In the age of YouTube and streaming services like Spotify, music album sales have crashed, with absolutely no platinum albums this year besides the Frozen soundtrack, which was released in 2013.
When an album sells a million copies, it is certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. However, the only hope for a platinum album this year came in the form of country pop songstress Taylor Swift. Often called the best songwriter in our generation, Swift is one of the biggest artists today. With seven Grammys, three sold-out international tours, and four multi-platinum albums, the 24 year-old’s success shows in both popularity and critical acclaim.
It is a rare phenomena when some pulls a “Beyonce,” dropping an album out of the blue and selling hundreds of thousands of copies immediately. Taylor Swift took a more traditional route, appearing on talk shows and online live streams to announce her album, 1989, and promoting her Billboard chart topping hit, “Shake it Off”. After two more promotional singles “Out of the Woods” and “Welcome to New York”, Swift released her much awaited album on October 27.
With a combination of massive iTunes sales and sales of her exclusive deluxe album at Target, Swift sold 1.287 million copies of her album within the first week of its release, breaking records with sale figures even surpassing her previous works Red (1.21 million) and Speak Now (1.047 million). The 1.287 million sales week was the largest ever for an album since Eminem’s The Eminem Show in 2002. Even more impressive is the fact that this platinum release makes Swift the only act ever to have three albums with million-selling weeks. Her large fan base of “Swifties” are to thank for these astronomical figures.
[one_third]1989‘s 1.287 million sales week was the largest ever for an album since Eminem’s The Eminem Show in 2002. [/one_third]
1989 is a homage to Swift’s birth year, and she is said to be influenced by the 80’s music of her birth decade. This is Swift’s first official pop album, although many argue that with tracks like “I Know You Were Trouble” and “We Are Never Getting Back Together”, her fourth album, Red was her first au revoir to Nashville. Nevertheless, as Swift has been slowing drifting from country into more pop with each album, 1989 presents a more cohesive pop album than Red.
Swift is often lauded for her great songwriting, inspired by her past relationships. Her dating history is a double edged sword for Swift. On one hand, she is constantly criticized and taunted for her list of high profile exes. On the other hand, her love mishaps allow her to delve into the highs and lows of relationships, writing diary-esque songs that connect with her fans. Teenage girls empathize not only with her puppy love, but her heartbreak, playing her songs over and over after experiencing their own relationship highs and lows.
Sadly, Swift’s songwriting on her latest release doesn’t really shine as much on her previous albums. Occasionally her songwriting abilities are put on the back burner as more generic, cliche lyrics appear on some of her songs in favor of the more formulated, produced sound. Swift is well known for writing all of her songs, which few mainstream artists do today. However, in 1989 she collaborates with hitmakers Max Martin and Shellback, Ryan Tedder, and Jack Antonoff from the band Fun.
[one_third]This is Swift’s first official pop album, although many argue that…her fourth album, Red was her first au revoir to Nashville.[/one_third]
However, her latest album is definitely the most upbeat, party-friendly album out of her five LPs. The synth beats of her new album will have listeners playing 1989 on repeat. 1989 showcases Swift’s 24-year old perspective on love and life, which is significantly different than the one listeners heard from 15-year old Swift in Fearless. Instead of playing the victim, 1989 shows Swift taking 50% of the blame and looking at love in more realistic terms. In an interview on NPR, Swift said, “I’m writing about looking back on a relationship and feeling a sense of pride even though it didn’t work out, reminiscing on something that ended but you still feel good about it, falling in love with a city, falling in love with a feeling rather than a person.”
As for the 13 songs on the regular album (the Target exclusive album has an additional 3 songs) all of them are worth a listen. The moody “Wildest Dreams” evokes a Lana Del Ray comparison while “Style” will get you up and dancing to its catchy chorus. Fans will appreciate Swift’s signature songwriting with lyrics like “You’re still all over me like a wine-stained dress I can’t wear anymore.” from the song “Clean” However, her best song on the album is “Blank Space”. Set against a minimalistic musical arrangement with a skeletal backtrack, Swift pokes fun at herself, with self-deprecating lyrics like “Got a long list of ex-lovers. They’ll tell you I’m insane. But I got a blank space baby. And I’ll write your name.” Listeners will enjoy the satisfying pen-click at the end of the chorus.
1989 has been playing nonstop on my iPod for the past week. After listening to it over and over, I can confidently tell you that although this may not beat Red and Fearless for my favorite Taylor Swift album of all time, 1989 offers some tracks that will go in my Top 10. All in all, 1989 is a commendable release from Swift and I encourage all Eagle Eye readers to listen to it.
Songs on 1989 to check out:
“Out of the Woods”