Magazine article Variety

Taylor Swift Takes a Golden 'Chance'

Magazine article Variety

Taylor Swift Takes a Golden 'Chance'

Article excerpt

On an obvious, commercial level, it makes perfect sense for Taylor Swift to record end-credits for teen-targeted films. In 2012 she teamed up with T Bone Burnett and the Civil Wars for "The Hunger Games'" signature tune "Safe and Sound." It helped lift the pic's soundtrack to No. 10 on the Billboard chart, nabbing a Golden Globe nomination and a Grammy in the process.

Late last year she partnered with Fun guitarist Jack Antonoff to pen and perform "Sweeter Than Fiction" from the Weinstein Co.'s "One Chance," for which she'll once again be competing for best original song at the Golden Globes.

Yet on a less obvious, artistic level, it doesn't make much sense at all. Writing for characters, and fitting her style into the tenor of an existing film, isn't consistent with Swift's m.o., which favors an inward-looking songwriting process that tends to attract such adjectives as confessional, intimate, purgative ....

"Also 'diaristic,'" Swift interjects. "That's a popular one."

Taylor Swift

Diaristic though she may be, Swift does not actually write from a diary.

The closest she comes is the array of notes on her cell phone, filled with "phrases I thought of that would be better if you twisted it around in some way, phrases that rhyme really well with this other phrase that you could twist to make a sort of off-rhyme ... I'm always making notes." So marrying these stray observations with a more distanced perspective is hardly incompatible with her method.

"It's almost a relief to turn the microscope around and not have to be so introspective, and draw directly from your life," she says. "When I see a story play out and see all the different themes, one of them will always jump out at me. Like, with 'Hunger Games' there were so many different themes to draw from, and the one we drew from was 'empathy.'"

For "One Chance," inspired by the story of Paul Potts, a warehouse manager and amateur opera singer who won the first season of "Britain's Got Talent," Swift drew upon the outsider perspective that, for all her popularity, has long been a constant theme of her music.

"He's a struggling opera singer, and no one gets it," she says. "Which I related to a little bit growing up (in Pennsylvania) being so obsessed with country music - in my school, everyone was a little bit perplexed."

Though it often gets lost in the swirl of celebrity and stagecraft that surrounds her, Swift has always been a songwriter first and foremost - she was, after all, the youngest tunesmith ever signed by Sony/ ATV publishing. But adapting the wideeyed yet subtly cynical teenage songwriting perspective on which she staked her early fame into a more mature, adult outlook is still a work in progress, and one that Swift seems to approach in an analytical way. …

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