There have been various studies done on pop music and why it’s so addictive – even Shazam is using big data you create for them – yes, I love big data – to determine the next pop hit (All About That Bass singer Meghan Trainor scored on the lower end of that hit measuring scale, go figure).

Taylor Swift released her hotly awaited new album 1989 and pulled her entire catalog from Spotify citing they don’t pay musicians enough for their art, and Spotify fired back.

And over the course of this time, the former country music sweetheart became pop’s darling.

Swift shook off her country roots and enlisted Max Martin and Shellback – two popular Swede producers – on 1989 and threw in a good dose of syncopation with her lyrics (listen to Blank Space, below). That was it, she was everywhere. And here are the reasons why:

1. Syncopation 

Katy Perry did it first with Teenage Dream. It’s the genius move of breaking up sentences into small, bite-size chunks and for some reason, this just permeates your musical brain. As I mentioned above, Blank Space does this so well. Listen to the opener: “Nice to/ meet you/ where you / Been?”

2. Familiarity

Want to know why pop music is so infectious? It’s because the human brain thrives on repetition. That’s why radio playlists are curated in this way, as people tend to tune out when they hear something new. That’s also why you crank up a familiar tune when you’re dealing with a personal problem – it’s like a safety net. Taylor Swift has that pop perfection formula in spades. Plus, she loves to dish out on her famous – and infamous – boyfriends in songs. She’s like a singing tabloid.

3. Humour

Taylor Swift is amusing with the lyrics – and accompanying video – for Blank Space. She takes digs at her own persona: “I’ve got a long list of ex-lovers / they’ll tell you I’m insane”. In the video, she even has a sneaky Mean Girls reference (see if you can pick it). Then there’s the jarring, disjointed beats Shellback and Max Martin have wrapped around the track. It’s a pretty neat and polished package. An ideal juxtaposition.

All of this makes her the quintessential pop idol. And even though I’m a fan of banjo-toting Swift from her Fearless days, I don’t mind being peppered with a bit of pop.

Just listen:




Mascara and Monsters is Angela Allan's blog covering music and mayhem. She's also the founder and editor of Soot Magazine.

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