by Sam Russell
Two and a half years after starting the journey to reclaim her own music, Taylor Swift is back with her fourth rerecording. After the masters of Taylor’s music were sold by her old manager Scooter Braun, she announced she would be rerecording all of her albums released under Big Machine Records. As Swift has continued to quickly release her rerecordings, she’s become more popular than ever, despite her already immense fame. Loyal fans of the singer have eagerly anticipated the drop of each new rerecord and embrace the ability to be able to stream music that really belongs to Taylor. This fourth rerecording is a rerecord of what is arguably Swift’s most popular album, 1989. Many may think that there’s nothing different between the two versions of the album, but Swift always manages to recreate her albums in a way that is incredibly special. 1989 (Taylor’s Version) certainly is not an exception, and it gives listeners a sense of nostalgia.
Being the creative and talented mastermind that she is, Taylor Swift had many songs to choose from when choosing the original tracklist for 1989. With the release of 1989 (Taylor’s Version), five new songs from the original 1989 era were added to the tracklist. These songs perfectly complemented the vibe of the 1989 era, adding to the fun of the album. The first vault track, “Slut!”, was actually the song Swift had decided against putting on the album due to wanting to choose between that and “Blank Space.” This track is titled for the media’s representation of Swift during the original 1989 era back in 2014. The media crucified her for her romantic relationships and many people labeled her a slut as a way to judge her for the amount of relationships she’d been in. “Slut!” touches on the feeling of shame that Swift had experienced during this time. Media at this time focused more on Swift’s romantic relationships than her music, which is what should have actually been focused on. This track is an eye-opening ballad for not just Swift herself, but any other female musicians being shamed for their relationships. Taylor Swift had a way of perfectly conveying this toxicity in the media and it was a perfect addition to the record.
Following “Slut!” was “Say Don’t Go.” While the song’s chorus is upbeat, the lyrics are honestly heart-wrenching (quite literally, as Swift sings, “Why’d you have to twist the knife? Walk away and leave me bleeding”). The vulnerability of the lyrics in “Say Don’t Go” as well as the catchy chorus make for yet another incredible Taylor Swift song. Swift’s ability to emphasize the emotion in the lyrics as she sings is truly unmatched. Listening to “Say Don’t Go” almost feels like a prequel to “Clean,” the final track on the original version of 1989. While “Say Don’t Go” is a plea for another person to care about the absence of the narrator, “Clean” describes the simultaneous grieving of a relationship while also recognizing that the end of it was for the best. Many casual listeners may only see 1989 (Taylor’s Version) as a pop album due to the overall upbeat melodies, but Swift’s lyrical vulnerability is something that her fans appreciate most about the album.
With the exception of “Slut!”, the vault tracks for 1989 (Taylor’s Version) all follow similar themes of being reminiscent of a past relationship. A bit more ambiguous about the type of relationship, “Now That We Don’t Talk” has been interpreted by listeners as a song both about past friendships and romantic relationships. It fits perfectly with the sound of the rest of 1989; upbeat and danceable with more emotionally vulnerable lyrics. While not particularly a stand out on the record, it’s definitely still an enjoyable one to listen to. “Now That We Don’t Talk” was followed up with the more experimental sounding “Suburban Legends.” While not necessarily “experimental” in its actual definition, “Suburban Legends” is something that was clearly experimental for 1989, seeing as it doesn’t really fit with any of the album’s other songs. To me, “Suburban Legends'' sounds mildly similar to “Mastermind” off of Swift’s 2022 album Midnights. It was extremely catchy and its lyrics seemed to be telling the story of a romance from beginning to end. Swift’s ability to convey a story in her lyrics is truly remarkable and makes listening to her music more enjoyable.
Finishing off 1989 (Taylor’s Version) is my personal favorite, “Is It Over Now?” This track is believed by many to be a sister song to track 4, the famous “Out Of The Woods.” The song blends perfectly with the rest of the album while simultaneously sounding different. The lyrics describe a similar experience to those of “Out Of The Woods” in a way that’s much more emotional. Swift sings with such emotion on this track and it makes it so much better. A perfect album closer and perfect song in general, “Is It Over Now?” certainly has the potential to be one Swift’s best vault tracks.
People say that Taylor Swift is the music industry for a reason. Her ability to take over charts and break streaming records with music that’s already been released is incredible. Each time she’s released a rerecord you can hear her matured vocals and how much the production of each song and the overall album has improved. This is all a testament to the quality of her work and the kind of artist she truly is. 1989 (Taylor’s Version) was a chart-topping success for a reason, and Swift’s continuous record breaking won’t be slowing down anytime soon.