Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" Could Alienate Some Fans But the Pop-Centric Sound is the Right Choice
If you felt the ground shake beneath you on Monday afternoon, don't worry, it wasn't an earthquake — it was just the world FREAKING OUT due to the release of Taylor Swift's fantastic new single, "Shake It Off." Yes, Swift is back, and this time, she's traded in her guitar for rock & roll drums, horns, and a cheerleader-chant chorus. That's right, Swift told fans during her Yahoo Worldwide Live Stream event on Monday that "Shake It Off" was inspired by "late '80s pop." In fact, she said that her upcoming new album, 1989, is her first full-on pop effort. Wow.
Though her musical shift comes as a bit of a surprise, after hearing "Shake It Off," there's really no doubt in my mind that Swift made the right decision by releasing it as her new single — even if its pop sound may alienate some fans. Let me explain...
First of all, lead singles are supposed to generate buzz and really get people talking. With its surprising pop sound and cheeky lyrical content, "Shake It Off" will do just that. I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up being an even bigger hit than Swift's last lead single, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" (if that's even possible!).
Second of all, in her July 2014 op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Swift explains that she doesn't want to be limited to making one specific genre of music. Instead, she wants to make music that "reflects all of [her] influences." It makes sense. Swift is only 24 years old — she has a long career ahead of her. She doesn't want to be tied down to only making country music for the rest of her life. What fun would that be?
True, Swift got her start as a country artist, but now, she wants to experiment with new sounds. There's nothing wrong with that! The only way that Swift's going to be able to grow and evolve as an artist is by challenging herself to create different styles of music — and that's exactly what she's done with "Shake It Off."
Yes, there are going to be country music fans who are upset by Swift's decision to go the pop route on her new album — but I think they should give Swift's new music a chance. Though 1989 was specifically inspired by '80s pop, Swift's music will always be influenced by what she learned making country. Her unique style of songwriting, a skill she honed creating country hits like "Love Story" and "Begin Again," isn't going anywhere. It's very possible that country fans will find some things to like about Swift's new musical direction. And even if Swift does end up losing a few fans, I'm pretty sure that she'll be picking up some new ones, as well.
"Shake It Off" is available on iTunes now. 1989, which is also up for pre-order on iTunes, will be released on Oct. 27.