Most of the time, when an artist announces their first pop album, it’s met with passing interest until its release. Most of the time, these people are not Taylor Swift. The Grammy winner’s first pop album, 1989, is catchy, bold, and stands out in a genre suffering from songs as dull as cardboard.
The album’s opening track, “Welcome to New York,” is an ode to Swift’s new hometown, where she’s lived for three months. While many New Yorkers questioned her right to pen the song in the first place, Swift combats their cynicism with bright 80’s synth and saccharine lyrics. It doesn’t pretend to something it’s not, and captures the excitement of living in a big, beautiful city for the first time. Most of the other songs on the album, like “Blank Space,” “Style,” “Out of the Woods,” and “Bad Blood,” focus on the topic Swift is known for writing about – her well-publicized relationships. Swift is in her element on these tracks, and her voice is complemented by the album’s solid production. “Shake It Off,” the first single from the album, makes it clear that Swift isn’t apologizing for these songs – she unapologetically presents herself to the world with precocious vigor.
Swift’s country roots still influence some of 1989’s songs, blurring the lines between country and pop. “This Love” features soft vocals and guitar found in Swift’s earlier country ventures, but also features electronic production elements to give it more of a pop vibe. Since she’s already established herself and her sound, Swift knows exactly what to do to make an album full of hits. Her last album, Red, sounded more like a pop album than traditional country, and 1989 shows that Swift is able to fully transcend genres without sacrificing quality. Instead of relying on AutoTune and weak but catchy choruses, Swift produces a collection of solid pop songs that are irresistibly terrific.
1989’s mix of retro production and modern lyricism make it one of the best pop albums of the year. Swift is instantly likeable and delivers songs full of vivacity and passion.