becomes kind of a hot mess.
As The Concourse points out, Swift has been accused of being incapable of singing live before. This vocals-only video of her performance wouldn't really do her any favors. She sounds choppy, uneven, out of breath, and even occasionally weak. That's all the proof you need that Swift is an artist whose career wouldn't exist without auto-tune and studio magic, am I right? Wait a minute. Choppy? Out of breath? Those aren't adjectives that usually describe a bad singer. Why would Swift sound choppy and out of breath if you only listen to the vocals from her performance?
Oh, right. These vocals are taken from a live stage performance of "Shake It Off". While she was singing, Swift was a little busy, well, shaking it off. No matter how good you are at singing and dancing at the same time, doing it simultaneously is hard. If anything, Swift proves in this video that she sounds exactly the same on stage as she does on a record except for the fact that she's out of breath from performing during her performance.
The fact of the matter is, we can't give celebrities hell when they're caught lip synching during live performances and then listen to a vocals-only recording of their live performances and tell them they sound terrible. You can't have it both ways. The fact that Swift even bothered to sing live when we all know that we were just there to watch her huge, show stopping, Gatsby-inspired dance parade is really a compliment to her as a performer. I think we all already know by now that Swift can sing, live or otherwise.
If no one noticed at the VMAs that her vocals weren't as strong as they could have been, it's because they were focusing on the actual show part of the show. We've already heard the song. Everyone at the VMAs wanted to watch it and they got their wish. Swift knocked this one out of the park, vocals-only recording aside. Whatever criticism of her performance might come, Swift has fully earned the right to shake it off.
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