1989. by Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift’s fifth studio album, “1989,” solidifies her complete crossover to the pop genre and her divorce from country music. The transition, although widely popular with the public, leaves something to be desired in lyrical content and lacks the finesse of her earlier albums.
The opener leaves no question that Swift has switched over to a pop sound. “Welcome To New York” has a highly synthesized beat, and electronic sound. Swift’s strength has always been her lyrics, but here the gift of her songwriting is lost.
Swift gains back some of her lyrical integrity with the second track “Blank Space.” Swift makes a joke of her reputation concerning her many relationships throughout her career. Swift does an excellent job of telling the story of the song, as the relationship in the song takes a turn for the worse, both the vocals and the accompaniment become more intense.
Following “Blank Space” is “Style,” another prime storytelling moment on “1989.” Swift skillfully layers two different vocal lines, both sung by her, to get both melody and rhythm during the chorus and the verses. That, combined with the driving storyline of the song, makes this track one of the high points of the album.
As pleasing as “Style” is, “Out Of The Woods” is the polar opposite, coming off as forced and static. The chorus, which even after the first time is repetitious, is sung seven more times. The interesting lyrics and melodic pattern of the verses are lost among boring staticity of the chorus.
The fifth track “ All You Had To Do Was Stay” is honestly a snooze. Awkward high notes almost every time she sings “stay,” unnatural phrasing and pseudo-rhyming make the song choppy and make it sink far below the other songs on the album.
Leading single “Shake It Off” is the sixth track on the album. Swift has descended far into the pop music cliche with this song, but she still maintains her vocal integrity, even though lyrical content and grammar have clearly gone out the window.
With the seventh track “ I Wish You Would,” Swift returns to her storytelling roots. Even though it’s a far cry from the sweet acoustic sound of her other looking-back-on-a-breakup song, “Back To December,” “I Wish You Would”still tells the story just as well.
In contrast “Bad Blood” is just bad. The lyrics are just poor and the random ‘heys’ thrown in the middle of phrases are ill fitting. The drum track is very distracting and the abrupt tempo change in the bridge is just plain strange.
“Wildest Dreams” is a refreshing taste of the Swift we missed during “Bad Blood.” Her phenomenal vocals dominate the soft electronic piano in the background, which is something that is missed in most of “1989.” Listeners will also hear the full range of Swift’s voice in this song. The chorus featuring her flirty soprano and the verses bringing her full alto to the forefront which isn’t really featured anywhere else on this album.
Track 10, “How You Get The Girl,” is forgettable. It’s too cutesy and it’s the least jaded track on the album. The point of view is a little strange in this song, because Swift detaches herself from the story of the song. The redeeming quality is the sliver of acoustic guitar hidden behind the drum track and electronic bass.
In track 11, “This Love,” the acoustic guitar returns for a more prominent role in the most ‘country’ song on the album. Although the lyrics of this song aren’t up to par with Swift’s old country style, it’s a breath of fresh air compared to the other songs on this album. This track balances the pop and country elements of Swift’s repertoire to please all audiences.
Track 12, “I Know Places,” is basically two songs in one. The verses set a very dark mood and feature Swift’s low alto range, but chorus’ are lighter and higher in Swift’s impressive range. Contrast is always good right? Not in this case. The change in mood from verse to chorus make the flow of the song very abrupt.
The last song on the album, “Clean,” really showcases how much Swift has grown up. The lyrical content is more intense with lines such as “You’re still all over me like a wine-stained dress I can’t wear anymore.” However the slow pace makes the song lag and become a little boring.
Although “1989” showcases a totally different genre than most people were used to with Taylor Swift, she kept a few of her signature elements intact making her somewhat recognizable even with a new genre behind her. I can’t wait to see what Swift comes up with as she matures, and gains a stronger footing on her new stomping ground.