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Taylor Swift Made ‘Real Leaps’ in Sound for ‘1989’ and ‘Reputation’

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Taylor Swift has proved that she can cross musical genres and still come out on top — and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I got to make real leaps [in] 1989, Reputation and Folklore,” Swift, 34, gushed during her Saturday, February 24, concert at Sydney’s Accor Stadium.

Swift has been churning out hits since the early 2000s, initially making waves in the country community. While albums Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now and Red all have country-esque styles, 2014’s 1989 marked her first foray into the pop world.

Max Martin and [Karl Johan] Shellback [Schuster] were the last people I collaborated with on [2012 album] Red, and I wished we could have done more and explored more,” she previously told Billboard in 2014. “So going into this album, I knew that I wanted to start with them again. Then I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing to work with Ryan Tedder?’ And then I was with Jack Antonoff and Lena Dunham at the beach, and we started talking about our favorite ’80s music. All of this started happening organically, and I found myself gravitating toward pop sensibilities, pop hooks [and] pop production styles.”

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1989 was explicitly meant to deviate from her country roots.

“It felt disingenuous to try to exploit two genres when your album falls in only one,” she explained, noting she refused to add a country version of one of the tracks. “I never want to pull the wool over people’s eyes because people are so much smarter than a lot of marketing professionals give them credit for.”

Swift went on to release Reputation in 2017, also influenced by pop, followed by Lover two years later. Swift’s two pandemic-recorded albums, Folklore and Evermore, marked another shift. It was the first time that her LPs were not purely autobiographical.

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“[I was] imagining that, instead of being a lonely millennial woman covered in cat hair drinking my weight in white wine, I was a ghostly Victorian lady wandering through the woods with a candle in a candlestick holder,” Swift quipped during her Eras Tour show in Melbourne earlier this month. “And I wrote only on parchment with a feathered quill. That was in my mind, what I thought I looked like, writing Folklore. … So that’s all that matters: the delusion.”

Swift later wrote 2022’s Midnights and The Tortured Poets Department back-to-back, the latter of which drops in April.

“I needed to make it. It was really a lifeline for me,” Swift noted of TTPD during her February 16 concert in Melbourne. “It sort of reminded me of why songwriting is something that actually gets me through life and I’ve never had an album where I’ve needed songwriting more than I needed it on Tortured Poets.”

Swift has also re-recorded most of her first six albums, from Fearless to 1989, after Big Machine Records sold her masters to Scooter Braun in 2019. Swift claimed that she was not given an offer to purchase the rights ahead of Braun’s acquisition. He has since sold the titles to a private equity firm. The only albums that Swift has yet to rerecord and re-release are Taylor Swift and Reputation.

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