Photo courtesy of Big Machine Records
The cover star of Time Magazine. Billboard chart topper with the highest first-week sales since 2002. Blonde haired, blue eyed beauty. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s Taylor Swift. Zephyrus was recently given the opportunity to review Swift’s new album, entitled “1989”, named after the year she was born. Being her fifth album to date, this album marked her official move to pop music. After listening to the album in its entirety, I hate to admit that for me, “1989” was a year not so different from the rest, and not one that particularly stuck with me.
The goal of this album was for Swift to return to the 80s vibe of pop music. While this goal was met, I didn’t hear anything new or different from what has been playing on the radio in many of her songs. Starting with the #1 radio hit “Shake it Off”, I automatically recognized it as just that, a radio hit. While, yes I will admit that the lyrics are fun and very catchy, the song was very cliché in it’s sound, beat, and message. Continuing on this streak was “How You Get the Girl” and “Welcome to New York.” While both of these songs are extremely catchy, haven’t we heard these lyrics before? Something about these songs just seemed too familiar for a brand new album.
No Taylor Swift album is complete without a ballad or two. “This Love” and the last track of the album, “Clean” are the T-Swift ballads she is known, and loved for. While “Clean” may not have been my favorite, especially as the finale, you could really hear Swift’s voice in this. Her floaty voice, along with her great vocal range was showcased very well. Another plus was that the message was not necessarily focused on the common theme of heartbreak over relationships, but could be interpreted as coming clean from anything. I found that the songs not dripping with boyfriend references to be the most refreshing, and in this case, very deserving of the title “Clean.”
In regards to “This Love,” I also automatically saw Swift’s signature all over it, but in a newly-packaged, more refined way. These ballads overall were very much needed to attempt to balance out the bubble gum and high energy songs.
Like a good ballad, this would not be Swift’s work without songs about boys and the love and heartbreak they seem to always bring. “Style” and “I Wish You Would” were songs that were simply about a boy. These two were my least favorite on the album for their whiney-sounding lyrics, and overdone topic matter.
However, one of the songs centered around boys ended up being my favorite because it was making fun of them! “Blank Space”, now complete with a hilarious music video, is all about the media’s perception of Swift. This sarcastic song had catchy lyrics, and a funny message. Under the bubblegum surface, the real message shows through. This creativity is what I love about Taylor, and her ability to make a pop song with an actual message (and a “screw you” to the media) was very exciting.
Lastly, while most of this review has been about clichéd sounds, there were a few songs that surprised me in a good way. When I first heard “Wildest Dreams”, I had to check the artist to make sure I wasn’t listening to a Lana Del Rey song. Swift’s vocal ability is quite amazing, and so I was very pleased to hear a song that didn’t have her best known floaty pop voice. This song was interesting, and exciting to listen to. “Bad Blood” was also fun to hear from her because of it’s angrier tone compared to most of her work. The right balance of heavy and light can take a song far, and I think Swift hit her mark on this one. And while “I Know Places” was definitely pop, the balance of fast and slow tempo, high and low vocals, and catchy-but-not-bubble-gum lyrics turned out to make an amazing song, quite possibly my favorite on the album.
Whether you like it or not, Taylor Swift is a musical icon, and for good reason. She is creative, funny, and let’s face it, makes some pretty catchy songs. While “1989” was not my favorite, I did hear the creativity and work she put into the tracks. Would I run out, and buy this album? Maybe not. But would I turn any song off in the car if it came up on the radio? Never!