Martin Schoeller
October 08, 2014 06:05 PM

It’s a brand new era for Taylor Swift.

The Grammy-winning superstar, who appears on the cover of PEOPLE’s new 40th Anniversary issue, is embracing a different sick beat on her upcoming album, 1989. (The album – her fifth – drops on Oct. 27 but you can pre-order it now here).

Although she has famously explored what she calls “crazy love” in her past work, 1989 is different.

“Emotionally speaking, it’s not a heartbreak record,” Swift, 24, tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. “My music is derived from what’s happening in my personal life, and I haven’t had my heart broken.”

“When I’m deeply hurt by something, I usually respond by writing exactly how I feel about it in a song,” she says, “but I just haven’t been devastated in the last couple of years.”

Instead, the “freeing time” Swift has experienced lately has led her to take her music in a new direction.

TIMELINE: People Magazine’s 40th Anniversary: Stars, Scandals & Celebrations

“My music before this has been very guitar-heavy, live drums, it’s had a very acoustic sound at its core,” says Swift. “This is a sound that’s based in synth pop and keyboards and automated drums and vocal layering.”

Her legion of “Swifties” have responded enthusiastically, with the video for her first single off 1989, the no. 1 chart-topper “Shake It Off,” notching 150 million views already.

The dance-themed video, which has spawned multiple imitators – including a viral lip dub by a Kentucky fraternity – was deceptively tricky to pull off, says Swift.

“I was dancing like a crazy person the entire time,” she says of the three-day shoot, in which she tackled ballet, hip-hop, contemporary and even ribbon dancing alongside the pros. “You don’t know how much energy it takes to awkwardly dance like that. It’s tiring!”

For much more from Swift, pick up this week’s special 40th Anniversary issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday. And flip the magazine over for even more from your favorite stars, including life lessons from Julia Roberts, Kerry Washington, Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Aniston and first lady Michelle Obama.

Taylor Swift on the cover of PEOPLE

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