1989 pleasantly reinvents Swift’s musical style

Claire Fisher, co-opinions editor

Taylor Swift has once again proved that she isn’t leaving the spotlight any time soon. On Oct. 27, Swift released her fifth studio album, titled 1989—to reflect both the year of her birth and the era of pop she was most inspired by in writing the album, according to ABC News. This young starlet has always divided her musical style between pop and her native country, but this album has decisively left behind that balancing act and created a sound rooted in pop.

This is a completely different sound for Swift, but one I’m not opposed to. Her country background allowed her fans to get to know her on a more personal level. Now, her arrival in pop is just another aspect—something light, flirty and fun—of the girl we’ve come to know and love.

Swift opens her album with the rhythmic pop beat and melodic synth of “Welcome to New York.” It is an appropriate opening track, considering Swift moved to New York City in the spring and fell in love with it, according to Yahoo. Although the song is optimistic and exciting, it’s a little too bubblegum-pop for my taste, and I think a topic Swift feels so passionate about could elicit better lyrics than repeating the title six times and calling it a chorus.

One of my favorite songs from the album is “Blank Space,” a cheeky song about her “long list of ex-lovers” and a boy who “looks like [her] next mistake.” It’s a self-reflective song about the media’s view of her numerous past relationships and the casualness of relationships that she can enjoy at the young, yet mature age of 24.

Yet, the standout track is the first single released, “Shake it Off.” The percussive beat and bold horns add color to the production and help it stand apart from the electronic sound of most of the other tracks. I blast this sucker and roll down the windows when I’m driving; it’s pure fun and the message of self-confidence is great and is communicated neatly in an easily-digestible pop package.

Another highlight of the song is that it isn’t about a boy. Swift’s biggest mistake with this album was writing nearly all her songs about boys and relationships. This is because her songs of the past were more memorable when they detailed a specific relationship, but Swift herself said that she hasn’t really been in a relationship the past two years, according to Rolling Stone.

This leaves us with an album full of generic romance fantasies, like “Wildest Dreams,” a sultry and leisurely song that almost channels Lana Del Ray. The unique production gives it some merit, and its maturity reflects Swift’s age. However, the breathy, ethereal and slow-moving “This Love” is a sappy tale of complicated love and last kisses that shows little artistic growth.

Despite Swift’s characteristically simplistic songwriting style, her authenticity is really what propels her career. Even when the dramatic, teenage love songs she writes make me roll my eyes, I can’t help but feel that the words come from her heart, which makes them intimate and attractive.

Swift got help a second time around from Max Martin and Shellback on “Shake It Off,” the same guys who helped her with “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “I Knew You Were Trouble” from her Red album. Even if these guys have helped her score a hit song with their mainstream pop style, there’s something lost from Swift’s persona when her music could be anybody’s on the radio. Of course, her awkward cramming in of lyrics and her less than perfect singing voice are always her trademark.

Overall, Swift has left me satisfied with her arrival in the pop world. 1989 definitely has a few singles worth purchasing for the typical pop radio fan and a lot of solid content for the avid Swift listener.