Taylor Swift
1989


5.0
classic

Review

by mattdwyer16 USER (8 Reviews)
March 15th, 2021 | 13 replies


Release Date: 2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: 1989 is Taylor Swift's Meta Pop Triumph

1989 announced itself on the pop scene like an explosion. A pop album didn't surprise anyone coming from Taylor Swift, but she embraced a mainstream sound in an off-center, novel, yet knowingly conventional way. The New York Times said that by making pop without any contemporary references, Swift aimed higher than her peers. She has always risen above her peers in terms of songwriting. It’s one of the reasons she gets so much critical attention despite the fact that her biggest audience is teenagers. But we’ve never seen Taylor Swift rise above in this way before.

1989 was named for the year Taylor was born, and it’s inspired by the music of that decade. Swift noted in an interview with NPR that Peter Gabriel was ahead of his time by using synth beats and snare drums- something she and producers Max Martin and Shellback employ heavily on 1989. They make “Style” feel like a tense midnight drive with an ex, and “Wildest Dreams” feel like you’re teetering on the edge of an emotional high dive, but still admiring the view. 1989 is the most sonically cohesive- to use her own words- album Swift has created thus far, which shows her ambition for the project. Swift is prone to experimenting with many different styles. RED experimented with pop, country, soft rock, and dubstep. The “sonic cohesion” of 1989 was inspired by Swift’s loss at the Grammys in 2014 (Album of the Year for RED). She told Rolling Stone, when asked about her decision to write a full pop album: “If you chase to chickens you lose them both.”

The album named for Taylor Swift’s birth year signals a rebirth, both genre-wise and as a person. Final track “Clean” shows her moving on from an ex, but not into the arms of someone else, like on RED’S album closer “Begin Again.” Although most of 1989’s songs are about a typical on again-off again relationship, they feel meta. They know they are about relationships. This unique quality substitutes for Swift’s journalistic detail, mostly absent on this album. (Except for the paper airplane necklace on “Out of the Woods.”) “Bad Blood,” which Swift confessed isn’t about a relationship, knows it’s a campy chant about a one-dimensional emotion. Rhyming “bad blood” with “mad love” is probably something Swift did with a chuckle, and that people who aren’t totally mindless will sing along to with a chuckle. “How You Get the Girl” is quite literally a song about relationships about relationships. “And that’s how it works, that’s how you get the girl,” Swift sings. If anyone would know, it’d be her.

Swift transcends existing narratives especially on “Blank Space” where she parodies the “crazy ex-girlfriend” character the media assigned to her. “Cherry lips, crystal skies,” she sings, detailing the honeymoon part of a relationship that, according to the media, inevitably leads to Swift revealing she’s a “nightmare dressed like a daydream.” At first, 1989 seemed like it would be a nightmare dressed like a daydream as well, when the bubbly lead single “Shake It Off” came out. But this is a scare that happens with all Swift albums. Swift releases the most radio friendly, pop-oriented song to promote a record. (Think “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” from RED.) This way, everyone tunes in for the full album release to make sure she can still write a song with depth. And then, all of the people who enjoyed the lead single will buy the album too. Win-win.*

Although 1989 tells the story of a failed relationship, it’s really about Swift’s newfound independence. She has moved on from country music, moved on from the album’s subject, relocated to New York City, and written a song about that too. (You guessed it: “Welcome to New York.”)* When fans decode the liner notes in the album booklet, they will piece together a poem that concludes, “She lost him but she found herself.” It looks like now is the time to enjoy single life before the next heartbreaker comes along. But, then again, we have learned to shake things off. Maybe the next heartbreak won’t be as bad. Let’s just hope the albums stay good.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
March 16th 2021


57768 Comments


I can't believe this came out 32 years ago

Digging: Sex-Dragoon - Mayo

MaryBabko
March 16th 2021


849 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Jesus christ a 5 review for this garbage.

Tunaboy45
March 16th 2021


17613 Comments


it's a perfectly fine album, Wildest Dreams and Style are actually good.

Digging: Xiu Xiu - OH NO

MaryBabko
March 16th 2021


849 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

It's definitely not a 5 though...

Tunaboy45
March 16th 2021


17613 Comments


It's not but I can see why it would mean enough to someone for them to give it a 5.

MaryBabko
March 16th 2021


849 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

So can i. It begins with the periodic table sign for Gold

MaryBabko
March 16th 2021


849 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Fuck it, i'll pos this just because it's clearly a good review. But bullshit on the score

DivergentThinking
Contributing Reviewer
March 16th 2021


8742 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I used to have this at a 4.5 at one point... good times

Emim
March 18th 2021


30070 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Style is a great song. Perfect late night driving song.

Digging: Ignite - Our Darkest Days

LeddSledd
March 18th 2021


4779 Comments


greatest album of all time

Digging: Immolation - Close to a World Below

DivergentThinking
Contributing Reviewer
March 18th 2021


8742 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, Style rules

SteakByrnes
March 18th 2021


23249 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Her best album

Digging: Hail the Sun - New Age Filth

DivergentThinking
Contributing Reviewer
March 18th 2021


8742 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Her 5th best (imo)



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