I’m sure this will come as a complete shock to anyone who has ever met me/read this blog: I have spent the past two weeks obsessively listening to the new Taylor Swift record 1989. Here comes another shock: I think it is absolutely phenomenal. Is it her best record yet? It sure seems like it at this point (but I also really, really love Red, so I think to think about it for at least another week). So, so many things have been written about 1989 already, so it was hard to figure out how I was going to address it in an interesting way. Here’s what I’ve come up with: I’m going to go through the record track by track and give you four things. First, my general thoughts. Second, my favorite lyric. Third, the thing I most want to be doing whilst listening to the song in question. And fourth, the fictional character the song most makes me think of. This is my special, Christine twist. Music has always made me think of works of fiction because, well, you know, I’m obsessed with fiction. (Also, I’ve thought for years that Taylor wrote “You Belong With Me” from the perspective of Joey Potter after watching season 1 of Dawson’s Creek.) Anyway, this should be fun, so let’s get into it!
(1) Welcome To New York
General Thoughts: I refer you to the recent, excellent post by Friend of Christine, Regina, on W2NY here. Needless to say, I love New York, I love Taylor, so this song works just fine for me.
Favorite Lyric: “It’s a new soundtrack, I could dance to this beat forevermore.” I just like how she draws out the “eee” in beat.
Thing I Want To Do During This Song: Being a resident of New York City, I get to do exactly what you’d want to do during this one: walk around the city with this jam blasting through my headphones. If you don’t live in NYC, first of all, I’m sorry for you just generally, and now I’m more specifically sorry that you don’t get to do this on a regular basis. But hey, come visit! Taylor’s our ambassador and everything!
Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: Carrie Bradshaw. Duh.
(2) Blank Space
General Thoughts: Jam. This song is a complete jam. One of my favorites on the record. It’s phenomenal. Get involved immediately, if not sooner.
Favorite Lyric: “‘Cause we’re young and we’re reckless, we’ll take this way too far. It’ll leave you breathless or with a nasty scar.” It was SO HARD to choose one lyric from this song. I love all of the spoken word parts, I like the part about being that girl for a month, OMG who is she, all of it. It was so hard not to pick “Nightmare dressed like a daydream.” But in the end, I always love a good lyric about being young and reckless, so I’ll go with that part.
Thing I Want To Do During This Song: Can I be in the music video, Taylor? I promise I’ll do something awesome/fun! NOTE: I wrote this a week ago before the music video premiered (this Monday, November 10th). And OMG IT IS PHENOMENAL! This whole song is a winking joke at her image as a boy-crazy, man eater and the video just takes it to another level as Taylor goes full-on insane at a super hot guy whilst wearing gorgeous clothes and sauntering around a beautiful mansion. It’s amazing.
Fictional Character This Song Makes Me Think Of: The craziest B on Pretty Little Liars, Alison DiLaurentis. Bear with me on this one, Liars. First of all, this song has a lyric about “pretty lies,” which is perfect right off the bat. We also know that Alison absolutely has a long list of ex-lovers, all of whom would tell everyone in the world that she is insane (because she is). Plus, she’s totally a “nightmare dressed like a daydream.” All things considered, one of 1989‘s best tracks goes to one of television’s craziest characters.
General Thoughts: The first thing I texted my friends when I listened to this song for the first time: “‘Treacherous’ has officially been replaced as Taylor’s sexiest song.” I’m not the type of person to ever refer to anything as sexy, but this song fits the bill. Holy smokes. :::fans self::: Anyway, this is my favorite jam on 1989 at this point (aside from “Shake It Off,” of course). I’m obsessed. (Side note: Somehow, the whole Red era never convinced me that I should start wearing red lipstick. This is mostly because I look like a clown with red lipstick on. The line in this song about the “red lip, classic thing that you like” had me in Sephora in less than a week buying Taylor’s color. Like I said, obsessed.)
Favorite Lyric: “I got that good girl faith and a tight little skirt.” In case you were wondering, that lyric, the part about the “tight little skirt,” is what I’m referring to when I call this song sexy. I analogized that lyric to reading Judy Blume for the first time as a pre-teen. It’s that good. Kudos, Taylor. (Ironically, given other songs on this record, I used to feel similarly about the “skintight jeans” lyric in “Teenage Dream.” This one is way, WAY better.)
Thing I Want To Do During This Song: I am also not the type of person to ever go to a club, but this song makes me want to go somewhere, probably a club, and swing my hips around. (With my red lips and in my tight little skirt, natch.)
Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: Logan Echolls and Veronica Mars. The opening lyrics of this song (“Midnight. You come and pick me up, no headlights.”) makes me think of the scene in the Veronica Mars Movie when Logan and Veronica are driving around in his car. Also, this song is about a relationship that you know is doomed to be a complete mess and you really shouldn’t keep engaging in it, but yet, you can’t stop yourself. Even though LoVe is clearly OTP, that narrative is very fitting for a lot of their relationship.
(4) Out Of The Woods
General Thoughts: I love the concept of this song. I love that it’s about a relationship where you’re just never sure if you’re on steady footing/if you’re out of the woods yet. It’s crazy to think that even someone as amazing and badass and wonderful as Taylor Swift feels that way sometimes, isn’t it? I also love the way this song sounds — exactly like it could have been on the Bleachers record (which is fitting, of course, since Taylor co-wrote it with Jack Antonoff, of Bleachers). I love Taylor, I love Jack, and I love this song.
Favorite Lyric: “We were built to fall apart and fall back together.” There are so many good lyrics in this one (“The monsters turned out to be just trees” comes to mind), but I feel like that one perfectly encapsulates the theme of this track. I also love the “good!” at the end of each chorus.
Thing I Want To Do During This Song: Sing that “in the clear yet good!” line emphatically at karaoke.
Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: Felicity Porter and Ben Covington, circa, like, season two. Felicity had a crush on Ben from when they were both in high school and he was cool and she was a dork and so she felt very insecure about their relationship when they started seeing one another in college. She just wasn’t sure if they were settled/out of the woods yet. This song is perfect for Felicity and Ben. (And just, like, life generally because it’s amazing.)
(5) All You Had To Do Was Stay
General Thoughts: The first time I heard this song, I wasn’t sure that I liked the background “Stay!” parts, but by the second time through I totally got it. Those are my thoughts.
Favorite Lyric: “Let me remind you this was what you wanted, but you ended it.” I love the fast paced tempo of the “Let me remind you,” like it’s just a conversational aside, followed by the more drawn out “this was what you wanted.” It’s perfection.
Thing I Want To Do During This Song: The first of several shoutouts to FoC Katie comes here — I really couldn’t decide what I most wanted to do during this song. When I was discussing it with Katie, she suggested that she wants to do the background “Stay!” parts with her hands raised in the air. It was a funny image. Kudos, Katie.
Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: I had trouble with this one, so shoutout #2 to FoC, Katie, for the assist: Jess and Rory, circa the early years. Remember when Jess got into an accident driving Rory’s car and then he skipped town? This song has the lyric about driving us off the road, followed by the chorus about someone who bailed when all he had to do was stay. Bam. Plus, I’m a Jess hater (sorry, but I’m just not impressed with people who are smart, but think they’re too cool to go to class and do well in school or whatever his stupid problem was) and I feel like he did bail and ruin his relationship with Rory when it could have worked if he had been more reliable. So there.
(6) Shake It Off
General Thoughts: This is the best song of 2014. It’s an unbelievable, virtually perfect pop song, and it cannot be denied. I will hear no arguments. Song of the year. Done.
Favorite Lyric: “I’m dancing on my own, I make the moves up as I go. And that’s what they don’t know.” I like to imagine that the “dancing on my own” line is an homage to one of my favorite songs of all-time, “Dancing On My Own” by the great Robyn. Hey, maybe Taylor and Lena reenacted the GIRLS scene with this song by having a Hannah/Marnie dance party! (OMG IMAGINE?!)
Thing I Want To Do During This Song: Shake it off! Obviously!
Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: FoC Katie, again, nails this one (should I have just had Katie write this whole thing?): Emma Stone’s character, Olive, in Easy A. I mean, really, who was shaking it off more than Olive (and, as FoC Katie point out, her entire family, including the hilarious duo of Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci)? She was basically living “Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate.” You go, Olive. (Of course, the real Easy A song is “Pocketful of Sunshine” by Natasha Bedingfield as seen in this sort of inexplicably hilarious scene from the film.)
(7) I Wish You Would
General Thoughts: The voice memo on the Target Deluxe edition of the CD made me love this song even more than I already did. Taylor talks about how her buddy Jack Antonoff created this track and played it for her when they were hanging out. Taylor loved it so much that she asked him give her the track and, voila, “I Wish You Would” was born. This song has a classic 80s sound and I love it. Naturally.
Favorite Lyric: “I wish you were right here, right now, it’s all good, I wish you would.” It’s kind of lame to pick the chorus, I know, but I just love hearing Taylor say “it’s all good.” At first, I thought it was kind of a weird throwaway lyric that didn’t really make sense, but now I totally think it works perfectly. As per usual, I end up thinking that every choice Taylor makes is brilliant and unassailable. (Because it always is. Obv.)
Thing I Want To Do During This Song: This is a driving song, don’t you think? This is one of those songs that you put on when you’re driving down the shore in the summer. You roll the windows down and you sing the crap out of it. Is it summer again yet?
Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: This is literally the last thing I am writing for this post. I couldn’t come up with something here! I felt like it was such a slam dunk, too. I was really stuck on the line “I wish you knew that I miss you too much to be mad anymore.” In my head, I was just like, “Oh, someone breaks up with their boyfriend/girlfriend for cheating. And eventually, they become friends again and then they decide to get back together. Or at least, the dumper wishes that the dumpee would (insert thing here).” I think the right answer here is really Felicity and Ben circa season 4 after Felicity cheats on Ben with Noel. Eventually, slowly, Ben forgives her and starts showing up at her apartment just randomly until, finally, she calls him out by saying, essentially, “Look, this is great, but I want to get back together with you. And if you don’t want to get back together with me, then please stop doing this.” Which leads to an amazing scene (scored, in true WB fashion, by Chantal Kreviazuk of “Feels Like Home” from season 2 Dawson’s Creek fame) where Ben chases Felicity to the airport in the snow to tell her not to leave. But, alas, I already picked Felicity and Ben. (Though, let’s be honest, me writing all of that was just backdoor picking them again.) So let’s go with this — Carrie and Aidan when they get back together. (I know, I know, I picked Carrie already too. But not Aidan! He’s new!) It fits the bill kind of, right? Just go with it, people!
(8) Bad Blood
General Thoughts: Sucks to be you, Katy Perry. This song is amazing and Taylor wins at everything. (Real talk: this is apparently related to Katy’s attempt to steal Taylor’s dancers from the Red tour, which is messed up, but it’s kind of hard to understand the significance of that act without being a touring performer, ya know? That being said, given the lyrics of this song and the tenor of Taylor’s comments about it, I’m sure that’s not the whole story. Something messed up went down between these two. Team Taylor. Obviously.)
Favorite Lyric: “You know it used to be mad love.” Obsessed with Taylor singing the phrase “mad love.” It’s fab.
Thing I Want To Do During This Song: There was this period during my sophomore year in college where I was obsessed with the idea of having a nemesis. As it turned out, that was a really stupid thing to want since I ended up getting super drunk one night and openly calling this person my nemesis to her face for no real reason, because ya know, youth. Anywho, this song makes me forget the lesson learned in that scenario and kind of makes me want to have a nemesis again. Whoops.
Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: So this took me a while. Because it’s not that often that there’s a real “bad blood” scenario between fictional characters. Ultimately, I decided on Dawson Leery and Pacey Witter, who really never recovered their friendship after the Pacey/Joey business. FoC Regina also had another great suggestion for this category: Brenda Walsh and Kelly Taylor. Another classic pair of frenemies. The Dawson/Pacey and Brenda/Kelly pairs split this one. (Honorable mention: Brooke Davis and Peyton Sawyer, who, ultimately, worked it out. Thank goodness. B. Davis + P. Sawyer 4ever.)
(9) Wildest Dreams
General Thoughts: Insert obligatory Lana Del Rey reference here. Sorry to say this, but Lana’s never written something this good/catchy. All hail, Queen Taylor.
Favorite Lyric: “You see me in hindsight tangled up with you all night, burning it down.” This part makes the whole song for me. And sorry to do this again, but I have to use the word “sexy” here. Damn, Taylor.
Thing I Want To Do During This Song: I kind of want to twirl around in my best dress, possibly in the rain. You know, kind of like “Fearless,” only less happy and more adult.
Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: Sort of inexplicably, I keep going to Buffy and Angel with this song. I think it’s because of that one crossover episode, “I Will Remember You,” when Buffy was on Angel and they were able to be together, like, for real because Angel became a human. And it was amazing and glorious and everything it should have been … only, of course, the consequence of Buffy and Angel being able to be together for real was that a crazy demon was unleashed in the world and was going to wreak havoc everywhere. So Buffy and Angel, being the heroes that they are, knew that they had to reverse the whole thing (meaning Angel had to go back to being a vampire) and that they couldn’t be together. Another catch of reversing the whole thing: Buffy would never remember the time they spent together with Angel as a human — what could have been between them — but Angel always would. (He’ll see her in hindsight, tangled up with him all night.) It’s eff-ing heartbreaking, I swear. Buffy + Angel 4ever.
(10) How You Get The Girl
General Thoughts: This song is adorable. It’s a bit of an outlier on 1989 because it’s more of an old school, throwback Taylor song than any of the other ones. It still has the Max Martin-y production and the drums and such, but that’s all in the background supporting a strummed acoustic guitar. And, hey, it’s always nice to get a little glimpse of old school Taylor.
Favorite Lyric: “Remind her how it used to be. Of pictures in frames of kisses on cheeks.” In a song full of adorable lyrics, this is the cutest one for me.
Thing I Want To Do During This Song: Would it be weird if I said that I wanted someone to serenade me to this one?
Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: So guys, I’m obsessed with this MTV show called Faking It. Who else is in on this program? It’s fantastic. It’s about a pair of best friends, Amy and Karma, who go to high school in a fictional, liberal utopia and decide to fake being lesbians to become popular. Only, as it turns out, one of them (Amy) isn’t actually faking it — she likes girls and she’s in love with her best friend (Karma). For now, Karma hasn’t reciprocated. She’s dating this snoozefest of a guy, Liam, and Amy is finally moving on with a cute DJ girl named Reagan. For now, I approve of this (at least on Amy’s end), but ultimately, I ship Karmy (Karma + Amy). One other thing to mention: Karma is a singer. This has been a plot point on the program and she has sung in public before (the actress who plays her, Katie Stevens, is an excellent singer who was on American Idol). So here’s how I think it should go down: after months of being apart and fraught tension and what have you, Karma finally comes to her senses and decides she wants to be with Amy (because Amy is the best). Her plan to win Amy back? Naturally, she’ll serenade her with “How You Get The Girl.” I think this is perfect. Writers of Faking It, contact me, I can help!
(11) This Love
General Thoughts: This song is lovely, but I would say that it’s probably my least favorite on 1989 for now. Of course, my least favorite Taylor song is still, like, 1,000 times better than my favorite song by other artists, so that’s not saying much.
Favorite Lyric: “And I could go on and on and on and on and I will.”
Thing I Want To Do During This Song: This is a good background song. It would be perfect for a chilly, rainy afternoon of reading and cuddling in a blanket fort.
Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: I admit it — I couldn’t come up with anyone here. One of my friends suggested that I give this to Marissa Cooper and Ryan Atwood because they were kind of boring. I always liked Marissa and Ryan, and this doesn’t totally fit, but whatever, that’s the best I’ve got at this point. Marissa, Ryan, you guys don’t have to have “Forever Young,” a song about the nuclear holocaust, as your song anymore. Congrats!
(12) I Know Places
General Thoughts: I wasn’t crazy about this song at first, but it’s really grown on me. I love how it sounds so paranoid. It’s great to see these dark edges of Taylor. I love that this side of her is something she’s willing to share through her music now. Get dark and get weird, Taylor. I love it.
Favorite Lyric: “They take their shots, but we’re bulletproof. And you know for me, it’s always you. In the dead of night, your eyes so green. And I know for you, it’s always me.”
Thing I Want To Do During This Song: I don’t want to be chased by the paparazzi. Intellectually, I understand that. But at the same time, I’ve always wanted to be famous and, ya know, being chased by the paparazzi would be part of that…
Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: Ok, I’m breaking the mold here and I’m going with a real person. This song makes me think of one of my other number one homegirls (tied with Taylor and Lena Dunham for the top spot): Kristen Stewart. This track is clearly about the paparazzi and I can’t think of someone who hates the paps more (with good reason, I might add) than K.Stew. Obviously this also makes me think of her previous, tabloid catnip relationship, but I can’t really talk about that without getting sad. Anywho, I hope Kristen likes this one. I imagine she’d be down with Taylor (who’s not, really?).
General Thoughts: I read some review of 1989 where the author posited that the whole record follows the trajectory of a relationship, starting with “Blank Space” and ending with “Clean.” I’m not sure that’s accurate, but in a way, it works. Because “Clean” is certainly about finally getting over someone. It’s about making peace with the end of something. It’s a really lovely way to end a mature, adult record from a mature, adult Taylor Swift.
Favorite Lyric: “You’re still all over me like a wine-stained dress I can’t wear anymore.” So relatable. How many things do I have with wine stains on them that I’ve had to discard? (Too many.) I also like “When I was drowning that’s when I could finally breathe.” To be honest, this song is full of really excellent lyrics.
Thing I Want To Do During This Song: Drink wine with Taylor Swift! Obviously!
Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: Once again, FoC Katie broke my brain freeze on this one — this song encapsulates the way that I want Olivia Pope to feel about Fitz. As you may know (if you don’t, read this), Olivia and Fitz actually make my blood boil, I hate the idea of them together so much. (It’s actually gotten worse since I wrote that post. I hate them so much that it’s almost ruining Scandal for me at this point. Stay tuned.) But I love Olivia Pope. Or, at least, I love the idea of Olivia Pope. I love the Olivia Pope I was first presented with — the badass who just handled stuff and took no crap. I want that woman back and, for me to get her back, she has to feel this way about Fitzgerald Grant III. She has to be “finally clean.” Come on, Olivia, you can do this! Let Taylor be your inspiration!
I know that I didn’t write about the bonus tracks here (“Wonderland,” “You Are In Love,” and “New Romantics”), but I haven’t spent as much time with them as I have with the other tracks. I’ll say that I really enjoy all of them, particularly “New Romantics,” which is chock-full of fantastic lyrics (“Heartbreak is the national anthem, we sing it proudly” pops immediately into my head). And the voice memos are absolutely adorable. I thought I wouldn’t care that much, but I have to say, it was kind of fun to get a glimpse into Taylor’s songwriting process. I love her so much (in case you couldn’t tell), so it was really cool to hear how she creates these things that end up meaning so much to me.
Look, here’s the real takeaway, the bottom line if you will: 1989 is probably the best thing that has happened/is going to happen to me in 2014. It’s all I hoped it would be and more. My only regret is that I somehow, shockingly I didn’t get invited to a 1989 secret session. No matter though — I feel certain that I’m going to win the Swiftstakes and/or run into Taylor in our shared city and she’ll instantly feel our soul connection and we’ll become best friends on the immediate. It’s happening. Until then, I’ll be shaking it off with my red lip in my tight little skirt.
‘Til next time, Swifties.