Last fall, Taylor Swift dropped her fifth album, 1989. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. With singles including “Blank Space” and “Bad Blood,” Swift was topping the charts. But not everyone was a fan. Take my brother, for instance: pop music is not his genre of choice. As such, he didn’t listen to the album at all (this turned out to be a problem, because I constantly blasted it from my room). It’s completely fine if Swift is not your cup of tea, but maybe you should give 1989 a chance. Especially since now there’s a way for everyone, including my brother, to enjoy it.
Ryan Adams is a well-known rock/alternative musician. In other words, he is the antithesis of Taylor Swift. For reasons I don’t know (but am extremely grateful for), Adams decided to record a cover album of 1989 – as in he recorded, and put his own spin on, every single track on the record.
To be honest, when I first heard about this, I wasn’t expecting greatness. Why would we need more versions of Taylor Swift’s music? Sure, I like it, but I really couldn’t see how anything more could be done with these pop songs.
Well, Adams’ album came out last week, and I will admit I was wrong. Adams turned 1989 into an entirely new album. The covers are simple, just Adams and a guitar, bringing listeners back to the alternative music of the ‘90s. Stripped of synthesizers and heavy beats, this album lets us fully absorb the lyrics. With Adams singing, we really hear the raw emotion. This has become his breakup album, after splitting with Mandy Moore earlier this year.
This version is so clearly Adams, it is enjoyable to his fans and T-Swift teenyboppers alike. While Swift’s 1989 is perfect to pump yourself up or blast at parties, I would not recommend listening to Adams’ remake before going out. It is definitely a downer of an album; you can hear the heartbreak in his voice. The “Blank Space” cover is melancholically lovely, and features some wonderful finger-picking. “All You Had To Do Was Stay” surpasses the original, subtly conveying the hurt of a breakup. “Clean” rounds up my top three picks from the album, getting to the heart of a classic rock song.
Swift’s 1989 is a bit hard to find unless you buy it. It’s not available on Spotify, and the tracks are only on YouTube if there are accompanying music videos. Adams’ 1989 is much more accessible. Spotify, YouTube, you’ll find it anywhere. Take advantage of this, because this is not a cover album to miss.
One thing to keep in mind: this album is still Taylor Swift’s at heart. She wrote and produced it. Adams is just coming in to put his own spin on it. So if you decide to take a listen to it, and end up liking it – I’m looking at you, brother – remember that this wouldn’t have happened without T. Swift.