Taylor Swift’s Identity Problem
I don’t really have much of an opinion. But as an avid music listener and white girl, I’m sort of forced to have an opinion. So here it is.
Taylor Swift is the human form of the Pumpkin Spiced Latte two years from now when we’re all laughing “haha remember back in 2014 when literally everything and anything was Pumpkin Spiced flavored? What a time to be alive! You know what would be hilariously ironic of us to do? Go to Starbucks and buy a Pumpkin Spiced Latte!”
But then your friend would point out that the hilarious irony isn’t worth the sickeningly sweet, and quite honestly, gross $4 latte.
On 1989, Swift does her best to shed her Nashville country-girl image. Not that it’s surprising, I mean all her hits from her past albums (think “You Belong With Me” and “I Knew You Were Trouble”) were more Z100 than WMZQ. She also tries to attempt to discard her good girl, celibate lifestyle (I mean she dated Harry Styles, WE ALL KNOW WHAT YOU DID TAYLOR) she still doesn’t outwardly talk about sex, but she talks about boys (Harry) staying over for a weekend, and there’s only so many cats to play with and cookies to bake.
However, to me what makes this album so different and dare I say, revolutionary, in today’s top 40 pop music industry-machine is that Taylor seriously tries so hard to sound like other female artists that have made a name for themselves. Not only that, but Taylor has become part of the ultra-friendship clique where she, Lorde, Tavi Gevinson, Lena Dunham and Haim are somehow friends. This is all so apparent and her friendships influence her music, arguably more than her past failed relationships which proves to her maturation more than anything else.
That being said, let’s go track by track and see exactly who Taylor is trying to be. This will be fun.
1. “Welcome to New York”- This is the worst song on the album. I’ve listened to it once. Now twice to write this article. It’s garbage, therefore she must be trying to be Kidz Bop because it sounds like a weird 80s synth version of a Kidz Bop song that plays at a Catholic middle school dance where the boys and girls in a small Midwest town have to slow dance far enough from each other to make room for God, as they dream about moving to New York, which one day they will learn is nothing like Taylor’s version of New York.
2. “Blank Space”- People are already saying this is the best song on the album and I wouldn’t disagree with that. Taylor’s much publicized friendship Lorde is most evident in this track, and Taylor copies Lorde’s minimalist bass lines sounding very similar to “Glory and the Gore.” Taylor also kills it with the lyrics on this song, simultaneously being self-deprecating, “I’ve got a long list of ex-lovers/they’ll tell you I’m insane,” and showing off her new IDGAF attitude towards what they think, which I can’t help but think is in part because of her new super friend group.
3. “Style”- A cookie-cutter pop song. Anyone could sing this song. Katy Perry could sing this song. Taylor is trying to be Katy Perry on this track I guess.
4. “Out of the Woods”-ARE WE OUT OF THE WOODS YET ARE WE OUT OF THE WOODS YET???? I love this song. Partly because it was produced by Jack Antonoff (Fun./Bleachers/80s pop enthusiast/Lena Dunham’s lover) So much 80s synth pop it sounds like it could be another track on Bleacher’s Strange Desire.
5. “All You Had To Do Is Stay”-A classic tswift song. Heartbreak. A soaring chorus. Lyrics anyone would relate to.
6. “Shake it Off”- Has anyone ever released a better single ever? Probably. But this song is so fun. It’s so topical and relevant! Haters! Bullies! Gamergate! Ban all the haters! Bow down to Taylor Swift! The voice of awkward dancers everywhere!
7. “I Wish You Would”-Ok the first seven seconds of this song sound like a One Direction song. Is that on purpose? Will we ever know? But that’s not important because on this track Taylor is trying to sound like Haim. Yes you read that correctly. The first time I heard this song I thought I heard the Max Martin produced version of “If I Could Change Your Mind.” Weird right? But it does sound very similar.
8. “Bad Blood”- Be less excited about having relationship problems. Simmer down.
9. “Wildest Dreams”- Lana Del Rey. Taylor Swift is trying to sound like Lana Del Rey. Everything is nothing.
10. “How You Get The Girl”- Ahh finally a guide to get a girl! Sending this song to all my future boyfriends ASAP! No more awkward texts/no more “are we a thing or not a thing.” Taylor’s got us covered. This song is bad.
11. “This Love”-Nap time. Every album needs a song to nap through. Still some weird 80s synth going on here, making it almost sound like an 80s love ballad. But then you remember it’s Taylor Swift.
12. “I Know Places”-THAT CASSETTE CLICK IS SO UNNECESSARY. Her audience, the born-after-2000 crowd, doesn’t know what a cassette click is, granted they don’t even know what a cassette is. “Woah there was a time when people had to pay for music and you have to use external devices to play it. Haha that sucks, let’s go bully some kids on snapchat now.”-every kid born after 2000 listening to this song probably. I actually really like this song though. Taylor’s voice sounds really good.
13. “Clean”-In this track, Taylor sings about being 10-months sober from a relationship. She sings over a mechanical sounding beat. It’s a decent song.
14. “Wonderland”-This is Taylor’s impression of Rihanna circa “Umbrella.”
15. “You R in Love”- It’s a sweet song. And to all the people who freak out about Americans scoring so low on reading tests compared to people in other countries, maybe look to pop music. “You R in Love?” “R?”
16. “New Romance”-THIS ALBUM IS SO LONG. This song is fun though! [insert montage of girls dancing in a room forgetting about their heartbreak]