Taylor Swift seems to be able to do no wrong at the moment. Her latest single Shake It Off has spent weeks in the Top 10 and set the stage of her first real foray into pop. Her last album, 2012’s Red, featured plenty of pop influences especially on hits We Are Never Getting Back Together and I Knew You Were Trouble. For her latest album 1989, Taylor has fully embraced pop and ditched country, which is the genre she made her name.
Judging by the reaction to Shake It Off, and the anticipation for 1989, it seems that the gamble is paying off for Taylor and she looks set to have her biggest record to date. As always Swift has co-written every track on the album (with the exception of This Love which she has sole writing credits on) but for 1989 she’s teamed up Max Martin, Shellback, Ryan Tedder and Imogen Heap. The end result is a collection of 80s influenced pop tracks that serves to expand Swift’s already huge fan base.
1989’s lead single Shake It Off definitely warned us that a new sound was definitely coming on the record and it’s not wrong. Shake It Off had a cheerleader-like upbeat feel to it with Swift answering her critics and giving them a sugar-coated middle finger salute. The song is undeniably catchy and it’s an example of Swift at her most infectious.
Elsewhere on the album Swift gets autobiographical on album opener Welcome To New York, where she also vocalises her support of the LGBT community, fuses electro-beats with reverb-filled vocals on the atmospheric Style, and delivers a radio-friendly sing-a-long moment on All You Had To Do Was Stay. Fans of Swift’s ballads will be pleased to know that This Love is essentially classic Swift but with electro-shimmers instead of banjo riffs.
The best moments on the album include I Wish You Would which features a rather speedy R&B like vocal from Swift and Bad Blood, a song rumoured to be about an on-going feud with fellow pop picker Katy Perry. Our favourite moment though comes on the rather sweet How You Get The Girl, which combines bold pop melodies with Swift’s soft vocals recalling a past relationship.
The only real issue we have with 1989 is the lack of really solid choruses. For the most part Swift just repeats the title several times and unfortunately for us that does not a chorus make. Clearly Swift is going for the indoctrination style approach with her chorus hoping that saying the titles enough times will make them stick in people’s minds. Well it’s clearly working but we like it better when there’s a fully formed chorus to get your chops around.
1989 is fun, frivolous and energetic record that will ensure Swift remains one of the world’s biggest stars. Whether she will return to country or balance country with her new pop sound remains to be seen but 1989 is certainly the most intriguing and enjoyable record she’s released to date. Where she goes from here will be interesting to see but don’t be surprised if 1989 becomes her most iconic record in years to come.