1989: The New Pop


Taylor Swift’s newest album, 1989, is unapologetic. The first single, “Shake It Off,” responds to the public’s perception of her as a ditzy girl who dates excessively. In the lyrics, she emphasizes that these comments do not affect her and that she maintains positive in the midst of media’s demonization of her. “Blank Space” is a roleplaying satire of the obsessive serial dater persona attributed to her by the media. In the music video, with a maniacal glaze in her eyes, she destroys her former beau’s car with a golf club, and then awaits her next victim.

Her marketing approach for 1989 is charmingly personal and effective. She makes her presence known. She has made appearances on Ellen, The Voice, Good Morning America, and several international shows. She regularly creeps on fans on social media platforms such as Instagram and Tumblr, effortlessly interacting and connecting with them. Most recently, she mailed fans care packages of makeup, trinkets from the countries she toured, as well as other assorted gifts. A month prior to the album’s release, she invited hundreds of fans into her home to attend The Secret Sessions, in which they listened to the entire soundtrack and were sworn to secrecy. At these sessions, fans were also fed goods baked by Swift herself.

As for the music itself, 1989 is captivating, sophisticated pop music. It is very different from mainstream pop in that Swift’s lyrics are far from mindless—they are intimate and powerful. A line from the fourth track is: “The rest of the world was black and white, but we were in screaming color.” Each song has the potential to be a single and is either written or co-written by Swift. Notable tracks are “Wildest Dreams,” which subtly channels Lana Del Ray through Swift’s wistful sighs, and “I Know Places,” a track that bitingly refers to the media and critical public as “hunters.”

Most significantly, Swift’s album is unprecedented in its statistics. The music industry has been in a new, shaky state in which sales over the milestone million-mark are now almost unheard. Breaking the mold, 1989 sold 1.287 million copies in its first week, which is the highest number of albums sold since Eminem’s The Eminem Show in 2002. It is also the first album to have gone platinum in 2014—and keep in mind that it was released in late October. Her reaction to this news only increases the personable aura that attracts her fans.

Taylor Swift’s success is unsurprising. In fact, a few months ago, she wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal regarding her approach to the music industry and what she sees in its future. It is impossible to deny that she knows what she is doing. After all, she is now the first artist to have written and released three albums that sold over one million copies in its release week. While it may seem instinctual to roll one’s eyes when a new Taylor Swift comes on the radio, keep her unparalleled success and dedication in mind before undermining her music.

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