WARNING: I am a Taylor Swift fan so parts (or maybe all) may be biased. Read at your own risk.
I do not really know how to start this blog entry but to say that I really really want to do this album review. It actually is the first album I’m going to review since I usually do books. So, here it goes…
The first song I heard from this album is Shake It Off. I saw its music video and to be honest, I was disappointed. “This is not Taylor Swift,” was my initial thought because the Taylor I know is a Country artist. But alas, it was her song and she was the one awkwardly dancing in her music video so there’s no denying it is a Taylor song. I did not like Shake It Off but as a loyal fan, I downloaded the song. Good thing I did because it grew on me. I find myself singing “‘coz the hater’s gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate” every chance I get.
And then she released Out of the Woods. Again, I thought it was not the usual Taylor style but my initial reaction to it was better than my reaction to Shake It Off. By this point, I remember (sings it like it’s tuned in Out of the Woods XP) tweeting that if Taylor’s songs continue to sound like it is, I feel like I won’t love it like I loved her earlier albums.
She released Welcome to New York and Still I was looking for the Country that was not there anymore.
The day I downloaded the whole album, I was nervous. I do not want to hate the album. So I was really hoping and praying for songs that would really get to me eventually.
I did not absorb the whole album until after the second time I played it. By that time, it was already growing on me and I picked out my first-time-listening favorites: Blank Space and How You Get the Girl. I do not remember how many times I played it that day but let me just say: I was not disappointed.
Even though the sound is different than that of her previous albums, the lyrics is still Taylor. You can still relate to the words and it’s so poetic. She actually posted lyrics in her Instagram before releasing the album. Such good teases before getting the full 1989 experience. Some lines that really got to me:
- Everybody here was someone else before and you can want who you want: boys and boys and girls and girls (Welcome To New York)
- Saw you there and I thought “Oh my god, look at that face. You look like my next mistake.” (Blank Space)
- You took a Polaroid of us then discovered the rest of the world was black and white but we were in screaming color. (Out of the Woods)
- But people like me are gone forever when you say goodbye. (All You Had To Do Was Stay)
- Love’s a fragile little flame it could burn out. (I Know Places)
- When I was drowning that’s when I could finally breathe. (Clean)
And let’s not forget her liner notes, the hidden messages in the lyrics of her album. It seemed to be telling a story. I decoded it and here it goes:
- Welcome to New York: We begin our story in New York.
- Blank Space: There once was a girl known by everyone and no one.
- Style: Her heart belonged to someone who couldn’t stay.
- Out of the Woods: They loved each other recklessly.
- All You Had to Do Was Stay: They paid the price.
- Shake It Off: She danced to forget him.
- I Wish You Would: He drove past her street each night.
- Bad Blood: She made friends and enemies.
- Wildest Dreams: He only saw her in his dreams.
- How You Get the Girl: Then one day he came back.
- This Love: Timing is a funny thing.
- I Know Places: And everyone was watching.
- Clean: She lost him but she found herself and somehow that was everything.
Okay, so she does not do Country anymore but that doesn’t mean she won’t be doing it in the future. Knowing Taylor, her fans still has a lot to look forward to. 1989 proved that Pop music can still be beautifully written even without lyrics about sex, butts, drugs, etc.
1989 also proved (at least to me) the reason why I love her and her music– it’s because I can always relate to her. I grow with her. That’s what I like most.
Her songs from the album Taylor Swift and Fearless were the songs about having crushes, experiencing that first love– its highs and lows– and also about getting to know yourself and making friends and finding your own path in the world. This was the time I felt connected to her: I was fifteen and struggling through high school when Fifteen became a hit. I started playing the guitar when Teardrops in my Guitar became a hit (though my guitar stayed tear-less).I was a love struck teenager during the Love Story and You Belong With Me days.
Speak Now involved songs about people who have insulted her and done things to hurt her (Dear John, Mean, Innocent, Better Than Revenge, Last Kiss) and by this point in my life I’ve had my share of disappointments but also achievements that I’d like the world to know (Long Live). This was the album when she expressed the “words I didn’t say when the moment was right in front of me.”
Red was mostly about heartbreak and only such a talented artist can pull off writing a song using colors. Songs from this album had taken a sophisticated turn. She’s not that wide-eyed girl anymore.
And then there’s 1989. It’s main theme is change. I think it’s best if Taylor explain this part:
(from 1989 digital booklet)
These songs were once about my life. Now they are about yours.
I was born in Reading, Pennsylvania on December 13, 1989. In the world we live in, much is said about when we are born and when we die. Our birthday is celebrated every year to commemorate the very first instant we came into the world, and a funeral is held to mark the day we leave it. But lately I’ve been wondering… what can be said of all the moments in between our birth and our death? The moments when we are reborn…
The debate over whether people can change is an interesting one for me to observe because it seems like all I ever do is change. All I ever do is learn from my mistakes so I don’t make the same ones again. Then I make new ones. I know people can change because it happens to me little by little every day. Every day I wake up as someone slightly new. Isn’t it wild and intriguing and beautiful to think that every day we are new?
For the last few years, I’ve woken up every day not wanting, but needing to write a new style of music. I needed to change the way I told my stories and the way they sounded. I listened to a lot of music from the decade in which I was born and listened to my intuition that it was a good thing to follow this gut feeling. I was also writing a different storyline than I’d ever told you before.
I wrote about moving to the loudest and brightest city in the world, the city I had always been overwhelmed by… until now. I think you have to know who you are and what you want in order to take on New York and all its blaring truth. I wrote about the thrill I got when I finally learned that love, to some extent, is just a game of cat and mouse. I wrote about looking back on a lost love and understanding that nothing good comes without loss and hardship and constant struggle. There is no “riding off into the sunset,” like I used to imagine. We are never out of the woods, because we are always going to be fighting for something.
I wrote about love that comes back to you just when you thought it was lost forever, and how some feelings never go out of style. I wrote about an important lesson I learned recently… that people can say whatever they want about me, but they can’t make me lose my mind. I’ve learned how to shake things off. I’ve told you my stories for years now. Some have been about coming of age. Some have been about coming undone. This is a story about coming into your own, and as a result… coming alive.
I hope you know that you’ve given me the courage to change. I hope you know that who you are is who you choose to be, and that whispers behind your back don’t define you. You are the only one who gets to decide what you will be remembered for. From the girl who said she would never cut her hair or move to New York or find happiness in a world where she is not in love…