Taylor Swift's "Out of the Woods" Themes Tell Us '1989' Won't Actually Break New Ground for Her
I don't know about you, but there was a lot of hype about Taylor Swift's newest song before it came out that I'm not sure the song lived up to. Oh, don't get me wrong. Swift's "Out of the Woods" was just as amazing as advertised and made me excited for the moment that 1989 came out. However, "Out of the Woods" supposedly represents 1989 the best and, to be honest, that's what disappoints me here. 1989 was supposed to be Swift's first record that isn't entirely devoted to love and break up songs written from her diary pages and about her ex-boyfriends, but guess what "Out of the Woods" is?
On October 9, Swift tweeted clarification that "Out of the Woods" was not her next single, but was, instead, "a new song that I think best represents 1989". Even when she later confessed that "Out of the Woods" was about a relationship, I still held out hope that she would at least be exploring the same old theme in a new and interesting way for her. However, that's not what I got with this incredibly catchy song. If "Out of the Woods" is the song that best summarizes 1989, then here are some themes that we can expect from the album. As you'll notice, they're basically the same old thing.
Let's just call a spade a spade here. "Out of the Woods" is a love song, exactly the kind of love song we would expect from Swift. It has elements of "State of Grace" from her previous album Red and "The Way I Loved You" from Fearless, not in sound but in content. From that, I draw the conclusion that the love songs from Swift's album are probably going to relate best to those who are already fans of hers.
Quite obviously, "Out of the Woods" is about a romantic relationship that didn't work out. In fact, many of Swift's love songs about relationships that didn't work out. That is, after all, how she got that ridiculous double standard reputation for dating lots of guys just so she can have fodder for her next album. So there's really nothing new here with this theme either.
Congratulations, Harry Styles. You have joined the likes of John Mayer and Joe Jonas on the list of ex-boyfriends Swift has had that she devoted an entire song to. Blatantly. At least she didn't call the song "Dear Harry"? In fact, as far as songs that she's written about exes go, "Out of the Woods" was on the kinder side. Is he the only ex to get a shout out on 1989? Rolling Stone theorized that up to three songs from the album might be about Styles, including one literally called "Style".
"Out of the Woods" is a very reflective song and not just because Swift makes reference to remembering stuff every few verses. She's clearly looking back on her dead relationship with some new clarity from a more mature stage in her life. That theme of reflection could carry over into the other songs on 1989, especially since this has been a very independent and introspective year for Swift.
"Out of the Woods" was advertised as being half diary entry and half something to chant in a crowd and it certainly delivered on both counts. It's similar to "Shake It Off" in that sense because if "Shake It Off" was an anthem to ignoring your haters and being yourself then "Out of the Woods" was an anthem to the confusion of a fragile, tumultuous relationship. We can probably expect more anthems from 1989. At least, I hope.
Listen to the song over at JustJared.