If you weren’t already aware, Taylor Swift dropped her fifth album, 1989, on Monday. As a semi-closeted Taylor Swift fan, I knew that I couldn’t escape listening to it, so here I am to report my findings to you.
The album is called 1989, which is the year Taylor was born, but also I think it’s trying to be a symbolic rebirth sort of thing. She is very clearly establishing herself here as a pop artist rather than the country artist we all grew up with, but it’s in a non-obnoxious I am a metaphorical butterfly way. I am definitely a Swiftie, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not sure how I feel about this album. I absolutely loved Red, but this album hits me in a different place. I’ve read a few reviews and the album is getting a mixed response, but I think I’m on the side of liking it. My hamartia is that I just like Taylor so here I am to back her up once again.
Some tracks are a little cliché which is to be expected. However, some tracks are brutally honest songs about love, a topic which Taylor often attacks in a modern-day-Joni-Mitchell-sort-of-way. The album is Taylor’s first real jump into the void of mainstream pop, but surprisingly she executes the music well, remaining on the outskirts of radio-pop and on the cool-girl side of indie-pop. I don’t know what it is about her “I am really famous but look see I’m still an underdog” shtick but it clearly resonates somewhere. Here are some brief track reviews.
1) Welcome to New York – This song is the definition of the cliché “I’m moving to NYC” song. It’s catchy and would work well in an NYC montage scene, but it’s definitely on the bleh side of pre-existing New York anthems. It’s one of those ones that you don’t like initially, but the more you listen, the more you’re brainwashed into singing along.
2) Blank Space – A real good one. “You can tell me when it’s over, if the high was worth the pain“. This is a good old T-Swift jam, yas.
3) Style – Definitely in my top three. Captures the Styles/Swift relationship in a way that is classy and admirable. This is one of those play-it-as-you-walk-into-a-room jams that makes you feel strangely invincible but also like a high schooler. You go girl.
4) Out of the Woods – Nothing spectacular. A little too synthy and blah on the lyrics for me. Will I still listen to it? Yep.
5) All You Had To Do Was Stay – “Could have been easy; all you had to do was stay.” Taylor, the queen of broken heart rhetoric strikes again. “You were all I wanted, but not like this.” YAS girl.
6) Shake It Off – You already know about this one. It hits you like 22 and pretty soon you’re belting into a hairbrush and you don’t know how you got there.
7) I Wish You Would – This song is like the brainchild of Bleachers and Haim. “I wish you were right here, right now, it’s all good.” “I wish you would come back, wish I’d never hung up the phone like I did.” Super catchy and definitely my new shower anthem.
8) Bad Blood – Very Icona Pop-y and drum-y. This is the sassy T-Swift hate song that we all needed. “Band-aids don’t fix bullet holes” This is a jump on your bed in a onesie and yell kind of song.
9) Wildest Dreams – This is Taylor trying to be Lana, but I still love it. This takes me back to Taylor’s “Love Story” days. Also in the top three.
10) How You Get The Girl – Bland bland bland boring. I’m sorry guys I’m just not into this one. Although lyrically it’s very much young, young Taylor coming through. I do appreciate the second person, anonymity thing but where’s the personal stuff that I love? WHERE IS IT, TAYLOR.
11) This Love – This is the only track that Taylor wrote alone, and *sarcasm coming* shocker, it’s the good one. This is the Taylor I love. “Scars grew darker, currents swept you out again.” It’s a synthier, slower Taylor, but it’s the closest this album gets to the singer-songwriter of the past. She just understands love on some sort of level that we mortals are not on.
12) I Know Places – This one is kind of sassy, which makes me like it more. It’s a nice little romantic thing. It’s got a cool minor sound which is unusual for Taylor. I like that this one seems a little balls-ier that her usual stuff.
13) Clean – This is one of my favorites, but it was co-written with Imogen Heap who is my gal so. It’s a good breakup-y song. I dig.
Overall, Taylor is once again weaseling her way into my heart through the next-level romantic diction that I love her for. She’s often criticized for only writing about love like an adolescent, but honestly she really is incredible at capturing feelings through music in a non-gimmicky way. Long live Taylor.
Have you guys listened to the album? I’d be interested to hear your opinions. I love me some Taylor, and the fact that she makes the effort to put cool, slumber party-esque hidden messages in her albums appeals to the 15 year old in me. If you want to read the best piece of writing I’ve ever read about Taylor Swift, you have to read Tavi Gevinson’s lengthy analysis of Taylor’s pre-1989 discography. Do it. I may or may not have it permanently bookmarked on my computer.