Can Taylor Swift write a song? Local artists weigh in

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Taylor Swift's reign in the pop world has been so dominant, you can't wave a stick without hitting someone who has a strong opinion about her. We asked an admittedly odd variety of local musicians to comment on Ms. Swift as a songwriter:

Joel Lindsey, Boulevard of the Allies

"I think she's a jolly singer-songwriter who writes silly but catchy songs that I don't really want to like but often do. Her [handlers] have re-branded her as a womanly red-hot feisty pop star. Unfortunately, Taylor Swift, while continually super-successful (among freckly schoolgoers) will never have that kind of swagger or street cred. The template is so transparently conceived I think there's probably an app for that."

Eric Himan, singer-songwriter

Songwriting to me is a big part of an artist. It says you have a story to tell and it offers up not just how you feel, but how you think, which is extremely vulnerable. It was a big deal that she wrote her own songs, and I bet it changed the game in Nashville. Her writing is honest and simple (in a good way), like her song "Fifteen" for instance. She related to her peers because she was telling her own story AND theirs. Very powerful. She is evolving, and like any songwriter, I am happy to see her still writing even at the height of her career.

Dethlehem, medieval-themed metal band

"Maiden Swift and Dethlehem have many things in common: We both have songs about crushing hearts into dust; drinking gallons of ale with our allies after battle; riding on the backs of horses; and, of course, slaying trolls and goblins! Well, I'm not sure if she released her troll-battle song yet. I'm sure that will come after she dates -- and immediately dumps -- a troll. (John Mayer doesn't count -- he's a turd-demon.)"

James Dunn, Chux Beta, indie-rock band

"Well, I guess she bothers me because I have a 7-year-old daughter, I've read some poems and stuff she's written in her little notebooks ,and they are literally more thought-provoking than stuff TS writes and sings. That being said, TS writes way better songs than Chux Beta."

Chip DiMonick, metal rocker

"The first three singles off of her latest album were co-written by master pop producers Max Martin and Shellback. So, is Taylor Swift a good enough songwriter on her own merits to be a dominant force on the charts? Clearly, no. But, consider that she did NOT have a co-writer for about half of the songs on her album. While they might not be or become huge hits that the first three singles were, it does show that she has some chops and that her label actually has confidence in her writing. By comparison, Britney [Spears] doesn't even co-write most of her songs, and even poptarts who are thought of as writers, like Pink and Ke$ha, have a co-writer on pretty much every song. Even in the rock world, crossover artists like Halestorm often have co-writers on most tracks. So, I believe that Taylor Swift single-handedly writing half of her album is commendable, even if the moneymakers are the instant gold that Max Martin and Shellback can seemingly generate at will."

Chris Fafalios, Punchline, pop-punk band

"Music is all a matter of opinion, but you would have a hard time coming up with a case that Taylor Swift is NOT a great songwriter. Her songs are loved by millions of people, and unlike many pop singers, she actually does write the songs. She even won me over with "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," and I would normally listen to the complete opposite of pop/country crossover. I probably haven't liked anything in the realm of female-fronted country music since I was 8 and liked a few Dolly Parton songs. Now it's the Summer of 2013, and it's true ... I will be in attendance at the Taylor Swift show this Saturday."

Johnny St. Lethal, The Show, rock band

"She writes Kidz-Bop music at best. Catchy stuff for the simple minded that want to be distracted. All her songs are just commercials for her albums, which are commercials for her tours, which is a big commercial for her. It's about her, and her vanity, and selling her image."

Maddie Georgi, singer-songwriter

"I've been listening to Taylor Swift since the beginning when I first heard her song 'Teardrops on My Guitar.' I remember thinking about how honest and touching the lyrics were, and I really respected that about her as a writer. Now that she's made the seamless transition into the pop genre, listeners get to see her highlight another important songwriting skill, which is 'catchiness.' Even if people don't really like Taylor's music, they'll find themselves humming her tunes just from hearing them on the radio once or twice because they stick in your head so easily!"

Bastard Bearded Irishmen, Celtic-rock band

"We're not too familiar with her work, but from the little we know, it's all about growing up, loving and going through hard times. Every one of us has written a song like that. We just never sold a million copies, and we don't look that good in a miniskirt and cowboy boots."

Finally, prior to him being in town earlier this year, we talked to Ed Sheeran, who appears with her on the "Red" duet "Everything Has Changed" and will open for her Saturday:

"It was such a genuinely pleasant surprise to find someone at her level being not only excited by new songs but gifted in writing them. You rarely get acts of her level writing the songs themselves, and I went into a session with her and the song was pretty much done. She came to me with a song that was kind of 70 percent done and I kind of filled in the blanks, and I've never had that before. It's usually me that comes up with the idea and someone else fills in the blanks, so that was a very pleasantly surprising thing."



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