From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
“CMT Crossroads: Taylor Swift & Def Leppard”
Two divergent musical worlds collide with peculiar but surprisingly entertaining results as teen country-pop star Taylor Swift and British arena rockers Def Leppard pair up for “CMT Crossroads.”
Their popular 2008 episode of the acclaimed “Crossroads” series is the first to get a DVD release, exclusively through Walmart outlets.
To promote the new release, Country Music Television last week tasked Swift and Def Leppard with closing the CMT Music Awards. Unfortunately, the performance of Def Leppard’s signature “Pour Some Sugar on Me” was one of the weakest of the night: Swift sounded like a breathless schoolgirl singing karaoke, and the contrast between her voice and Joe Elliott’s raspy growl gave the duet a creepy May-December-gone-too-far tone.
Apparently, even the seemingly indefatigable Swift can wear down – she had already performed once and accepted the top prize just before the awards show duet – because the country singer-songwriter holds her own with the veteran rockers in their “Crossroads” concert.
No question, it’s still an odd pairing. Watching Elliott harmonize with the 19-year-old songbird on her teen ballads never becomes anything less than incongruous. But despite some awkward lyrical moments, – the Def Leppard frontman gets to be a prince to Swift’s princess in her “Love Story,” while she belts the line “Demolition woman can I be your man” in the much better rendition of “Pour Some Sugar on Me” – they make fun, memorable music together.
The DVD opens strong with back-to-back performances of Def Leppard’s “Photograph” and Swift’s “Picture to Burn.” Along with similar themes, the songs highlight the artists’ common ground, their penchant for dramatic pop melodies. “Hysteria,” “When Love and Hate Collide” and the bonus performance “Our Song” spotlight the enthusiastic interaction between Def Leppard, Swift and her talented band. Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen and Swift’s fiddler Caitlin Evanson in particular seem thrilled to be rocking together.
In between songs, the DVD weaves in snippets of conversation between the adoring Swift, a lifelong Def Leppard fan, and the Brit rockers, who also started their music career as teens and have some words of encouragement for the country starlet.
DVD extras: Three bonus performances, extended interview and press conference.