Posted 7:15am on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015
Because we are living in the future and social media has all but erased the line between superstars and their adoring public, we don’t have to wonder how Taylor Swift feels about the plethora of covers of her songs.
A cursory Google search for “Taylor Swift cover songs” turns up 8 million results, and Swift has, as Billboard put it last month, not been shy about offering her stamp of approval on Twitter, singling out covers she likes.
“My favorite covers are the ones where the artist has made it their own, changing the way the song makes you feel,” Swift tweeted last December.
Plenty of North Texans have taken a crack at tweaking Swift’s material — most visibly, Kelly Clarkson got the thumbs-up from Swift for her rendition of Shake It Off. The partially Arlington-formed Pentatonix has also revamped several of Swift’s singles, including We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and two members of Pentatonix even condensed the whole of Swift’s 1989 album down to three minutes and change.
Denton singer-songwriter Joel Cross, whose own version of Shake, recorded at the Dallas Arboretum earlier this month, has garnered more than 675,000 views on YouTube (but, alas, no Swift co-sign just yet) is another local paying tribute.
So, given Swift’s impending arrival at AT&T Stadium (her ongoing 1989 tour stops there Saturday for a sold-out show), we were eager and curious to see what would happen if we invited a couple local musicians to tackle a Swift tune of their choosing.
Fort Worth singer-songwriter Andy Pickett and Dallas-based singer-songwriter Ellen Once Again accepted the challenge of reinterpreting Swift’s music in less than seven days’ time, arriving at the Live Oak last week to perform their own takes on Style and Blank Space, respectively.
For his part, Pickett found the exercise fascinating.
“Some of her stuff is pretty good,” Pickett says. “Being a musician and talking to other musicians … people think she’s popular and it’s bubblegum and it’s trendy and there’s no substance there, but people are buying it and listening to it and mostly love it.
“I didn’t see one of her videos on YouTube that had less than 50 million views.”
Ellen Once Again, the nom de tune of Ellen Hinton, already counts herself as a Swift fan, but enjoyed tackling Space, as it deepened her appreciation for Swift’s songwriting skills.
“It definitely made me appreciate [the songwriting] a little bit more,” Hinton says. “Just even changing around, adding minor chords, the melody works — it’s a good melody.”
See the results for yourself below.