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A pop classic reimagined: a review of 1989 (Taylor’s Version)

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A review of Swift’s latest release.

In late October, Taylor Swift released her long-awaited re-recorded album “1989 (Taylor’s Version).” Just three and a half months after the re-release of her 2010 album “Speak Now, Swift treated fans to an updated version of one of her most popular albums, complete with not only the songs from the original 2014 album but also five new tracks “from the vault.” 

Swift, who started the process of re-releasing her first six studio albums in 2021, now officially owns some of the most iconic songs in her catalog, including the No. 1 hits “Shake It Off,” “Blank Space” and “Wildest Dreams.” Kendrick Lamar, who worked with Swift on her “Bad Blood” remix, even traveled to the studio to re-record his verses, showing his support for Swift’s work.  

In “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” the vault songs are ones she wrote during the same period as the other “1989,” but did not include in the original album. “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” is a classic reimagined, made even better with her maturity in vocals and new songs. The album is a power move, making it clear that no business deals or record labels of her past will stop Swift from owning her songwriting and work. A deep dive into the five new songs Swift released gives a glimpse of her genius and extends the monument of pop music that is “1989.” 

From the vault track one: “‘Slut!’”

Leaning into the media’s double standards surrounding Swift’s love life while also expressing the experience of falling deep into infatuation, “‘Slut!’” is a slow yet poppy, mesmerizing song, reminiscent of Swift’s song “False God” of her “Lover” album. Swift sings that for her romantic spiral, she’ll “pay the price he won’t,” conveying her frustration at the media’s shame for her personal life, while the men she dated faced little backlash. Swift builds the idea that her love can lift the weight the public places on her with lyrics like “the sticks and stones they throw froze mid-air.” 

From the vault track two: “Say Don’t Go”

Out of all the vault tracks featured in “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” “Say Don’t Go” is easily the most emotional, conveying the heartbreaking feeling of loving someone who cannot love you back and dealing with their abandonment. The crippling effects of her lover’s indifference echo in her lyrics, “The waiting is a sadness/ Fading into madness.” During the chorus, Swift sings, “Why’d you have to twist the knife?/ Walk away and leave me bleedin’.” Her partner emotionally scarred her, filling her with longing and confusion, yet she would stay if he asked her to. One of the most haunting, saddest moments of the narrative is when Swift reveals in the bridge, “I say ‘I love you,’ you say nothing back,” followed by a few seconds of devastating silence, making the lack of any sound seem incredibly loud. “Say Don’t Go” is an example of how Swift’s songwriting can have a heartfelt, heartbreaking effect on her listeners. 

From the vault track three: “Now That We Don’t Talk”

“Now that We Don’t Talk” is an upbeat track that explores the feelings of resistance to a relationship ending. “Now That We Don’t Talk” sounds different from any other song Swift included on the re-recorded album, and fans were quick to point out its similarity to her unique-sounding track “Question..?” from her album “Midnights.” It’s short, energetic and filled with the paradox of loving someone but having to keep them at a distance. In the verses, Swift asks her ex-lover questions, only to be left with the conclusion, “I guess I’ll never, ever know/ Now that we don’t talk.” Swift explained to her fans, “I think it’s the shortest song I’ve ever had, but I think it packs a punch.”

“Now That We Don’t Talk” is an addictive pop song, leaving the listener wanting to hit repeat again and again.  

From the vault track four: “Suburban Legends” 

Of the five vault songs, “Suburban Legends” appears to be the only non-autobiographical track. The song follows the story of a high school couple that failed to last; it’s nostalgic, complex and heartbreaking. The song speaks on the effects an adolescent relationship can have on the rest of one’s life; the narrator in the song sings that her lover kisses her “in a way that’s gonna screw (her) up forever,” and since her lover has failed to come back to her, her “whole life’s ruined.” “Suburban Legends” is filled with a “glittery pop” background, with longing, complex lyrics. 

From the vault track five: “Is It Over Now?”

 “Is It Over Now?” is a captivating, catchy song, a memorable way to end the iconic pop album. The closing song of “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” quickly became the fan favorite out of the five new vault tracks. The song explores Swift’s reflection and regret on a past relationship. Swift explained on Tumblr that with the hooks and bridges of the song and the catchy lyrical sessions, she “just feel(s) like headbanging to every time it comes on.” Swift is brutally honest with her observations about her past lover’s behavior and history, singing, “Your new girl is my clone,” and that if “She has blue eyes, I will surmise that you’ll probably date her.” Before the chorus begins, Swift leaves the burning remark, “You search in every model’s bed for something greater.” “Is It Over Now?” is a catchy, honest, reflective track. The effect of the song’s beat and lyrics renders the song addictive. 

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Caroline James Warner, Senior Reporter
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    Anthony RezzaNov 23, 2023 at 10:13 am

    I’m All-In! #1989rocked!