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Arts & Music

Taylor Swift, Rihanna go back-to-back at Forum in Tampa

Tribune correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: April 19, 2013 at 04:44 PM

Back when Taylor Swift was touring behind her 2008 album, “Fearless,” it was obvious that the precocious singer-songwriter would make a sonic impact for years.

But the question was whether Swift, then 18, would become the next Britney Spears or Emmylou Harris.

Well, five years later it appears that the answer is the latter. Swift, who has cited such gifted game-changers as Paul McCartney, Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks as influences, is an accomplished singer/songsmith, who also impresses under the lights.

During a recent concert in Newark, N.J., while Swift showcased her latest smash album, “Red,” the ubiquitous artist, who seems to be on the cover of every major magazine, dealt with adversity.

While performing “Everything Has Changed” with opener Ed Sheeran, the sound went awry. Due to a technological glitch, which prevented Swift, Sheeran and the band from hearing each other, the star saved the day. Sheeran looked confused and was about to slip into wallflower mode. But the perky Swift, who has sold more than 26 million albums, quickly uttered something into Sheeran's ear and kept the song afloat.

Swift, who will perform Saturday at the Forum, continues to prove that she is mature beyond her 23 years. The suburban Philadelphia native continues to improve as a songwriter. The best songs from “Red” are “State of Grace,” “I Almost Do” and “Stay Stay Stay,” which are self-penned cuts from “Red” that soar above cuts co-written by pop Svengali Max Martin.

Swift is an accomplished entertainer, who has transcended the world of country. File Swift under pop for now. However, the odds are that she will be the next Patty Griffin instead of a Nicky Minaj. Swift isn't perfect. She obviously has issues when it comes to the cool kids, who perhaps aren't buying her albums. “You will hide away and find your piece of mind with some indie record that's much cooler than mine,” is a snippet from the hit “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” That's just one of the occasions in which Swift jabs lyrically at the happening crowd.

“Never Ever Getting Back Together” takes us to the many songs she has written that have been apparently inspired by her exes. Swift scored considerable ink for dating Conor Kennedy, who is from the most famous family out of Massachusetts and One Direction's Harry Styles. Apparently Swift isn't bulletproof. She gets grief from some for writing about the breakups, which is curious since so many songs are inspired by a broken heart.

“For a female to write about here feelings and then be portrayed as some clingy, insane, desperate girlfriend in need of make you marry her and have kids with her, I think that's taking something that potentially should be celebrated,” Swift explained to Vanity Fair. “A woman writing about her feelings in a confessional way. That's taking it and turning it and twisting it into something that is frankly a little sexist.”

Rihanna, who will perform Friday at the Forum, has been making as many headlines for her reunion with singer Chris Brown as her pop music. You can bet that a gossip columnist somewhere is writing about the couple fighting or holding hands.

But much like Swift, the sexy Barbardian isn't a celebrity by association. Rihanna sings sublime pop songs. Rihanna, 25, has a rare combination of beauty, talent and star power.

“Umbrella,” “Rude Boy” and “Diamonds” are among the 12 number one hits that Rihanna has had on the Hot 100 chart. Rihanna has sold more than 30 million albums and will be a force for years.

Most Rihanna interviews are about bad boy Brown. It's getting kind of tired but her music isn't. Rihanna is the pop diva, who is pushing Beyonce. Her exotic pop songs are strong and so are her elaborate live shows. But there's also something, an intangible that runs deep in Rihanna, which is sublime.

Rihanna, who has considerable star power, is one of the most elegant singers in pop music. She's one of those rare larger-than-life figures on the circuit.

The reviews of Rihanna's shows have been positive. She's backed by a crack band, which includes guitarist Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme fame.

Rihanna is flanked by dancers as she delivers 26 songs. She delivers the hits and makes as many costume changes as Cher did in her prime.


Tampa is in for a treat as it receives back to back dates with two of the hottest young female singers in the business.

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