Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Review: Swift uses new sound to cover old ground

Country beauty, Taylor Swift, has now left her bedazzled cowboy boots at home and made her way into the pop world. Fans have been waiting over two years for the album, “1989,” which introduces Swift’s new synth-pop sound, but fails to cover new ground thematically.

Her previous albums, “Taylor Swift,” “Fearless,” “Speak Now” and “Red” all have a very strong country feel to them. Because of this, “1989” is a difficult change of pace for dedicated fans, but it is one that will come as a breath of fresh air for those who are tired of Swift’s cliche country tunes.

“1989” is full of upbeat songs that steer away from the expected soft melodies of Swift’s earlier work. The album marries Eighties synth-pop with modern dance beats, only occasionally featuring her famous guitar playing.

The lyrics, however, stay true to the singer’s past, with common themes of romance, angst and men-bashing. She may be exploring new sounds, but Swift proves to be the same person at heart, still most focused on the issues of being a lovesick 24-year-old female in the public eye.

Lyrics throughout the album  include a discussion of society’s attitude towards Swift. In the most played song on the album,  “Shake it Off,” Swift tackles the public’s opinion of her. The lyrics “ I stay out too late, got nothing in my brain, that’s what people say,” challenge the suggested negative attitude the press has toward Swift.

Public opinion is not a new topic for the singer.  Her 2010 album, “Speak Now,” also featured Swift’s attitude toward the public. In the song, “Mean,” she calls out all of her haters saying, “ your wildfire lies and your humiliation/ you have pointed out my flaws again.”

Another common theme on the album is love and romance, which is most expected from Swift. For example, “Blank Space” explores the possibility of a next love, and the favorite, “Bad Blood,” recreates the pain of watching an ex walk away. In these songs, Swift does what she is most known for and uses her sensitivity and lovesick attitude to channel real emotion.

Overall, Swift’s “1989”  is a big change from Swift’s previous work. Going from country’s sweetheart to a wannabe pop star is a risky move, even for Swift; and, her self-redefinition as an artist has earned her both public praise and criticism. But, Swift’s overuse of typical themes and lyrical content shows a lack of growth in the artist.

She may have dipped her toes into the shallow pool of pop music, but “1989” lacks the stability expected from a singer as popular as Swift.

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Review: Swift uses new sound to cover old ground