The wait is over! Taylor Swift's 1989 is here! The singer-songwriter, 24, had said that the album booklet would include secret messages, and as it turns out, the secret messages read more like a short story:
1. "Welcome to New York": We begin our story in New York.
2. "Blank Space": There once was a girl known by everyone and no one.
3. "Style": Her heart belonged to someone who couldn't stay.
4. "Out of the Woods": They loved each other recklessly.
5. "All You Had to Do Was Stay": They paid the price.
6. "Shake It Off": She danced to forget him.
7. "I Wish You Would": He drove past her street each night.
8. "Bad Blood": She made friends and enemies.
9. "Wildest Dreams": He only saw her in his dreams.
10. "How You Get the Girl": Then one day he came back.
11. "This Love": Timing is a funny thing.
12. "I Know Places": And everyone was watching.
13. "Clean": She lost him but she found herself and somehow that was everything.
When Swift announced that she was transitioning from country to pop music, naysayers worried if she'd be able to pull it off. The singer was able to "Shake It Off," though, and instead focused on making music that mattered to her. It proved to be a smart move, as critics are calling 1989 Swift's best album to date.
"Deeply weird, feverishly emotional, wildly enthusiastic, 1989 sounds exactly like Taylor Swift, even when it sounds like nothing she's ever tried before. And yes, she takes it to extremes. Are you surprised? This is Taylor Swift, remember? Extremes are where she starts out," Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield writes.
Billboard's Jem Aswad calls the album "Swift's best work, a sophisticated pop tour de force that deserves to be as popular commercially as with Robyn-worshipping bloggers; an album that finds Swift meeting [Katy Perry] and [Miley Cyrus] and Pink on their home turf and staring them down." Time's Sam Lansky is equally impressed, writing, "The expertly crafted sound of 1989 that marks her most impressive sleight of hand yet—shifting the focus away from her past and onto her music, which is as smart and confident as it's ever been. Who are these songs about? When they sound this good, who cares?"
Last week, Swift opened up to E! News about what inspired her musical makeover.
"I was gravitating towards those pop sensibilities with my last album. And when people would ask me, what's your favorite song off of Red...I'd always say, 'I Knew You Were Trouble' was my favorite. 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,'" she explained. "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."
"I was just kind of following a natural inclination as a songwriter, and as I got further in, I just realized this isn't gonna be something where I have a few pop songs on this album. This is a full pop album," the "Love Story" singer said. "It's sonically cohesive. It has its own sound and I couldn't be happier about it."
Swift will appear on NBC's The Voice tonight at 8 p.m. ET.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)