It’s here. The most anticipated album of the year dropped this past Monday. Yes ladies and gentleman, we are talking about 1989 by Taylor Swift. The crossover hit maker released her fifth studio album under Big Machine Records, and to no one’s surprise it has been extremely successful. Selling around upwards of 600,000 copies on its release date, 1989 marks a powerful transition for the 24 year old singer-songwriter from Pennsylvania. Making her official pop debut, the former pop country singer has decided to shed her old skin and transition into the bona fide international super pop star she is. Expected to surpass a 1.2 million copies sold in the first week of its release, 1989 gives Swift a new sound that has been her own all this time.
Kicking off the brand new sound is “Welcome to New York”. The new “Empire State of Mind” anthem for the teenage girl, “Welcome to New York” is sure to inspire the younger generation of all the great things the Big Apple has to offer. Known for her love of New York, Swift captures the essence of what it’s like to be in a city known for its vibrancy and eclectic surroundings. It increases your appreciation for the city and makes you want to book a one way flight.
As I was listening to 1989 I did not expect to find my favorite song so quickly into the album. “Blank Space”, the second track, captures everything Taylor Swift wished her transition would be like. With a pop electric beat and bad ass lyrics, Swift poetically makes fun of the reputation she has established as a serial dater in the media. Listening to lyrics such as “darling I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream” and “got a long list of ex-lovers, they will tell you I’m insane but I got a blank space baby, and I’ll write your name” I couldn’t help up praise Swift, out loud I might add, on how creative her lyrics are. The official second single off of the album, “Blank Space” captures her sense of humor and her I-don’t-give-a-crap-what-you-think attitude perfectly. Bravo Taylor, bravo.
While we are talking about her perfectly capturing her new sound, “Style” also showcases the new Taylor Swift at her best. With a reputation of writing about her relationships, the speculations of who this song is about all seem to point in one direction. The infectious beat captures listeners from the beginning, with its 80’s detective movie sound which then builds up to one of the catchiest choruses on the album. Whether or not it is released to radio, the song is a hit.
The song that really made me realize that the former pop country songstress had shifted her sound a full 180 was “Out of the Woods”. The second single released from 1989, “Out of the Woods” has a strong use of synthesizers throughout the song that gives listeners a clear perspective to the sound that Swift is trying to accomplish. Telling a story about being in a relationship that has no certainty, the lyrics mixed with the synthetic pop sound add a comfortable unknowing urgency to this romantic tale. Debuting on the Billboard 100 at Number 18, “Out of the Woods” was received with positive reviews praising Swift on her “most adventurous and breathtaking work yet” as Lucas Villa from AXS stated.
Keeping the sound of synthesizers in her music, “All You Had to Do Was Stay” is another song that pushes Taylor in that pop direction. While not as strong as other tracks on the album, the song still manages to get stuck in your head thanks to the repeat of the lyrics “all you had to do was stay” with a nicely added synthetic “stay” at the end. “I Wish You Would” is another track on the album that still showcases the new sound but fails to really stand out against the other songs on the album.
The sixth track on the 1989 album was the first single released and became one of the biggest songs of the year. “Shake it Off”, an up-tempo song about not letting people’s criticism affect you, something that Taylor has proven she knows how to handle, debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and certifying platinum twice with over 2 million copies sold. It’s clear why the track became a commercial success. The lyrics are catchy and the tempo is uplifting making it nearly impossible to not at least shoulder shimmy to it.
Adding variety to the album, “Wildest Dreams” and “How You Get the Girl” slow down the pace. Also on the slower side “Clean” is a song about getting over a relationship. Comparing the relationship to an addiction, Swift showcases a vulnerable side that lets listeners connect to her lyrics, which is a major part of her success as a songwriter.
While there is no denying that Swift is a talented artist, some songs fail to be as memorable. “This Love” and “You R In Love” both offer pretty melodies and well written lyrics but fail to stand out against the stronger tracks on the album. The same can be said about “Wonderland” and “New Romance”.
If the album had a darker track it would be “I Know Places”. Swift sings about hiding with her lover in a safe place where people can’t see them. Lyrics like “They are the hunters, we are the foxes”, instils a certain amount of anxiousness and vulnerability in the listener and gives them an insight into what Swift would feel when she is being followed all the time.
For those that are looking for song to describe a friendship that went bad look no further than “Bad Blood”. The track offers lyrics that describe the hurt felt by someone as she says she “still got scars on my back from your knife”. Anybody who has seen a friendship end bad terms, and sadly this is most of us, can relate to these lyrics. They stand out, they make you feel what Taylor felt when she wrote them, and that’s what music should do.
Titled after the year she was born, 1989 proves that Taylor Swift made the right decision to officially be a pop star. While she might have changed genres, her songwriting is stronger than ever. The electric synthetic pop sound has revitalized her sound and made her an even bigger star than she already was. Taylor Swift brings a new sound, new hit songs and her 1989 album will win her new fans.