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The 100 Greatest Albums of the 2010s: Staff Picks

The 100 Greatest Albums of the 2010s: Staff Picks:


4. Taylor Swift, Red (2012)

By the time Taylor Swift got to her fourth album, the big question was, would she go full pop or stay country? Instead of choosing one or the other, she said yes to both on Red, collaborating with Max Martin and Shellback to concoct giant electronic-forward pop sounds on songs like “I Knew You Were Trouble.” while still including country elements like the banjo on the bombastic title track and steel guitar on the sighing closer “Begin Again.” No matter which way she was leaning sonically, all of the songs captured the then 22-year-old Swift during a growth spurt that saw her go from lamenting bad decisions to owning them.

“This slope is treacherous / And I, I, I like it,” she admits on “Treacherous,” while nonchalantly dismissing defeat on the Jeff Bhasker-produced “Holy Ground,” singing, “And I guess we fell apart in the usual way / And the story’s got dust on every page.” But, as Swift always does so expertly, she never played it too cool with her hurt, leaving space for the forever-crescendoing big ballad “All Too Well,” which recapped a relationship from the sweet beginning to the bitter end in one of Swift’s best songs to date. Red was the last record of Swift’s to show up on the country album charts, with 1989 going full tilt into pop – but if she ever wanted to find her way back to country, the peerless Red remains her breadcrumb trail.

19. Taylor Swift, 1989 (2014)

With 1989, Taylor Swift succumbed completely to pop – and it was big, bright and fun, even in her more lovelorn moments. Swift flirted with a non-country sound on her previous album Red, but in 1989 her roots were finally nowhere to be found: Gone were the guitars and twang of old, here are the synths and sing-speaking of the new Taylor. Her experiment proved fruitful, as shedding her younger skin and going for broke with a new identity would lead not only to her best opening sales and biggest pop hits to date, but her second Grammy for album of the year. Swift also learned to embrace her detractors with tunes like “Shake It Off” – something she’d use to great effect in follow-up Reputation – but it was never better than “Blank Space,” where she took criticisms of her public persona and turned them on their head, constructing a delightfully psychotic version of herself in one of her best songs ever. After 1989, Swift would declare “the old Taylor” dead; arguable, but dead or alive, though, we won’t forget this Taylor anytime soon.

51. Taylor Swift, Speak Now (2010)

The 2008 sophomore set Fearless was the Taylor Swift album that made her a country phenom and won the album of the year Grammy; 2012’s Red was the Taylor Swift album in which she began transitioning to full-blown pop, dubstep drops and all. Which Taylor Swift album is 2010’s Speak Now? It’s a victory lap with sonic hints of what was to come, but Swift’s third full-length is also a songwriting masterclass – the first and only Taylor album to date with no co-writes on its tracklist – in which time-lapsed romance (“Mine”), a wrenching breakup (“Dear John”), bullies (“Mean”) and Kanye West (“Innocent”) are all addressed in riveting fashion. Speak Now doesn’t have a tidy place in Swift’s career narrative, but that never diminished its country-pop shine.

Source: TSwift Daily

The 100 Greatest Albums of the 2010s: Staff Picks

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