The album 1989 would be hardly erased from people’s minds because the performing artist is Taylor Swift, or it won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. But to music creators, there should be one more important reason for 1989 successfully setting itself apart – production.
As Taylor officially defines, album 1989 belongs to Pop. Generally, Pop music always seems simple for most people to write, since it is dominated by melodic tunes and barely necessitates professional knowledge from the music creators. And yet for real songwriters, writing Pop music is a tough process – how to make it a song easy to remember but stand out, simultaneously, in an artistic way.
Comparing to Pop music, the other genres with longer history has more musical rules and complexities to follow, even end up entering the production stage, where the basic instruments needed in a particular genre should be ready. By contrast, the space of how to write Pop to be exploited is just like the supermassive black hole. So where is exactly the hidden freedom space of Pop music that songwriters, producers, and artists can use? I would say Taylor Swift’s 1989 is right the “textbook.”
If creators are able to catch, even approach to the secret, more excellent pieces would be flourishing. And I believe these wouldn’t be just the songs satisfying the ears of a general audience; they are the innovative artistic works with the capability of standing the academic test. As Jim McDermott explained in his past post on Medium, “the most meaningful art is created via the obsessive creative vision of individuals who often are seeking to destroy the commonplace, the mainstream, the popular. The most successful people in the music industry don’t ask people what they want now; they give them what they’ll want next. “
The success of one song never depends on a single factor, and 1989 is a collection of tracks written by the super talented Taylor team. Nevertheless, I would say that this secret is all about post-songwriting, and I will pick out the best productions ever in Pop creation and lift the veil on this discovery throughout the following compliments.
We can’t deny that the uneven reputations among artists either push someone into the spotlight or squeeze them into an almost undiscoverable corner. There’re a few famous artists who will never worry about their album sales – not because they performed brilliant works, but because fans have been so keen on loyally buying and supporting what they want to promote. The same goes for the Pop music creations. People do keep writing simple and impressive melodies, yet the productions for most of the songs were totally separately finished: what these producers did was to arrange a song in a pop way (energetic tempo, electric sound, etc.) and that was how they made them Pop songs. Nevertheless, the process like this trapped themselves in the Pop music creation as a whole, as they appear to view songwriting and producing as two separated workflows. And this is why album 1989 is worth talking about here and why it’s absolutely one of the lead Pop creations. Taylor’s production is a perfect destroyer pushing down the artificial wall between songwriting and production with a flight of fancy. And this is where the “secret” is hosted.
Indeed, the talented lyrics have laid a solid foundation for the best productions in 1989. The lyrics for each song is like the painter of the artwork, who is narrating what is happening on the canvas and expanding what she is thinking behind the story. “Style” is a long long drive with shimmery coats and chilly vibes. “Out of the Woods” is the forest-like memory filled with thorns and mazes where the girl is struggling to save her from herself. “Wildest Dreams” is a beautiful past tense she would rather have possessed than never create, but it’s so ephemeral, just like the hallucination at night.
Comparing to the role ”performer,” I prefer to call Taylor a real artist who can exploit any artistic perceptual forms with skill and ease. We are surely able to imagine how the picture “This Love” was finished after hearing the song – it is a blue ocean with tidal water pushed ashore layer by layer, it’s as if the unforgettable feelings of crush echoing in the heart. And in the “Clean”, you will see a pair of hands holding a magical bottle upside down, tons of crystal clear water reflecting anything good or bad, happy or sad, rolling down from the bottle and finally flowing into rivers.
The magic of sounds is that they can wake up our ears and then sneak into our heads, evoking and eliciting feelings in a perceptual way. And it’s why soundtracks can work exclusively in film and television works. In the album 1989, Taylor, as one of the executive producers, did her best to bring these scenes back to life with the usage of sounds; the production of sound made of instruments, back vocals, electronic synths… Production is not just creating a particular vibe whatever you want, is more about visualizing a musical work as a whole.
At the same time, it could be better if the songwriter of a song gets to be completely involved in the production process since to make it a perfect song, there will be many fresh ideas emerging during the process of compromising melody structure with producing. For example, both “Out of the Woods” and “Wildest Dreams” broke down the rules of melody wiring in the Pop field; I feel like they started creating and producing simultaneously so that the production of flexible back vocals and creative performance made them far advanced and invincible Pop flagships.
In conclusion, the essential thing for better Pop production would be a combination of melody-writing and producing – to give the two birth at the same moment. With the least limit in genre definition, learning to arm yourself with both songwriter and producer genes will make your works subversively outstanding.
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