This is what Taylor Swift and Beyonce’s vocals really sounded like at the VMAs

August 25, 2014

Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” video has been the target of some criticism lately—most notably from Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt, who called the video “inherently offensive and ultimately harmful” on Twitter. We also teased her for rapping a little more than she probably ought to be.

Unfortunately for Taylor, this is not the only negative attention “Shake It Off” has drawn from the media. She performed her new hit at the VMAs last night in the most splendid of fashions, but several people—while certainly impressed with the pageantry—were less impressed by the performance itself. Deadspin somewhat cheekily released an a cappella version of the VMA appearance shortly after the ceremony in which Swift’s vocals were isolated and analyzed for pitch consistency. The result is pretty lacklustre.

This is not the first time Taylor Swift has been criticized for poor live performances; the New York Times described her in a past Grammy appearance as “painfully out of tune.” Either way, it goes without saying that many internet soldiers have expressed their digital outrage. The battle rages on, too: Deadspin felt compelled to refute commenters arguing that any artist would fare just as well under similar conditions. So, they did the exact same thing with Beyonce’s VMA performance.

Okay. Deadspin might have a point with this one: Beyoncé demonstrates a certain amount of vocal control that Taylor probably can’t touch. But many commenters noted that both artists fell well short of their recorded content.

One defence: they’re dancing and jumping around the stage the whole time, how can you expect them to sing well? Maybe we can’t. Maybe that’s the point.

Either way, check out one of our favourite isolated vocal tracks:


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