In 2014, Taylor Swift released 1989, an album that signalled her jump from an intimate, shy country girl, to a recycled, mainstream, electronic-pop diva. It became one of the most popular records of the year, but the instrumentation felt flat, over-produced and generally uninteresting. But the masses loved it, much like they love her newest album Reputation.
Swift’s newest release was marketed as more than just a pop-diva record. It was to be a darker, fierce look at her shifting career, but unfortunately it’s real estate for the top 40.
While some songs in 1989 echoed a stadium and country vibe, Swift has stripped that influence altogether and traded it for an industrial-dubstep feel.
It all started with the early release single “Look What You Made Me Do,” which the more I listen to, the more I wonder how hard it would be to dig my eardrums out with a spoon.
Swift sings about fears of her public image tanking in songs like “I Did Something Bad,” or “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” yet she released one of the highest selling pop albums in the United States … ever. It all comes off as rather shallow.
Some lyrics are atrocious rhyme attempts (“But if I’m a thief he can join the heist, we’ll move to an island and he can be my jailer. Burton to his Taylor”), even though four professional writers, including Swift, are credited.
The only saving grace on this album is the final track “New Years Day,” a bare piano ballad that brought Jimmy Fallon to tears on The Tonight Show. Swift has shown time and time again that she can write songs that aren’t superficial, over-produced dribble. But, she has a pop empire to run, and she knows it.