After a week of dropping hints, Taylor Swift finally hired a skywriting plane last Friday to spell out “TAYLOR SWIFT 8/18 5PM YAHOO” above New York City, suggesting to fans that the “22” singer might finally be dropping some new music from her much-anticipated fifth album. When the clock struck 5 p.m. EST on Monday, Swift delivered: As part of her Yahoo! live stream, Swift debuted her new single “Shake It Off” in the form of an impromptu dance party with the studio audience. Swift also revealed that 1989, the follow-up to 2012’s Red, is set for release on October 27th and will be her “first straight-up pop album.” 1989 refers to the singer’s birth year, and Swift revealed that the music of the late-Eighties – “a time of limitless potential” – had a huge impact on her new LP, right down to the album cover: a Polaroid photo of the singer.
“Two years gives you enough time to grow and change; change what you believe in and what’s influencing and inspiring you,” Swift said of the two years between Red and 1989. “In the process, my music changed. I woke up every single day not wanting, but needing, to make a new style of music. This album is a rebirth for me.”
“Shake It Off” was co-written by Swift, Max Martin and Shellback, with the latter two producing the track. Martin and Shellback previously worked with Swift on the hit “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Immediately following the Yahoo! stream, 1989 was made available for pre-order on Swift’s official site (though her site crashed immediately following her announcement). Swift also revealed that the deluxe edition of the album will feature an envelope of 13 Polaroid photos and three bare bones versions of tracks that Swift recorded into her phone.
“I’ve had every part of my life dissected — my choices, my actions, my words, my body, my style, my music,” Swift tells Rolling Stone about the new single. “When you live your life under that kind of scrutiny, you can either let it break you, or you can get really good at dodging punches. And when one lands, you know how to deal with it. And I guess the way that I deal with it is to shake it off.” Swift is also scheduled to perform at the MTV Video Music Awards in Englewood, California on August 24th, which is as good a venue as it gets to debut “Shake It Off” live.
Finally, Swift premiered the “Shake It Off” music video, which she filmed in June over the course of three days in Los Angeles. Directed by legendary director Mark Romanek, the visionary behind Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” and Janet and Michael Jackson’s “Scream,” the video finds Swift adopting a series of personas, including cheerleader, hip-hop B-girl and Lady Gaga-esque performance artist. “All I think about are metaphors and cats,” Swift said on the livestream. “And life can be greatly reflected in your willingness to dance.”
“It was so much fun. I woke up every day of that shoot and couldn’t wait to get to set,” Swift tells Rolling Stone about the video shoot. “We had twerking, which was so funny. Those girls were trying to teach me how, and it’s just never gonna happen. I tried really hard. They were teaching me what they do, and there’s like a science to it – they’re like digging their heels into the floor without you seeing their legs move, but their butts’ moving. It’s mind-blowing to me. They were explaining it all to me, and it’s so above my comprehension of how to understand your body.”
As for the video’s concept, which finds Swift unable to master the art of moshing and ballet among other dance moves, Swift says, “It takes a long time to figure out who you are and where you fit in in the world. I’m putting myself in all these awkward situations where the dancers are incredible, and I’m having fun with it, but not fitting in. They’re doing the most beautiful things, and I’m being embarrassingly bad at it. It shows you to keep doing you, keep being you, keep trying to figure out where you fit in in the world, and eventually you will.”
Swift was tight-lipped about her new album during her visit to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on August 13th, not even biting when the late night host asked her if she’d “Beyoncé an album and just pop it out,” during the Yahoo! Announcement.
“I think the goal for the next album is to continue to change, and never change in the same way twice,” she explained to Rolling Stone last year. “How do I write these figurative diary entries in ways that I’ve never written them before and to a sonic backdrop that I’ve never explored before? I’ll bring in ideas and they’ll take such a different turn than where I thought they were going to go, and that level of unexpected spontaneity is something that really thrills me in the process of making music. What if we did this? What if we made it weirder? What if we took it darker? I love people who have endless strange and exciting ideas about where music can go.”