Sunday, 26 October 2014

Taylor Swift's 1989: Facetious, Flirty and Thoughtful

It's almost like clockwork for fans of Taylor Swift: every two years a new album released around October. We can only hope this tradition continues!
But tonight 1989 is released, and it's a brand new experience for Swifties. I always wondered why artists wouldn't make every song on their album an anthem. The only people I've heard come close were Foxes or Madonna during her Like a Prayer phase, but 1989 has blown them completely out the water.

1. Welcome to New York

To explain this in one sentence, it's like walking through a scene of The Carrie Diaries. It follows through with the promise of the title, and you'll be looking up flights to the city after a few replays of this.
It really is the perfect opening to the album, introducing you to the new era with lyrics like "it's a new soundtrack, I could dance to this beat forevermore" and "everybody here wanted something more, searching for a sound we hadn't heard before".
Although it doesn't have that romantic, dreamy wonderstruck fairytale lyric Swift previously went for, you know she is in love with the city. Plus, people can't use that comeback, claiming "she's stuck in highschool" anymore.

2. Blank Space

When I heard Taylor was working with Shelback and Max Martin again I was a little worried. As although they produced 22, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and I Knew You Were Trouble, three of Red's biggest hits, which I each enjoyed, I felt as though there were better songs on the album. Furthermore, when they've produced songs with other artists I feel as though the artists lose part of their voice and character.
Good thing Taylor's strong willed and a bloody good songwriter! The best way to describe how it sounds is, if Natasha Bedingfield's Unwritten was crossed with Lily Allen's sass. This tune is unapologetic and tongue in cheek, everything that a 21st century pop queen should be singing. I love it!

3. Style

The intro to this sounds like it's taken straight from a Miami Vice soundtrack, it's so slick and cool. The lyrics follow Taylor's successful formula of reciting a love story before it turns sour, using analogies, comparing their style (duh) to their relationship. But other than that the catchy tune shows no other hints of her old stuff and is very pop, edging into the jazz genre with the pulsating bass.

4. Out of the Woods

This is by far my favourite from the album: such a huge anthem. The intro is a bit perplexing and very unique, but it soon moves into a moody deep verse. The very simple melody at the start, however, allows you to listen to the haunting lyrics. All of a sudden the chorus starts, and the drums begin hitting: it's the perfect 80s ballad.
It's not until the final bridge kicks in, things come to a head and you feel hope that Taylor is known to communicate and manage to romanticise. If the synth beats were substituted with a piano, this would be classic Speak Now era material.

5. All You Had To Do Was Stay

This is such a sassy song, and will be a classic girl power number for years to come. YPerhaps this was written in the anger stage of mourning a relationship? You can feel real resentment to whoever this was written about (who do you think it was?). But the difference this time, to previous albums (with the exception of perhaps Red), is you can feel she was almost angry with herself for letting herself get into the situation too.
A meaningful song dressed up as a dance tune!

6. Shake it Off

Ah the lead single. This isn't my favourite off the album, as I feel as though the topic of letting go of poisonous people could have been dealt with in a more meaningful way, or with more substance than just "shake it off, ah ah, shake it off". But that was what Mean in Speak Now was for, and the change in approach is refreshing. It has definitely grown on me and is a good party starter. I know for a fact it's changed a lot of people's opinions on Taylor (in a good way), and that's only a positive thing!

7. I Wish You Would

This song oozes 80s, sounding like a Michael Jackson song with the captivating drum fills. If All You Had To Do Was Stay was written in the anger period of mourning, this would be from the bargaining stage. With a similar message to Other Side Of The Door, the endless repetition of "wish" keeps in touch with her dreamy and doe eyed writing style.
It's definitely a recognisable Swift lyric with an 80s tune: exactly what she was going for.

8. Wildest Dreams

There's the one thing people keep mentioning about this song, and that's that it's incredibly inspired by Lana Del Rey, with sultry, melting, vintage lyrics. Taylor even sounds like her the way she pronounces her lyrics.
It's possibly my second favourite on the album, only behind Out of the Woods, as it is so unique and brought something new to Taylor's catalogue!

9. Bad Blood

It's the one about another famous pop star. This song has definitely had the most hype around it in the run up to release. It's another unapologetic, sassy song that has hip hop (yes, you read that right!) flavours. The lyrics are reminiscent of Better Than Revenge, but are much more subtle, to the point the message would have been very ambiguous to the listener if Taylor had never spilt some of the details.
A good song that sticks out from the other tracks!

10. How You Get The Girl

Another female power hit that you will be up dancing to on a Saturday night, with a bowl of ice cream and your friends. If there's one thing to notice is the presence of guitar in this song making it sound very Speak Now era and classic Swift. Old fan's can't complain about the shift in genre, with this old Taylor style jam.

11. This Love

This is the most watery ballad on the album, similar to that of Sad, Beautiful, Tragic or Safe and Sound. However it grows and layers to become a deeper, powerful song. It's the kind of song you'd hear in a Nicholas Sparks movie when the couple see each other after many years/had resolved some huge conflict. Cute and a familiar side to Taylor, great tune!

12. I Know Places

This song resembles a classic Sia song: dark lyrics, featuring vultures and hunters, and an exploding chorus. It has a similar concept to what Haunted tried to produce, but carried out in a more sophisticated and lyrical way, packed with metaphors and musical concepts that Taylor has only gotten better with over the last two albums, since Haunted was released.

13. Clean

This was written with singer Imogen Heap, and you can definitely hear her input. A lot of people said this song was the All Too Well of the album, however I can't agree with that and hear a lot more of the Begin Again influences as it talks about redemption and fresh starts. In my opinion, there is no All Too Well equivalent on this album, perhaps because the fabulous Liz Rose has had no credits on this album (and why? Taylor and her have written the most articulated and melodic songs together!).
Nevertheless, it is still a beautiful song with a soft consistent beat, that has been translated from Swift's happier and balanced life in the last year. For the standard edition of the album this is the closing song (as was Begin Again for Red) and leaves the listener content and filled with hope.

14. Wonderland

A clever song filled with Alice in Wonderland analogies. This song has a similar music box melody that Clean has, making it the perfect follow up on the deluxe edition.
This song could be smarter than meets the eye, with lyrics including "didn't you calm my nerves with the Cheshire Cat smile". This could be only one person in multiple ways; physically and geographically. You know who I mean.
Or perhaps it could allude to another certain singer's song Your Body is a Wonderland.
However, overall, this song also brings something new to Taylor's collection: a smarter, darker fairytale than Love Story.

15. You Are In Love

A delightful song, that starts out sounding like classic Whitney or Celine. It is incredibly thoughtful but disjointed, that captures love and all it means perfectly. She also wrote this song with Jack Antonoff, boyfriend of Lena Dunham, who has tweeted saying that she wanted it to be her "someday wedding song". I'm pretty sure that will be the case for many people.

16. New Romantics

The closing song to the deluxe album, is also a perfect ending. Compared to Clean, this is much more upbeat and relatable to the Taylor that has been around for the last year or so: goofy, confident and in love, not with a boy, but with herself, her friends and New York City. I think as a fan this has the nicest message, we have been championing her to find love and happiness for years now and it appears she has found that new romance, that is not common for a young girl to find in her twenties.
I'd compare this to 22 but with the pop flavour she has been channelling for the whole album. Amazing close to an amazing fifth (yes, fifth at age 24!) album!

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