Ryan Adams & Taylor Swift – The Power of ‘1989’


As of writing, in just over three days time Ryan Adams will be releasing a reworking/re-imaging of Taylor Swifts critically acclaimed ‘1989’.

1989 could potentially be one of the most important records of our lifetime. In what is just under a year of age, it has managed to hold streaming services up like robbers in a western, only just being added to Apple Music, but not before putting Apple on their knees. Then when finding out things were a bit unfair for  everyone involved, slapped them round the face and reducing one of, if not the largest companies in the world to a mere pawn in the game of Swift’s life, not to mention making Swift the first artist to sell one million or more copies of an album in a week for three albums.

And now we’re mere days away from seeing what magic this cultural masterpiece can work on two very different careers.

Two seemingly completely polar opposite artists in the sense of public opinion, who are bouncing off of one another’s ideology, have created a vast array of arguments from both sides. Swifts fans are all under the belief that Bryan Adams is going to be releasing a covers album of Swifts music and she’ll return the favour with a ‘Summer of 69’ ballad at some point in the future, while Adams’ fans are yearning for another release, any release, whilst simultaneously not wanting this to be a thing

Utilising Instagram as a way to give us an inside look in the studio and to tease us with small sections of highlight songs, Adams has gone head first into this project which can only mean one thing. It’s going to be awesome.

There is a flip side to this. What is the impact it will have on both artists careers? Well, for Adams it’s obvious. Although he is the more tenured of the two, Swifts career has enveloped his thanks to the lovely demographic of teenage girls. Once they begin to figure out that, no, this isn’t Bryan Adams, then there very well may be a chance for Adams to capitalise on the publicity and gain a few more fans and start re-stoking that fire that’s been burning since his last release, 2014’s self-titled. This key-demographic though, may also see this as many others see Adams, and that is sad-bastard music for the older sad-bastards. Fortunately, teenage girls have a habit of not actually caring and will be seeing this as (more) publicity for Swift, ingesting this like a last meal and spitting out a little bit of pocket money for Swift, who one can only assume has the sweetest royalty deal known to man kind right now, and giving Adams a little burst of a media spotlight.

Now Swifts takeaway from this is a little deeper than that of the former. She has consistently said on Twitter, from the moment she heard about this project, that Adams has always been an inspiration and helped shape her songwriting, this is believable as there is photographic evidence of her actually buying his records, and the internet doesn’t lie, right? Swift isn’t going to be taking new fans away from this, she already has what is essentially 75% of the population. She’s not going to be taking any real monetary value from this either. What she’s hoping this will bring to her is a new appreciation for her songwriting and her skill, that someone like Adams could only bring to the surface, he did it with Oasis and ‘Wonderwall’. This project of his will allow her to be taken seriously by that previously mentioned missing 25%, the ones who take pride in the music they listen to and make sure everyone knows it. It will give her credibility. Something that is priceless, especially considering the career of the man who’s brilliant mind is making this happen.

After hearing the premier of ‘Bad Blood’ on Beats 1, turning a song that could almost be a happy song were it not for the lyrical content, into a dreamy, mournful song about the loss of a great friendship. Adams has the ability to make sunshine sad, but for all it’s worth, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s something us sad-bastards can listen to and appreciate in the popular culture zeitgeist, without losing credibility, and Swift gets hers in the form of utilising this moment and quietly converting the musical aficionados into screaming teenage fangirls.

And I for one can’t wait.

Steven Loftin

Steven Loftin

A music nerd who collects, produces, listens and writes.
Steven Loftin