1989 review by Taylor Swift

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  • Released: Oct 27, 2014
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7 Good
  • Users' score: 6.3 (73 votes)
Taylor Swift: 1989

Sound — 7
Taylor Swift began her career at the age of fourteen in a program for "artist development" with RCA Records, which included songwriting sessions with experienced songwriters working in the industry, as well as various lessons. Taylor Swift culminated a lot of relationships in Nashville which she used to catapult her career, including a friendship with Liz Rose, who co-wrote many of Taylor's songs and hits. Initially, Taylor's music was exclusively country music, though she introduced elements of pop as time went on. By the release of her fourth album, "Red," she was considered as much as a pop artist as she was a country artist, then by the release of her current album, "1989," she has officially left country and country pop behind, releasing an album of programmed drums, synthesizers, and heavily processed vocals and backing vocals. Her songwriting remains focused on relationships. There are 13 tracks included on the album, clocking in at just a little under 50 minutes. "Shake It Off" was released as the lead single for the album in August. 

The album opens with the track "Welcome to New York," which is an immediate departure from Taylor Swift's previous work and definitely sets the stage for her new sound. "Blank Space" is the second track on the album, and was also released as the second single from the album - it is built around a programmed drum part and a synthesizer-created melody. "Style" is the third track from the album, with a driving bass part carrying the track and making it sound like something somewhere between a pop song and EDM. "Out of the Woods" is much more narrative than a lot of the other tracks on the song, but becomes another breakup song before it works itself out. "All You Had to Do Was Stay" uses a very manufactured melody and programmed drumming, with a very falsetto "stay" acting as the hook. "Shake It Off" is the lead single from the album - it can be pretty catchy and it is almost self-depreciative while also pushing the message of "don't let what other people think bother you," so I guess I can stand behind that. "I Wish You Would" does a lot to create a certain type of ambiance, with some deep driving bass parts, and an almost-epic progression in the song. "Wildest Dreams" is a sultry type of song - especially for Taylor Swift. "Bad Blood" is a pretty straightforward song, basically condemning a previous individual that she was in a relationship with for running their mouth. "How You Get the Girl" is probably the most chopped/processed song on the album, made up of samples of Taylor singing, as well as some sampled guitar parts. "This Love" is one of the songs that it is easiest to hear in a more traditional arrangement, which would have been a beautiful simple song without a lot of the pop elements used. "I Know Places" is another track using some chopped up samples of Taylor's voice and the lyrics seem to be about keeping romantic rendezvous secret. "Clean" is the closing track on the album, and is a great track to close out the album with, having a slightly melancholy vibe (and it was also co-written with Imogen Heap).

Lyrics — 7
Taylor Swift has been honing her vocal skills since she was a child, and no one could ever really say she isn't an exceptional vocalist. She does a great job on the album, though the level of processing used often hides her ability. The lyrics deal mostly with romantic relationships and breakup, which is basically standard procedure for Taylor. As a sample of the lyrics from the album, here are somke from the single, "Shake It Off": "I stay out too late/ Got nothing in my brain/ That's what people say, mmm-mmm/ That's what people say, mmm-mmm/ I go on too many dates/ But I can't make them stay/ At least that's what people say, mmm-mmm/ That's what people say, mmm-mmm/ But I keep cruising/ Can't stop, won't stop moving/ It's like I got this music/ In my mind/ Saying It's gonna be alright/ Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play/ And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate/ Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake/ I shake it off, I shake it off/ Heart-breakers gonna break, break, break, break, break/ And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake/ Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake/ I shake it off, I shake it off."

Overall Impression — 7
I'm not the biggest Taylor Swift fan, but I've always respected her as a musician and songwriter. That hasn't changed, and I can even understand where she's coming from with taking her inspiration from '80s pop music, but I think the way that the processing was used on the album, and the extent to which programmed drums were used took away from the final product. After subsequent listens I have to give it more credit than most of the pop music out these days, so there is always that. And honestly, this is the year's highest selling album if you don't count the "Frozen" soundtrack, so I guess we all better make peace with it.

37 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I know this might be a kind of unpopular opinion on this site, but I have to give props to Taylor for her new "I don't really care what you guys think" attitude. It's like she's learnt not to take everything seriously and her music is possibly better as a result. Also, those dancers in that first video are pretty insane!
    I wonder how many users voted 1 without listening to the album or reading the review haha.
    I knew that the apocalypse was near! UG gave a Taylor Swift album a 7! What more evidence do you need?!?!
    90% of their reviews are 7s, I don't think they even care most of the time.
    I'm usually the first guy to point out how musicians are turned into product by their labels but I have to say I like how she's still with her indie label and still co-writing her own music. Personally I think it sucks but at least it's her own. Gotta respect that at least.
    Big Machine is a gigantic "country" label that's responsible for most of the drivel on "country" radio these days. Taylor's creativity and wit is a lone bright spot.
    Taylor Swift is very very talented, but her potential is much greater than what she's released so far in her career. I'm much more interested in what she'll be releasing when she's 35. Also, props to her for actually being a good role model for young women.
    I commend her for making a song called 'Shake it Off' without featuring copious amounts of butt in her video.
    "Taylor Swift has been honing her vocal skills since she was a child, and no one could ever really say she isn't an exceptional vocalist." As someone who listened to nothing but this album for a week after it was released, I definitely could. She's improved vastly in recent years and gained a much better sense for dynamics between Speak Now and Red, but her range and power, I would argue, are respectable rather than exceptional . I also have to say I don't think that "somke of the lyrics" from Shake it Off are really representative of the album as a whole. There are some unnecessarily repetitive bits throughout, and I get what Shake it Off is trying to do, but I think the album as a whole has a higher standard, lyrically and otherwise. In case it wasn't clear, I adored the album. Personal highlights were Blank Space, Style and Clean; Bad Blood was the only track I didn't particularly enjoy. I don't see a better contender around for album of the year
    That, and every time I've seen her perform live on various TV and awards shows, she's always fairly off key or struggles. Her and Mastodon would make a great supergroup...
    Guys, she is responsible for introducing a really huge part of the last generation to guitar and songwriting. And it's amazing she's still influencing, if not even more when the only guitar in this album is pretty subtle and lasts like 10 seconds.
    It was ok. I liked Blank Space and This Love. Imogen Heap contribution was nice too. I've only heard this and Red so not much to base off of. I really did like State of Grace off the previous album though. Not sure if she has more songs like that or if I should just go listen to The Joshua Tree.
    Being total honest I don't even see a lot of this album getting air time, pretty unique kinda sound.
    I think she forgot what a guitar is, money is her instrument of choice nowadays, what the majority wants, not what she is actually good at
    Surely with a bunch of people complaining about her leaving her country side it would be more profitable to stick with it?
    I am actually a massive 'Swiftie,' but I really don't like this album. It's probably because I preferred the more guitar driven songs off of 'Speak Now' and 'Red.' This is all just electronic and boring and there's no depth.The lyrics/vocals are still great though!
    The Judist
    If you wanna hear quality pop music by a woman with talent, check out the album She-Bang by Kelly Jones (a U.S. lady, not a Welshman)
    Come on, give the gal a break. I listen to her a lot on the school run --my daughter's a fan-- and she grows on you. Compared to some other artists my daughter listens to, her music is quite good.
    So disappointing that Taylor Swift threw out the guitar and country music for the pop star life. She has good vocals and the album isn't awful, it is just disappointing for former fans like me to see.
    Taylor Swift is a very talented girl. First off, she landed a major record label while still a young teenager. Then she had the guts to leave because they didn't want to let her write her own music. Once the owner of Big Machine Records found her, she was able to write her own music. Not to mention that she wrote Speak Now ENTIRELY on her own. Also I'm sure you've come to notice that the melodies she writes are extremely catchy. Whether or not you like her, if you've heard one of her songs you can't seem to get it out of your head. Now I must say that she is not a slut or any other degrading term one might use against her. She's dated 6 guys from the age 18-25. So many artists have multiple songs on a record about break ups. Why is it that Taylor Swift is the only one bullied for it? Also, I have personally counted and she has more songs not about break ups. It's just because the ones on the radio are the break up songs. Get your facts straight, people. Taylor Swift has a gold heart. If people weren't so focused on the media's lies maybe people wouldn't be so ignorant of that fact. Taylor donates lots of time and money to kids hospitalized because of cancer. She even wrote a song about a little boy named Ronan who died of the horrible disease. And guess what, she cried during the performance. I don't understand why people get so caught up in tearing others down. I'm not writing this so people will love her, I couldn't care less if you liked her music or not. But I wish people wouldn't work so hard to make others miserable. Taylor Swift lives a life just like you and me. She is human and not immune to spiteful comments. (Hence the whole reason she wrote Shake It Off) No one wants to be bullied and in a celebrities case, the whole world gets a chance to bully them. So please, I encourage everyone to stop picking on other artists and instead build up the ones they want to see succeed.