Black Music Matters Festival

The Front Porch

Tyler Dean gives Taylor Swift a song of her own

Jessica Phillips  |  July 22, 2009

The country music industry is still maddeningly predictable, and here is yet another piece of evidence. Singer/songwriter Taylor Swift launched her career with the name-dropping sing-along, "Tim McGraw," and it became a hit. I'm sure that the impact of having radio listeners hear Mr. McGraw's name in song several times per day helped his label, Curb Records, to sell a few more records.

Now the label seems to be returning the favor with a new single by teen singer Tyler Dean. The Hendersonville, TN native just released his single, "Taylor Swift." At least this isn't his debut single (he previously released two failed singles, the mildly lustful tune, "Built for Blue Jeans," and the pious route with "Somebody Who Would Die For You," a great song that was better performed on Tracy Lawrence's The Rock album). Unfortunately, Dean's "Taylor Swift" is probably too cutesy and predictable to appeal to too many ears.

The major difference here is in the turning of the phrase. Swift smartly avoided putting her hit debut song in the "celebrity ode by a crazed teenage fan" category by using Tim McGraw and his songs as a touchstone for memories of a teen girl's summer romance.

Dean, however, delves headlong into a teen boy's celebrity fantasy, wishing he had a girl like Swift. Seemingly eager to name-drop while Swift's name is still hot, this song suffers from weak (and sometimes creepy) lyrics and an abundance of teen cliches.

Dean still seems in need of a recognizable image and persona. Is he a teen heartthrob (not quite), a remarkable vocal talent (little Billy Gilman did better), a solid songwriter like Swift (no)? If this kid wants a career, he would do better to develop himself more, rather than let the label throw out a substandard song to make a quick buck. Not that the artist typically gets much of a choice when they are new to a label...