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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Album Review: ‘1989’

Although the year 1989 is typically characterized by leather blazers, tunic dresses and feathered hairstyles, Taylor Swift’s fifth album is nowhere remotely near bad fashion.

1989, titled after Swift’s birth year, marks the singer-songwriter’s official departure from cowboy boots and country twang and her full-fledged leap into music’s pop industry. The album marks a new era for Taylor Swift fans, one that is characterized by red lipstick, sleek bobs and an evolved version of Swift who is unapologetic, self-deprecating and a general badass.

Swift leads 1989 with synthpop track “Welcome to New York,” which represents Swift’s move from country town Nashville to The Big Apple. Co-penned with OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, “Welcome to New York” serves as an anthem for equality as evidenced by lyrics “You can want who you want / Boys and boys and girls and girls.”

Swift’s move away from country is further seen in pop anthem “Style,” which is rumored to be about Swift’s alleged ex-boyfriend Harry Styles (hence the title) and includes one of the most melodically appealing James Dean references I’ve ever heard, as well as track “All You Had To Do Was Stay,” which features Swift singing a high-pitched version of the word “stay” that is both initially irritating and insanely catchy.

If you thought Swift’s lead single “Shake It Off” was sassy for the songstress, wait until you listen to pop track “Blank Space.” In the song, Swift criticizes the media’s depiction of her by donning a fictional persona of a man-eater who is overly emotional, insane and probably eats ex-boyfriends for a midnight snack. Not only are lines “Got a long list of ex-lovers / They’ll tell you I’m insane” and “I can make the good guys good for a weekend” hysterically brilliant, but they also show that Swift isn’t taking what the media says about her lying down, instead she’s doing what Taylor Swift does best: write a song about it.

Several interesting beats make their way into the singer’s album, as seen through piano-driven track “I Know Places,” which explores the singer’s darker side, and synthpop song “Out of the Woods,” which takes the listener on a breathtaking journey through a dangerous relationship and serves as an ambitious musical venture for the songwriter.

Relatively new best friend Lorde is likely to have inspired Swift’s album through mid-tempo pop lullaby “Wildest Dreams,” which can only be described a combination between Lana Del Rey and a good night in bed in the best ways possible.

Those nostalgic for Swift’s trademark heartbreak ballads have nothing to fear, as the singer includes two tear-worthy songs, “This Love” and “Clean.” The latter, which was co-written with Imogen Heap and ends the album, features one of the songwriter’s most beautiful heartbreaking line on letting go of love: “When I was drowning, that’s when I could finally breathe.”

However, 1989 is not without its flaws, as seen in weaker tracks “How You Get the Girl,” which seems like a step back for Swift through detailing the ways one can get a girl, and “Bad Blood,” which is rumored to be about Swift’s secret feud with pop-singer Katy Perry. Although “Bad Blood” features a catchy tune and is undeniably relatable, the song overall comes across catty and unnecessary for the talented songwriter.

In 1989, Swift wipes the tears off her guitar and uses her music as weapon against the media and critics by concocting an album that not only solidifies her as a masterful pop artist, but also as a versatile act who can transcend genres and produce catchy melodies while still maintaining her lyrical brilliancy.

While the singer is receiving a lot of heat for her departure from music streaming service Spotify, the singer is sure to be shaking it off to her million+ first week record sales that are only bound to grow in the upcoming weeks.

Even though ’80s fashion has made its way to near extinction, after listening to 1989, I will gladly make the claim that Taylor Swift never goes out of style.

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