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Published:November 7th, 2014 13:04 EST
Taylor Swift`s '1989' Fails as Legitimate Pop; it`s a Fake Throwback Thursday!

Taylor Swift`s '1989' Fails as Legitimate Pop; it`s a Fake Throwback Thursday!

By John G. Kays


I better proceed cautiously as I fling some vituperative comments about Taylor Swift`s new hit record (1989) about (got the year right this time), since I`ve never owned one of her records before; furthermore, I`m not really a fan, so I`ve never actually paid any attention to her music. 


With that layer of protection blanketing me, and even in knowing this is the first long-playing record to sell like hotcakes in a very long time (I assumed the Music Business had died a horrible death a long time ago), I can`t find anything I like about this album, other than its neat digital booklet. I love Polaroids, so this is one saving grace for 1989. Taylor Swift imitating Madonna or maybe it`s Lady Gaga? I don`t think so! Does 1989 have even one good song? I can`t find one, as hard as I try.


I thought I might try to break down a song or two, criticizing the lyrics, song structure, or possibly production values, but I skip by every song, thinking the next one will afford me an opening, an opportunity, but it is an illusion as I flicker through so many ditties, as if they are lame cable stations infrequently watched. 


Along those lines, I absolutely loathed Disco back in the day, and was grateful when Punk Rock/New Wave came along, tossing Disco in a grimy alley, like a meathead, muscled bouncer at Studio 54 in 1973, when Andy Warhol made his Divine Presence known.


With that negative maxim in mind, I wasn`t all that keen on Madonna; I am, however, a very big fan of Lady Gaga, whose last record, Art Pop, was a contemporary masterpiece, although fans and critics didn`t call it as such. *(I trump them on that!) Why is Taylor trying to imitate these various artists? Her rightful home is sugar-coated commercial country! Okay, so I heard she moved to New York, that doesn`t mean she should right a repetitive, boring disco rant about the Big Apple - some natives might get pissed!


A few general tidbits about the sound production, brief and to the point, with an Exacto Knife: I don`t care for the mix, it`s EQd towards the high-end, and to hound dog, ear-piercing severity that makes it difficult to listen to. I`m trying to hear Style just now but its taxing;  so high-end I may have to turn it off. Too, the lyrics are corny; something about James Dean daydream look in your eye...this is not convincing me it`s a sincere feeling about somebody who`s real - I sense Taylor made it up. 


Another obvious observation is, 1989 is over-produced, with synthetic, thin-sounding instruments - nothing natural here. One more criticism, this sounds like a digital recording; an analog recording would have been much better for what she was going after, namely a mainstream pop record *(go back and listen to, say, There Goes Rhymin` Simon [1974], Taylor, or to Joni Mitchell`s Court and Spark [1974, also], if you want to learn how it`s done right). And what happened to some semblance of stereo separation? There is none! Is this a Mono record?


I just put Court and Spark on, since I was afraid I`d begin to whine like a beagle from the relentless onslaught of high-end sound flutter (my eardrums could be damaged). I know Shake It Off is a big hit right now, but why? There`s nothing exceptional about this song. None of the melodies on the entire album are standouts or even catchy; I didn`t notice any the lyrics containing poetic or literary vision (meriting a mention). 


And, to top this off, the vocals are so buried in reverb, I couldn`t really tell what she is saying, if anything at all. I have to squint to read the lyric sheet on my iMac, but I don`t feel like printing them out, since 61 ink cartridges are so expensive.


I probably won`t revisit 1989 in the aftermath of this review, so I`m out 16 Bucks now with nowhere to go but back to the oldies (Real Throwback Thursdays). One final, bitter comment, laced with arsenic and oily wormwood: the reason why 1989 is selling so well, is the newly emerging Right (in the wake of Midterms), which is in the majority now, needs the sensation of hooking into one artist, who helps them feel better about themselves, since they arn`t so cool and liberal themselves; this is where Taylor Swift enters the picture. 


Her moving to New York and switching over to Pop, a fake metamorphosis, makes these RIGHTIES feel as if they`ve just conquered New York also. If NYC morphs to RED, Taylor is responsible; she carries this ragged bunch, tattered and pig-ish, wherever she goes. Billboard`s no sanctuary, girl, sorry!