Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift released her newest single yesterday during a live stream that was as surprising and riveting as the song itself. “Shake It Off” exudes triumph; it is Swift’s declaration of happiness despite the public criticism she faces daily. The single is an instant anthem; yes, it relates to the rumors about Taylor on the cover of this month’s gossip mag, but the rest of us mere mortals will listen to it in the car after experiencing a fight with a friend, a long-overdue break up, or a rude comment from our boss or the popular girl at school. The real-life application of the song should come as no surprise, though—after all, that is Taylor’s specialty.
Debut singles are meant to create talk. They create a roar within a fan base as if to say, “Listen up! Get ready! Something’s coming!” Taylor’s release did just that. “Shake It Off” is already expected to hit #1 this week, and was in radio rotations within hours of its release. Similar to her last album’s debut single (“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”), “Shake It Off” has an infectious melody and a killer beat. Though the lyrics cannot compare to Swift’s other masterpieces, the message is clear and important. While many may think the verses are just lighthearted and fun, when examined closely, Taylor is addressing an issue that is important to her. She boasts, “I never miss a beat/I’m lightning on my feet/And that’s what they don’t see." This is Swift's way of proclaiming that she’s doing just fine—rather well, actually—regardless of what critics may perceive.
Taylor’s upcoming album, she revealed, is called 1989 and is set to drop on October 27, 2014. 1989 is inspired by the music and culture of the 80s, which Taylor called “a time of limitless potential." She also said that the album will be classified as "straight-up pop," whereas her past two have walked the muddled line between pop and modern country (much to the infuriation of the less-than-progressive country music fans who tweet at Swift with rage during the CMA and ACM awards each year). Will 1989 sound like a poorly revived soundtrack to a John Hughes film? Perhaps. Taylor’s song “Sweeter Than Fiction,” released late last year on the soundtrack for the film One Chance, had that sound—an awkward, out of the blue, feigned 1980s composition juxtaposed with the voice of this generation. That could very well be a preview of this album’s contents. “Shake It Off”, with its obvious Martin/Shellback influence, however, does not fall under that category. If it is any indication of what to expect from 1989, fans will receive a typical, contemporary pop album in composition, and Swift will receive sales, sales, sales.
The genre of 1989 will remain a mystery until its release, but one aspect that I would safely bet on is Swift’s ability to relate. Since she began her journey toward an insurmountable level of fame at 16 years old, Taylor has successfully written to relate to her fans. As she clarifies in “Shake It Off,” “the haters gonna hate,” but that will not stop her from doing what she does best—Swift refuses to sever the intimate and honest bond she has built with her fans. I have no doubt that on her upcoming record, Taylor will continue to write the 4-minute autobiographical masterpieces we all have come to expect from her. She is a writer first and foremost, and has been since the age of 11. Taylor Swift’s lyrics are going to continue to resonate with fans. Genres, labels, and classifications be damned--she’ll just shake them off.