[By Kram Kamal]
The first thing that would come to your mind when thinking about Taylor Swift would be “country” – but Swift has broken up with country, and they show no sign of getting back together. Like – ever.
Swift revolutionized her entire image with her new album, becoming arguably one of the most versatile major pop stars of the decade. And with a new hair-cut, new style and a new attitude, 1989 becomes Swift’s first full pop era.
Ryan Tedder, Jack Antonoff, Max Martin, Johan Shellback and Imogen Heap, to name a few, are among the producers of 1989. Executively produced by Swift herself, 1989 has gone on to become an iconic album in just its first week, opening with over 1.2 million copies sold, out-performing her previous effort, RED, and making Swift the first artist till date to have sold three albums hitting the one million mark and more in the first week. The album has effectively out-sold Katy Perry’s Prism and Gaga’s ARTPOP’s total sales in just a week.
Swift tells her fans at radio stations and interviews that 1989 is easily her best album, with her lead single “Shake It Off” debuting at #1 on Billboard Hot 100 with 544,000 units moved digitally, easily becoming Swift’s biggest hit. The album is filled with pop melodies, synth-pop tracks as well as the classic Taylor Swift ballads matched with her recognizable and signature songwriting skills. 1989 is more electronic than her previous ventures, with a cluster of beats and a flurry of bass in which Swift delivers her first pop effort.
The album opens with “Welcome To New York”, written and produced by Swift and Tedder, introducing listeners to her new home. Incidentally, since she moved there, Swift has been made New York’s Global Welcome Ambassador. The track sounds a lot like a Sex and The City theme song, with lyrics such as “Welcome to New York, it’s been waiting for you”. Filled with synth programmed beats, claps and electronic bass, it lures 1989 listeners into a mind blowing album.
Earlier in the year, Swift hinted at a feud with someone in the pop world, and the track this inspired is Bad Blood, which instantly trended as soon as the album leaked on Twitter, Swift easily and classily scalping Katy Perry in a three-minute song. The number opens with Swift chanting “’Cause baby now we got bad blood,/ You know it used to be mad love,/ So take a look what you’ve done /‘Cause baby now we’ve got bad blood.” Envisioning a cheerleader and her squad singing while the school band plays in the background, Swift makes it clear that no one can cross her and get away with it.
Speculators have always listened and analysed Swift’s music trying to dissect just who she could be singing about, but “Out Of The Woods”, “Style” and “I Know Places” are easily inspired by her 2012 beau and One Direction artist Harry Styles. With lyrics such as “You got that long hair slicked back, white t-shirt”, matching Style’s signature look, and with Swift referring to the couple’s skiing accident in 2012 in “Out of the Woods”, she more or less hits the nail square in the head.
Swift’s second single, “Blank Space”, immediately became a fan favourite within minutes of 1989’s release, becoming a personal favourite off the album. “Wildest Dreams” has also gone on to become one of the most talked about tracks on the album, listeners suggesting that it’s similar to Lana Del Rey’s “Without You”, with similar chorus melodies and production and lyric compositions. With lyrics like “His hands are in my hair, his clothes are in my room”, Swift steps out of her comfort zone into more provocative and mature territory.
Other tracks, such as the bubbly “All You Had To Do Was Stay” and “How You Get The Girl” join “Shake It Off”, marking Swifts’ entry into the pop world and effortlessly executing the genre on her first effort in this album.
With 1.287 million copies sold in its first week and consistently debuting higher and higher with each album in a struggling industry, Swift makes her mark as possibly one of the biggest pop stars of our generation. She has had her naysayers about making a full-on pop album, but Swift shakes it off because the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, and she solidifies her status as a universal selling-force titan of an artist unmatched by any of her peers in this day and age.