Sun. Aug 14th, 2022

For many jaded millennials and older adults alike, the release of Taylor Swift’s fifth album, 1989, on Monday has become just another 13-track album full of hardly insightful glimpses into the world of a teenage girls’ broken heart.

However, with Swift’s growing maturity has also come better lyrics and more artistically adventurous melodies.

The album begins with “Welcome To New York,” a wide-eyed view of her new hometown. While lyrics like “Walking through a crowd, the village is aglow. Kaleidoscope of loud heartbeats under coats,” are expected from Swift’s unconventional way of phrasing her thoughts, ones like “Everybody here was someone else before. And you can want who you want, boys and boys and girls and girls,” are a commendable allusion to a very current controversy.

Maddy Heffron, senior and self-proclaimed ‘Swiftie’ since her freshman year, is excited about Swift’s latest release.

I really like [the album]… especially how in ‘Shake It Off’ she [Swift] knows how judgemental people are of her, but she just lets that go and sends a message to her fans that they should do that, too. You know, people shouldn’t worry about what others think of them because if you’re happy being yourself…you’re the true winner”

And that’s certainly what Swift has done with this album. No, her lyrics aren’t especially “deep,” but in all honesty the majority of teenagers aren’t. While it’s great to think all of us want to find poetic justice in the words of  more ‘artsy’ and current bands like Vampire Weekend or The Black Keys, it can sometimes be hard to find a genuine connection through such “deeper” lyrics.

All of the momentum from “Shake It Off” ramps up to “Out of the Woods,” which ends up serving as the album’s climax. It does exactly what Swift had intended, it unites the contemporary influences most seamlessly with ‘80s pop sounds. It also brings you the deepest into Swift’s very emotional world. She, like most teens, feels everything so immensely. The goal of every song is for her fans to Feel every word that she does. And “Out of the Woods” has such a captivating momentum that for four minutes, we feel the “20 stitches in the hospital room” that her ex-lover did.

In another one of the album’s best songs, the sassy “Blank Space,” Swift calls herself “a nightmare dressed like a daydream” and brags, “I can make the bad boys good for a weekend” with confidence.

“Clean,” a personal favorite, explores a darker side of Swift, as she condemns an ex for being “Still all over me like I wine-stained dress I can’t wear anymore. On my head, as I lost the war, and the sky turn black like a perfect storm.” Her reference to staying “10 months sober, I must admit, just because you’re clean don’t mean you miss it. 10 months older I won’t give in, now that I’m clean I’m never gonna risk it,” is reminiscent of Kelly Clarkson lyrics, another female pop artist often questioned about her genuineness.

However, Swift’s one vice is her continuous attempt to sound like her fellow counterparts in the second half of the album. Influences like Lorde, Lana Del Ray, Pharrell Williams, are all clearly heard, but not crafted carefully enough to effectively discern themselves from their original owners. But despite Swift’s poorly executed efforts to mix current sounds with her own, her album is still original, and aims to stay away from a label of cookie-cutter music.

Even Swift herself is set out to convince her fans and critics alike that this is not just another “Evil pop” album.

“Evil pop is when you’re singing something in your head … and you don’t know why because it’s brainless,”she said in a recent interview with a fellow collaborator Jack Antonoff.

The best part of 1989, though – Swift is unapologetically herself, which makes her somewhat cliche lyrics okay to love. While her latest anthem “Shake It Off,” has been criticized by many for its lack of profundity, it’s at least an attempt to relay a positive message to her fans. And while other tunes like “Stay High,” and “Birthday” are more well-received, they can’t say the same.

Swift may have taken a big risk cutting all ties with her pop-country hybrid past, but her leap into the world of female pop has been nothing but brilliant so far.


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