Shattering any remaining perception that she was anything other than a pop music superstar, Taylor Swift released her next album of mega-hits, “1989”. Named for the year she was born, which was also the year I graduated from college, there is some irony this came out in 2014 as I was preparing to emerge from the 25-year cocoon I had been living in myself. This album was the #1 selling album of 2014 and is also rated as album #393 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Like her other albums, there are several major hit singles, but I did notice this was the first album of hers that I fondly recall some of these songs and liking them a lot as they were released. In particular, I will always associate this record with “Blank Space”, “Shake It Off”, and my favorite song from the album.
Have you ever mis-heard a lyric and just assumed that’s what the artist really meant, no matter how wrong it was? For me, one of my favorite examples comes from “Blank Space”, which I think is an outstanding pop song. I knew that she probably didn’t sing “I’ve got a lot of Starbucks lovers”, and finally after months or years of this puzzlement, I finally looked it up and realized the correct lyric is “I’ve got a long list of ex-lovers”, which of course makes a lot more sense.
“Shake It Off” is a song that I THINK annoys my son, even as he also enjoys plenty of her music, but I’m not afraid to admit I love that song as well. Even with those two classics, my favorite on this record by far is “Style”. More subdued and intently focused, there is something remarkably passionate and innocent all at the same time. It surprises me how much depth I find in this song, and I think it is one of the best songs she has ever written, with an assist from Martin Shellback and Ali Payami. I think it is also a great driving song, which suits me fine as I prepare to get on the road to get back to the one I love.
The rest of the album is completely full of two songs, hit singles and songs that probably could have been hit singles if so chosen by her and her record label. “Bad Blood” was a big hit, and it has never been a favorite of mine. I’m much more to partial to “Wildest Dreams”, which is another pretty song and one of her best vocal performances. Of the “non-singles”, I like “Welcome to New York”, “All You Had to Do Was Stay”, “I Know Places” and the subtle album closer, “Clean”.
As I said, “1989” was a big step forward in my admiration and appreciation for Taylor Swift, and I’m happy to state that support without any hint of hidden guilt. Her and her team continued to pump out phenomenally popular and appealing songs, and even if they are somewhat simple in their meaning and presentation, that works just fine in the world of popular music.