After the masters of her songs were sold to Scooter Braun without her consent, Swift decided to get them back on her own terms—by re-recording her first 6 albums. To make this process more entertaining for her fans, the singer started adding the “new old songs”, which she wrote during the original recording, but sadly didn’t make the cut. Swift named these songs “From The Vault” tracks. This clever move resulted in immense reignition of interest from both the day-one fans, who had the chance to revisit the old eras with Taylor and the newcomers, mostly younger generations, who heard some of the decade-old songs for the first time. Currently, Swift owns 4 out of 6 “stolen” albums, and the hype has not died down. According to the numbers, streams have increased with each re-release. The first re-recording, “Fearless”, took the Swifties back to the nostalgic golden age, “Red” hit with heartbreak across music genres, and “Speak Now” had the crowds going wild. With another re-release underway, what is the impact of “1989 (Taylor’s Version)”?
“1989” is Swift’s 5th studio album, released in 2014, making it the singer’s first entirely pop record. This was a challenging step for being previously renowned as a country singer, yet it is now considered the “core Taylor Swift”. Hits like “Shake It Off”, “Style”, “Blank Space”, “Wildest Dreams”, and so on, are familiar to the masses. Somehow, Swift managed to re-introduce herself as a popstar at her peak, being papped daily on the street, participating in talk shows, and interacting with fans on social media in a way no other celebrity dared to do during that time. The success of “1989” is undeniable due to the virality of the songs years later on TikTok, 5 Grammy awards, and worldwide recognition of it as a “timeless pop masterpiece”. Therefore fans have been especially impatient to hear this re-recording, while Taylor has once again reached an even higher level of fame with her biggest world tour to date “The Eras Tour”.
When it comes to Taylor’s version, “Blondie” expressed that she was extremely proud of the Vault tracks for this album, and couldn’t believe they weren’t included in the original release. Now listening to the new songs, indeed, we hear some very strong candidates. The lyrics in “Say Don’t Go” wash over us with desperation accompanied by the ’80s beat, while “Is It Over Now?” carries us through a ranting bridge. The public couldn’t wait to know what the song called “Slut!” could be about, and to the surprise of many, it turned out to be quite a reflexive, yet well-executed, number. “Now That We Don’t Talk” marked Swift’s shortest song so far, and yet still has this inexplicable 1989 spark to it. Last but not least, “Suburban Legends” can be seen as a sequel to songs like “Welcome To New York” and “New Romantics”, manifesting a breakthrough for the “national treasures”. Overall, the Vault of “1989” is consistently strong and lies well within the story of the original album.
What is great about listening to the re-recordings of songs we already know is that sometimes certain elements of production are revealed making the tracks sound new and different. At times, it makes them better, while at other times it may ruin the song. The danger with re-recording “1989” was that Max Martin, the executive producer of the original album, wasn’t a part of Taylor’s version. Thus, we can hear the difference between the guitars in “Style”, the horns in “Shake It Off” and the drums in “New Romantics”. However, generally speaking, the quality of the production is better than in other Taylor’s versions.
Overall, “1989 TV” has exceeded expectations with first-week sales eclipsing its original counterpart (1.3 million albums vs. 1.28 million albums). This goes to show the persevering relevance and undeniable influence of Taylor Swift on today’s pop culture. Personally, this re-release has filled me with the same vibrant energy, excitement, and sense of self-confidence that the “1989 era” manifested in 2014. To me, the absolute highlights of the new version were “Blank Space”, “Out Of The Woods”, “Wildest Dreams”, “Clean”, and “Wonderland”. And what were yours, dear reader?