1989 Album (Music Week #1)

Here goes the first review on the fantastic album from 2 years ago! All ratings are out of 10 and below are some bits of polaroid pictures from the album.

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Artist: Taylor Swift

Album: 1989

Genre: Pop

Type: Deluxe

Release Date: October 27, 2014

Record Label: Big Machine

Rating: 9.0

16 tracks and 3 voice memos are on the latest deluxe album of the rising sensation, Taylor Swift. A sudden shift that has been covered throughout the media, the country princess has changed her route to being a pop queen. A switch of genres is not unheard of in the industry. From Gwen Stefani- SKA to pop- to Darius Rucker who went from rock to country. Gaining fame in Nashville, Swift has had 4 albums previous to this one, with Red as the turning point of her career. AlthoughRed was labeled as country, it was controversial, with more pop songs on it than country. Her pop sounding hits with “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. Swift’s previous country hits include, “Love Story”, “You Belong with Me” and “Mine”. Similarly, her works on 1989 sound more like the pop tunes on Red. “I Know Places” resembles “I Knew You Were Trouble”, but carries a darker and ominous spy-like tune.

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The album kicks off with the upbeat track “Welcome to New York”. With a repetitive beat of clapping before her voice kicks in, we see Swift taking advantage of her lower and mid-register. This is something rarely heard in previous albums. Throughout 1989, that part of her voice is displayed effectively, and we even hear its versatility in her delicate singing used in “Wildest Dreams”. After starting the album with a strong beat, we immediately get introduced to Swift’s new use of synthesizers and modern technology, as opposed to her old recorded guitar and vocals. It is catchy and works well with her unique melodies, and static chorus, putting the listener into a trance. The smart wording is impressive as she sings, “kaleidoscope of loud heartbeats under coats.” We are taken into the enchanting world of New York City. Swift is known for her witty lyrics and her own song-writing skills unlike many pop singers in the industry today. Once again, she showers these works with lyrics that generate imagery.

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Swift herself calls 1989 “sonically cohesive”, yet it is surprisingly diverse. We witness the experience Swift has had in the music scene, with tracks that relate to every listener. In “New Romantics”, there is the story line of being young and having fun. She incorporates positivity as well, in the line “I can build a castle out of all the bricks they threw at me”. The horns that introduce the chorus sound similar to other huge successes on the Billboard Charts, such as “Uptown Funk”. “Shake it Off” is another work that boldly uses horns throughout the song. “All You Had to Do Was Stay” shows a side of her sound with more attitude and evokes the complex emotions that everybody has experienced when somebody leaves. “Clean”, a work produced with Imogen Heap, is arguably the best song on the album. Breaking free and finding yourself is sung with sorrow and pride, as Imogen’s high pitched melody creates a master piece. The instruments that Heap uses, encompasses an ethereal atmosphere constantly played in the background. In some parts, Swift’s voice is layered and there is an echo quality to it. That’s not all, because we get less emotional songs that are witty and light-hearted tales of love. Somehow, showing the once innocent Taylor who sang about love being the most wonderful thing in the world still remains under the mask of pop beats.

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As Swift proves to us over ever single song that this change was right for her, we get more convinced through the production. Not only was there Imogen, but “I Know Places” was another success that included the collaboration with Ryan Tedder: a spy-like suspenseful tune and soaring falsetto in the chorus. Max Martin and Johann Shellbeck, producers with good records have also helped develop the playful, “Blank Space” and “Shake it Off”. Some tracks even have the guitar parts and backtrack produced by Swift’s friend, Jack Antanoff. Further details are released in the voice memos, in simple phone recordings with the rough blueprints of the songs. As much as she changes, Swift connects with her fans who she calls her friends. A deeper look at her song writing process is presented in this rare opportunity.

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   1989 was a change to say the least. It was an end to Swift’s long reign in the country community, but it displayed her versatility and ability to adapt. Swift is a true artist that is not bound by the rules of the music industry and she has created a new era for herself. There are strong backtracks and lyrics. Some tweaks could always be added in the backtracks, but fans will not be disappointed even with this genre switch. It is a strong foundation for what’s to come, and the possibilities for her are endless.

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