1989 Deluxe Edition: The extended review!

(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)
(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

Welcome to the 1989 era, Taylor Nation.

At the beginning of this week, I did a quick review of the album. Like many of you, I’ve been listening to it on repeat all throughout release week. Here at the Swift Agency, a guy who’s got a few ideas lined up, we’re going to explore the Target Deluxe Edition.

Overall I have to say this is one of the best pop albums you can buy. Musically, it has a high but justifiable amount of production for each song. That means you will get remixes, you will get loops, you will get synthesizers and everything will remind you a little bit of what the 80’s sound would have become today. All in all, it’s still Taylor. You can hear her both vocally and lyrically, but also I dare say musically. She has a lot of 80’s influences in here, and although a lot of reviews have made allusions to artists like Lana Del Rey and Lorde, I believe that T-Swizzle has gone further back and hit some of the original 80’s legends that were the common inspiration for the artists of today.

It has been said before and I will repeat again that Taylor Swift is her own genre. This is the Enchantress revisiting an age of music and evolving it to a new sound, that is both hers as well as it Max Martin, Shellback, Jack Antonoff and Ryan Tedder. Imogen Heap and Ali Payami also contribute their talent for specific songs.

The Blonde With The Sparkly Guitar poignantly called this her most sonically cohesive album and she was correct. Even the bubbly “Shake It Off” fits naturally between “All You Had To Do Was Stay” and “I Wish You Would.” Let’s do this in order though. Go…

(Source: Taylor Swift via Instagram)
(Source: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

Welcome To New York
by Taylor Swift and Ryan Tedder
We begin our story in New York

I think the first word that came to mind as the first notes of this track came to live was “boombastic” and “club”. I think I immediately envision this song being played at a New York City trendy club where it would be at home amongst dance music of the 80’s era. It’s obviously a love letter to the city that never sleeps, but it’s also an explanation about its basic inspiration.

As the opening salvo for the album, this is Taylor rediscovering herself through a new setting. A change of scenery always brings a healthy, fresh breeze of inspiration and that’s what happened here to the Queen of Sparks. I believe this song alone may have won her the Welcome Ambassador title, but this song alone doesn’t make the album.

I sincerely think this is a good, but short-lived entry. It’s more of the cover of the book than a first chapter of the novel. The song invites us to what the album is going to be, but hardly reveals the extent of the transition of Taylor’s song from Country Pop to ultimate Pop. I could listen to it as a part of an album session, but as a single it’s a short range shot. It’s as good as a theme song for your favorite TV series, or in this case the Big Apple. It does its job well, which is to invite us to listen further.

(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)
(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

Blank Space
by Taylor Swift, Max Martin and Shellback
There once was a girl known by every one and no one

One of the things that mainstream media has not realized is that the Sparkly Dressed is trying to shed her previous image. Not the image she projects but the one that the media projects of her – that she’s a crazy obsessive serial dater. Easier said than done as she herself used to go along with the joke that guys wouldn’t date a girl that wrote about her relationships. Bottom line, and I strongly support this, you don’t need to be a relationship to define yourself.

So the Enchantress has distanced herself from that image even further by taking some time off dating. Instead, she’s been on a creative spree. One of those was to take that fabricated image from articles and reviews and turn it into a song, a song that was a bit of a joke but ended up in the album. Blank Space is many things more though. It’s an 80’s song with the vibe just right to go cruising around. You can almost feel the road beneath the wheels of your convertible.

This is one of my satellite favorites. It’s one of the songs that I alternatively have to repeat an extra time before going through the rest the album. Lyrically and musically it’s one of the highlights to the album, sometimes even better to listen to than “Out of the Woods”.

(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)
(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

Style
by Taylor Swift, Max Martin, Shellback and Ali Payami.
Her heart belonged to someone who couldn’t stay

Hands down one of the best songs of the album. Another song for cruising around, specially at night. As much as everyone is winking and nudging themselves about who is this song inspired by, I have to state I don’t think this song is really as much inspired by one relationship as a pure 80’s song so stylish that it could have appeared in Miami Vice.

The music is so good on this track both for the verse as the chorus that both of them seem to be different hit songs. One invites you to the dance floor and the other makes you sing out loud.

In every Taylor Swift album there’s one song that you so desperately want your friends to listen. This is one is it. This is another satellite favorite that I like to play an extra time. This one needs to be a single.

(Taylor Swift via Instagram)
(Taylor Swift via Instagram)

Out Of The Woods
by Taylor Swift and Jack Antonoff
They loved each other recklessly

I love this song. Looking at it now, it just has a slow build – which lasts only for the first lines. I would say “Style” edges it out as a favorite because of the slow start but the bridge is where “Out Of The Woods” gains the lead again. It’s one if not the best bridge of the entire album.

Yes, it has a repetitive chorus and a sound effect loop, making it distinctly pop but it’s sonically so appealing that you’re willing to repeat along for every line. The bridge is just amazing, but it’s deeper musically more than lyrically. It sounds all sorts of awesome, and some of the verses added just create the perfect hook.

Still the overall favorite of the album, although there’s times in which I like “Style” or “Blank Space” more. Then this one hits the bridge and I just gotta listen to it all over again.

(Source: Taylor Swift via Instagram)
(Source: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

All You Had To Do Was Stay
by Taylor Swift and Max Martin
They paid the price

It’s a nice and quick little song. It’s charm is that it’s fast and has that highlighted STAY right in the middle of the chorus. Has anybody noticed the number of happy songs in the album? This one is really one of those that songs that sounds happy while being bittersweet.

Lyrically it’s not as repetitive as other songs of the album, but musically it’s a short verse to another chorus run which makes it deceptively simple. I would say it’s easy to forget it but only because it serves as a perfect transition song between “Out Of The Woods” and “Shake It Off”. It doesn’t overstay its welcome. The shortest song of the album.

(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)
(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

Shake It Off
by Taylor Swift, Max Martin and Shellback
She danced to forget him

I still say the baker is going to bake, bake, bake. Just kidding. The Lighting-On-Her-Feet chose this song as the lead single of the album because it’s positive and upbeat. It also has a strange occurrence: it requires a horn section for playing it live. Major props for that.

This song has grown on me since its initial release. The message is a healthy approach to dodge criticisms. However, lyrically it could be better. I still find the chorus a little too repetitive. Because of that this song is good to listen as part of a full album session but for me it wears its welcome very soon by itself. I don’t hate it, but I don’t give it a second listen nor does it make my favorite list.

(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)
(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

I Wish You Would
by Taylor Swift and Jack Antonoff
He drove past her street each night

Another cruising song and one that is both musically and lyrically impressive, which makes a harsh contrast with the previous track. The lyrics are quick and so fast that it gives me the impression of a chase across a crowd.

I love songs that are not lazy, and this one seems to be running a marathon as the lyrics jump across the musical notes effortlessly. Give it a listen and see what it’s doing. It’s actually racing you. There’s a reason for this, it feels like a transition that needs to happen between the happy “Shake It Off” and the next song coming up, which is highly more aggressive. It’s getting your blood rate up.

It’s one of my secret favorites because I love songs that have fast talking lyrics like this.

(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)
(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

Bad Blood
by Taylor Swift, Max Martin and Shellback
She made friends and enemies

Let’s put this out in the open. This is an aggressive song, and the first thing you probably remember is that I actually didn’t like T giving away the backstory since it was clear enough for anybody who followed closely the Red Tour to know who tried to steal her dancers. But that was the inspiration. What can we say about the song itself?

Actually I completely understand why Ed Sheeran named this one as his favorite. It’s filled with percussion, it has loud singing and it talks back. In other words, this song doesn’t have a hook – it has a bite. It’s also lyrically rare to hear Taylor Swift stating that there are problems that can’t be solved. Rhythmically it’s full of sharp corners and interruptions. It sounds as experimental as many songs of the 80’s. I could call it the most progressive song of the album, but there’s another ahead that has that honor.

It’s in my favorites list but not at the top. Not at the bottom either. I really want to see it performed live.

(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)
(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

Wildest Dreams
by Taylor Swift, Max Martin and Shellback
He only saw her in his dreams

I think this song gets a bad rap. I’ve read at least one review which denounces it as the weakest of the album. I disagree, it must connect the previous, aggressive song and somehow soothe the nerves as it brings you from a state of high alert and soothe you back to ground level.

That doesn’t mean it’s all ponies and rainbows. It’s actually very nostalgic. It has been compared to a Lana Del Rey song, but I still see it as a classic Taylor Swift song in the style of “Last Kiss” where she wishes someone well. In this one she wants to remembered. It’s also very intimate. I completely see this song being the secret song of a lot of fans. It’s one of my secret favorites.

(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)
(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

How You Get The Girl
by Taylor Swift, Max Martin and Shellback
Then one day he came back

I like the rhythm of this one although it’s not as infectious as “Blank Space” or “Style”. It does speed up in the chorus, although it’s short. It feels like it would transition well to acoustic.

One of the cool things about this song is that the chorus feels like a bridge. It’s not one in the musical sense but lyrically it feels like one. I want you for worse and better… It’s almost a resolution of the conflict that usually would happen in a bridge for a Taylor Swift song. Also, it’s a happy song.

It’s part of my satellite favorites, which means it constantly changes but it’s rarely the one at the top. It does make my list of favorites though.

(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)
(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

This Love
by Taylor Swift
Timing is a funny thing

I love this song. Another secret favorite for me. It has the rare honor of being the only song that is written exclusively by Taylor Swift in this album. You’d think that without Max Martin and Shellback, Ryan Tedder or Jack Antonoff, you would recognize Taylor Swift again.

As it happens, you do – if you play close attention. But this is not the same Princess in Red or Outspoken One you remember. This song reminds me a little of Evanescence… But more of Taylor Swift’s writing and music for something like “Innocent”. This is still very much the Sparkly Dressed, evolved. This song broke me into a thousand nine hundred and eighty nine pieces when I first heard it.

(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)
(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

I Know Places by Taylor Swift and Ryan Tedder
And everyone was watching

It’s not by much, but this one has very enigmatic lyrics. Not for fans, who will guess very quickly that this is Taylor’s heightened picture of her trying to keep a personal relationship personal. The amazing part of Tay’s craft is to write a song that stops applying to her life the moment you hear it and it becomes about yours.

This one is the most progressive song of the album, even more so than “Bad Blood”. A doomed relationship is the subject, or a love story doomed to fail if you prefer. Both a secret favorite and a satellite favorite, this one also gets a second listen when it comes through – although not a third in a row because I really like the song that comes after it. Definitely in my list of favorites very close to the top. Notice the old-style record button clicking at the beginning and again at the end.

(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)
(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

Clean by Taylor Swift and Imogen Heap
She lost him but she found herself and somehow that was everything

This one’s beautiful. I originally called this song medicine turned into musical form. It serves as the perfect finale to the album and heals all wounds before you are done listening to it. Is it a fitting conclusion to the standard album? Yes, and this time with zero cheekyness. No longer is Taylor asking you to play it again (you will do that anyway). She is making sure that you get your heart healthy by the end of the album.

As much as I like listening to this song, I can only really appreciate it after going through the album in its entirety. That’s the reason I would rather listen to it at the very end after the extra songs in the Deluxe Edition. That being said, if I had to make a favorite playlist it would be kept at the end just as a fitting and healing finale. “Clean” is also the longest song of the album in all versions.

(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)
(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

Wonderland by Taylor Swift, Max Martin and Shellback
(Deluxe Edition Bonus Track)

Another secret favorite song. The theme is the world of Alice in Wonderland, although not in a completely positive light. Just including this song in the Deluxe Edition is going to expand the costumes in the next tour to all the characters from the Lewis Carroll book (although I guess most people are familiar with the Disney version).

Both percussion and experimental heavy, this song boast that quality that certain Taylor Swift songs have of appear to be made of several choruses. It has some repetition but the crazy beats, stops and a sick beat completely override any notion that this song is formulaic. Because of this song alone you should consider getting the Deluxe Edition at Target. For Canadians, this song is available in the digital Deluxe Version on iTunes.

(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)
(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

You Are In Love by Taylor Swift and Jack Antonoff
(Deluxe Edition Bonus Track)

In a world of songs full of love ballads, do we have space for one more? Of course we have. It’s not experimental, it’s not ground breaking, it’s not full of crazy antics. It’s a melodious and beautiful song. Some people want to fill this world with love songs.

This is the song that Lena Dunham mentioned as her wedding song, to the point that if/when she gets married there is no way that Taylor is off the hook. She will have to sing this song at Lena’s wedding. As every song in 1989 does, it does have an 80’s theme feel to it.

It is a soothing slow ballad, but unfortunately it rarely makes my list of favorite songs although I will listen to it on a deluxe album session.

(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)
(Photo: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

New Romantics by Taylor Swift, Max Martin and Shellback
(Deluxe Edition Bonus Track)

A satellite favorite, “New Romantics” would definitely have made the album if it weren’t for the fact that there’s already songs like this in the album. However, how could you not put in a song with the lyrics, “I could build a castle with all the bricks they threw at me”? One of T’s best lyrics ever.

A happy song out of strife, it’s another of those “The Story Of Us” type songs that sounds happy but has sad though clever lyrics in it. Definitely not a finale song. Definitely in my list of favorites.

Taylor Swift’s 1989 is out on iTunes now but you can only get the 1989’s Deluxe Edition at Target.

Taylor has been announced to play New York’s Rockin’ Eve hosted by Ryan Seacrest. The Sparkly Dressed is nominated for Best Female and Best Look at the 2014 MTV EMA on November 9. You can vote here.

Coming up on the Calendar!

(Sources: TheSwiftAgency.com)

9 thoughts on “1989 Deluxe Edition: The extended review!

  1. chris

    Style, How You Get The Girl and You Are In Love are my favorites, too. I’m exciting to see Style live on stage. Also, You Are In Love reminds me of the soundtrack from “crazy/beautiful” with Kirsten Dunst. When you watch the film, you will know what i mean.

  2. Jim Campbell

    Extremely well written.
    Big Machine should offer you a position with them in their PR department,
    You are a wonderful writer.
    Jim, Savannah, GA

  3. Léa

    Hi there,

    So.. I was unsure wether I should buy this album or not. I’ve been listening to Taylor Swift for a while now. I loved what she did as a country songwriter and I had opened up to other country artists in the process.
    To me Red was her masterpiece (All too well, Treacherous, Sad Beautiful Tragic…)

    I was a bit puzzled regarding Shake it off, Out of the Woods and Welcome to New York (which kind of sounded like a crappy – sorry – Christmas song to my ears).

    So I decided to trust your opinion (in your previous review you said “Do yourself a favor […] it has so much potential to become a favorite that you owe it to yourself to listen to it. You have not heard Taylor like this. Forget “Shake It Off” and listen to the other tracks. They’re too good to pass up.”) and made that (small) leap of faith.

    This album is SO good. Wildest Dreams, I Know Places, Clean are MASTERPIECES. Also love Blank Space & Style. This is still her (amazing) writting – her poetry I should say.

    Thank you so much for your beautiful reviews. You always write so well…

    Love from Paris, France

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