Hype for Taylor Swift's 1989 has built over two months of pre-release singles, television appearances, and online chatter. The Nashville-bred singer had said the record represented her coming-out as a full-fledged pop—not country—artist, and on Friday, it leaked online days ahead of its planned October 27 release.
Below, The Atlantic's Julie Beck, Emma Green, Lenika Cruz, and Kevin O'Keeffe discuss first impressions, what tracks stand out, and what the album means for Taylor Swift the pop star.
Kevin O'Keeffe: Ahead of 1989's release, I was tired. I didn't initially like "Shake It Off," but it grew on me. I didn't think much of "Out of the Woods," but I let myself fall in love. I hated "Welcome to New York," as all thinking persons do. With so much promotion—remember that her Yahoo! and ABC News live-stream where she announced the album was on August 18, so we got two months of non-stop speculation—I found myself ready to hate the album.
Surprise: I really enjoyed listening to it! It's got a good flow from track to track, and there are some songs that stand with the best of her canon. But maybe I'm just easily impressed because of my low expectations. Emma, how'd you feel about 1989 going into it? Were you ready to love? Or did you need to shake the hype off?
Emma Green: I didn't experience nearly as much Swift fatigue as you, Kevin, but I did have a bit of nervousness. I'm a 1989 girl from Nashville, so I feel a natural kinship with Taylor. And with all the hype and all the young things lining up to take Taylor's place, this album drop seems freighted with significance for her career and music more broadly. I've also been slightly annoyed by the narrative around T-Swift's choice to ditch country for the more fertile pastures of pop, largely because I feel defensive about my native Nashville.