ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN The Huntington News, November 5, 2014
By Sara Tucker, News Staff
With 1.287 million record sales in the first week alone (more than the combined sales of last week’s 70 biggest-selling albums), former queen of country Taylor Swift has solidified her transition to the pop market.
Swift debuted her latest album, “1989,” last Monday to fans who had been waiting for the drop for months while listening to “Shake It Off” on repeat. The new tracks are a total departure from the T. Swift of the late 2000s, and make listeners want to drive around with the music up and the windows down rather than cry into a tub of Ben & Jerry’s.
The album’s first single, “Shake It Off,” was released in August, and even anti-Swifties couldn’t get the tune out of their heads. Swift, who has received much scrutiny from the public about her love life and her affinity to “go on too many dates,” used this track to respond to the “haters” – and fans loved it. The song is upbeat, catchy and sparked a quasi-movement of video responses from listeners including Jimmy Fallon, as well as a father/daughter team that danced to the hit in a video with over eight million views on YouTube.
Though the pre-album releases “Out of the Woods” and “Welcome to New York” didn’t receive the rave reviews of “Shake It Off,” they did pave the way for the album’s Oct. 27 release. Swift told Rolling Stone that she felt “Out” was “the greatest example of the sound of this album,” which was surprising for many due to its heavy synth use. “Welcome to New York” is another happy-go-lucky track sparked by Swift’s recent move to the Big Apple.
Tracks unheard before the album’s release include “Blank Space,” “Style,” “Bad Blood” and “Wildest Dreams,” among others.
“Blank Space” surpassed “Shake It Off” on iTunes’ Top Songs list in just a few days and currently sits at No. 1. It’s another dance-like-nobody’s-watching tune inspired by old lovers, but Swift promises she has room for more: “I’ve got a blank space, baby/And I’ll write your name.”
While some fans prefer “Blank Space,” others advocate for “Style” as the top track on the album. The confidence-inspiring beat makes you feel like strutting down the street, a finger pointing at that cute guy over there (with the hella good hair) while you sing the irresistible chorus: “You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye/And I got that red lip, classic thing that you like/And then we go crashing down, we come back every time/Cause we never go out of style, we never go out of style.”
“Bad Blood” pokes at artist Katy Perry, whom Swift supposedly has a rivalry with over the theft of a few backup dancers, among other things. But it’s not slow or sad; it’s quick and angry with heavy bass beats – the artist isn’t afraid to stand up for herself with this one.
The perhaps least “Taylor-like” track from the album is “Wildest Dreams.”
“Say you’ll remember me/Standing in a nice dress staring at the sunset, babe,” she croons. “Red lips and rosy cheeks, say you’ll see me again/Even if it’s just in your/Wildest dreams.”
While the song is a definite hit (No. 36 on iTunes Top Songs list), Swift perhaps loses a little of her own voice, as the track dons a very Lana Del Rey-esque sound.
For those looking for the old Taylor, look no further than “This Love” (which Swift reports is her favorite song on the album, according to Uloop News) and “Clean.” The tracks are slow and heartfelt and will take you back to eighth grade, lying on your bed and wondering how you’d ever get over so-and-so from third period English.
Although “1989” is a huge departure from the artist’s previous sound, she maintains one thing: the real-life inspiration for her music, which makes every track on the album relatable. There is absolutely a new T. Swift present in “1989,” but she doesn’t lose the old Taylor. While she still sings about past loves and boys, Swift is much more mature than her “Fearless” days, and fans couldn’t be prouder.
The album is available on iTunes, and the Deluxe Edition, with six additional tracks, can be purchased at Target.