Taylor Swift’s '1989' sounds familiar. Here's why.
Taylor Swift's newest album, '1989,' has a ring of familiarity, even on first listen. Taylor Swift's album has the Swedish touch.
Big Machine Records/AP
Taylor Swift’s full-on transition to pop with "1989” brings her into a network of stars who share the producers that have touched many of today’s radio hits.
“1989,” released Monday morning from Big Machine Records, is now the best-selling iTunes album. Her first single from the CD, “Shake It Off,” opened with a No. 1 ranking in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
But you’re not alone in thinking that these fresh tracks sound familiar, even on first listen.
Max Martin co-produced nine tracks of the 13-song album. He began working with Swift in her 2012 album “Red,” co-producing the album’s first single – “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” (He’s also responsible co-writing and co-producing “Shake It Off”)
The Swedish producer has had decades of experience with pop music. His influence reaches back to Britney Spears’s 1998 single “…Baby One More Time.” And he’s no stranger to rebranding pop stars. Kelly Clarkson won over hearts on American Idol, but “Since U Been Gone,” a 2004 track, solidified her place in pop, allowing her to move beyond the reality TV show fame.
Mr. Martin and Johan Schuster (aka Shellback), collaborated on seven of Martin’s nine tracks for Swift’s new album. Shellback, a Swedish songwriter, producer, and musician, has also written for Pink, Maroon 5, and One Direction.
Ryan Tedder, Noel Zancanella and Swift produced the album’s third single, “Welcome To New York.” Mr. Tedder is best known for being the lead singer of OneRepublic and wrote “Apologize” for the five-man band. The hit song ranked on nine different 2007 year-end charts.
Unlike the keep-jumping-until-the-last-beat songs, “Clean,” a slower track that draws on themes of renewal, closes Swift’s album. “And by morning, gone was any trace of you, I think I am finally clean,” she sings, repeating the last line as the track fades. The electronic dream-pop comes courtesy of Imogen Heap, who co-wrote and co-produced the track with Swift.
Ms. Heap came into the mainstream with “Hide and Seek,” which played in the second season finale of Fox’s teen drama “The O.C.”
“This Love” is the only track that Swift wrote alone, a shift from prior albums. She was the sole author on nine of 16 songs on “Red,” and for the 2010 “Speak Now” release, she wrote and composed all 14 songs.
Swift told E! News that she was driven to collaborate more heavily in “1989” after reflecting on “Red.” She said her favorite song on “Red” was “I Knew You Were Trouble,” a single that sold more than 416,000 copies in its first week. Martin and Shellback wrote the song with Swift.
“And I started kind of thinking about that and going, 'All right. I learned a lot when I was making Red. I collaborated with a lot of people. And I kind of learned who I wanted to go back to, and those collaborations were all with the pop producers and writers that I had been working with.”
Last week, “1989” nabbed largely positive reviews from critics, but fans have weighed in since the release online, sharing their thoughts on Twitter.