Tomorrow marks three years since Taylor Swift's acclaimed fifth album dropped, becoming an instant hit for her millions of fans. This album reflects a change in musical perspective for Swift, dropping the stigma that she only writing songs about breakups. This album stands out amongst Taylor's work, omitting itself from any ties to the country genre and focuses on creating pop anthems, but with more in depth meanings and topics.
The album starts with a bang in "Welcome To New York". This song kickoffs the LP in a near perfect manner. The lyrics represent Swift's conversion into living in the high rush of the city. There is a sense of excitement, of wonder and of joy as lyrics like "Kaleidoscope of a loud, hide beats under coats" and "The lights are so bright but they never blind me," come into play. The song is one to dance along to, and in my personal experience perfect to play when you're in New York. The tune collects a certain vibe about city life that carries so much imagination and life in itself.
"Blank Space" creates a pop wonderland vibe as Swift lyrically is expressing an interest in a new love interest, and wanting to start new experiences. Lyrics like "I'm dying to see how this one ends. Grab your passport and my hand" carry on this cohesive theme of excitement and adventure. The song is an upbeat and catchy number and was extremely popular on the singles chart for those very reasons.
Adventure is carried on to the third track in "Style". Swift creates a very nostalgic and romantic picture as she describes "'Cause you got that James Dean daydream look in your eye. And I got that red lip, classic thing that you like." The song describes a love that is a little wild in that they are always on a crazy ride, but one that "never goes out of style." The music video really exudes that romantic vibe Swift wanted on the production side. A song that personifies the adventure that is a relationship is relatable but is able to carry a sense of poise and honesty. This song is sure to never go out of style.
"Out of the Woods" lyrically describes a relationship in the stage of being in shambles. This song features a strong vocal performance by Swift, and feels more raw than a lot of her released work. The backing vocals by her producer Jack Antonoff (Bleachers, fun.) is something we have never seen before out of her body of work, and the combination of the two creates for a dynamic sound.
The middle of the album becomes a little bit jumbled as "All You Had to Do Was Stay" "Shake It Off" and "I Wish You Would," all have similar themes and sounds. "Stay," becomes extremely repetitive (as does Shake It Off) and lyrically describes a love that left and the happiness that was lost in them doing so. Although it is catchy and you are sure to be humming for days, it does not stand out on an album with a lot of more interesting tracks. The cohesion that was created in the first four songs is a little bit left behind, especially with "Shake It Off," a hit pop song that like many other chart contenders, was made and produced to definitely be the star selling point for radio stations and youtube, as the song is one of the top ten viewed videos on the website.Taylor describes "shaking off" hate and rumors, which does lead into a catchy rap verse. It is extremely fun and danceable, but lacks substance. "I Wish You Would," both lyrically and production-wise is very similar to "All You Had To Do Was Stay," Swift lyrically is describing how she wishes a love would return to her life after it was lost. It seems a little thrown together and simple in sound. It is very memorable, in terms of having a catchy and fun vibe, but has nothing more to offer than that.
"Bad Blood" is perhaps the most empowering and borderline badass song on 1989. The music video really adds to the vibe, showing loads of female stars being kickass fighters. The Kendrick Lamar version spices things up, adding a dynamic that Swift fans have never seen before. The song does carry a lot of pop characteristics, but is really lyrically interesting and carries a lot of power. This song is also really fun to workout to.
"Wildest Dreams" has an old Hollywood romantic vibe, personified in the music video. The vocals on the hook are quite compelling. This song fits in more with the first part of the album, but has a nice transition into the last couple of songs.
"How You Get The Girl," has a Marina and the Diamonds-like lyrical performance, and has a softer pop tone. Swift describes a love who acted cowardly and tells a story, more than anything, about "How you get the girl" and then "How you lost the girl." This song is relatable and has an upbeat and light sound, which does contradict the lyrics ultimately. This song is certainly worth a listen though.
"This Love" and "I Know Places" meld together and transition into one another well, and continues the vibe established in "How You Get the Girl."
The strongest song on this album (in my opinion) is the closing track "Clean." This song personifies a breakup in a newfound compelling fashion. Swift's metaphorical lyrics are top-notch, describing how "You're still all over me like a wine-stained dress I can't wear anymore," The chorus describes how this love is washed away and how she is "finally clean." This song slows it down and is easily the most emotionally raw on the LP. The bridge has a great lyrical performance, and Swift's voice sounds unprocessed and real. This song will really transport you somewhere. A beautiful track all in all.
1989 is a strong showing of Swift's evolution, and with a new album on the way in November, Swift's musical range will expand even further. This album is full of catchy pop anthems and it is a really fun listen. I would also recommend checking out the deluxe version (especially New Romantics) if you haven't. Even after three years I am still delighted to revisit this LP, and we can always expect solid work from Swift.