Music & Culture
Christi’s Album Review: Taylor Swift’s New “1989” Pop Album
Written by Christi Given | November 6, 2014
The new T.S. album is definitely one that sets Taylor Swift apart from other country singers. Swift has broken the mold regarding her sound and where she is going as an artist. Recently, in an interview, Swift candidly admitted that she knew she was going more “pop” on this album, and didn’t want to just “add a banjo” randomly on a track, as it would do a disservice to country music. Swift stated in another interview that she was also “‘terrified’ to venture into pop music…,” according to Fox News. No need to fear for “Fearless” Taylor. She is talented as ever with her songwriting, and even her album packaging is very clever.
When you first have your 1989 experience and you open the real album (not just download it off iTunes), you’ll see that there are some benefits to purchasing the real CD. Swift and her record label, Big Machine Records, distribute real-size copies of personalized Polaroids, which are of Taylor and have lines from some of her songs off the album. Not to mention they come in a cute mini envelope when you first open the CD that says “Photos from Taylor.” Taylor Swift is a very hands-on artist and is very fond of her fans. The personal photos made the album and purchase extra special. They also create a kind of experience—as you look through them, you begin to recognize some of the lyrics from the tracks off the album. One I noticed right away, which is one of my favorites, is “I can make the bad guys good for a weekend” from her single “Blank Space.”
The intro to the album is “Welcome to New York,” a highly upbeat and whimsical track that makes you want to book a flight to NYC. This song stems from the fact Taylor has been living there. I love the line in the song where it says, “The lights are so bright, but they never blind me….” When you open the CD’s cover, there’s an introduction with a letter from Taylor expressing her change in style genre and sound, which was a “gut feeling” and a much needed change. She talks about certain meanings of songs and also says that she “moved to the loudest and brightest city in the world,” the city Taylor was always “overwhelmed by…until now.”
[Credit: Introduction of album cover]
Next up on the album is “Blank Space,” a pop, bass bumping track by pop hitmaker Max Martin, T.S. and songwriter Shellback. It’s very descriptive and gives us those sparkly lyrics that we females always love. She describes “cherry lips and crystal skies.” And how she can read the guys “like a magazine.” Swift is very observant in life and loves to express her insights and sometimes the not-so-obvious things to people who lack street smarts. She definitely can pick up the fakers, the players and the haters, but shares it in her words that are wrapped up like a pretty bow. Maybe that is why she is one of the greatest songwriters of our generation.
“New money, suit and tie, I can read you like a magazine…” (“Blank Space” lyrics, T.S., 1989)
The next fun song is called “Style,” about long drives, dating and late nights. She describes her crush as James Dean, and again, wins us with her words.
“You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye and I got that red lip, classic thing that you like…”
The next song is called “Out of the Woods,” which is based on the struggle of life and how things aren’t perfect in life or in relationships. “We were built to fall apart then fall back together….” This song has a lot of drums and has a lot of bass and a tribal sound in a way.
Next up on the album is my FAVORITE so far, called “All You Had to Do Was Stay.” I love the beat and the lyrics. It’s just relatable and moving. I love the harmonies behind Taylor’s voice. This song kind of reminds me of Red (2012), when Swift began to lean toward a more country-pop sound. “Hey, all you had to do was stay. Had me in the palm of your hand, then why’d you have to go lock me out when I let you in?”
Next, we already know the popular song “Shake It Off.” There are a lot of different instruments that layer in the track, and the song repeats over and over so it sticks in your head. The song is cute, fun, upbeat and a chart-topper. It’s obviously the first single released off the album.
The seventh song on the album is called “I Wish You Would,” which is about regret and missing someone from a former relationship. Some lyrics are “I wish you would come back, wish I never hung up the phone like I did. I wish you knew that I will never forget you as long as I live.” I love this song and it might be number 2 or 3 on my favorites list.
The following song, track 8, “Bad Blood,” is more about a bad breakup and is again written by Max Martin, Shellback and Taylor Swift. This track isn’t my favorite, but it isn’t all that bad either. All the songs are fluid throughout the album. The song “Wildest Dreams” reminds me of a Lana Del Rey song in the beginning. In the chorus she says, “Say you’ll remember me standing in a nice dress staring at the sunset.” Some of these lyrics are more mature for Swift, so I wouldn’t say I would agree with all of the words in the song. Next up is track 10, “How You Get the Girl,” which is a typical Taylor pop song that reminds me of the Speak Now album, like “Sparks Fly.” This song is one of my favorites off the album as well.
Number 11 on the album is called “This Love,” and is definitely mellower than the other tracks. It reminds me of her song “Innocent.” Again, this song isn’t my favorite, but the lyrics are inspiring: “this love came back to me….” Track 12 is “I Know Places,” which has drums and percussion and was written by Swift and Ryan Tedder. Tedder is the lead singer of the famous band One Republic, in case you felt the vocal arrangements sounded strangely familiar. The 13th song is the final song off the album and, in case you didn’t know, number 13 is Taylor’s favorite lucky number. Swift collaborated with Imogen Heap on the final track called “Clean”—it definitely has an Imogen vibe to it. This song is about wiping away memories and being “finally clean.”
What is YOUR favorite song off the album? Do you like her new pop sound or do you miss the country Taylor? Comment below! Message me @ChristiGiven.