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Taylor Swift's tricky transition

The singer's pop to country switch leaves much to be desired in latest release

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Album: 1989

Artist: Taylor Swift

Release Date: Oct. 27

Label: Big Machine Records

Grade: B

Taylor Swift has come a long way from her days as a girl-next-door country singer songwriter. Her latest album, 1989, is a split between a pop star trying to hard to please her fans with monotonous computerized beats and a soulful and emotional singer-songwriter who had grown up and adopted a new genre of music to express her talent.

I have been a fan of Tay Sway since I was 14 years old. In high school I counted down the days until the song “Fifteen” applied to my life, and now as a 21 year old, I can’t wait until my 22nd birthday so I can play “22” all day.

As a devoted fan, I supported her decision to make the leap into pop music and stray from the country twang of “Our Song” from her original album, but Taylor Swift didn’t live up to my expectations.

The opening third of her fifth studio album is filled with fluffy, computerized and flat songs that I would have expected to hear while shopping with my mom in Limited Too – when I was 9 years old. The lyrics of “Blank Space,” “Out of the Woods” and the opening track “Welcome to New York” are basic and repetitive.

Aside from the monotonous and flat background beats, Swift’s amazing vocals aren’t given a chance to shine because they have been computerized to fit into the next generation’s idea of pop music.

"Style,” the song unofficially named after her most recent ex-boyfriend, Harry Styles, is one of the worst songs I have heard from Taylor Swift. Aside from the ’80s beats, that do nothing for her echoing voice on the track, the lyrics describe a boy who has cheated on her with “some other girls / he says what you heard is true” but it’s fine because “when we go crashing down, we come back every time / because we never go out of style.”

It sounds like the transformative singer-songwriter is trying too hard to please every demographic of her fan base – the new and younger 12 to 17 year olds and the veteran and devoted 18 to 24 year olds – and she failed.

It’s not until the chart-topping hit “Shake It Off” that her album gave me a reason to continue listening. Following the No. 1 single is the first track on the album that sounds like something fans would recognize as Taylor Swift. “I Wish You Would” is the next classic breakup song for girls around the world who regret some aspect of their relationship.

This is where the album, thankfully, turns around and Swift’s amazing vocals and emotional lyrics don’t let her veteran fans down.

Although the tune and tempo of the chorus of “Wildest Dreams” sounds eerily similar to Lana Del Ray’s “Young and Beautiful,” Taylor is getting personal with her listeners and moved past her bubbly and sugar-coated lyrics of the earlier tracks on the album.

One of the most classically T-Swift tracks is “How To Get The Girl.” It’s a more mature and updated version of her song “White Horse” from Fearless, released in 2008.

In the seven years since that album release, her idea of the perfect man and romance has matured, as heard in that song as well as “Wonderland,” “Clean,” and “You’re In Love.” She expertly and creatively describes what it’s like to be in love and handle heartbreak through her range of vocals: “You’re still allover me like a wine-stained dress I can’t wear anymore.”

The album finishes with “New Romantics” – finally, the modern-pop sound that I had expected the Grammy-Award-winning artist to produce. It’s a track that would be overheard at an Urban Outfitters, rather than a tween clothing store.

Taylor Swift’s transition into pop music isn’t over. The album 1989 is a great first all-pop album, but she needs to go back to her roots of writing and producing music for herself and not just to appease her fans.

email: rachel.kramer@ubspectrum.com


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