I have been a Taylor Swift fan since the first time I heard “Our Song” in elementary school, and as such I have been waiting for 1989 almost since the release of her album Red was dropped two years ago. In my completely biased opinion, 1989 did not disappoint at all. It is different than her previous albums for sure, but I think it is a good type of different. Yes, the album is very much on the Pop side of the Pop-Country line she has already walked (this is her first album that is categorized as Pop in iTunes instead of Country), and I can imagine that some of her fans are disappointed about that, but she sounds so much more mature and unapologetic than the girl who wrote “Picture to Burn” and “Mean.” Taylor sounds like the 24 – almost 25 – year old that she is rather than the 17, 19, or 21 year old she has been in her other albums. The world has watched and listened to her growth as a person over the years, and 1989 is very much a reflection of the woman she has grown into and not the teenager that she was in the days of “Teardrops on My Guitar” and “Love Story.”
1. Welcome To New York
This song is the perfect intro to this album, and to her new Pop sound. The upbeat retelling of her move to New York reflects Taylor’s move away from the Country roots that made her famous. (Side note: this is also the only song that my Taylor-hating roommate likes.)
Best Line: “It’s a new soundtrack, I could dance to this beat forevermore”
2. Blank Space
Blank Space is indisputably my favorite song on this album. It pokes fun at the persona that the media has created of Taylor as an emotional serial dater who can’t keep a man and then writes songs about them to get revenge. It also has the lyrical ingenuity that you expect from her, just not set to a ballad.
Best Line: I can’t even choose one. From, “got a long list of ex-lovers, they’ll tell you I’m insane,” to “darling I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream,” to “I’ve got a blank space baby, and I’ll write your name,” every lyric makes you want to listen to this song at least 100 times.
If I had to pick a song that “Style” reminds me of from Taylor’s other albums, it would be a combination of “22” and “Starlight,” both from Red. It has the catchy lyrics and beat of “22” that make you want to dance, but it also has that story-song, semi-fantasy element of “Starlight.” The verses are not as strong in this song as in others, but the chorus is one that will stick in your head for days.
Best Line: “You got that long hair slicked back, white t-shirt, and I got that good girl fate in a tight little skirt”
4. Out of the Woods
In contrast with “Style,” the verses of this song shine while the repetitive chorus has made me skip this song when listening to the album more than once. The story element is very much present in this song as Taylor tells the story of a complicated relationship (most likely with Harry Styles), but in the sad ‘this relationship was doomed to fail’ type of way.
Best Line: “I walked out, I said I’m setting you free, but the monsters turned out to be just trees”
5. All You Had To Do Was Stay
“All You Had To Do Way Stay” is one of the songs on this album that could have been a ballad along the lines of “I Almost Do” or “Haunted” because it also reflects a relationship that didn’t work out. It has a different, more self-assured approach to the failed relationship than some of her older songs however; as she claims that “it’s just too late” even if the anonymous “he” did want her back.
Best Line: “People like you always want back the love they pushed aside, but people like me are gone forever when you say goodbye”
6. Shake It Off
You either love it or you hate it, but you have to admit that the first single from 1989, which debuted in August, makes you want to dance just a little bit. It is another one of her songs that is unapologetic about how she is portrayed in the media, and demonstrates her growth as person since she now prefers to shake off what people say about her. Despite this, many people were disappointed in the musical direction of the song as it is so different from Taylor’s previous sound.
Best Line: “I go on too many dates, but I can’t make ‘em stay, at least that’s what people stay” (The background chuckle after “I go on too many dates” makes this line even more sarcastic and witty than it already is.)
7. I Wish You Would
Another story-song that probably would have been much slower and more acoustic sounding had it been on another album. This one tells the story of an ex that drove past Taylor’s house after the break up but never made a move to get back together with her.
Best Line: “We’re a crooked love in a straight line down, makes you wanna run and hide, but it made us turn right back around”
8. Bad Blood
“Bad Blood” is the adult version of Taylor’s song “Better Than Revenge.” It is not about the same conflict, but it is about another female in the entertainment industry who wronged Taylor, this time in a business matter. If an ex-friend has ever wronged you, you can relate to “Bad Blood.” It also kind of made me want to take up kickboxing, so take from that what you will.
Best Line: “Did you think we’d be fine, still got scars on back from your knife, so don’t think it’s in the past; these kind of wounds they last and they last”
9. Wildest Dreams
“Wildest Dreams” is another one of my favorites on 1989, and it is also the first song close to a ballad that we get. It is startlingly honest about a relationship that she knew was not going to last from the start, even if she wanted it to. The song has a fast pace that doesn’t really match the sentiment of the song, but there is something about the mix of sadness and hopefulness that makes me go back to this song again and again.
Best Line: “You’ll see me in hindsight, tangled up with you all night, burning it down, someday when you leave me I bet these memories follow you around”
10. How You Get the Girl
I like Taylor’s advice in this song, but it’s my least favorite on the album. I don’t quite connect to it in the same way that I do with most of the other ones. Maybe because it seems like she is talking to someone specific, but at the same time seems more general. Whatever the case may be, I still think the song fits in well with the rest of the album and definitely deserves a listen.
Best Line: “Broke your heart, I’ll put it back together, I would wait forever and ever”
11. This Love
An actual ballad! I was so happy to finally get to a slow song where I could really listen to the lyrics the first time I listened to the album, but I don’t love it like I thought I would. Maybe I’m a cynic, but the message of ‘if you let someone you love go they will come back to you if they truly love you’ seems like it would fit much better on Speak Now or even Red. It doesn’t sound like the same self-assured, realistic Taylor that the rest of 1989 has portrayed.
Best Line: “Tossing, turning, struggling through the night with someone new”
12. I Know Places
This song is very similar to “Out of the Woods,” but in my opinion it’s much better. The song talks about trying to have a relationship while the world is watching, but is still optimistic of being able to keep it somewhat private. I think this is interesting because it is almost telling Taylor’s fans and the world in general that we don’t know everything about her life and her relationships.
Best Line: “See the vultures circling dark clouds, love’s a fragile little flame it could burn out”
“Clean” is reminiscent of “Begin Again” in that it is about how difficult getting over a relationship can be. It also is the strongest ballad on the album, and finishes it off leaving you feeling hopefully, but still a little bit sad. While the start of the album introduces Taylor’s cross into full Pop, “Clean” shows that the Taylor we know and love is still there.
Best Line: “So I punched a hole in my roof, let the flood carry away all my pictures of you, the water filled my lungs, I screamed so loud but no one heard a thing”