By Josh Schonfeld
Twenty-five years in the making, Taylor Swift has finally released her first full-on pop record. After straddling the country-pop line since the beginning of her career, 1989 removes the shackles of her past discography and completes her transformation into a worldwide pop diva. Not only does it solidify her spot on the pop charts, but it also proves to be her most mature work, a critique that has eluded her four previous efforts.
Aptly titled 1989, Swift looks back to her birth year as an inspiration to the overall sound of the album. Swift melds the classic 80s production of Christopher Cross, Debbie Gibson, and The Police with the more current melodies of Lorde, P!nk and other modern artists to create a cohesive blend of sounds. The album begins with the upbeat tale of starting over and the anxious excitement that comes with a new beginning, using New York City as a backdrop. “Welcome to New York” is a universal track, despite its title, that will get anyone thinking about moving downtown where the neon lights are “bright, but they never blind me.”
Other highlights include the chaotic and scattered “Out of the Woods,” the cheerleader stomp diss track called, “Bad Blood,” and “Blank Space,” where Swift pokes fun at love-crazed herself. “Out of the Woods” truly feels like a frenzied run through the woods as the drum machine echoes in your ear and Swift repeats, “Are we out of the woods yet? Are we in the clear yet?” “Bad Blood” serves as her mandatory breakup song on 1989 (even though it’s rumored to be about fellow popstar, Katy Perry). The low bass-to-hi-hat drum line fits the biting lyrics about a tumultuous relationship that is hanging on by a thread. “Blank Space” shows Swift’s humorous side, as she sarcastically sings of her supposed love life routine. Lock on a cute guy Terminator-style, fall in love in 4 minutes flat, then crash and burn and publicly as possible.
Even the ultra-cheesy “How You Get the Girl” seems to work in the grand scheme of things. The childish melody borrows heavily from The Little Mermaid’s popular tune, “Kiss the Girl” (which coincidentally came out in 1989), and yet helps to bring a sense of nostalgia to the track, as Swift recounts every little girl’s dream of falling in love.
1989 is set to take the pop world by storm with its brash production and undeniable earworms. While the ballads on the album fall flat, especially compared to Swift’s previous work, the other tracks stand proud against her veteran competitors. While it’s unclear which genre Swift will try next, we can always be certain that each track will be 100% Taylor.