Sounds like: Pop music at its best; compare to Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Pink
Top tracks: "I Knew You Were Trouble," "The Last Time," "Starlight"
We might have been able to predict the career trajectory of Taylor Swift. The 22-year-old singer-songwriter seemed destined to shed the country aspects of her sound and embrace the pop chart spotlight. With her fourth album, Swift only vaguely looks backward, letting touches of banjo and fiddle creep into the Top 40 mix. Otherwise, she and radio-friendly producers Max Martin and Shellback look to the future with dubstep and bass-heavy pop dominating the conversation. Outside of that, the prevailing mood stays the course with Swift exploring relationships past and present in pained, loving, and defiant tones. There's little in the way of spiritual uplift, outside of the occasional fist-pumping chorus. But for a harmless trifle of a pop record, it doesn't get any better than this.1