Anna Prater, Chattanooga, Tenn. – Taylor Swift’s “1989” is her fifth studio album, but the first that received widespread critical acclaim, from Rolling Stone and Pitchfork to NPR and The New York Times.
In the aptly-titled “1989,” Swift puts her undeniable culture-savvy on full display by channeling the nostalgia that is so prevalent among older millennials. By using synth-pop to emulate the powerhouses of the 80s, such as Madonna, she further secured her spot as an icon – like it or not.
But that isn’t where “1989”’s history ends. Ryan Adams, who is widely considered a god amongst indie-rock, Americana and singer-songwriter enthusiasts, just released a track-by-track cover of the platinum-selling record, to the surprise of pretty much everyone.
While Swift’s “1989” tells the story of a stereotypical 80s filled with high-top sneakers, neon leggings and acid-washed jeans, Adams’ focuses on a less-popular version of the decade. His “1989” is inhabited by The Smiths, and had it been released in the title year, it would have called on the kids smoking stolen cigarettes and spending too much time on their bedhead hair.
For instance, how could a tune like “Shake It Off,” a run-of-the-mill hit song that declares that the “haters gonna hate, hate, hate” appeal to the difficult-to-please hipsters among us? Make it sound like it was originally recorded by Bruce Springsteen, of course. And that’s exactly what Adams does.
“Shake It Off” is signature Swift – its a declaration of indifference towards her critics, while its mere existence proves her lack thereof.
It is signature Adams, too. He is no stranger to self-doubt, and the most emotionally-compelling moment in his version shows a hint of insecurity in his voice as he trails off at the end of each “I’m just gonna shake it off.”
The two albums compliment each other, largely because of the respective crowds of the two involved artists. They’re both icons – yet a very small percentage of their fan-bases overlap.
And because these songs are just plain good, they hold up no matter who sings them. They’re lyrically solid, catchy and heartfelt – qualities that anyone could appreciate.
These two artists are known and praised first and foremost for their earnest songwriting. Though it seems completely out of the blue, it actually isn’t that surprising that Adams admires Swift and felt compelled to bring his own background and interpretation to the table.