1989: Taylor’s big debut in pop music

We all know Taylor Swift as an iconic, all-American beauty with the voice to match. Her heartfelt, southern-vibed songs have helped her become a household name and a consistent figure in the top charts. So it makes sense that her most recent release, 1989, was highly anticipated and heavily publicized all over the world.

Inspired by the decade of her birth—and more specifically, her birth year—1989 takes an entirely different spin from her normal country-pop style to full-blown pop. This 180-degree turn, in my opinion, is executed surprisingly well. Many of the songs have an upbeat, happy feel even though they are musically predictable. Even the slower, or more mellow songs have a cool beat behind them, which was missing in her previous albums, such as Red or Speak Now. Lina Makino ’17 expressed her opinion saying, “I think that although [1989] is different from any of her previous albums, it has vibes of pop and techno, transitioning her into a new music genre.”

Swift’s past influences were distinctly country and included, to name a few, Shania Twain, Kenny Chesney and Miranda Lambert. Now, we see her influences turning to pop icons such as Robyn, Lana del Ray and Lorde. “Welcome to New York” and “Blank Space” have electro beats mirroring Robyn’s style in songs such as “Call Your Girlfriend” and “Dancing on My Own.” Swift’s shift toward manipulating her voice electronically definitely has some Robyn-like motivation.

When I first heard “Wildest Dreams,” I immediately thought of “Young and Beautiful” by Lana del Rey. The monotonous melody, lower notes, and dreamy feel create a vibe similar to del Ray’s work. I personally don’t love “Wildest Dreams,” but I can see why others would and what it adds to the rest of the album.

Lorde comes through in almost every song on this album, in my opinion. The unique beat and rhythm in a lot of the songs  resemble a lot of the songs off of Pure Heroine, such as “400 Lux” and “Team.” I see this specifically in “Bad Blood,” “Blank Space” and “Style.” Since Lorde and Swift are close friends, Lorde influencing Swift’s work is expected. Because I’m a huge Lorde fan, the songs that I like the most off of 1989 are the ones where Lorde’s influences are most visible.

I decided to listen to the album in order to get the full feel for the record. It opens with “Welcome to New York,” a synth-pop vibe reminiscent of the disco era. I can see this coming out as an anthem, something that will play at parties over and over and the lyrics will be shouted at the top of every college kid’s lungs for years to come. Although it’s not my favorite song, it puts a smile on my face the second the synthesized piano fades in.

The other popular songs from this album so far happen to be those that Swift released as singles first, such as “Shake it Off” and “Out of the Woods.” I like “Shake it Off” in a similar way that I like “Welcome to New York:” it’s fun, poppy and elicits foot-tapping. I wouldn’t ever crave hearing it or memorize all of the lyrics (because I find it to be somewhat whiny and repetitive), but it’s a fun song that I can dance to with my friends on the weekends. “Out of the Woods,” on the other hand, is one of my least favorite songs from the album. It’s repetitive, weirdly tribal and doesn’t contribute much to the record as a whole.

All in all, I’m pretty satisfied with 1989. It’s fun and upbeat for the most part, but includes some more low-key songs that round out the album. Swift tried something new, and I applaud her for pushing herself out of her musical comfort zone. I would recommend listening to 1989 at least once through; don’t expect too much, just be prepared for a head-bobbing, foot-tapping album that will make you smile on a gloomy day. 3.75/5

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