1989

I woke up this Monday morning (yesterday) to unexpectedly wonderful news: 1989 was already available on UK iTunes! I hadn't been expecting it until today as this was when it said the download was expected, so there was a panicked frenzy of downloading followed by maybe the best damn tube journey of my life, with a new relationship [with a song] starting every four minutes. I had one of those grins that makes the other passengers uncomfortable, and there may have even been some shifty dancing... 

The last 36 hours have seen me attempting to live my life with a large proportion of my brain occupied by 1989, and here is me attempting to process that.

Before the release of 1989, way back in August, we had the announcement. Taylor was back, she was into the 80's, and she was a pop star. No more were the banjos and ganjos, trucks and small towns. This was going to be a grown up record, a fun record, a record for all the single twentysomethings in New York City. This was really, really exciting. But when we got to hear the lead single, Shake It Off, I was a little underwhelmed. It sounded like [and I appreciate that these days this is a somewhat obscure reference] something that would have sat well on Shout It Out, Hanson's funk-inspired eighth album. Much like Hanson's funk-inspired eighth album, Shake It Off wasn't exactly the kind of music what I would have chosen for Taylor to make, but I was sure as hell going to try to love it anyway (with great success!).

Now that the album has been in my life for over 37 hours, I feel ready to throw into the internet my initial thoughts - you're welcome.

1: Welcome To New York | Standout lyric: "Kaleidoscope of loud heartbeats under coats." Special mention: "Everybody here was someone else before, and you can want who you want, boyz n boyz n girlz n girlz."

This was released a few days before the album, so we had a bit of a head start. It does what it says on the tin: it's all about the wonders of New York, and more specifically about moving to a big new city and becoming someone new. That is something I can get on board with, and it makes me so excited about London and life and everything. I love the synthy, urban (as in, city-like) noises, sort of redolent of sirens and bangs and general city noises. It's like the next chapter of the story of Mean; we're all living in a big old city and that's pretty great.

2: Blank Space | Standout lyric: "Darling I'm a nightmare dressed like a daydream." Special mention: "You know I love the players, and YOU! LOVE! THE GAME!"

I have literally had to stop typing on several occasions because of involuntary body-popping to this song. So there's that. This song is ridiculous. It's absolutely a classic Taylor Swift track right down to the cutesy denouement - "I got a blank space baby *pen click* and I'll write ya name" - but it's also such a departure musically. It has an outrageously Lorde-y relentless beat and understated arrangement. I really, really love this song. This is exactly what I had been hoping she would release. All of the things Taylor Swift does so well are here, but there is lyrical, musical and emotional growth, and it's all to the good. I can't wait to play this on an acoustic guitar. Incidentally, we get to hear this song at a very early stage of the creative process in one of the bonus features, and I am really hoping the 'early 2000's Nelly' version is released at some point!

3: Style | Standout lyric: "You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye and I got that red lipped classic thing that you like." Special mention: "You got that long-hair slicked-back white tee-shirt and I got that good girl faith and a tight little skirt."

Ah, the famous Style. Its cheeky title giving a nod, perhaps, to the subject, this was one I was excited about hearing. Lorde also claims this one is her favourite on the album. Musically, this is like nothing Taylor has ever released. I don't have the vocabulary to describe it really, but I know that when it's on really really loud in your headphones, nothing else matters.

4: Out Of The Woods | Standout lyric: "Are we out of the woods yet are we out of the woods yet are we out of the woods yet are we out of the woods?" Special mention: "We moved the furniture so we could dance, like we stood a chance."

This one came out early as an indication of the direction of the album, and I absolutely adored it. It sounds so COOL, and the repeated chorus is so evocative of that feeling of reeling around, never knowing if the ground on which you stand is solid. There's also a sound at the end of the chorus and just before the verse that literally sounds like a rush of blood to the head, which is pretty great.

5: All You Had To Do Was Stay | Standout lyric: "Why'd you have to go and lock me out when I let you in?" Special mention: "People like you always want back the love they gave away and people like me want believe you when you say you've changed."

This is an enjoyable listen, and more in keeping with her earlier work. I like this song, but it doesn't blow me away, y'know? It could be a successful single, I'd imagine. The drums beats are very noughties pop, which is excellent.

6: Shake It Off | Standout lyric: "To the fella over there with the hella good hair, won't you come on over here, we can shake shake shake..."

I shake it off, I shake it off! I actually told myself to 'shake it off' earlier today, when feeling self-conscious about going to a McBusted movie about the night I went to a McBusted concert alone, alone. And I did. Shake it off.

7: I Wish You Would | Standout lyric: "You're thinking that I hate you now because you still don't know what I never said." Special mention: "You always knew how to push my buttons, you give me everything and nothing."

This could be close to my favorite actually. The speeding guitars sounds and the almost brass-y bits are really excellent. However, there's something about the lyrics that reminds me very much of If This Was A Movie, and, well, that's kind of been done before... The bits about it being 2am warm the cockles of my Taylor Swift-loving soul, but also make me kind of wish I was listening to I Almost Do instead. But I really like it! It sounds like I don't but I do!

8: Bad Blood | Standout lyric: "Band aids don't fix bullet holes."

Confession time. I don't like this track at all. That's not strictly true, I like the way it sounds. It could be a great song, but I find the lyrics just really cringe. 'Bad blood' rhymed with 'mad love'? 'Don't think it's in the past, these kind of wounds, they last and they last.'? 'Problems' rhymed with 'solve em'? I just can't really take it seriously. But it does sound great, and I haven't skipped it yet, although I did once pause the album to listen to this instead.

9: Wildest Dreams | Standout lyric: "He's so tall and handsome as hell." [As a fellow tall woman, Taylor gets it. Tall is important.] Special mention: "Say you'll see me again, even if it's just pretend."

I hear this is very Lana Del Rey, but I wouldn't know. It's got interesting lyrics, but it is definitely one I'd need to be in the right mood for. I have already fallen asleep to this song once. But I still like it!

10: How You Get The Girl | Standout lyric: "I want you for worse or for better, I would wait forever and ever." Special mention: "Remind her how it used to be, with pictures in frames of kisses on cheeks."

I really, really like this track. It's a fun, knowing song about how to get a girl back. Again, it's classic T-Swizzle, with another cutesy twist (it's about her!). And I like classic T-Swizzle. Also, I have a clear track record of liking songs about getting the girl back. Actually, I am sensing an influences theme here... And the video too! I have cracked the secret of 1989! Haha.

11: This Love | Standout lyric: "In silent screams, in wildest dreams I never dreamed of this." Special mention: "This love is good, this love is bad, this love is alive back from the dead."

Obviously we're all sad this isn't a Maroon 5 cover, but once you get over that it's actually pretty good. This song is very special. It makes me simultaneously feel sad and grateful that I haven't a love like this one. But I think I want one. I don't know. It's a song I could listen to for hours on repeat. Yeah.

12: I Know Places | Standout lyric: "They got the cages, they got the boxes and guns. They are the hunters we are the foxes, and we run." Special mention: "Loose lips sink ships all the damn time."

This is basically Ours from Speak Now, but a bit more metaphorical and darker. It's really, really, really good. It's got an interesting beat and arrangement and I could sing along to that "IIIIIIIIIII-I-I" bit all night. I also appreciate the way that I could definitely play that opening on the piano.

13: Clean | Standout lyric: I am listening to it, and I keep thinking 'yep, that's the best line in it' but they are just all that good, I really couldn't choose. So I'll make an arbitrary choice, when really the answer's all of them. "The drought was the very worst, when the flowers that we'd grown together died of thirst." Or "You're still all over me like a wine-stained dress I can't wear any more."

I love the words. I love the plucky noises in the background that sound like raindrops. I love the dreamy backing vocals. I love the soft electric beat. I love the gentle vocal tone. I love the metaphors. I love how it's a classic Taylor song, about rain and heartbreak, but it's also new and hopeful and confident.

14: Wonderland | Standout lyric: "Didn't you calm my fears with a Cheshire cat smile?" Special mention: "Haven't you heard what becomes of curious minds?"

I. LOVE. THIS. SONG. It's an Alice-inspired tale of a crazy relationship, with loads of cute references and, the best bridge she's ever written (okay, except the one about bleachers and sneakers). If this ever came on in a club I was in, I just don't know what I would do. We. Found Wonderland!

15: You Are In Love | Standout lyric: "You can hear it in the silence, you can feel it on the way home, you can see it with the lights out, you are in love." Special mention: "For once you let go of your fears and your ghosts, one step, not much, but it said enough."

Another dreamy, synthy love song. I like to think that this is a song Taylor has written to the listener. I mean, I interpret it as a song that is not about her, or anyone she knows, but she's telling someone else's imagined story. It describes a very understated romance, which moves slowly, and has relatively small highlights, like a picture of you in his office downtown. I feel like it's an acknowledgement of the way that her songs are for and about her, and her life is different to ours, but she's consciously written a song that might be like my life. I don't know, that sounds really strange, but I like to look at it that way anyway.

16: New Romantics | Standout lyric: "The best people in life are free." Special mention: "We're all bored, we're all so tired of everything. We wait for trains that just aren't coming." We really, really do Tay. Also: "Baby, I could build a castle out all the bricks they throw at me." And -- wait there are loads of GREAT lyrics in this song. Awesome. All of them!

This song is everything 1989 said it would be - 80's-inspired, celebrating the fun, single, twenties life, grown up, poppy. It could very easily become one of my favourite songs, and I can see it blowing up the radio. Taylor has a cool New Romantic vibe with her singing here too. I don't really know why this isn't on the main album, except maybe it's a bit too aggressively retro?


In summary, it is literally all killer (#RIPme), no filler. I am so happy to have this to soundtrack the next two years of my life, and so excited to see what comes next while I'm listening to it. It feels like a real album made by a respected musician, rather than something I need to feel a tiny bit ashamed of. I never like being made to feel shamed for my tastes, and I appreciate that by this point most people have probably made their mind up about Taylor Swift, so it's not like I'll be evangelising in the street, but as my relationship with her music enters it eighth (really!?) year, I am so proud to call myself a fan.

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