1989 Album Review


Meghan Winter, Music Reviewer

Any pre-teen or teenaged girl could most likely tell you all the lyrics to every hit on Taylor Swift’s new album, 1989, despite it only being available for less than a week. However, what they can’t tell you is how she transformed her career from country sweetheart to pop superstar through collaborating with extremely successful musicians and taking a completely new direction with her artistry and life, which has since led to what Billboard calls, her “best work.” But if her first single “Shake It Off” wasn’t any indicator of the new genre she’d be using to create her fifth album, any other song on the LP can reassure you that indeed, Miss Swift has produced a ground-breaking record and has left her country days behind.

What, exactly, is so different about this record? Besides the fact that Taylor is now playing on the home turf of Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and Pink, it is sonically a huge turning point in her career. 1989 is much more electronically driven than any of her previous records. She was an executive-producer with Max Martin during the creation of this album, so she oversaw and approved of every component that went into the making of this work. Martin played an essential role in choosing modern drum programs, synthesizers, bass lines, and backing vocals. He is also one of the main reasons there is audible acoustic guitar in only two songs, which is unheard of for Taylor considering the amount of acoustics in her previous albums. The banjos, violins, and mandolins were left back in Music City, as well as the possibility of not a single live drum throughout the entire record. This has certainly been a huge turning point sonically for Miss Swift.

However, 1989 is written lyrically in typical Swift fashion: all about love. She told Rolling Stone in an interview from several weeks ago that she hasn’t dated in over a year and a half. She has used the past year to truly find herself, which has included much-needed time with her close girlfriends and a big move to New York. This move actually inspired the opening track on the record “Welcome to New York,” which not only features the elements of the big city, but the opportunities within it. The single also includes Miss Swift’s view on gay rights, which she has never spoken about in previous work. She states her opinion in the line: “you can want who you want / boys and boys and girls and girls.” Another one of her singles not relevant to love includes “Shake It Off.” This was the debut single off the new record, which has taken over pop radio in the past several weeks. The core message to this song is really about how Miss Swift doesn’t let what the press thinks they know affect her, so she simply lets it go…or in this case, shakes it off.

Shockingly, one of the biggest surprises of artist mimicry on the album is the song “Wildest Dreams.” Many have said its melody, lyrics, and instrumental pieces were flat-out stolen from any Lana Del Rey song. It’s uncertain whether Miss Swift created “Wildest Dreams” in Del Rey-esque familiarity out of admiration or simply making it a parody. However, one thing is certain: “Wildest Dreams” is recycled Lana Del Rey songs thrown into a modern, electronic pop album. Another shocking (yet addicting) hit on the album is “Bad Blood.” To my surprise, it is not about an ex-lover, but it is an anthem of betrayal directed at fellow pop star and peer, Katy Perry. Almost like a sequel to Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl,” its anthem-like production and raw lyrics make it almost impossible to keep off repeat.

Throughout the production process, Swift collaborated with many talented musicians and producers on her newest album. Some of these individuals include Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, Shellback, and the band fun.’s Jack Antonoff. Their collaborative abilities are undeniable and certainly successful considering the amount of attention (and positive at that) the fifth record has been receiving. Taking an entirely new direction with a core audience is extremely risky, however, I am most excited (among thousands of others) to say that Taylor has, yet again, pulled it off.


Here is a link to extra information provided by Billboard about Miss Swift: http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop-shop/6281490/taylor-swift-2014-billboard-woman-of-the-year