Exclusive: Stream New Single ?Don’t Go Off’ From ?Adversaries’ ? The Debut Album By Mas
The album's synth-pop sound is characterized by heavy synthesizers, programmed drums, and processed backing vocals. The songs, expanding on Swift's songwriting practice taking inspiration from her personal life, express lighthearted perspectives towards failed relationships, departing from her previous hostile attitude. Swift and Big Machine promoted the album extensively through product endorsements, television, radio appearances and social media. They pulled 1989 from free streaming services such as Spotify, prompting an industry discourse on the impact of streaming on music sales.[note 3]
Exclusive: Stream new single ‘Don’t Go Off’ from ‘Adversaries’ – The debut album by Mas
Having been known as "America's Sweetheart" due to her wholesome and down-to-earth image, Swift saw her reputation blemished by her history of romantic relationships with a series of high-profile celebrities. Her relationship with English singer Harry Styles during the promotion of Red was a particular subject for tabloid gossip. She disliked the media portraying her as a "serial-dater", feeling it undermined her professional work, and became more reticent to discuss her personal life in public. Most of the album's lyrics were derived from Swift's journal detailing her personal life; she had been known for autobiographical narratives in her songwriting since her debut. A new inspiration this time was her relocation to New York City in March 2014, which gave Swift a sense of freedom to embark on new ideas. Swift also took inspiration from the media scrutiny of her image to write satirical songs about her perceived image.
Another key figure on the album's production team was Jack Antonoff, with whom Swift had worked on the new wave-influenced song "Sweeter than Fiction" for the soundtrack of One Chance (2013). Antonoff co-wrote and co-produced two tracks on the standard edition. The first, "I Wish You Would", stemmed from his experimental sampling of snare drum instrumentation on Fine Young Cannibals' 1988 single "She Drives Me Crazy", one of their mutual favorite songs. Antonoff played his sample to Swift on an iPhone and sent it to her to re-record. The final track is a remix that retains the distinctive snare drums. For "Out of the Woods", Antonoff sent his finished instrumental track to Swift while she was on a plane. She sent him a voice memo containing the lyrics roughly 30 minutes later. The song was the first time Swift composed lyrics for an existing instrumental. Swift and Antonoff produced one more track for the album's deluxe edition, "You Are in Love".
Swift marketed 1989 as her first "official pop" album. To bolster sales, Swift and Big Machine implemented an extensive marketing plan. As observed by Maryn Wilkinson, an academic specialized in media studies, Swift adopted a "zany" aspect for her 1989 persona.[note 5] As Swift had been associated with a hardworking and authentic persona through her country songs, her venture to "artificial, manufactured" pop required intricate maneuvering to retain her sense of authenticity. She used social media extensively to communicate with her fan base; to attract a younger audience, she had promoted her country songs online previously. Her social media posts showcased her personal life, making fans feel engaged with her authentic self and thus cemented their support while attracting a new fan base besides her already large one. She also promoted the album through product endorsements with Subway, Keds, and Diet Coke. Swift held a live stream via Yahoo! sponsored by ABC News on August 18, where she announced the details of 1989 and released the lead single "Shake It Off", which debuted atop the US Billboard Hot 100. To connect further with her supporters, Swift selected a number of fans based on their engagement on social media and invited them to secret album-listening sessions, called "The 1989 Secret Sessions". The sessions took place at her properties in Los Angeles, New York City, Nashville, Rhode Island, and London throughout September 2014.
On November 3, 2014, Swift removed her entire catalog from Spotify, the largest on-demand streaming service at the time, arguing that their ad-supported free service undermined the platform's premium service, which provides higher royalties for songwriters. She had written an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal in July 2014, expressing her concerns over the decline of the album as an economic entity following the rise of free, on-demand streaming. Big Machine and Swift kept 1989 only on paid subscription-required platforms such as Rhapsody and Beats Music. This move prompted an industry-wide debate on the impact of streaming on declining record sales during the digital era. In June 2015, Swift stated that she would remove 1989 from Apple Music, criticizing the service for not offering royalties to artists during their free three-month trial period. After Apple Music announced that it would pay artists royalties during the free trial period, she agreed to leave 1989 on their service; she then featured in a series of commercials for Apple Music. She re-added her entire catalog on Spotify in June 2017. Swift began rerecording her first six studio albums, including 1989, in November 2020. The decision came after talent manager Scooter Braun acquired the masters of Swift's first six studio albums, which Swift had been trying to buy for years, following her departure from Big Machine in November 2018.
The album's 1980s synth-pop production divided critics. In an enthusiastic review, The New York Times critic Jon Caramanica complimented Swift's avoidance of contemporary hip hop/R&B crossover trends, writing, "Ms. Swift is aiming somewhere even higher, a mode of timelessness that few true pop stars...even bother aspiring to." Writing for Rolling Stone, Rob Sheffield characterized the record as "deeply weird, feverishly emotional, wildly enthusiastic". In a review published by Cuepoint, Robert Christgau applauded her departure from country to experiment with new styles, but felt this shift was not radical. NME reviewer Matthew Horton considered Swift's transition to pop "a success", save for the inclusion of the "soft-rock mush" of "This Love" and "Clean". Shane Kimberlin writing for musicOMH deemed Swift's transition to pop on 1989 "not completely successful", but praised her lyrics for incorporating "enough heart and personality", which he found rare in the mainstream pop scene.
1989 was released amidst a decline in record sales brought about by the emergence of digital download and streaming platforms. Swift's two previous studio albums, Speak Now (2010) and Red (2012), each sold over one million copies within one week, establishing her as one of the best-selling album artists in the digital era. Given the music industry's climate, and Swift's decision to eschew her characteristic country roots that had cultivated a sizable fan base, the sales performance of 1989 was subject to considerable speculation among industry experts. One week before its release, Rolling Stone reported that US retailers predicted the album would sell from 600,000 to 750,000 copies in its debut week.
1989 debuted atop the US Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 1.287 million copies, according to data compiled by Nielsen SoundScan for the chart dated November 15, 2014. Swift became the first artist to have three albums each sell one million copies within the first week, and 1989 was the first album released in 2014 to exceed one million copies. 1989 topped the Billboard 200 for 11 non-consecutive weeks and spent the first full year after its release in the top 10 of the Billboard 200. By September 2020, the album had spent 300 weeks on the chart. 1989 exceeded sales of five million copies in US sales by July 2015, the fastest-selling album since 2004 up to that point.[note 6] With 6.215 million copies sold by the end of 2019, the album was the third-best-selling album of the 2010s decade in the US. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the album 9 Platinum, which denotes nine million album-equivalent units. All of its singles except "New Romantics" achieved platinum or multi-platinum certifications. The album tracks "Welcome to New York" and "This Love" were certified platinum, and "New Romantics", "All You Had to Do Was Stay", "How You Get the Girl", and "I Know Places" were certified gold.
1989's commercial success transformed Swift's image from a country singer to that of a pop icon. It was the second album to spawn five or more US top-10 singles in the 2010s decade,[note 7] and made Swift the second woman to have two albums each score five US top-10 hits.[note 8] Its singles received heavy rotation on US radio over a year and a half following its release, which Billboard noted as "a kind of cultural omnipresence" that was rare for a 2010s album. The academic Shaun Cullen specializing in the humanities described Swift as a figure "at the cutting edge of postmillennial pop". 1989's electronic-pop production expanded on Swift's next two studio albums, Reputation (2017) and Lover (2019).
Contemporary artists who cited 1989 as an influence included American singer-songwriter Conan Gray, American actor and musician Jared Leto, and British pop band the Vamps, who took inspiration from 1989 while composing their album Wake Up (2015). American director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson cited 1989 as an inspiration for her feature film debut, Someone Great (2019).
Swift opted out of press interviews to promote the album, which she had done for previous releases. She cleared out her website and social media accounts, which generated wide internet attention and has since influenced other artists' promotional campaigns. Reputation was preceded by the two international top-ten singles, "Look What You Made Me Do" and "...Ready for It?"; the former topped charts and broke sales and streaming records. The final international single, "Delicate", peaked atop US Billboard airplay charts. Critics received the album with generally positive reviews; some took issue with both the sound and theme as harsh, but most praised Swift's songwriting for depicting intimacy and vulnerability. Retrospective reviews have described Reputation as an album of experimentation and emotional evolution for Swift.