Taylor Swift Made 'Shake It Off' Partly So We Could All Dance To It At Weddings
Taylor Swift's 1989 came out nearly a year ago already and has gone on to become a defining statement in Swift's career. It debuted at the top of charts. It was the best-selling album of 2014. It spawned three No. 1 singles (and two others that crept very close to the top).
And those singles -- "Shake It Off," "Blank Space" and "Bad Blood" -- have helped sustain our interest in 1989, especially when it comes to the process of how it came together. "Shake It Off," in particular, is a track that Taylor always intended to be timeless and utterly irresistible, she said in a recent interview with Grammy Pro.
The video -- part three in a series where the singer-songwriter sat down with an audience to tell the story behind 1989 -- premiered Monday (Oct. 12) and saw a candid Swift sharing anecdotes and personal voice memos and videos from the album's studio sessions. The Producers and Engineers Wing in Nashville presented the listening party.
With "Shake It Off," Tay was looking to make a song that everyone can dance to -- especially the people who aren't dancers.
"1989 was essentially a celebration," she said. "I changed every part of my life. I focused every part of my life on different things than I'd focused it on before. I had new adventures and everything. And I kinda stopped caring. Like, I'm very well aware of what everyone says about me -- like every single thing. The difference between now and three years ago is I honestly don't care anymore."
"I kinda wanted to write something that sounded like how I feel about all that... and I know the vibe I want," she continued. "I want it to start off, and the second the song starts, I want it to be the song where, like, if it's played at a wedding, and there's this one girl who hasn't danced all night at the reception, all her friends come over to her and they're like, 'You have to dance! Come on! You have to dance on this one!' That's what I wanted."
In the first video, Swift details her path to 1989 through her previous four albums, including her co-writing and production forays on Red with super producer Max Martin.
"The idea of Max Martin is so enigmatic. He's so mysterious," Swift said. "You're like, what does he look like? What does he talk like? Does he wear a cloak? ... I called him, and he came over to my house. I said, 'I love what you do. I wanna combine it with what I do, and I'm a little scared but I'm not really that scared because I think it could be great."
She and Martin wrote "I Knew You Were Trouble" and "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," both of which appeared on Red in 2012 and were released as singles. Red was nominated for Album Of The Year at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards in 2014 but lost to Daft Punk's Random Access Memories -- a loss Swift dealt with by spending some quality time alone with junk food.
"I remember not going to after parties," Swift said. "I went home and I cried a little bit and I got In-N-Out Burger and ate a lot."
But Swift rebounded (duh) and began working on what would become the songs on 1989, even if that meant writing in a style she wasn't used to.
"['Out Of The Woods'] is a track that Jack Antonoff sent to me, and I was actually on a plane. I got it and I got on a plane and I'm listening to it and I'm just like... mumbling melodies 'cause the song came to me immediately in full," Swift said before playing a voice memo she sent back to Antonoff where she, uh, speaks in a "Gremlin" voice. Because that's what they do in the studio together.
All three videos are outstanding for learning a bit more about how a smash album like 1989 doesn't just come from one person sitting on a couch with a guitar (or a laptop). It's a massive production, a juggernaut-sized mash-up of different creative process assembled and polished with a ton of hands helping out in the process.
Of course, none of it would have happened without Taylor.