Wednesday, October 29, 2014

reviewing 1989

A few days ago at Target, I bought Taylor Swift's new album "1989", or as it's been called in some places, "T.S. 1989", and here is a track by track review… keep in mind, when I write this, I’m hearing all of these songs but two (“Shake It Off” and “Out of the Woods”) for the very first time, and am writing this as I listen, not after I’ve heard the whole thing. So it’s like, a real time commentary.

Welcome to New York… I’m sure “poppy” is a word I’ll use a lot here, but this is definitely poppy. It’s a bubble gum version of Jay-Z’s & Alicia Keys “Empire State of Mind”, mixed with a just as excited, just as poppy version of “Party in the USA”. It’s a great lead off track and sets the tone for the album

Blank Space… This song is great. With “Shake It Off” and with this, Taylor has fully embraced the reputation of “date her, break up, get a song written about you” that has flown around her for years. This might be a contender for the favorite on the album two tracks in. “Got a long list of ex-lovers, they’ll tell you I’m insane, cause you know I love the players and you love the game…” This song is full of snappy lines just like that.

Style… This is the most 90s song I’ve heard in a long time, and for me, that’s a great thing. Yes, poppy, but a little darker than that, and more adult as well. Taylor doesn’t curse in her songs, and never directly addresses the bedroom activities that many songs go to immediately, but the insinuation is there—“…takes me home, lights are off, he’s taking off his coat…” Maybe its prayer. Who knows.

Out of the Woods… This is the second single from the album, released a few weeks ago, rumored to be written about Harry Styles… or one of the One Direction guys, who knows. I’m not a huge fan of this one, especially when it’s following the marvelous “Shake It Off”. Still, it’s not a bad track, it’s a little catchy, and you’ll find yourself “are we outta the woods!!??” a few times today.

All You Had to Do Was Stay… So far, I’m getting the impression that she’s addressing several of her past boyfriends, famous or not… Adele made a bajillionty dollars with her incredible album “21”, an entire album full of heartbreak and lost love. To say Taylor Swift is “Adele Light” is not only unfair to Adele, but also to Taylor, but in the same manner, the comparisons are there to me. It’s another song of “why did you leave, you should have stayed here” (not lyrics, just sentiment). She pulls it off though, it’s a quirky song.

Shake It Off… Taylor Swift, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways… everything I’ve ever loved about Taylor is wrapped up in two songs—“You Belong To Me”, not only my favorite Swift, but one of my favorite songs of all time anywhere… and this one. I am not tired of this, don’t know when I will get tired of it, and have heard it 2 dozen times at least. The video just adds sprinkles to an already great hot fudge sundae.

I Wish You Would… Seven tracks in, no ballads yet. This song is sort of the like the uneven sequel to Track 5, “All You Had to Do Was Stay”. Sung well, very wordy, but almost a retread of what we’ve heard. Having said that, if this catches on as a single on the radio, I’ll say the same thing about Track 5. 

Bad Blood… One of the only reasons I like “Bang Bang” by Jessie J with Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj (it’s a problem when the artist credit is like, 4x as long as the song title) is because it’s just darn fun to sing. Same with “I Love It All” by Icona Pop. This song might just fall under that category, cause it’s a loud proclamation of “Get Up Out My Face” to her ex-man. “Band-Aids don’t fix bullet holes, you say sorry just for show”… indeed.

Oh, and I have a real conflict with myself because I happen to like anything associated with Nicki Minaj.

Wildest Dreams… Not quite a ballad, I really like this track… it’s a little haunting, very seductive and very pointedly saying, “We had it all and you’re gonna miss it.” (again, not lyrics, but sentiment). The boy she’s been pining for over the last few songs is now being told that he’ll have her in his wildest dreams now, and that’s is. Burn.

How You Get the Girl… If there was any return to her country roots, this song is the one that does that.  Still pop, but it’s got more twang to it than anything I’ve heard.  This totally reminds me of "Some Kind of Wonderful", and how Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) is trying to help Keith (Eric Stoltz) get the girl, Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson), when it’s in fact Watts who wants Keith more than anything.  Here’s how to get the girl… okay, here’s how to actually get me.  To me, this will be a track I’ll remember—one of the more different songs on the album thus far.

This Love… And now we have our true ballad.  I like it.  This album tells a story… started bright, got hurt, rebounded and is finding balance again.  Soft, a little reminiscent of old school, pre-skank soft Mariah Carey.  “This Love is alive, back from the dead, these hands had to let it go free and this love came back to me…”

I Know Places… Trying to hard. That’s the first thing I thought when this song started. The chorus is strong, and well written lyrically, like most of her stuff, but the verses are a bit much. Seems like she’s trying to be “out there” with her sound on this one, and for me, it just doesn’t work as well. I’m glad she doesn’t lead off with this song, it wouldn’t work. And she does say “damn”, so I stand corrected on Taylor not cursing. 

Clean… This one, however, has a great beginning. And the line “You’re still over me like a wine stained dress I can’t wear anymore” is both hilarious and cutting, and I love it. This is the song where she finally breaks free of the one who kept her down, be it Mayer or Styles or Warren Beatty or whoever else she dated. I really enjoyed this song.

Thus ends the regular version of the album. However, as mentioned above, I purchased Target’s Deluxe Version of the album, with bonus tracks and “songwriting memos”, whatever that is—which we’ll find out in a few minutes, I guess.

Wonderland… If you couldn’t get it from the title, it’s a play on the Wonderland from the Alice in Wonderland type story… no mention of Alice though, more of a finding-paradise-that’s-not-paradise-together type Wonderland. Bonus points for mentioning the Chesire Cat in the lyrics. I would imagine this video will have Taylor in a small Alice dress running around a strange world full of strange creatures. Not that that’s a bad thing.

You Are in Love… Another sort-of ballad, well written, well done, though it may would benefit from a little less production. I do like this song a lot, though, and it’s melody. Kudos for a beginning that sounds like the opening chords of Christopher Cross’ “Sailing”. I’m positive this isn’t what she was going for, but it’s a bonus to me.

New Romantics… With a slight sound that differs from Taylor’s usually voice, this one song is probably the poster child from her departure from country to pop. This song maybe a perfect pop song.

In summary...feel like this entire album is telling a story… the arrival “Welcome to New York”, the warning of dating Taylor, “Blank Space”… the romance with “Style”… the trouble with “Out of the Woods”… the pining and regret with “All You Had to Do Was Stay” and “I Wish You Would”, with the ignore-the-haters “Shake It Off” in the middle… the vengeful “Bad Blood”… the flaunting of “Wildest Dreams”… the new or maybe rekindled romance of “How You Get the Girl” and “This Love” and “I Know Places”… and finally, the freedom of it all with “Clean”.  The extra tracks are just that.

Bottom line? I loved this album. Even the tracks that weren't my favorite were still good... my favorites however, beyond "Shake It Off", will likely be "How You Get the Girl", "Clean" and I really like that "Blank Space". Check it out.

And because Taylor Swift....

1 comment:

  1. Haven't had a chance to listen to the whole album yet, but decided because of your post that it needed to be my playlist for the day! Love the reference to Some Kind of Wonderful!!


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