Thursday, 30 October 2014

A Perfect Reaction to 1989 by Taylor Swift

taylor swift 1989 image

In the early hours of October 27th, I listened to 1989 three times. I'd been desperate for Taylor Swift's new album, and my body refused to let me sleep past 7AM. When Rhys woke up, the first thing I told him was "It's not angry. She's not angry anymore." There is no bitternesss here. If anything, the angriest song  on the album is "Bad Blood", but this is not about a man. It's the battle with another woman, but it isn't shaming or problematic. It's protective. Taylor Swift is far less haunted by the demons that pulled her apart, she's less vulnerable now to the crippling heartbreaks of youth.

What I will say first is that 1989 is delirious with full throttle pop, but an amused reinvention of it. The three tracks inspired by Harry Styles (Style, Out of The Woods and All You Had To Do Was Stay) are probably some of the best on the album, but I can't choose the best. There is no filler here, everything has meaning (and everything is perfect, but I'm admitting that I am 100% biased).

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Track Notes

"Blank Space" is probably the anthem of every girl who's been gossiped about, called out or slut shamed. It is tongue in cheek, and flips the negativity into wielded power shaped like a kiss stain. 

"Wildest Dreams" is an example of old romantic storytelling at Taylor's finest. The deep and dreamy sound is akin to Lana Del Rey's slow and woeful melodies, but the words are all Taylor- her sound may have transcended, but the girl behind the sound is still stripping her thoughts to bare bones.

"I Know Places" is one that I honestly didn't think I would like. But on my first listen, I loved it. It's eerie, heavily troubled and cut with ripe anxiety. It's a trippy other realm in comparison to the first Ryan Tedder anthem on the album "Welcome to New York", a place where she could find shelter from open eyes.

It seems that almost everyone's favourite is "Clean", a collaboration with Imogen Heap. "Clean" is the moment where Taylor finds herself, and maximises her strength from the lonely places she's been before. She tells us that "The drought was the very worst, when the flowers we'd grown together died of thirst."

Let's talk about the bonus tracks. Basically, if you don't get the deluxe version then you are doing yourself a great disservice. These tracks are so strong and so addictive that you need them on repeat for the rest of your life. "Wonderland" is a dizzy drop down memory lane, "You Are In Love" is a hopelessly optimistic account of true love, and "New Romantics" is the rocketing empowerment that all of the underdogs need.
taylor swift 1989 image

I was so excited for 1989, but I couldn't rid myself of apprehension towards it. For once, I was worried about my reaction to Taylor's music. I was worried that a transition into pop would lend itself into an easy slouch of conformity, despite how natural it felt for her to do. I was not prepared to be so caught up with a album, I was not prepared for her to be exactly who I thought I'd grown up with. She has never disappointed me (which to be honest, is so easy to do. So bravo, T.)

There was hardly a scrap of country on Red, but it still stung of the scars of heartache and the familiar doom of regret. It was the still the Taylor we knew. This Taylor is unapologetically confident, humorously self aware and discovered. She has the advantage of clarity, and a hell of a sense of humour. 

1989 is still Taylor, it's so far away from everything she has done before but so close to who she has always been. There are poetic lyrics reminiscent of earlier days, a cut throat approach to song writing and an honest acceptance but is so sonically coherent in comparison to Red, which toyed with pop anthems and devastating ballads.
Lyric Favourites
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taylor swift lyrics image

taylor swift lyrics image

taylor swift lyrics image

taylor swift lyrics image

I could miss the old Taylor, I could miss the whispered enchantments of Speak Now and the glittering hope of Fearless. The beauty of her evolution lays in it's fleeting existence. Like youth, her early sounds and her early words would never last forever. Her hopeless optimism could never stay untouched.

I've said this forever, but every time Taylor Swift releases a new album it's almost like she's felt every feeling that I have in the last two years. It's like she's lived my life, and everyone else's at the same time. It's like we've shared something. Her music put words to tragedies and lessons that I couldn't even bear to write before. It seems natural to me now to write brutally, desperately candidly and often critically. I remember this every time I find myself lost for words: my bravery came from somewhere, and it came from the place that rocked me to sleep. It came from sounds that calmed a storm. For everyone who ever sniggered because I loved her, you're not laughing so much now, are you?

I feel like in the last year I've turned away from victimising myself, much like Taylor with 1989 I can mock the criticisms and the character that others create on my behalf. The person that people imagine me to be is much more interesting than who I actually am. But don't tell anyone that, because they'll be so disappointed and no one will be interested enough to read my blog. I feel like 1989 feels like the streets of New York City neighbourhoods, alien and different but consumed with everything that excites me, and everything that calms me when I get weird and dramatic. 

Here's the thing about Taylor and I, we find safety in words and not in people. I'll love her long after the years where everybody clung to her popularity like moths to a naked flame. I'll love her when I'm a nostalgic 50 year old scrawling scattered thoughts in bruised notebooks, and when she's a 50 year old icon with a hundred more awards to polish. 

Image: Tumblr
1989 is everything. It's everything I never knew I needed, and I'm so proud to have spent the years from 16 to 24 growing up with Taylor Swift. I didn't know whether to cry because it gave me something I never had, or whether to laugh because she did it again. I just knew I wanted to smile, and that's what most of us felt with this album. The need to laugh, and shake it off. The need to grow.