I intended to throw it back immediately after I heard the song I checked it out for, due to my infinite grudges about it, but I hadn't gotten around to it yet. And now the CD and I have bonded, so I want to talk through how this happened / my history with this 2+ year old album. And then maybe review the CD after that.
THE TIMELINE (near as I can remember it)
- Sometime in 2014: Taylor announces her next CD will officially be pop. I am excited and eagerly look forward to it, imagining it will be like the best parts of Red crossed with Lea Michele.
- Shake It Off is released. I watch it immediately, only to recoil in horror from its terrible video and offensive third-Avril-Lavigne album chanting nonsense, abandon my efforts to not be pissed about her haircut and decide this album will be Shunned, as she has clearly lost her damn mind.
- Taylor morphs rapidly into a tiresome Newborn Feminist straight outta Tumblr, after years of not giving a crap what feminism hates about her music. Any possibility of other singles on this album overriding my initial Proclamation of Shun fades quickly.
- A feminist friend who previously hated Swift starts to reblog artistic renderings of the new album's lyrics. This is how I learn the chorus of Blank Space and in combination with sudden widespread praise for her brave feminist counter to sexist media buzz on her love life, it sours that song for me before I ever hear it.
- Bad Blood's weirdo music video is released, Lena Dunham included. I hate everything.
- Someone mashes Bad Blood up with We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. It is awesome, and I decide that this is the only way I will listen to Bad Blood ever.
- I read online that another single is called "Style." I assume it somehow relates to Harry Styles, the second grossest of the British Moppet Babies, and check it at the door.
- Radio in the car becomes a game of The Station is Lava every time my ears register two consecutive seconds of a song from this album. Why won't it stop having new singles.
- Spotify throws me an amazing cover of Out of the Woods (by Mary Desmond) that actually sounds like Taylor Swift. Happy with my loophole, I decide I never need to hear the original of this, either.
- Wildest Dreams attacks my ears a few times while I'm out shopping and can't avoid it. I don't hate it. I decide maybe I can let this song exist, if only because a) I keep picturing Sawyer from Lost, and b) I can kind of convince myself it's Lana del Rey.
- One month ago, I hear All You Had To Do Was Stay while shopping, a song I've never even heard of, and my brain explodes with Rory/Logan (Gilmore Girls) feelings about several of the lyrics.
- I check the CD out from the library so I can hear this beautiful song again, since it is nowhere to be found on the internet, and Welcome To New York starts auto-playing when I put it into the computer. I fall head over heels with Instant Song Love. Where and why has Taylor been hiding this good stuff for two years??
1. Welcome to New York: first song on The Music of 2017 -- it's just so bouncy and good and full of happiness, and better yet, it would be absolutely perfect for a Glee fanvid circa season 4.
2. Blank Space: I am so mad I was soured on this song before I had a chance to judge it for myself, because it is a really cool song, lyrically and musically.
3. Style: My first impression of the song from the chorus ("we never go out of style") was that she was singing about her friends and their awesome clothes, and then I realized it was actually about a girl with a sleazy bad boy, but I've decided not to let it dampen my mood because I like how the chorus sounds.
4. Out of the Woods: I definitely prefer the Mary version, but I suppose this one fits the album more. I'll allow it if I stick firmly to the belief that this is simply a remix. But that puts in in the bottom half of songs on this CD.
5. All You Had To Do Was Stay: Seriously, my soul will not rest until I find a good Rory/Logan photoset juxtaposing the finale and the revival (It could have been easy / all you had to do was stay) or perhaps let me remind you / this is what you wanted / you ended it.
6. Shake It Off: oh my god this is even more garbage than I remember. Why would you release this, THE VERY WORST TRACK, as your introduction?? I could probably acclimate to most of it if I tried, but I barely made myself get over the spoken nonsense for "We Are Never Getting Back Together" and this is SO. INFINITELY. WORSE. The phrase "this sick beat" is not something I can unhear without self-hypnosis.
7. I Wish You Would: Nice and fast, sounds like a fun song to enjoy while driving. Probably among my top half of songs on the CD.
8. Bad Blood: This is literally the first time I've ever heard this song in full. I thought it would feel horrible and weird, the way Glee mash-up songs sound like they're wrong/missing pieces when I hear the originals, but this song actually stands on its own, doubling down on the awesome parts I already knew. Maybe it's the mash-up I should abandon.
9. Wildest Dreams: see previous reference to this song. It has fallen down into the bottom third of songs for me, though.
10. How You Get the Girl: no strong feelings on this yet, but it's fun and upbeat. What I like best about this album so far is that it really doesn't have any ballads that drag it down.
11. This Love: OK, one ballad. Not bad, but mostly it just rolls over my ears in background waves so far. Lyrically, it intrigues me with possible TV-based blog post titles (Been losing grip on sinking ships / You showed up just in time; and/or this love came back to me)
12. I Know Places: this one sounds the most out of place -- like it was written for someone else, someone who normally does more club-appropriate pop. Again, not bad, but I'm still getting used to the mostly foreign territory that is the second half of this CD.
13. Clean: Oh gosh, what a pretty song. So many lovely metaphors for getting over a relationship.
[Edit: current tentative order of favorite to least favorite is as follows:
(these are all what I'd consider top tier, so their positions could shift. I'm more comfortable about the order after this)
4 (this would be much higher if I didn't know how much better it could be. without that dude's vocals)3
(bonus tracks I haven't even heard yet)
(what I imagine it would sound like if she collaborated with Bieber)
And that's what I did instead of sleeping tonight. On the bright side, now I am definitely in the right mood to read that This Is Our Song book I have checked out of the library.