“1989”: A Professor Reviews Taylor Swift, Album #5

Ah, 1989… a much-loved and groundbreaking album that, to my ear at least, has stood the test of time thus far. But I confess I have a strong weakness for this album… I love 80s pop, and I love Taylor Swift music, so put them together… yeah. Shut up and take my money.

1989 (released 2014)
“Remember when you hit the brakes too soon? Twenty stitches in the hospital room…

“Welcome to New York” (5.5/10): It’s strange that such a strong album puts such a weak first track forward; the chorus works OK, but I don’t know what she was thinking with the music for the verses.

“Blank Space” (7.5/10): I know, I can feel Taylor Swift fans picking up rocks to throw at me, and this track has grown on me over the years, but I’m still left with the feeling that it doesn’t do enough of the emotional build-and-release that characterizes Taylor’s best work.

“Style” (10/10): If I think “Blank Space” is overrated, “Style” is underrated, but perhaps I like this one because of its strong 80s sensibilities that are like musical catnip to me, kind of like…

“Out of the Woods” (10/10): … which is a powerful, encompassing song that would’ve been right at home in the year 1986, and the video full of elemental imagery is pretty cool too; to my ear, one of her best songs ever.

“All You Had to Do Was Stay” (9/10): Taylor’s fifth tracks have a reputation for vulnerable lyrics, and no, this isn’t another “All Too Well,” but in an album crowded with popular songs, it would be a mistake to overlook this one.

“Shake It Off” (9/10): It’s quite deservedly her most iconic song after “Love Story” and therefore one destined for airplay in American culture for the next 40 years, but for me personally, it was so overplayed at its height that it’s the one Taylor track that gives me a “yeah, been there, done that” feeling.

“I Wish You Would” (10/10): Again, maybe it’s my appreciation for 80s ballads, but I adore this hidden gem that I don’t ever hear anyone talk about.

“Bad Blood” (5.5/10): “Welcome to New York” suffers from a decent chorus with underbaked verses, and “Bad Blood” has the opposite problem.

“Wildest Dreams” (6.5/10): I know this is a favorite of many, but it doesn’t do much for me; I wonder if perhaps it’s just a song that resonates more powerfully with female listeners.

“How You Get the Girl” (8.5/10): This carefully-paced track might win the award for the most pure fun on the album.

“This Love” (7.5/10): It’s amazing how this song is both sedate and epic at the same time, and hello water imagery!

“I Know Places” (9.5/10): This song exudes the sense of being on the run in the dead of night, and the click of the tape recorder at the beginning and end provides great auditory framing.

“Clean” (8.5/10): More water imagery (that I think calls back to the Fearless album in at least a couple of ways) appears in this strong conclusion to a deep, creative album.

1989 mean = 8.23 (standard deviation = 1.62)


I’m going to try to post the remaining album reviews in the coming days… because I’m also planning to post a ranked list of all her songs. The list is nearly done, and it includes songs beyond the main albums (e.g., since we’re in 1989 here, let me just say that “Wonderland” from the deluxe album is one of my favorites). So, I guess both of you reading this can look forward to that soon!

2 thoughts on ““1989”: A Professor Reviews Taylor Swift, Album #5

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s