Review: Taylor Swift’s “1989”

November 20, 2014

Taylor Swift is back, this time casting aside old country habits, revamping her image with a glamorous independence, and buzzing with high energy, confidence and girl-power. For the fifth time, she’s ready to make another stance in the industry—circa 1989.

Throwing her music style back to the 80s (the decade when she was born), Swift released “1989,” her fifth studio album, with all intentions of making a statement. Unlike her previous works, this record is dramatically stronger in personality and in tune with this millennium’s current pop culture. Swift has traded her young, vulnerable spirit seen in “Teardrops on My Guitar,” down-to-earth lyrics, and raw acoustic performances for a mature, glitzy, synch-pop appeal. In short, Swift has taken a 180 from her usual genre and landed herself right in the realm of pop and synthesizers—her album is that different.Instead of sweet country drawls, expect a torrent of continuous, vigorous belting and sharp, defined vocals. But that doesn’t mean that she’s lost her signature trait.Swift’s songs are still bouncy, catchy, and ultimately relatable—just more refined and produced.

With her hit single, “Shake It Off,”as No. 1 on the Billboard 100 list and her second promotional track, “Blank Space” well on its way into the Top 10, Swift delivers almost every track on her album with a synonymous, powerful punch.Tracks are based on heavy electronic instrumentals and fast-paced tempos and beats, all the while channeling a fun 80s vibe that she utilizes to push forth her rendition of the genre pop. Swift’s vocals are also noticeably pronounced, produced to a crisp and polished to a shine.

Although Swift has the reputation of releasing songs that play up her independence, “1989” amps it up to a new level. Her hit singles as well as the song “Welcome to New York” effectively declare that she’s grown into a self-assured, empowered woman who won’t be affected by trivial criticism. What really struck me were her non-extreme songs, the few that showed a peek of vulnerability and rawness such as “This Love” and “I Know Places,” rather than showcasing electronic overlays utilized as if only to fill silence.

I was also enthralled by the dark, lush ambiances evident in the songs, “Bad Blood” and “I Know Places,” and was pleasantly surprised by Swift’s twist on her perspective of love with “How You Get the Girl,” which offers a blueprint to a girl’s heart. Ultimately, my favorite tracks are her hit singles, “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space,” as well as the last track, “Clean,” that summarizes the album in its entity: a renewed and rejuvenated Taylor has returned.

In essence, “1989” is a record that takes some getting used to. The distinct genre difference is interesting when first listened to, but I began to truly appreciate it in the latter half of the album when it wasn’t so blaring and in my face. Swift succeeded in diversifying her messages, relayed throughout the songs, but not so much in production content. Pop progressions and lyrics are prone to mundane repetition, especially during the chorus of “Out of the Woods” when Swift asks “Are we out of the woods, yet?” for what seems like the 50th time. No, not yet. The album is, however, a risky leap and ultimate success.

While Swift’s experimental transformation from a typical, heart-on-her-sleeve country girl to a mature, confident adult may be drastic and a hit-or-miss factor for her loyal fan base, I was thoroughly delighted by this breath of fresh air. The new genre that “1989” explores is a “good different” and I am impressed by Swift’s continuous ability to produce bubbly, artful pieces that resonate long after a single listen. Though the record as a whole has a loud, power theme emphasized by multiple layers of synthesizers that can become easily humdrum, I enjoy the invigorating messages. It’s safe to say that for the next few weeks, this album will be on repeat on my playlist.

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Comments (6)

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  • K

    Kady Lee
    Dec 4, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    I found it very intriguing to read your take on T-Swizzle’s new album (=. After reading this, I’ll definitely give it a listen

  • C

    Colleen Sam
    Dec 4, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Loved this article! Although I have not listened to the entire soundtrack yet, I know exactly which songs to listen to first! (-:

  • J

    Nov 25, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Absolutely love her new album!!! Great review! Thanks for the giveaway!

  • C

    Nov 20, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Love her new album!

  • A

    Allan Chin
    Nov 20, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    I love T-Swizzle. She the real homie. Every day, before I sleep, I make sure to get a swift dose of Taylor’s music. Shoutout to my home girl for being a true MVP

  • T

    Nov 20, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Taylor is the bae