So then why, on her latest album reputation (her poppiest work yet), did she include a piano ballad that feels like her old work? And why did she send it to country radio?
I recall, the last thing Taylor Swift really said about her transition from pop to country music was, “if you chase two rabbits, you lose them both” (Rolling Stone, 2014). And after that was the monster era of 1989. But here she is again, chasing two rabbits.
I’m not complaining. “New Year’s Day” is one of the strongest tracks on her new album, and it has some of those lyrics that remind you why Taylor Swift is a two-time Grammy Album of the Year winner. “Hold onto the memories and they will hold onto you,” quickly followed by “please don’t ever become a stranger whose laugh I could recognize anywhere” are the sort of candid, emotional lines that resulted in the massive fan base she now has. The earnest repetition of these two lines is a clear reminder that despite “Look What You Made Me Do’s” slightly juvenile defiance, Swift is still the woman and writer she’s always been.
Even so, there’s something very unsettling about listening to this beautiful song about forever love, and picking up your phone to see the dark, grim album cover of reputation. But that’s what Swift does: she excels at making the sort of content people wouldn’t expect, which is why we are sure to hear “New Year’s Day” on country radio this year.
Overall rating: 4 crowns