Taylor Swift review

Sophia has many thoughts on the artistic magnate that is Taylor Alison Swift. Rating: 6.8/10

Taylor Swift review

It doesn’t really matter if you love or hate her (and for most people its usually pretty strongly either way) — when it comes to record sales, Taylor Swift is a goddess. If you need evidence of this, you should look no further than early November, when “1989”, her 5th studio album, became not only 2014’s first platinum album, but achieved the impressive status in less than a week. That’s right, Taylor Swift quite literally sold more records in a week than any artist could this entire year. Combine that with the fact that she somehow managed to squeeze life into the previously dead medium of CDs to do so, you are met with an inevitable truth: Taylor Swift = sales goddess.

And she knows it too. That’s pretty much the major selling point of “Shake it Off”– the idea that even though people hate on her, she’s going to “shake it off”, aka swim around in a pool of hundred dollar bills. In fact, the arguably most prominent theme of “1989” is that of self-awareness. While in previous years, Swift has subtly poked at the idea her public image and the fact that it may or may not accurately represent her (see “the Lucky One”, and “Starlight” off of 2012’s “Red”), in “1989” she slams it over our heads while wearing a shirt that says “the media lies!” and making her “insane” face (the same one prominently featured in the “Blank Space” music video).

“Blank Space”, is actually pretty much the attitude of the album in a nutshell. Completely sarcastic (as highlighted by the aforementioned music video), “Blank Space” is more or less a large middle finger to everybody who speculates about and judges her personal and romantic life, and the media for perpetuating and encouraging this behavior. If you really want a taste of irony, please note that despite the incredibly clear message of the song, the media still had a really fun time deciding who the song was about, proving Swift’s point and making complete fools of themselves in one foul swoop.

“Blank Space” and “Shake it Off” are certainly the most notable along Swift’s new “hater-gonna-hate(-hate-hate-hate-hate) theme, possibly because they’re the most popular songs off of the album so far, and possibly because they’re the most straightforward with it. If you listen closely, you can see that this message carries throughout the entire album– kind of weird considering that despite the couple of songs I mentioned above and Swifts tumultuous (at the very least) relationship with the media, this is really the first time she’s even mentioned her public image. But if you think about, its not really coincidence that she’s bringing it out all at once like this.Taylor_Swift_-_1989 (1)

“1989” represents a pretty major change in Taylor Swift’s career. It’s a shift from country to pop, it’s a shift from notable artist to the record-breaking all-star singer, and it’s a shift from cute, young songstress to fully recognized, mature singer who says “damn” (gasp) in her songs. Some changes were intentional and some just came with time, but the Taylor Swift today is vastly different than the Taylor Swift two years ago. This means a change in subject and tone of her songs (as mentioned above) and this also means some shaky footing as she realizes her new position.

But, the album is not straightforwardly bad. There are really strong parts to every song (the caveat being “Welcome to New York” where just the synths in that song alone are unforgivable, not even mentioning the lyrics). In “Bad Blood”, a song that may or may not be about a rivalry between Swift and a certain Katy Perry, Swift showcases her great knack for a catchy melody, surprisingly abandons her talent for writing mature lyrics, historically one of her strongest and most unique assets as a pop singer. Actually, all of the songs on this album are really catchy, there’s no question about that, but the actual content of the songs is at a pretty large discrepancy than with her previous albums. While listening to the songs and the lyrics I can’t help but feel that she kinda threw the baby out with the bathwater in terms of country music. Apparently nobody told Swift that despite popular belief, not all pop music had to be catchy, meaningless noise (even though most of it sadly is). In saying that, “Clean,” is one of her few honorable attempts to add some depth to this album, but even despite help from song co-writer Imogen Heap (one of my personal favorites), the song just lacks the emotional appeal and density of her earlier work (see“All Too Well” off of “Red” or “Untouchable” from “Fearless”).

I don’t want anybody to get the impression that this album is a complete failure, though, it has many redeeming qualities. The album is certainly well-produced and well-instrumented, and a catchy tune is more valuable than you might think. “Style,” “I Know Places,” “Wildest Dreams,” “All You Had to Do Was Stay,” and even “Clean” are solid songs, and the rest are completely okay (excluding, and I cannot stress this enough, “Welcome to New York”, which is just by all accounts a horrible song).

I’m not going to undersell how disappointed I am with this album, especially because it came from my favorite pop singer. It really is really a shame to see one of the only pop artists with depth sell out, because that kind of talent didn’t just disappear, it got squashed– either by Swift deciding what she had to change about her music to make the switch to pop, or by studio execs deciding what’s more important to sell music. Excluding “Welcome to New York,” the worst part of “1989” is that it represents just a small loss of integrity from Swift and her music, and artists and music everywhere. The music industry is hard to break into without compromising some artistic honor, and what was impressive about Taylor Swift is that she never really seemed to. But, the girl has talent, and it’s about time she realizes that if anyone can keep their integrity in the music industry its her and when Swift comes back to her senses (as I’m pretty sure she will) I will be right here cheering her along.