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Album Review: 1989 by Taylor Swift


Since her 2008 album Fearless, which yielded country-to-pop crossover hits like “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me” — Taylor Swift has chosen to change her great fanfare to call her fifth full-length, 1989, her “very first documented, official pop album."

Not so fast, though: She would like us to know that 1989 is not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill, “evil pop” album. “Evil pop is when you’re singing something in your head … and you don’t know why because it’s brainless,”she said in a recent interview with her collaborator Jack Antonoff. “We wanted to keep this pop clean and good and right, and if it’s stuck in your head I want you to know what the song is about as well.”

Yesterday, I decided to play her 1989 album as an ultimate test. I played it while I was hanging out with some friends. When it was over, one of them said, “I kept forgetting we were listening to a Taylor Swift album and not just listening to the radio.” In some sense, that’s a compliment — almost any one of these songs could (and probably will) be hits. But in the process of streamlining her sound, Swift has sanded off a lot of the edges that once made her perspective so unique. The disappointing thing is that she didn’t really have to. More and more these days, going pop is seen as a declaration of independence rather than a manifesto of self-imposed formulaic limitations. A quote from an early interview with Icona Pop, Taylor Swift declared, “You can do whatever you want and call it pop!” 

By Brandy Monreal

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