MCMLXXXIX

So. Of course I have to begin this with a disclaimer: This is a post of my thoughts on Taylor Swift’s 1989 album, and you do not have to read it if you do not want to. It’s more for a couple of people – or maybe just one person who asked more than once — who requested (via ask.fm) that I share a track-by-track review of the album. Now, it boggles my mind a little bit because I am a big believer that my opinion on such things (especially regarding music!) doesn’t really carry much weight. And I have no intention of influencing others to change their opinions to agree with mine, either. So I still feel weird doing this. Definitely wouldn’t if no one asked. I guess I postponed it enough, though; I just want to be done so I can permanently tick it off my mental to-do list.

So yes, thoughts under the cut. If you have naught a care in the world for Taylor Swift, you need not continue reading.

This isn’t really an intelligent “review.” It’s more like random thoughts gathered into long-enough paragraphs. It’s also not an inspired piece, because bottomline: I didn’t like 1989 as much as Taylor’s previous releases. Remembering my first time listening to Red and Speak Now (I cried, and got goosebumps, respectively) and all the times I listen to Fearless (FEELZ), 1989 is like… Not a lot of feelings were involved during the listening of this record. And, you know. I listen to Taylor Swift for the feelings. I originally became a fan of the guitar-strumming country/pop girl who told diary-worthy stories through her songs (my favorites include All Too Well, Fifteen, The Best Day, Dear John, to name just a few — songs that sound-wise, aren’t game-changers, but absolutely kill it in the lyrics. So wordy that even the choruses don’t repeat!) not of the young woman in this loud, proud, 100% pop new era, so 1989 is not for me. But while I’m left wanting, I’m not exactly disappointed. This young woman has changed, but not to an unrecognizable extent, and I guess this is just her casting a wider net, hoping to catch millions of new fishes. I was already inside the net to begin with, so no worries. I’m super proud and happy to see all the new fishes swimming with me now. (Okay, this is an awful metaphor LOL).

Regarding 1989‘s theme, I could really say Taylor has grown up and left fairytales and that romantic-love-is-everything view behind (one thing I’ve been hoping for even before Red came out) and I am very glad of that, but there’s a certain sadness that comes with it, because from these new songs you could clearly discern that she was very much affected by how the world viewed her the past two years. I remember late 2012 to 2013 being such a dark time for the fandom. Red (which was all about being in love) just got released, with spectacular sales, but then she started publicly dating Harry Styles and that’s when it all went crazy. She was an easy target, the media was vicious, certain brainwashed fans were furious, everybody wanted to offer their opinion… Then, it was cool to make fun of Taylor Swift and her dating life. It was the topic of articles. It became a joke in award shows, even with her in the audience. “It broke my heart! I was selling out stadiums and it [my dating life] was all people talked about,” she told US Weekly recently, in a quote that for some reason I always remember. (I’m weird…) But. That was before, and we’re now in the after: She emerged more empowered (this picture is making me feel things), now proudly choosing cats and girlfriends over dating guys, becoming vocal about being a feminist (YAAASSSS) (ETA 2018: i’m leaving this line here so u can see my joy at the time but this all turned out to be just promotional white feminism & i am disappointed but not surprised), spouting crazy good advice for young girls, connecting to her fans more than ever before (her Tumblr is a gift from the gods), and I may not be feeling the new sound, but I am definitely loving this new Taylor Swift. (And it seems the world is, too! To think of the media’s take on Taylor in 2012 and compare it to now…it makes my heart swell. What a time to be alive.)

So, okay! On to my boring opinions!

Confession: Since its release more than a month ago, I don’t think I’ve listened to 1989 in full more than fifteen times (GASP. I KNOW.) so I guess that puts things into perspective, how much I don’t feel the compulsion to listen to the album, save for a few chosen songs. I wanted it to be my jam, I wanted some girl power-anthem now that she’s a proud feminist, I wanted a song that captures that “I’m happily single” vibe she always has in her recent interviews, I wanted a Long Live-esque song for the fans…I didn’t get much of that. It’s still a love album. It’s a different take on love, sure, but it’s still a love album. It’s pretty much the soundtrack to the Haylor relationship, actually (and I was not down with that ship).

  1. Welcome to New York — When I listen to 1989, I actually skip this song entirely and start with Track 2. I find the chorus too noisy — like when I have my earphones on, I’m forced to lower the volume because it hurts my ears. Also, I guess I’m not the type of person to passionately fantasize about going to, and eventually falling in love with, any certain city (much less New York specifically), so I don’t relate to the song. It’s a nice sentiment to think about, though, that it’s possible to move to a place and feel like it’s been waiting for you all along. I just think it’s a bright-eyed view of NY a bit too much? Like it could only come from someone who could afford every luxury the city offers. The “dirty” side of the city (come on — every city has one) is totally glossed over. But maybe that’s just me being too pessimistic.
    • Favorite Lyric: Kaleidoscope of loud heartbeats under coats
  2. Blank SpaceEasily my favorite track off the album (which is a shame in a way – it meant the album peaked way too early for me). Before getting to listen to the album, I was wary of Taylor going pop and losing her touch, especially since I didn’t like any of the pre-released tracks; this was the first “new” song that greeted me upon listening to the full album, and it immediately calmed me down. It’s still Taylor and her lyrics. I totally giggled listening to this for the first time, actually. So fucking clever! Nobody makes fun of Taylor Swift better than Taylor Swift, y’all. I’ve read from an article somewhere that this is the Taylor Swift who smiles while she offers up a hearty “fuck you,” which. YES. So much yes. (Especially to everyone who said that “Maybe I’m the problem” crap. The queen’s middle finger is up for ya.) And I like that it’s so catchy, so fun to sing even if you don’t have a long list of ex-lovers. I bet all them haters are jamming to this song too.
    • Side note:  I got the “long list of ex-lovers” part at first listen, so I never misheard it as lonely Starbucks lovers. And never will. BUT, I always thought the click in the chorus was a tongue-click (like Tay clicking her tongue and winking mischievously), not a pen-click. It is still boggling my mind that it’s supposed to be a pen-click. What. lol
    • Voice Memo note: IT SOUNDS SO MUCH BETTER ON GUITAR. Dammit.
    • Favorite Lyric: Darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream (it also has my favorite album booklet hidden message: There once was a girl known by everyone and no one)
  3. Style — This is so classy and retro and swaggy??? It makes me think of driving down the highway at night, windows/top down, wind whipping your hair back, and maybe with Wayfarers on. Because, you know. I feel so cool jamming to it. It’s got my favorite chorus off the whole album. So this is the song I’m specifically thanking Harry Styles and his stylish last name for.
    • Favorite Lyric: Oh, who am I kidding? THE ENTIRE CHORUS.
  4. Out of the Woods — So. When this got released I didn’t like it (and I still facepalm at that but the monsters turned out to be just trees line) but somehow when you listen to it as part of the album, it makes sense. It belongs. So much that not only do I not skip it, my head actually bops to the beat and my arms move to follow the choreography and my mouth sings along to that tongue twister/cult chant of a chorus — each of these body parts moving of their own accord, for the entirety of the song. It simply cannot be helped.
    • Favorite Lyrics: When the sun came up, you were looking at me / When the sun came up, I was looking at you
  5. All You Had To Do Was Stay — This is kind of a filler song? But I do like it. Sorta. Only that high-pitched Staaaay! in the chorus is never not bothering me. The fact that Taylor explained it’s from a weird dream, so it’s supposed to be weird, helped me understand why it’s sung like that, but it still bothers me.
    • Favorite Lyrics: The more I think about it, the less I know / You were all I wanted, but not like this
  6. Shake It Off — If Out of the Woods is the song that belongs the most in 1989, this is the exact opposite. I feel like it was only added because it would be a shame for Tay to finally go pop in an album and not have a supremely marketable, danceable song in it. And, um, I wanna sound cool and say I’m tired of this song already, but to be honest, whenever I have to go to work super early in the morning and I still feel drugged from sleep, I just blast this song and it never fails to make me awkward-dance enthusiastically and get me to fully wake up. I guess that just about sums it up: No matter how cool you think you are, Shake It Off will never fail to make you want to dance at some point. If you tell me otherwise, you’re lying. Your body is already itching to shake, you’re just pretending it’s not. (You probs just need Swiftamine.)
    • Side note: I’ve never yet seen a performance where Taylor sounds good singing this live. It’s best left as a studio-produced track.
    • Favorite Lyric: It’s like I got this music in my mind saying it’s gonna be alright
  7. I Wish You Would — I don’t know why, but it’s this song that still sounds the most Taylor Swift, for me, in this album. Perhaps it’s the song structure; the beginning is reminiscent of her storytelling-through-songs days. Or the lyrics; 2 AM and pining and feelings left unsaid and all that. It’s the one song that made me think it was first written for a country/pop version before being produced as it is now, so imagine my surprise when the voice memo revealed it was the background track that was made first and the lyrics followed.
    • Favorite Lyric: Makes you wanna run and hide, then it makes you turn right back around
  8. Bad Blood — With all the hype, I thought this would be similar to Dear John, like, shots fired! Fireworks over a sad, empty town! But no, it’s more like mere finger pointing. If I were Katy Perry I wouldn’t even bat an eyelash. The lyrics are kind of childish and even the message is annoying and immature – chanting “now we got problems and I don’t think we can solve them” like it’s a power anthem? I want to say, Um, NO DUH, of course you can’t solve the problem by just writing a bitter song blaming the other person while refusing to talk to said person like a mature adult. I mean, I get singing about being hurt. But it’s another thing to proudly sing you’re not even willing to consider that the broken friendship could be fixed. The only thing that redeems this song to me is the fact that it (cleverly) sounds kind of like a Katy Perry song. No references in the lyrics, but a reference in the sound. (I can’t resist being impressed by good references, drat)
    • Favorite Lyrics: Band-aids don’t fix bullet holes / If you love like that, blood runs cold
  9. Wildest Dreams — This song. Omg. Sobrang landi pls. But it’s one of my favorites???? LOL. It’s just so ~dreamy~ and ~whimsical~ and so lovely to sing along to… it’s far from my take on love, so I don’t really know why I’m drawn to this song, but I am. Also, did you know they used Taylor’s heartbeats for this? Which. FAB. It changes the listening experience. Every time I hear it I feel like my own heartbeats are in sync with the beat of the song!
    • Unnecessary Storytelling: My friend Alls once remarked that this song reminded her of JorNen and I CANNOT. HAHAHA omg. If I were drinking something when she messaged me that, I would have spit it out in laughter.
    • Favorite Lyrics: He’s so bad, but he does it so weeeeell / Say you’ll remember me, standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset, babe, red lips and rosy cheeks…
  10. How You Get the Girl — So okay. This is a totally generic pop song, and the lyrics are on the mediocre side. But it’s still my jam. I suspect it’s a little like a “Omg is that guitar strumming I hear? IT IS! HALLELUJAH. I love this song already!” reaction and I am clinging to the few raw-sounding guitar strums that could actually be heard in this album, lol, but regardless, it’s a happy song and I have nothing against happy songs. Plus I like how it’s her at first, then becomes me in the end, because of course it was based on experience. Not to mention the chorus feels like it’s meant to be played at end of an adorably cheesy rom-com, after the guy and the girl finally kiss and everybody celebrates because yay, happy ending!
    • Favorite Lyric: Remind her how it used to be with pictures in frames of kisses on cheeks (but mostly only because I have no doubt this in reference to real picture/s and I WANT TO SEE IT/THEM)
  11. This Love — This is the I Almost Do of 1989, in that everyone seems to love the song, but I’m just hella annoyed by it. It’s Tay’s voice here that annoys me, mostly. And I find the lyric “This love is good, this love is bad” so uninspired. But the rest of the lyrics are actually beautiful! So I don’t know. Unpopular opinion alert. Still: I usually skip this.
    • Favorite Lyric: These hands had to let it go free, this love came back to me
  12. I Know Places — One of the album’s highlights, definitely. The song sounds almost like an adventure in itself, like it takes you along the chaotic ride of the relationship. It’s very us-against-the-world and it’s almost a shame I couldn’t relate… But yeah. Fantastic song, great lyrics. I’m pleased Taylor sings it like she’s the stronger one in the relationship, the one who leads: just grab MY hand and don’t ever drop it. Which: Yasss. And I love that the Polaroid click-and-print sound got included and fits perfectly.
    • Voice Memo note: IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT A PIANO VERSION BE RELEASED.
    • Favorite Lyrics: They got the cages, they got the boxes, and guns / They are the hunters, we are the foxes, and we run
  13. Clean — Uh. How do I describe this? The lyrics are exquisite, no doubt about that, but… I don’t really dig this song very much. People compare it to All Too Well and: NOPE. I mean. All Too Well is a song that takes you through the experience so even if you technically haven’t gone through that kind of relationship, you feel the emotions, absolutely. Clean, on the other hand, is powerful, I think, only for people who already know the feeling. It does nothing for people like me who haven’t gone through the kind of moving-on-from-a-relationship the song describes. (Or I could be wrong. I am wrong about a lot of things.) Plus the music doesn’t fit with Tay’s voice, somehow? If you take her voice and give it a different backing track, or have the same track and let someone else (who can pull off the soothing voice better) sing the words, I think the song would work for me more.
    • Favorite Lyrics: Rain came pouring down / When I was drowning, that’s when I could finally breathe / And by morning gone was any trace of you, I think I am finally clean
  14. Wonderland — This is part enchanting, part wild, and if it was possible to take away all the loud, noisy post-chorus parts (“eh, eh, in Wonderlaaaaand, eh, eh” — ugh) then I would, and I’d seriously love the song. It deserves to be part of the standard album, actually, but I guess it’s a bit similar thematically to I Know Places which is probs why it didn’t make the cut.
    • Favorite Lyric: But there were strangers watching, and whispers turned to talking, and talking turned to screams
  15. You Are In Love — I guess I expected something different from this, being that it’s Lena Dunham’s “someday wedding song,” and this song doesn’t give me wedding vibes, exactly. When I think wedding song, I think something along the lines of Ed Sheeran’s Tenerife Sea or The Script’s Never Seen Anything “Quite Like You” (both songs, by the way, are LOVE) or even Christina Perri’s A Thousand Years. You Are In Love, to me, is more like a song you’d play not at a wedding, but late at night, when you’re in bed, about to sleep, eyes closed, thinking back to the day’s events, thoughts circling on how a certain person makes your body parts tingle and feel weird and it makes you question everything, and the song whispers to you, You are in love. It’s beautiful, especially the bridge and the chorus after it… Ugh. I like that the lyrics are broken sentences that serve to invoke the listener’s own memories. And I especially love that it sings not of a fairy-tale version of true love, but the it’s in the little things kind of love. Perf.
    • Favorite Lyrics: TOO MANY TO CHOOSE FROM. But okay: One night he wakes / Strange look on his face / Pauses, then says, You’re my best friend / And you knew what it was / He is in love (because UGH.)
  16. New Romantics — Um. Another noisy, must-lower-the-volume chorus… It’s pretty accurate for a lot of young girls (women?), I should say, but if we base the definition of “new romantic” on this song, I wouldn’t consider myself one. Because: “Please take my hand and please take me dancing and please leave me stranded, it’s so romantic” Um, what? I’ll just take that as sarcasm because otherwise…nope. I also try to push against feeling “We’re so bored, we’re all so tired of everything” and I don’t think I’d sing proudly of heart break being a national anthem. If the song’s message is embrace the pain and kick ass at it and be proud of it, I feel like it could have been done better? I don’t know. Another song I usually skip.
    • Favorite Lyrics: I could build a castle out of all the bricks they threw at me / And every day is like a battle

Soooo. There you go!

I just have to squeeze it in before I end this: I am just super proud of the Taylor Swift fandom right now??? Like, when I first got into this I never, NEVER expected to stick it out as long as I did and that it would feel so rewarding, even after six+ years. And that I’d be part of a community that could accomplish such a feat as making her last three albums sell more than a million in the first week — not once, not twice, but three times, since 2010, with sales being better and better each time, and it hasn’t happened for any other artist in this generation  — let that sink in! — and that’s because of Tay’s hard work just as much as it is because of us. LIKE. WHAT. I mean, we’re not immune to leaks in this day and age but we still buy her music, consistently; that is love and that is loyalty (with a touch of insanity? Hahaha) and that’s my baby and I’m real proud!!! (I actually really buy her albums. Pre-ordered U.S. editions. That’s not me saying I’m a better fan because of it; I’m just saying that knowing I contributed to such mindblowing numbers ellicits such warm, fuzzy feelings. FANGIRL AND PROUD, YO.)

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