Written by Xindha Yaeger
Welcome back to album of the week! With Taylor Swift’s release of 1989 (Taylor’s Version) we will deep dive into the motive behind Taylor’s Version, as well as the changes and additions to her award winning album.
Taylor Swift has always been “Miss Americana”, but with her record breaking Eras Tour, Eras Tour Movie, and dedicated fan base, Swift is on top once again. On October 27th 2023, Swift reclaimed her fourth stolen album through the release of 1989 (Taylor’s Version). The album consists of the deluxe track list, along with 5 new songs “from the vault”.
What is the purpose of Taylor’s Version?
In 2019, talent manager Scooter Braun bought the rights for Swift’s first 6 albums by purchasing Big Machine Records for $330 million. In 2020, Braun sold the masters to Shamrock Holdings Investment Company under the condition that he would still make profit. And profit he did, gaining an estimated $265 million. Determined to have full ownership over her work, Swift left Big Machine and announced in 2021 she would re-record her masters, naming them “Taylor’s Version”. With overwhelming support from her fans, Swift has been able to successfully record and release most of her stolen albums and continues to do so. Fans chose to support the artist as she earns her work back, favoriting Taylor’s Version over the originals. This journey of reclaiming her name and reputation is one that has changed the trajectory of her career.
Same Era, New Sound
When listening to the first track, “Welcome To New York”, I immediately heard the difference from the original. The quality of the songs, in my opinion, have drastically improved since the 2014 version. One noticeable change is how Taylor’s voice has matured over the years. My favorite example of this is the bridge of “I Know Places” where this change can be most clearly heard. The album has kept its nostalgic synth-pop while sounding clean and brand new, making 1989 (Taylor’s Version) one of her best rerecords, in my opinion.
The never-before-heard vault tracks are the highlight of Taylor’s Version. Included in 1989 are “Slut!”, “Say Don’t Go”, “Now That We Don’t Talk”, “Suburban Legends”, and “Is It Over Now?”.
Just like in 2014, Taylor took to Tumbler to share some behind the scenes voice memos. One memo mentions that “Is It Over Now?” is similar to “Out Of The Woods” and “I Wish You Would”, but was ultimately cut from the final version. The beginning is different from the other vault tracks and caught my attention on my first listen. For these reasons, I would rank “Is It Over Now?” as 1st in my vault track ranking.
In 2nd place I would put “Now That We Don’t Talk” for its catchy bridge and backing track. I would describe this as a screaming in the car song, one which I already know all the lyrics for. Swift says in the memo that it was one of her favorite songs from 1989, having to leave it behind due to challenges with production.
Another memo reveals that there was a tough choice between “Slut!” and “Blank Space” for the final album, both written about the backlash on her dating life. The lyrics in “Slut!” are truly my favorites from the vault tracks. To me, this song gives a dreamy perspective on her situation rather than the portrayal in “Blank Space”, putting it as 3rd in my ranking.
Lastly, “Say Don’t Go” and “Suburban Legends” take 4th and 5th place. Both have lyrics that cut deep, something that Taylor does best. The chorus and bridge of the songs are some of the best from the vault. But something has to be ranked last, and for me it’s these two.
Overall, the masterpiece that is 1989 (Taylor’s Version), will never go out of style.