Contrary to recent album releases, 1989 did not fall from the sky on a random day, nor was it free for everyone with an iTunes account whether they wanted it or not.
Unless you have been living in a bubble (which let’s be honest, Bates kind of is), then you should have seen Taylor Swift in a presidential-campaign-style tour of America. Yet, all of this fanfare comes down to whether these thirteen songs are actually worth listening to.
When Swift declared that 1989 would be her first “documented pop record,” it did not seem like much of an actual declaration. Swift had already begun to lean towards pop music in Red, but with this statement she seemed to imply that 1989 would simply include more of “22” and “I Knew You Were Trouble” than “All Too Well.” Well, that is definitely not the case.
The experience of listening to 1989 is like when someone comes to tell you big news, you need to sit down for it. This album does not follow the steady evolution of Swift’s sound from Fearless to Red. Swift has discarded any trace of fun banjos for booming synths.
This is not to say, however, that 1989 is a bad album; it is actually pretty amazing. Swift’s songs have always been more about the stories they tell rather than the beats behind them, and her (admirably original) lyrics are just as beautiful and honest as they have always been.
Songs like “Out of the Woods” and “I Know Places” tell vivid stories of prior romances. It is amazing how Swift can sing about someone (usually an ex, of course) who got “twenty stitches in a hospital room” and still make the song hauntingly beautiful. In “Style,” Swift sings about a relationship over a slick throwback beat while you imagine yourself driving down the highway in a vintage car with neon lights all around you.
First-year Ethan Benevides said, “The new album surprised me when I first heard it, but the songs are pretty catchy and fun.”
As Swift is no longer seen with a new boyfriend every few months and is rather seen baking and playing with cats along with her friend group of famous females (how do I get into that friend group?), her songs are no longer all about exes. In the already popular “Shake it Off,” Swift presents the ultimate anti-hater anthem that almost everyone can relate to, because don’t we all have some haters?
In “Welcome to New York,” Swift gives her wide-eyed account of moving to the city as a young adult. This song is a strong departure from “Never Grow Up” from Speak Now, where Swift wrote an honest account of feeling alone when moving to her own apartment in Nashville. Maybe this is a sign of Swift’s growing maturity, but moving to a big city is scary, so “Welcome to New York” is not as relatable as many of her other songs, but it nonetheless captures the magic of the city.
The funniest and seemingly most talked about song is “Bad Blood.” Supposedly about Katy Perry, this song is the wonderfully overdramatic account of a friendship gone horribly wrong. Swift talks about having “scars on my back from your knife” and how “Band-Aids don’t fix bullet holes.” This song is at least relatable to two best friends in middle school who get into a petty argument and blow everything out of proportion.
One of the highlights of the album is “How You Get the Girl,” which oddly enough would have fit well on Speak Now or Red. The song is classic Swift, optimistic and bright with fun lyrics. This song is the perfect song for the impromptu dance party, as is “Shake it Off.”
First-year Emily Bacon says, “Shake it Off’ is Taylor’s most exciting song; I have to dance to it whenever it comes on.”
Overall, 1989 proves that all Swift needs is a pen and paper to create an album. Her fans would not care if her next album were heavy metal or folk, because under any genre Swift’s music is undeniably unique, and she can thrive with “this sick beat” in any kind of song.