1989: Taylor Swift’s Birth as a Pop Star

She’s straightened her hair, she’s moved to Manhattan and she’s released a pop album.  Taylor Swift has changed a lot in the past few years and nothing reflects this more than her new album, 1989.

For many years we have known Taylor as the sweet, emotional, country girl whose album covers featured her flowing curls and innocent face. Much like the girl, the music on those albums was also sweet, emotional and country.  The songs had many singer/songwriter melodies with a banjo, and truck references thrown in to emphasize the whole country aspect of her albums. However, after the first record, each became increasingly more pop. Her penultimate album, Red, stretched so far into pop territory that it featured mellow dub-step influences.  Yet, it was still performed at country music award shows and followed by Luke Bryan songs on various radio stations.  Now, eight years since Taylor took over the radio and earned the worship of millions of girls, she has made the bold move to completely abandon any country ties with 1989.

The album is entitled 1989 for two reasons.  The first being that it was the year its creator was born.  Second, the music is said to be inspired by a various ’80s icons, such as David Bowie and Madonna. In fact,the album cover was made to emulate one of Bowie’s.  To the majority of her listeners that were born in the ’90s, the music sounds like the indie style pop music of today.  Songs like Out of The Woods  and Wish You Would sound remarkably similar to current pop band The Bleachers.  Also, songs like Bad Blood clearly are influenced by Taylor’s good friend Lorde. But her ability to combine these influences with her own personal voice makes these songs unique.

1989 differs not only in style, but subject matter as well.  Swift is well-known for her songs about relationships that spur fans to sing their hearts out after a successful first date or a devastating last date.  These songs have been criticized as melodramatic, far too emotional and immature.  Perhaps as a demonstration as her developed maturity, Taylor strays away from this subject.  There are still several love-sick songs, but they are much less “why me”  and more “this is the way it is.”  This is shown through the lyrics in Blank Space: “So it’s gonna be forever, or we’re gonna go down in flames. You can tell me when it’s over, if the  high was worth the pain.”  She also explores more themes of self development and the excitements that her new life offers.  The songs reflect a far more independent and, I think, better role model than before.

There is one feature of 1989 that strongly relates to her previous albums.  All of them provide a clear picture of their lyricist.  Taylor writes as though she is within the privacy of her own diary  and, because of that, she has never lost the deeply personal voice that touches millions. I can’t wait to hear what else that voice has to say.

Check out her latest video.



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