‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’ will never go out of ‘Style’

Nov. 10, 2023, 1:33 a.m.

Exactly nine years after Taylor Swift released the legendary studio album “1989,” we are still dancing to its beat. 

The original 2014 album reinvented Swift as a pop artist and cast her into the media spotlight. Now fans have the chance to relive this iconic era with the Oct. 27 release of “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” complete with re-recorded old beats and five new tracks.

One of the main conversation topics on the release centered around the album cover, which presented another fresh angle to the record. The original “1989” maintained a very urban and city-like feel, featuring Swift’s “cherry lips” captured by a polaroid. The 2023 album cover, however, has a more natural and nautical feel. It seems that Swift has embraced a new side of the beloved collection. 

Additionally, the new album cover sees Swift smiling for the first time, signifying that 2023 has been the start of a new — happier — chapter for Swift. 

The album presented a listening experience that has certainly lived up to its hype. In what ensues, we will each review the re-recorded tracks and the additional “From the Vault” tracks in “1989 (Taylor’s Version).” 

Original “1989” tracks passed down like folk songs — Canon Pham ’27

The reimagined 2014 classics allow listeners to rediscover these beloved tracks and listen for any changes. What makes the original collection on this album particularly special is its balanced mix of fun songs making light of otherwise difficult situations, and wistful tunes expressing the longing for love. 

Some of my favorite tracks on the original “1989” are those that show Swift’s more “self-aware” side: when she is able to poke fun at herself and make a commentary on how she is being perceived. 

This characteristic is conveyed in the energetic and dynamic second track, “Blank Space (Taylor’s Version).” With caricatures and clever one-liners such as “darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream,” Swift created a character for herself out of the media backlash and accusations of “serial dating.” She took ownership of her narrative in a way that was much “Better than Revenge.” 

“Blank Space (Taylor’s Version)” has a notably slower pace than the original, though this seems to reflect Swift’s new maturity and calmness. 

Swift released some of the re-recorded tracks, such as “Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version)” and “This Love (Taylor’s Version),” prior to Oct. 27. These songs are only part of a collection that delicately conveys both the beauty and challenges of falling in love. 

“Clean (Taylor’s Version)” portrays a desperate attempt to get rid of any lingering heartache and hurt from a previous relationship. “You’re still all over me like a wine-stained dress I can’t wear anymore,” sings Swift to an anonymous lover.

“New Romantics (Taylor’s Version)” is playful and optimistic in tone: “Heartbreak is the national anthem, we sing it proudly.” 

The new versions have a less busy and more focused mix and instrumental. This makes the desperation in “Clean (Taylor’s Version)” even more prominent and the passion of “New Romantics (Taylor’s Version)” all the more sweet and victorious.

The varied tracks, communicating the complexities of love, make this album a masterpiece with an element of relatability for everybody. Taylor Swift was quite a mastermind for illustrating the journey of a girl who dives headfirst into love, has her heart broken and picks herself back up again.  

One of the many factors behind the success of “1989” is the iconic instrumental introductions to each song. The re-recorded tracks added additional layering and percussion to the anxiety in the intro of “Out of the Woods (Taylor’s Version).” The beloved opener “Welcome to New York (Taylor’s Version)” also received what appears to be an extended introduction, adding to that feeling of anticipation as the listener awaits the euphoric track. 

Swift and her producers managed to perfectly recapture the magic of hearing these songs for the first time. 

It’s a new “Vault” track! — Ella Wang ’24

Five new tracks that were scrapped from the original 2014 album were included on “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” as “From the Vault” songs. 

The opening vault track, “Slut! (Taylor’s Version),” demonstrates the self-awareness of “Blank Space (Taylor’s Version)” with a new angle. Swift boldly accepts her media scrutiny, finding solace in being with someone she genuinely loves: “And if they call me a slut, you know it might be worth it for once.”

“Say Don’t Go (Taylor’s Version)” stands out as my clear personal favorite. In the song, Swift is one who wants her partner to tell her “All You Had To Do Was Stay.” She shout-sings, “I would stay forever if you say ‘don’t go,’” expressing the uncertainty of a relationship in turmoil. 

“Now That We Don’t Talk (Taylor’s Version)” shows Swift’s acceptance of a breakup while making a commentary on gender roles within relationships. Swift’s lyrics about no longer pretending to “like acid rock” or “be on a mega-yacht with important men who think important thoughts” remind us of her famous girl-power lines, such as “indie record that’s much cooler than mine” or being “just like Leo in Saint-Tropez.”

One track that failed to deliver was “Suburban Legends (Taylor’s Version),” which lacks musicality and thematic cohesion. The song explores a small town relationship with the potential to become a “suburban legend” but ultimately fails. It adopts a self-deprecating and pessimistic tone, more aligned with Swift’s 2022 record “Midnights” than “1989.” Hollow lyrics like “tick-tock on the clock, I pace down your block” fail to engage the listener.

“1989 (Taylor’s Version)” truly “left a permanent mark,” catapulting Swift to the position of the most streamed artist on Spotify within a week of its release and winning over hearts of millions worldwide. 

Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective thoughts, opinions and critiques.

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