I didn’t realise the full extent of the Swift renaissance until recently when my oldest friend, who has listened to hip-hop almost exclusively for 13 years, showed up and started quoting ‘Blank Space.’ Swift’s severely catchy songs have been a constant on my iPod since her first hit Love Story in 2008. But what I’m wondering is why 1989 has been such a game changer?
The fact that both Shake It Off and Blank Space are in the top 10 on iTunes is evidence that Swift sceptics are on board. Not to mention that Blank Space also became Vevo Certified in 17 days or that 1989 sold 1.287 million copies in its first week. Swift has said that what makes this album special is that it marks her transition from country to pop. However, the progression seemed apparent in her Red album which was a fusion of pop and country. Sure, there were country-esque tracks like Begin Again , but others like I Knew You Were Trouble and We Are Never Getting Back Together were inarguably pop. In fact, Max Martin who co-wrote We Are Never Getting Back Together was the executive producer of 1989. Swift’s path to pop was not sudden; it was forged a long time ago. So again, one has to beg the question – what is so special about 1989?
So here’s my theory about why Swift is dominating. When you listen to her lyrics she’s speaking from a position of strength and independence. Her songs are no longer sweet and submissive, but rather statements about love and the importance of letting things go. It’s this kind of strength that is mirrored in artists like Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. Whilst these artists have different musical styles, they share confidence, strength, an original viewpoint and an undeniable work ethic. They can stand alone when necessary and take the hits that the media serve, which is one of the many reasons they are admired. Swift stopped playing the victim and became her own hero on this album, and for that reason her success is well deserved.