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Why 1989 is My Favourite Taylor Swift Album and Era

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Happy New Year’s HerCampus readers! For all Swifties out there, here’s to 1989 and Reputation Taylor’s Version (T.V), Taylor’s two biggest pop albums, being re-recorded and released in 2022!

As we all know, Taylor Swift is one of the most successful songwriters of all time and having grown up with her since I was five years old, it is very special indeed being born at a time when she flourished musically. It is hard to pick a favourite album, as they are all so brilliant and successful, but if I had to, it would definitely be 1989 (2014). With 19 brilliant songs, this album led to her winning Album Of The Year at the 2015 Grammy’s, as well as being the number one best-selling album of 2014. It even the “Frozen” soundtrack, further proving the global success of this album. This is my go-to album when I am feeling happy, elated, and strong.

The 1989 era was the pivotal turning point in Swift’s career because it marked her official change to pop music, turning the country singer into a global pop-star sensation. It was the risk she took that was ultimately worthwhile. The synth-pop and electronic accents in the background of every song truly take me into another dimension of joy, wonder and possibility as  1989 is inspired by the 1980’s synth-pop. I remember being in grade 8 in 2014 when “Shake It Off” was on the radio 24/7, when her songs would play in the background of my cheerleading competitions and practices, and the name Taylor Swift truly became a household name. The aesthetics, inspiration, and happy bops from this era all make it my favourite. It was the time when her style, personality, and talent all came together. I actually did not become a hardcore “Swiftie” until 2021, despite having known who she was my whole life and being a casual listener here and there, but when I did, I definitely fell hard and fast, especially for the 1989 era. At first, I was mad at myself for not having been a stan during the actual 1989 era, but I came to remember that I was also very young at that time, and had not experienced enough heartaches to understand the depths of the lyrics of the 1989 album.  Seven years later though, my appreciation for it has grown. It was one of those personal moments of reflection where I realized that I needed to come back to Taylor and keep up with her. I would not get through this pandemic and this life, to be honest, without her music, wise words, and her overall person whom I feel so connected to and can relate to. It also makes sense to have only become a true 1989 fanatic until later, now that I am much closer to the age she was back then as well as I now also dream of moving to New York and making my big-city dreams come to life. Having grown up with Taylor, it is as if she wrote my life, having left behind lyrical keepsakes and journal entries that resonate with me so much now that I am older.

Not to mention, I was awestruck by her creativity in the “Blank Space” music video and song, which is actually not a love song despite featuring a fictional boyfriend and two lovers falling apart. A song that is such a hit, and her third most popular song on Spotify proves that not every successful song has to be about love and heartbreak. There are stereotypes, and in particular for Taylor, who has been criticized by the media in the past for presumably only writing songs about her ex-boyfriends, that musicians only sing about love, when in reality, that is not true. Along with “Blank Space”, she has over 30 songs on her whole discography that are not related to romantic relationships. In fact, I was inspired when Taylor said that “Blank Space” is a self-satire for the ways in which social media criticized her and caused her to go crazy, mad, and passionate to create change, with the beautiful castle scenery and fantasy-like life and perfect boyfriend falling to pieces as a reflection of her downward spiral.

Next, the inspiration from her tours was what really drew me to this era. On Youtube, there is a 1989 World Tour film, featuring her show in Sydney, Australia, and from start to finish, I was captivated by the stunning performances, intimate crowd moments, and all-around exciting vibes. It is one of my comfort films when I am having a bad day and need inspiration and creativity. When I watch it, I feel like I am right there in the moment, a place where I am safe, can be myself, and rejoice in the excellence of everything while in the presence of Taylor and like-minded fans. “Clean” is one of my favourite songs off of 1989 and the speech she gave along with it during her world tour is one that I go back to whenever I am having a bad day or coming out of a really rocky situation. Before singing, she gives a long speech about how “the moment you realize that you are not the opinion of someone who doesn’t know you or care about you, it’s like you’re clean” and how we are not defined by our mistakes. Actually, walking through rainstorms, or in other words, going through tough times actually gets us clean. I was so moved by the speech as someone who went through hard times as a teenager and had problems socially with friend groups but hearing Taylor speak out about how this is something she struggled with and continues to learn made me feel so seen. I saw myself in her. Ever since leaving high school to university, I began to heal, and I am feeling cleaner every day. I will not let my mistakes define me. The world is such a big and exciting place, with so many possibilities. The world does not end in high school, which Taylor even said at one point. Furthermore, the gorgeous visuals and cinematography in the back as she sang “Clean” punched my heart hard as they perfectly represented the feelings of feeling lost and broken but then coming out clean and free. As well, other bops like “Shake It Off”, “Welcome to New York”, and “All You Had To Do Was Stay”, truly blew the audience away with the energy and passion from her voice and her acts with the backup dancers made e the songs come alive even further.

During her tour, she also invited numerous surprise guests like Selena Gomez, Wiz Khalifa, Mick Jagger, Fifth Harmony, etc so the hype from the audience was BIG, not knowing there would be so many other popular favourites showing up. Taylor worked so hard to make her shows the best nights possible for fans, which inspires me, as I know how much she wants us to have a good time and connect with us. Her exciting surprises and smart business moves to make it a memorable night for everyone reflect the vibes of the 1989 album itself. She is a genius, and after all, art imitates life and vice versa. She truly came alive and became such a confident icon, which was all evident in her songwriting too. Outside of tour, she even chatted with grade-school children at the Scholastic Web Chat Interview around her release of 1989 about how “Shake It Off” sends the important message to not be afraid to laugh, dance, and to shake things off sometimes, in comparison to her song “Mean” from the Speak Now album that evokes more serious feelings when someone is being mean to you. She tells them you can either be like her in “Shake It Off”, or “Mean”. I thought it was so adorable and inspiring the way she loves talking to kids about life.

Overall, I will forever be a 1989 Taylor Swift stan because of the inspirational takeaways, and while it is important to keep in mind the struggles she faced behind the scenes during this time, as later revealed in her 2020 Miss Americana documentary, there is of course, still the fun, light, and positivity to look back fondly on. It is important to separate the storytelling from her actual life, so while some fans later claim to hate 1989 because of how she felt during that time, I think happily of the masterpieces she made. The best part is that now we get to re-live it, but bigger and brighter, with more fun escapism during the pandemic, in 2022 with Taylor’s Version. You can catch me in a few months’ time, or a few weeks or days (who knows if Taylor suddenly drops a surprise!), all dressed up in 1989-themed clothing with my polaroid camera and house decor to celebrate the re-making of this beautiful album!!

Grace Chen

Queen's U '23

Hi everyone my name is Grace and I'm an undergraduate student at Queen's University who aspires to write and move to New York City later for my career! Writing is such an amazing outlet and I'm always open to hearing your story so if willing to connect reach out to @thisisthestateofgracechen or @sear.chingforthelight on instagram!
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