Saturday, 25 October 2014

Taylor Swift - 1989 Review

Taylor Swift - 1989 (Pop)

Taylor Swift's 5th studio album, titled 1989, is set to be released later in 2014. Quoting Swift herself, "[the album has] already evolved into a new sound, and that's all I wanted". 

Swift also stated in an interview that the choice of album title was meant as a tribute to the popular music made during and around her birth year. From the artist herself: "I have a few artists in the late eighties who I think made the most incredible, bold, risky decisions as far as pop music goes ... like Annie Lennox and what Madonna was doing ...".

Any expectations of an "incredible" or "bold" direction, to say nothing of a "new sound", are however quickly dampened by the opening track, "Welcome To New York". The song opens with a bunch of annoying synthesizer sounds - the kind you hear when walking by some kid gleefully hammering the keyboards on display at any Yamaha outlet. Then, Swift's irritatingly bland vocals eventually kick in, and you wish that you really were in your local Yamaha store hearing that kid mashing that $99 unit. 

The album continues in largely the same vein until the sixth track and lead single, "Shake It Off". To her credit, Swift has always actively participated in writing her own songs, and "Shake It Off", considered as a whole, appears to be a worthy song at first glance. It speaks of brushing off criticism and negativity - a positive message which I endorse wholly. However, upon hearing the song, one immediately understands why, as Swift eloquently pens, "haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate". The track starts off okay enough - with a drum intro - and then Swift's trademark awful, auto-tuned vocals barge into the soundscape, never to let up (or, perhaps, improve).

It is not explicitly stated whether this song is meant to be taken from Swift's own perspective ("I go on too many dates/But I can't make 'em stay" - input from Taylor Swift fans appreciated!); it would be a sad thing if it is, though. It's one thing to approach 'hate' with confidence and positivity; it's another to be oblivious to your own shortcomings (whether in music or otherwise) and blithely dismiss others as critics or haters.

The song that follows immediately after, "I Wish You Would", somehow proves to be even more irritating. As with "Shake It Off", Taylor Swift draws inspiration from the legendary lyricists (of 1989?) and manages to come up with all-time great lines like "I, I, I, I wish, I wish, I, I, I, I wish, I wish". 

The writing credits for this particular track are given to Swift and one Jack Antonoff, who is also responsible for the dreadful "Out Of The Woods". Perhaps unsurprisingly, the chorus to that song goes like this:

"Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods?
Are we in the clear yet?
Are we in the clear yet?
Are we in the clear yet?"

However, lest there be any confusion, the blame for such brainless and repetitive lyrics must fall on Swift and not Antonoff. This nonsense has been a recurring theme throughout her career; Swift defenders who are unaware of this are in trouble, trouble, trouble, for they might have amnesia.

Overall, the album is standard Taylor Swift fare: run-of-the-mill music, sub-par vocals and lyrics that kindergarten students would scoff at. There are literally no saving graces to be found here. I've done my dues and listened to the album once through, and boy am I glad to finally be out of the woods.

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