Taylor Swift ‘1989’ Review: Taylor Swift Shows Her True Colors
Taylor Swift’s new album 1989 is finally here, and, as her first non-country album, it definitely sets itself apart from her previous work.
T-Swift can be difficult to take sometimes. Her preppy, cute, always put together look and her bubblegum love songs can get repetitive and, frankly, a bit frustrating. All this makes Swift’s 1989 that much more enjoyable because Swift gives herself room to make fun of herself and let loose a little bit.
Swift’s move into pop music may have been predictable, but I wasn’t expecting her pop album to sound so eclectic and slow. It’s not a dance heavy album, though “Welcome to New York” and “Shake It Off” make good dance floor contenders. To her credit, Swift doesn’t go for the big ballads or girl power belts frequently heard from singers like Katy Perry or Demi Lovato. She doesn’t have the voice to back it up, and she knows it. Instead, Swift’s version of pop music is much more Lorde-inspired. In fact, a few of the best songs on the album, “Blank Space” and “I Know Places” sound very Lorde-ish, with dreamy melodies, strong beats and soft background vocals. In comparison, the worst song on the album, “Welcome to New York," is the most conventional and by far the most generic. “Everybody here wanted something more / Searching for a sound we hadn’t heard before,” Swift sings in her cookie-cutter portrait of New York City.
“Blank Space” just might be one of Swift’s most revealing songs. A sort of self-parody love song written by Swift, pop mastermind Max Martin and Shellback, “Blank Space” shows off a playful side of Swift, where she actively jokes around with her love-obsessed image. “Oh my god / Look at that face / You look like my next mistake / Love’s a game, want to play?” Swift sings over a steady, slightly hip-hop inspired beat.
As Swift is known to do, the lyrics to “Blank Space” in 1989’s booklet contain a hidden message: “There once was a girl known by every one and no one.” She’s playing with her audience and her critics who dismiss her songwriting as glorified diary entries. We think we know, but we have no idea. “Blank Space” is appropriately followed by “Style,” yet another strong track on 1989. “Style” is a fun take on a classic love, one that will “never go out of style.”
“I Know Places,” another standout, has a similar dreamy style, and is one of the most surprising songs on the album. Written by Swift and One Republic’s Ryan Tedder (who also co-wrote “Welcome to New York”) is the closest Swift gets to a power ballad, and it gives Swift a chance to showcase different aspects of her voice and play a bit with a more electronic sound.
“Style” is followed by “Out of the Woods,” a collaboration between Swift and fun’s Jack Antonoff. “I Wish You Would” is another Swift-Antonoff collaboration that features a faster tempo and a chorus that just needs to be sung by a group of girls at a sleepover. (Confession: I tested out this theory last night, only by myself in my bedroom, and it definitely passed.)
Another song awaiting girl power anthem status is “Bad Blood.” Similar in tone to Swift’s previous hits “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “I Knew You Were Trouble” (in my opinion, one of her very best songs ever), “Bad Blood” is about anger at a love gone wrong. The simple chorus – “Cause now we’ve got bad blood / Now we got problems / And I don’t think we can solve them / You made a really deep cut / And baby now we got bad blood” – is perfect for audiences to sing along to.
A few of the songs on 1989 straight out of romantic comedies – a reminder of the old, dreamer Swift we know and love – with titles like “All You Had To Do Was Stay” and “How You Get The Girl.” That’s not to say these songs are bad, it’s more that they don’t bring anything new. That said, what could be more ‘new’ in today’s world of pop music than a girl singing about love stories instead of her ass and sex?
What makes 1989 stand out is the fact that not every song is weighed down by little digs at past loves or hints to comb through as to the identity of the mystery paramour. When my sister finished listening to Swift’s last album, Red, she told me, “I feel like I know what it’s like to date Jake Gyllenhaal now.” After listening to 1989, I don’t feel like I’ve had trysts with Harry Styles or John Mayer, instead I feel like I had a fun night with T-Swift herself.
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