Taylor Swift's Music Is Trending Downward
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We All Know That Taylor Swift's Music Has Spiraled Downward For Years, But 'Lover' May Be The Final Straw

You CAN spell "awesome" without her.

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We All Know That Taylor Swift's Music Has Spiraled Downward For Years, But 'Lover' May Be The Final Straw
@taylorswift on Instagram

After hearing Taylor's new music, it's difficult to see how on earth she got there from the magic that was Picture to Burn and White Horse. So, I decided to go through her discography to follow the ups and downs and see how it could have possibly gotten this bad. This is what I found out.

Let's start at the beginning.

The album Taylor Swift is released.

Now, I was a spritely seven-year-old, so my experience with the album came a couple of years late. Still, it was everything little me wanted the hybrid of pop and country to be. Of course, my sense of nostalgia sways me to enjoy this album more than I would've if I heard it for the first time last week.

Nevertheless, Picture to Burn? Should've Said No? Our Song? Complete bops to this day, filled with white girl teen angst. Perfect for our childhood. The lyrics in this album aren't anything to write home about, but in true country fashion, they tell stories that people relate to. On top of that, her songs' specific style made you want to belt them at the top of your lungs in your car on the way to the grocery store. Overall, the album has a nice balance between honest and sweet. Not to mention, this was back when she wrote full melodies. I miss these days.

Then came Fearless.

Again, nostalgia leaves me very biased, but this is my favorite album. I enjoy the music and its theme of loss of innocence. Innocence is established in the first two tracks: Fearless and Fifteen. Love Story and Hey Stephen talk of love and hopefulness for the future. Then, it takes a big turn. White Horse, one of the best Taylor Swift songs in my opinion, talks about the loss of innocence directly.

"Baby, I was naive, got lost in your eyes and never really had a chance. My mistake, I didn't know to be in love you had to fight to have the upper hand... I was a dreamer before you went and let me down."

And the rest of the album follows that same path. Of course, You Belong With Me breaks up the sad, angsty music with a song we'll be singing until the day we die. But then we're back to the same path with songs like You're Not Sorry and Forever & Always. Luckily for the listener, she mixes it up between slower ballads and crisp rhythms, so you don't get bored. Then toward the end, we get The Best Day. She ditches the angst, the belt, and even her mix at times, letting her head voice float and glide through the melody. It's refreshing to the ear and again, it tells a beautiful story. Her lyricism is still pretty straight forward at this point, but the details and phrasing are improving. The Best Day and Change join together to close out the album and end it on a hopeful note for the wide-eyed 18-year-old Taylor.

2010 brought us the era of Speak Now.

We're starting to lose the white teen angst and in turn, we get a more reflective Taylor. At least as reflective as a 20-year-old can be. I cannot believe she was my age when she wrote this album. Anyways, Mine, Back to December,Dear John,The Story of Us, Never Grow Up, Innocent, Last Kiss, and Long Live are filled with themes of reminiscing, regrets, and lost opportunities. Lyrically, she's branching out and beginning to use more symbolic language and more of those metaphors she'll soon be obsessed with. Also, in The Story Of Us, she sings "but you held your pride like you should've held me." It's not flowery language, nor does it show off just for the sake of it. But it's a nicely written comparison and if you've just experienced this type of situation, many lyrics like this can build to a visceral response from the listener. Overall, she's getting much better at writing about the tiniest moments in life that you don't even notice until they're gone. And she does have many like this on the album.

For me, we're on the brink of a tipping point for Taylor. It marks the balance when her lyricism is becoming a little more crafted, but is still rooted in description. Her pop influences are beginning to shine, but the guitar and twang still take the lead on most of the songs. And the one-note melodies haven't really set in, but you begin to see her playing around with them, like in the verses of Speak Now. For me, it's also the last album of hers in which I don't hate a single song.

Then comes my least favorite: Red.

I'll be honest, it's not a bad album, but most of the songs left me either wanting more or wanting to not have to listen to it again. My least favorites on the album are I Knew You Were Trouble and We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. For me, they both fall flat in every aspect. I hear them and they just sound like they were created specifically to be singles and get radio play. Speaking of which, starting from this album, her singles are some of my least favorites. And I understand you have to cater your pop singles towards pop radio in order for them to do well. That includes crafting the song to be repetitive and catchy and letting the art aspect fall to the wayside. But even so, I think they could've done better. Red is another single that I feel similarly about, but IKYWT and WANEGBT really take the lead for least favorite. 22, another single, has a similar produced-to-top-the-charts feel, but it doesn't bother me because I feel like it's not trying to be anything it's not. It promises a silly anthem about celebrating being in your early 20s and that's exactly what you get. And it's provided plenty of girls with Instagram captions.

For most of the other songs on Red, I do find the lyrics beautiful. For one, this album gave us All Too Well. One of the most heartbreaking, beautiful, and honest songs she's ever written. By this point, she's incredible at capturing loss and heartbreak through those painful, tiny details. But I found many of the other beautiful songs too stripped back. Tracks like Treacherous, Sad Beautiful Tragic, and Begin Again left me wanting more. I wanted something to feel like these songs were finished. I needed some kind of moving melody or lyrics that tug at my heart. And if not that, it still needs to feel crafted. In general, I don't feel like some of these songs were fully crafted or realized. Similarly, all of the singles, Stay Stay Stay, and Starlight felt uninspired and inauthentic.

This album is the second half of the turning point toward the mystery that is Me!. The lyrics have both improved (All Too Well) and gotten far worse (I Knew You Were Trouble). The guitar hasn't disappeared, but many songs have begun switching over to a fuller band and an electric guitar. And the one-note/even two-note repetitive melodies are growing – just take the verses in 22 as an example.

1989 is now here, and Taylor has switched to pop.

Her story writing and musical lines have taken a back seat, and in their place, we get more metaphors than you could ever need. And although I miss her real melodies, the production on this album really made up for it.

It's got sparkle and shimmer and pulse and is influenced by the '80s. What more could you want? Add these elements together, and you get her first truly cohesive album. All of the songs sound like they belong together, while still showing off their individual colors.

Vocally, she's gotten more comfortable laying off the nasal chest voice that she relied on at a younger age. She keeps much more in her mix and head voice, which works really well for the almost ethereal vibe they went with for her vocals in production. Her vocals seem to glow from within the tracks and it's the perfect call for this type of album. And it's nice to hear this mix from Taylor, even though her exclaiming Picture to Burn is hard to beat.

Unfortunately, this album contains Shake It Off.Shake It Off is by far my least favorite Taylor Swift song she has ever released. There is nothing about it that I like. Yes, it was made to work as a single, but it's SO cliché and repetitive that it just sounds like a song for a 12-year-old. Even Me! Is better than Shake It Off, in my opinion. But besides that, the album feels polished and is fun to listen to.

Everyone's most confusing album is up next: Reputation.

On first listen, I really didn't like it. I didn't like the droning bass, the electric feel, or the overpowering percussion. I also just didn't see this new era fitting Taylor. It felt like a transformation for the sake of transformation. Everyone obviously knew this dark, dramatic, "old Taylor is dead" thing wasn't authentic, and I like authentic. However, I respect artistic play. It takes a lot to create a whole era from the ground up and stick with it and that's what she did. Similar to 1989, it felt incredibly cohesive. Also, while she definitely doesn't float her vocals, she does continue to stay away from the forward/nasal sound that she had before.

While I can't say these are my favorite songs, I have changed my mind and enjoy most of them. I Did Something Bad, Don't Blame Me, and Getaway Car are so dynamic and have such a pulse that you can't help but get into them whenever they come on. This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things and Call It What You Want take this new production style and combine it with the fun anthems Taylor has been known for making and you can't help but sing along to the end result. Delicate and New Year's Day remind us that she can still write songs that are just lovely – even in her giant snake era. Of course, I don't like that the melodies are what they are (almost nonexistent). However, each song does have that something special and unexpected that it needs to feel complete. The production gives us this something special for many of the songs and becomes the glue holding the music together. And though the lyrics get repetitive and were often simplified for radio play (I'm talking about you, LWYMMD), she uses metaphors to really create the image and world of the song in your head.

So then, what happened with Lover? Well, it's not all out yet, but we have a sneak peek with three tracks. And I do hate to fully judge because like I said, singles are my least favorite. But these singles are really not giving me a ton of hope. She's kept all of the things that dragged down her most recent albums (repetitive, one-note/two-note melodies, loss of lyrical line, loss of storytelling). But she didn't keep the new elements that were keeping it special (sizzling/interesting production and metaphors that paint the picture. And yes, The Archer has a metaphor, but it doesn't feel fleshed out.) So that leaves us with: uninteresting production, simplified lyrics, and simplified melodies. It's easy synth-pop with the majority of the lines being lyrics I could've written when I was 10. ("Hey kids, spelling is fun", now I'm looking at you.)

In general, when you simplify everything, it's just hard to want to listen to. Even track 5 (The Archer) – the track number that Taylor places her most vulnerable pieces of work – lacked something. The lyrics are more interesting than the other two, and I understand the dreamlike vibe she was going for. But with the chords just droning in the background, it felt incomplete. Of course, once the album comes out, everything could change. But as of now, it's not looking great.

I do appreciate her using her voice as an ally in You Need To Calm Down and I do hope that the rest of the album surprises everyone. And who knows? She's still the same person who was in all of those successful writing/producing sessions, so she's still got it in her. Here's to hoping for the best.

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