Taylor Swift Leaves Country Radio Behind for Mass-Appeal Pop
By Annie Reuter
Last Monday (Aug. 18), Taylor Swift released a brand-new song that pretty much foreshadowed her critics’ reaction. But she didn’t write “Shake It Off,” her first straight-up pop single, for the critics. She wrote it for the fans, and those fans now happen to be at pop radio.
It’s a big deal. Not since Garth Brooks created his soul-patched alter-ego Chris Gaines back in 1999 has a major country artist stepped away from the genre as deliberately as Swift has done with “Shake It Off.” So, what does it mean now that Swift will be releasing her first “documented, official pop album”?
When Jeff Kapugi, VP of Programming for CBS Country, and Program Director for WUSN in Chicago (a Radio.com station), first heard “Shake It Off” he thought it was a smash — just not for country radio. While some country stations have been playing the song, he said the country airplay will die down.
“The majority of [country] stations that played it [did so] just once, and that was during the live stream,” Kapugi said, referring to Monday’s online event where Swift announced the single and her upcoming album 1989. “There were ones that played it during that, and after that was over when the song was officially released, but it doesn’t appear that there are a bunch of country stations that have it in active rotation right now.”
For pop radio, however, the rotation is much more frequent.
“This song has pretty much gone into a power rotation on almost every radio station,” said Michael Martin, SVP of Programing and Music Initiatives at CBS Radio. “It’ll range anywhere from 10 spins a day to 17 spins a day.”
Some on the country side admit they felt left out when they weren’t invited to Swift’s recent private listening events in New York, and it is evident why: 1989 is a full-fledged pop album, allowing Swift to sit alongside Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande on the pop charts. Though Martin hates to make comparisons, Swift’s new song did remind him of another pop star.