Disclaimer: It should be said that I am not a fan of Taylor Swift's and I never have been. However, I am a fan of music (which can be said about most people, I assume) and, therefore, I have used as much of an objective stance as possible.
Without further ado, here is the Philly.com initial track-by-track reaction to Taylor Swift’s fifth release, 1989, which came out on Monday, Oct. 27.
Before I start: Deep breaths. I can’t believe I’m about to do this. Taylor Swift? Really? What does she have to offer me in 2014? I am a 20-something girlchild who likes to think she wouldn’t resort to calling someone mean in a song if the chance arose. But I must put all preconceived notions aside and get into the zone.
“This is the first Taylor Swift album I’ve listened to in its entirety,” I mutter.
“And it won’t be your last,” replied Colin Kerrigan, photographer here at Philly.com.
Here goes nothing.
Listen along for yourself, the entire album's been streaming since last weekend.
“Welcome to New York:” I could get into these synths, but the blatant push of New York tourism (like that city needs any more of it) makes me wonder the song’s intentions.
“Blank Space:” “Got a lonely Starbucks lover,” is a lyric I swore I heard. Alas, turns out diction isn’t one of Swift’s strong suits and the true line in question reads “Got a long list of ex-lovers.”
“Style:" The first 20 seconds of this track might be my favorite on the album. The shallow — possibly skewed? — vision of Swift’s own self (“Red lip classic thing that you like”) can almost be ignored by the time the bridge rolls around. I can’t help but want to yelp “Just take me out!”
“Out of the Woods:” Despite Jack Antonoff’s magic touch, I get lost in the weird description of the nightmareish regurgitation of Swift and ex Harry Styles’ snowmobile accident.
“All You Had To Do Was Stay:” Generic girl longing. Yawn. Random high note on the word “stay.”
“Shake It Off:” The album’s first single and likely the worst song on the record. I’ll make the pun for you: I’m gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.
“I Wish You Would:” This is the point on almost every album where I start to get lost. It's tough to keep my attention seven tracks into any collection of tunes and this one falls victim to the same curse. “We’re a crooked love in a straight line down.” What does this even mean?
“Bad Blood:” Sort of gives me a new-wave Tegan and Sara vibe. “Band-Aids don’t fix bullet holes,” she whimpers. And like that, T. Swift is a doctor.
“Wildest Dreams:” Lana del Rey inspired, for sure. Swift tries to do dreamy and alluring. Almost there. Almost.
“How You Get The Girl:” Another pop-yawner. Possibly a frivolous addition just so the tracklist could get to the star’s coveted track-count of 13.
“This Love:” Stripped down, lauded by Haim, pulls at my heartstrings as much as I hate to admit it. So lovely.
“I Know Places:” Single potential. Probably because it’s boring but catchy as heck.
“Clean:” An impressive collab with Imogen Heap, still featuring some lackluster one-liners: “You're still all over me like a wine-stained dress I can't wear anymore.” And who is this 10-month-sober bad boy she’s referencing? I can’t keep up anymore.
Takeaways: Test-tube pop from a chick going through a musical identity crisis. The lyrical edge she may have had in her country days clearly have gone to the wayside when opting for countless repetitions of whatever points she’s trying to make.
1989 is a clear example of manufactured pop, designed to appeal to adolescent girls — the ones who beg their parents to buy them tickets to massive stadium tours. This might've been Swift's plan given the sudden foray into the genre and desperate pleading to label big-wigs allow her to make the change. But given that’s its purpose, it succeeds stunningly.
“I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would,” revealed Gabrielle Bonghi, Philly.com entertainment producer. Though from the beginning it wasn’t all fun and games: “What is this New York song? I wanna puke on it,” she messaged me upon first listen.
A stronger sentiment from Layla Jones, lifestyle and entertainment producer: “I was lovin’ it,” she said. “’Bad Blood’ is probably my favorite song from the album. The beat is crazy and it's so completely pop…I mean, she said ‘mad love,’ ” Jones continued.
“It makes me want to drive around with my windows down and sunglasses on,” shared Erica Palan, Philly.com social media strategist. “And sing ridiculously loudly.”
“Why is she singing ‘Welcome to New York?’” wondered our photographer Stephanie Aaronson. “She doesn’t even live in New York.”
“Actually, I think she does now,” I replied.
“If I knew it was acceptable to use this much repetition over the course of an album to fill time, I would have written one years ago and I'd be famous now,” Aaronson followed up.
"Taylor will always be my guilty pleasure," said Philly.com Product Manager Nikki Duban. "There are some songs on 1989 that make me think, make me feel. Good job with that. The album overall? Eh. I'm glad she's maturing as an artist but it feels forced."
Things to Do blogger Tim Reardon wasn’t feeling 1989 so much either. “I listened for one minute and switched to Diplo on Soundcloud,” he said. “Her looks make up for her lyrics.”
Also, this tweet:
A review of Taylor Swift's '1989': A contrived, desperate attempt at innovation, resulting in shamefully embarrassing lyrics over beats.
— Allie Volpe (@allieevolpe) October 30, 2014