Friday, September 25, 2015

Album Review: 1989 by Ryan Adams

When Taylor Swift came out and said that her album 1989 would not be available for streaming, I knew that it would likely be a long time before I heard the album. I completely understand Swift's reasoning for her choice, but I do think that one item that is lost in all of this discussion is how accessible services like Rhapsody have made music to listeners, and at a very affordable price. Compare what you pay for streaming as to what you would actually pay to purchase all the albums you listen to in a year. It's a huge savings for the consumer. The hope is that the artist is then able to make that money back from the interest they have drummed up by the music being so available and getting people to come out to their live shows. Now for groups like Sally Shapiro this doesn't really work as they don't perform live, but for many it does. And for someone like Sally Shapiro it gets them exposed to a much larger audience than they could ever get through selling their product either by CD or through something like iTunes.

Of course until these companies open up their books and actually let us see what they are earning as compared to what they are paying out, well it will be hard to know who is in the right here. If it turns out that Spotify could easily afford to pay another penny per play, and they simply don't do it to boost their bottom line, then I would say I agree with Swift. But like I said we will likely never know. What I do like is that they seem to treat all artists the same. They aren't paying a Swift more just to get her and paying new artists much less, so that's good.

Anyhow all of this leads to Ryan Adams coming out with his cover the Swift's 1989. I had literally not heard a song off of the Swift album until now and found myself going through the singles she had released to get a feel for what Ryan Adams had done and getting a slight glimpse into what Swift had done.

You have hopefully already seen, from the videos I posted, the differences here between Swift and Adams. Swift, on many of these songs, is pulling a similar trick that she did with "22" on her last album. That song was a rip off of the Kei$ha's of the world and their drunk girl dance tracks, but at the heart of "22" were some very smart and self reflective lyrics. Adams has gone into the songs I've been able to compare and pulled out of them very much the more lyrical meaning, leaving the pop beats behind.

So "Shake It Off" for instance goes from being an empowering song about ignoring the negative things people say about you, to be a bit of a sad song about the same thing.  It's an interesting take on the song and gives the whole idea of the song a completely different feel.

What Adams has done here is really smart and he's put together a solid cover album.  Not having heard the Swift version of the album it is hard for me to know which I would prefer, but I like this album.  The only problem I think Adams bumps into, is that because some of these songs were constructed to be dance, pop tunes, they are full of repetitive lyrics, and so I'm not sure they translate as well to this format as perhaps other Swift albums.

Following the Rhapsody rating method I give it 2 out of 5 stars for Not Bad.


  1. Honestly, it took me a while to figure out that we were not talking about Bryan Adams.

  2. When Kurt Warner came into the NFL and everybody was so excited about him initially, I kept thinking to myself, "Well, this is ridiculous. There's no way he's going to end up being a big a deal as Curt Warner."

  3. For my money, there's not been a better car-radio song than "Shake It Off" since "Hey Ya," anyway--and maybe back to "Celebrate" or "9 To 5."