If anyone can hop genres successfully in the unpredictable music industry, it’s Taylor Swift. Her music has always been country-flavored pop with its hopeless romantic lyrics and smash-hit melodies. While “Shake It Off” might have dropped jaws initially, it was only for a moment. The world has accepted "Taylor Swift: The Pop Artist" with open arms and eager ears.
1989 couldn’t have arrived at a more perfect time. While Nicki Minaj is rapping about snakes and Ariana Grande is still pushing dance-heavy tunes forward, Taylor is bringing back the emotion that seems to have been missing from the current repertoires of pop’s biggest divas. Songs like “Out Of The Woods” and “Clean” evoke the exact sonic feelings their lyrics imply. Armed with producing geniuses like Max Martin and Ryan Tedder, Taylor is able to convincingly bring her heartbroken memories to life with instrumentation that is both modern and timeless.
1989’s production harkens back to the album title’s time with heavy synths and vocal reverberations. The lyricism and melodies stay decidedly modern, leading to the music’s beautifully blended texture. The strongest points of an ’89 throwback are with the songs “You Are In Love” and “Out Of The Woods.”
Like Taylor’s impressive collection of best-selling albums, 1989 covers her latest romantic pursuits and failures, but this time with a new perspective. As Taylor grows older, her naiveté fades from her music. This album is tinged with a confident attitude that’s more mature, but still not quite jaded. This is especially true on one of my favorite tracks “Blank Space,” where Taylor self-deprecates herself while warning her next boyfriend that he could easily be inserted into her next hit song should their relationship go down in flames.
Playing the likeable, goofy girl-next-door is all part of Taylor’s multi-million dollar brand image. But even though she appears in Coke and Target commercials and leaves the gym with perfect hair and makeup nowadays, Taylor continues her everyday girl persona throughout this album. “Welcome To New York” and “How To Get The Girl” are anthemic tunes that showcase her diaristic, idealistic experiences that nearly every 23-year old has. Taylor’s ode to New York is my favorite song on the album because it reminds me exactly of my first trip to the city (#JoeGoodingTakesNewYork). The possibility of a new identity, the anxious yet thriving population, melting pot of cultures and the initial awe the city holds is enchantedly captured in “Welcome To New York.”
As a whole, 1989 is a creatively cohesive album that stands on its own in a crowded pop landscape. In Taylor’s own discography, 1989 is a unique addition that is sure to be just the first of many successful endeavors in a new genre. Albums like Speak Now and Red will always have a special place in my heart, but, like her fans, Taylor has grown up with a new sound that is both exciting and fitting. I feel like Taylor and I are at the same place in our lives, and it’s amazing to have a set of songs that captures our messy, thrilling and imperfect adventures together with unabashed honesty.