As you may or may not know, I have been anti-Taylor Swift for some time due to her incessantly annoying personality, lanky build and God awful dancing. For every gem she’s released – I Knew You Were Trouble, Fearless – there’s hours of unbearable noise; do we all remember We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together? Point proven.
August 18, 2014. Exhausted and depressed after returning from two weeks of alcohol in Magaluf, hearing that Taylor was back was bad news in itself and then hearing Shake It Off for the first time was even worse. Of course, along with everyone else in the Western world, as time passed, the ridiculous single grew on me a ridiculous amount. Then, earlier this month, there was Out Of The Woods. Since I heard that song I’m not sure who I am anymore.
The 24-year-old’s newest album, 1989, is her first 100% pop effort and was majorly co-helmed by one of pop’s finest creators Max Martin so there is a faint possibility that I may enjoy a Taylor Swift album. With that in mind, I thought I’d write down my thoughts upon first listen.
1. Welcome To New York
I want to say it’s awful – but it’s not. It’s not very good though. It should have been the theme song for The Carrie Diaries.
2. Blank Space
Christ. What is happening to me? This is brilliant. Taylor takes her man-eating reputation and turns it into pop gold: “Darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream (…) / But I got a blank space, baby, and I’ll write your name.”
This is the song that may or may not be about Harry Styles. I’d dissect the lyrics for all of the fangirls but I’m enjoying the 80’s pop synths FAR too much! (Am I allowed to say that? People describe their Nando’s as deep house.) Brilliant chorus. Yep, it’s probably about Harry (re: “You got that long hair, slicked back, white t-shirt“). Lovely final chorus for a sing-a-long at the O2.
4. Out Of The Woods
OUT. OF. THE. FUCKING. WOODS. This song has made me question everything I thought I knew about myself because never in my life have I put a Taylor Swift song on repeat until this song. It’s flawless. I’m not even mad that HAIM didn’t get it because Taylor does it amazingly. I hate myself right now.
5. All You Had To Do Was Stay
This reminds me of a song Kaci or Jessica Simpson would have released in 2000 and for all of the right reasons. That high-pitched “stay!” just gave me chills. All you had to do was slay, Taylor.
6. Shake It Off
MY EX-MAN BROUGHT HIS NEW GIRLFRIEND, SHE’S LIKE “OH MY GOD” SO I’M JUST GONNA SHAKE IT OFF!
7. I Wish You Would
I wish Kelly Clarkson had recorded this for Breakaway. This is Breakaway-level. It helps that Taylor doesn’t necessarily sound like Taylor for parts of this song. However, that is no excuse for my behaviour right now or the fact that I like six of seven songs so far.
8. Bad Blood
This had a lot of potential but it’s just cheerleader nonsense. And not in the Hollaback Girl way.
9. Wildest Dreams
My future break-up song. My God. It’s so good.
10. How You Get The Girl
Before hearing the previous nine songs I probably would have said something like “Taylor Swift giving love advice? Jog on!” for this one but – surprise! – it’s too good to not like. This is the difficulty with pop. Sometimes a song is just too sonically cheery that you cannot be angry at it. Plus, Taylor brings the guitar back out for this one. What is the guitar’s relevance? I’m unsure but it makes me feel better.
11. This Love
Initial worry ahead of a really good ballad quickly turned into boredom. I’m not very impressed with this one.
12. I Know Places
“They are the hunters and we are the foxes – so we run!” At this point, Taylor can run all the way into the forest until the hunter gets her.
13. Clean ft. Imogen Heap
I’d like to hear this song play over a video montage of me and my friends laughing by a waterfall in Cabo (à la The Hills). That’s the only time I’d like to hear it again soon. That might be a bit harsh because it is a very nice song overall, but nice isn’t always enough.
(This might not be called Wonderland because it’s currently an unrevealed bonus track but) WOW. I almost got to walk away with a bad taste in my mouth after three not-quite-as-good songs at the end of the album but she just wouldn’t let me have the satisfaction. I give up. Taylor Swift, you have won this round.
Taylor said this album was inspired by music from the late 80s, citing Madonna‘s legendary Like A Prayer and declaring it “legitimately one of the greatest pop songs of all time”, and whilst not one of the songs may be as game-changing or impactful as the aforementioned masterpiece, 1989 is – for the most part – a coherently great pop album, which is more than Katy or Britney can say about their most recent releases. Although, it could do with a Work Bitch.
Blank Space, Out Of The Woods, All You Had To Do Was Stay, I Wish You Would
UPDATE: On the album’s release day, I decided to give it a second listen and my official rating has slipped slightly to a 7/10. Nonetheless, it’s still embarrassingly good and still just as shocked as I was. However, I think I’d rather listen to Style on repeat rather than Blank Space.