Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’ is a pop tour de force

Deanna Pierce, Copy Editor

I have to admit, when I first heard “Shake it Off” my first reaction was an involuntary pang of disappointment. I have been an enthusiastic fan of Taylor Swift since the “Teardrops on My Guitar” days for one simple reason: Taylor puts more heart into her music than any of her contemporaries. She’s always written her own music, and taken her lyrics straight from her own experiences: the mark of a true artist. I was worried when “Shake it Off” hit the airwaves that maybe Taylor had traded her heartfelt confessionals for canned pop songs due to her success with the hits “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” from her 2012 album “Red.”

Swift says in the liner notes of her “1989” CD that for the past few years she’s been “needing to write a new style of music. I needed to change the way I told my stories and the way they sounded.”

She’s largely been inspired by the music from the decade of her birth (the 80s), as well as her recent move to New York City. Swift was ready for change, I just wasn’t sure I was. After giving the album a few thorough listens though, I firmly believe that this is Swift’s strongest and most impressive work to date.

Right off the bat with “Welcome to New York” Swift boldly proclaims that this album is “a new soundtrack”, and she’s quite right. If “Red” was a young woman caught up in the throes and heartaches of her first tortured romances, then “1989” is her older, more sophisticated sister, letting her know it’s all par for the course and that life can be fabulous when you learn to roll with the punches and let things go. In “1989” Swift doesn’t lament about lost love so much as she looks back at it fondly.

The album is a string of one high-energy power song after the other bursting with synthesizers and bass beats. “Style,” “All You Had to Do Was Stay” and “How You Get the Girl” are guaranteed to be in your head for hours after listening to them, but “Blank Space” stands out as the showcase of just how much of a knack Swift has for pop music as well as how acutely self aware she is. She even pokes fun at herself with the lyrics “got a long list of ex lovers, they’ll tell you I’m insane.”

Swift collaborated with Lena Dunham’s beau and lead guitarist of Fun for the song “Out of the Woods” about a rocky but exhilarating romance as well as “I Wish You Would” both of which are sensational dance songs that would fit flawlessly at the end of a Molly Ringwald 80s flick.

A few songs on the second half of the album have somewhat darker undertones such as “Bad Blood” about a toxic ex-friend, “Wildest Dreams” a pensive and whimsical track about the hope that an old love will think of you sometime, and “I Know Places”, an eerie number about having the public eye on a personal relationship.

For those of you who favored her slow songs like “Begin Again” or “All Too Well” from “Red,” the last few tracks should do more than please you. “This Love” is a haunting and beautiful ballad about a love that might be better left in the past, but which keeps coming back. The closing track, “Clean,” in which she collaborated with Imogen Heap is a perfect end to “1989.” It’s a song about feeling rid of all past negative ties, starting over and being ready to take on whatever comes next.

If you invested in the deluxe edition, you’ll be graced with three bonus tracks: “Wonderland,” “You Are In Love” (another Jack Antonoff collaboration), and “New Romantics” as well as three clips of pre-production Swift and producers working out the kinks to three songs from the album.

So fear not long-time fans and hesitant listeners, “Shake it Off” does no justice to the work Swift has produced this time around. “1989” is just as quirky, catchy and honest as its predecessors. Swift made it the only way she knows how – with all her heart – once again blasting onto the scene, not to follow the current popular trends, but to blaze new ones and remind us all that she won’t change for music. Music will have to change for her. And for all those haters out there, get ready, each of these 13 songs are stand-alone hits of their own.