After months of perfect secrecy and rumors that Taylor Swift was only allowing people to listen to her new album 1989 on her personal iPhone, the entire album has leaked just days before it is scheduled Monday release date. "Loose lips sink ships all the damn time," as Taylor sings on "I Know Places."
Of course, downloading the leaked album is probably illegal and we would never suggest you do that.
This leak won't matter, though, for Swift's success. 2012's Red sold 1.23 million copies in the first week, and it also leaked in full. For some context, only 18 albums ever have joined the "instant-million" club by selling one million copies in the first week. Yet, both Red and Speak now went instant-million, and 1989 will probably be do the same. Basically, Taylor Swift bigger than the leaks.
The more meaningful question is whether 1989 is actually any good.
Taylor wasn't kidding when she called this her "first official pop album." Red sounds like music that could be played at a honky-tonk after listening to the pure pop of 1989. These songs sound as expensive as Taylor's clothing looks. It is expertly produced and perfectly mixed. Swift's voice isn't the best in the industry, but it sounds the best it has ever sounded.
1989 is upbeat and fast all the way through. There was some worry—myself included— that, despite Swift's success with songs like "22" and "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," she would lose her ability to write heartfelt, personal songs when adopting the rhythms and clean sounds of pop music. On 1989, Swift demolishes those fears. This is an album of love songs with a twist such as on "Black Space" where Swift coos, "Baby I'm a nightmare/Dressed like a dream/I've got a blank space baby/ (pen click sound)/ I'll write your name."
But it's also an album with the break-up references her fans love. There's the already released "Out of the Woods" that won over Swift fans quickly. But Swift's angry tone on this record is sharper than we've heard it before. "Cause baby now we got bad blood/ you know we used to be mad love/ so take a look what you've done/ cause baby now we got bad blood/ Now we got problems/ And I don't think we can solve them" Swift chants on "Bad Blood." It's upbeat, sure, but instead of the mournful, slow-building rage of "All to Well," Swift lets herself get mad on 1989, and it works. She sounds powerful and strong instead of brooding.
"All You Had to Do Was Stay" has all of the great lyrical qualities of Red. "This Love" is a classic Taylor Swift ballad. There are a couple of missteps here—notably the album's first single "Shake it Off—but they are few and far between.
Abandoning country music seemed like a huge risk to take for such a successful artist, but after listening to 1989 it's obvious that there was no risk here for Taylor Swift at all.