Well aware of her image as a wholesome adolescent country music sensation, Taylor Swift occasionally throws her fans off with her choice of collaborators.
Last year, CMT aired a Crossroads special that saw Swift team up with British hard rockers Def Leppard. And during last month’s airing of the 2009 CMT Music Awards, Swift paired with the unlikeliest of duet partners — rapper T-Pain — on a humourous video called Thug Story.
That T-Pain-Swift bit, Swift explains during a telephone conference call, “was a collaboration between me and CMT. (The network) came to me and said we want you to be the focal point of the (show’s) intro. They wanted me to play on the fact that all these (TV) specials that I do focus on me having a dream and setting my sights on accomplishing it. So why not think of some crazy things that people wouldn’t expect you to do?
“So they let me write this rap. And T-Pain wanted to hear the track beforehand. I got up and rapped this whole thing for him and he couldn’t stop laughing. The video was hilarious to shoot, too: I go to the mall, buy gangsta jewelry at this kiosk for $40. It was all meant to be really funny stuff.”
Her collaboration with Def Leppard, though, was a much more serious affair but equally as fun.
“Stepping into someone else’s studio is one of (my) favourite things,” Swift says. “I have so many different levels of respect for people who make music that is different from mine. I understand what I do the most, but that’s only because I’ve been doing my music for the longest time.”
Swift has now topped the seven million mark in total record sales, which includes the triple-platinum late 2008 effort, Fearless. And her publicity continues to grow: A cover story for Rolling Stone magazine, ads for the Got Milk campaign, numerous awards including awarded the Academy of Country Music’s Crystal Milestone Award (given for outstanding achievement in the genre) plus cameos in the Hanna Montana and Jonas Brothers In 3-D movies.
All this and a revelation of a public breakup with Joe Jonas, too. But Swift had her say on that subject months ago and is currently focused on her debut headlining tour, which she explains will feature some theatre-style elements to the performance.
“I grew up doing children’s theatre,” Swift says. “What I thought might be cool would be to have a big element of tour revolve around the theatrics to my songs — just dramatizations of what I’ve gone through in my life and what’s going on inside my head.”