By Amrutha Chethikattil
Taylor Swift has released her fifth official studio album Monday, leaving the fans going crazy. Being her first official pop album, it’s obvious to note many of her core country-based fans have been let down while the rest of the world is celebrating.
Billboard’s Jem Aswad calls it “Swift’s best work” — a sophisticated pop tour de force that deserves to be as popular commercially as with Robyn-worshipping bloggers; an album that finds Swift meeting Katy and Miley and Pink on their home turf and staring them down.” What’s different? Besides instrumentation — “the mandolins and violins were left back in Nashville, and there might not be a single live drum on the album” — the lyrics “are more seasoned and subtle, less bubbly and bratty, than in the past” Overall, critics have hailed her new album as a fresh wave for her, despite some remarks about songs like “Out of the Woods” referencing Harry Styles.
With Swift’s rare ability to transform her music style to meet any group of people, its no surprise she is such a global success. “1989” is predicted to be her biggest album yet. However, with Taylor’s relatively recent entry into pop, she is sure to face more competition than previously with country songs. The best part is, she still stays true to herself in this album. Her songwriting remains to be her not-so-secret diary.
Track One: Welcome to New York
The name says it all. Its no surprise the bright lights and busy streets captivated Swift’s keen eye shortly after her big move to New York city. She’s officially getting paid for this song by New York Tourism, and has charitably decided to donate proceeds to the New York Public School System. While this song does have very beautiful and carefully chosen lyrics, the tune is nothing new. You can really tell how much this event served as a stepping stone in her life with lyrics like “When we first dropped our bags. On apartment floors.Took our broken hearts. Put them in a drawer.” This is a personal song for her which explains her enthusiasm over it. Grade:B
Track Two: Blank Space
This is definately my favorte song on the album. Its inspiring to see Taylor embrace her faults and give a sarcastic nod to her reputation in media. “And I know you heard about me
So hey, let’s be friends
I’m dying to see how this one ends” When it comes to romance and mistakes, this song embraces the spirit of everyone in their late teens – early twenties. “Cause we’re young and we’re reckless
We’ll take this way too far
It’ll leave you breathless
Or with a nasty scar.” Combine Taylor’s lyrical talents with an infusion of Lorde- sounding notes, its no surprise this song is set to be her next single. More than anything, its how beautiful and memorable the lyrics are that truly make this track better than the rest. And as usual, Taylor has a lesson buried for us, “Boys only want love if it’s torture
Don’t say I didn’t say I didn’t warn you.” Grade: A
Track Three: Style
Very catchy, fun, and 80’s retro, this song is for a good time. The intro itself would never have belonged in a Taylor Swift album (at least until now). She sings of an old tale but gives it a modern twist: “You got that James Dean day dream look in your eye
And I got that red lip classic thing that you like
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time.
Cause we never go out of style.” It would be amazing to see this song, being already so visual and cinematic, be turned into a music video. My fingers are crossed. Grade: A-
Track Four: Out of the Woods
Upon first hearing this song, I spent the entire school day with that one demanding line stuck in my head: Are we out of the woods yet? With its haunting tune I can’t help but say this song will be one of my favorite songs by her ever. Its surprising how well Swift has mastered this style of dark pop, and I hope to hear this kind of music from her more than anything else. While there was much speculation that this song was about Harry Styles- “two paper airplanes flying, flying” and talk about an accident- I honestly could not care less because this song was a masterpiece regardless. Grade: A
Track Five: All You Had to do Was Stay
This song was very reminiscent of her past albums, excluding the electronic zings following the “stay!”. Its still very upbeat and sarcastic, recounting the same tale starring the hopelessly- in- love girl and careless boy. Grade: B+
Track Six: Shake it Off
I think this is the closest track to the bubble gum pop we were expecting from Taylor upon the first announcement of her all-pop album. Regardless to say, this song topped I-Tunes charts, played relentlessly on all radio stations, and managed to get stuck in all of our heads at one point. However, as dealing with gossip and criticism was clearly main theme in Swift’s life for the past few years, her message to “shake off ” all the hate remains inspiring and personal to many of us, especially the teenage audience she targets. Grade: B+
Track Seven: I Wish You Would
This song is the closest thing to a rant a song can be. Her fustration and regret pours out with her remorseful lyrics. While catchy and definately relatable, this track doesnt add anything new to the album and could have been left out. Grade: B
Track Eight: Bad Blood
While I love the sound of it all, its the one thing on this album i would say doesn’t coexist with Taylor as much as she would have liked. Either ways, this song has a great beat and a catchy tune. Grade: B+
Track Nine: Wildest Dreams
Wait what….This is Taylor? Honestly it could’ve been ripped right out of a Lana del Rey album. However, being a huge fan of Lana, I could listen to this song on replay forever. This is another case of her really stepping out of her boundries and I give props to her for that. She doesnt have the same vintage sound Lana does though; this track definately does not feel very “Taylor”. Grade: A-
Track Ten: How You Get the Girl
Honestly this song is so cute. She does a remarkble job of tying up all the romantic cliches into the lyrics and finishing off with “and thats how it works, thats how you get the girl.” I’m sure the world would be a better place if guys actually listened to her. Grade: B+
Track Eleven: This Love
This slow, sweet song is about a short – lived romance. While it sounds very pretty as she recounts past memories, its not nearly as exciting as some of her other tracks. This song is for true die-hard fans. Grade: B-
Track Twelve: I know Places
If anyone questions Swift’s cleverness, show them this song. She compares herself and her love to foxes. While this may be controversial, she uses hunters to represent the media. “Cuz they got the cages, they got the boxes & guns
They are the hunters, we are the foxes & we run.” This song is instantly catchy and gives the listeners a lot to think about. It also delves head- first into the pains of Taylor’s life. Grade: A-
Track Thirteen: “Clean”
This slow, sweet song echoes the lasting heartbreak of a breakup. “Ten months sober, I must admit Just because you clean dont mean you dont miss it. Ten months older, I won’t give in. Now that I’m clean, I’m never gonna risk it.” She is finally and totally clean from everything that relationship put her through. There’s no hint of country and the message is very relatable. While pretty simple, it sends a clear message and fits the title “Clean”.
Overall I have to say this was one of her most clever albums. Her new style will definitely expand her audience like never before. It’ll be interesting to see what she does with this album in the next few years. For now, I do recommend this album, even if you’re not a big pop fan.