It started back in 2006. I was in my car listening to the radio, still reeling from my first breakup. I hated country music because one particular country song made me think of him. But unfortunately, I was in Texas. I couldn’t escape country music. So imagine my surprise when I hear a very teenage feminine voice on the radio talking about how she wrote songs based on a few breakups she’s been through recently. They were playing songs from this female artist’s album, which meant that not all of the songs were going to be singles. And a smile broke out on my face as the song “Picture to Burn” played.
Little did I know that it was the start of my obsession with a singer named Taylor Swift.
Growing up, I loved singers who wrote songs that told a story. Yes, I also loved boy bands and the pop divas, but the songs I really liked were songs that spoke from the soul. Or at least sounded like they were soul-baring. Taylor Swift was everything I was looking for in a singer and I didn’t even care that she was a country singer because I related to the songs she wrote.
Taylor Swift, to me, was the artist who was with me when I was settling into Texas and she went with me while I started college. So even though I’ve yet to meet her, I feel like she’s a huge part of my life. Like her, I was kind of known in college for being a hopeless romantic. I would have a different crush every year and with the different crushes I would have a different Taylor Swift song that made me think of them.
I started noticing a change in Taylor Swift during her Red era, when I found myself not really relating to the songs on the album at first. I still liked them on their own merit, but I was afraid that I wasn’t able to relate to Taylor Swift anymore. Thankfully, a good friend told me that sometimes, songs take time to relate to. It turned out that the songs from Red were right there when I really needed them. Some of the songs from Red remind me of couples from TV that I ship while other songs applied more to things I experienced.
1989 has been Taylor’s biggest change yet. I was scared when I heard rumors that she was going to work with Max Martin, which meant that the album would be more pop than country. I was afraid that Taylor would start sounding like every other Top 40 singer out there. I was determined to hate “Shake It Off…”
But the funny thing about Taylor Swift is that no matter what changes she goes through, there are some parts of her that haven’t changed. When I watched the Yahoo Live stream that announced her new single and album, I danced along with Taylor and saw how happy she was. And that was enough for me to realize that I still loved her. And I loved “Shake It Off.”
So now I’m gonna do a “first impressions” take of Taylor’s latest album 1989. I’m going to include tracks from the deluxe edition since that’s the one I own. Disclaimer: I don’t consider myself a music critic. I’m just giving a fan’s opinion.
- Welcome to New York: This is the perfect “story opener.” You can put a movie trailer to this song. Although I haven’t moved anywhere since I started my life in Texas, I relate to this song because it makes me think of when I went to comic convention in May. I can also relate to the whole “this is a new phase of my life and I’m loving it” feeling that this song gives. Fave lyric: “It’s a new soundtrack, I could dance to this beat forevermore.”
- Blank Space: The demo for this track and Taylor’s story behind this song helped me to understand this song. When I first heard it, I felt like it was Taylor expressing her inner “bad girl.” Now I feel like it’s sort of a self-depreciation humorous take on what the media thinks Taylor is. The track is currently helping me laugh at my own boy-craziness back in college, especially since now I’m crushing again for the first time in two years. Fave lyrics: “Got a long list of ex-lovers/They’ll tell you I’m insane/But I’ve got a blank space baby/And I’ll write your name.”
- Style: This is my favorite track on the album. I love the disco beat and the story of a dysfunctional relationship. But the chorus is my favorite part. When I first heard it on Taylor’s Target commercial, it was love at first note! Fave line: “You got that long haired slicked back white t-shirt and I got that good girl faith and a tight little skirt.”
- Out of the Woods: Taylor said that this track best represented what 1989 was to her. And it’s true. The tracks of 1989 have a lot of repetition, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I wondered how exactly the song conveyed the anxieties and insecurities of a relationship when the verses talked about the good times in a relationship. But then I remembered how I had relationships where I never knew where I stood with them, even when times were good. It reminds me a lot of “All Too Well.” Also, Taylor, you date some seriously bad drivers! Fave lyric: “We were built to fall apart then fall back together.”
- All You Had to do Was Stay: This is kind of my least fave track because of the high pitched “stay” that keeps repeating in the song. Usually, Track 5 of a Taylor Swift song is a heartbreaking slow number. The lyrics still convey that, but the music doesn’t match their angry tone. And usually, I like lyrical dissonance. But it just doesn’t work for this song.
- Shake It Off: As stated before, I love the tongue-in-cheek of this song and the music video. I was dancing along to this song and I keep dancing to this song every time I hear it on the radio. I love that it’s a “happy to be single” song. I can’t help but smile when I listen to it. Fave lyric: “To the fella over there with the hella good hair, won’t you come on over baby?” (Makes me think of my celeb crush who has the best hair ever.)
- I Wish You Would: Another disco-sounding track. This time, things are a bit more fast-paced. The song kind of goes into fast forward. The story, to me, reflects the fast pace of the song. A love that burned brightly but burnt out just as quickly. The constant “I wish” that repeats in the back towards the second half of the song get stuck in my head easily. Fave lyric: “We’re a crooked love in a straight line down.”
- Bad Blood: I almost didn’t recognize Taylor’s voice at first when I heard this song except in the chorus. I could almost swear that someone else was singing the verses and that Taylor just singing the chorus. But in reality, Taylor’s singing in her lower range. The song is about a friend’s betrayal, so naturally I can relate to it. The lyric “Did you think we’d be fine/Still got scars on my back from your knife” basically describes what happened when my former friend tried to contact me again. Fave lyric: “Band-aids don’t fix bullet holes.”
- Wildest Dreams: This song, to me, tells the story of a short-lived romantic affair. Although the song styles are different, the story of the song kind of reminds me of “Careless Whisper.” This is Taylor’s most mature track, but she approaches it with a lot of fondness. Fave lyric: “He’s so tall and handsome as hell/He’s so bad but he does it so well.”
- How You Get the Girl: A seriously catchy track. Like some of the songs from Red, this particular track makes me think more of a certain couple I ship rather than how the song applies to me. I can imagine this song being used in fanvids. It has a vibe of “10 Things I Hate About You.” Fave Lyrics: “I want you for worse or for better/I would wait forever and ever/Broke your heart/I’ll put it back together”
- This Love: This is the only song on the album that Taylor wrote on her own. Taylor shines in this track, baring her soul and telling the story of how she tries to move on from this relationship only for her to still miss this person and surprisingly, the person she misses comes back to her. It’s a beautiful slow song. Again, I can’t help but think of a certain OTP of mine when it comes to this song. Fave lyric: “These hands had to let it go free and this love came back to me.”
- I Know Places: This song reminds me of a Fall Out Boy Track. I love the minor key, but I so wish she kept the song with just a piano like she did in the demo. The lyrics tell a story of an us-against-the-world kind of relationship. Bonnie and Clyde 2014. (Could also work for a dark Doctor Who episode.) Fave lyrics: “They are the hunters/we are foxes.”
- Clean: It’s a post-breakup song but with a lot of introspection and tells a story of a girl who rescues herself from the danger she put herself in. The 10 months sober bridge reminds me of an addict trying to stay on the wagon. Fave lyric: “”Just because you’re clean don’t mean you don’t miss it.”
- Wonderland: It reminds me of a Rihanna track with the repetitive “eh’s.” That aside, I love the story of the chaotic love that moved too fast. A love that went mad. If she performs this in her 1989 concert tour, I can already imagine her dressed up Alice in Wonderland style. Fave lyric: “We found wonderland/You and I got lost in it/Life was never worse, but never better.”
- You Are In Love: A beautiful, sweet, romantic song. The story of the beginnings of love, realizing that you’re in love with someone. Fave lyric: “And you understand now why they lost their minds and fought the wars/And why I spent my whole life trying to put it into words.”
- New Romantics: A fast-paced song with a disco-esque track about trying to find new love. Almost a rebound anthem. Fave lyric: “The best people in life are free.”